Site redesign, baby!

Damian peering into the Macquarium.
19 September 2008

I was trying to upload a new chapter of my romance podcast every two weeks, and… well, you know how that goes… best laid plans of mice and romance novelists… But I hope to get back on track.

I have started using the Google Chrome browser because it is sooo much faster than Internet Explorer.  But my poorly-written, hacked-together romancepodcast.com website was broken in Chrome.  I was never that pleased with the design anyway. So, instead of fixing my hack, I started over from scratch, and I am very pleased with my new design. I’m afraid it looks slightly better in Chrome and Firefox than in Explorer, but I am very pleased with it.

It’s very girly, but if you want to check it out, head on over there.

September 29th, 2008 | Podcast | No Comments -

Privacy, Fear and the Modern Age of Communication

A few weeks ago, Justin and Shelrie spent the day with us.
Between the company and the weather, it was a really pleasant day.
07 September 2008

I have often questioned my choice of being so open with my personal information on my blog. Two of my friends, who I shall use by their online aliases as they both tend to protect their online privacy, grieve and eds3, never use their real names nor do they use the real names of their family and friends. Grieve also does not post any personal photos.

Of course, I have considered the question of privacy and open online communication many times, and I have never come up with a satisfactory answer. I have chosen to not let fear make my choices, as I truly enjoy this digital age of mass and personal communication. I’ve never met Andrea Scher or Surburban Kamikaze, but I find their blogs both inspirational and entertaining. I use my blog to communicate with my family and friends, to play with the art of writing, and, perhaps, there is a stranger or two out there who carries something positive away from my blog. So I have continued to be open online.

Now, let’s get to The Incident. Recently, a fellow has been calling my cell phone. He left several messages asking for Amanda, and I finally answered and said there was no Amanda here. He then made an offer of sex.  I said, no, good luck finding your friend, and hung up. I thought that was the end of it. Then, yesterday, he called again, this time for me, not Amanda, and left a very crude message with a disturbing and aggressive offer of sex. I forwarded the message to Matt, and, after listening to it, he said, “I’m calling the police.” Since I leave my entire name on my voicemail, he had my name and my cell phone number. That’s what was most upsetting to me.  With a person’s name and their city, you can look up a ton of information about them. Don’t believe me? If you live in the Austin area, go look up your house information online using only your name.

When I called T-Mobile to have my cell phone number changed, I told the T-Mobile lady, “I just want to get off this guy’s radar.”  The whole experience was scary, and it still is scary because it only happened yesterday.  I don’t know if I’m off this guy’s radar yet.

I already have a problem with fear. I’m so afraid of violent crimes in our modern society. But I don’t want to live a life in fear. But how do you do that? Not only does the media thrive on fear, but most of the people around us — our family and friends — also live in fear, and we all help perpetuate and feed our society’s communal fear.

Currently, I still stand by my decision to live and express myself openly online. I still stand by my decision to not let fear destroy something that I enjoy so much.

September 26th, 2008 | General | No Comments -

Yanni’s fanbase

Damian, Lily and Ariel in the little pool.
13 September 2008

My brother Ben has been staying with us for the past few days, and this is a conversation from this morning when he walked into the living room to find Damian watching Yanni.

Ben (incredulously): You’re teaching your kids to watch Yanni?

Me (defensively): We like Yanni.

Ben (righteously): C’mon, Angel.  Yanni is the guy who the little old blue-haired ladies go to see in Vegas when they want to see a rock show.

Though a very funny comment, we shall continue to unapologetically watch Yanni.

September 17th, 2008 | General | 2 Comments -

Hurricane Ike

Damian and Lily having a tea party. In this picture, Lily and Damian
are singing happy birthday to Gabriella (Lily’s doll sitting in her lap).
13 September 2008

Then Mommy served pumpkin bread for the birthday party.

Mmmm… everybody loves pumpkin bread.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any cuter…

Male toddlers are obviously much more secure in their masculinity
than many grown men.

What are big sisters for if not to get you to have a tea party with a hot
pink Disney Princess tea set while Mom photographs the entire event?

Always the cute one…

“Where the heck have you been?” asks my dedicated reader.  “No cute pictures of the children.  No witty insight distilling the human experience down into a three-paragraph blog entry.  No cute pictures of the children.”

Well, to give you an example of how difficult it is to write a blog entry, I have had seven — that would be seven — interruptions from children while writing this entry and one phone call from my amazing and thoroughly-adored husband.  As I have mentioned before, when you have preschool children, writing a blog entry becomes an act of will.

I feel like I should do an update on Hurricane Ike as it just went through Texas and displaced many Houstonians (Shelly and Cody are at Carla’s house, Ben is staying at our house, and Dad and Donna are staying with Steven). There were two waves of people leaving Houston.  The first wave were all the people from the mandatory evacuation areas, like Shelly, Ben and Cody who all live in La Porte, and that exodus took place before the storm.  Ben drove to Dad’s house in Conroe.  The second wave was after the storm when Houston and the surrounding areas became uninhabitable. That’s when Dad, Donna and Ben left Conroe and headed for Austin.

It’s a mess down there.  Dad, Donna and Ben are salaried, so they are being paid even though they are not at work.  Shelly, however, and many like her, are hourly paid employees, and while Houston is out of commission, they have no income coming in.  Shelly is very stressed out.  Luckily, she has family to lean on, and she has filed with FEMA.

It’s weird, uncomfortable, and sad to have front-row seats to human tragedy. Being in Austin, I feel guilty going through my daily activities — cleaning, watering the lawn, watching the children laugh and play — while there is mass suffering 300 miles down the road.  The only thing that assauges the guilt is that we have family who are involved, and I know that we will help them as they need help. By helping in this small way, I don’t feel like I am a passive onlooker.

September 15th, 2008 | General | 2 Comments -

Thrive

Daddy, Lily and Gabriella (Lily’s doll) snuggled together on the couch.
01 September 2008

What makes a person thrive?  What do you need in your environment to make you personally thrive?  One definition for environment is “The totality of surrounding conditions and circumstances affected growth and development.”  Do your surrounding conditions and circumstances nurture you?

We’re going to do an experiment together: close your eyes and imagine an environment in which you would glow, in which you would be so filled with energy and happiness that you would inspire the people around you with your amazing work ethic and positive attitude.   Take your time; I’ll wait.

Now open your eyes and look about you.  How close is reality to the personal utopia you envisioned?  Can one achieve a personal utopia?

I don’t thrive in Texas.  The heat is oppressive.   I live in recycled air for months at a time.  Trying to garden in Central Texas is like trying to garden in a desert.  Our houses have no light because if we let light in, we also let the intense heat in.

Do I change my world or do I change myself?  I hate the Texas climate, but I can’t leave because Matt’s work is here.   And even if I did leave, would I take my unhappiness with me because, in the end, it’s not so much about the environment and more about one’s personal baggage and attitude?

Is utopia on the inside or the outside?  Or is it a little bit of both?

September 4th, 2008 | General | No Comments -