Saturday, October 28, 2006

Halloween

It's only a few more days until Halloween - and there's no escaping it wherever you go over here. It's almost like a national sport. ALL stores have Halloween decorations and/or items to sell. I dread Christmas!!!
Anyway... seeing as Halloween was approaching, our VP of IT decided that we should have one last "IT get together" since we have now officially been morphed into IBM and such outings will most certainly never happen again. He decided on visiting the capital of Halloween - Salem, MA. It's only about half an hour away from work and we all piled into our cars yesterday morning and drove to the Visitor's Center in Salem. On the itinerary we had a guided trolley tour through Salem, lunch at the Beer Works restaurant and then tickets to the Salem Witch Museum.
The trolley ride was ok, Salem is quite a beautiful little town by the sea but the tourists are only there for the witch history. 1692, the Salem witch trials. A lot of bla bla going on during the trolley ride, interesting and not so interesting tidbits about the times when a few teenage girls were so bored that they talked themselves into such hysteria that left the doctor stumped and only able to announce that this was the work of witches. It was a nice little tour had it not been for our tour guide, a young guy in his early 20s who looked like he was blind. I'm only saying that because he NEVER looked anyone in the eye. He looked just slightly past you but never made eye contact. It was weird - I almost felt like watching just him to see if he really WAS blind LOL
Lunch at the Beer Works was nice and everyone took advantage of the huge diversity of beers that they had on offer - here's a picture of Blueberry Beer. The little black things in the glass are actual blueberries and they act like a real lava lamp. They go up and down every now and then. Fascinating!!!



After lunch we went to the Salem Witch Museum where we sat in a dark room and had to endure a dreadfully boring and lame presentation of the history of witches and the witch trials from 1692. Here's a picture of the museum from the outside and a picture of a witch from the gift shop.





All in all it was a good day, lovely weather, sunny though a bit cold. We were lucky, it wouldn't have been near as nice if we'd gone today - it's almost torrential rain out there at the moment.

I shall end with a pic of the box of books I bought at Nashua Library's book sale last weekend... I still haven't had time to read any of them but I can't wait! So many books, so little time!!!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Driving to work

I keep coming across some stunning views whenever I drive wherever (mostly to and from work) so I wanna share with you two different morning drive-ins.

This was on Monday morning - what a foggy way to start the week:







And this was yesterday morning... complete with a beautiful sunrise :-)











And here's two shots of the bowling alley we went to with our team last night - I'd forgotten how much I enjoy bowling! Reminds me of the fun days with Brina, Iri and Vanessa in Bremen all those years ago, summer after summer - ah, the good ole days!



Saturday, October 21, 2006

Driving home

How much more different could two drives home be...?

Here are pics from Wednesday evening, driving up Route 3.






And these are the ones I took tonight, same route. All within a few seconds from eachother... In this weather I got my first taste of REAL bad weather when the rain came pouring down so fast and quick that within seconds we were driving through a good inch of water on the highway!!!!!!!!! In fact, it felt like the damn car was swimming, not driving!








Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Weight and other things...

I've been very good this week on WW. In fact, so strong is my commitment to it this time that I've decided to add a little "countdown" ticker for my weight loss to this blog, so everyone can see. You can view it on the left, right underneath my profile. I shall update it tomorrow when I've got my WW weigh in. Needless to say, 70lbs is one heck of a lot to lose but I know I can do it so I just need to bloody stick to it for once!

On a different matter - got a letter from IBM today (well, it was handed to me by my manager) in which the END DATE of my current job is defined as July 5th, 2007. So - basically, either I find something else within IBM to do after July 5th, or I can pack my bags. And then there's still always that chance that they might get rid of me before that date, in which case they'd have to pay me severance package. God knows how measly that might end up being. Either way - I should be at least a little scared but I'm not bothered at all, which kinda freaks me out. Surely I should start panicking right about now??? Oh well... whatever happens, happens, eh?

In the meantime chaos reigns at work. Being the only one left out of a team of four, my day consists of trying to help people who are either too stupid to read a detailed 40 page migration guide for their new laptops, or genuine people who have real problems that need solving. Being in charge of telecoms means that I get to spend hours on the phone with phone companies such as Cingular, AT&T and god knows whatever else, as well as playing part-time accountant for the phone bills, which totally and completely DOES MY HEAD IN!!!!!! ARRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!
Let's put this into perspective here. I was so busy the last two days, that I didn't have a chance to even start my email program on my machine until about noon, and then it took another two hours on top of that to find the time to catch up on emails. PLUS... I didn't get to eat until about 3pm!!! Now, THAT'S major news, huh? ;-) That's just the way things are here at the moment, I guess... non-stop.
I can't say it's something to complain about really. I don't feel totally stressed out, I learned that lesson back in my support days. There's just no point trying to bust my back doing more than I can. So I try to do a BIT more than I can but not too much and that works well. I do miss being lazy and using some time to do personal things online but then again I'm not being paid for that so I might as well do the work ;-) It is much nicer being on my own now though... this way I get to decide how and when what gets done. And I feel much more confident in my job now too, so it's all good.

I can't think of anything else to share at the moment. More when there's more to tell!

Monday, October 16, 2006

The need to create

I've spent the last week trying desperately to fight an urge inside of me that I know won't go away for a while. It occured to me suddenly that towards the end of every year I get these "cravings" to create something, DO something. Last year I was all caught up in my NaNoWriMo novel and though it's still only half way through and unfinished/unedited, I'm mighty proud of it. I was also getting into SongU bigtime, taking classes, writing songs/lyrics, finding co-writers, setting up my so-called home recording studio. It's weird to see it all repeat itself again this year and it makes me think whether it's worth it, seeing as I didn't finish any of the stuff I started last year.

Granted, the recording studio is packed up in a storage room in Woking but other than that... do I really want to start a new novel? Do I really want to start co-writing songs again? Do I really want to buy a new guitar?
The simple answer is YES. Whilst I know that all the things I'd like to do at once will most likely end up half done again, I will still try. So I don't have enough time to read, write, sing, write some more, watch DVDs and listen to music but what's to say I can't at least try to do all those things?

So - I'm now officially declaring that I WILL start another year on NaNoWriMo and intend to do all in my power to win (aka write 50,000 words in one month). I've got a vague idea about what I could write but things can still change in the next two weeks, who knows.

On the more "real" part of my life, well, we sang the Neptune part of Gustav Holst's "Planets" with the Nashua Symphony last night. Somebody had the incredibly stupid idea to squeeze about 60 women backstage into a tiny hallway and open the doors to the stage when their part came up. The intention was to make our voices sound detached, etherial, not in the room. Well, I'd say we succeeded. By about the second bar most of us had lost our timing and/or notes so by the fifth bar there were about three or four voices alone singing!!! LOL It was so ridiculous I had to try very hard not to laugh out loud. Even under the best circumstances we probably wouldn't have been very good. Under the given circumstances, it was impossible.

I, for one, get really excited when it comes to performing. The first 5 minutes I'm usually out of breath and my heart is beating one million miles a minute. It takes me this long to recover and draw myself up to my full potential. Well, given the fact that our part of the Neptune only lasts about 4 minutes, disaster was going to strike. From rehearsals I realized very quickly that all 2nd sopranos in the 2nd chorus had no clue what and when they were singing and were pretty much going with whatever I was singing. So when I lost it in the actual concert, so did they. Not to mention the other 5 voices who really pretty much lost it all as well. We recovered for the final 1 minute but it was an overall disaster. I can't stress enough how important it is to not feel like a sardine when you're signing, to not desperately try and see the music in a darklit hallway and to not desperately try to somehow hear the orchestra's rhythm and see your conductor all at the same time.
So, it was an experience to remember! LOL I felt bad for our conductor because she is new and it was her "introduction" in a way and we really, REALLY sucked. I'll daresay it will be better at our proper concert in November sometime.

What else... oh yeah - Nashua Library had a book sale yesterday too and I got there about an hour after it started. They had a TON of books and at prices like 50cents and $1 I just couldn't resist. I bought a box full of books for about $17. What a bargain!!! Needless to say I can't wait to start reading them but when to find time??? I'll try to post a pic of the box as soon as my camera's battery is charged again.

I went to the Guitar Center on Thursday just to see what kind of acoustic-electrics they had for about $300. I got to play and Epiphone, an Ibanez and an Ovation. I liked the Ovation best, mainly because it's got a shallow rounded back and has an in-built tuner! God knows I could use one of those! So anyway, I will keep going back a few times and play them some more... just to get a feeling and see what's out there and what I like best. I'd like to try a Takamine out as well, see if they have one in my price range in store. I will post a pic of my new baby as soon as I've got it. Oh yeah, and a colleague of mine from work is going to give me lessons too!!!!!! WOOOHOOO!!!!!

My Weight Watchers adventure is going well so far - getting back into the business of counting points is not as hard as trying to figure out how many grams 5 ounces are!!! I hate the non-metric system, it screws with my mind! UGH!

I'm gonna finish with a few pics I took on my way back home on Friday night after work. I couldn't believe the colors in the sky so I whipped my cell out and took some pics while driving. Enjoy! :-)










Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Stuff

Just a few updates thrown together without a particular topic in mind.

1. I'm now officially the only one left out of a team of 4. The other three have found better jobs outside of IBM. Lucky sods. Wish I could take off like they did but obviously my Visa restricts me collosally. What's worse at the moment is that of course there is a REASON why there were 4 people. Because that's how much work we had. Workload is now increasing but headcount is decreasing, of course. Leaving me to do the job of 4 people. Well, trying as hard as I can but I'm not Superwoman. I'll just do whatever I can do and screw the rest.

2. My upstairs neighbours have had continuous freak outs over the past few weeks. Talking to the management of the complex I was told that a "Noise letter" will be sent to them. Didn't make any difference. Then they said I had to call the front gate when it happens so that they have it "official". So last night, when the goddamn asshole woke me up again shortly before midnight, I called the front gate. The answer was "I'll see what I can do". Stupid idiot. I don't want him to SEE what he can do. I want him to DO something. Well, of course nothing happened, nobody came. But I sent another letter to the management - it should be very interesting to see how this develops. I can't stand this apartment anymore, I don't like coming home much lately and I wish I could just move. And all that because of a stupid phsycho and his dumb girlfriend.

3. Have given up on finishin the uni project this year. Yeah, I know, stop shouting at me! It's stupid but there's just no way I can get it done by the end of October so I might as well defer it to next year again. Which is what I have done. I shall start working on it much earlier though and will hopefully manage to complete it by then.

4. I have joined Weight Watchers at Work last week. It's quite a good thing because I'm not only paying this time but I'm also going to the meetings since they're people from the company, which is much nicer than perfect strangers. So fingers crossed I will have lost some weight by the end of December, which is when the 12 week session ends. I'm disgusted at the weight I have been piling on and it needs to COME OFF. If anything, wish for me to stick to this and lose the FLAB!!!

5. I'm currently thinking about starting with NaNoWriMo again... remember last year? Writing 50,000 words in 30 days? Well, I did it then and I guess I could do it again. Though to be fair, I never finished last year's novel (and I really should, seeing as I've got pretty much the whole story plotted out in my head) and also, I don't exactly have a good idea for a new novel. I've got some shadowy ideas but they're not as clear as the one I had last year. So I will think some more about it and decide whether it's worth starting in the first place or whether I should just simply continue last year's!

So anyway... that's that. Not much more to tell apart from the fact that I'll be performing with Nashua Choir on Saturday night for the first time. I should add that we're not really "performing" as such. The Nashua Symphony Orchestra is performing Gustav Holst's "Planets" and Neptune requires a female choir to sing for 5 minutes at the very end. So we'll just basically do that for the end of the concert. Our real first concert will be in November sometime. Should be interesting.

Off to bed now - more work tomorrow. YIKES. It's good to be busy but not good being so busy that you can't think straight anymore. Can't wait for the weekend!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Stunning colors

One of the most amazing things of living here in New England is the beauty that surrounds you everywhere.
I remember driving up Route 3 to Nashua on my first trip ever to my new home and thinking "This drive is so scenic and gorgeous, I can't imagine ever getting tired of it". Of course I was well aware of the fact that I'd be driving that exact same route to and from work and traffic and a long day would definitely change my point of view. And of course, the novely would have worn off soon too.

Well, I am proud to say that it hasn't. I am still stunned and happy when I drive down that highway for the half hour trip to work (or 45 minutes depending on traffic). When I got here in the summer a beautiful blue sky and gorgeously fluffy white clouds accompanied me every morning to work. On my way back, if I stayed late enough at work, the most gorgeous sunset would be just in front of my eyes for the entire drive back home. The trees were green then and the trips seemed like I was driving through some kind of paradise with the sun shining at every oportunity.
It is a few months later now and fall has arrived and with it the famous New England foliage.
I have tried to rack my brain for fitting words to explain the true beauty of what I see every single day when driving anywhere around here but words simply fail me. The green trees lining that highway are now a combination of reds, yellows, oranges, coppers, pinks, rusts... so many incredible colors that just take your breath away. I have tried to take pictures from the car, I have tried to film bits and pieces but it just doesn't do it any justice. I drive to and from work with an almost unbearably huge grin on my face and I truly, really have to watch myself as I tend to forget that whilst it's an amazing display of nature I'm looking at, I'm also driving the car and I should pay attention to the road!!!

I've taken two pictures within a few days of eachother of the pond on the complex's property - it's nowhere near as gorgeous as what I drive past everyday but it gives you an idea. I'm hoping that once I get the real 35mm films developed, some pictures will turn out to look much more like the reality that I've tried to capture.
Enjoy :-)



Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Results...

....courtesy of my sister's email with a link pointing to this site, here goes:

You Are Kermit

Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.
You're a big thinker, and sometimes you over think life's problems.
Don't worry - everyone know's it's not easy being green.
Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!