Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Switched to WordPress Blog Platform - New Link in this POST

Good evening all;

Please be advised that for now I'm moving my blog to a WordPress platform in an attempt to improve the aesthetic appeal and user-friendliness of my blog.  It's not supposed to be challenging.

Please find my new blog at:

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Tough Mudder (Half) Was Really Tough :-/

Evening folks;

I've realized over the last few days that I have a lot to write about and I keep telling myself "Oh I just need to remember that later today and I'll write about it."   Do I remember it once the day's work is done and I head home?  No.  So, hopefully as I write about this week that those topics will come back to me.  I actually did remember the two main things I wanted to write about (see Epiphany #1 and Epiphany (Realization) #2 below.

To begin - this past Sunday (7/23) I ran a Tough Mudder Half which is 5.something miles of running on different type trails with 13 or so obstacles.  I finished all but one; the slippery warped wall.  The Pyramid scheme I was able to walk right up thanks to my J41 high-tech water shoes I got a long time ago at DSW.   The traction was incredible!  As I walked up the wall and got to the top, I looked back at my teammates and yelled "My SHOES!!!".

A little later, there was a slippery warped wall that turned out to be more challenging than anticipated.  I had made it up the warped wall at the 2016 Rugged Maniac, but I had been road biking all summer long; miles and miles and miles.  So I was in much better shape than I currently am.  Well, I couldn't make it up the wall.  Grrrr.  I tried three times.  The first time I slid down and tumbled pretty hard.. but I DID NOT BANG MY HEAD!  

Well, Monday I noticed that my eyes are out of focus with each other.  My right eye felt like there was some pressure, it felt slightly warmer than my left, and I just couldn't focus both eyes.  I waited from Monday to Wednesday to see if it would improve.  Being a week away now from being done with work and not having insurance anymore, I know that this is the most inopportune time to have a medical issue!!  

A few friends/coworkers said I should see a doctor for these symptoms (I self-diagnosed a minor concussion).  So, Wednesday at 11AM, I called a doctor that had given me a physical about a month earlier and asked if they had any appointments.  They said they had one at 3:30 so I said ok, I'll be there.  Thursday, I finally decide to jump on the chance to update my eye exam and perhaps get some new glasses as well as have an eye doctor look at my right eye.  So, I ask my roommate and my former supervisor to recommend an eye doctor.  I got an appointment with an eye doctor at 8:30 Thursday evening.  Great!  I don't have to miss work.  

I visited the eye doctor and got several images of both eyes (mainly my right eye - the offending, irritated, wonky eye).  The general consensus was that I had a retinal hemorrhage. He recommended that I get an MRI but he would contact my primary doctor and get his concensus as well.  So, Friday (7/28), I got a call from my primary doctor at about 12pm saying that I should go to Valley Hospital in Ridgewood to get an MRI.  I didn't want to leave work because we're busy cleaning up the project folders but Doc wants me there before the "B team" starts.  So, ok fine I'll be at the hospital at 2:30.  I was supposed to go to lunch with my coworkers as a going-away for my one coworker Adam who is moving to Cali.  He will be missed.  As we were walking to get lunch, my stomach was in a knot from the call with the Doc and I just wanted to get the MRI done as quickly as possible.  So I turned around, walked to the office to grab my lunch bag, then caught the 12:37 train home.  

Got off the train at ˜1:30pm and head to Valley Hospital.  When I get to the hospital, there is a complementary valet service.  They parked my car and I headed into the ER; first time I've gone into an ER by myself for an issue.  Slightly intimidating but also just a new experience to handle.   They knew I coming. The doctor had informed them and they were expecting me.  They checked my blood pressure, pulse, weight, etc.  They get me onto a bed and I explain what happened to the doctor and why I'm here.  He looked in my eyes, talked to neurology department, calls a local retinal specialist.  They weren't really sure why it had been recommended that I get an MRI for a retinal hemorrhage.  Before I knew it, I was being registered/checked-in and discharged at the same time.  They were sending me over to the retinal specialist who could basically see me immediately.  I walk out, get my car, and drive the specialist.  

At the specialist's office, they dilated my pupils, gave me a few other eye drops, took some more complicated images of my eyeballs and then I saw the retinal doctor.   He looked at my eyes and then ordered a different set of images.  More drops in the eyes, more shining of blue and green lights, and then the doctor looked at them again.  Apparently I didn't have a retinal hemorrhage, but swelling of my right optic nerve.  And for this, guess what I needed!  An MRI!  So, back to the ER I go!  :D  

I got back to the ER, walk in, a different officer is at the door so I said I'm coming back for an MRI, I was here like 45 minutes ago, etc.  The nurses in the ER said "Oh yea, she's good, come on in. We'll get you checked in again."  They take my BP, pulse, etc again.  I see the doctor here at the ER again and he said ok, I know what you need now..."But FYI, it may take several hours to get up to MRI.  Do you have a book with you?"  Well, no I don't have a book.  I have a tablet that is running low on battery, a phone that is almost dead, and that's about it.  So, now you're up to date! The nurses, doctors, staff, etc. at the hospital were great!  I got to wear a fancy (not) hospital gown, sit on a gurney in the hallway waiting for MRI.  It's 5:44, there are two people ahead of me, so it's still going to be a while.   My phone was basically dead so I had it on airplane mode to conserve battery.  My tablet was on 34% charge so I intermittently turned it on/off.  I did not prepare my purse Friday morning to spend 12 hours in an ER. 

7:10PM - shift change at the hospital.  Hoping I wasn't going to get lost in the shuffle.  I'd be surprised... they've been very good so far.

I finally got up to MRI at 9:30PM.  Setting up on the bed with the camera (cage) type thing over my head, earphones in my ears, they get me in and the MRI started.  I was in the MRI for about an hour and a half.  I had to pause the MRI once because the earphones were super uncomfortable so I just switched to ear plugs.  That was so much better.  Then I just closed my eyes and listened to the machine do its thing.

Finally got back down to the ER about midnight where a little while later the doctor told me it could be a few hours before the "results get read" and I can go... and I thought I was about to go home.   So I asked one of the nurses to charge my phone a bit so I could let my roommate know where the heck I am.  I ended up waiting till about 1:45AM and all the sudden the handsome doctor came over and said "You're scans are crystal clear, you can go home now."  Thank you!!!

Finally got home at 2:15AM this morning (Saturday) and slept till 10:30AM.  

Epiphany #1:
I'm becoming more and more convinced that life is supposed to be about giving and being a service to others.  For those that really know my personal history, you know that we learned this growing up.  It's not that I didn't believe it; I have just been striving to be happy while focusing on my needs and desires.  Here I was running this Tough Mudder and I think I was the happiest and generally most energized when I was up at the top of the Pyramid Scheme obstacle reaching over the edge pulling other people up.  I know it sounds simple or simplistic but it's my truth.  And this isn't the only time this has happened... It's been a growing realization.

Epiphany (Realization) #2:
When I first started commuting to and working in the NYC office over a year ago now, I would notice that the people on the train and how they were dozing off, head bobbing up and down catching a few winks before arriving into NY Penn.  I would always think "Wow, those people must not have slept well..." or something like that.  I was all energetic and driven and ready to take on the day.  I used to get up at 5:00AM every day and would be to work by 7:00AM sharp.  These last several weeks, few months even, I have been struggling to get up by 6:15AM.  This is pretty late for me.  Now I have joined the club of people resting there eyes, their minds, and bodies before we arrive into Penn and the day is off to the races with the rush to exit the train and get to the office as fast as possible.  I look forward to turning in my "membership" to this club in 6 DAYS TIME!!!  

Only 6 days left!

Finally reached the finish line... the most anticlimactic finish line EVER! :(


Teammates again...
Feeling' Tough

Feeling pretty unglamorous in my hospital gowns... This was outside the MRI waiting for someone from ER to come and bring me back. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Two Weeks Left!!!

Good evening folks!  (Note: This was written over the course of Friday evening and Saturday).  
Typing up this post on my Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 while I wait for my friend Firdaus to come into Penn Station.  She's flying here from Cali and will be spending the weekend with me.  Her, her good friend, and I will be competing in the Tough Mudder Half in Bethpage, LI on Sunday.  I am completely unprepared physically.   I haven't done any training in months.  I am a bit intimidated to say the least.  But, if it's anything like the Rugged Maniac 5k obstacle course that I did last year with a few good friends, I anticipate that I'll get all jacked up when we're coming up to registration, hear whatever jammin' music they happen to be playing (hopefully they're playing something), feel the energy and adrenaline of the crowd... that itself will hopefully give me at least a little boost.   Pictures will follow on Sunday. 

Only two weeks (well, 13 days as of Saturday) left!!!  The week has pretty much flown by.  I figured out where my mom and little sister would fly home from and priced up some flights using Google Flight.   I only learned about Google Flight earlier this week from a colleague that I had lunch with.  Great tool for finding reasonable flights.   Seriously, what would we do without google?  Another app that I found out about but haven't used too much is Hopper; another flight search engine. 

What else is new...
- I've decided to apply for the Vietnamese visa during my last week. 
- I'll apply for the Indonesian social visa a few days before I fly out of JFK which means I'll have to be in the city maybe mid-day on the 9th. 
Last weekend I went out to Long Island and went to Smith Point beach.   As I was driving into the beach I looked up and saw people skydiving!  It made me want to go skydiving again.

I've been skydiving four times now! 
- 1st skydive: My first skydive was during college... I think it was the summer after freshman or sophomore year.  I can't remember exactly.  I went to a place in Schenectady, NY.  We jumped from 7,000ft. 

- 2nd skydive: A few years later, my brother was home and wanted to go so we went to a skydiving place in Weedsport NY.   We jumped from 10,000ft. 

- 3rd skydive: A year ago this past March, I went on a pretty epic two week vacation to Australia with Contiki (a tour company) touring the eastern coast from Sydney up to Cairns.  Made 50 friends from around the world... some I still keep in touch with.  My first skydive during this vacation was in the Gold Coast (Surfer's Paradise) if I'm not mistaken.  It was a totally incredible skydive with Gold Coast Skydiving.  We jumped from 12,000ft. 

- 4th skydive (latest, greatest, and most EPIC): my latest skydive was also in Australia but a little bit further north in Cairns.  I mentioned to the expert jumper I was paired with that this was my fourth skydive.  He responded "Oh, what do you need me for!?!!"  Hahahaha.  So, before we got on the plane, he asked (with explitives) "Do you want to go bleeping fast?" Of course I said heck yea!  So, instead of freefalling with our bodies in a horizontal plane, we did a free-fly which is plummeting head-first towards the ground during the free fall period.  Completely EPIC!!  

It's been a good weekend so far catching up with friends and former coworkers...  Tough Mudder Half on Sunday.  Wish me luck... 😃

Me and Typo at work waiting for my friend to get into Penn Station.  If you look closely, you can see my countdown is at 14 days!  

It's all about scale.  In Port Jeff, there was a canoe on the water right in the path of the ferry that was backing out of the dock.  Who's your daddy?  Hahhaa.  Common sense would be telling me to back away (and paddle out) from the path of the ferry.  

Beach day!!!!  

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July!

Hey folks!

Hope everyone had a great holiday!  It was a fun but peaceful weekend at camp with very good friends (old and new) and family.  We went tubing and water skiing on the lake, hung out on the boats, went swimming numerous times (once at about 10pm ;-P  - that was fun), kayaked, napped, etc.  So refreshing.   (See Pictures Below!!)

It is so great meeting new people and being able to call them friends almost instantly!  So happy to have had some time together with great people this weekend (you know who you are - if you're reading this that is)!!  :-p   I got to share my travel plans with some of the folks I met this weekend and so hopefully I've gained a few readers.  :)

So, if you didn't know, I invested in a Samsung tablet and keyboard that will serve as my computer while I travel around.  I am really happy with the tablet so far - it's super light, fast, and simple.   I ordered the keyboard off of Amazon to save a little money.  The keyboard was heavier than I anticipated!  It's a tiny little thing!  What is in this?? :-p  But it works well for my purposes.  Thankfully, I have relatively small fingers so the small keys on the small keyboard aren't too big (or small?) of an issue. 

What else.  It's very hard to focus at work now that I've given my notice.   The end is now officially in site. 
Progress I've made since my last post:
- I printed out the Vietnamese and Indonesian visa applications;
- Saved the Cambodia visa application to my desktop.  Need to print that out as well;
- I got 10 copies of a passport photo* (see next paragraph);
- I printed the the international drivers permit application; and
- I think I told you that I got my vaccinations taken care of. 
Now, I need to actually fill the applications out (which I have partially), then go visit the Consulates here in NYC. The Cambodia consulate is located in Washington, DC. So, I think I'll end up submitting that one electronically.  

Last week I got my passport photo taken and I absolutely hate it!  I look like a pale convict.  So, I think I'll go back to CVS tomorrow now that I'm nicely tanned from the weekend in the sun and get my photo retaken so at least I don't look like I'm about to pass out.  

I think that's all at the moment.   I have another post drafted addressing questions that I've been trying to answer for myself on who I have become while working in the city but it still needs work to make sure I'm getting my point across appropriately.  I still have to think about that one.  

For now, have a good night!  Enjoy the photos below.  GET OUTSIDE AND ENJOY THE GREAT OUTDOORS PEOPLE!!!!

4 weeks left people.  July 4th - August 4th (last day).   Heck yea!!

View from my hammock (without the ENO mosquito net and Bear Butt Rainfly set up.  I took it down due to a planned bonfire later in the evening.   
Another view from my hammock.  I did sleep outside for a night.  
View from the dock this morning.  You couldn't beat the view and the picture doesn't really do the peace and quiet justice.  It was so amazing and the water was so inviting that after my brief kayak ride I went swimming in my pajamas.  Yup - I didn't feel like taking the time to change into a swim suit!  Just go GET IN THE LAKE!!! :D
Megan killing it on the water skis!    
Mr. Prezz ripping it up on slalom ski!  
Dad is another great slalom water skier.  He's gotten quite a few camp folks up on skis! 
Mr. Prezz also taking on the knee board and did a couple 360-degree spins.  Impressive.  Also took a couple impressive spills as well (hahahaha).  
I can't seem to get this photo down to the bottom of the  line of pictures so I apologize about the out-of-orderness of this photo.  Anyway - I've dubbed my dynamic tablet and keyboard duo "Typo" because there are bound to be typos in my blog posts.  Apologies in advance.  ***Be advised - if you're buying a Samsung Galaxy S2 bluetooth keyboard for your Samsung Galaxy S2 9.7" tablet, the CHARGE CORD for the keyboard IS SOLD SEPARATELY!!  Seriously?  Come on SAMSUNG!!
The little sis (not so little anymore) also ripping up the lake on slalom ski (and looking like our oldest sister in the process).  I've tried to slalom ski several times now and I keep face planting into the lake.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

It's Becoming Reality (Someone Broke My Rose-colored Glasses)

I got an email about an hour ago from the program coordinator in Bali where I'll be doing my internship.  The subject of the email was "Tips and Usual Info."   So I start reading through this list which is seven pages long!  As I'm reading this list, it hit me a little bit like a ton of bricks!  This isn't just a dream anymore, a talk about planning something in the so-distant future that you can't really see it.  It's happening in 5 months!  

Topics on this list include: 
Before your flight
Upon Arrival
Setting Up Your Room
Helpful information for transportation, money, health, safety, shopping, internet, fitness, wellness... the list goes on.  

A couple things that were the heaviest "bricks" to hit me were regarding the need for an International Driving Permit and clean water.  So over the next couple weeks I'll be getting paperwork filled out and passport pictures taken to apply for the international drivers permit.  I'll also be investing in backpacking-sized water filtration and disinfection stuff so that I don't have to continually buy bottled water.  All these things I'll need make me concerned about fitting it all in my two backpacks.  :-/  I'll have to be extremely conservative with the amount that I pack.  I'm sure it will take a few rounds of condensing and combing through and getting my gear down to the absolute essentials.  It won't be easy.  

As I read this list, I felt a slight tinge of nerves.  I usually have this big bravado and courage;  I haven't felt at all nervous to head out and travel and explore.... but golly, what is going on!!  I think this list just made it very real.  It's very exciting, but I just want to make sure I'm ready.  If I am prepared, then I can usually handle almost anything.  If I'm not prepared, then it won't be good.  

Take a look at this list!!  :) I've uploaded 3 of the 7 pages.  Hopefully you can read the pictures.  Let me know if you can't (PLEASE would someone leave a comment!!) and I'll try something else. 

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

One last thing to add... I was helping my roommate with a garage sale this weekend and one of the last people to stop in was a man from Africa who had married an American woman and was in the US.  He had worked in Africa and Europe in the oil and gas industry.  From what I gathered from our conversation, he provided training in health and safety for the industry and even though he was "in the height of his career" abroad, he was finding it extremely challenging to find a job in his field here in the US; he'd need to take additional courses.  Honestly, I'm sure there are differences in the way we do things here but I would imagine that the standards of the oil/gas industry in Europe are equivalent or even higher in Europe than they are here.   He was one of the nicest people I've met and it's people like him that make me excited to meet more new people outside the US.  I should have given him my business card.  I don't know what good that would do, but hey... networking is networking.  You never know!  

Have a good night folks.  

The countdown: 5 weeks and 5 days.  

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Progress is Slow

Good evening all!

Well, between about the end of April and end of last week, work has been flat out, work-as-fast-as-possible-for-as-long-as-possible to meet tough deadlines.  But now, the project I'm on is about 85% finished (I think; that's just an estimate).  

So, that means the following: 
- I haven't been to the gym, at all, since at least sometime in March or early April.  
- I've gained back all the weight I've lost since college - very mad about that.  Not to say that I've been thin(ner) since college - my weight is a roller coaster - up and down, up and down... grrrrr.  Basically, I weight what I did when I graduated senior year.  Not a good thing!
- Ragnar Relay was hot and brutal.
- Didn't compete in the triathlon because I was exhausted and sick.... and;
- I didn't make any progress on my vaccinations (supposed to be accomplished in May) or visas (supposed to be started in June).  Granted, I still have time, but I really don't like to wait till last minute to get things like this under way.    

So, now it's sort of down to crunch time. Ok, well crunch time might be a little strong... but I don't have time to waste.  So, Friday I had a physical.  Tomorrow (Thursday), I'll be going to the NJ Travel Clinic to get a consult on exactly which vaccinations I need (which, from my physical last week, I'm pretty sure I'm going to need most), which is going to cost quite a bit because insurance doesn't cover it.  I also plan to get the vaccinations done two or three at a time.  Too many at once I don't think is smart.  So, that process should hopefully be done in no more than two weeks.  After that, it's visa time.  

So, this week, I did make some progress.  I have paid off the first two months of my international travels.  I got my travel insurance set through STA Travel (only ~$200 for a whole year because I'm younger than 30!!), and my flights are set for that two month period with the exception of a departure flight from Bali. Need to get that flight.  

The doctor I saw last week gave me the number to two travel clinics.  One, the Enlightened Traveler in Paramus, I called twice, both times got an "answering service" and, at least to this point, have not received a return phone call.  So, I called the NJ Travel Clinic and ended up going online to schedule an appointment. Thankfully, they had a spot open tomorrow at 10AM, so I nabbed it.  I'll figure out what the damages (financially) will be tomorrow.  Oh, but I need to remember to look at getting some of the vaccinations potentially at the county health department.  I did that back in 2011 when I went to India.  So, hopefully that could help save some $$.  

While I've been writing this, I have American Ninja Warrior and Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge playing in the background.  Can I just say - those people are so inspiring!!  Makes me want to join a team and train hard.  Team challenges are so much more fun than individual competition.  It's cooperative, it's supportive, it's positive reinforcement, it's encouragement and building each other up... not tearing each other down.  It's supporting each person on the team no matter how strong or weak because they are part of the team. The stories of what these folks have overcome is just mind blowing sometimes.  You never really know what someone is struggling with to overcome their obstacles to prove to themselves first, and others second, what they're capable of.  

That's pretty much all I had to say for today.  Below are some touched up pictures showing preparations accomplished... 

6 weeks and 1 day until I'm done with work.... 
~7.5 weeks until I head out west to visit national parks...
So that means about 17 weeks until I leave the US to travel internationally for hopefully an extended period of time.  

The excitement is building!  

Flights are settled!

Woot Woot!!! 30-day tour voucher!!  That means I'm all paid up!

Travel insurance set!  If you're under 30, you can get 1-year of travel insurance for ~$200... it's a deal!

Added some details to my travel check-list on the Global Nomadic intern site.  I am so excited for this internship. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Watching from the Sidelines...

May 20th - the day of the Harryman Triathlon at Harriman State Park.  I had signed up for the Olympic distance triathlon last fall with full intention of competing.  

Final work deliverables lined up exactly with the triathlon and since I haven't been to the gym since the Ragnar Relay, I knew I wasn't ready.  I also caught a cold with congested sinuses last week and little bit of a dry throat.  Sort of a double whammy of unpreparedness.  :(   If you haven't deduced by now, I didn't compete.  I watched from the sidelines and tried to cheer on those who were competing.  

As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, I heard an announcement that someone didn't have and needed a bicycle helmet to compete.  I had brought my Specialized bicycle and riding gear because I thought I may potentially go for a ride later in the day.  I thought "What the heck, my helmet is perfectly good and doing nothing in my car right now!"  So I grabbed my helmet, brought it to someone checking contestants into the transition area and said I had a helmet.  It was a young guy that needed it.  He was competing in the triathlon as his senior project and had to compete and finish to graduate.  Yikes dude!  Take my helmet! Best of luck!  His mom is going to wash the helmet and ship it back to me.  

I watched the Half triathlon distance start the swim at about 9:45am.  Just watching those folks run into the water made me want to compete so badly.  I also watched the three waves of Olympic distance contestants start at 10:30, 10:33, and 10:36.   They started finishing the swim and running to the transition area and rolling out on their bikes.  One girl had rolled out and her chain came off.  I was right there watching her trying to figure out how to get it back one and I knew exactly what to do!  So I stepped over and said "I'm not sure I'm allowed to help you but here..." and I took the lower chain, pulled it and the derailer forward to give the chain some slack.  Fixed and good to go she hopped on and rode off.  

I walked to road where the riders complete one loop and continue to ride the second.  It was motivating watch the riders pass by; cheering each of them.  Personally, it is so important to provide every rider with some positive reinforcement, encourage them to keep going.  This is where the second part of my story from yesterday begins.  

There was this couple riding a tandem bike.  Well, they weren't actually biking... They had paused to cheer folks on as well.  However, the lady was verbally judging every other cyclist as they rode by.  Yes, some folks weren't riding a bike properly sized for them, or they didn't have biking cleats, or some (I did notice) should have had their seats raised slightly higher than they were.  This really, really ticked me off.  You want to know why?  Because it is people like her who discourage novice riders from starting with the equipment that they have!!! Afraid of being judged by those who have the funds to start with equipment amounting to excess of >$1,000 investment!  Everyone doesn't have that!  I made my cycling start on a mountain bike that was probably $150 from Dick's Sporting Goods.  Did I have bike cleats?  No!  Did I have proper cycling clothing?  No!  I cycled huge hills without all the proper gear - I did it because I loved it and I wanted to and I made the best of what I had at the time!  

So, to that judgmental woman: cyclists have to get their start somewhere!  Everyone that you were judging was probably fighting a battle you couldn't see to finish that race!  Fighting the thoughts that they don't belong there because they don't have the best equipment.  To those that were riding with the gear and the skill and the guts and gumption that you have: You BELONG!  You have as much right as those who were riding very specialized bicycles that cost thousands of dollars.  Take on that challenge and show that anyone at any level can overcome obstacles.  

Congratulations to all the competitors for getting out there and taking on that challenge and the same congratulations to all the race finishers.  I wish I had a medal from yesterday, but it wasn't quite time.

Until the next triathlon I sign up for... (well, I mean I'll write before the of course).  Don't judge other people.  "Always be humble and kind."    

Transition Area

Pretty sure this was the first or second wave of Olympic contestants. 

Outgoing cyclists coming out of the transition area. 

The running start and finish line...