July 2006

I need a little time to process my photos to blog about Hearst Castle this past weekend. In a nutshell, we drove up Friday afternoon, stayed on the edge of Cambria and San Simeon that night, went to the Hearst tours in the morning, took lots of pictures (that turned out a bit hazy cuz it was SO foggy and overcast, but it felt really good after the heat wave back at home), hung out in Cambria for dinner, stayed in San Simeon beachside Saturday night, and on Sunday, we drove back making detours through Santa Barbara and of course, Solvang for its Danish pastries.

I’d also like to say, my bailiff’s on vacation in Yosemite with his fiance these couple of weeks, and I’ve had a new bailiff in here whom I *love*. =) She is wonderful. So I’m happy to be back at work today, too.

There are few things in my routine life grosser than having to man-handle sweaty men. There’s a relatively new guy in my jujitsu class who a blackbelt I was next to in line speculated led “mostly a sedentary life” and therefore has no stamina, coordination or core strength (stability). This guy was so wet that he left puddles on the mat after he landed during take-downs. Some take-downs tonight required my having to put my open hand on his cheek and hair to push his head around and down. I’d be wiping and wiping my hands on my gi afterwards and still be unsuccessful in drying them off.

The instructor again approached me about competing. After my refusal for this summer’s competition, he’d passed the torch to another girl. Now he walked over and put some slight pressure in getting me to compete for next year. “You look good, you fall well, I think you could do really well out there,” he said. I was still hesitant, but really, it’s been a long time since I brought home a medal or trophy of any sort. I really oughta do it.

In bellydancing last night, our instructor put in a DVD of professional dancers, so that we could see what we’re working toward. Murmurs arose from the students recognizing certain moves, such as the famed Figure Eight and what our instructor calls a hip M&M. Apparently shimmying — very important in bellydancing. I guess I gotta figure that one out, then. Some of the girls were excited at seeing the DVD. What I primarily got out of it is, Gawd, I need liposuction.

I’ve been down about my body these last few days. I’d like to think I’m just bloated from the 4 slices of Domino’s Pizza I had Tuesday night after having cut excess sodium and all fast food out of my diet for almost a year. But what it really is, is probably age-related weight gain. *Sigh* When people talk of regrets they have in life, I tend to think I don’t really have any. Sure, there were some horrid, evil things that have happened to me, but some good always came out of having to live through those experiences. Now, however, I find I do have a regret. I wish I’d known more about the human body and nutrition in high school to have not been anorexic. Starving myself didn’t make me skinny. I was average-sized. And now, due to the metabolism I screwed up in my teens, my body stores fat as easily as others pee, and burns fat as reluctantly as gas station CEOs are willing to give up their current $10 billion profit margin. (Did you guys hear about that? They’re gouging us for gas claiming oil costs are higher so they have to raise their prices; in the last quarter they’ve raised prices 12%, and their profits went up 12%, which means their costs have stayed the same. Their profit this last quarter was over $10 billion dollars. I was upset watching this on the news this morning.) I basically have no control over my fat rolls. They come and go completely on their own volition. In the past I’ve woken up to find that a lot of fat seemingly dissolved, but most of the time they’ve come back without a change in my eating or exercise patterns. Working out like mad brings no response from my body. It is so frustrating to have no control over my fat and I can only imagine that people look at me, tsk, and speculate why and how I’ve let myself go.

I originally had this week off for vacation, but since I had no vacation plans and I’m hoping to save up enough days for a long trip to China next year, I gave the days back except for today (since my judge isn’t here today, either) and Friday, so I could get a jump start on the weekend trip to Hearst Castle with Mr. W.

Original plan for the day: have breakfast, shower and start laundry, get an oil change, attend a goodbye luncheon at the courthouse for the presiding judge who is transferring downtown, go home and finish laundry, drive out to Vanessa’s house to meet her kitties, the two of us would carpool down to bellydancing back at my neck of the woods, then carpool back to her neck of the woods (same city as Mr. W’s house), and I’d drive to Mr. W’s and spend the night over there.

What actually happened: This morning, I tidied up around the house, vacuumed, and started laundry. Then I drove off toward work , but I quickly changed my mind, turned the car around, and went to get an oil change instead. I thought I’d have time to do both, and thus almost regrettably drove to my cousin’s car shop in Diamond Bar.

It was a good thing I did that — I needed not just an oil change, but my scheduled maintenance. His shop was also so busy that he turned away 4-5 cars before I got there, but he managed to squeeze me in. Family connections are great. My cousin took almost 3 hours to do the job, during which time I walked down to a nearby sandwich shop and had a delicious lunch of a chicken sandwich on sourdough, a fruit bowl, and a smoothie. Perfect lunch for a hot humid day. (The high was supposed to have been 87 degrees Fahrenheit, 20 degrees cooler than what it had been the past few weeks.) I also chatted on the phone with Jordan for most of that time. When my cousin drove my car out, he told me the rear brakes were almost completely worn, so he’d replaced them, but the kicker was that my alignment was so far off on the front tires that the inside of my front left tire was worn down to the threading. He turned the wheel to the extreme right and pointed out the baldness of the inside half of the tire. “You’re about to pop that tire at any time. This is considered an emergency, get a new tire and get your alignment fixed TODAY.” I paid my cousin the $200 for his work (he charges me almost nothing for labor and wholesale for parts, so I’m sure this is already a deal), then drove down to Brea looking for the place I got my Yokohama tires a couple of years ago.

But because I can’t remember the name of the place nor the exact location, I pulled into the first reliable looking tire place that seemed to do alignment on Brea Blvd.. It was 3pm at that time, good thing I skipped that luncheon. The guy who helped me out was sooo nice. I hoped I wouldn’t be too ripped off, but I figured about $100 a tire, and if they don’t carry high-performance Yokohama tires in stock, I’d have to buy 2 tires so that my front tires match. Turned out, he looked at my tires, marveled at the severity of the damage on my front left tire, explained to me what he would do, educated me a bit on tire maintenance, then gave me a price estimate. He said he didn’t have Yokohamas on hand, but had this other brand that in his opinion is almost as good as Yokohamas, I would indeed have to get 2, so with the tires, alignment adjustment, mounting and balancing and all that jazz, it’s just over $200, is that okay? Wow, I was totally prepared to fork over something closer to $300. I happily gave him the job and he immediately had a young apprentice looking kid take off my tires. The kid was trying to roll my bad tire to the side of the large shop, and the thing was so lopsided (it looked like a trapezoid from the side) it wouldn’t roll right. “Wow,” he said. “I know, I know, I’ve been hearing that all day,” I said. The guy helping me out said it’d be about an hour and a half and he’d call my cell when they’re done.

Since I was mere blocks from Birch Street Promenade, I walked out and went shopping, after first having a nice long phone chat with college roommie Diana. I wandered around the shops on Birch Street, noticed they now have a Lucy women’s athletic store (I LOVE that store, but only know of the locations in Northern Cal), and went in. They’re the only store I know of to carry women’s athletic wear in petite sizes, and they have GREAT sports bras, supportive, comfortable AND slightly padded. I could never find that combination anywhere else. Turns out I wear Lucy pants in petite small, so I was happy about that. I also bought 2 other pairs without trying them on. At the register, I suddenly remembered that while I was in San Jose for my bday last month, I had also had the great timing to have gone thru a Lucy’s on Santana Row right after meeting up with Mike and Christi, but I didn’t have time to buy anything since Diana and I had to rush off to her gym to get ready for that night’s comedy event, but that at the gym I’d picked up a Lucy’s coupon. I happened to have that in my purse! I pulled it out, the girls at the register, who were also soooo nice, looked at it and realized it’d expired. They told me that’s okay, they’ll still honor it, and they re-rang my purchase with the 25% off. I was so happy.

While I was in the dressing room, the car guy called and said my car’s ready, and as I was at the register at Lucy, Mr. W called and said he was in the area having gotten off work, so I walked out, jumped in his truck, and he drove me to pick up my car. The guy at the tire place explained some tire stuff to me, and then said that he didn’t realize my Yokos were directional tires so he put in more labor to turn them around, but that he didn’t charge me for that labor.

Mr. W and I parked at the far end of that lot and walked over to a nearby Italian restaurant, Pane e Vino, had a nice tasty dinner, and he went home and I went off to bellydancing. During our dinner conversation, I remarked on how lucky the day had been. If I hadn’t skipped the luncheon, I would’ve been unable to fit in all the car stuff I had to do. If I hadn’t decided to get that oil change and maintenance, I would’ve never known about that bad tire and it would’ve blown on me and Mr. W when we drive it this weekend up to San Simeon for Hearst Castle (a 5-hr drive). I don’t have AAA, so the tow would’ve cost an arm and a leg, and depending where on the freeway we were when the tire popped, we may not even have been able to get a tow truck out there to tow us. That surely would’ve ruined our weekend. And it was great I happened to find the Lucy store and that I remembered I had a (expired) coupon, and the people were so nice to honor it anyway. Everything worked out perfectly. And I still made it to bellydancing on time and got to hang out with Mr. W. And then it hit me that a lot of people may have seen this day completely differently, i.e. “I had to spend $200 big bucks on the freakin’ maintenance, AND now I find out I have to blow another $200+ on freakin’ tires, because this retarded tire place doesn’t carry Yokohamas so I have to buy TWO damn tires?! CRAP! And I have to waste an entire freaking day waiting around for my car to get done at 2 places?!” That makes me wonder… is the glass half-full vs. half-empty thing an all-applicable thing? Maybe people who seem to have bad luck don’t have bad luck as much as a bad perspective. I know some people who turn everything around into “Boo hoo, poor me, why me?” instead of counting their blessings. I’m not saying everything can be seen in a positive light, but maybe a lot of things can, and maybe sometimes people have to work to feel sorry for themselves.

I think my day went perfectly, much better than I could’ve planned for myself.

This morning in a dream, I gave really good life perspective advice to Paris Hilton. It was a strangely detailed dream, and to my surprise, I liked Paris when I was hanging out with her.

While thinking about that dream in the shower later, I thought of how my blog entries have been shallow and frivolous for awhile now, and if a new reader comes in, he/she would think I just goof off and document what I do on my free time. The early posts had more gravity and involved deeper thinking and evaluation of self and of human nature. But that’s because I was coming out of depression.

So then I wondered whether ignorance truly is bliss. Am I some sort of yippy skippy ditz now and that’s why I’m happy? Or is the happiness what brings me out of overthinking so that I’m content with just the most surface of things?

Mr. W says the best artists are depressed and troubled. I told him if that’s true, then he’s stifling my creativity. He said he doesn’t think he’s the source of my happiness. I laughed and said that’s true, he can’t possibly be.

I got a most amazing letter in the mail yesterday from a “Miss Elizabeth.” The envelope contains a long computer-generated letter (single-spaced, longer than legal-size length, front and back, with lots of bold-faced type scattered over the sheet); a pink Post-It sized paper with the pre-printed header of “A personal note from Miss Elizabeth” except that instead of being a personal note, the note was computer-printed in a different color ink in a font that looks like handwriting; a 1/3 page flyer entitled “Miss Elizabeth’s $1,000.00 Challenge!” on which she challenges any psychic to “match their skills against” her own and “the first psychic who can reveal powers that stronger, faster, more accurate or effective in any manner than Miss Elizabeth will receive $1,000.00 on the spot” and a statement that all five $1K challenges she designated to each corner of the globe remain unclaimed; an actual contract she claims is legally binding printed on a little slip of paper that says her prophesies and miracles will come true; and a return envelope (not self-stamped).

In her letter, Miss Elizabeth apparently employs the scare tactic. It opens with “You’re in serious trouble Cindy, Tuesday night at 9:30 I heard your desperate scream for help.” I thought back to Tuesday. I was irritated at work, complained to my friends while at the grocery store after work, came home, made myself soup because I was too late for jujitsu, and fell asleep in front of the TV at oh, about 8:45p. So if I cried for help, it must’ve been in a nightmare that I don’t recall having. Miss Elizabeth then gets more specific with what she meant by my scream for help. “I felt your loneliness, heartache, despair and betrayal.” Oh, that’s so two years ago. “Most of all I felt your worry and frustration.” Can you come up with any other negative adjectives and hope that you’ll hit upon ONE coincidentally that a stranger may be feeling? Let’s play the odds. Unfortunately for her, I was feeling none of these things. My life’s actually going along peacefully, and I’m happily content. “Then the Archangel Michael grabbed me and said out loud, ‘Cindy [my last name] needs a miracle!‘ ”

Another paragraph: “It’s no wonder all the others failed you so miserably.” What others? “Your case is serious business. One of the more difficult I’ve come across lately. I’m surprised it took this long for you to get to me. I’m the savior of lost causes.” Why, I never! Did she just call me a lost cause?!

“Given my stature and the tremendous demand for my miraculous intervention, I accept new clients on only the rarest of occasions and then only by the strongest of referrals. It is rare for even I to receive a vision of Archangel Michael requesting intervention on one’s behalf. As such, you come to me with the highest possible reference, Cindy.” I wonder how many other people the Archangel Michael is supposely intervening on behalf of according to Miss Elizabeth’s solicitations. Let’s see…the postage stamp on the envelope is labeled “Presorted First-Class,” so doesn’t that mean it’s a bulk mailing? If Archangel Michael were a regular human in the United States, he’d probably sue for her wrongful and unauthorized use of his name for her personal gain.

Scare tactic again: “I’ve done some home work so I know what we’re up against, Cindy.” Oh, we’re a team now! “Many negative energies are impacting you. Years of minor jinxes, curses, negative thought forms and even a spell are weighing on you. None are tremendously powerful alone but together they are bothersome and the cause of your current struggles.” I’m currently struggling? “Of greater concern is a dark spot I see in your aura. This appears to be a malicious entity that is growing in power. If not dealt with, this will begin to cause you pain and heartache in approximately six weeks.” AUGH! Get it off! Get it offfff! *stomp stomp*

Here is where divine intervention, if any, steps in to tell me she’s a fraud and to not buy into this: “I know that your heart is heavy concerning finances. Take comfort in the fact that I have seen tremendous wealth miraculously coming your way. During prayer, I uncovered one wealth miracle after another for you, Cindy. I have seen you first awestruck by your amazing instant prosperity. Then I have seen you celebrating. Finally I have seen you happy and content with the absolute peace of mind that unlimited resources provides you.”
“The wealth I speak of comes from such surprising places that you are shocked. However, I am absolutely, positively certain about what I have witnessed for you. This prosperity immediately changes your life. The wealth miracles begin within 72 hours of our working together. They grow in size on a daily basis until your riches are of biblical porportion.” If anyone knows me, they know that 1) my cross in this life is not financial. It is emotional. I don’t have money issues. 2) If anything, tremendous wealth turns me off in others, and scares me if it’s my own. Money has a way of changing people around you and changing your character if you’re not strong enough. Money brings problems. Money brings drama, and I definitely don’t want more drama.

Another place in the letter says “I am a world famous miracle worker of all affairs of the heart. My secrets create instant love miracles. I reunite lovers, absolutely stop divorces and return lost loves forever. 36 hours and anyone you desire will be faithfully devoted to you for life. No matter how severe your broken heart, I will instantly solve your every need.” You know how terrifying this is to me? Imagine if someone had hurt me so badly, nearly killed me in a relationship, and I crawled through hell and back finally with barely enough strength to drag my bloodied tattered carcass out of a bad situation, to have gone through intensive therapy and cocooning for emotional and psychological recovery, and just because this jerk found some psychic, they can manipulate me to go back to that crap hell-hole? No one should have that power. No one. And that includes me. We are all here on our personal journeys, no one is better than another, we all learn and we all deal. There’s not a person who’s “meant” to be someone else’s love slave and to give up their own personal and spiritual journey to be someone else’s pet, especially when that someone else was dumb enough to mess up the relationship and lose the person to begin with.

So anyway, Miss Elizabeth wants to offer me this “perfect life,” “perfect” as defined by a flawed human. “Now there is only one thing you must do in order to live this perfect life. You must answer this letter, today. Replying to this letter is the most important thing you will ever be asked to do. Immediately upon receiving your reply, I will begin my work to destroying evil and filling your life with answered prayers, fulfilled wishes, love and wealth.” Okay, so she’s hit upon everything an average person could possibly be unhappy about: despair, loneliness, betrayal, money problems, love problems, curses. Oh yeah. She’s really “done her homework” on me.

I’m supposed to return the bottom of the form with a $25 fee. She invites me to wish for anything to test her out, claims that she won’t fail, no matter how outlandish the wish. It’ll come true in 36 hours pursuant to her “contractual guarantee”. So let’s see. If I wish I’d win millions in the state lotto and it doesn’t come true, I’ll go to her and complain, and she’ll give me the maximum of my investment back. $25. So she loses $25 on me, but maybe 100 other people roll their eyes at not having won the lotto either, chalks it up to “I knew it was too good to be true, it was an outlandish wish anyway,” and don’t bother to bug her about her “contractual guarantee.” She gets to keep $2500. It’s not like she’s asking for $1000 that people would actually bother to claim when their “miracles” don’t happen. People would let $25 go, feeling stupid for falling for it to begin with and they wouldn’t even admit to anyone they lost $25 to a mail order psychic. Plus, the other things she says she’ll do, cleanse the aura, rid you of curses, give you a sacred prayer, how do you verify any of those things?

I think the miracle of the receipt of this solicitation is that it made me evaluate my life and made me realize that I’ve got it good right now. So thanks for that, Miss E.

We went to every show, every ride, saw lots of exhibits, and got soaked in various attractions (wettest to damp order: Shipwreck Rapids ride, soak zones, Journey to Atlantis ride, R.L. Stine’s Haunted Lighthouse 4-D movie), got out just before 11pm, and were pooped! We weren’t the only ones:
seal, I guess.  I don't know the difference between a seal and a sea lion.

another one of those sea lion/seal thingies.

my cat sometimes sleeps like this...tucked away in a stone crevice...

you can't tell in this picture, but the bear is so cute with the tip of his paw dipped in cool water

(Rest mouse pointer over photos for captions)

Pink Flamingo exhibit. Can you spot the egg and the baby flamingo?
I could NOT get the Three's Company theme song out of my head when I saw the flamingos.  'Come and knock on our door'...

The Sea Lion and Otter Show: “Clyde and Seamore’s Risky Rescue” :
Seamore arguing with his trainer, whom the sea lion just pushed into the water.

Otter serving up soda.  Sea World is a very Pepsi park.  The only cola they serve is Pepsi and Diet Pepsi.

Cirque de la Mer:
mini Cirque du Soleil production 'stage'

Pets Rule! show:
Hammy the pig running through a brick wall that other animals jumped over

dog jumping rope with his trainer

One of the aquariums had catfish:

The Dolphin Discovery Show:
Holy leapin' dolphins, Batman!

My favorite show was the nighttime Sea Lion & Otter Show, which is a Saturday Night Live-ish spoof of all the other shows in the Park:
Ha ha ha!  You'd be laughing too, if you were at the show.

The Wild Arctic exhibit:
Look at that big paw!

'Did someone open a bottle of Coca Cola over there?'  The bears are craving Coke at this Pepsi park.
When I used to play Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. game (or was it Bubble Bobble?), there was a white whale villain named “Baluba.” I never knew it was the breed of an actual whale.
Baluba whales have lots of blubber!

When talking about visiting SeaWorld, what most commonly comes to mind is the world-famous killer whale, Shamu. Here is the new killer whale show, “Believe”:
Shamu (?) leaping
I’m not sure if this is Shamu or Baby Shamu, but I like the unique bent top dorsal fin.
quicksilver arc
You know the first 12 rows of these shows are labeled the “Soak Zone?” Here’s why:
airborne orca; what goes up...

...must come down!  And the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and the bigger the splash.
Take a bow, the show is over!
Tah dah!!!
Guess where we were seated:
That's right.  In the Soak Zone.
(rest mouse pointer over photos for captions)

I’m at my parents’ house right now. I walked up to my mom in the kitchen and said, “Oh, and look at what the hula hoop did to me last week!” and pulled down the waistline of my shorts. She looked over her shoulder from the sink. The bruise is now much better and looks faded, so I had to explain that all the yellow and brown parts she sees now were actually black and huge a few days ago, and that it had hurt really bad. There was a bit of silence, and then she said, “That just happens because you’re not used to it yet. My waist was sore when I first started, too. If you do it more it won’t hurt anymore.”



I’m waiting for Mr. W so that we can go visit Shamu and otters. I’m all slathered in sunblock. “Should I wear tennis shoes or flip flops?” I asked, thinking about all the walking and wetness involved.
“Well,” he said, “Tennis shoes get wet, but sometimes we’d have to run.”
“‘Cuz sometimes I’d have to run to get from one show to the next.”
“… Oh my gawd, you’re one of THOSE geeks. I refuse to run in sandals.”
“*laughing* All right, we won’t run.”

I bet we will. =P

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