Monthly Archives: June 2007

a commercial break


We interrupt this blog for a commercial break!  And by commercial break, I mean, a focus on something very commercial.

The iPhone released today–and no, I didn’t buy it (I have an aversion to buying technical things when they first come out–I’ll wait a few months, thank you very much)…but I did watch its release with great intrigue. What would the lines look like? Who among my friends would go buy one?

According to the news, the lines at some stores, such as the ones in Manhattan, began days ago. Hrm. Intriguing. We drove by the Apple store closest to us, and it was empty and void of lines last night, even though there were plastic cones and ribbons clearly marking a winding line, ala Disneyland.

Never fear, the lines began forming this morning. Steve Wozniak, the cofounder of Apple himself, was first in line at the Apple store in the Valley Fair mall–he was there at 4:00am PST. The lines were 50 people long at most Bay Area Apple stores by mid-day. The phone’s “hawtness” spread like fever–people at work left early to go stand in line at either an Apple store or a Cingular store. Anyone on the fence about whether they wanted one, had hopped over and run to get one by the end of the workday.

No. They couldn’t wait for it to be ordered online. They had to have it TODAY! And before the stores potentially ran out!

Would Apple run out of iPhones at its stores?

We wondered. We walked by a Cingular store, where its employees stood, looking exhausted outside the doors. Did you run out of iPhones today? Yes, they said, a long time ago. They had 60 in stock. Go to the Apple store if you want one!

“How many does the Apple store have in stock?” we asked.

“A thousand!”

And so we walked over to the Apple store–still we asked ourselves, would Apple run out of iPhones at its stores?

Nope. We went by the store (where the employees stood and applauded (and high fived) each customer as they entered the store in a gauntlet)…it was late, less than an hour before closing time. I needed a camera (mine broke today), and we were the only ones not buying an iPhone, nor interested in looking at one. The store practically didn’t know what to do with us–in fact, the floor plan was strictly geared towards iPhone purchases…and so they led us to a secluded corner to conduct our camera purchase.

The scene was marvelous–incredibly diverse in age, etchnicity, gender, etc., etc. Everyone was buying an iPhone. And then it dawned on me–every one of the people here was plunking down $600 for an iPhone. SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS.

So–I asked the guy ringing up our purchase. How many do you have here? He looked at us and said “A LOT.”

“A thousand?” I asked, knowingly.

“No,” he said with a face that said he was totally awe stricken by the amount they did have in the back of the store. “I can’t count–we just have a lot. We didn’t want to be like the Wii where people waited in line and still didn’t get one. We have plenty!” His eyes went wide.

So there you have it. The Apple stores have “a lot” of iPhones, and they haven’t run out.

I came home, logged into flickr, and was flooded with pictures of friends purchasing iPhones. The world of the cellular phone has changed forever.



Filed under Life, The World

a flaw in my idea bank

As a writer, I have my own personal way of cataloguing my story ideas and notes. Some writers may jot down their ideas on index cards and keep them in a index card box…or other writers may have an entire wall of post-it notes (btw, I bought a big package of post-its, in multiple colors, to track my novel and short story plots–hey, it was suggested to me years ago, and I tried it, but I think I’ll try again).

So–how do I catalogue my story ideas and notes? I email my story ideas to myself, with the story idea in ALL CAPS in the subject header. This way, as I riffle through my email inbox, I know that anything with ALL CAPS in the subject header is a story idea or something pertaining to my fiction.

It’s worked well for years–I can sort by time (click date sent on my inbox) and I can sort alphabetically too (click subject on my inbox).

However, after years of relying on this brilliant system, I finally ran into a flaw (every system has a flaw).

Our mailserver went down a couple days ago, for an entire weekend. It is up and running now and I find an empty mailbox refreshing…but it also means that my entire archive of ideas and notes are…GONE….along with old emails from friends, and the kind of information that gets exchanged via email (addresses, for instance).

I think that if you’re running on gmail or yahoo or any of the other free email systems, you’ll be fine. But if you’re running your own mailserver–this system has its major pratfall.

And now I throw out the question to you–how do you catalogue your story ideas?


Filed under Writing


veggie garden in June

My first day alone at home since my surgery, and I’m trying to figure out what I can do, given my physical limitations. I can’t carry anything, so no grocery shopping (or ahem, shopping in general, for that matter), despite a mostly empty fridge. All big projects are also out the window (I am eyeing another terrace for the vegetable garden).

I can read. I can watch TV. I can write. Oooh–I can email, now that my email’s back up. I open the fridge, and I wonder what to eat. But aha–I can go out the side door and into the vegetable garden and gather my ingredients, too!

A couple months ago, in the wake of awful news, I planted a vegetable garden, long desired but finally greatly needed. In the face of permanent loss, every feeble act pronouncing life becomes a brash announcement. And I just wanted to combat the echo of loss with something, anything. I planted seeds, with a great fervor, my lips sealed tight in a thin line, and my head full of hope.

The seeds sprouted, radishes first, until the garden was dotted with sprinkles of green germination everywhere. And today it is a gorgeous leafy edible jungle.

veggie garden in June

Watching my garden grow has provided me with so many gifts. The act of nurturing the garden, whether by thinning or transplanting or changing my mind about the layout or finding organic ways to combat the predators, has given me insight into many things like writing revision. You can still move things around, you can adjust, you can add into the skeleton of the structure. You can learn to protect your writing.

I’ve learned about companion planting, and how certain plants benefit each other if planted next to each other. Chamomile, for instance, becomes more fragrant and potent if planted next to other herbs. And carrots prosper next to onions, chives and other alliums, which repel slugs, aphids, and carrot flies.

And of course, that concept of companion planting (mutually beneficial relationships) gets me started on another thread of thought in life. What can we do to make sure our surroundings benefit us? Who do we have sitting next to us? That’s just for starters.


Now the garden is at full velocity. The temperature outside is warm and the skies are clear–it is amazing to see that sunlight translate into growth. The anise hyssop is knee high now, the Korean chrysanthemum leaves towering higher than that. The French tarragon is beginning to grow, the French sorrel readily eaten, and the chervil has, well, not died (it’s a picky little plant).

The garden is entering a new phase–I’m taming the growth, thinning out and eating whatever I can, and beginning to enjoy the green onions, chives, and herbs–even the baby radishes.

Now we enter a new phase of creation–what to do with the produce? What can I create from this bounty?

And as an added note–I send out a big hug to Tea, who planted a vegetable garden of her own this week. Let hope prevail! And may you have a great harvest!


Filed under Food/Cooking, Inspiring, Life, Writing



Oh. This fire south of South Lake Tahoe is not so good at all.

Update: Containment of the fire has begun, but it is still alarmingly close to many homes. I’m reading the news with great helplessness, knowing I can’t do anything from hundreds of miles away, and worried for my neighbors there. Where is the fire? What direction is it moving in? It is within 2 miles of our house up there, if it’s close to the high school:

Earlier today, the fire came within several yards of the football field at South Tahoe High School. Fire lines were still smoldering near the football field about 2 p.m., when a helicopter flew by overhead.

Bleah. Let’s hope for a freak rainshower.

In the interim, I keep calling and feel relief when the answering machine picks up.


Filed under The World



I am home! I have a whole new set of prescriptions (no more coumadin, but now I am on plavix and aspirin), and it has taken a couple of days for the morphine to leave my system and I have lost track of the days.

There are marks all over my body that remind me of what has happened: the “W’s” on my feet that the pre-op nurse marked me with, and all the sticky adhesive marks on my body from the EKG and telemetry stickers, now turning gray (ugh, yes, with collected grime)…and most of all, the entry point of the catheter, a very tender incision on my body, where the doctor wove the amplatzer device through my veins to my heart. And if I move suddenly or if I bend down, I can feel the device in my heart, a stabbing and sharp reminder that takes my breath away and makes me feel very vulnerable. I mean, yesterday I sneezed and I swear it moved the implant. I swear to not sneeze again for a week!

It feels very strange to ask someone to pick up something when I drop a fork or pen on the floor, when I know it is something very simple I ought to do myself. But I can’t–bending down takes my breath away. And it feels very strange to ask someone to carry something that weighs 10 pounds ore more, because I’m just not allowed to carry any weight. It feels strange to have to hold my groin when I laugh, because every chuckle and cough makes me feel like my incision is about to explode! And it feels very strange to excuse myself to go for a nap and to just feel very very tender overall.

But for all that, I am mobile and feel very good. No running or exercise, or any vigorous activity–just allowed to move about the house, really. Eventually, my heart will develop scar tissue around the implant and hold it steady.

The most annoying part of my recovery was in the hospital where I was on strict bedrest–flat on my back, not allowed to my my legs or lift my head, for hours and hours. And those hours were extended because I developed a bleed at my incision (btw, at my groin, so I got to flash a lot of people my privates–niiiice. And the nurses spent a lot of time applying pressure to my said groin. Thank goodness I was on morphine to deafen the humiliation).

So–more hours flat on my back. Which meant getting to know the bedpan very well, ick. YOU try peeing while flat on your back, knowing your bladder is bursting full but not being able to pee, so you just lie there and stare at the ceiling and pray to pee, and try to imagine a rushing stream, and you ask your nurse to run the water, and still you can’t pee.

But now I am home–getting better day by day. I’m weirdly disconnected from the world, not helped by the fact that my main email address is not working at all. I think this is not a bad thing–to get some rest and be shielded from the world.

But the hole is closed! And I’m very glad for that. My doctor came by to check in on me and shook my hand during my stay at the hospital–“You had atrial fibrillation during the procedure–but we were really tickling your heart so it was not entirely unexpected…and you talked to us the whole time…”

Uh. I barely heard the atrial fibrillation part–instead I blurted out, “WHAT DID I SAY??!”

And now–it’s time to nap again. Bye.


Filed under Life, The Stroke

Today is the first day (and the last)


Today is the first day of summer. The vegetables in my garden look vigorous and green and oh-so-tasty. Everytime I peek out onto the garden, I imagine all the dishes to cook. My dog (above), looked out the window too, with many ambitions. They were probably not the same as my own, but still, today he dreamed.

Today, the fog burned off early, and I drove through the tunnel to even sunnier climes where my doctor’s office and hospital stand.

Today is Pre-Operative Day.

Today I sat in the doctor’s office with the nurse, attaching sensors to my head, trying to detect the teeniest blood vessels running inside my skull. The machine pulsated with the sound of my blood vessels, and shot mountains and valleys onto its screen. The nurse injected bubbles intravenously, and I saw the transcranial doppler machines light with noise and sound, fading into the distinct sounds of bubbles. The light and roaring sound were the bubbles rushing through my vessels–the bubble sounds were the last few bubbles trailing the rush through my arteries.

The bubbles had gone into my arm, into my heart, through the hole in my heart, and straight into my brain…skipping the lungs.

The room went silent–they had already been silent, but it went even more silent with certainty and awe. The room turned gray for me. In front of us was a conclusive test that said the hole in my heart was a straight path for clots to travel to my brain, resulting in strokes and TIAs. The bubbles would normally, without a hole in my heart, go straight to my lungs where they would be dissipated.

They had me take one more test as well–I blew into a tube very hard, for 10 seconds, while they ran the test again. The machine alit with noise and light again, louder and brighter than before.

Okay. I’m definitely having surgery tomorrow.

Today, I left my doctor’s office and went across the street to the hospital. I walked to Admitting and filled out paperwork. “So THIS is the other way to end up in the hospital!” I joked, having only been admitted via the emergency room before.

The lady took my insurance card, verified my personal information. She gave me a map to the blood lab and the x-ray lab. I had my blood drawn. And then I sat in line to get my chest x-ray.

X-rays freak me out with their invisible beams that can see right through flesh. I wore a lead apron, and I did not think it was anywhere big enough to protect me. I walked out of the hospital, after this pre-operative process, feeling almost invisible. I drove home.

Today my parents arrive–they are driving by car across hundreds of miles to be here when I go for surgery. I have made them promise not to worry or to fret in front of me. By evening, they will be assembled, we will be assembled.

Everything is prepared and done and ready. Tomorrow I have surgery to close the PFO. Today is the last day I will have a hole in my heart. Today I wait. Today I am thinking about climbing mountains with fully oxygenated blood, without a hole in my heart to slow me down.

Today is the first day of summer. It is beautiful outside.


Filed under Life, The Stroke

Everything has to have a reason


I learned a writing lesson from Gordon Ramsay this week!

I was watching Gordon save a restaurant from inevitable doom on “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” in his typical fashion (ie., lots of spirit and lots of swearing). I love watching Gordon on television, especially his British shows.

On one of the episodes, he said something that made me perk up. “Everything that goes on the plate has to have a reason,” he said to a chef who had a tendency to have too many flavors in his dishes. “Not for this (pointing to his head), but for the palate (pointing to his tongue and mouth). [By doing so] You’ve given your food clear insight.”

The chef had been showing off his various “skills,” overembellishing his dishes, piling on too many ingredients…until in the end, the character and flavors of the dish had been destroyed under his arrogance.

A lesson for writing, too. You have to have a reason for the things you include in a story. And your stories have to taste right. You put too many things in, especially in the name of showing off…and your story will collapse underneath the burden of your ego.


Filed under Inspiring, Writing