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Browser based applications

MicroSoft Office

I don’t understand how Microsoft continues to retain its position as software leader when there are so many competing free online resources available.

I am a big fan of Google Docs and its competitor Zoho. Lifehacker provides a good comparison of the features provided y both.

And there’s also Open Office, an open-source program which I believe is restricted to your desktop and not available via the internet (last time I used it was in 2005).

Yahoo! just acquired Zimbra — which is more of a training or webinar type service to compete with Zoho Chat and Meeting

Now that I’ve switched from PC to Mac, I’ve been using Google Docs and Zoho (I really do need to commit to one) exclusively.

What do you use?


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A Microcosm of Life

restaurant dining

Last week a wise man said to me, “our meals — how we eat and who we eat with — are a microcosm of our lives.” And while I’ve forgotten the point of the rest of the conversation, that lost mind again, his comment stayed with me.

In fact, every time I put a morsel in my mouth, I think about what he said.

Breakfast:

If I eat breakfast, it tends to be cereal with cold milk, a multi-vitamin and a Viactiv chew while watching the TODAY Show, scrolling through email, and applying makeup. More often than not, I eat breakfast alone.

Lunch:

Inspired by Freegan Girl, I’ve taken to pack homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cold pasta, or salads instead of running out to Au Bon Pain or Cosi. Four days a week, I tend to eat alone while writing or reading or answering email or searching the internet.

One workday a week, I’ll meet a friend or colleague at a restaurant for lunch.

On the weekends, I do brunch.

Brunch:

On Saturdays and Sundays, I meet one or two or three pals out at a restaurant for a leisurely brunch — unless I have to run to the Smithsonian for an afternoon shift at the info desk. Then the brunch is not so leisurely. Last month I hosted Sunday brunch twice and swore it would become a weekly occurrence, only to meet at a restaurant the following week.

Dinner:

I would say four out of seven nights, I eat a sandwich or salad or pizza or sushi takeout while watching a Netflix disc on tv or reading a novel/report/website. The other three nights, I eat out at restaurants with friends.

If my meals are a microcosm of my life, I’d admit that I rarely take the time to focus on one thing. While I’m eating, I’m also talking or writing or watching or reading something else. I also take most of my meals alone. Though I don’t often feel lonely.

And taking into consideration how often I eat out, I am spending a small fortune on tips, never mind the meals themselves. I could have saved up for a month-long cruise down the Nile with all the cash devoted to dining in restaurants this past summer. I think I need to start hosting dinner parties.

While now that I’m paying more attention to my bad habits and know I need to stop wasting as much as I do, I have to agree with Freegan Girl on the whole dumpster diving movement:

“I don’t believe that you can live off a system you’re trying to eradicate at the same time. And if you want to inspire people to act, I think you should start with something they don’t think is completely gross.”

What do your meals say about you?


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Losing My Mind

Memory

This morning, on my way to recharge my phone, I got distracted by something on tv. So I walked into the kitchen, poured some cereal, and proceeded through my morning routine. As I brushed my teeth, I remembered that I had to recharge my cell battery. But then I misplaced my earrings and spent 10 minutes looking for them. On my way out the door, as I grabbed my phone to call a friend, I noticed one slim bar left in a flashing red battery icon.

I had forgotten to remember to recharge my phone!

I’ve noticed lately that I do this more and more often. I get up to grab a stamp, only to forget why I walked over to my desk. I’ll turn on the dishwasher, realizing too late that I had already washed those dishes. I remind myself to buy tokens for the laundry room, only to get to the basement with two filled bags of dirty clothes, detergent, and fabric softener and no way to run the machines.

Worse still, I’ll run into my neighbor in the laundry room and completely blank out her name. Until an hour later, while I’m playing Tetris on Gameboy, when I remember her name, her ex-boyfriend’s name, and the name she gave her new laptop.

Or while working, I’ll open a new tab to search for something, get sidetracked by incoming email or a phone call, turn back to the open tab with no recollection of what I needed to look for.

Is it ADD? Dementia? Early onset Alzheimer’s? Just another symptom of growing older?

So I’ve started paying attention to reports and new research on ways to improve memory. And though some studies recommend certain chocolate or moderate drinking or standing on your head while reciting the alphabet backwards, it seems that there are 10 basic ways to boost brain power:

1. Cardiovascular exercise for a least 30 minutes per day ie. a brisk walk

2. Daily cup of caffeinated coffee or soda

3. Green or black tea

4. Reduce stress and become a yoga enthusiast

5. Sleep

6. Eat foods like blueberries and grapes; include supplements like Omega-3 fatty acid, Thiamine, Niacin, and Vitamins B-6 and E

7. Use your brain — learn a language or how to play a musical instrument

8. Learn mnemonic techniques like a memory palace.

9. Organize your life — if you always place your keys on a peg beside the door, you won’t struggle to remember where you last put them.

10. Write in a journal everyday — even if you forget, you can always look back on your own private record.

Do you feel like you’re losing your mind? What do you do to better remember?


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History repeating itself

pageant

A long, long time ago when I was in college, a group of us were rushing around getting ready to go out. I think we were dolling up for a semi-formal or some other like event.

Anyway, someone turned on a tv and one of the beauty pageants was on. As we took turns running to the bathroom down the hall and stopping in one another’s rooms, the pageant was winding down with the all-important questions.

Miss Louisiana, a stunning girl with long dark hair and a beautiful face, stepped up to the microphone. One of the judges asked for her opinion on affirmative action. She stood there under the bright lights and asked him to repeat the question. By this point a group of us had circled around the television set and I had a feeling something special was coming up. Her answer went something like this……

“Well,” she said. “I believe in optimism and living my life affirmatively. I think everyone has the right to choose to live an affirmative life. Affirmative action is a positive force.”

Miss Louisiana stood at that microphone with the brightest smile on her face. And there was silence. The panel of judges all sat there with their jaws dropped. We all stood there wondering how the pageant princess could have no idea of what affirmative action was. And finally, finally, a row in the audience burst out in applause and hoots of “great answer,” “good job”.

And apparently it happened again!

I must be living under a rock because the first I heard of this was Matt Lauer’s interview with Caitlin Upton this morning. I’m sorry – but she was “caught off guard” and “overwhelmed?” Look at this travesty of an answer:

“I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uhmmm, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and uh, I believe that our, I, education like such as, uh, South Africa, and uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uhhh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for us.”

What does this say about the state of education in South Carolina?

Let’s see you take this one for a whirl — “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the US on a world map. Why do you think this is?”


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The Grid

The Grid

I thought this was an interesting mini-series… better than a lot of the other terrorism programs that have cranked out recently.

One point struck me. There are two female lead characters — Maren in the US and Emily for the UK — who rely on the advice of a “mentor.” The American lead confides in a powerful shadowy male named Jay. Her British counterpart consults with the female head of MI-6.

Why is the UK more accepting of a powerful female politician?  I think it’s because of those long years of rule by the monarchyMargaret Thatcher ruled Britain for 11 years as the first female Prime Minister.

In portrayals of an ambitious American female, she is always advised by a powerful man. I’d like to see a film or program where a woman is supported by another woman.


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Signature Scent

L’eau D’Issey

One night many years ago, I was catching up with high school pals during Christmas Break when my friend Adam blurted the strangest thing.

“I smelled you last month.”

What he meant to say was, he’d smelled someone wearing Sung. And while his comment made me smile, it also stayed with me.

I’ve always been a monogamous girl when it comes to fragrance.

In elementary school I wore honeysuckle by Avon bottled in a frosted glass teddy bear. I wore it everyday until the scent was discontinued on the eve of my entering junior high.

It took a little while before I found Primo, a knock-off of the more expensive Giorgio. I think back now and wrinkle my nose. I must have wreaked of Primo – considering the scent was sprayed on with a slender aluminum can (groans inwardly). But in the time of tight-rolled pants and skinny ties, jelly bracelets and paisley patterns, I stayed true.

By the time I reached high school, I’d moved from Maybelline to Clinique and from Primo to the more expensive and more sophisticated Poison. Every morning, before strapping on my Swatch, I’d spritz my wrists with a little Poison.

Granted, every now and then I’d be tempted by something lighter like Elizabeth Arden’s Sunflower or Estee Lauder’s Beautiful but I never strayed for long. Until, the summer before my senior year when I discovered Sung.

Alfred and I had a long affair, lasting well over seven years. In fact I’d never gone so long with the same scent. Even my beloved honeysuckle didn’t last that long. I imagined each time someone I knew well caught a whiff of Sung, they’d think of me.

So I decided to switch things up a bit, broke off with Alfred, and moved on to Issey Miyake.

Though I’m not as faithful. Most days I wear L’Eau D’Issey, but sometimes I’m in the mood for a little Flowers – usually in the fall and winter. And for real memorable occasions, I bring out the Must and dab those drops of heaven on my pulse points.

What’s your signature scent?


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Expectations

Christmas

Dread filled my heart as I packed my bags and prepared for the drive north. I couldn’t help thinking I’d be better off staying in DC. I resented the feelings of obligation and guilt that served as my motivation.

And had I listened to my selfish heart I would have missed out on one of the best weeks of the year. Sure I spent too much money and didn’t get a chance to visit with everyone, but I had a blast.

My niece is amazing. She is 18 months old and the most adorable little girl on Earth.  My grandmother is 82 and in perfect health.  I don’t show her enough love or appreciation.

And then there was the quality time I managed to spend with my dad and mom and with my brothers.

There were no fights this year, no arguments, no yelling or banging or complaining. All my worry and dread was for nothing.