Sunday, October 31, 2010

Time Enough?

Perhaps because of my recent confrontation with the possible end of my life, I have become increasingly obsessive about the choices I make in how I spend my time.  I am not saying that I make good choices.  I just think a lot about the choices I make and whether I could have spent that time better.

When I look at the time budget of my days, I spend most of my time during the week at work. I do not mind that, although there are some types of use of time at my job that I resent, such as reviewing documents and answering interrogatories at this point in my career.  Most of the time, however, I find my job interesting and engaging.

Much of my leisure time these days is spent on the internet,  largely reading articles but also checking Facebook and LinkedIn to see what people are up to.  I also have a secret vice that is getting a bit out of control--playing games on FB.  I finally stopped playing Bejeweled Blitz which was a major time suck with no redeeming value and real harm to my right arm from the repetitive motion.  It was hard but I overcame that addiction. Now, however, I spend more and more time on Restaurant City, where I have a chain of restaurants that I check every day.  Recently, they added a coffee bar that you could stock by playing the game and I found myself quite obsessed with making sure all of my restaurants have the necessary ingredients.  Last night, I spent the evening drinking wine and playing Restaurant CIty, only to discover this morning that the "prize" I had worked to get is no where to be found now that I have supposedly achieved it.  I must stop playing this game too although I justify it by telling myself it relaxes me and allows my thoughts to coalesce on other issues.
Restaurant City Delish Level 80

I do not exercise much anymore.  My work day starts early and I no longer have the ability to walk at the beach in the morning before I need to get on conference  calls.  I am also much more fatigued and achy so I use that as an excuse not to exercise.  But I need to exercise, or so all the medical sources say, to hold the cancer at bay.  A dilemma for sure.

I also do not play the piano anymore, partly because of my sore arm and partly because my mother in law is always in the living room watching TV when I have time in the evenings.  I do not watch much TV or movies or listen to music at home.  I choose to listen to books on tape in the car instead of music and rarely spend my free time watching a DVD, even though I work in the motion picture business.  I used to love listening to music and watching filmed entertainment but now it seems like a waste of time.  I wonder why this change in interest?

I think my obsession in how I choose to spend my time stems from the need to learn as much a possible as quickly as possible so that if it is taken away from me, like it has been with my friends who are dying or with those older people in our lives whose memories are not working as well as they once did,  at least I can say I crammed in a lot in those days before the change.  I want to travel.  I want to read.  I want to challenge myself intellectually.  I want to write.  I want to accomplish something in my job that will have an impact.  These goals are simple enough, if only I could stop playing internet games!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

They're Baaaccckkk!! Or are they???

Last night I was lying in bed eating something bad for me and watching a rerun of Star Trek TNG when I looked up at the skylight and saw my kitty staring down at me!  I thought to myself, kitty should not be on the roof looking in at me.  It isn't safe--for either of us.  So I went downstairs immediately and opened the door to coax her off the roof.  "Kitty", I said and there she was on the ground coming from the opposite direction of where the skylight is on the roof.  MMMMM.  

Are they back?  Those masked thugs; those food thieves?? Or is my kitty a flying magician who came come down off the roof and appeared to be walking from her usual place under the car in the short time it took me to get downstairs?

You decide.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jeeping and Hiking in Sedona

As I mentioned in my last post, we went on a Pink Jeep tour yesterday to Broken Arrow Trail.  The trip combined great views of Chapel Rock, Submarine Rock and Chicken Point, the latter so named because the jeeps used to go around a rock on the edge of the cliff.  Here is the rock below.  The path is too narrow now for the jeeps so we just parked and looked at the views.

Chicken Point
The tour combines unbelievable scenery with a bumpy ride which the driver likened to a rollercoaster on the red rocks.  At one point we were in the jeep at 45 degrees.  Shortly thereafter we went down "Devil's Staircase.  Here are pictures of the jeeps behind us doing those two thrill rides.
Jeep at 45 degrees

On Devils Staircase

Today we hiked along Oak Creek to get views of the Cathedral Rock.  We were lucky to be ahead of the incoming thunderstorms and get a picture of the famous view of Cathedral Rock showing the reflection of the Rock in a waterpool.

Cathedral Rock

Later in the day, I managed to get a reservation to Palatki Ruins, right near Enchantment.  We have been coming here for years and never went to these ancient native American ruins, including pictographs from  four native cultures: the Archaic Indians of over 2000 years ago, the Sinagua of about 800 years ago, the Yavapai and the Tonto Apaches.  Here are examples of pictographs from each of these groups.
Yavapai animal drawing
Sinagua drawing of man on horse in center
Tonto Apache shaman markings
Archaic Indians (possibly mountains, sun, trees)

For an interesting discussion of one of the pictographs  (left), which the ranger pointed out as Asian looking and likely drawn by Archaic Indians, see this website.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Back in Sedona

Last year when I came to Sedona, after a week or so in other parts of the southwest, I was very tired and feeling ill.  I did not think much of it at the time although I did find it amazing that I slept for three hours one day after a two hour easy hike at Arches.  Now we know that I was tired and sick for a reason--my ovarian tumor was growing exponentially at that time.

This year I am pleased to say that I feel so much better and am enjoying Sedona more than ever before.  We have been here seven times, always staying at Enchantment Resort.  Last year, I spent a lot of time in the room in a comfortable arm chair, reading, doing work and dozing.  This year, on our first day, starting at 9 a.m Paul and I went out to look at sights we have bypassed in the car on past trips many times.

First, we headed out Route 179 to Oak Creek to the Red Rock Cafe, which Trip Advisor ranked as the best restaurant in Sedona based on consumer ratings.  I have had a few good meals here in Sedona, mostly last year at Dahl and DiLuca and Fournos, and Red Rock Cafe did not come close.  However, it was a very good place for breakfast.  Paul had a "roll your own" omelet with feta cheese and chiles.  I had an egg and a slice of french toast.  Basically, it was good diner food.  I would eat there again.

On the ride back, we stopped at three different scenic turnouts.  I had forgotten my camera so I was limited to the camera in my Blackberry.   The views this morning were quite gorgeous.  See below -- and sorry that the pictures are a bit blurry.  Usually BB camera does a bit better than these.

Cathedral Rock

Bell Rock

Courthouse Butte
We then went up to Flagstaff for the afternoon.  I have written about Flagstaff in another blog entry so I will not repeat here.  Today we visited our usual haunts there--Josephine's for lunch (crab cake salad with citrus corn vinagrette), Barnes and Noble, a few stores downtown.  I bought a pair of boots and a few gifts for family members.  On the way out of town, we hit the Starbucks (where I had my "triplio"- a doppio with an add shot) and Baskin Robbins for my once a year pumpkin ice cream cone.

Tomorrow we have a Pink Jeep trip planned to Broken Arrow Trail which gives you views of Submarine Rock and Chicken Point, also along Route 179.  I tried to get into a cooking demonstration at Mii Amo in the afternoon but the resort is very full so I am on the waiting list.  Sunday we are looking at a hike to Cathedral Rock (Red Rock Crossing not the one off Back O Beyond  which is considered "strenuous") and possibly the easy hike to Chimney Rock off Thunder Mountain Rd., on the way into the resort.  I also want to go horse back riding, but figure that probably won't happen this trip. I have a lot more energy but not unlimited time.  Maybe that's why I have a lot more energy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chemo Hair

Today is a fluff piece to observe the passing of my "chemo hair".  When my hair first came in after chemo, it was soft and fluffy like newborn skin to the touch.  Indeed, I made people feel it (much to their dismay, but no one wants to offend a cancer survivor!) because it was so unusually soft.  I expected it to stay like that for a while but several weeks ago another cancer survivor told me that the same had happened to her and her hair texture changed after a few months to curly!  I have never had naturally curly hair.  The only curls I have had were heat or chemically induced.  And at this point in my life I have little interest in curl.  But sure enough right after my fateful meeting with this cancer survivor, my hair started to get longer and show a few curls and waves.  Here is a picture of me from a few weeks ago that reveals the wave and shagginess.

In the past few weeks, it has only gotten longer and shaggier so I broke down yesterday and had it cut, even though there still is very little hair on my head relative to my already short normal hairdo.  My hairdresser cut off all the soft hair, which she called "chemo hair" and characterized as "very common".  I shuddered since being common is one of my great fears.  Now my hair is shorter, stylish I hope and much closer in texture to my pre-chemo hair.  More evidence of being on the mend.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Oh M'iPad

My husband was nice enough to get me an iPad for my birthday in July.  Initially, I told him I did not want one because I had read about it not supporting Flash and I knew that many videos on the web are in Flash.  I also thought it was just a big touch iPod and I was not that fond of my touch iPod.

Once I got the iPad, I started to love it.  I downloaded many cool apps (e.g Flipboard) and use it for email, Facebook, twitter, Pandora, iTunes, books via Kindle and even a cookbook app!  I like its size and portability.  For example, I took it to a meeting last week and accessed my work email and the internet during the meeting, although my boss accused me of supporting the competition, Apple being a competitor of my company's parent.

But recently the romance has begun to sour.  As I expected, many of the videos that show up on websites will not play on iPad.  My beloved Restaurant City will not play on iPad because it requires Flash.    Many of the apps I use regularly, like Wells Fargo and Amex, are only available for iPhone and thus show up small on the iPad screen.  Enlarging them makes them blurry.  I do not have children so I have no use for the supposedly wonderful children's games apps. I only have one word game app that I play constantly and that will get old soon I am sure.  (Luckily I cannot play that addictive time suck, Bejewelled Blitz, on iPad).  I have trouble when the font is small getting my relatively small hands to "touch" the right place.  I also have not yet perfected the touch that brings up the 'select" and "select all" options for copying although when I don't want that option to come up I get it relatively easily, usually when I am trying to make the text larger. And when I do make the text on the screen larger, the text reverts to tiny again when I go to the next page,.

So what is the point of having an iPad if there are so many problems with it?  I still use it all the time despite its shortcomings.  And I read it has great promise for eventual use in the medical records field.  I personally would love to have my medical records on a flash drive to take to my various doctors so that I do not have to fill out again those papers every doctor's office requires -- name, address, social security number, all medications, all illnesses, all family illnesses etc.  I recognize there are certainly privacy concerns and if I were more paranoid, which you think I would be with all the spy novels I have been reading, I would be worried about insurance companies using the information against me, just like they are eliminating policies for children because the Obama health care law would otherwise require them to provide coverage.  But, I am enamored of the possible convenience of computerized and portable medical files.  Unfortunately right now, the only use my doctor has for an iPad, as he explained last week, is to stream a movie from iTunes while he was at jury duty.

Notwithstanding all these issues with the iPad, I continue to love it because it is the future.  After all, when I watch Star Trek--the Next Generation every night I see Captain Picard and his crew looking at their PADDs, which look suspiciously like the iPad, to get all their visual information needs satisfied.  Otherwise, they can ask the computer to answer questions, which, with my current arm problems, I also would love instead of using a keyboard.  "Computer, please tell me why I love my iPad despite its shortcomings?"  "Unable to answer that question as formulated."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

China Bowl

I fear I may have already bored you with the saga of my search for a new toilet.  I probably have not yet discussed my longing for a remodeled bathroom with a new shower and bathtub.  And I still want another new toilet because the one we bought, sight unseen by me, is a bit too high for me of the stubby legs.  So I lust after a new bathroom and take pictures of bathrooms in hotels to give myself ideas for that lovely day I have enough money to remodel.  I even found a website called OneWeekBath which specializes in quick bathroom remodels.  This one, for example, would be okay with me, except for brown cabinets, and possibly the darkness of the tile.

So imagine my disdain this morning when I read the LA Times article about the Chinese upsurge in spending in bathroom accoutrements, particularly toilets.  Apparently bath stores are popping up all over the place for the middle class Chinese. Here you cannot find bathroom items of any real interest anywhere other than hardware stores (big box and small shops).  We used to have an Expo Design Center in Redondo Beach but it got no business and has been replaced by a hopping cheap furniture store called Living Spaces (where I bought the young'uns a new much needed bed last week).  But not true in China.  The LA Times article annoyed me even more by saying, "To better suit the Chinese market, some Kohler toilets are made a few inches shorter than in the U.S."  Apparently I need to move to China to get the right sized bowl.

Chien-min Chung / For The Times / October 2, 2010