Friday, January 30, 2009

Do You Sleep?

I don't think I can recall having one good night's sleep this year so far. I guess it's something of my fault by ushering in 2009 by staying up till 5 and waking up naturally just in time to catch the live telecast of the Rose Parade and the Twilight Zone marathon and kept going with my day without much of a nap.

Of course, it doesn't help that I've been staying up late only to have to wake up early for important things, like go to work and the like, and I've been kept so busy, I don't really get much for naps that I really like doing. I have played it safe when I've been at others' place very late and opt to crash there instead of trying to sleepily drive home, but sleeping in a foreign environment doesn't yield quality sleep. Even when I do get in a good amount of hours in my own bed, something usually prevents me from a quality rest, like a bad dream, a strange noise, a headache, or the fact that I simply passed out while trying to work on something on the computer only to doze off and wake up hours later with the lights still on, the laptop to the side and discovering the hard object jabbing at my back are my glasses on which I'm lying down.

I really do like sleep, and I know it's good for me. I just wish that I could get more of it, and perhaps more quality sleep. More than anything, I do hope that I don't manifest some alter ego in my sleep that goes out and does things like form secret societies in the efforts to create social change through terrorism. I'd rather I'd spend my unconscious hours doing things that will help me out with my day-to-day, like make me breakfast or get my knitting done...maybe read that book or two I've been wanting to get through or tag and caption all my photos on Flickr.

Or maybe my alter ego should more of a social life than I'm not keen on having right now, just to make sure my friends know I'm not ignoring them and thus hating their guts because I don't even poke them on Facebook.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

More Ways of the Professional Mooch: Library Edition

I've watched movies like Almost Famous and Hearts of Atlantis and thought of these single mothers giving their sons library cards as presents. In a way, it kind of sucks to get something like that for your birthday or something, but getting that key to other worlds through books is a pretty cool tool to have, and being as lazy as I am, I'd appreciate someone signing me up for a library card, eliminating my need to do that paperwork.

The library is one of those often-forgotten resources not only for books, but also for magazines, DVDs CDs and articles. During these tough economic times, many are making greater efforts to scrimp and save money whenever they can, and libraries is a great money-saver.

I and many others have or had the habit of simply purchasing a book that may have piqued our interests, and even with all the research made, user reviews and big-chain coupons to save a buck or two, and then buy it to find out the book is a dud. Sure you can Freecycle or leave it somewhere or pass it along to someone else, and the library has the same concept...except you have to return it to them. And if you like something, hey! You can buy it!

As a UCLA Alumni member, I get to have access to the entire University of California collection across the state. It's a pretty cool tool, as I primarily use it to get art books as a reference and inspiration from the UCLA Arts library, and if there's a particular book by an artist that great library doesn't have, I can request for the book be sent down to me. It's too bad that I mostly forget that I can do the same thing with novels and other books...that would have saved me a lot of money and stuff space in my living areas.

Nowadays, I have the help of my sister, who works at a pretty good library, to look for books for me. I'll be surfing the web and find a book I like, and internet-access willing, she will instantly go to her library's website if they have it and if it's checked in. If it is, she borrows it, and she doesn't have to pay late fees! It is something I have used several times.

I'm currently on the biggest knitting kick I've ever been on since learning how to knit and crochet (partly because I'm actually pretty decent at it now), and have wanted to make several items from designers who have published books. I was THISCLOSE to buying a book that had ONE pattern I wanted to use, but realized that I could just borrow it. My sister's library doesn't have it, but I discovered the best library tool IN THE WORLD (literally):

WorldCat: An online catalog to search the catalogs of libraries around the world.

In no time did I find that the LA Central Library had the book I wanted (but was checked out), and the next closest place was the Pasadena Central library. Now I have a Pasadena Library card and the book I want and only paid for the gas it took to find parking on a busy Sunday afternoon.

Sometimes, when I go into a library, "A Whole New World" that was in Disney's Aladdin comes in my head. Even though it's theoretical, the library is indeed a portal that can take you practically anywhere you wish, whether it be knitting patterns, the world of vampires, or the randy stories of Russian folktales (Hey, I was almost practically majoring in the stuff...folktales, that is).


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reading is for the Birds

Are you familiar with that saying? Blank is for the birds? It’s a century-old saying derived from ‘that is shit for the birds,’ as birds have a tendency to eat road apples. I read that online, but it was only a handful of sentences. I can’t read textbooks. I’ve never read a math book in my life. Textbooks are glorified technical manuals, tomes of a banal compilation of words, stale and with no intention to teach, only to implant.

Classical literature and all good books are ideas conveyed clearly and naturally. I enjoy those, but I haven’t read a book in well over a half year. When I read, I absorb words for a minute or two and forget that which I read a half hour ago. I guess I retain ideas, but only those.

My girlfriend explained to me what happens when she reads. She read aloud a passage from the Twilight series and told me what she pictured after a sentence or two. She told me she pictured a couple holding hands in an open field and specific features and emotional overtones cast upon their faces. I pictured only two hands grasping each other. I concluded it was why my reading comprehension level is so pathetic.

I have an insatiable craving for knowledge and it’s depressing and frustrating. Reading bores me. I’d like to do more of it, but I can’t will myself to pick up a book. It’s such an inefficient method of retaining knowledge. I wish ideas could be beamed straight into my head. It’s rare that words stimulate me. When they do stimulate me, I get so excited that I find myself trying to read faster than I can grasp ideas, and when that happens I end up just looking at letters.

A road apple is horse shit so named because it resembles in appearance an apple. Birds have a habit of pecking at horse shit to extract undigested seeds. When something is for the birds, it is trivial and generally useless.


Friday, January 23, 2009

The Machine Creates the Obsession

Last week, I wrote about the woes of this blog's writers' inability to access the Internet from home. Things have changed since then, and we are much, much different people because of it.

When I first moved into the house where I currently live, there was no Internet. I was told that we technically couldn't get cable because the Powers-That-Be had to cross properties in order to get it setup, and they're not technically allowed to do that. Even though it's something that has to be provided, there is also no working phone jack in the house. I managed to steal a weak signal from a neighbor for a while until our next door neighbor allowed me to set up a wireless signal from his access so my roommate and I can share with him. Then he took it away for a while, so it was back to stealing access. Only thing was, the signal was very weak and inconsistent, and there were very few spots where it would actually work. Even when our next door neighbor decided to allow us to share Internet with him again, it took me a long time to de-program myself from going online from the foot of the right side of my bed.

When we were without our neighbor's access, and as our neighbors got smart and protected their networks, I had some creative surfing I had to do (aka mooching off Internet under the guise of hanging out and visiting others - I'm kidding, I love you all) until I decided to make the call and have the cable guys do what they're not supposed to and install internet into our actual house. That way, I had complete control of my network and had access to it whenever it went down.

Around the same time, I decided to sign up for Netflix. I got myself on their cheapest plan (One DVD at a time), so I made sure to make a quick turnaround with my single DVD, and in the 11 days I've been a member, I've received (and returned) 3 DVDs and watched 16 movies and TV show episodes online. Since I watch a lot of these while making yarn, knitting or crocheting, I've also used my high-speed connection to search for inspiration for new knitting and crocheting projects. It also has seemed to spark the use of my account a whole lot more now.

My blog partner, on the other hand, has me experiencing flashbacks now that he has DSL and has abandoned our semi-daily correspondence of ways to make the other feel like the inferior, unimaginative loser in ways so subtle that the other doesn't really detect what's really being said (and it works) and has replaced it with playing Counter-Strike and watching trashy anime on YouTube.

I even wonder why this blog continues to exist at all. Let's give it 'till the end of the month.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Subservient Women and My Fist

When I was a child, I was all for women’s rights. My mother was subservient to my dad, as was my sister to her husband, but I still formed my own opinion and thought, “my wife will do whatever she wants!” I was perplexed by housewifery and women’s decisions to consciously, and happily, slave for their husbands and families.

It wasn’t until my twenties that I realized that some women enjoy the role. My girlfriend is one of those women: subservient and pleasured by my joy. Disgusting.

Every morning I ask her what she’d like for breakfast. “I don’t know. Whatever you want!”

“You said that yesterday.” I walk into the kitchen and scramble a handful of eggs, fry up some bacon, and squeeze a couple glasses of orange juice because it’s her favorite breakfast. We eat, happily, and when I’m done, I begin cleaning up. The struggle begins with my trying to take her plate.

“I want to do the dishes,” she says cutely. I pull even harder and succeed at removing the plate from her hands, but at the cost of two of her fingernails. “I’m sorry,” she says.

Now, I’m not one to take lip, so I give her a quick five across the face and say, “I’m not one to take lip!” She sits down and apologizes—subserviently and with a smile. Pleased anew, I ask my girlfriend to get on the computer and find out when the game is on while I go relieve myself. When I return to clean up, I notice my girlfriend elbow deep in a sink of suds and dishes.

“Look, I don’t want to hit you again,” I say sternly.

“What should I do then?”

“Not the dishes.”

“Then what should I do?”

Not the dishes!”


“You asked for it,” and I popped her in the nose. Boy, can she take a punch. I helped her to the dining room and started on the dishes. I turn and notice she’s wiping the blood off the dining table. “What did I say!”

“Not the dishes.”

“That’s it.” I marched over and cracked a plate over her head. “You better not try and clean this mess up, either.” At this point I carried her to the room and set her on the bed where she hugged me before I left to finish off the dishes. I was happy, enjoying the fact that I cooked and cleaned all by myself when I heard the vacuum start up.

I ran in there about to clock her in the chin when she yelled in fear, “not the dishes! Not the dishes!”

I stood in disbelief, unable to understand why she couldn’t allow herself to be happy and let me treat her like the princess she is.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Broadband: Pandora's Sexy Box

Few knew that until last week I was still using dial up. I remained in an era when N’sync was adored by all (all), the economy was peaking, and I was even more ignorant of female anatomy than I am now. Don’t get me wrong, dial up is the tortoise to broadband’s hare, but it wasn’t all that bad. Let me explain, bitches.

Consider reading. Those who love to read will understand. Let’s say—

here’s where I stopped writing before I left for tonight. Before I started writing I was sober, but now I am drunk. I am drunk enough to not care what I write, so whatever I write will be exceptionally horrible. Both horrible in content and grammar. Not so much in spelling because MS Word will take care of that for me, and it has thus far taken care of at least a billion infractions in this paragraph.

--Let’s say that dial up is like a volume of books everyone cares to read, because that’s how the internet is, you see. You want to read these books and on dial up you read one book every ten years. With DSL you read these books at a rate of 2.6 KBPS, which translates roughly to a thousand books an hour about.

That’s many books.

My point is, my friends, that once you read those books, you have nothing else to do. Did I mention you’re on a deserted island and those are the only books you’ll forever have to read? Well that’s the internet, my friends. That’s the internet: the pandora’s box of shit.

Sure there’s a plethora and other garbage words you could use to describe the superfluity of the internet, but it means nothing when none of it internets you I mean interests you. There’s pornography, games, pictures, videos, and information. They all only go so far and information is only fun if you’re interested, and of all the information on the internet, I’m sure only 0.001 percent of it entertains any one person on any basis whatever that means.

So anyway back to my original point because I’m tired and whatever, Pandora’s Sexy Box. I meant to create a witty innuendo regarding Pandora and her box, and the internet. I even considered titling this Pandora’s Cyber Box, but my confidence was low and didn’t think I’d be able to—holy shit I just heard gun shots. I’m not kidding. There were five or six cracking through the air. I’m calling 911.

I just called and it was the fastest I was transferred to an operator. I was transferred four times, but it was very prompt. They’re sending someone over.

How depressingly sobering.


Friday, January 16, 2009

The Way of a Professional Mooch

I've been asked what it means to be a professional mooch, as I've indicated that as my profession on my Blogger profile. Mooching is the ability to get by through the deft use of the kindness of others. The professional element, I believe, is the ability to do this without being a complete freeloader and maintain some kind of dignity, tact, and restraint on how much mooching should be done and when.

One of main advantages of mooching is to save money, but I believe the best mooch is to combine saving money while passing off one person's trash that can become another person's treasure. That is where the art of the Freecycle comes in.

The concept is simple: People have things they no longer need/want for various reasons, but are still perfectly usable. They can either kick it to the curb and see if anyone picks it up, donate it to a place like Goodwill for resell, put it up to Craigslist or Freecycle to give away to someone who could possibly use it.

People can ask for things they need, as well, for there's a chance someone out in the network has what one needs lying around, gathering dust. I once posted an ad for my work to get legal-size hanging file folders, and one of the responders happened to be one of the company's board members, and brought them later that week to the monthly board meeting. When I had a torrid saga with an unwanted roommate I had (a mouse), I asked for a no-kill mouse trap after exhausting all my home brewed contraptions failed me.

Along with a mouse trap, I've also nabbed a vintage Schwinn bicycle (that still needs to be tuned up), picture frames, blank audio cassettes, and three boxes of Cat Fancy magazine (for collage purposes, I swear). I've given away things like old vacuums, folding bed frames, a futon, and some other miscellaneous junk.

It's also a way to get to meet good people who are saving things from landfills, but it's always good to err on the side of caution if your spider-sense is tingling: if you get strange vibes from someone for a pickup, make sure you tell someone where you're going.

If you don't mind the emails, it's good to see what people need that you may have and vice versa, but it's also fun to see what people are giving away, like disposable contact lenses and animals, or asking for things like animals, cars or a Segway someone may have collecting dust.

My, the world is full of things, and it's fun to extend the life of some of them.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Machine Creates the Need?

I went to the movie theater to watch a movie with my dad today. He originally wanted to watch part I of Che (and he's seen the full version twice already), but I convinced him to watch Slumdog Millionaire for his second time, my first. We got to the movie theater a little late, but as I entered the theater where it was screening, I came to a very dark room with the screen was completely blank, not even on active black (when there's a projected black image). After alerting the theater people about it, the trailers ran again, only to have another blank screen. As it turns out, the theater switched to digital hard drives that held the movies, and the hard drive was down at the time. They eventually decided that they couldn't fix it in time, so they gave us free passes and our choice to hop to another movie playing at that moment.

But the hard drive crashing made me think of the great Italian film, Cinema Paradiso and the days of movies on multiple reels. One of my favorite scenes of the movie was when two towns shared a movie and switched reels mid-movie, so one town saw part two before seeing part one. I thought I was lucky to have the luxury of seeing my movies in sequential order whenever I went to the cinema.

In this instance, being able to see a movie wouldn't be so simple. I don't think that this theater could or would be willing to go to the nearest (and competing) theater for to lend them a hard drive of a movie that just won some very prestigious award. It made me think that maybe the old-school use of movies on reels would have been an easy fix, that is, if they even had the equipment for that kind of technology around.

For the majority of this new year, I have been without Internet access at my house. "That's okay," I thought, "I'm busy doing other things like working on 'Amish Work!'" that is, things that don't require electricity for me to do (save for the lighting at my house, I guess). I was perfectly content to have an Internet-free household, or at least I was going to prove that it wasn't THAT big a deal I went without.

Boy, was I wrong.

I never realized how quickly my Inbox filled up when not checked during the week for an extended amount of time, or how I NEED the Internet to do things such as pay my credit card bills, transfer money in my bank account (to this day, I have yet to set foot in the Credit Union in which most of my money is kept), or even find out which cable company would be the cable carrier for my house just so I could have internet access installed in my house.

Sure, there are places where Internet can be accessed, such as a local library or school, but it's a little scary how dependent we've become to the creature comforts modern technology has afforded us. Take this blog, for example. These words were written a day before and set to post on Wednesday, as I am scheduled to write this Wacky Wednesday entry. If I don't do it today, I'd have to stay at work later or write this entry during my lunch break just to post. My blog colleague wasn't able to get his Monday entry up for the same reason I write this on Tuesday.

It's scary to imagine such things like this blog or one's social networking lives would come to a complete halt if we aren't given access to something that most people still don't consider a necessity. I'm a bit afraid to think that a lot of my daily happenings is reliant on something that can be so fleeting.

I would otherwise consider throwing it all away to live a more lo-fi life, but I couldn't imagine all the emails that would pile up during that time.


Monday, January 12, 2009

The Chrono Flakes Chronicles

Hi! This is Corazon. Due to unforseen circumstances, Frank is unable to write something new for today's entry. Because I do not want to steal his thunder (or the fact I'm too scared to even try...) I'm posting this previously written entry by him for your enjoyment. He may not know it now, but I see this entry as the start of a new series, so I'm making it so. Without further adue...

Chairman: The secret ingredient is . . .

Producer: What’s he doing?

Alton: In what seems to be an unprecedented move, the Chairman is reaching into his breast pocket and pulling out sample-sized boxes of cereal.


Alton: Well there you have it folks. The secret ingredient is Chrono Flakes. Iron Chef Cat Cora seems to be confused by this secret ingredient. I’m not sure if she intends on continuing with the competition. Alright, a minor spat’s been avoided thanks to some quick thinking by the producer and an even quicker exchange of money.

Chairman: Let the battle begin!

Alton: And here we go. The Iron Chef seems to be utterly confounded by the secret ingredient while the challenger is tearing into the box and spreading them onto a sheet pan. Our producer is telling us to inform our audience that Food Network is not liable for any damages incurred by the Iron Chef or Challenger during this competition, so, audience, watch for anything out of the ordinary!

Broche: Hello, Alton. We indeed have a strange battle today. Nobody but the Chairman and the Challenger have any idea what these Chrono Flakes are. I’ve asked The Iron Chef what she thinks, but I received no response as she was busy in a battle of her own as she fended off a flurry of ninja stars.

Alton: Strange indeed, Kevin. Perhaps some insight as we peer into the Challenger’s side. She’s—yes, she’s crushing the Chrono Flakes and spreading them in a plate beside a bowl of green-glowing eggs and what appears to be flour that is somehow being suspended in midair. I’m not entirely sure, but I think she’s going to bread something in the Chrono Flakes and deep fry it.

Kevin: Alton, I’ve just received word that the Iron Chef defeated a group of marauding ninjas and has begun preparing her dishes. She said she’s distraught but, thanks to a threat on her family at the producer's command, she will continue the battle against the challenger.

Alton: Very good, Kevin. For the first time ever, I’m at a loss for words. How about introducing us to our judges?

Kevin: Alton, I would if it weren’t for the fact that the judges have been replaced by the challenger. What I suspect are the Challenger’s clones have mysteriously been seated at the judges’ table. Should I introduce them?

Alton: No, Kevin, I don’t think that’s necessary. Sweet Lord, Kitchen Stadium’s been besieged by an army of the Challenger’s doppelgangers. The army is flooding the kitchen and helping the Challenger make pasta dough. This is amazing, folks, I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’m Alton Brown. Although it’s against the laws of physics, I think it’s clear what’s happening here.

Kevin: What’s that, Alton?

Alton: The darkest of the food arts: Time Travioli. The challenger is going to make Time Travioli to defeat the Iron Chef and begin and end the paradox to end all paradoxes.

Kevin: Are you saying that this army and clones are none other than the Challenger herself?

Alton: That’s right, Kevin.

Kevin: I’m not sure, Alton. But I’m scared. The Chairman is laughing maniacally while doing back flips around the arena.

Chairman: The time has come for, me, the Chairman, to control Kitchen Stadium! I’ll no longer play second fiddle to you, food nerd.

Alton: No. This can’t be. How could you, Chairman! You’ve delving into the darkest of food magics. Iron Chef, run!


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Habits of Cohabitation

The secret to a successful relationship is simple: teamwork. Once you properly delegate chores and other such nonsense, cohabitation becomes a breeze. For example, I cook, she cleans. Why? I love cooking, she doesn’t. She likes cleaning, I don’t. Why else? Because she’s a woman. There are, of course, limits and other duties each partner must assume in order to maintain a healthy relationship.

When in public, it is imperative that she act as my social buttress. In case of any impending social faux pas, she is to retrieve an alcoholic beverage so as to fortify my ego. Additionally, she is to fortify my ego every twenty minutes or when my drink becomes 85% empty, whichever occurs first. In the event that an alcoholic beverage is unavailable, she is to demand that she please me sexually.

She is to cater to my every whim, no matter how inane, at a moment’s notice. Being the moral, logical, and intellectual foundation of a relationship comes at a price, and this price is to be paid--by her. Appropriate whims include, but are not limited to: massages, breakfasts in bed, fetchings a pets for pettings, and performing the duties of an executive secretary (including sexual favors).

Flatulence and other bodily functions are to provide no relief but comic and are otherwise prohibited.

She is to abstain from talking (and thinking) when unnecessary. As a team, it is crucial to develop a proper, team-like relationship. I am the coach, she is the player. Another more precise analogy might be master-slave. Unnecessary thinking leads undoubtedly to questions, questions to which I do not have answers, and revolution. In the case of revolution, it is necessary to fabricate an external crisis. “The liquor store was robbed. Liquor prices have increased. Liquor is unavailable tonight,” I’ll say.

Ever since I forced my girlfriend to follow these rules, fist fights and other scenes from Enough have been at an all time low, three per day.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Visiting an Old Friend

For those of you who don't know, the Disneyland Resorts and Walt Disney World are offering FREE admission to a park on your birthday. You do have to go on your actual birthday, no going on other days (You can register here).

Joy and her FREE Birthday Ticket!I told this news to my friend, Joy, on the first of this year and she immediately signed up to get her free ticket and obsessed over going to Disneyland for the rest of the week before her birthday. When her birthday arrived, I was lucky enough to go with her, using the points from my rewards card, so I didn't have to pay for anything out-of-wallet.

What they don't tell you on the site is that if you're a Southern California Resident going to either of the Disneyland parks (Disneyland of Disney California Adventure), you can "upgrade" your one day ticket to a 2fer Ticket, which allows you to go to one park on your birthday, and the other park within 30 days of your birthday. They were also having a SoCal 2fer ticket special, so I was able to get the same ticket for the price of a 1-day 1-park ticket.

I was an Annual Passport holder for 8 years, and for the first few years, I would go at least once a month, and if I was lucky, went once a week for at least one school year. Still, I'm always excited to go to Disneyland, but going to Disneyland for me may be a little different for most people.

Parking atop the Minnie parking levelThings like parking on the top level of the Disney Resort parking lot. In the years that this thing was built, I've parked on every level, save for this one. Having gone too many times to keep track, little goals like throwing a penny in every body of water in the park, updating on the official park merchandise, scoping the best benches for people watching or parking on all the levels of the super duper parking structure are ways of keeping each visit interesting and fun. It's also fun to go to the park with people who haven't gone as often as I have, or don't know as much Disney trivia, and I lay it on them endless as we progress through the park. If you show me a picture taken at Disneyland, I can probably tell you which part of the park you are (though that really shouldn't be too difficult, right?)

Where is the Pirate?Going to Disneyland (and DCA) is a vice for me that will never grow old. I miss the days when I could point out every change and remodel done to Pirates of the Caribbean ride when they closed it down for refurbishing every six months (and noticing when pirates disappear).

I'm happy that I got to go and share my friend's special day with her in the Magic Kingdom, and I'm sure that it will be some adventure when I get to return to California Adventure sometime in the next 30 days (anyone care to come along?)!

If you want to see more pictures from Joy's Disneyland Birthday trip, they're up on my Flickr


Monday, January 5, 2009

69 and Other Sexual Maneuvers

As sexually adventurous and explicit as I may be, I still have trouble uttering certain words while humping. How do you bring up 69 during sex, especially when the sweaty pounding is passionate and romantic? It seems awkward to simply ask, and I’m not strong enough to lift anything heavier than fifty pounds to massage my face.

Do you discuss these things prior to the act? Does it happen over dinner? While he’s digging through the layers in his roast beef sandwich and she’s shoving a sausage into her throat, do their heads rise and do their eyes meet in epiphany?

I realize that in most relationships one doesn’t need permission to pleasure the other manually. But what of those who do? Will “I wish to fingerbang you” suffice? It’s such a vulgar word, violent even, which is strange considering there’s no banging of any sort involved. Who figured fingerbanging was an appropriate term for a genital massage? I guess genital massage is no better than fingerbang. I wonder if the first fingerbanger was so enchanted by the idea that his thrusting digits made banging noises. We’ll never know.

Don’t even get me started on sodomy. You can only “miss” so many times before suspicion overtakes passion. The same applies to pearl necklaces and, in rare occasions, golden showers.

Maybe there is no smooth way to initiate the 69 maneuver. I guess I’ll continue to order my girlfriend to sit on my face while shoving her head into my crotch.


Friday, January 2, 2009


I just got off the phone from an unidentified 805 phone number who happened to be a volunteer thanking me for my support this past year and leting me know about their new campaign to get people to support their work. I told her that I really need to be a lot stricter with my finances right now, and she understood that, but before we agreed that times are tough, but with our upcoming president, things are looking pretty hopeful for the future.

I know very few people who can say that 2008 was a good year for them. When Senator Barack Obama was elected to be the next United States President, one could almost feel the shift in the air, the collected sigh of relief and the lifted spirits of people around the world that things may not too great, but not all is lost, and we all had something for which to hope.

It is good to have hope, but we cannot hot rely on hope alone. Hope can only go so far; it is the expectation and belief things will turn out for the best. Expectation and belief are intangible concepts that can be achieved with luck, but usually a little bit of effort is needed to maximize its effectiveness.

The change that so many people hoped for and got could not have happen if not for the hard work of so many people devoting their time and passion for what they believed in, much like the woman I spoke to on the phone. She, like so many others, has hope for a better future, and she's working to improve the odds of that better future on happening. Of course, all the hope and effort is never a guarantee of reaching our goals, but even in the unfortunate case of defeat, one can walk away knowing that (s)he made her/his best effort.

As we come into this new year with our hopes and dreams, we must be aware that they'll remain just that - hopes and dreams if we don't put in effort in making them a reality. Even with the change in the air and the guaranteed shift we will all feel, we cannot expect to see any change as we stand there holding out our hand as we impatiently tap our feet. The pieces of change will definitely fall into place, but we're going to have to guide them to make sure they really fit.

We won't lose that weight if we don't better watch our diets and don't exercise. We're not going to get out of debt if we keep spending beyond our means. We're not going to get that chair refinished unless we go out and start sanding. I'm not going to take better pictures or write better blog entries if I'm not out there taking pictures, writing more, and surrounding myself with inspiration. We all will need to roll up our sleeves, get our hands dirty and we're going to have to work to see the change we wish to see.

...and even if things don't come out exactly the way we hoped, our expectation that things will work out for the best, we have to remember...everything happens for a reason, and we'll come out a little wiser from every experience, good or bad. With 2008 behind us, we'll take what happened to us last year and put in that effort to make sure that 2009 isn't the even worse sequel of its predecessor.

I'm ready get to work...are you?

Of course, 2008 wasn't 366 days full of nightmare. There were some good things, including the capture of some pretty remarkable images, a very few of which were compiled in The Boston Globe blog.

Click on for larger image as well as additional images