After a solid week of of annoying, frustrating, and downright pathetic events, I finally broke free from the streak of bad days and had a perfectly lovely one!  I took the day off to drive 50 miles for my annual appointment with my neurologist (par-tay, I know!) and meet a friend for lunch.  We enjoyed a relaxing al fresco lunch followed by some leisurely window-shopping.  Ahh, it was wonderful to have a little bit of a social life and spend some time hanging out with M.

Overall, my social life has been a bit . . .  missing . . . lately.   Spring Break solitude was  my own fault – I started reading* and spent 5 days living inside those pages.   I think I really needed the escape (it’s been at least a year since I dove that far into fiction), but it doesn’t do much for my “real” life.   Thus, I’m looking for events to attend this spring – you know, something to get me out and about with actual people.  So far I have mostly discovered that I have been in the wrong city at the wrong time!  But I did find at least one upcoming art fair that I should be able to attend.  One is a start, right?

While my real life has been a bit bland, my imaginary social life seems to be going pretty well.  I continue to virtually stalk Stephen Fry via Twitter.  OK, so he Tweets me, but it seems a little weird to receive so many charming messages from a man I’m not dating.  And since he’s been traveling in exotic locations with no data coverage, he’s not Tweeting a dozen times a day . . . and I feel a bit like I’ve been dumped.  Sad, isn’t it?  No worries – I just found Greg Grundberg, one of my Heroes.  And, frankly, Brent Spiner makes my imaginary social life seem completely sane.  Heh.

Well, I have a day of sheer drudgery ahead of me — laundry, bills, cleaning, etc. — and then one more day of fun and relaxation with another friend.  I have to say that taking a day off work to play is a very good thing for the psyche.   Coming back to work on a Tuesday (i.e. a short week) is a bonus.

OK, time to crash for the evening.  This is my favorite part of the day – being unconscious.   Now that the sinus infection is starting to break up, and the shoulder exercises are reducing the rotator cuff pain, and the dental work is easing the ache of that pesky molar, I can actually sleep!  This is a very good thing.  I’m a happier me when I get to be unconscious for most of the night.  Wish me luck.

Oh, and for those of you keeping track of my Time Warner Cable rants, they haven’t killed a channel in the last month.  They have, however, announced that they’ll start a tiered pricing plan for Internet usage by summer.   Keep  in mind that TWC doesn’t tell you how much bandwidth you use . . . so there’s no way to predict how many gigs of bandwidth you need each month.   Surprises are nice when they arrive in a box with a big bow . . . not so nice when they arrive in the form of a much-higher cable bill.  I suspect that my Hulu/iTunes/Internet radio days are coming to and end (good thing I never got around to NetFlix and their streaming movies).   When TWC pulled our NBC affiliate a few months ago, they encouraged users to hook their computers up to the TV and stream the shows.  How evil is that?  Get us hooked on streaming video, then start charging to access each program.  Nice business model – if you’re following the ethical standards of Enron and Bernie Madoff.  I’d love to switch providers, but there are no alternatives — my apartment complex has an exclusive deal with TWC and the only competitor in the area doesn’t even recognize my street address.

___

*I read the Twilight series over Spring Break – 4.25 books in 5 days.  If you lack a week of leisure time, enjoy strong female characters, or have any literary standards, I suggest you read the synopsis and save yourself all the eye-rolling.  There was a compelling story somewhere under all the prattle, because I kept reading and hoping I would be rewarded for my tenacity, but I wonder just how long these books will survive once the fanatics grow up and find real literature.   I also suggest skipping the movie – I suspect that banging your head against the wall would be an equally-effective use of your time.  I’m still miffed that I’ll never get those 2 hours of my life back (and I’m still not sure what the movie was about).

I hope to be in bed before 2009 arrives in my time zone, but once I start on a blog there’s no telling what will happen.  Please forgive the grammatical errors and crazy thought patterns — it’s late, but I actually feel like writing so I’m going to go with it and get this blog started.  I’ll look at this again later and do some editing.

I’m ringing in 2009 quietly — at home, curled up with my computer on my lap and my ‘berry close at hand.   I spent many New Year’s Eves babysitting and I think the tradition is deeply ingrained; when left to my own devices, I want to stay home and watch Dick Clark.  My little one (Kira) is tucked in bed — I adopted her 8 years ago yesterday and it’s hard to imagine what I ever did with myself before I had a wee bird to dance on my keyboard, chew holes in my paper, and drink out of my water glass.  The year I got her, I went to bed before midnight expecting to wake up in spite of the  theories that Y2K would cause the world to end.  This year, I was slightly amused to discover that Microsoft inadvertently created their own little apocalypse — 30g Zunes began bricking themselves en masse this morning, causing a Z2K9 disaster of somewhat mild proportions.  Never fear – music will return on January 1st (like the Y2K problems, it all boils down to programming the internal device calendar – the Zunes didn’t recognize the 366th day of leap year so they just stopped working).  Guess this just proves that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

In my world New Year’s Eve always arrives with a whisper, encouraging me to take a wistful look back at the previous year and adopt a hopeful outlook for the next 12 months.  I suspect that next year will be much like this one – too much work, too little sleep, painful change that results in growth, unexpected joys, and the ongoing quest to become better, stronger, faster, and–with any luck–a wee bit wiser overall.   Looking back, I ponder what more I could have accomplished had I worked a bit harder.   I would have liked to have written a few more blogs, read a few more books, walked a few dozen more miles, and lost a few more pounds.  Ah, well, that’s what the new year is all about — re-evaluating, adjusting, and setting new goals.

So, how did I spend 2008?  Well, this seemed to be my year for learning more about emerging technology and venturing into the Web 2.0 world.  I have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, keep up with a second  (professional) iGoogle/Gmail profile, manage at least two blogs (personal and professional), and use GoogleTalk almost daily.  My Motorola RAZR served me well for 2.5 years, but after switching to the BlackBerry Bold I have to say that I am totally hooked on mobile computing – and will eventually access all of the above sites via my ‘berry  (I’m almost there now).   Internet on the RAZR was so slow it was pointless; I heard the Bold was zippy, but I wasn’t really prepared for how quickly pages load – it really is a powerful device.  Calling the Bold a phone is like referring to the Louvre as a building.  I’m sure the its at least a dozen times more powerful than the computer I took with me to grad school (for example, the Bold has 1g of onboard storage and I added an 4g micro SD card for applications; my first PC had a 120mb hard drive and a box of 1.44mb floppies).  I must admit it was great fun to have instant access to my Gmail (and, of course, text messages) while staying with family over Christmas – I didn’t have to have my laptop in front of me to communicate with friends and family.  And my nephews really enjoyed the Madagascar Penguins movie I downloaded – they asked to watch it on my ‘berry every night before bed.

Anyway, I’m currently subscribing to a variety of tech blogs — including Slashdot, Engadget, and Google Mobile.  I’m getting a grand overview of the innovative, interesting, appalling, and sometimes just plain bizarre world of technology and the people who use technology tools.   I’m also reading a variety of BlackBerry feeds so I can continue with my quest to become totally addicted to my CrackBerry; I take comfort in the fact that I still recognize that this guy needs some therapy, but I can also understand the power of the addiction  (perhaps he gave his bride her own ‘berry to keep her company?).   Of course, I’m following the tragic story of the now very broken Large Hadron Collider  — it looks like we’ll have to wait a while longer to find out if the LHC will bring an end to civilization.

I’m also enjoying some non-tech blogs because, let’s face it, I have a 30-second attention span and blogs are a great way to get info quickly!  To foster my goal of getting 4-5 servings of veggies a day, I read A Veggie Venture–this recipe for green beans is on my list to try this week.    Margaret and Helen continue to write thought-provoking blogs — even though the election is over, there are plenty of issues that deserve the sharp and witty discourse.  Author Jennifer Cruise comments on a variety of topics – including her ongoing narrative about the writing process in general and her struggles to create and edit her current novel.

My most recent discovery —The New Adventures of Mr. Stephen Fry— makes me quite giddy, as I feel like I’ve been reacquainted with an old friend.  No, I don’t have delusions of actually knowing the man but, after reading his autobiography and scouring bookstores for a sampling of his novels, I find that I continue to crave more of his literary creations (not to mention his film work).  Digging into one of his lengthly blogs gives me the same cozy feeling as settling in a comfy chair and wrapping up in a soft blanket.  Plus, his addiction to technology gadgets makes me happy – the man travels all the time with a suitcase of gadgets – and I get a kick out of reading his Tweets.

Still not much into TV these days, as I stay pretty busy doing other things.  Plus, I figure the networks will just cancel the programs I like and Time Warner will just dump yet another batch of my favorite channels (as of midnight tonight).  While Chuck is still my can’t-miss show, I started watching House again and got hooked on Fringe — so I’m up to 2.5 nights of TV shows a week.  The iPods are getting a workout; the Nano (the short squatty 3g version) accompanies me on walks and to the gym and my video iPod travels between my home and office docking stations.  I can sync my Bold with iTunes, so I take music podcasts with me everywhere.  No wonder XM Radio is dying!  With HD radio, tagging, and iTunes integration, it’s possible to listen only to what you want to hear — with no monthly fees.

I’ve also spent some time crafting this year – the return of my creativity is a sure sign that I’m a bit healthier than I’ve been in recent years.  I dug out my watercolors, pounded out a bunch of card sets to sell  in a local salon (results pending), and continued to work on my jewelry-making skills.  I’ve spent most of my free time working on projects instead of digging through the ever-growing pile of unread books – but suspect at some point I’ll put away my crafting supplies and go back to a more calm and orderly existence.  I’ve got some great novels waiting for me  (including Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth / World Without End and the Twilight series).

Well, so much for 2008.  I’m ready to move on to the new year – I have big goals and am ready to chart out the steps it will take to get me where I want to be by this time next year.  Not a big fan of resolutions, but I will state here that one of my goals is to write at least one SparklyShiny blog a month.  If I want to discover my “blog voice” I have to actually practice writing, right?  And by the looks of it, I need to add some photos!

I hope that each of you will find unexpected joys and many opportunities for celebration in the upcoming year.  Thanks for reading.  Leave a comment, come follow me on Twitter (see the About tab at the top of this page for more info), send me e-mail and/or text messages – I’d love to hear about your resolutions, goals, or general plans for the year.

ttfn