ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Adventures Archive



August 2016



New Adventure

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Tomorrow is Friday, and I don’t have to go to work. If you know me, then you know that isn’t that odd; for the last few years I have worked a flex schedule. By working eight nine-hour days and one right hour day, I could have every other Friday off. Most of the time those Fridays involved chores, movies, and seeing friends.

A few months ago, Austin and I talked about how I didn’t really have enough time or energy to write. Not enough time to work on my book proposal, and not enough time to put together other essays, or pitch articles. So we agreed I would ask my boss for a reduced schedule.

My boss knows I write. She is supportive, which is awesome. She hesitated at my proposal of an 80% schedule, but gave the go ahead to 90%. So starting this week, I work 36 hours, and get every Friday off. It’s only an extra four hours, but coupled with evenings on occasion, this will give me the chance to get even more into my writing. To really try to make a go out of it.

I’m lucky we can afford to cut about 5% on our income to let me try something different. I’m also proud if myself for trying to get my life to match more what I want it to be. I didn’t know working FL time but only four days a week was an option; I’m pretty stoked to make it work.

Of course it means i have to REALLY focus at work the days I am there, but knowing I have three days off coming up will make that pretty easy to do.

Fingers crossed this works out!



August 2016



I Used To Run Half Marathons?

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This morning I ran my first race – a 10K – in four years.

I used to run a lot. Starting in late 2008 I began training for half marathons with some friends. I wasn’t a runner, but my friends convinced me that with training, anyone could run 13.1 miles. I mean, I wasn’t going to WIN any half marathons, but I could train myself to finish one.

My first race was a 10K in the middle of training for that first half marathon. If I’m recalling correctly, it was in October, and I finished right around an hour. That was followed by a drizzly Long Island half, followed by one in Brooklyn that ended on the Coney Island Boardwalk.

I’ve run the NYC half (in damn near 80 degrees – never again), the Royal Parks half (about a week after moving to London), the Birmingham (England) half, the Vancouver half (where I set a personal best and finished under 2 hours!) and two in Seattle (the Seattle half the day after Thanksgiving, and the Rock and Roll half the day a good friend had her baby).

I also ran a half marathon in Paris, which was freaking amazing. Seriously, running past the Bastille, and ending in a gorgeous park? Amazing. But it also had it’s challenges, and that one toenail hasn’t really ever properly recovered.

The only time Austin and I have raced together was at what I think was my last half marathon, in Portland. Austin had some training issues due to injury, and switched to the 10K last minute. During the race his knee really acted up, and although he did manage to finish, it wasn’t what you’d call fun. Since then, injuries – and life – have kept me from pursuing another half.

Today we got up at 6, took the bus to Lake Union, and joined a couple thousand folks for a 10K run/walk. It’s a gorgeous route, circling the Lake and ending at the same start. I didn’t feel any pressure to do anything other than have fun – I’ve been training for three months, so I knew I could finish. And in the end, I did. At just over 1:05, Austin and I ended up crossing the finish together, which was pretty sweet. He’s got a cold though, so who knows if that will ever happen again.

But oof, was I tired. I mean, I know I have been training, but the longest run I’ve done in years is 7 miles. When I passed the 4 mile marker today, all I could think was “I used to run races with NINE MORE MILES at this point?!” That just seems absurd right now.

I don’t know if I’ll run another half marathon. Maybe. But I think these 10Ks are definitely fun ways to see different parts of the Sound.

Next up – Beat the Blerg, a 10K in Carnation that includes cake at each aid station. Yes, you read that right. Cake.



March 2016



Eyewitness Travel: Costa Rica by Christopher P. Baker

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Three Stars

My husband visited Costa Rica about a month after we started dating, and he’s wanted to go back ever since. He asked that instead of my regular planning, that I just get a guidebook and let us see what happens when we get there. So, I bought this one.

It’s fine. I don’t know how to review travel books – I think I should always wait until I get back, but by then I’ve moved on (I try to always review books within a day or two of finishing). This book seemed a little light though on what I think I need. Maybe it’s because it’s my first time going to a country I’m really unfamiliar with, so everything just bleeds together. I can’t tell any of the national parks apart, so I’m not really sure which ones I want to try to see.

But maybe that’s a good thing. We’ll pick a place on a map, find a bus that goes there, then open up the book and see what we’ll see.



January 2016



Unexpected Reminder

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Last night after I got home from my writing class, I saw a letter from our (home + car) insurance company. It had been forwarded from our old address, so the date on the letter inside was nearly a week old. The two-page letter informed us that we had been denied homeowners insurance.


In reading through and trying to sort out what was up, a couple of things caught my eye:

  • They hadn’t received some document they needed
  • We still had coverage for nearly two months


Instead of losing my shit (which, honestly, I probably would have done when I was younger), I calmly sent a nice but urgent e-mail to our insurance agent, explaining the letter I’d received and asking what steps we need to take to clear this up.

This afternoon we spoke, and it turns out it was a very simple error involving a file that was improperly attached to an email. That might bug some people, but it also turned out that it happened in part because my agent had been out on leave for a serious family emergency. The office was understaffed, and he wasn’t there to follow up because, you know, serious family emergency.

Here’s the thing – he sorted out what needs to be done, gave me a plan of action, and assured me that it would all be sorted out in time to ensure there would be no lapse in coverage. And I think he seemed genuinely appreciative that I didn’t lose my shit. Yes, things could have been handled better, but the outcome in the end is that we’ll have insurance and it will have cost me the time it took to send and email and make a five-minute follow-up phone call. That’s it.


And it was a good reminder of two things:

1. I really don’t ever know what other people are going through if they don’t tell me, and I don’t gain anything from assuming the worst. If I had gotten all rage-y, the outcome might have been the same, but my agent would have felt even worse than he does. To me, this was just a really good reminder that the starting point shouldn’t be anger. Sometimes it’ll get there (and rightfully so), but for me, it’s more productive to just assume the best in a situation and then go from there. I don’t always do that though.

2. Mistakes matter, but what you do to fix them is really what I’m interested in. No one likes fucking up, but man, if you are genuinely interested in making things right (and it isn’t, like the 50th time you’ve fucked up in the exact same way), that matters way more.




January 2016




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Tonight I started attending a nonfiction startup class. It’s eight weeks long, and there are only three students in the class. Thankfully, the other two students seem very cool. Interesting, different, and working on projects that I would want to read. We’re all in different places in our writing, but I think that will help us all get better. Plus the instructor is very relaxed but also has interesting exercises and readings to focus us and really push us to make progress on our projects.

Who knows, this book might actually get finished.



December 2015



Happy New Year!

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I could post a wrap up of all that was good and bad in the world this year, but there are writers who have done a far better job at that than I could at this moment. I could post about everything that happened personally, and what I’m hoping for in 2016, but Austin is cooking and we have friends coming over in a bit, so I’ll save that for my birthday post. For now, I will say that 2015 was challenging in ways I didn’t expect, and I have high hopes for a great 2016.

Most important, however, is the fact that today is our four-year anniversary of being caregivers to Jameson and Tigger, the two best orange tabbies a gal could dream of. They have their own personalities and they can be little assholes at times, but at the end of the day, when Jameson snuggles up next to me and Tigger either plops into his little bed or flops onto Austin’s feet, I’m extremely happy that we brought them home four years ago today.

12 31 Leaving Animal Rescue





October 2015



Hmmm. I *might* be getting old.

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This afternoon I went to the cafe in the building where I work. Every day they have a little trivia question; if you get it correct, they take 10 cents off of your bill. It’s usually something fairly obscure, like the tallest mountain on another continent, or the first person to do something cool. I know maybe 20% of the answers? What I’m saying is that they aren’t gimme questions.

The answer to today’s question was Wham! As in, the George Michael duo from the 80s. I have reached the point in my life where the folks most likely to be working as baristas and putting together tough trivia questions think that knowing what group George Michael used to sing with is not common knowledge.





September 2015



Things I Learned While Camping

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So much going on in the world, but I did a bad job curating this week. So instead of my weekly round-up, today you get this: Things I Learned While Camping

This weekend Austin and I went camping with a few friends. Some of them are seasoned campers; others had only camped during their youth (me) or had never camped at all. It was car camping at the Tower Rock Campground in Washington State, and here’s what I learned.

  • As much as a ‘camping pad’ might claim to help, what I really wanted was an air mattress.
  • After watching multiple people start campfires, I understand how to start them in theory, but don’t think I could yet start my own in practice.
  • I really don’t have a problem peeing in the woods when the vault toilet is just too far away.
  • I still unintentionally scare myself by conjuring up scenes from the Blair Witch Project when I am in a forest in the dark.
  • There is a lot of prep work that goes into having fresh food during a camping trip. I failed at that this go round, but am ready for next time.
  • I can definitely go three nights without showering. After that I probably need to figure something out.
  • I enjoyed car camping but am clearly not ready to upgrade (downgrade?) to backpacking any time soon.
  • It’s nice to not have any internet or phone access for a few days.
  • I can share a little two-person tent with Austin and not feel claustrophobic at all.
  • The friend who planned this little camping adventure is the best. Here’s a shot of her photobombing us at the lookout near Layser Cave





August 2015




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We have been having a fantastic week up here in Yosemite. We are staying just south of the park’s gate, and we’ve gone into the valley four times in a week. Austin and I went on a seven mile fairly easy hike the first day, then two days later went back for another 13 miles on the valley loop trail. My feet are destroyed.

Today we went on a four-line zip line tour of the forest, which was gorgeous. And each evening we’ve been playing games, drinking wine and having just a general blast. It’s great to get to see my three year old niece, and my extended family (as in, my in-laws). We head back to Seattle tomorrow, and while it will definitely be sad to say good-bye to folks and this lovely setting, it will also be really nice to get back to Seattle, and the kittens.



July 2015



I am Not on Good Terms with Crash Plan

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A little over two weeks ago, my computer died. The battery was acting up and then the hard drive starting to make a terrifying clicking sound. I got the blue screen of death. When I rebooted it, the screen was black, with the words ‘cannot find operating system’ appeared.

oh shit cat

I wasn’t too concerned, however, because just under a year ago I bought a subscription to Crash Plan. I’m in emergency management, so I was thinking a wireless back-up system would be preferable to an external drive, because if there were an earthquake or a fire, the external drive would be useless (crushed or burned), while a cloud system could be accessed from anywhere.

I subscribed and set up my account, then downloaded the Crash Plan app. Following the site’s instructions, I selected what I wanted to back up, and hit the ‘start back-up’ button. It was late on a Thursday night, but I really wanted to get it done (I get that way), so I stayed up and watched as it backed up all of my files. It took a fair bit of time. When it was done, I selected how often I wanted it to do a back up, and that was it.

proud cat

So, like I said, I was pretty relieved I’d done that, as when I took my computer in, they first thought they could recover the data from the hard drive, but in the end could not. Last night Austin picked up my computer, and we turned it on. The guy at PC Fix had loaded some odd items onto my computer (in addition to the standard things). For example, when I booted up, a gaming software system popped up, complete with his log-in information saved. Yikes. Eventually Austin did a full wipe and reinstalled Windows. In the meantime I went to the website of Crash Plan to follow the instructions to recover all of my data. I downloaded the app again, and signed in, and saw that it had completed a back-up 18 days earlier. Cool. I went to retrieve all of my files and …


oh shit cat 2

Panic. For a brief moment. But Austin talked me down and said he’d figure it out. I took a shower and came back, and he confirmed … yup. No files.


I mentioned Crash Plan on twitter while Austin sent a tech support item. Today, thought multiple back-and-forth conversations, their tech support have tried to convince me that I never hit the ‘start back-up’ button.

bitch please

This is not a matter of me making an error. I’ve done that. It happens and it sucks. But this? This I KNOW, with certainty, I did. I have a vivid memory of it. So my guess is that when that happened, something got fucked up on their end. Which is fine. I mean, a bummer, but fine. I just wish they’d own up to it, and accept that they screwed up. Instead, they offered me a year-long extension on my subscription.


In what world would I extend a subscription with a company that so dramatically screwed the pooch the first time around? Because of them, I now have no tax documents, no dissertation, no cover letters, no work I did for a few of the organizations I volunteer with. No list of places I’ve lived for the next time I apply for a government job. Thankfully most of my pictures from the last few years are online, so those are safe. But I just finished a project scanning and uploading all of the documents I had in paper form, so those are gone. I have no record of any of the service performed on my car. No receipts for items of value for insurance purposes. Shoot, I don’t even have my renter’s insurance policy.


But it’s going to be okay. I’ll find the documents I’ve lost if I really need them (like, say, my tax returns for when we buy a house). I had emailed my book to a couple of people, so that’s not gone. And I learned a couple of lessons.

1. Don’t trust Crash Plan. In fact, don’t trust any online back-up. Once you’ve completed the back-up the first time, check that all of your files are there. Delete a couple that aren’t needed and try to restore them from online. Screen-cap the whole process and save that in your email, just in case. Every week or so, check and make sure it is still doing the back-up properly.

2. Use an external back-up drive. My goal is to secure one that is large enough for important items (probably won’t put photos and music on there, since I can save that to the cloud easily) and then save to it twice a year, and store it in a safety deposit box.

cat on computer

Thanks to Austin, my computer is now mostly back to normal. I’ve got the right OS, I’ve got my Microsoft office, and most of my other programs. I’ve still got some more things to download and sync, but it’s nearly as good as new. I doubt I’ll get any further with figuring out why Crash Plan failed, but that’s okay. I’ve learned my lesson.

And I got to find all sorts of cute pictures of kittens. Everybody wins!