Tuesday, January 24, 2006

$10 for groceries

, originally uploaded by .Nida.

$10 for groceries

Yesterday I went grocery shopping after work.

Inside I noticed a homeless guy with a shopping cart. We passed each other several times and I noticed how slowly he was going down the aisles -- picking everything up. Looking at the ingredients, the cost, the brands.

He was very dirty and fairly stinky, but come on, you can't hold it against him. The only thing he had in his cart was a very worn out and worked over backpack that looked like it had seen its fair share of years on the street. And though I know he was in there for at least 20 minutes and I passed him in at least four different aisles, he didn't put anything else into his cart the whole time.

My heart broke. I wondered if he was just trying to go through the motions of living like he had a house, a kitchen, a fridge. I wondered if he spent so much time examining each item because it felt good to be warm, out of the wind, and just going through the motions of living like other people.

I had to gulp past tears.

I got in line but found that I kept thinking about him.

So, I backed my cart out of line, I found a $10 bill in my purse and gathered up my courage to offer the homeless guy money for some groceries. I wanted him to be able to put something in his cart, not just look at the food and put it back on the shelf.

"Excuse me," I said, as I walked up to him on Aisle Whatever Number It Was, "I hope I'm not overstepping, but I'd like to give you ten dollars so you can buy some groceries."

He looked up at me. We were on the shampoo aisle, I remember now. He had a bottle of shampoo in his hand. Nothing in his cart but his ratty old backpack. And he smelled of urine and dirt and grease and B.O. He looked up at me and he said,

"Give it to someone who needs it! I'm not homeless!"

My mind reeled. WHAT?!

"But you haven't put anything in your cart," I said as all other words and thoughts and sounds began to crumble inside my brain and spill out around my feet. I stood in a pile of good intentions, marinated in shock, horror, and utter embarrassment.

"I'm not a bum," the guy said to me, his ratty beard bobbing as he spoke, "I know I look like one...."

"No, no, no you don't," I said when yes yes yes he did. I died a million deaths, turned my cart around and tried to get back in line as soon as possible.

Ten minutes later I was home and on the phone, telling my story to KB. Telling her how my heart broke for the homeless guy and how I wanted to help buy him some groceries...

"Are you getting your period?" she asked, "cuz it sounds like you have a heavy dose of PMS."

Moral of the story: When the stinky, dirty guy in the grocery store makes you weepy, pick up a bottle of Motrin and keep your $10 to yourself.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

branding as experience

Today I read the following on Caterina Fake's women's business blog, Bizwerk:
"You can no longer tell people about your brand; you have to let them experience it."

- Esther Dyson

Perfect timing. I gave a presentation today where I said that branding was so much more than graphic design and consistency across product. Specifically, I was talking about consistency of branding on a web site and how a web site is an extension of your company. By using consistent messaging, you reinforce your brand. For my organization's purposes, I believe that messaging is five-fold:
  1. Resourceful
    People are able to find what they are looking for

    Reinforces the purpose of our organization

  2. Knowledgeable
    We are able to help people find what they need when they don't know where to look
    Reinforces the service we provide

  3. Available
    Not only is the site up, but it is easy to use, to get to, and to access
    Reinforcing that they can turn to us 24/7 to get help with their projects

  4. Reliable
    Our results are meaningful and helpful to our users
    Reinforces that we are a source they can always turn to

  5. Accessible
    Site is built to ADA standards
    We are a resource for everyone

Read the post here and get to the main Bizwerk site here.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Utata Presents: The Nocturnal Photographer

Please check out this project, the Nocturnal Photographer. I was a participant, and it was quite a challenge. To be honest, the photos I contributed were not my best ones... but low-light and night photography are new to me. So, I feel very comfortable wrapping the "i'm new at this" security blanket right around my shoulders.

I recommend hitting the "random" button (left-hand column, top right).

Much thanks to Catherine, Irina, Greg and the rest of the Utata visionaries and workerbees for putting this puppy together.

Blessings Dr. King...we Love You

the only thing we have to fear is fear itself

Today I have the day off for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday -- the first time I've ever had this day off from work with pay. I have spent the day listening to public radio which included a full hour of the last speech King gave before being assassinated and many smaller snippets of news telling how people have been celebrating the day.

And it feels meaningful. I wish more people had this day off. I wish more workplaces would honor this holiday.

Meanwhile, about his famous quote I used as the title here... ain't it the truth? When I think of my country and how we've been for the last four-and-a-half years, I think of how many of our actions, reactions, and decisions have been fear-inspired.

I wish more than anything we -- meaning the world -- would have a visionary like King walking in our midst again.

House Of Many Colors

House Of Many Colors, originally uploaded by Catherine Jamieson.

It was a fun weekend.

Sara called last minute on Friday to say she was having a belated birthday party. Could I come over for some lasagna and merriment? Um, could I and how. I haven't seen Sara that much in the last month or two, so it was good to hang out and see her and hear about new things going on in her life.

The party was full of bikers. Not motorcycle riders, but road bikers. Mountain bikers. Guys who said, I kid you not, that they wanted to be buried with their bikes. That if they went down on a trail their main concern was not if they hurt themselves but if their bike was okay. So cute.

Sara's boyfriend is a Bike Guy to an Nth degree. He had stories of "importing" bike parts into many South American countries and of riding his bike 17,000 feet down the Andes.

"You start 17,000 feet up," he said, "and by the end of the day you are at 1,000 feet in a rain forest."


Saturday night I went with Dan to an Epiphany party.

The party was full of bikers. Not peddle your own types, but motorcyle riders. Guys who had riden bikes througout Europe, throughout Africa, who knew the ins and the out of roads and engines. And it was filled with truly interesting folk.

"How do you know Clem?" I asked Jim, an older gentleman who told me of taking photos while stationed in Okinawa.

"I met Jim in Lhasa, while on a tour of Asia."

Can you imagine? A motorcycle tour through Tibet? It took him into both India and China as well and he had fun stories of riding in the Himilaya.

Another guy told me stories from the five years he lived in Saudi Arabia. And though he met his wife there, he said he was there for six months before he saw a woman other than a flight attendant.

Another gentleman, 92 years old, is a famous biker. He is one of the (real live) characters in a new movie with Anthony Hopkins that should be coming out soon.

After the party wound down, the last stragglers, of which me and Dan were a part of, ended up in the guest house for more wine, blues and torch songs and a big raging fire. The guest house was amazing and filled with artifacts from Kenya (which they pronounced as Keenya). "Pillows" which were more like head stools (wooden contraptions that cradled your head), and bags, and yoke for oxen. It was great and I took a bunch of photos but the light was really too low to do any of the photos justice.

My second NY's resolution is to get outside my social circle comfort zone. I'm two weekends for two weekends now. Complete success. :) Though, it's only January, so maybe I shouldn't get too excited. Still, a great way to start the year.

perfect timing

Last Tuesday I started a diet.

Those are words I'm pretty sure you've never read here before. One, I am not a big dieter. And two, I'm not a big one to share that type of stuff on my blog. Yet, I will share that with you because this time I feel a real committment and even an excitement about it and also because an interesting thing happened last Friday.

Last Friday I was overcome with the need to binge. I used to be a real binge-er. A fear of throwing up kept me from becoming a bulemic in high school, but it seemed that nothing could keep me from the binge.

For those of you who've never been a binge-er, the need to binge can literally take over you. It becomes overwhelming, all consuming. You can feel like -- not like you might die, but more like you might not continue to live -- if you can't binge.

My bingeing probably peaked in my early twenties, but it has reared its ugly head here and there over the years since then. I've learned that dieting -- restricting the amounts of food I am intending to eat -- invites the need to binge. However, it had been so long since I had binged -- or needed to or whatever -- that I had kind of forgotten that it could be a problem. Or even what it felt like.

So, Friday late afternoon/early evening when the binge need began to take over my thoughts and become this all encompassing, overwhelming focusneeddrivepurpose, I decided to just go for it. Just do it. Not have a mental judgment day against myself, not call out the discipline police or whatnot, and just give in.

So I did. And you know what? It wasn't that bad. I didn't go that overboard. The need was quenched; I didn't eat that much; I didn't feel so crazy or out of control. I didn't really watch what I ate the rest of the weekend, but I didn't go so out of bounds either.

Anyway, I share all of this because it did bring up a few ponderings. One, when you are in the middle of that type of momentum, it can be difficult to think that you actually have control over the situation. Or that you can ever change. Or that you have a choice. It can, in fact, feel as though you are obeying a whole nother master who is quite more powerful or ferocious than you could ever meet face-to-face in a dark alley.

And I began to think of that, because, as a student of Buddhist thought, I know that's not true.

I know that my thoughts aren't reality. I know that somehow I do not have to be a slave to impulse, to cravings, to emotions, to opinion or to my habitual patterns. It's all just.... a habit.... a tool that my crazy mind has created. Something that actually makes me feel safe and secure and protected, despite the fact that it is bad for me.

And I realized this morning, I might be strong enough, or even just open enough to being present the next time that happens. Showing up, emotionally. Not backing down. Not being afraid. Not buying into this notion that life may not continue if I don't stuff my face right this minute.

These are the things I've been pondering this morning. And then, beautifully, sereptitiously, the following was delivered to my email inbox:
How hard it can be to turn our attention within! How easily we allow our old habits and set patterns to dominate us! Even though they bring us suffering, we accept them with almost fatalistic resignation, for we are so used to giving in to them. We may idealize freedom, but when it comes to our habits, we are completely enslaved.

Still, reflection can slowly bring us wisdom. We may, of course, fall back into fixed repetitive patterns again and again, but slowly we can emerge from them and change.

— Sogyal Rinpoche
Light bulb. Aha. Oh yeah. And thank god.

It's not that I need to judge my habitual pattern as good or bad. It's more to just remember that I've grown out of it. I don't need it. And I don't need to respond to it as if it rules my life.

Baby steps. I'm really excited about changing my ways to a more healthy body -- lean and strong -- and it'll be interesting to watch these little self-sabateurs make their appearances throughout the process. I think the only response is to pat them on the head, say oh yes, I remember you. Pull up a chair, but you are no longer the ringmaster here anymore.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


ruminations, originally uploaded by emdot.

The Buddhist meditation masters know how flexible and workable the mind is. If we train it, anything is possible. In fact, we are already perfectly trained by and for samsara, trained to get jealous, trained to grasp, trained to be anxious and sad and desperate and greedy, trained to react angrily to whatever provokes us. In fact, we are trained to such an extent that these negative emotions rise spontaneously, without our even trying to generate them.

So everything is a question of training and the power of habit. Devote the mind to confusion and we know only too well, if we’re honest, that it will become a dark master of confusion, adept in its addictions, subtle and perversely supple in its slaveries. Devote it in meditation to the task of freeing itself from illusion, and we will find that with time, patience, discipline, and the right training, the mind will begin to unknot itself and know its essential bliss and clarity.

Words of truth from Sogyal Rinpoche.

Friday, January 06, 2006


IMG_4656, originally uploaded by Rick Leche.

Eagle in Sea of Gulls

What a great capture is this? And would you ever think of such a scene? A bald eagle hanging out with the lowly gull. I love the world.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


heresoneimadeearlier, originally uploaded by yolise.

current favorite flickr photo

how do i love the photo above? let me count the ways....

i must have faved 30 photos tonight. maybe not. maybe that was an exaggeration. but i bet i faved 10 or 15. so many amazing images today.

i uploaded a photo i took and i have a (wary) feeling that it's not going to be a hit w/ the flickr peeps, but you know what? i love it. i do. is that rude or not cool to say? i don't care. it speaks to me.

here it is:
how the west was one with winter

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

thank you 80s. thank you leg warmers

I'm currently working in an office that is so chilly that I have my jacket on and leg warmers on my arms.

My desk has one of those pull out shelves for the keyboard. The problem is that it is framed with a metal support system that chills my arms to the bone. Last week (week before?) I tried wrist bands -- not big enough. So I brough in an extra pair and wore two wrist bands on each arm. Still not big enough. Today I brought in wool leg warmers and they are totally doing the job. Thank you 80s. Thank you leg warmers.

Yesterday I took the train back from Irvine to SLO Town. It's usually a seven hour trip, but yesterday was slow going because they were constantly inspecting the tracks. Not a problem -- with all the train accidents, I don't mind a little slow down to prevent a train collision (especially since this train hit a car with two people in it just the week before -- nobody was injured-- miracle). Anyway, and however, and but and just wait til you hear this: there was a power outage in SLO... maybe even before that. And all the train switches were out, so we had to stop at every switch so the conducter could call ahead and see if any other train was coming. If a train was coming we had to just sit there til the train reached and passed us. Sometimes this took 30 minutes or longer. AND another train had broken down, so we hitched it to ours and pulled it back to SLO.

It took two hours to go from Guadalupe (south SLO county) to San Luis Obispo. By the time we pulled into the trainstation (12! hours! later! -- I'm not exaggerating), everybody was itching to get off. BUT, another train was ahead of us and we had to wait for it to unboard or deboard oer explode or whatever they had to do with it. So so so painful. Almost two in the morning, only five minutes walking distance from my house, but having to stay on the train so we could pull up to the station (another 15 minutes).

And that is my train story. Power restored to most of SLO County by this morning.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Get a party hat.

Get a party hat., originally uploaded by emdot.

how we ended 2005

  • saw brokeback mountain and fun with dick and jane

  • got carded (for real! twice in a month's time!) at the daily grill whilst ordering a sam adams*

  • drank a glass of 1998 justin isosceles (very nice!)

  • BUT drank a glass of water to usher in a healthy new year, instead of champagne

2005 was tough for most of my friends. and me, too. but i will miss writing 05 and/or 5 as it is my lucky number. time to say onwards and upwards. let's hear it for fresh starts and new beginnings.

xo to all.

* I know I don't look 21. You know they are supposed to card if you look 30 or younger. THAT IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME.

Also, for the record, was wearing braids and heart hat. Hats and hairdos that require ponytail holders seem to facilitate the carding.