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Updated: 2013-09-02T22:17:31Z

 



Now for a new distraction: Fantasy Football

2013-09-02T22:17:31Z

I haven't had a best ordinary day since my last post, so I haven't added to my best ordinary day list. I suspect I could add "Listened to a Roderick on the Line podcast" because I'm always delighted when one...

I haven't had a best ordinary day since my last post, so I haven't added to my best ordinary day list. I suspect I could add "Listened to a Roderick on the Line podcast" because I'm always delighted when one of those comes up in the podcast queue. "Listened to The Long Winters" is a good candidate for the list, too. I'm doing that as I write this.

For the month of July and into August, I had kept the lonelies at bay. I was still lonely, but not hurting over it. The hurt is back now, and all I can think is that the meditation has become such a habit, it's not a distraction anymore. I still believe it helps with my overall well-being, though.

I also finished my other distraction: Xbox Lego Lord of the Rings. That's a fantastic game for those who like action puzzles without the threat of your character dying with finality. I mean, the characters die sometimes, but it's not game-ending. You just lose some studs (coins) and they come right back to life.

Now I'm trying a new distraction: Fantasy Football. Last night, I participated in a draft for the first time. I know very little about NFL football, and Fantasy Football seems like a lot more work than I'm willing to put into it. But I think once the games start and I have a reason to watch the NFL, it will be more fun.

During the draft, I was concentrating so hard on stats and making sure I didn't draft players with all the same bye week, that I ended up drafting Aaron Hernandez. As one of the ladies in the league said, "Aaron Hernandez? lol. He's going to jail forever." "Why?" another asked. "He murdered everybody." Then I remembered. All I could think to say was "Oh yeah." I remember reading headlines about it, but the name didn't ring a bell when I was choosing players.

He was a late, bench player pick, so no biggie. I traded him out in the middle of the night (as you do). Apparently, one of my other bench players is injured, but I'll keep him for now.

Here is my team, the Pancake Bellyachers:

  • Cam Newton (QB - Carolina)
  • A.J. Green (WR - Cincinnati)
  • Torrey Smith (WR - Baltimore)
  • Adrian Peterson (RB - Minnesota)
  • Stevan Ridley (RB - New England)
  • Frank Gore (RB - San Francisco)
  • Owen Daniels (TE - Houston)
  • Garrett Hartley (K - New Orleans)
  • St. Louis (DEF/ST)

Bench:

  • Ryan Matthews (RB - San Diego)
  • Steve Smith (WR - Carolina)
  • Fred Davis (TE - Washington)
  • Carson Palmer (QB - Arizona)
  • Percy Harvin (WR - Seattle) - injured
  • Tampa Bay (DEF/ST)

We'll see how things go next week.

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The best of ordinary days

2013-08-17T03:01:28Z

I have difficulty with broad questions like "How do you picture your life in 5 years?" Or "What are your dreams?" I read an article on this topic recently that resonated with me. The author suggested to not answer those...

I have difficulty with broad questions like "How do you picture your life in 5 years?" Or "What are your dreams?" I read an article on this topic recently that resonated with me. The author suggested to not answer those questions, but instead answer "What do I do on my best day?"

John T. Meyer's "My day is best when"

My first instinct was to think back to some of my best days and try to list things from those days. I wasn't doing it right, though, because mostly, I thought about vacations. Little Rock. Seattle. Mississippi. My very best of all, most memorable days.

I realized this exercise is really about "What do I do on my best ordinary day?"

Also, key to this process is that it's not about what happens on my best ordinary day, but what I do on my best ordinary day. The inputs, not the outcomes.

So here are some things for my list, some of which are inspired by John T. Meyer's list:

  • I get enough sleep (I need to quantify this)
  • I drink a cup of mocha chocolatte in the morning from Picnik (or I make one myself)
  • I go to girl lunch with Kathy and Ly
  • I work on a programming project for a whole afternoon with little or no distractions
  • I drive somewhere with the sun streaming through my sunroof
  • I meditate outside (rain or shine)
  • I cook a dinner that is right for my body (primal)
  • I clean or organize something (bad data at work, housework at home)
  • I read before going to sleep

Just as interesting to me as the things I put on my list are the things I didn't put on my list. (Playing iPhone games? I spend a whole lot of time doing that!)

My plan is to keep the idea of this list in my mind and add to it as I have good days.

What's something you do on your best ordinary day?

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Conquering the swirling ball of distraction

2013-07-20T06:36:17Z

I got to work, launched Outlook and discovered that in less than 30 minutes I was scheduled for a meeting with three levels of management to discuss my role in the organization. Whoa. They had understandable reasons to talk to...

I got to work, launched Outlook and discovered that in less than 30 minutes I was scheduled for a meeting with three levels of management to discuss my role in the organization. Whoa. They had understandable reasons to talk to me about what I do and what I would like to do in the future within budgetary constraints. I am blessed to work in a place that solicits and values employees' wishes and accommodates them when possible.

But boy... having a meeting with three levels of management set my head to spinning. I couldn't stop going over the things I said. Thinking of the things I wish I'd said and the things I wish I hadn't. The meeting was at 9:00 a.m. and thoughts about it were still swirling around in my head while driving home at 6:00 p.m.

This would really put my evening meditation practice to the test.

I got home, fed the dog, changed into a tank top and shorts and went outside to sit in my meditation chair while the sun descended through the bare limbs of my neighbor's dead tree. I started a 30-minute guided meditation.

The nice lady began speaking the words that I've heard so many times this month. Get in a comfortable, seated position. Notice my state of mind. Breathe. Listen to sounds. If thoughts come, be aware of them and then bring my focus back to my breathing. Or the sounds. Or the sensations in my body. Etc.

The thoughts of the morning meeting kept coming back. I would focus on breath and then find myself deep in thought again. At one point, I turned up the volume, hoping a louder lady would keep me focused. The thoughts returned.

At another point, I started to cry in frustration because I couldn't make the thoughts go away like I've succeeded doing in every other meditation. And then I remembered I'm supposed to let the thoughts come and just practice refocusing on breath again and again. That's why they call it "practice."

Then I purposefully breathed very heavily to keep the focus on my breath. I breathed loud and with force. It made my nose tingle. And it felt like I was angry or desperate. That's not how I'm supposed to feel.

Then I did something I'd not done before. I opened my eyes and stared at a blade of grass in the yard. Now I had breath, sound and a visual to hold me right there in the moment. It was better. Then I looked up at the sky and found a small cloud. I watched as that cloud dissipated into nothing over the course of a few minutes. And I imagined my thoughts dissipating into nothing.

When the 30 minutes were over, the thoughts of that meeting were still with me, but they were not the swirling ball of distraction that they were before. This is progress.

Meditation inspired by The Paleo Drummer's 30 days to freedom challenge.

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Like taking a nap without sleeping

2013-07-14T17:46:01Z

I've been meditating every day for two weeks now. Before, I thought meditation was purely about learning to clear the mind--that if you aren't able to clear your mind, you fail. Now, I don't think you can fail at meditation...

I've been meditating every day for two weeks now. Before, I thought meditation was purely about learning to clear the mind--that if you aren't able to clear your mind, you fail. Now, I don't think you can fail at meditation unless you simply don't do it. The meditation guide I use says to let the thoughts come, be aware of them and what they are about, and then focus back on your breath or the sounds around you or the sensations in your body. The thoughts come and then they go.

While I'm meditating, thoughts that normally upset me have no effect. It's like I'm a third-party observer.

I'm on the fence about whether meditation has a prolonged effect when I'm not meditating. Like whether it makes me more relaxed or makes me less prone to mood swings or makes me more patient with people.

Yesterday it seemed to have a lasting effect.

Before I meditated, I was a mess... crying off and on all day. Partly because it was a lonely weekend day and partly because recent government political fighting upsets me.

After I meditated, I didn't cry anymore. But I also avoided anything controversial by playing Xbox Lego Lord of the Rings until bedtime. Who knows which helped more? Probably a combination of both.

I've always thought meditation was new age kookiness. But now I think of it more like taking a nap without sleeping. It's better than a nap, though, because after a nap, I feel out of sorts and lazy. After meditation, I feel more in control and productive.

I found this article about mindfulness meditation enlightening: How Meditation Works

And I found this tweet from Andy Richter funny:

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All are welcome at apple time

2013-07-10T01:43:07Z

Every workday at 3:00 p.m., we have apple time. Those able to take a break, sit in my aisle and eat apples. Sometimes people eat strawberries or oranges or blueberries and yogurt. But mostly apples. It is apple time, after...

Every workday at 3:00 p.m., we have apple time. Those able to take a break, sit in my aisle and eat apples. Sometimes people eat strawberries or oranges or blueberries and yogurt. But mostly apples. It is apple time, after all. One time I didn't have an apple, so I went to the employee cafe across the street and bought some apple juice and pistachios. It was the best I could do.

I've been eating an apple in the afternoon for several years. It wasn't until Sam was hired a little over a year ago that apple time became a group thing. He tells people it was my idea, but if he hadn't started eating an apple, too, it would still be just me, sitting at my desk, eating an apple.

Even our supervisor participates. We have the best supervisor in the world. He never holds staff meetings. He knows you can't have a staff meeting that isn't wasting at least one person's time. But he comes to apple time and eats an apple.

Our supervisor likes the Red Delicious apples. He's old school. Sam and I like the Pink Lady and Honeycrisp apples. I can't remember what Mark likes, but I know he doesn't care for the Braeburns. He's usually the one eating some other fruit, though. When Bruce worked here, he was apt to eat his apple before apple time. Sam called him out on it once, so Bruce called him an apple fascist. He said he'd eat his apple whenever he feels like it.

Sam tried a Kiku apple. He said it tastes like candy. So much so that it gave him a stomach ache.

Meagan and Jen usually come to apple time late, but they're welcome just the same. All are welcome at apple time.

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Happy Bird-day to Me

2013-04-29T01:24:50Z

To celebrate my birthday, I spent the weekend in various parks around Fredericksburg and Kerrville. Today, on the way back home to Austin, I stopped at Pedernales Falls State Park. I took these pictures at the bird blind. A cardinal...

To celebrate my birthday, I spent the weekend in various parks around Fredericksburg and Kerrville. Today, on the way back home to Austin, I stopped at Pedernales Falls State Park. I took these pictures at the bird blind.

A cardinal taking a bath

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Grosbeak

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Purple Finch

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Hummingbird

For Crabapple Lane Rob

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Two Hummingbirds

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NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 13

2012-11-13T23:25:46Z

Day 13 of NaSoAlMo was full of snot. I have contracted a nasty cold. And I'm declaring NaSoAlMo a failure because my mind and now my body are not into it. I've NaSoAlMoed successfully for 5 years in a row...

Day 13 of NaSoAlMo was full of snot. I have contracted a nasty cold. And I'm declaring NaSoAlMo a failure because my mind and now my body are not into it. I've NaSoAlMoed successfully for 5 years in a row before this, so I'm okay with it.

My final progress:

  • NaSoAlMo 1: Untitled (Basic guitar recorded ~ 4:20)
  • NaSoAlMo 2: Untitled (Piano chords sketched ~ ?)
  • NaSoAlMo 3: Curiosity (Guitar chords sketched and lyrics finished)

This is more than I would have done without NaSoAlMo, so not a total failure.




NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 12

2012-11-12T23:19:33Z

I had an appointment with a surgeon today to talk about my gallbladder. He recommended surgery because of a large gallstone. You know that paper they have on the thing you lay on at the doctor's office? He drew a...

I had an appointment with a surgeon today to talk about my gallbladder. He recommended surgery because of a large gallstone. You know that paper they have on the thing you lay on at the doctor's office? He drew a picture of my insides on that paper to show me where the gallstone is. Then he drew lines on my torso to show me where he would cut me to take my gallbladder out.

I scheduled the surgery for December 7.

This news took the wind out of my NaSoAlMo sails. There was no musical creativity on Day 12.




NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 11

2012-11-11T23:08:03Z

On the previous day of NaSoAlMo, I was too busy with the Counting Crows concert to do any songwriting or recording. My plan was to get back to it on Day 11, after I recovered from the excitement. And after...

On the previous day of NaSoAlMo, I was too busy with the Counting Crows concert to do any songwriting or recording. My plan was to get back to it on Day 11, after I recovered from the excitement. And after I rented a Rug Doctor and cleaned my carpet. During the Eddie Vedder concert two nights before, Lily had an accident on the carpet (something she rarely does anymore). My fault, really--I left her home alone too long. The carpet has been needing a good cleaning, anyway, so what better time?

Day 11 was devoid of musical creativity.




NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 10, Part III

2012-11-11T05:24:47Z

Continued from Day 10, Part II We, the Counting Crows VIPs, stood in line some more between the Sound Check/Meet and Greet and the Concert. I was in line with youngsters. I always wonder when I'm in situations like this...

Continued from Day 10, Part II

We, the Counting Crows VIPs, stood in line some more between the Sound Check/Meet and Greet and the Concert. I was in line with youngsters. I always wonder when I'm in situations like this if they think I'm weird because I'm by myself. And I wonder how old they think I am.

The couple of kids in front of me were from Oklahoma and had been to the show the night before at an indian reservation there. They were following the band to Houston the following night, too. I've always wanted to follow a band around.

We were among the first in line and when they let us in, they warned us not to run, that there was plenty of space in the front. The entrance is steep downhill, though, so it was hard to keep a slow pace. People were calling out to us "Don't run! Don't run!" and I yelled back, "I can't help it! It's steep!" I got down to the front and just to the left of center.

Tender Mercies

The first band to play was Tender Mercies. This band includes Counting Crows members Dan Vickrey and Jim Bogios. They had a similar style to Counting Crows.

Here are a couple of pictures:

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Mean Creek

The second band was Mean Creek from Boston. They were rockin' and I was inspired by the chick guitarist.

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Despite the many pictures I took, I did not watch the concert through my viewfinder. I only pulled my camera out periodically to capture a moment.

Counting Crows

Here are Counting Crows:

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Below, Adam and David play "The Girl from the North Country", a cover song from their Underwater Sunshine album. In an odd occurrence of cover song synchronicity, Eddie Vedder had played it the night before.

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A panorama of the stage during "A Long December":

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I heart Charlie and his accordion:

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During the meet and greet, Jim asked fans for requests. I requested "Margery" and got a frowny look in return. I'm pretty sure they never play that live, but I still wanted to request it. Despite his frowny look, I told him, "Oh, just write it down." I don't think he did. Here's Jim, not playing "Margery":

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Toward the end of the show, Charlie's daughter came up on stage with a toy accordion to help out the band.

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Below, are David Bryson and Adam Duritz. I believe they are doing "Holiday in Spain."

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The boy who stood next to me at the concert was a barely 21-year-old who was sooo very into the Counting Crows it made me wonder how he discovered them. He was singing his heart out with the band and caught the eye of Dan Vickrey who gave him a pick toward the end of the show.

On this day, I sat down only once between 3:00 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. and that was in a port-o-potty. Even then, I don't think I sat down all the way. Gross. I didn't have anything to eat or drink during that time, either. Afterward, I went to Kerbey Lane Cafe for tortilla soup and it was the most satisfying tortilla soup I've ever had. I was full of happy again.




NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 10, Part II

2012-11-11T04:42:12Z

Continued from Day 10, Part I Watching the sound check for Counting Crows was special. They played some songs, but there was no applause. This was a job for the band, and a special insight for the fans. Below you...

Continued from Day 10, Part I

Watching the sound check for Counting Crows was special. They played some songs, but there was no applause. This was a job for the band, and a special insight for the fans.

Below you see Dan (acoustic guitar), Jim (drums), Millard (bass), Adam (vocals), David (electric guitar), and Dave (steel guitar). Charlie is behind Adam on keyboards:

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Below the guitarists have switched things up. Dan with electric, David with a mandolin, and Dave with acoustic:

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A panorama of the Waller Creek Amphitheater at Stubb's BBQ and the VIPs watching the sound check:

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Below, Adam was working with Millard and Charlie on "Monkey." It's the part that goes "I got nowhere but home to go / Got Ben Folds on my radio right now." They did it a bunch of times to work it out and then it was fun to see them do it in the real show... like I had secret insider knowledge that they practiced it a lot.

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After the sound check, the band came down and took pictures with the VIPs and signed autographs.

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As I walked over, David Immergluck (right of me) said he liked my Mushroom T-shirt. Millard Powers (left of me) looks like he's up to mischief (he wasn't, that I'm aware).

Below, Adam signs autographs. The guy on the left brought a guitar for the band to autograph.

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I didn't think ahead to bring something special to autograph, so all I had were my VIP pass and ticket. The first person I asked for an autograph was Charlie Gillingham, so I handed him my VIP pass. He noted that it was him pictured on the pass. Wow... it was perfect. No way could I have any of the others autograph it. Here it is next to a picture I took of Charlie during the show:

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I asked the other Counting Crows members to autograph my ticket. From top to bottom, I believe are Dan Vickrey, Millard Powers, Dave Bryson, Adam Duritz, Jim Bogios and David Immerglück.

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Next up: The concert




NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 10, Part I

2012-11-10T20:59:41Z

Day 10 of NaSoAlMo was Counting Crows concert day. I bought a VIP pass, so I would be going to their sound check and meet and greet and would be among the first to enter the general admission concert area....

Day 10 of NaSoAlMo was Counting Crows concert day. I bought a VIP pass, so I would be going to their sound check and meet and greet and would be among the first to enter the general admission concert area.

I had to be at Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheater by 3:30 p.m. to check in and, being a worrier of logistics, got there at 3:00 p.m. to ensure I would find adequate parking.

Checking in meant standing in a line outside the venue while our assigned onsite event staff member, Dennis, checked our names off a list. Once checked off the list, he gave us a VIP badge and we were free to go somewhere else for a while, but there really wasn't anywhere to go, so we continued to stand in line.

A motorcycle policeman arrived and a man with a walkie talkie gave him some information about something that was going to happen soon. Walkie Talkie man alternated between standing around and talking on his walkie talkie.

Walkie Talkie man indicated that "their arrival" was imminent and then a van arrived and several people got out including an important looking man with a light colored straw hat and hawaiian shirt. Some film crew types with big cameras and a boom mic got out, too.

They entered the venue while walkie talkie man continued to stand around and talk on his walkie talkie about other people who were due to arrive. This time it seemed like they would be even more important because the policeman was involved in the discussion about where the next van should park.

At one point, I heard them say something about "the actors." Oooooo!

A van pulled up right in front of the Counting Crows VIPs (us!) and familiar looking women got out. Then I instantly recognized a man: Ryan Gosling. One of the Counting Crows VIPs just about fainted because apparently she loves Ryan Gosling.

I wasn't at the top of my game, so I didn't have my camera app fired up. The actors entered the venue and I searched for movies being filmed in Austin. Turns out, Terrence Mallick, the important looking man in the hat, is filming a movie in Austin with the "music scene" as a backdrop. The actors we saw this day were Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara.

The mother and daughter VIPs in line with me had this exchange:

Daughter: That's Rooney Mara from "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."
Mother: Oh, The Girl with the Golden Dragon.
Daughter: No, "Tattoo."
Mother: Oh, The Girl with the Golden Tattoo.
Daughter: Uh

I did get a picture while they were filming, but then felt embarrassed when one of the crew asked me nicely to "pleeeease don't take pictures."

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After filming the scene, all parties to the production left the venue. This was purely a bonus and not part of the Counting Crows VIP package.

Next up: Counting Crows sound check and meet and greet




NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 9

2012-11-09T22:42:32Z

Day 9 of NaSoAlMo was a make up day for Eddie Vedder. He was supposed to perform in Austin for my birthday celebration back in April, but was suffering from nerve damage in his hand. Being a kind-hearted person, I...

Day 9 of NaSoAlMo was a make up day for Eddie Vedder. He was supposed to perform in Austin for my birthday celebration back in April, but was suffering from nerve damage in his hand. Being a kind-hearted person, I allowed him to reschedule during my November song-writing vacation.

Before my evening with Eddie Vedder, I went to Gourdough's Public House for a donut burger. I was craving a fancy coffee drink, too, but Gourdough's didn't have their fancy coffee drink making process going, so I postponed the fancy coffee drinking until later.

Later at Flipnotics, I drank a latte and tried to write lyrics.

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There still wasn't much going on in the lyric writing quadrant of my brain.

I hear they don't teach cursive anymore
And typing seems more useful

A song about cursive? I've written worse.

After an hour or so, I put my half finished latte in the bus tray as there didn't seem to be enough room in my gut to finish it. I put my not even half finished lyrics into my purse and headed for Bass Concert Hall at the University of Texas.

I arrived just after sunset and found the U.T. Tower lit orange with the number 100 to celebrate 100 years of the School of Human Ecology. I felt Longhorn pride.

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Glen Hansard was the opening act. I wasn't familiar with him and enjoyed his set very much. Turns out, I should have been familiar with him. His band, The Frames, is responsible for that sweet sweet song "Falling Slowly." It's also featured in the movie Once which I really, really, really want to see now.

Eddie Vedder's set was wonderful. I felt deeply inspired and during both performances, I pulled my lyric notebook from my purse and wrote words in the dark.

To make the sound of my words as fluid as sign language

Eddie Vedder ended his show with Hard Sun. He asked several people to help him end the show including Glen Hansard and Clarence Clemmons' nephew and saxophonist Jake Clemmons. It was a big song and a perfect encore.

I walked to my car full of happy.




NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 8

2012-11-08T23:39:50Z

I went to Thrice for Day 8's adventure. I ordered a caffe latte and a gluten free chocolate chip cookie. I find gluten free desserts to be too sweet. It seems they overcompensate the absence of wheat with too much...

I went to Thrice for Day 8's adventure. I ordered a caffe latte and a gluten free chocolate chip cookie. I find gluten free desserts to be too sweet. It seems they overcompensate the absence of wheat with too much sugar. Or maybe the wheat dilutes the sugar and they don't adjust for that. It's not just at Thrice. I got a gluten free mini chocolate cake at Sprouts one time, and the sugar overpowered the chocolate.

When I got my latte, I was disappointed because they didn't have Sweet n Low. I wasn't surprised, though, because they are a true all natural type place. They don't have any artificial sweeteners. Even though I wanted Sweet n Low, I respected them for being true to their all-natural mission. Besides, I should carry Sweet n Low in my purse for times like these. I used honey, but it wasn't the same.

Even with the too sweet gluten free cookie and the non-Sweet-n-Lowed latte, I enjoyed myself. I tried to write lyrics to NaSoAlMo 1 again, with little luck. I came up with another lyric or song idea that maybe I can flesh out later. "If you want to, you will."

When I got home, I had a message from the doctor's office. Gallstone confirmed. So I made an appointment with a surgeon. And started worrying about how I would deal with surgery given that I don't have a dedicated someone to take care of me.




NaSoAlMo 2012, Day 7

2012-11-08T03:38:00Z

I had an ultrasound on NaSoAlMo Day 7. It was ordered by my doctor to determine if I had gallstones. When pregnant ladies get ultrasounds on television, they are warned that the gel will be cold. I was prepared for...

I had an ultrasound on NaSoAlMo Day 7. It was ordered by my doctor to determine if I had gallstones. When pregnant ladies get ultrasounds on television, they are warned that the gel will be cold. I was prepared for cold gel was startled by hot gel. I guess they heat it as a courtesy, but I was expecting cold. What a weird sensation.

They poked and prodded me with the ultrasound thing for half an hour or more. There were two ultrasound people. I think the first one was a student and the second one was checking the first one's work.

They both asked if I hurt when they prodded me (besides the discomfort of being prodded). I did not, but that lead me to believe they saw something in there.

After the ultrasound, I met a couple of friends for lunch at Gourdough's Public House. Their specialty is food made with donuts.

Here's the Ron Burgundy burger:

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It might sounds gross to have a donut for a bun, but it's actually delicious. The donut isn't glazed or cakey sweet and it doesn't overpower the inside of the burger like some buns do.

The dessert donuts are spectacular. This is the Freebird (cheesecake filling, cream cheese icing, graham cracker crumbles, fresh strawberries and blackberries).

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It was big enough for two people (or three or four, really). I ate a few bites and took the rest home for later.

I didn't feel up to doing music today.