Sunday, December 10, 2017

The process of travel

One would think that in today's connected world of the internet, all information should be readily available.  What if one is planning a specific vacation?  For eg, let's take my vacation to Alaska this past year.  I had been to Alaska before but I wanted to do Alaska on a small boat.  Well, I searched small boat Alaska and came up with a few companies online.  On continuing the search, I ended up on a post that had the best small boat cruises to Alaska.  It had a list of several companies.  I don't think there was any other information other than the names of the companies.  There was a comment on that post that included more companies and I added those companies to my list and after all that I was able to begin my search.  I called/looked up online each company and asked for maximum passengers and cost and itinerary and finally I was able to narrow it all down.  I was actually going to write a full blog about it, the companies and the reason for my final choice.  I felt the amount of time I spent could benefit someone else but as time went on, I got busy (story of my life) and somehow I felt that my blog would not be relevant any longer and I threw away my Alaska notes.  Then we get to today.  I search another travel journey and I wish there was a broken down blog about all elements of the journey.  What websites are travel agents?  What websites are official city websites?  Oh yes.  When I searched my Alaska cruise, there was a company that was a travel agent selling for one of the other boats on my list.  So, they didn't have their own boat or cruise company and it's frustrating.

I feel that maybe I should keep my notes and maybe I should take the time/effort to type up a blog about decisions on traveling to certain locations.  Why did I pick the company I picked?  What was the cost?  What was the cost differential between the different companies.  Who offers what?  It might make life easier.  Then again, I feel it's the seasoned traveller who has this information but has not had the time to write it down and it's all a part of the journey of being that seasoned traveller.  Or maybe not.

For now, as I fumble through my research, I think I should keep a notebook.  That way, it's not notes that get thrown out.  It's always available for a blog for a future date.  Hmmm.  I like the idea.

For those of you who are thinking the word "trip advisor", well, sure.  I'm on it.  I look through it and I do get great reviews about sites to see and hotels.  I do feel trip advisor has become more commercial in the past few years.  It's become more a site to book hotels than the journey of planning travel and the options for such travel.  Or maybe I'm old, and am not able to navigate what I'm looking for fluidly on that site?

Anyway, I have to run now.  Just thought I would throw my travel conundrum out there.  Best to you all,


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Paying for a digital book

Most of you know that I want to be author someday.  This post is not about what it takes to be an author and all that, but let's fast forward.  Let's say there's a book that is published.  Of course, a person who wants to read this book has to pay money to buy the book or buy the digital copy.  Why not?  Should not the artist/author get paid for his/her talents and efforts.  I have no problem with that. When the book sales go high because the book is amazing, the pay should be equally amazing.

Here's my contention:  What if someone pays for the physical book.  Do they still need to pay for a digital copy of that same book?  I feel no.  After all, it's the SAME book and the person has already paid for it.  Asking them to pay twice and a second time (a digital copy) is double dipping.  Besides, what's the cost for a digital copy?  It's not like printing costs.  I can see adding a cost to purchase the book when one has already purchased the digital copy, but the other way around doesn't make sense to me.

My husband buys BluRays.  That's a whole another story, but when he buys a BluRay, it comes with a FREE digital copy, so he can go online and download the same movie on to his computer and watch it whenever and he doesn't have to carry all the BluRays with him.  He has already paid!  So, while we are in the digital age and advanced, why can't books catch up?

Best to you all,

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Getting past my demons, yet again!

I know what the last post was about.  This post is about the same thing.  A way to control the demons that control me - specifically one demon.  My writing.  I cannot describe myself right now but I'm between patients and working on this post.  My hands were literally shaking and I feel like I'm having a mini seizure.  My searches for today - writing retreats, writing sites.  An hour later, I'm staring into space, feeling very lost and confused.  Yet, I feel found.  I take that back.  I feel like Hope is knocking on Pandora's box and I do not want to open the box again.  I want to.  I don't want to.  I desperately want to.  Yet, I'm holding on to dear life, because I feel like I'm standing on a precipice.  Free fall, with shards of sharp rocks on the way, leading to definitive death.  Yes, why wouldn't I be afraid?

Maybe it's the tea.  The caffeine is known to make one ansy.  I wish it was as simple as that.  For someone like me who drinks several cups a day, one cup is not going to do it.  No, it's the damn writing thing that is calling again and again and again.  I can scream it to go away, but it won't.

When I'm at work and I need to behave, perhaps one way to keep demons in check is to write.  So, here I am.  Writing.  Writing like I'm running out of time (Yes, Hamilton).  Writing like my life depends on it.  Sometimes, I think it does.  I wish it didn't.  The curse is real.  I look around my office in mad suspicion.  Did someone spray something to make me jittery? Most people can't handle my energy level.  Why would they seek to increase it in an uncontrollable fashion?  I cannot tell you.  What do you name this paranoia?  The writer's curse?  I would think and hope this post would cure it.  I know the truth.  It may alleviate some symptoms, but this one is going to hurt.

I remember starting my novel, The Color of Rain, in 1999 shortly after I finished dental school.  What do I have now?  23 chapters and they are not that great.  I stand and look at 80,000 words that all need to be re-read and re-written.  Maybe I'm just overwhelmed.  But I remember 1999.  I couldn't function normally.  I was possessed.  This feeling is deja vu all over again.  If I would have quit, maybe this won't be so bad.  I had taken a long reprieve.  My demon had disappeared.  I called out to him and I almost didn't even realize he existed until now.  He shows up and my life will be filled with a thirst I cannot quench standing at a stream.  Who knows?  The stream may just be an illusion.

This post is not working.  I'll just breathe.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.  Still not working.  A screw is loose in my head.  C'est la vie.

Until next time,

The artist within me - Wattpad, what have you done?

I am consumed.  I will not be able to sleep soon.  The writer in me will gnaw at my conscience.  I just discovered Wattpad and I stare at it.  There's a tightness in my chest.  I'm afraid.  I want to do it.  I don't want to do it.  I don't have the answer and I have work to go to.
Sometimes I feel the person you are, will claw right out of you, whether you want them to or not.  My inner writer is my own demon.  I've been fighting it.  Sometimes I can keep it quiet.  Sometimes, it won't come out when I want it to.  And the battle rages on.
I wish I can tell you all how this will go.  History has not been kind to me.  I have to fight an uphill climb.  To the victor belongs the spoils, or nothing at all.  Sigh.  Let the silence envelope me while I fight my demon once again.


The original They Throw Rocks

OK, so let me try this out.  I'm going to link my story here.  I'm new to Wattpad, so I'm going to see how to link the story into my blog.

Happy reading.

Also, incidentally, I've been working on a novel.  Did I tell you guys that?  Well, I have.  It's called Color of Rain.  I will most likely be posting a chapter at a time there.  Why not?  I'll just have to figure a way to post here also?  Or maybe just there.  I'm so new to this, but hopefully it'll get me working on that novel from a million years ago!


Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Muslim Class

I love to travel and I love to travel in style.  I especially enjoy the perks.  If I can get lounge access or something more, it's a little lift me up.  I'm even willing to pay more for that.  OK, I cannot afford business class or first class but if I were offered a free upgrade I would take it.  I would enjoy the perks of better food and larger chairs and ability to sleep.  I know recently some airlines were offering upgraded business class fares for half their normal cost.  Hmmm.  Would that be more affordable?  It's pushing my financial limits, but maybe.  I'll think about it.
What does all this have to do with a Muslim Class and what the heck is a Muslim Class?  Well, here's the thing.  I'm doing research on a trip and there are 3 classes on the boat.  Standard, an upgraded class and a platinum class.  The platinum class is nice and I might even be able to afford it, but then I'm left with the perks and wonder if I really need it?  Upgraded drink service.  Minor detail, but I don't drink alcohol.  A wine gift basket on check in.  Woo Hoo.  Again.  In case you didn't get the memo - no alcohol for me.  I got to looking at the other perks.  They are nice.  A la Carte breakfast and dinner with the captain (this is a specialty cruise).  Of the several perks offered extra on the platinum class, I only wanted half of them.  Obviously, alcohol limits some of the perks and I thought to myself that I needed a "Muslim Class" - an upgraded class that upgrades some elements but not others.
I will tell you that the more I travel I think about the need for such a class because a lot of places (resorts and cruises) offer as gifts and upgrades the magical words "free alcohol".  For me, those words hold no power.  In fact, they make my mind go into overtime and wonder if there are other perks that will make an upgrade worthwhile.  So, if you are in the commercial business with hotels/airlines/cruises and the like, you may consider a special class.  Maybe not call it the Muslim class, because someone will surely get offended.  Maybe just call it the "no alcohol, everything else" perk.  Or I don't know.  Just ask your marketing team.  And when you do, give me a call and sign me up!

Best to you all,

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Shallow grief

Have you ever gotten bad news?  Or unsettling news that makes your heart stop for a couple of beats and when it restarts, there's a slight pain and nausea there.  You try to grapple with your new reality.  Your new loss.  Your life as you know it will never be the same.  Yes, the title of this is "shallow" grief because when I opened my browser to and searched for my favorite flavor of apple lemon pomegranate, the search pulled empty.  I didn't stock up on this flavor.  I have a few more brews of it and then it's permanently deleted from my tea stock.  Permanently.
I found out that Starbucks was going to close down the Teavana stores by next April.  I figured I had time to purchase and stock.  My husband and I bought a pound of our favorite flavor - Earl Grey Creme.  That was top of our list of teas.  We haven't been able to find that flavor or even close, anywhere.  A year ago, a patient's mom introduced me to Capital Teas.  I was super excited.  Furthermore, Capital Teas had a whole host of Earl Grey variations, including Creme Earl Grey.  No comparison.  We just figured we would use up the teas we got from Capital teas and then move on back to Teavana.  After the heart breaking news of the Teavana stores shutting down, my husband and I had a plan - every month or a couple of times a month, we would go and buy a pound of a particular flavor.
We already got our Earl Grey Creme.  I have a list.  Apple Lemon Pomegranate was on the list.  It hasn't been available at the stores for a few years now.  When I found out last night that they may be shutting down the online store, I decided to make my second 1lb purchase the Apple Lemon Pomegranate and I did a search and it pulled blank.  I tried to look for all teas with apple in them.  Not even close.  Nothing with apple and lemon.  Forget the pomegranate!  A search under the term "pomegranate" pulls up a blank search area.  It doesn't even tell you that they couldn't find the product and would you like to search again.  It's blank.
So, I have to come to grips with not being able to purchase more of one of my favorite flavors.  It's done!  I know I'll always remember the taste, but I also know that I have a 2-3 more brews left.  With every brew and every sip, I will savor it for I know it'll be gone.  In some strange way, it feels like life.  We take our lives, friends, and family for granted, instead of cherishing every moment with them and creating the warmest memories.  One day, they will not be anymore, just like my favorite fruity Teavana flavor.  I know, this is just tea and I may sound shallow, but for all of you who have come home and played games with me and enjoyed the tea, you will understand.  It's all part of a memory that will slowly fade.

Best to you all,

Monday, August 14, 2017

My first cooking video - making biryani.

For anyone who's made biryani, you'll know that it takes a while.  My video only takes 2:30 approximately.  Well, I was inspired by those Tasty videos that I keep watching on Facebook.  They make everything look so easy.  I take that back.  The inspiration came from my nephew.  Something about a food video contest in India?  He was getting a lot of people asking him to submit the biryani video and he thought 90 secs to make biryani was impossible.  My video is longer than 90 seconds, but I'm sure, he can trim it down to the magic number.
As I talked to him, I got excited for the challenge.  I told him that I would make a video and send it to him and he could get some ideas from it.  I was supposed to have it done by yesterday, so being a day late, I didn't want to look for the right music in the background and so I hit the mute and posted.  Don't worry, it's sorta subtitled.  Sorta because there's some instruction here and there.
The question is:  do you like the video?  And do you want to see more?  It does take work.  A lot of work to shoot and edit, but the finished product, feels good.  Not perfect but it's a start.  Here's the video.

Hope you enjoy it.  Let me know if the link works or not.  Thanks and best to you all.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Machu Picchu, day 5. Leaving.

So basically breakfast and then we went on a hike by some train tracks. Scenery was gorgeous and stunning as usual.  Blue ink represents today (2017).  As I'm going through these pictures, I realize how much narration I have missed on during my journaling then.  Also, this was a few years ago and it's a great way to jog my memory.

These first set of pictures are the hike up to the garden that I talk about here.  As I look at these pictures, I'm wowed by it all.

We had quite a hike through the streets and then walking by these buildings that line the street only to be sandwiched on the other side by a beautiful stream.  Ya.  It's neat.
Somehow, you know that you're traveling and experiencing something new.  This is definitely not the USA.  And that's not a bad thing!

Back to the pictures.  It's not just the railway tracks.  It's the pretty bridge also.

As I'm looking at these pictures, I remember the train going by and I remember trying to capture that picture.

Why I didn't write about it earlier, I don't know.  Off topic, I just want to state that it's hard to share pictures on blogger.  I'm doing my best.  I'm working with size and formats.  Please be patient with me.
I guess white space is OK because I have more pictures and a picture speaks a thousand words, so there goes my thousand words!

I had to share some pictures with myself in them or you might claim that I wasn't really there and that I stole these pictures for a blog.  Why would I do that?  I guess some strange people do, so I had to put myself in some of these.
Although, now that I think about it, I fear that a lot of the pictures I have taken recently on my recent trips, have been without me.  Well, you just have to trust me that these are my pictures and my trip, whether I'm in them or not.

I don't know why but I like to take pictures of signs either with directions or just a memory of where we were.  So I guess we were following directions to The Gardens of Mandor Waterfall!

Walked through a garden with a lot of neat orchids etc. and got to see this waterfall. Was a small one but looked nice nevertheless.

Yes.  That note in black prink was the original post.
As you can see, these are picture of the hike in the gardens with the exotic flowers.  I'm not a botanist to tell you what flowers we saw and didn't, but I'm hoping these pictures will help.  Of course, you can see the hiking path in some of these.

Is it a pineapple?  I have to say yes.  I'm trying to think if I would get pictures of pineapples if I were to travel now.  I don't know.  But it's nice to know that pineapples grow down there.

This wasn't the waterfall.  It was on the way to the waterfall.  As I had mentioned before.  It wasn't a big waterfall, but it was a peaceful hike in the woods, or gardens.  It was something to do on the morning after having seen Machu Picchu.

The hike continued.
My hair is super red on this picture on the right.  Well, I shrunk it for good reason.
OH.  I have to mention about the picture on the left.  I remember bending down and drinking that water.  I don't think our tour guide was too thrilled with that.  He said that birds and animals poop in it.  Sure!  But I was told that the waters in the streams are naturally filtered through the process of water flow and the algae.  The water was tasty!  Random memory...
As I was going through these pictures, I realize that I wore my hat on almost all of them, so I thought I would share one without my hat or sunglasses.  Of the topic, but I lost the sunglasses I wore on a completely different hike near my home.  Every time I see a picture with my sunglasses in them, I am reminded of that.

There it is.  The water fall we hiked to.  It was still worth it to me.  There's just something
peaceful about a waterfall, no matter how small.  I didn't get in the water.  I don't think we carried our towels and stuff.  Just went for a stroll to discover this.

I must say that the walk back was interesting.
As I look at the pictures and this post, I cannot believe the beetle didn't make it on the post about the walk back.  Well, I have the picture, so I must share it.  I just think that beetle was so cool.  No.  I did not eat it.  On a dare, I might have!

I know I haven't mentioned dogs yet, but I'd be amiss if I didn't as there were dogs everywhere. With my intense phobia, I've still managed to walk and ignore the dogs but today before the waterfall hike as were were going to pay for our tickets, the woman's (owner) dog kept coming towards me. I came so close that I did jump and get out of the way. Boris got mad. He said, *Never do that!* I tried to plead with him that the dog was to close, but Boris said doing that will make a dog attack me. And Boris assured me that he was right there with me. OK. So that happened. On our way back as we walked by the railway, I noticed these 2 women tourists and a dog was walking by them. Since we were walking faster, we almost caught up to them and the dog.

 They stopped at the local fruit vendor and that's where we stopped too. I got my first taste of Passion Fruit. LOVED it. Little slimy but sweet with consistency. Couldn't eat the seeds so we swallowed it, of course. I being a fruit junkie bought 2 more passion fruits and carried them in my hand. As we walked away, the dog decided to walk near us and of course, decided to walk more near me. And of course, I was freaking out and finally Boris said, *Put those fruits in your pockets. He thinks you are going to feed him.*

I did as I was told, but dog continued to walk by us. Salman and Boris decided to walk between me and the dog and tried to keep the dog away from me. I continued to walk faster. I wasn't walking with Boris or Salman, but I figured they'd meet up with me eventually and they did. When they did catch up with me, there was no dog. I think I asked Boris what happened to the dog and he came up with the preposterous story that he and Salman threw the dog into the nearby river or something like that. I think other than the dog part of the day, everything else was great.

Then back to the hotel, back on train.
As I was going through my pictures, I found this video from the return journey on the train.

 On the train was interesting. They had this man wear a tiger mask and dance with a stick and they had a fashion show where the steward/ess changed and walked down the train aisle to display clothing that can be purchased. Then back to Ollantaytambo to pick up luggage, in car to Cusco.

I do remember stopping at the pottery factory but I don't remember taking these videos.  I think they are neat.  For those of you who have done pottery, you may appreciate it more.  It didn't work out completely when she showed us, but hey, you learn that even someone with a lot of experience has trouble at times.
Here are the videos and pictures from the pottery factory. The rest of this blog post is as is.  I don't even know why I'm making commentary but I think it's better than just throwing a whole bunch of pictures at you.

Stopped at pottery factory and saw how they make those neat pots, cups, etc.

 And then back to Cusco. Boris took us for some roast chicken. It's Peruvian as it's roasted in a wooden oven. Something about the flavor. I loved it anyways and Boris and Salman commented *What does she not like?*

Back to hotel. We met Luke sitting at the reception that evening and he was in Peru for 2 months. He'd already been there for a month. He showed us pictures of where he went. He showed us the caterpillar/butterfly rock. And then the entrance to a temple I cannot remember the name. He said he slept outside the gate and those nights his dreams were very strange. I asked him why strange. He said one night he dreamed he sued Yahoo! And other dreams, he had conversations with his dead friends/relatives. We went up to our room shortly after but Salman went out again to exchange money. Apparently Luke joined him. Salman said his 1 minute analysis of Luke was that Luke was getting over a long term relationship and this was his way of getting away. Well, I thought it was strange someone had the time/finances to be able to take 2 months off just to travel irrespective of one's personal situation.

I started packing, rearranging to see what else to buy if I could buy anything. I've spent $200 already!

Thank you for reading.  I know I haven't posted about Machu Picchu for a while.  It's on my draft.  I basically have finished Day 5 now.  I think I have 3 more days of my Machu Picchu trip. Will try to get it all done.  I am trying to be more regular with this blog.  Also, I want to do vlogs as I've mentioned before.  So, we'll see how all this goes.

I know this one is long because of all the pictures and the videos, but do you like it?

Take care,