Lake Effect

It turns out that blogging is much more easily accomplished from a Days Inn hotel room in an unfamiliar town during a blizzard than on a birthday or a visit home for the holidays. I’m not sure I have anything particularly insightful or pertinent to put out there, except to express my gratitude for warmth and safety. We sat on Interstate 90 for hours today with our surprisingly patient four month old in her car seat in the back, chattering (I’m assuming) about her hopes that we would change her diaper and feed her again some day. Finally, the state patrol kicked everyone off of the freeway and we found ourselves on even more treacherous country roads. There’s nothing like seeing car after car in ditch after ditch to remind you how lucky you are to be creeping at a snail’s pace ahead. On that potential metaphor, I think I’ll call it a night– only adding that in the past, I’ve spent the first few days of new years looking back and tallying up signs of progress. This year, I would rather look out at sideways snow and be glad that there’s more than a car between it and my family. Snow.

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Mom-athy Part 2

I finally got back to work as an Artist (Writer) in Residence at the children’s hospital last week. My warm-up was an art project at a tree lighting ceremony for chronically ill kids. It went beautifully, but when I got home and discovered I just missed tucking my baby into bed, I was a wreck. All I could think was, how do moms do this? How did my mom do this? Late that night I was as actually happy to wake up at 1 and 4 and 6 a.m. to feed and snuggle my little one. I didn’t know how I was going to leave her for eight hours that day and worried over whether or not I’d left enough milk for her. This must be the Italian mama in me. You know the ones who cook the ten course meal and wonder if that’s enough. In any case, getting back into the swing of things went more smoothly than I expected. It helped that the other artist and dancer I worked with are amazing and that one of the first patients I met said she loved, loved, loved Shakespeare. What I didn’t expect was how much it would affect me to see unwell babies and their parents.

A few weeks ago, I created the word, mom-athy. Now I feel that its definition needs to be expanded. Evidently this sort of deep empathy extends not only to your own ailing child, but also to those of total strangers. You don’t usually take an infant to the hospital unless something is very wrong, so you can imagine the condition of the babies I saw when I first walked through the automatic doors.

Most of my first year working at the hospital I was pregnant. Moms loved to ask me how I was feeling and to tell me about their experiences. Several of them remembered me upon my return and were thrilled to find out that I had a little girl and to see her picture. (I always thought people carried pictures with them to show off their progeny. Now I’m convinced it’s a way to deal with missing them.) I felt so grateful that the baby waiting for me to come home at the end of the day was healthy, and I felt and so deeply compassionate toward the moms who weren’t at the hospital to write stories and paint pictures. Then, I remembered that was what I was there to do.

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Filed under Health, Relationships, Writing

California, Always Setting The Tone In All Things That Matter!

When it comes to setting any “Green” trends, the whole country seemingly looks all the way west… to California! From electric cars to banning plastic bags to legalizing marijuana, California is one of the states that is in the lead, if not the one setting the pace for change throughout the country.

As if the natural beauty of California isn’t enough, San Diego opened its first legal marijuana dispensary, A Green Alternative, late last year. The dispensary itself sets the tone for what the industry should follow: you will find a large selection of medical marijuana products of all types. The environment itself is impressively clean and safe with guards at the entrance to ensure the safety of their employees and

However, the best part is that A Green Alternative took things a few steps further to deliver the ultimate client experience. Just in case a client doesn’t feel like heading to the shop because they are tired after a long day of work or perhaps they feel sick… the reason doesn’t matter. Using GoMeadow, the patient can place an order and have it be delivered to their door… never having to step outside or change out of their pajamas. So, in essence, the premier San Diego marijuana delivery service, pretty much!

Of course, the industry is in its infancy and is already showing great signs of progress. The legalization process is the first step and with A Green Alternative creating a safe, clean environment for the rest of the city and state to follow, things are headed in the right direction. But what else is amazing about California?

Health Trends!

Most health trends seem to take root in California before they catch on with the rest of the country. In fact, if you have lived on the east coast and then checked out California’s cuisine, you will notice a huge difference in the way food is made there.

For instance, east coast’s version of Chinese food is way different than the west coast version in both flavor and nutrition. The same can be said for Mexican food. Mexican food on the east coast is loaded with sour cream and cheese (which makes it extremely delicious in a fattening way!) However, order Mexican food on the West coast and it contains more guacamole, no sour cream if any, and very little cheese. In the same manner, one cannot find New York style pizza in California (for the obvious reason, but still!) or any marvelous foods such as a stromboli or delicious cheesesteaks:

delicious cheesesteak

If you are addicted to those foods, it takes a bit of an adjustments. If you start looking at the overall picture, however, you will realize that most foods in California are prepared in a more health conscientious manner. You will find more hiking activities (more activities, period!), fruits, avocado/guacamole, fresh seafood, and farmer’s markets every where.

California is all about embracing nature, your body, health, a clean state of mind. While the rest of the country complains about the housing market, Californians enjoy everything amazing this state has to offer its residents!

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Find An Amazing Dentist & Hold On With All You Have!

Unfortunately, over the years, I have had the displeasure of switching dentists over and over, a bit too many times for my liking. I have dealt with incompetent office staff, dentists who have a heavy hand, and dentists who wouldn’t revise their shoddy work. I have had a crown that came off within a month and the dentist wouldn’t redo the work. I have had a dentist try to over-treat my teeth, meaning he told me I had six cavities yet when I went in for a second opinion from another dentist, I was told I have one true cavity…:

insensitive dentist

Yes, I have had quite the misfortune of running into dentists who didn’t know what the hell they were doing… that was until I ran into one of the best dentists in Escondido CA and I have not looked back! This is the first dentist I have stuck to for about three years and she has a nice, easy hand. Also, there is comfort in knowing that the whole staff and the dentist takes care in getting to hear you out first, to fully realize how a problem may be affecting you.

State Of The Art Equipment

The first thing I noticed about the dentist’s office here in Escondido (CA) was that the office was maintained really well. Everyone was courteous, knew their jobs, efficient, and helpful. In fact, the office itself was clean (this is huge for me), the attention to detail impeccable, and the lighting set up for a nice, comforting ambiance.

While I received my very first cleaning, I was given the option to watch a movie. Nowhere else had I seen such a thing before. This helped me be distracted so greatly that after the initial five minutes, I was tuned out. I never tuned into my anxiety and before I knew it, the cleaning was over with.

It really was that easy.

So, it was no surprise that when my brother needed his cavity filled a few months ago, I told him he should go see my dentist. He’s heard me talk about her for the last couple of years so while he was open to the idea, he was still a bit… reluctant. Off he went though!

Later on, he thanked me and told me he had a fun experience there. I made so much fun of him since, well, tell me, who ever has fun at a dentist? Apparently there was no shortage of cute hygienists for him to flirt with. Wait until his wife finds out, HA!

All joking aside, I am the type of person who will go out of their way to support a local business or service provider with years of loyalty because I believe in small businesses. If you go buy your clothes at Wal-Mart, who does that benefit? A big corporation takes its profits first! Now, while small businesses may charge more (because they have overhead fees they have to pay), that money goes directly to their rent, their child’s needs, car payments; the point is, when you support a small business or service provider, it affect them directly.

I am all for supporting local businesses and service providers directly and with years of loyalty behind them.

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An Inside Look At A Vet’s Day

As the friend of one of the vets in Escondido CA area animal hospital, I have to say, that they have one hell of a job. A lot of people see that job as a blessing but from personal experience, please keep in mind that people who treat animals are still dealing with lives. Sure, they are animals but again, these are lives none the less. When they cannot be saved, those vets and vet technicians still get upset and cry, just not in front of their patients and families; quite a lot of times, after the work day is over and they have “permission” to fall apart like my friend does.

Therapy Should Be Mandatory For Some Professions!

Any career path that deals with life and death of any kind should be required to seek and attend counseling as part of their job requirement. People seem to become very defensive when counseling or therapy is suggested. However, it is a fact of life that dealing with such heavy mechanisms on the daily on your job can take a heavy toll on a human being. It is natural that such stress should be relieved by means of therapy.

My personal interactions between me and my best friend and her co-workers lead me to believe that perhaps what is more tragic than not being able to save a pet’s life is to have the pet owner’s family unleash horrible feelings and words at the doctors and the technicians. They certainly deserve more compassion and love than this.

In fact, without therapy, most of these people (please keep in mind we are dealing with people here at the end of the day!) return to their families and friends and they will probably carry the day’s weight on their shoulders. Who wants to go home and celebrate their wife’s promotion or their child’s birthday after putting two cats and a dog to sleep or not having a surgery go well?

Not Every Story Is Tragic!

Of course, not every story is tragic! My vet friend’s most beloved pet is a husky she adopted when someone brought her in and left her there six years ago. She had been left there, stranded and hurt on the side of the road where the stranger had discovered her. Not being able to afford surgery and not wanting to see the worst of fate for this dog, the stranger abandoned her once in the care of professional animal doctors.

Of course, being the animal lover my friend is, she did the surgery for free. While letting the dog heal at her home, she developed a loving bond with it. She named the husky Lucy and now, every Sunday, Lucy leads us on different hikes. She has a doting mom and family that loves her.

Besides that, my friend is involved in rescue missions and does one surgery a month for super low cost or free. Actually, most of the workers at the clinic volunteer their time to great causes. I know many of these employees nurse some of these animals themselves and are involved in fostering animals as well. Like I mentioned earlier, these are some of the best humans you will ever know. Get to know them.

If only most people were as compassionate as these vets and their technicians, the world would be an amazing place!

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How Streaming Apps Have Changed The TV Scene

With the rise of giants like Netflix and Gamefly, I love any other options available to me. While I loved cable (and boy, I loved my cable), I was easily spending around $150 a month.

Yes, a month!

How is that? Because I loved my Showtime and HBO shows, the cable companies required you to get their upgraded packages, their highest level of services so you could add Showtime or HBO on top of that. Now, before Showtime and HBO came out with their “no TV required” apps, I remember wondering why they hadn’t gone down this route (like Netflix) years ago.

Finally, we have HBO Now which is a standalone service that streams online, allowing you to not have cable or subscribe to it. Now, you can watch all HBO shows on your phone or PC without having to pay $150 per month to these greedy cable companies.

Of course, other options such as PlayBox HD exist and can be easy to use if given a little bit of time. Once you set it up, there are too many movie choices for you to choose from. Of course, sometimes that can be the problem: too many choices can make you feel overwhelmed but in this case, options are great.

For those who don’t want to pay anything at ALL, you can always do an internet search and find more options. However, be careful of tons of pop-ups and shady viruses being thrown at your computer. Of course, you also have another popular option, an alternative to Netflix, such as Hulu.

Both of these options have quite a lot of variety. For instance, Netflix has a huge selection of movies and now, its own series that are becoming huge hits such as Bloodline, Chelsea, Gracie and Frankie, and Orange Is The New Black (to name a few). With PlayBox HD, you have the option of watching your favorite movies with convenience. With Hulu, there’s quite a variety including hit tv series that are made available often.

Combine Them & Still Better Than Cable!

If you were to do the math and get Netflix, PlayBox HD, and Hulu, hell, it’s still much cheaper than cable. It’s all a lot better than cable. Last month, I bought a Roku for under a $100 and have Netflix on it. I’m about to add HBO Now as well, bringing my total monthly bill to around $30. I can cancel any time, no monthly commitments and I can binge watch.

Plus, I don’t miss the invasive commercials. Who needs all of that? Invite your family and friends, pop some popcorn, grab dinner time snacks or sweets, and start your favorite movies on PlayBox HD. In fact, I prefer it over going to the movies as that tends to cost a lot. M&Ms and a soda for around $10 or movies for the month for around $12?

I think I know which way to go with this. There is no denying that these services save Americans a heck lot of money! Forget only Americans, as these go worldwide.

After all, aren’t we all citizens of the planet? These apps may as well benefit us all, no matter the location.

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Filed under Science and Technology

How Far Apps Have Come

Man, I remember the 90s when the internet wasn’t really accessible to the public. I vaguely remember the mid-90s when AOL (as some of us may fondly remember it as America Online) became accessible… but only after my computer was heavily modified with a dial-up modem.

Yep, remember the nagging dial tone? The oddly disturbing and annoying phone calls interrupting your connection to the already sluggish online world?

I remember the first time I used AOL. I had NO clue about chatrooms, forums, none of it! I suppose no one really did. I thought using acronyms such as “lol”, “lmao”, and “haha” were odd.

Fast Forward To Today…

It all progressed so fast. Soon after AOL, many other dial-up internet service providers popped up. Heck, a few years later, perhaps early 2000s, broadband services were being offered. Good God! I will never forget getting cable internet for the first time and playing online multiplayer games this way.

My mind was blown!

Then came the iPhone and the Androids that continually blew my mind. These phone single-handedly murdered the need for GPS devices as well as stand-alone cameras for regular people. While I’d love to own a fancy lens camera, I can take some amazing, detailed images with my iPhone and have it posted to social media within seconds… how powerful is that?

What isn’t in the grasp of our fingertips? We have Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, dating apps, free gaming apps, everything downloadable and functioning within minutes. In fact, you can checkout the Facebook.com login and read about why you should have an account; perhaps even why it is beneficial to set one up.

In fact, let’s discuss why you should be on Facebook. While people will warn you against social media and its obvious dangers, you should also take into account the benefits of a social media presence. For instance, if you own a business, you can set up a Facebook page and show behind the scenes images. If you want a personal account for yourself, you can easily connect with family and friends and share important updates as well as images with them. How cool would it be to view your grandchildren’s pictures from a few states away? No longer do you have to wait to see them in person or mail each other pictures!

Most of these social media platforms work in a similar way. Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram are very similar in the sense that they are image heavy platforms. Twitter and Tumblr can be used for short updates. Facebook started off for restricted university and college students and now can be used by anyone. You can use it for all types of updates.

However, if you sign up for more than one social application at a time, you will quickly feel overwhelmed. I am quite a tech savvy person but with new applications becoming trendy every couple of months, it’s hard to keep up and I find myself attached to 1-2 platforms at any given time, mainly Instagram and Facebook.

The question is: do you find these social applications fun and easy to use?

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Why Weddings Can Become A Nightmare :/

Tying the knot is always a wonderful thing but as the initial excitement wears off, couples soon become overwhelmed. Why overwhelmed? As they start putting thought into their wedding plans, they start realizing how hard planning their wedding can be and also, how expensive it can be; getting it all sorted out, however, is the beastly task and is the overall most stressful part that couples usual endure.

For starters, setting a budget ahead of time is crucial. The couple needs to decided on one, where the ceremony will take place, whether they should hire a wedding planner who can organize all the details and save them hours of stress and time, and if their parents will help them financially.

Will they get married at San Francisco’s City Hall or
another fancy option? Will the cake be included with the food or will the couple hire a specific baker just for a nice cake?

Weddings Cost Too Much!

As easy as such a beautiful event should be, they, on average, can cost a crippling amount. That’s why the city hall can be a great option for some of the couples. And the question that kills most people? The Guest List! Believe it or not, most arguments are over how many guests will be invited to the official ceremony and who will be seated at which table, along with which family members will be sitting at the “official” table.

Forget that: what about the flavours of the cake? Or what will be the official wedding song for the couple? How about the Mother and Son dance song? Jealousies can easily arise among family members. There have been plenty of weddings that almost haven’t happened!

wedding meme

For a successful wedding, it is quite important… in fact, mandatory, for the couple to get a handle on things ahead of time so outside influences do not add additional stresses (yes, outside influences implies family members, as hard as that can be for some people to swallow!)

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How To Build Team Camaraderie

It’s really funny because corporate events are supposed to be entertaining but most of them can be drab and boring. Some of the happiest employees are ones that are allowed to have fun, to be creative, and feel like they are heard. When your employees feel this way within their work environment, you are building a successful team.

To have a successful team, you not only need to create a nurturing and productive environment, but you should also build team camaraderie. How does you do this?

You should plan monthly team activities whether it is meeting the team at a restaurant for dinner or drinks or a fun get together at an amusement park. You can also share company savings/group buys on tickets this way.

Of course, once a year or more, the company should definitely put on a corporate event or fair. Why? What are the advantages of doing this?

Again, there is a lot to be said about building the morale of your company’s team. You are responsible for building the “right culture”.

For instance, one of my friend’s workplace threw a very cool event. They hired Juggling Inferno as they held a ton of positive reviews from the community. In fact, I haven’t seen anything close to this as I got to see jugglers, performs that would glow (“glow performers”), as well as fire performers.

Each of the performers was really at the top of their game! People were actually mesmerized by the performances and interacting with performers. It’s as if people forgot they were supposed to be at a corporate event! Childlike wonder became the theme of the party.

My friend’s team spoke of the events for weeks to come. They even took pictures from the events which were later framed. For the few who were not able to make it, the ones who did make it made sure to let them know what a good time they had.

In the end, we’re all humans and we all want work to feel a little bit less like… “work”. The best thing to do, as an employer, is to keep your employees happy.

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Filed under Career/Life, Uncategorized

Various Options For Charging Your Phone

One of the biggest problems I have experienced, shortly after owning an iPhone, is that the wires of the charger and the earphones give out within the first few months, without fail. It seems that the quality just isn’t there for the charger.

To make matters worse, the iOS 9 on the iPhone 6/6S, the battery life was supposed to be elongated. However, disappointingly, this was NOT the case.

What is pretty cool about iOS 9 is that you are able to see a breakdown of which applications are using what amount of battery. Talk about being specific! To do this, go into “Settings”, then “General”, then “Usage”, and finally, “Battery Usage”.

There is not much to do here other than monitor your apps or buy an extra iPhone charger or two. I am glad that I have invested in a couple of chargers, even a car charger.

One of the most draining apps on the iPhone (arguable any Smart Phone!) is the Facebook app. The reason for this is due to the auto-play feature for videos. Why, by default, it is set to auto-play, who knows as that not only eats up tons of data but also drains the battery of your iPhone.

To turn auto-play off, go to “Settings”, “Facebook”, “Settings”, “Auto-“Play”, then select “Wi-Fi Only” or “Off.”

Easy enough!

In case you want fancier options… the iPhone’s charge and sync docks have a built in 8-pin connection (or a 30-pin connection), depending on which model you choose. Heck, some docks come with some sweet displays or even a speaker that will beautifully play music from your iPhone while charging. Some of these docks are compatible with iPods and iPads.

charging stations

Of course, sometimes I find that my iPhone is dead when I head out for work or groceries. In such cases, a car charger can be a life saver. Now, with these, if you’re heading on a long drive, it makes sense to invest in a good one, even if that means spending more than usual.

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Filed under Science and Technology

Taking Time Off Or Working Extra Hard For The Holidays?!

Being a writer, it has been extremely important for me to juggle my work and life balance.  For instance, it’s “that time of the year”, meaning the holidays where whether I like it or not, not only do the bills have to get paid, but I also have to bake a few extra “goodies”, but holiday cards for my friends (hey, it’s tradition), and gifts for very close friends.

This is the time of the year I take on extra work, extra gigs to help with these things.  While I do some ghost writing, I also write articles for certain sites.  During my off time, I love to catch up on the newest of fiction and non-fiction books (those recommendations coming soon!)

Some interesting gifts for people within my family circle.  Sheesh.  As much as I love them, what a costly bunch!  Here’s what’s on the list:

  • GameStop Store For Playstation 4 Video Games (at least two my nephew and niece requested!)
  • Killer Kayaks: Best Inflatable Kayaks (apparently there’s such things and apparently they’re affordable, according to oldest nephew :/ )
  • Hiking Shoes For My Sister (I’d rather just give her an Amazon Gift Card)
  • Books, books, books (5 new ones for myself, I have yet to decide!)

A part of me, well a big part of me knows that the holidays have become all about going into debt; this is when credit card / banks are booming and Christmas shoppers are going crazy trying to please their families, relatives, and friends.

Whatever happened to getting together and just bonding?  But, I can’t deny that giving presents to the little ones doesn’t warm up my heart a bit.  I do love giving presents, much more than receiving them unless they’re hand made, as sappy as that may sound.

But heck, I’ll just do a few extra gigs so I can afford a few extra smiles.  How about you?!

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Filed under General, Random, Uncategorized

I think I need a Cleaning Lady…

cleanliness-godlinessI’m a mom, and I pride myself on making my home to be neat and tidy all the time.  I like taking care of my kids and being able to come home to a clean house.  I don’t mind cleaning, in fact, sometimes I enjoy it.  Nothing pleases me like a fresh, clean house on a spring sunday morning.

BUT…

I think I’m done for a while.  I’ve never had a cleaning lady in my life but I’m starting to consider it.  It’s been a long summer and it’s gearing up to be a long winter, and during that time I’ve spent a pretty big amount of time just keeping up around the house.  I’ve tried to take on some side ventures, start a few hobby projects, but house work has just started to get in the way.

I always considered having a cleaning lady to be a big “posh” or “snooty”.  Growing up we never had one, I always thought it was sort of like having a butler or something, that only really rich people could have one.   Now that I’m looking into it, however, it’s actually no bad at all.  It’s not like they are living with you or anything, they just come in once a week or whatever.  Just a couple of hours and maybe they get 50 bucks or something for their time.  It’s not a bad wage and it’s worth it for me to spend $200 a month and save several hours.  I found a few companies, (one aptly named house cleaning Denver) and I’m considering taking them on.  Ideally though, I would find someone who I could work directly with, instead of giving a cut to “the man”, as it were.

This is especially true now that I’m busy.  If I wasn’t busy I might consider just saving the money, but I have it and it’s not much to spend, so I don’t mind.  I also think it’s good that I can start focusing more on my various activities and achieving new things, rather than just focusing on day to day chores and activities.  I saw a Facebook meme the other day with an apparent quote from John Rockefeller, “If you work all day, you’ll have no time to make money”.  Rings a bit true, I think.  If I’m constantly busy with just the day-to-day minutiae (pun intended, ha!) of life, I won’t have time to actually start achieving what I’d like to do.

I also don’t mine employing a cleaning lady.  I always thought that cleaning ladies are someone’s mom or grandma and they are just trying to pull in a little bit of money to stay afloat, so If I find a nice one, I think it would be a good thing, a good use of my money.  It’s not everyday that you get to support a hard working woman who is trying to pull together a little extra bread.  Most of the time I’m spending money at starbucks or some other billionaire owned conglomerate, the least I could do would be put some money in the pockets of the people!

But I disgress… In the end, I’ll see how I feel about getting some help around the house tomorrow… For now, it’s off to sleep!

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