Thursday, February 24, 2011


Sooooooooo, about this week's quote...
 It is no secret that i hate February with a burning passion of despisement.
But this year i am finally so healthy and happy and energized that i didn't even give it a thought when the calendar turned. It is honestly amazing what a working (or seriously augmented by synthetics) endocrine system can do for a girl.
But February, oh February, you just couldn't leave well enough alone, could you?
In the span of 15 minutes last night i found out that 2 members of my team had been laid off and my mom has had a stroke.
Dang it, February; it was the 23rd.
I only needed to make it through 5 more days to report the first drama-free February in remembered history.
5 days!
Anyhoo, there have been several meetings to get work figured out and it will be okay in the long run; my biggest concern is that the 2 fTMs will be alright. I've talked to my mom. It seems like it was a minor stroke that has affected one side of the body, but not her speech centers. She's home, walking and talking.
However, the Nikiverse will go dark for a bit (i'm thinking a week mayhaps) so i can get things straightened out.
Be well and remember, only 81 more hours in Crapuary.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

well stated

This week's quote is for some of my friends who are encountering tough times right now. We all know that we appreciate good times more because of the bad times, but the way Stephen Crane expresses it in The Red Badge of Courage is my favorite because of his startlingly different imagery:
It had been necessary for him to swallow swords that he might have a better throat for grapes.
Hold on; it'll get better. When it does, we'll make those grapes into wine and celebrate.

perhaps you heard it snowed

It was only about 3 inches, but i have to get out my car, the three vehicles at work and the plow hasn't arrived at the house yet, soooooooo it might be awhile before i'm back...

Friday, February 18, 2011

let's go snorkeling

(dontcha love my pink mask and snorkel?)
Not far from Waikiki there is a park called Hanauma Bay where you can snorkel and dive reefs along a flooded volcano. Here are some signs with the helpful science and a map
(why explain it myself when some nice copywriter already did it for me?)
First you have to pile into a theater to see a presentation about the history of the park, proper reef etiquette (don't put your feet down, don't touch anything, don't try to ride the backs of turtles etc) and snorkeling safety. (never ever snorkel alone; hmmmmmmm... i just didn't make eye contact with the staff during that part) The back door of the theater releases you to the top off a long, steep road(ish) with more educational signage about various sealife that can be seen during the year. It wasn't whale migration season when i was there unfortunately.
There is a shuttle to get to the bottom of the crater,
but it is kinda sketch so i opted to walk instead.
As you get closer it is easy to make out the reef edges.
  I was advised to go early
as it gets really crowded,
but i didn't see too many people until i got closer and then indeed there were people everywhere.
For safety i wanted to have my home base be really easy to sight-line from the water (remember kids, don't snorkel alone) so i walked way down the beaches to where people hadn't started grabbing spots and set myself up under this set of palms.
Frack and Mrs Frack had gone earlier in the week and had both gotten super-crispy fried so not only did i put on sunscreen and sunblock, i put swim shorts and a tee shirt over my suit.
In we go!
A little swim from the shoreline, here is the view at the edge of the crater,
directly right
the beach behind us,
  over to the left (Koko Crater)
and the far left.
While i was just swimming out and breaking in my new mask, it occurred to me that we really do look kinda like thrashing seals:
If i was a shark, i'd be confused and perhaps take a little taste.
I basically swam all the way across the crater and back, enjoying that there were a lot of different depths, water colors and micro environments, like the porous, Swiss-cheesy places where urchins were chilling
or the deeper water where the sunlight filtered to blue
or the shallow sandy places where i saw this awesome pipefish
  (do you see him?)
or the mid deep water with larger outcrops of rock and reef where the larger fish were feeding, like this fabulous rainbowey fish with a crazy head
(no, i don't know what it was;
what? the degree is marine science, not identify-every-fish-in-the-world-ology)
  that i swam with for a while to get a good picture
(well, good for an underwater disposable; when i hit the lottery i'm going for an underwater digital camera)
and the state fish of Hawaii, humuhumunukunukuapua'a
or as i call him, Bob.
It looks like i was alone in the water, but honestly there were a bunch of people around so i started swimming out farther from the shore.
After a while i was startled to see this:
ummmmmmm, i'm pretty sure that isn't natural.
When i looked out of the water i had managed to swim out past the markers. BTW, they weren't kidding about those strong currents. I was getting really tired by this point so i turned and headed for shore. The only thing i hadn't see was a green turtle and swimming against the current by myself i knew that i needed to get in before i lost all my energy. Plus, i figured i had pushed my sunblock to the limit. Swimming over a deep section i saw this outcrop of rock
  that seemed to be moving.
That's not a rock, people!
 Hello, Mr Turtle! (dude, Mr Turtle was my father)
sigh... the adventure was now complete
and that scary, rickety shuttle seemed totally worth the 75 cents to get back up to the top of the crater.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

like i need another reason to love the library

Thanks to everyone who commented on my anniversary post.
Of the 33 postcards and 33 notecards that i need to make, I have 24 postcards done.
This giveaway (my first, and therefore a new thing for February) is an exciting challenge for me and it means that i will be spending quite a bit of time in the studio this week as i'd like to mail parcels this weekend.
Which brings me to yet another reason i love the library.
This is the stack of CDs i checked out yesterday.
I love to explore and try new music; i'll walk along the CD shelves at the library and pull things that look interesting or that maybe i've heard of but haven't heard or that have a cool cover or that are in another language or that are in a genre i know nothing about. It doesn't cost anything so if I'm gonna be listening to music in the studio anyway, i might as well broaden my musical horizons while i make cards, right? Free music from the library makes me smile.
{little known fact that jazz makes the Doughboy smile}

so i shouldn't park there, huh?


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I used to be haunted by the past; it possessed me, held me.
Sometimes i felt like i couldn't escape it,
but sometimes i wanted to live in it.
On a day in 2004 when i was feeling particularly jostled by time,
i scribbled the poem that is this week's quote on my desk blotter:
time slips and slides
forward and back
hurtling us sideways to the future
and headlong into the past
Some people think that moving on means abandoning, forgetting what has gone before,
riding the rails out of yesterday-town and never looking back.
I don't want to lose my past experiences -good and bad- cause they are what make me Niki.
But now i keep my memories; they no longer keep me.
I like to take them out, hold them up to the light so that emotion streams through and then gently tuck them away in a safe place.
Time doesn't have to be a straight line, but it doesn't have to be a loop either.

science fair season

ahhhhhh... science fair season Of course these days it is often the STEM Fair (science, technology, engineering, mathmatics), but no matter what you call it, it is all about rows of trifolds, scoring sheets, and excited kids. (understand that there were 4 people taking pictures at once, all calling this gentleman's name, hence the looking at different cameras) I can not describe how much i love going to science fairs. It is hard to judge them cause you want everyone to do well and be excited about science, but in the end you have to pick winners cause those are the kids that take their projects to County. This particular elementary STEM Fair was really, really earnest. It was touching that the kids sincerely thanked the real scientists for making time to come be a part of their day. The STEM Fair coordinator sent me a video compilation of pictures from the day; if you've never been to a science fair this will give you an idea of what it is like to have a bunch of kids milling around, waiting anxiously for you to come interview them. It is 9 minutes long, but if you manage to make it through, there is a picture of me and the above student finally looking at the same camera. It makes me smile thinking about all of those kids excited about science.

Monday, February 14, 2011

my Valentine

Isn't it adorable?
Don't you love it?
 Don't you just wanna eat it up?
Today i picked up the new team vehicle for work, a Ford Transit Connect. I can't wait to start taking it out on programming. It'll be even spiffier with graphics.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

recipe for relaxation

Some nights you just need to do nothing.
Here's how chillin' goes down in the Nikiverse:
  Scooby Doo,
 plus leopard print jammies,
  plus mac and cheese
equals mindless bliss.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Books, 2010 edition

2010 was a strange year for reading in the Nikiverse.
I read a bit less than usual and did quite a bit of rereading beloved books for comfort; however, i did find a few new authors/series that i really like.
 Let's go to the numbers, Richard:
books read: 98
most read month: July, 18
least read month: February and March tie, 2
rereads: 15
YA: 43
new series started: 7
Glad I read it, but not worth the hype: Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer; yes, i finally read it. I was pleasantly surprised that the books were better than i was expecting; I pounded out all four books in a week just to get it over with. There were some interesting new takes on vampire-lore. I kinda wished she's stopped at Twilight cause it could easily have stood alone. Eclipse and Breaking Dawn were both fine and took some nice turns. You couldn't pay me enough money to read New Moon again - blech. After reading the books i am actually more disinclined than ever to see the movies.
Why is there not more way more hype?: Percy Jackson series by Rick Riorodan; holy crap are these books good. Not only is this a fun, quick-paced adventure, it is a great intro to the hero's journey mythos. Plus it gets Greek mythology right; you're learning without even realizing it. Riordan has released the first book in the next series/crossover that covers Roman mythology; i'm unamused that i have to wait for the next one.
Favorite new series: Dresden Files by Jim Butcher; so good i got a sunburn because of it. I'm not really sure how i missed this wizard private eye series, but i'm glad i finally found it. The characters aren't one-dimensional and undergo serious changes across the series. Harry Dresden has a flippant, sardonic way of looking at life with thoughts and comments peppered with geeky pop references that a Gen X-er (even a happy-go-lucky one like me) can appreciate. I read all 10 books right in a row and thought that was the whole series, just to find out that there is an 11th book coming out this year. Hurry!
 Favorite new author: Jasper Fforde; his Nursery Crime series is fast and funny. I've started his Thursday Next series, but can't comment on them cause they are in 2011, but i will say that it is nice to have an author write for an audience who knows books.
Best non-fiction book: you know i don't like non-fiction, but Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv about nature deficiency was phenomenal. If you work with kids, have kids or ever encounter kids at all in your life you should read this book that hypothesises that a lot of the health and developmental issues plaguing this generation of children isn't just because of the time they spend with technology, but because of the time they don't spend in nature. It is fascinating to see the distinction between those two things and it warms my heart to finally hear someone say that playing on a soccer team does not COUNT as being in nature. Read it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

4 years of hijinks

Happy Blogiversary to me!!!
When i , rather begrudgingly, started the Nikiverse 4 years ago, I had no idea that it would end up being so much fun to write. It has far exceeded my expectations for linking me to my far away friends and has brought new friendships into focus.
In appreciation for you taking time out of your busy lives to visit me, I am going to send a set of 3 notecards and 3 postcards to every person who leaves a comment on this post by next Tuesday (that would be Feb 15th; aka, Rickki and Stacey's b-day).
Be sure to tell me your favorite color.
Thanks for joining in my adventures.

Monday, February 7, 2011

where's my duck?

I feel like 2009 was the Year of Living Gently and 2010 was the Year of Barely Living at All, so i want 2011 to be the Year of Taking Chances.
Personally, professionally and artistically i have reached a crossroads where opportunities abound.
I want to make changes and take risks.
There are so many possibilities that i wake up every day excited.
But conversely, sometimes i am riddled with doubt and concern.
What if i leave my comfy status quo and fail miserably?
What if the new paradigms are crappy?
 What if? What if? What if?
This week's quote is from The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket
Taking one's chances is like taking a bath, because sometimes you end up feeling comfortable and warm, and sometimes there is something terrible lurking around that you cannot see until it is too late and you can do nothing else but scream and cling to a plastic duck.
Change is good and necessary, but it can be scary. Acknowledging that terror makes me feel better about forging ahead.

Friday, February 4, 2011

that doesn't look like a hazard, really

Is the stuff on top of the van as tall as the van itself?
Are those back rolls in the van at all or are they just being held in by the sproingy force of that one bungee cord?
Good news though, at least there will be a lot of padding to help cushion things in the inevitable accident.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

oceans are made of drops

I'd like to believe that most people are interested in helping those around them; that in a world where we are constantly trying to Look Out For Number One we are also quietly looking out for others as well. That's why places like the Hunger Site, the Rainforest Site, the Child Health site, the Literacy Site, the Breast Cancer Site, the Animal Rescue Site and Free Rice exist.
Over Christmas i read about a guy who decided to give up his daily coffee and donate that money to a different charity every day; his journey is documented at Living Philanthropic and it gave me pause.
Could i do something like that?
I've been thinking, budgeting, researching and am heartened to see that there a lot of people in the blogosphere trying to make a difference, from Philanthroper which allows people to donate $1 a day to various place to Everyday Philanthropist who blogs all sorts of ways to be a giver.
 But what can a girl who works at a non-profit do?
I don't drink expensive coffee or eat out for lunch; there is no fat in my budget to be trimmed. I can't find $5 a day or even $1 a day.
But i still want to do something.
Even something little.
 I mean, even a tiny bit is more than nothing, right?
If I move a few things around in the budget, take a little cut here or there, certainly i can find 50 cents a day. Soooooo, i am putting the charity line item back in my budget at $15 a month. I'll post on my blog where the money is going to go every month so that if any of you have been wondering how you can make a difference with your two dollars, you'll have an easy suggestion.
Last week a friend and co-worker from Objects Found lost his battle with colon cancer. In honor of Tony, this month's donation will be going to the Susan Cohan Kasdas Colon Cancer Foundation. Donations of $5 and higher can be made right on that site; donations smaller than $5 can be dropped off at Objects Found. It might only be a drop in the bucket, but a bunch of drops make an ocean, right?