New Toy

I did it.
I went to Fry's and bought a new laptop.
It's not a desktop replacement system, because I have two desktop systems already, thanks. It's just something thin and light and cute.

I almost bought the older model, because Fry's didn't have the newer one. But when Kevin (the salesperson) brought out the box, it was the model I'd been drooling over, after all.

“Oh dear,” he said. “We are not supposed to be selling this until Tuesday.” (Imagine this with an East Indian lilt, and that's how he sounded.

“But,” I pointed out, “It's marked with a price tag, and it's the one I really want.”

“Of course,” he replied. “I'll just print your invoice.”

Meanwhile was drooling over the bigger, bolder, spiffier desktop-replacement systems. He's buying his today, he says.

And if you're wondering what I bought? Click here.

Xeni-Babble (Hey, at least it’s not another Survey)

I still feel unfocussed and antsy. One of those, “I want to be anywhere but here” kinds of moods. Maybe this is because we're popping over to the Geek Mecca commonly known as Fry's to check out cute little Vaio ultralight laptops, or maybe it's just that I know tomorrow will be an early day, and the office is quiet – too quiet – and I just want to blow off time.

So I've done nothing at all productive today. Just…not in the mood.

I am in the mood to throw a party, but I have no reason to have one, and who would come, anyway?

I'm anticipating a mini-vacation. is going to NANOG25 in Toronto next month, and since I've never been to Toronto, I'm tagging along. It won't be a true vacation, because he'll be busy all day, but I like exploring new places, so I plan to have fun. Or at least get some rest.

I need to mow the lawn this weekend.
And the dogs need baths.
And the hot-tub (which I'm afraid to look at, really) needs to be cleaned.
And, and, and…

I think I'll just go look at the Vaio website some more.

3rd time’s the Charm?

wrote these questions. And I said, “I can't do three surveys in one day.” But, you know, I can. Especially if it delays work.

1. Which airline do you prefer?
– For quick hops along the Pacific Coast, Alaska or Southwest (which is, yes, a bus with wings, but the price is good). For long trips? United for convenience, and Northwest for comfort.

2. Who was your first crush?
– Um. Shaun Cassidy, when I was seven. Or Ben, when I was five. Or…whatever I said a few surveys ago.

3. How fast do you type?
– 90-ish wpm.

4. What grammatical error are you most prone to?
– Sentence Fragments. But I generally use them for effect, not because I don't know any better.

5. If you could steal one album from your parents' record collection, what would it be?
– The first Sweet Honey in the Rock one.

6. What's the best vacation your family ever had?
– I don't think we've ever taken a family vacation. It's just not something we ever did.

7. Who is your favorite newspaper columnist?
– Does Dave Barry count? :)

8. Did Condit do it?
– Probably.

9. Where were you on the morning of September 11?
– In bed.

10. What's the best comfort food or drink, when you're sick?
– Melted sharp cheddar cheese on toasted raisin muffins.

11. Where did the other sock go?
– To visit the ball point pens.

12. Who was your first best friend?

13. What kind of tree would you plant in your yard?
-Something climbable.

14. Which person in your past makes you the angriest?
-My mother's first husband. People telling me they plan to hunt me down and kill me tend to bring that reaction out, though. And he stole my dog.

15. Which person in your past who you've lost touch with would you most like to find again?
-Benjamin, who I used to ice skate with when I was five.

16. Tell us about your introduction to the internet.
-We had to have email for doing FHA loans (to request appraisals, and stuff), and it expanded from there. There was a local service/portal called LiveWire, we were founding members. And then I discovered newsgroups, and had to have a 'real' account, so moved to Netcom, and, well, found PernMUSH.

17. I post in and read livejournal:
a) for diversion
b) to vent
c) to get feedback on my thoughts and opinions
d) other _Writing Practice_

18. “Which _______ are you?” quizzes are:
a) fun
b) lame
c) both
d) neither
Comments: Amusing, I suppose. I don't do them very often, but others seem to like them. Some folks do quizzes, I do surveys.

19. In high school I was:
a) the smart one
b) the popular one
c) the athletic one
d) the band geek
e) the troublemaker
f) nobody
Would you go back?
-I was the one who was on the fringes, but never quite part of, all the different groups. And no. High school was in Fresno. I will never ever ever go back.

20. What's the one thing that you want your (hypothetical or actual) children to learn from you? Table manners.

Another Survey (Mooched from Moonness @ OD)

I'm really unfocussed at work today. And I'm too distracted to write real entries. And its fun to annoy by posting surveys.

1. If you could have anything delivered to your doorstep each morning, what would it be?
Breakfast. I never eat breakfast.

2. What is one vacation destination that many people think is just fabulous but which you personally have no desire to visit (or revisit)?

3. If you were five years younger but knew everything at that age that you've actually learned over the last five years, what is one thing you would definitely do differently?
Left SoDak Earlier

4. If you could wake up to one smell every morning (besides coffee) what would it be?
The ocean

5. Suppose that right now you could be at your favorite vacation spot, reading your favorite book, listening to your favorite CD, and eating your favorite food. What would be your choices for those four categories, and who, if anyone, would be with you?
I'd be in the cafe at Drake's Beach near Pt. Reyes, reading any beach book that was available. Probably Up Island or Low Country by Anne Rivers Siddons, not my favorite books, but my favorites for the mood I'd want to invoke. The cd would be a flute and piano jazz cd that I play a lot while reading, and while any number of people might be lingering, I don't like company while reading. And I'd be eating clam chowder with crusty sourdough bread. Which is my favorite food in that setting.

6. Which animated character is your all-time favorite?
I don't like animation.

7. If you had to write a brief message on a dollar bill that many people would eventually see as the currency circulates, what message would you write?
Shut up and read.

8. If you could own a home on the shore of any body of water in the world, which waterfront would you choose?
Anywhere from Half Moon Bay north on the Pacific Coast, or Maine.

9. Suppose you had the opportunity to choose 3 people with whom to eat dinner: a famous sports figure, a movie star and a popular singer. Who would you choose?
Scott Hamilton, Susan Sarandon, and Loreena McKennit.

10. What serves as the greatest motivation for you in your daily life?
Right now? I want a bigger house, and I want to retire in eight years, so I can write full time.

11. What activity that you have to do every once in a while do you dread the most?
Cleaning the hot tub.

12. If you were a multimillionaire, what do you believe you would be doing at this very moment?
Replacing my laptop /and/ desktop computers, and not just one of them.

13. If you could have a cookie jar full of anything you wanted, except money or cookies, what would it be filled with?
Buttons (the kind for clothing, not promo-pins)

14. When people hear what you do for a living, what is the most typical question or comment they give you regarding your job?
“What are rates like today?”

15. If you could have any round object in the world, what spherical item would you want?
Right this minute? A tangerine.

16. If you were left alone for one hour with nothing more than a pen and a notepad, what would you be inclined to draw or write during those 60 minutes?
Write. I have absolutely no talent for drawing.

17. If you could witness anything at all in super-slow motion, what would you want to see?
I'm really not a fan of anything slow. I have no patience for it.

18. If someone were looking for you in a bookstore, in what section would they be most likely to find you?
Mystery, science fiction, general fiction, cards.

19. What do you forget to do more often than anything else?
Drink water.

20. If you could teach everyone in the world one skill, what would it be?
Effective use of voice mail.

21. You've been offered the chance to paint a billboard along a highway with any message you choose, as long as it's only 10 words long. What is your message?
“Until there are none; adopt one. Rescue an animal today.”


She made me do it!

1. What time is it? 1:06 pm

2. Name as it appears on your birth certificate: Melissa Annette Klindienst

3. Nickname(s): Do I need a nickname? I have none. This might be because I generally threaten violence when people attempt to shorten “Melissa” to “Missy”. Suggestions are welcome, I suppose.

4. Parents' names: Susan & Ira Fogel. I never met my biological father, and my mother's first husband was abusive, so I try to block his existence from my mind.

5. Number of candles that appeared on your last birthday cake: 3. If you want to ask how old I am, that's different.

6. Date that you regularly blow them out: August 17

7. Pets: Zorro (5 year old Chi/JRT mix) and Cleo, the Barking Bitch of Beelzebub (2 year old mutt)

8. Eye color: Brown

9. Hair color: Subject to change. Red, lately.

10. Piercing: Both ears. I had my tongue pierced in college, but grew out of that pretty quickly.

11. Tattoos: Nah.

12. How much do you love your job? I especially like it on the 15th and 30th of each month…

13. Favorite color: Red, Purple, Forest Green.

14. Hometown: I was born in Atlantic Highlands, NJ. But home is here in San Jose, for now, although I want home to be in Portland, OR.

15. Current Residence: San Jose, CA

16. Favorite meal: Unagi Donburi

17. Been to Africa? Never.

18. Been toilet papering? No.

19. Loved somebody so much it made you cry? Yes.

20. Been in a car accident? Yes. Most recently in February 2000, on the day of my mothers 50th birthday bash.

21. Croutons or bacon bits? Neither.

22. Sprite or 7UP? Sprite, but I'm really not a soda-drinker.

23. Favorite Movies: Wag the Dog, Better than Chocolate, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

24. Favorite Holiday: Christmas. I love having a reason to shower gifts upon people.

25. Favorite day of the week: Saturday

26. Favorite word or phrase: Tintinabulation

27. Favorite Toothpaste: Tom's of Maine. The Anise flavored kind.

28. Favorite Restaurant: Agenda, Stratta or Il Fornaio

29. Favorite Flowers: Wisteria, Irises, and those ground=coverish ones that look like furry fuschia brains, and Bougainvillea, or however you spell that.

30. Favorite Drink: Iced tea, or cosmopolitans

31. Favorite sport to watch: Figure skating. Horse racing.

32. Preferred type of ice cream: Green Tea or Macapuno from Mitchells. Or soft-serve chocolate dipped in chocolate sprinkles, from Carvel.

33. Favorite Sesame Street Character: N/a

34. Disney or Warner Bros.? N/a

35. Favorite Fast Food Restaurant: Does the Falafel drive-in count?

36. When was your last hospital visit? 1972 (The Lasik surgery was out-patient)

37. What color is your bedroom carpet? The color of beach sand.

38. How many times did you fail your drivers test? Never.

39. Who is the last person you got email from? I just received an appraisal I was waiting for.

40. Have you ever been convicted of a crime? No.

41. Which single store would you choose to max out your credit card? Zandbroz. Imagine all the best parts of Papyrus, Barnes and Noble, and Cost Plus Imports combined into one store. With a soda fountain, too.

42. What do you do most often when you are bored? Read, write, MUSH, sing, sleep.

43. Name the person that you are friends with who lives the farthest: Hayley (in London), Mahfuz (in K.L.), Danja (in Tel Aviv), Sigma (in Tokyo) and Michael (in Sydney)

44. Most annoying thing people ask you? How's your mother? They can't just email her directly?

45. Bedtime: 2 am-ish on work-nights, 3 or 4 on weekends.

46. Who will respond the quickest? Mmm. Maybe an OD-er. Maybe not.

47. Who is the person that is least likely to respond?

48. Favorite all-time TV show: I don't really have an all-time favorite. Tastes change, and all that.

49. Last person you went out to dinner with: , of course.

50. Last movie you saw at the cinema: Star Wars Episode II, although I slept through the middle of it. I'm really not a Star Wars fan.

51: Time when you finished: 1:36 pm (after many distractions.)

Tea and Oranges

I am a true child of the 70's, and I grew up listening to my mother's music: John Denver, Simon and Garfunkel, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Joanie Mitchell, Peter Paul & Mary. These were the songs that were in the background on rainy or snowy days, accompanied by the hum of my mother's sewing machine, blended with the scent of her coffee, punctuated by her occaisional cursing when she had to rip a seam, or the dog interrupted her work.

Suzanne takes you down
to her place near the river
you can hear the boats go by
and you can spend the night beside her
and you know that she's half crazy
and that's why you want to be there
and she feeds you tea and oranges
that come all the way from China
and just when you mean to tell her
that you have no love to give her
then she gets you on her wavelength
and she lets the river answer
that you've always been her lover
and you want to travel with her
and you want to travel blind
and you know that she will trust you
for you've touched her perfect body
with your mind

Today at work I turned my office into a cavern, by leaving the overhead fluorescent lights turned off. It was raining on and off most of the day, unusual for Northern California at this time of year, and the moody grey light was soothing today.

Rainy days always inspire me, and today I decided that I could keep the vibe of inspiration going even while working on mundane things like submitting loans. So I turned my floor lamp on, left the blinds halfway down, enough to kill any glare but not so far that I couldn't read the paperwork on my desk. I had three cd's with me: Yo-Yo Ma's The Soul of Tango, Loreena McKennit's Book of Secrets and the Starbucks artist choice collection that was chosen by Yo-Yo Ma. It's this eclectic mix of opera, classical, blues, folk, and French ballads, and while these three cd's were all very different, somehow, rotating them throughout the day seemed to work for me.

and Jesus was a sailor
when he walked upon the water
and he spent a long time watching
from his lonely wooden tower
and when he knew for certain
only drowning men could see him
he said: “all men will be sailors
until the sea shall free them”
but he himself was broken
long before the sky would open
forsaken, almost human
he sank beneath his wisdom like a stone
and you want to travel with him
and you want to travel blind
and you think maybe you'll trust him
for he's touched your perfect body
with his mind

None of the cd's included the song “Suzanne” but I was drinking Wild Sweet Orange Tea this afternoon, and that song, part of the soundtrack of my childhood, wove itself over and around and through my thoughts.

I think it's the line in the first section, about tea and oranges, that sticks most in my mind. I don't know all the lyrics, but in spite of that I can hear the melody in my head, and somehow the dim light, the cool air, the raindrops – they all blend together and carry me backwards in time.

Once, when I was fourteen, I spent a late night wrapped in my favorite pajamas, my feet kicked up on the chair across from mine, the only light in the house the chandelier above my table. I vaguely recall that I was reading Nicholas and Alexandra, but I remember very vividly that my stepfather had presented us with a bag of the most incredible navel oranges, and as I sat there, reading while my parents slept in their room above me, I nibbled on oranges and sipped Earl Grey tea, purchased at Cost Plus.

now Suzanne takes your hand
and she leads you to the river
she is wearing rags and feathers
from Salvation Army counters
and the sun pours down like honey
on our lady of the harbour
and she shows you where to look
among the garbage and the flowers
there are heroes in the seaweed
there are children in the morning
they are leaning out for love
they will lean this way forever
while Suzanne holds the mirror
and you want to travel with her
and you want to travel blind
and you know that you can trust her
for she's touched your perfect body
with her mind

Tea and oranges and nostalgia were my companions all day, and when I got home, and looked out at the redwood that stands near the corner of our house, I was presented with a rainbow.

Life is beautiful.

“Suzanne” was written by Leonard Cohen.

Survey Stolen From

Fad you wish you had never bought into: Jelly shoes.

City you would next like to live in: Portland, OR. I've been in love with it since we spent a weekend there for our anniversary in 2001.

Food you used to love and now can't stand: Anything milk chocolate.

Childhood idol: When I was a little girl I wanted to be Billie Holiday…or Dorothy Hamill

Biggest leap of faith: South Dakota

Worst job that I've had: Bookstore minion. “Um, hi, I'm looking for this book that was on Oprah about a month ago? I don't know the name but the author was a woman, and the cover was blue.”

Least favorite drug: Anything that gets smoked. I'm highly allergic to smoke.

Least favorite slang word: 'Dude,' followed closely by 'hella.'

Guilty pleasure tv show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Favorite song in eighth grade: Anything that wasn't “Eye of the Tiger” (Probably “The Search is Over”)

Cd or tape you are most ashamed of: While my music collection is somewhat eclectic, I'm not really ashamed of anything in it. Well, maybe Fishbone.

Favorite screen couple: Hepburn and Tracy, or Bogart and Becall. Classics. But I grew up watching The Cosby Show, and I still think Phylicia Rashad and Bill Cosby had really good chemistry.

Most hated celebrity: I never remember the names of the ones I don't like. And can't really say I hate any. I hate their work, maybe.

First crush: On a celebrity? Shaun Cassidy (hey, I was seven). On a real person? Gil, who was ten when I was eight.

Favorite halloween costume: My mother made all my costumes when I was a kid. Pocohantas was a favorite, the silver lame' outfit she made so I could be a punk vampire was another.

First concert: My mother took me to see John Denver at Red Rocks when I was five. Later, he nearly ran us off the road, driving up I-70 in his silver Porsche.

Ever seen a ghost? No. But I had a long telephone conversation with my grandfather after he died. I'm still not certain of whether or not I was dreaming, since I woke up with the phone in my hand, and there was no dial-tone.

First friend: Alisa. We grew up together, our mothers grew up together, and she's really more family than a friend. When we were six, my mother had to prick our fingers for us so we could be blood-sisters. The year we were nine, we got into trouble for riding our raft out past the safety buoys at Sandy Hook. The lifeguard yelled louder than either of our mothers. We found out later there'd been a shark sighting that day. *shrug*

Favorite simpsons character: I don't like animation.

Re-occurring dreams: I used to have a dream that I was sprinting up and down the streets of San Francsico. Then I moved there for school, and everything was deja-vu-ish

Favorite playground equipment: I remember practicing on the monkey bars so much that I had blisters on my palms, the year I was seven. Or eight. But I liked the dome better. Sitting on the very top if it was so much fun.

Number of first cousins: 5

Name of freshman year dorm: Hayes Healy Hall

Summer camp: Riding camp when I was nine. I still have all the worksheets naming horse-parts in a box somewhere. That was day camp, and I loved it. Sixth-grade camp and 4H camp were both at Camp Sylvester in Sonora, and I hated it. Ants, toothpaste on the walls, bunk beds, ick! To this day the roughest conditions I'll accept are hotels without room service.

Cello Contemplations

This is partly in reply to a posting in the cellists community, partly not. “Tell us about your cello,” someone wrote.

The part they want to know: My cello is a baby, only a year old (just this month). I hadn't played since high school, and missed it. So I did research, and found Stringworks, and ordered an Artist cello. I'd initially made inquiries about 3/4 sized and 7/8 sized instruments, because I'm five feet tall, and I have small hands. Email went back and forth. “If you're a reasonably experienced player,” they said, “you won't like the 3/4. We don't have a 7/8 line right now. It's something we're considering.” I'm a hobby-player, so I listened, and contemplated, and ordered a regular 4/4 cello. They said I'd be added to the wait list for the next batch. Then a bit later they said, “Hey, we're coming out with this Maestro line. It's more expensive than what you ordered, but you might like it. Want to try?” I looked at pictures, and agreed. A bit later, on a Sunday, after five pm, I got another call. “I'm only a couple inches taller than you. The Maestro is wonderful, but it's hard to play for someone our height.”

So I ended up going down a level, to their Virtuoso line, which is in-between Artist and Maestro. It's the sort of cello that might be used by a professional as a second instrument, for travelling, etc. The surprise came when I got it – it had the rosewood fittings I'd requested. Others prefer ebony, but I really like the rosewood – but they'd stuck in a note telling me they'd given it to me at the Artist price. And the cool thing is that they have a trade-up policy, as well.

So that's the generic 'about'. But then there's the personal 'about'.

Breaking in a new instrument is like getting to know a new lover. At first, everything is new and wonderful and total bliss. Oh, look, the abalone in the bow is still shiny. Smell that? You can still taste the varnish in the air. See? The case is plush and green inside, and there's rosin hidden back here.

Then there's the comparison stage. “Well, yes, I love you but, you do this just like X. And Y used to do that other thing.” It's the same with my cello. The bow I remember from my first cello had black hair. This doesn't. And somehow that's a flaw, even though this bow is really a better bow. This instrument has strings that do not like the summer heat here in California. They slip when the temperature gets too high, and the air too dry, and I've had to grow comfortable with more frequent adjustments than I had to when most of my playing was in an air-conditioned environment.

But eventually you move into the easy familiarity of old lovers. I know now, just how to dampen that persistant wolf-tone, how much I can rock the cello when I'm playing, exactly how far I need to extend the end pin. The weight of this bow feels natural, now, as well.

I admit though, now that we're comfortable, I've started flirting with other cellos. Yamaha makes an electric that I'm really intrigued by. And those graphite bows call to me often. And when I don't play, I feel guilty, like I'm cheating on someone. “You wanted this relationship,” I hear it taunting me. “You have to meet me half way.”

I stole this from !

Point Reyes, California, or Georgetown, Colorado

A huge cotton sage-green sweater that is so frayed it's been relegated to beach-wear.

Eyes…and hands.

The Yo-Yo Ma Artist's Choice selection from Starbucks.

Curled up on the couch with both dogs and a mug of coffee or tea.

The grocery store. I hate grocery shopping.

The balls of my feet.


The alarm goes off at eight-thirty. I generally tumble out of bed around nine.

Does the dishwasher count? Seriously, I'm still in love with my Kitchen-Aid ™ Stand Mixer.


In addition to those I already play? Um…piano. I suck at piano.

This changes too often to be definitive. Right now, sage, peach, forest green, indigo, and maroon.

There's nothing like a ragtop…


Fletcher and Zenobia, for the artwork (Edward Gorey! Yes!)
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, because it's fun to read aloud
Anything by Milne or Sendak

Late fall



The only tattoos I've ever had have been the temporary kind from the Cracker Jacks boxes when I was a kid.

Since the person I stole this from had a note here about missing number 21, I'm renumbering everything from here on.

My grandfather. I really miss him.

Early Sunday mornings, when Fuzzy's still asleep, and the house is still resting.

Foam moving blocks from Fuzzy's work, his soda, a road atlas that we never actually use.

Sushi, but I love a good cheeseburger, too.

These two questions have been edited, to reflect being used in a journal, rather than email.

probably. If anyone does.

. He never actually writes anything :)

Random Samplings

Consider these as mental sticky-notes. They're things I could expand into whole essays if I really wanted to, but since I have no content today, and need a break from submission hell, I'm tossing them out randomly.


Dinotopia: We turned on Part I just because there was nothing else to watch, and it looked amusing. I'd seen the drawings in National Geographic, of course, so was a bit curious. And really, it's an interesting story, though I'm wondering if the books are as sugary as the Hallmark/Disney production. And of course, the Pern-geek part of me can't help but lose it at times. Example, last night, one of the characters gazed into the eyes of a flyer and was told, “You have to speak his name. Find it inside of you.” His response? “His name…is…FreeFall!”


Heard on the radio this morning: Apparently some guy is dressing up as a dog and stealing bits of rose-bushes and other plants and landscape materials from neighborhoods in Cupertino. As if a six-foot-tall dog is unobtrusive, or something.


Nostalgia: I grew up listening to Peter, Paul & Mary, and they're still part of my rather eclectic music collection even today. So, when I found out they're playing a concert at a local winery, I was literally bouncing – which isn't easy to do when you're drugged to death on antihistamines, and still can't breathe – anyway, Fuzzy's been informed that I'm ordering tickets tomorrow, and that he could count it as my birthday present, since the concert is about a week after my birthday, in August.


Comfort Foods: Sara Paretsky's fictional detective V. I. Warshawski once posed a theory that comfort foods begin with 'P'. (peanut butter, pizza, pasta, pudding, pepperoni, Pepperidge Farm cookies, piroshki, pannetone, etc.) It doesn't start with a 'p' unless you put it in a pita, but hummus is becoming a comfort food for me. I've always liked it; but these days I'm finding I could live on it. Well, perhaps not.


Another radio thing: They played the humorous song 'Screwing Around at Work' during the morning show. It's vaguely ironic, I suppose, that I'm sitting here in my office updating a journal on company time. But then, I'm an independent contractor, so I can declare it NOT company time if I want.


Earthquake: Yes, there was an earthquake last night. says it was 5.2-ish, and about 30 miles away. Whatever. Earthquakes don't scare me, they just piss me off when they're strong enough to wake me. I, like many Californians, have a personal game of “Guess the Richter Scale Points” – I guessed 5-ish before the newsflashes started up. And, to make this entry come full circle, I have to admit, I was so wrapped up in Dinotopia that for a moment I thought the rumbling was souped-up bass from the tv, simulating dinosaur footsteps.