Friday, December 30, 2011

Aerial photos of Florida

I took these on Wednesday's flight from Tampa to Baltimore. I love the receding view as the plane lifts into the air.
Aerial photo of Northern Florida (above Tampa) heading Northeast
(another) Aerial photo of Florida where land meets water
Aerial photo of Florida
Aerial photo of Florida with "torn edges" filter applied
This one has the filter "Torn Edges" applied (Under "Filter," "Sketch" in Photoshop).
Aerial photo of northern Florida

Thursday, December 29, 2011

On happiness...

laughing and shy

Quotes on happiness
(because what better way to reflect on our blessings than at year's end?)


"The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself." ~Benjamin Franklin

"What a wonderful life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." ~Colette

"People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost." ~H. Jackson Browne

"There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second." ~Logan Pearsall Smith

"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have." ~Frederick Keonig

"Happiness held is the seed; happiness shared is the flower." ~Author Unknown

"We are seldom happy with what we now have, but would go to pieces if we lost any part of it." ~Mignon McLaughlin

"One joy scatters a hundred griefs." ~Chinese Proverb

"Unquestionably, it is possible to do without happiness; it is done involuntarily by nineteen-twentieths of mankind." ~John Stuart Mill

"Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for." ~Joseph Addison

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." ~Mahatma Gandhi

"Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length." ~Robert Frost

May you have a wonderful new year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Baby you were born this way (Lady Gaga cover by Maria Aragon)

This little girl is incredible -- see her cover of Lady Gaga's Born this Way (also listen to the words and know you're beautiful the way you are). Thank you, Maria Aragon, for reminding us of this and for showcasing it with your amazing talent:


My mama told me when I was young
We are all born superstars
She rolled my hair and put my lipstick on
In the glass of her boudoir
There's nothin' wrong with lovin' who you are
She said, 'cause He made you perfect, babe
So hold your head up and you you'll go far
Listen to me when I say

I'm beautiful in my way
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track, baby I was born this way
Don't hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you're set
I'm on the right track, baby I was born this way, born this way
Ooh, there ain't no other way, baby, I was born this way
Baby, I was born this way
Ooh, there ain't no other way, baby, I was born this way
I'm on the right track, baby, I was born this way

Give yourself prudence and love your friends so we can rejoice the truth
In the religion of the insecure I must be myself, respect my youth
A different lover is not a sin
Believe capital H-I-M
I love my life, I love this record and Mi amore vole fe yah

Don't be drag, just be a queen
Whether you're broke or evergreen
You're black, white, beige, chola descent
You're Lebanese, you're orient
Whether life's disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
'Cause baby, you were born this way

'Cause you're beautiful in you're way
'Cause God makes no mistakes
You're on the right track, baby you were born this way
Don't hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you're set
I'm on the right track, baby I was born this way
Ooh, there ain't no other way, baby, I was born this way
Baby I was born this way
Ooh, there ain't no other way, baby, I was
I'm on the right track, baby I was born this way
My mama told me when I was young
We are all born superstars

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

friendship

"No lapse of time or distance of place can lessen the friendship of those who are truly persuaded of each other's worth." - Unknown

Friday, December 23, 2011

The knots of life

Photo by Jesse Aaron Mueller


“We learn the rope of life by untying its knots.” ~Jean Toomer

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The key is to plant the seeds.

buds

"Every night I woke up in dread, terrified of yet one more insecure tomorrow.... The agony that youth was gone, and for the rest of my tomorrows I was finished, through, crushed by my responsibilities and the carved out hole of loss inside of me. I’m still afraid of slipping back into that crevice.... Once you’ve seen the darkness in the center of the Earth, the heat that can burn your brain to cinders, you know it’s always there, an open invitation to come back.

"But the important thing is that right around the middle of all of this, I started planting seeds.... The key is to plant the seeds. And never stop, even if weather, even if animals, even if mutations, look as if they are going to damage the garden and destroy it. Seeds take time to grow. A long time. And they need to be loved with patience, just like children. And there are seeds designed for every season. The key is to go out there, dig up dirt, and plant. Every day.... What seed will you plant today?"

James Altucher
See full blog post at:
http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/12/sometimes-things-just-keep-getting-worse/

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

on friendship...


"Do not assume that she who seeks to comfort you now, lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. Her life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, she would never have been able to find these words." -Rainer Maria Rilke

Thursday, December 15, 2011

That is what art should do. It should make the world blush and give up its secrets.

Housewarming
“This is what good art does. It takes a pebble in the road, or a human being, and it concentrates on them until they begin to glow. I think the concept and the notion of blushing is very important in art, and in my kind of art. You know, the artist concentrates on the detail of the object until it blushes in the way the love object blushes when a lover gazes at it with that particular intense gaze. That is what art should do. It should make the world blush and give up its secrets.” John Banville

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

at last you have found the area where very few people will be able to compete

leaves (watercolor)
"Failure. Learning from your accidents... catapults you through the learning curve very quickly. My kids often give up instantly when they lose at something. That’s ok. They just aren’t interested. But once you find something where you pick yourself up and you say, “I HAVE TO DO BETTER” next time. THEN you know you are onto something – a passion, a dream, the field where you can become a grandmaster, the field where you can become an entrepreneur. It’s a secret you learn about yourself and you can be privately proud that at last you have found the area where very few people will be able to compete. 99% of people give up after a failure.... It’s the best filter that will tell you you will eventually succeed." - James Altucher

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Baltimore at sunset -- view from the One World Cafe.
I took this in Baltimore last year off Charles Street near JHU Homewood Campus.
There's a Hole in My Sidewalk
Portia Nelson



I:
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost…
I am helpless.
It is not my fault.
It takes forever to find my way out.

II:
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

III:
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in…It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

IV:
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
I walk down another street.

Copyright 1993, Portia Nelson from the book, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk, Beyond Words Publishing, Hillsboro, Oregon. Autobiography in Five Short Chapters.
http://www.mendontlisten.com/article_sidewalk.html

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

setting up Google Voice to route into one cell phone (for business AND personal use)

I won't even go into how much TIME I spent on this problem, or how many other people I talked to that ALSO spent a ridiculous amount of time on Google Voice settings but apparently it's a common problem to set up a Google Voice number and have ALL incoming calls forwarded to the Google Voice mailbox, even ones going to the original number. I didn't want this. I have a business line and wanted business calls answered by my business voicemail and personal calls answered by personal voicemail.

So, after significant headdesking, it's working. Here are the steps:

Setting up a Google Voice business line to your personal cell phone:

(I did this with an iPhone 3GS, AT&T is my carrier):

1. Download iPhone app for Google Voice (so you can make calls from your phone as if from your Google Voice number. This won't actually affect your settings though).

2.  Go to Google Voice on your browser and go into Google Voice settings:

Under the "Phones" tab, check "forward calls to mobile."
DO NOT check "activate Google Voicemail for this phone."

3. Under "Voicemail & Text" tab, record a greeting for Google Voice & name it whatever you want. When you click "record new," it will call you on your phone. When you answer, a recording will prompt you to leave a message. (You'll have the option of doing it over if necessary.)

If you want anything else -- voicemails transcribed, etc., check those settings.

4. Under the "Calls" tab, change the default to "Call Screening On" (note: I don't have the box checked for requiring callers to announce their name because I believe that hinders customer service, but if you want this, it won't affect the final outcome).

Caller ID radio button: choose "Display Google Voice" (then, on your phone, add a contact for your business line so whenever it rings, you'll see the incoming call from that business name. I personalized the label so it says my business name and "Google Voice" in small letters (underneath instead of "iPhone" or "home" or "work" or the usual labels).

Check "Place missed calls in inbox."

5. Last but MOST IMPORTANT step: on your phone, you must deactivate conditional call forwarding (which is set as a default):

On your phone, dial ##004# and hit "send." This will ensure that calls coming into your phone are not all going to forward to Google Voice (the conditional call forwarding default).

RESULT from all these steps:
  • Calls to your business number forward to your cell. If no answer, they will route to business voicemail (or whatever you set as your Google Voice voicemail).
  • Calls to your personal number forward to the same cell. If there is no answer, they will route to your personal voicemail.
It doesn't matter if you decline the call or it rings long enough to go to voicemail, the correct voicemail box should still engage.

I keep my phone on silent almost all the time to keep disruption down when working so it was important to me that the correct voicemail picked up for its associated number. I hope this information is useful if you're having problems setting up your Google Voice account.

Monday, December 5, 2011

For Allison.

“The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arise from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost.” Arthur Schopenhauer
Allison
Everyone has an important friend from childhood, their earliest friend, the one they first discover what it means to share laughter with someone outside the family. Allison was that person to me. We met in first grade. I was five, right about the age where my memories begin. On the last day of school, Mrs. Rose handed each student a special award for their talents and Allison got the "best behaved" distinction. It was the prize most revered because it was the hardest earned.

Allison, humble and wise even as a kid, did not brag like the others but instead stood quietly still, surprised by this unexpected badge as other students crowded around her to admire the well-deserved honor.

She was my first best friend and she shaped me. And she will never be forgotten.

I'd been looking for her online ever since I got online. (1994?) One day I Googled her name and found... her gravestone. I looked at my screen and started to cry.

I dreamt about her not that long ago and wrote:

Visiting Allison. (a dream)

I was 1,000 miles from home and visiting a college bookstore when I suddenly ran into my childhood friend, Allison, my best friend from about ages 6-12 before I moved away. I was somehow traveling backwards through time. I didn't ask how -- dreams are funny like that. I just knew it was happening.

She was young and beautiful in my dream, a sophomore in college. She was with her boyfriend who I knew would soon become her husband.

I watched her peruse through merchandise and pick up party lights."Ah," I thought. "You were not yet dead." She didn't know that two years from then she'd be gone, a victim of childbirth gone terribly wrong.

I went over and talked to her in my dream, wanting so badly to hold onto our conversation, the connection. Outwardly it seemed light, airy. We laughed together. I winced inside. She couldn't possibly know or understand that her foreshadowed death rattled around in my innards like a broken bottle, that I needed to double over and wrap my arms around myself to hold in the pieces that were coming apart.

One of the tiny lightbulbs dropped on the floor and bounced but did not break. I bent over to pick it up and thought, "Is this what it's like when you travel back in time to spend an instance with someone?" I thought. "Consumed only with when you would lose them, unable to fully enjoy the moment?"

I wanted to cry great racking sobs for the future as I knew how it would play out. I felt cheated. I went back to see her -- worked so hard for this moment -- and yet even then could not bring back the innocence that existed before I knew the pain of her loss.

We continued our light banter. I swallowed more glass. I found her a sweater she could wear on her way home. There was some comfort in giving her that, on that last occasion that I would see her. And we parted. She bought her party supplies. I watched her fade and slowly became conscious that I was dreaming. That's when I began writing this post in my head.

I woke up thinking of her and of all the other losses in my life I would know one day. How I'd be forever changed by each one, bent and gnarled like a charred, twisted oak, scarred by countless storms and fires.

Maybe this is the thing that makes us old. Loss. Because it robs us of our innocence that the world will stay as we know it.

RIP, Ali. Miss you.