Monday, December 22, 2008

UPDATED: Guideposts

Today we received our January issue of Guideposts, as well as 10 copies as part of "the publishing deal." I'll update with the link when the on-line copy is available. Whoohooo! I'm officially published!

Glory, Alleluia!

UPDATED with link to on-line copy of the article.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Getting the Spirit

Last night as part of Family Night we toured the neighborhood to admire our neighbors lights and decorating skills...and to have fun occasionally lambasting their taste. Some houses were very high class and tastefully decorated. Some were a hodgepodge of thoughts and emotions. We saw yards that combined the peanuts gang, multiple Santas and nativity scenes. Since we're not decorating our yard this year (we're leaving town on the 23rd and won't be back until January), I'm not sure if I should completely refrain from judgment or let loose and publish some of the hilarity. OK, I've decided on restraint.

I wasn't going to go there at all, however, my sister posted pictures of her home's decorated interior and asked that we imagine we're hearing "Christmas Wrapping" by the Waitresses. Why imagine it when you can embed it?

This is so much better than anything we had going down in our neighborhood.
Merry Christmas!!!

After all of that....

I completed on-line Defensive Driving 2 1/2 weeks ago to address a ticket I got 3 months ago. I was proud that I took the course in time to avoid having to pay to expedite the certificate of completion. I had that in hand 2 weeks ago. And yet...I still waited until the last possible day to go to the courthouse to turn in the paperwork. {sigh}

Well, it makes for a nice excuse to leave work early today.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dreams

Like snippets of conversation overheard in passing. Incomplete. Not real. Yet to be fulfilled. Not fully understood because key elements are missing. Nothing to indicate whether my imagination can successfully complete the picture. Nothing to stop me from trying.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Short Story Contest

Today I submitted a short story to the Austin Chronicle's 2008 Short Story Contest.

'nough said.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I love Austin, TX!!!

When I was young, dumb and 18 (redundant?) I spent almost a year traveling with the circus (The Circus - Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey). I was in Austin, newly employed at the local Arena as an usher, when I pulled up my tent stakes and hit the road with The Greatest Show on Earth. I lost count of how many cities we visited, Dallas, Tulsa, Wichita Falls, Kansas City, Detroit, Cleveland, Birmingham, Pensicola...with major stops in Boston and Miami. I caught the flavor of the midwest and the eastern states. In the end, I decided Austin was home. Shortly after my return to Austin, I met my wonderful husband and settled down for a life filled with as much fun, adventure and drama as any 3-ring circus could have offered.

One of the things I love about this town, my town, my home of choice...is the live music scene. From the first time I came here in '82 when I was 17 years old, I have been enamored with the local musicians. Sure, back in my really youthful youth I got to hear Joe Ely, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and other names you may or may not recognize ... enjoyed through slightly illegal entry into Dallas clubs. I got to see the Who and be deafened by ZZ Top in the Dallas music scene. But Austin venues hold a charm not to be outdone. Mostly they are open air and free. Zilker Park is most notable for its free concerts - and I've enjoyed many. When we lived in Lago Vista (just west of Austin), the town of less than 5,000 had 4 (yes, FOUR) live music venues.

Why am I reminiscing? Today, hubby and I dropped in on the Wheatsville Arts Festival. It was truly a blast to the past. Not because the music was retro, but because all of the people who were hanging out at the free concerts 20-something years ago where there. Not that we recognized anyone...it was just that we were all of an era. Austin's gay/lesbian community were well represented. Austin's artistic left were also out in force. Dreadlocks and tie-dye (we bought some of the latter, as well as some home-spun glass art), long skirts and sandals, long hair for men and women, all on folks my age (40+) or older. Very little in the way of piercing and tats.

I'm not sure if there was a memo or what's going on with the UT collegiates. Today's happening was at a park just north of campus. Where were all of the 20-somethings? Has Austin moved on? Have we (hubby and I)? Are we a dying breed? Maybe we just need to get out more.

In the end, I guess I don't need to be hip or cool - I just like knowing that there is good music available for free at Art Festivals. I love Austin, Texas!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Defensive Driving, Part II

I'm back at it. I'm not sure how they have calculated the time required to read each page of text, or if the intent is to motivate me to pay for the

Tired of reading? Listen to the entire course with our audio read-along feature.

This is now being offered at a discounted rate. It was ~$10 for the upgrade. I'm either reading faster or the time allowed per word of text has shifted. The challenge with clicking away from the training and letting my mind wander is that there is also a time limit on how long I can be away.

Something that has added a tremendous amount of entertainment is playing "slug bug" during the videos. My son happened to stop by yesterday for this video (mute the video and put on your favorite tune):

We both caught the slug bug so the game was on!
video
Today, I got to enjoy this video:
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How many slug bugs can you spot? (My son and I do not agree on all of the models. He says 1 or 2, I say 3 or 4) Once I started playing, I couldn't stop. It's kept me vastly entertained. There's a clip with the same aqua-colored sb appearing over and over again - very exciting stuff!

If I learned nothing else, I know that we drivers are not checking our tire pressure often enough. This was mentioned repeatedly, and I'm definitely guilty. Check your tire pressure, people! It's free! It only takes a minute of your time! There is no argument that your vehicle will be safer if your tires are properly inflated.

Before anyone thinks I'm being unduly harsh, I should make clear - this is the BEST DD course I have EVER taken. Ever. I'm a woman who knows her Defensive Driving. www.idrivesafely.com. I strongly recommend it...should you find yourself with a ticket requiring dismissal, or a desire to lower your insurance, or nothing better to do for a couple of evenings or a Saturday.

I, myself, promise to behave on the road in such a way as to avoid this eye-tick inducing exercise. I'm on my last set of lessons (page 3 of 7). I'm confident I can make it through to the end. But it's bedtime, and I am seriously just wishing it were done.

I've saved up lots of fodder for a future recap, but for tonight, I'm hitting publish before I complete the course because honestly, once I successfully complete the final exam (because eventually, I know that this will come to an end) I'm running off to bed. Or stumbling off to bed.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Surviving Defensive Driving

I'm convinced that this is less about educating drivers and more about deterring us ADHD-always-in-a-hurry folks (speed again and we'll make you sit through another round of Defensive Driving!). The people who need to hear this are the slow-pokes who get in the left lane (aka "the fast lane"). There's a statement about "slow down and pull off to the right" when traveling on a 2-lane blacktop and you're plagued by someone on your tale. On a recent trip to Bryan, the speed limit on the 2-lane blacktop was 70 mph. Understandably, a lot of the locals are comfortable doing a lot less than 70. Others were comfortable doing more than 70. I was happy to do 70, but unhappy when trapped behind yokels driving for miles at 55.

Tired of reading? Listen to the entire course with our audio read-along feature.

If you've never taken the on-line course, I can assure you the greatest challenge is the timer. I'm a fast reader so much of the course is focused on counting down 5....4....3....2....1 waiting for the timer to hit 0 so I can click to the next page. I should be embarrassed to admit how many times I've taken Defensive driving. My first time was in an elementary school 20 years ago, taught by a DPS trouper. It's not coincidence that one "took" better than the rest and many years passed before I found myself again in the classroom. I've done the comedy club routine - which was painful. Comedian-wanna-be's teaching unfunny material. I've actually tried this one in various mediums. Then I tried the DD/Dinner specials - which always seemed to be hosted in the local greasy spoons. I've done on-line DD several times. You may be noticing that DD has not cured me of my speeding ways.

It's not that I don't know how to drive safely, defensively, slowly.... I seriously think the gentlemen in blue who patrol the road between here and my old residence in Lago Vista have missed me. I haven't gotten a speeding ticket in the years since I moved away until.... I took my Mustang out for a spin one Sunday morning, trying to juggle church services. My wonderful husband was giving witness to his prison ministry at our old church and my wonderful son was running the projector at our new church. I told hubby I'd be there at the 8 am and 10:30 am services, and I told son I'd get him to the 10:30 am service and at some point during the 8 am service I discovered the 10:30 am service began at 10! So, I was hustling to get home sooner rather than later in order to get our son to church and myself back to church...you get the picture?

Tired of reading? Listen to the entire course with our audio read-along feature.

I've tried deferred adjudication, and it's not a bad way to go. I can't remember now why I didn't opt for that... oh yeah! it takes longer to process at the court. You have to meet with the DA. I was gearing up for my trip to Asia when I got the ticket, and I'd just returned when I went to the courthouse. I sure didn't anticipate the job change. Now I'm just trying to grind through the mandatory 6 hours of timed spurts of attention. If I let my attention wander too far, I'll time out and have to backtrack. At least the quiz questions for this particular on-line training have been all common-sense and not "are you paying attention?" I hated the last one where they asked things like "what color shirt was the driver wearing?"

One new twist with the course I'm taking now is that they offered (and I accepted) to acquire the copy of my driving record. It seems like they're charging 2.5X the rate I'd pay if I could be bothered to find the office and make the request in person - and it is well worth the cost!

I just read the section on aggressive driving. I don't consider myself aggressive...maybe assertive. Mostly in a hurry. Not hateful. I don't flip the bird, I don't honk, I don't call names (much). But, my goal is that someday people won't flip the bird at me or call me names. That would be good. Of all of the bad behavior listed, texting my sister with slug bug sightings and driving too fast are my primary faults. Text messaging is a new one on the list of road challenges. I don't remember that even being mentioned the last time I took DD.
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Google yielded plenty of data that confirms this is a bad practice.

Tired of reading? Listen to the entire course with our audio read-along feature.

Did I mention that the particular flavor of on-line DD that I've pursued offers a $10 upgrade to the illiterate? I'm amused that I could simply blog and let the course run as background noise.

Part I is over. I'll pick up where I left off tomorrow.

Peace,