Now where were we? – Paris Life – Season 4?

[Insert another Blog start opening blurb]

Introducing my newly branded (rough-draft) and moved expat blog (albeit in potentially perpetual beta mode). Really only the logo design is done. ;p

oooo look at that logo
Translation: American Flowers in Paris

First you must know that the Learning Machine, still exists but will be solely be professional or nontravel/expat ramblings. While this new little niche shall be my hide out for all the things I find fit to share in my growth as an American abroad in Paris.

While I have not been writing here for months now… I have been digesting and figuring out life in Paris.  It has been a labor of love which I am becoming ready to share.  So we will see how these little writings will make their debut to the world and how often.  But we might as well get started.

Carpé journée.

Life Update

Now where were we? Season 3, looking back at the archive.  I have now been amid what I would consider Season 4 for quite a while.

Austin is in a new job.  We have moved at least two times since last time I wrote, now living in upper 11th of Paris or lower Belleville neighborhood.  We were able to take our first real vacations in years, traveling to the Mediterranean and Sweden.

Stockholm was pretty - August 2013
Stockholm was pretty – August 2013

I took a professional pause to work on my French and some personal projects (including a non-profit dance exchange in Paris which welcomed over 200 dancers from around the world). And now I am back on the “find a job I can be passionate about (preferably in French)” train. Going well despite I decided to board this train in the summer time a.k.a. unemployed deadman’s land.

Still I am optimistic and have been talking with a couple exciting companies that hopefully I will get to announce in the coming months once the living return to Paris.

Overall life as an expat (especially in the last month) has semi-smoothed out, especially due to my gained proficiency in French, seeking stability and simplifying my commitments.

And of course we love Paris more than ever.

Napoleon graffiti agrees (spotted in Paris)
Napoleon graffiti agrees (spotted in Paris)

Though we have not had electricity for the past week and a half… but that is a post for another time.

After School Special

What have I learned so far this Season? Let’s make this semi-educational.

EXPAT LIFE LESSON #121: Hey man, you are already an expat… do not take on the rest of the world as well.

Not a fancy picture but a genuine one. Taken when we decided one night to take a break, picnic on the Seine overlooking the Eiffel Tower, and take a moment to appreciate what we have and why we work so hard to keep it.
Not a fancy picture but a genuine one. Taken when we decided one night to take a break, picnic on the Seine overlooking the Eiffel Tower, and take a moment to appreciate what we have and why we work so hard to keep it.

Simplify, delve into your new life and concentrate on some (read: not all) positive and productive activities!

Because this is not your past life, you have a new obligatory hobby: Figuring out a new culture, language and way of life.

Until the next post – S

 

 

Ode to My Husband – Love Nest Abroad and Some Fish

Love Expats Style

Some might say that moving aboard can be the worse thing you can do for your relationship.  Or really any major move or life change is tough in a four-legged race… let’s be fair.

For me it has been the best thing I could have done.  As I now appreciate my husband more than I could ever express in a silly little blog rambling.  I am learning to trust in him, see him for the man he is and not take him for granted, not even for one second.

I am so ever grateful that I made this move with Austin.  He is my constant (Lost style ;p).  Life abroad is not all travel, cheese and ease.  I have my down moments of self doubt where I cannot tell the paperwork from the oak trees.  But he always seems to find me no matter how low I get.

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Harry and Sally Meets Good Wine

We had worked together before but moving to a 27 square meter apartment, working at the same long hour jobs (two now), teaching dance together (in french) and relearning to how to live (french style) definitely has been a challenge.

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Our first real apartment in Paris.

I have now reached the point where I see my fellow expats leave, those that came around the time we came (my “expat class” as I call it).  It is sad though we all have our reasons.  Some came planning only to stay a couple months.  Some have found better opportunities. Some just do not like it. And Paris is definitely not a city to stick with if it is not the right fit.  I am not too sure I would still be here if I did not have Austin. (And a few dozen friendly french strangers and friends a like).

Had to keep your head low in our little studio.
Had to keep your head low in our little studio.

We definitely have progressed greatly since our arrival in Paris, in our temporary 17 square meter apartment or when the machine ate my credit card on the first day.  We have progressed enough so that I can fondly look back at some of our earlier now-funny struggles.  I will not say we have stability now but we are gaining comfortability… and we have come a long way.

And I am glad this has been a partner marathon.

Thanks

Austin and I moved to France 6 months into our marriage and 5.5 years into our relationship.  For those who know our wedding date (the binary for 42), you know we love Douglas Adams and our wedding abounded in references to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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Shot near Notre Dame from our honeymoon visit to Paris. Where we continued to fall in love with each other and this city.

Today I stumbled upon a reading that I had to share and my relation to it.  It is a mix between how I felt: the first time we kissed, at our wedding and during our first year in Paris (in the apartment where you could barely swing a cat).

Enjoy and Thanks Austin.

From Douglas Adams’ “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish”

There was a sort of gallery structure in the roof space which held a bed and also a bathroom which, Fenchurch explained, you could actually swing a cat in, “But,” she added, “only if it was a reasonably patient cat and didn’t mind a few nasty cracks about the head. So. Here you are.”

“Yes.”

They looked at each other for a moment.

The moment became a longer moment, and suddenly it was a very long moment, so long one could hardly tell where all the time was coming from.

For Arthur, who could usually contrive to feel self-conscious if left alone long enough with a Swiss cheese plant, the moment was one of sustained revelation. He felt on the sudden like a cramped and zoo-born animal who wakes one morning to find the door of his cage hanging quietly open and the savanna stretching gray and pink to the distant rising sun, while all around new sounds are waking.

He wondered what the new sounds were as he gazed at her openly wondering face and her eyes that smiled with a shared surprise.

He hadn’t realized that life speaks with a voice to you, a voice that brings you answers to the questions you continually ask of it, had never consciously detected it or recognized its tones until it now said something it had never said to him before, which was,

“yes.”

– S

And Meow For Something Completely Different

First Watch This

Done?  Okay good… Now read this.

Bask in the glory that is a video of a cat meowing the theme of a popular tv about dragons and stuff.

Now bask in the fact that you have this opportunity at all… the internet (for those lucky enough to enjoy it) is the pinnacle of luxery and awesomeness.  And basically free vs the amount we pay and what we gain from it (though some would argue hours of funny animal videos on demand has no intrinsic value).

Still we do important stuff on there as well… like further technology, humankind and stuff.

It is an invisible omnipresent “box” of awesome.

What would Maud think?

I sometimes wonder what a person from the middle ages would think about the internet… Let alone just as far back as my late grandfather Dido.

“You mean you spend hours on a magical box which has the power to calculate the meaning of life ? But is used mostly for living pictures of cats meowing songs from another magical box called a TV (and naked pictures)?  

Now excuse me, I need to go survive the bubonic plague…”

What will I think?

What further farcical inventions will our children invent? Can’t wait…

I took the liberty of illustrating the future for you… You are welcome. Introducing “Meow-wavesTM”

“You mean a tentacle that you suck onto your left elbow which transfers smells to your shoulder (how we will smell in the future) so that you may fully enjoy the gelatinous laser cats puppetshow (and naked pictures)?

Now excuse me, I need to go survive the NEObubonic plague…”

Excellent – S

P.S.

Also required/related watching (unless you hate swearing or are at work). Love Louis CK.

[REVIEW] Cosmopolis – Digested and Respected

And now a review of Cosmopolis because a status on my Facebook was not enough…

I have been watching a lot of movies lately thanks to my handy dandy UGC card. And afterwards I have been reviewing them very briefly on my facebook wall (I am lame). I tried that with David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis… but it was just too difficult. So much to say… It’s that kind of movie.

I honestly am not very well versed in David Cronenberg’s style/movies as I am pretty sure this is the first one I have seen. So this perhaps will be a useful to other Cronenberg philistines like me.

Enough of that… Quick! Plot Synopsis! Go!

Eric Parker (Robert Pattinson) is a young billionaire tech/financial/genius guy. It’s not a very good day for him as his life spirals out of control.

The movie is artfully and of course purposefully, based primarily in Parker’s limo.  He is among but withdrawn from the people, sealed off with cork so that he does not hear the outside world… much. Parker meets with the people in his life as he slowly is driven to go get a hair cut.

Also, it is a commentary on Capitalism.

Weird huh?  It is.

See it!  Or not…

Cosmopolis is a mind meld or a mind “f***” to be crude about it. As I am told it is typical Cronenberg style, as the king of venereal horror (fancy talk for body/mind horror).

Cosmopolis is not a normal “enjoyable” movie, though you may find it enjoyable.  The trailer will trick the masses into seeing it (as it makes it out to be some cool action/NINesque music video flick) but the masses will not enjoy it.

Even in France, a nation known for dry drawn out movies and polite patient audiences, there was a mass exodus in 15 minute intervals. At least 10% of the people left.

But even if you do not enjoy it… I argue you should respect it.  It is an exercise of the mind. Something not so enjoyable for those who went to the movies for escape (after all we have plays and books for thinking!)

In fact, it feels very much like an esoteric play, especially given the style of acting which is wooden like a poorly rehearsed play.  But I can only assume Cronenberg wanted this from his actors.

Very dry. Very disconnected. At first very alientating… but in the end perfect for the reality of the film.  Because that is what it is… disconnected “slice” (I cringe to say that cliché) of realities on either ends of the economic scale.

How to enjoy this film

You will hate this movie until you accept its weirdness.  Like the main character Parker, you must observe the passing world.

And afterwards you may find yourself needing to “digest” the film. Austin and I walked home instead of biked just so we could discuss it.

Digest it, think about it afterwards, bring a friend so you may discuss it later: but during it, just hang on to each word and observe.

The acting… did Pattinson sparkle?

Robert Pattinson… was really good in it, or maybe the “plasticness” of the acting style necessary for this movie fit his style of acting. Actually though it made me want to check out his following flicks.

I must say I found myself impressed with his bed eye acting style (well really… perhaps “romanced by it” is a better turn of phrase).  I understand why the girls swoon.  He has sexual magnetism even when getting an anal check up (pretty good scene actually!) or hugging a big burly black man.

On other actors not named Pattison

Some really grade A acting overall: intense and funny at parts.

You get to know the characters in passing… there is little to no explaination and you may fall behind if you do not pay attention to the nuances of each line… it really is a quite unforgiving film.

You may not even realize who the characters are until well after they are off screen.

But still the characters, each basically in their own strange vignette as they come into contact with the main character, are interesting and on the whole very well acted.

I especially enjoyed Paul Giamatti‘s (though usually he is not my style) and Samantha Morton‘s performances.

[ELITISM ALERT] And another thing…

After reading some reviews… this is going to sound really bad. But if you think this movie is poorly constructed, its probably because you didn’t understand it… And this probably threatened you.

You don’t have to love or even enjoy this movie but you should respect it.

So in the end?

I have convinced myself the more I think about it… I really enjoyed the mental exercise that is Cosmopolis.

I dare you to try it – S

The Unconventional Naturally “Spicy” Salad

My need for lightness + veggies + balsamic vinegar + SPICE (PUT SPICE IN ALL THINGS!) lead to….

 

Spicey Salad of the Gods
Unconventional Naturally Spicy Salad of Wonder!


This salad was invented by my husband and actually only has one conventionally “spicy” thing in it (can you spot it?).  The rest are veggies that just naturally have that zing.  Not only is this salad intellectually and thematically interesting.. but its tasty too!

 

Ingredients/Steps for One Serving

 

Basically cut up and add to a bowl in this order… AS PER USUAL: I no good at this measurement thing… so best judgement is need.

  • Two handfuls of Roquette (Argula) – (WOW, the english wiki has nothing on roquette… So here is the french one, look at the pretty pictures) Mixed greens can be substituted if necessary.  But roquette has a zing that completes the salad.  Edit: Thanks, Cliff!  It’s called Argula in the states.
  • Cubed half of a tomato
  • 1/8 of an onion sliced – Three slices about
  • Handful of julienned radish – Small red ones or large white one
  • 1/4 julienned zuchinni (optional) – Not sure if this adds anything but it was in my fridgerater and hence in the picture above. Just more greenery! Sliced cap mushrooms are also a nice neutral complement.
  • 1/3 cup cubed feta (optional) – Optional only if you want to save some calories.  OTHERWISE ROCK THAT FETA! I like the basil, olive oil soaked type… but any will do!
  • 1/4 cup Hot wasabi fried peas (optional) – Okay, not really optional. Because they are awesome. But I suppose you can save some calories again by cutting them out.   I prefer the spicy wasabi ones but you can get them non-wasabi’d.
  • Dress with 1 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsps of balsamic vinegar – I actually like to use the olive oil from the jar feta. 🙂
  • A couple dashes of ground pepper on top – Do not even bother if its not fresh ground pepper.
So voila!  The radish, onion and roquette are “spicy” or zingy naturally.  And with the crunchy spicy wasabi peas, balsalmic and ground pepper on top, they are perfectly complimented.  It is a simple but very satisfying salad!
To be fair though, I find celery spicy. – S

February Goals

So I failed a lot in January….

I will not dwell on that and instead I will set  this months goals:

  • Don’t eat after 9. Eat reasonable.
  • Dance once a week.
  • Every day I am able, do yoga.
  • Finish portfolio this month.
  • Clean out my garage.
  • Eat through my pantry so by the end of the month I have to go to the store to eat.  Eat more from meal to meal rather than overbuying.
  • Continue trying to sell my car.

I think this is managable… but then again I thought last month was.  Really my only success was we kept the office and my room clean.  I did TRY to change my name (chickened out) and I TRIED to fix up my car but the part is too expensive so I’m just selling it for less now.

Wasn’t a horrible month just could have done better food wise.  So this month I’m going to try to temper it with some exercise, focus more on that.

Well here we go! – Sheila

New Year New Post – Goals… for at least January

SOOOOO lots has happened and I have not been the best about documenting it.

But rather than making excuses lets jump right into it.

2010

  • We took our moms on a cruise and got to visit Mexico in the process!
  • Learned ukulele and continue striving towards getting beyond just karaoke with it.  It has been a GREAT activity to do with my dad.
  • Got married and the wedding was a grand success! We are soooo lucky.  See wedding.austinandsheila.com for photos, press coverage (WUH?), full ceremony and other fun-ness.
  • Traveled to Europe for our Honeymoon.  France, Spain & Italy!  It was an amazing 16 days where we covered 10 cities! Check it out on Flickr.
  • I’ve started taking photography more serious in general!  It’s been a great creative outlet now that the wedding festivities have died down.  Plus its great to document our first and coming years of marriage.  I purchased my SLR (a canon Rebel) and I’m slowly learning how to use it.
  • Continue forth at work.  It was my first full calendar year as a team lead of the Techrangers at Center for Distributed Learning at University of Central Florida.  A full year of working hands on with my team (11 strong), developing Dredbeard and Zapt and working at improved course development procedures.  I attended my first professional conference, BBWorld 2010 and presented my first poster session.  Very fulfilling!
  • I feel we probably could have done more with SHOUT! Swing but reality is we didn’t have much time!  And really we did what we could with what energy we had. I am still proud that we held a workshop, threw a free dance, taught at least once a month and performed at Celebration.  Overall we continue to grow and learn as teachers.
  • Ooo ran a 5k with only one walking bought!

My biggest personal accomplishments were to get better at setting to-dos and taking care of my personal assets (posting/editing pictures) before  the momentum dies.  Also, being able to be relax and enjoy our wedding weekend was a feat only doable due to good planning and learning to BREATH. I am proud that I was overall unstressed and level headed.

2011

So I don’t do well with goals… or I do but I don’t.  As in I’m a driven person but often I plan TOO much and then feel like a failure even though I got a lot accomplished.  And then use that as an excuse to not move forward…

Here’s my plan.  I’m going to set a yearly manageable goals BUT also hold myself to smaller goals each month that will help me achieve the big goal.  But small…. and not beat myself up if it doesn’t happen.  JUST MOVE FORWARD.

  • BIG RESOLUTION: Do not let stress over rule my life. I honestly believe if I accomplish that it will help with a lot of my issues which includes: using stress as excuse to eat badly or not be active, not enjoying the moment and not feeling fulfilled or obsessing over the little things.
  • HEALTH: I don’t even want to lose weight anymore… which is around 150lbs (10 lbs gained since our October wedding).  I just want to eat reasonable so I have energy and health that I need to do what I need to do.  If weight loss comes with that, even better.  NO MORE EXCUSES.  And no more enslavement to the scale. I plan to not step foot on it except at the doctor’s.
  • RECREATION: Get back to my passions.  Whatever they be I need to take time for myself a little each day.  I need to get back to my creativity!  I need to get back to myself!  And who I am without Austin when need be. As well, I need to as well dance at least once a week, even if its just with Austin in our house.
  • RELATIONSHIPS: Continue to work on appreciating my family and my husband.  I as well want to make more of an effort to keep in touch with long distance friends, even if its just a quick hi on Facebook.
  • PROFESSION: Start learning again!  Take time for professional development  at work and in my free time.  My portfolio also needs a fresh start so I can use it to showcase my MANY passions.  I as well want more of an internet presence (blogging etc) this really is more of a bonus goal… if I get the rest done first.
  • PROJECT: Other than refreshing my portfolio I will get all my dad’s websites redesigned and humming.  So that he may sell his music online.
  • FOR FUN: SEE Orlando.  WHEN we have free time go do some typical “Orlando” things that we haven’t done…..
  • LIFE: GET RID OF CLUTTER. Simplify my life and learn to digitize/organize my stuff and let go of material possessions.  Still have a box in the garage from Boston….  This means as well keeping my backlogged digital assets organized and well backed up…. I want to feel comfortable about my possessions and in control by the end of 2011.

In general I want to get my life in control!  Get it organized and manageable and then build from there!  Not feel so overwhelmed.

January Goals

You’ll see I plan on focusing what bothers me the most… my health.  Here are my steps towards working on the food issue first.

  • Don’t eat after 9pm when I’m going to bed early.
  • Eat normal sized portions and learn when I’m no longer hungry.
  • Only drink more than one alcoholic drink a night once per week.  Because when I drink… I want more food… its a cruel cycle.
  • Dance at least once per week.
  • Get my new portfolio design marked up in HTML 5.
  • Get my car fixed up so I can sell it hopefully in February.
  • Submit my paperwork to change my last name.
  • Keep my office and room clean.  So far they are clean… now just have to maintain.

My Luck

I have an immense amount of it… let’s hope I keep systematically working on myself while also learning to relax.  2011 is going to be an AMAZING year.  I already learned to drive stick and cleaned up the office!

Introducing a new fun side project.

Time Cards Continue – Sheila

Juneish-July: What Sheila’s Been Rolling Round In

So a run down of what I’ve been doing:

  • Turned 24! I feel old.  I know I’m not old.  But I feel it.  Definitely reconciled that I’m a 100% responsible for my own actions.  Filled my taxes this year.  Have an IRA. Am responsible for food getting into my mouth.  Been feeling old for a while though, what with working through school (which getting a job right after college validated this).  Just not as footloose and fancy free since my stint at Boston University or as we called it “Camp BU”.  Not because it was easy… but there was a lot of running around drunk, giggling, sometimes outdoors.  Any who, don’t take me as complaining though I relate to this..  Just this year it finally finally sunk in.  It’s like the question “When you look in the mirror how old do you look?”  Well I finally see an adult.  But that’s okay being an adult has a lot of freedom.  Though we have societal trappings seeming to cage us in, in the end we are free adults with the ability to eat badly, quit our jobs, run away, suffer the consequences, possibly die on the street, but really in the end our choice.  I’D LIKE TO HEAR YOU SAY THAT 6 YEAR OLD CHILD!
  • We did a 4th of July show at Celebration Town Center!  Pictures/video EVENTUALLY to come… not great at posting media assets.  It was 50s themed, and hot and 3.5 hours of constant dancing.  No really… Too hot.
  • One of my bridesmaids was in town from Spain, Aline. We went to Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom.  Still not a Disney fan though Animal Kingdom is the best.  Really don’t take advantage of the parks here.  I haven’t been back to Islands of Adventure since I moved here 4ish years ago, and I like that park.
  • Austin turned 27!
  • Annual Birthday camping trip at Blue Springs.  Staff was nicer at Wekiva but the Springs were much nicer for swimming at Blue.  Overall enjoyable though it WAS SO HOT and within an hour of getting there I became a broken woman.  Strained my arms and jumped on a rock (an injury that kept me from dancing for 2 weeks).
  • Sent out my wedding invites! We just solidified/wrote our wedding ceremony.  Now on to fittings, tastings and designing our programs…  Almost complete with all our honeymoon reservations.
  • At work:
    • Helped organizing the parlors for Educauses’s AASCU.
    • Attended BBWorld2010 and presented this poster. Won a droid phone, so now I’m back to smart phones.  I should be happy.  But it complicates things and my fingers tap the wrong keys. Into the the future I hurtle!
    • Attended Front-End Design Conference – This may sound ignorant but I expected it to be less Graphic/UI design and more front-end development.  Either way still enjoyed it and the talks were good refreshers.  Gained most by the talk on iPhone dev/design, good food for thought.  Though I’m not sure when I’ll get to dally in that. People were very nice. Very nice and positive.  Wish that wasn’t so unusual to me.
  • Five Years with Austin as of 7/29. Wow.  Glad we are still lucky and in love. 🙂 Went to St. Augustine to celebrate (our route).  I’ve been meaning to go there for a while but this was our first trip together.  Very nice but very touristy.  ELITIST ALERT! I guess, I’m just spoiled from experiencing the oldness of Europe, in cities that don’t rely seemingly only on tourism.  Hey!  Got to drink good imported beer at the Rendezvous.  Walked around holding hands. Bought tasty soap. Got free drinks due to poor service. Saw an old fort. Worth at least one visit.
  • Been swimming.
  • Been playing ukulele… haven’t posted about this but its awesome.
  • Been reading. Shades of Grey is amazing.
  • Hiring at work.
  • Been busy.

So many more adventures to come as we are 2 months away from the wedding.  Just trying to lose weight, learn ukulele and keep my sanity.  August means heat, fall semester startup at UCF (busiest time of the year at work) and Southern Belle Swing Bash!

Just hoping to keep unstressed and appreciate what I have.

True – S

One Ring to Rule Them All

As I mentioned in my post about our wedding, Austin and I a few months ago debarked upon the path of creating customized bands.  My engagement ring (pictured below) is an unusual shape so we needed to create an interlocking band.  As for Austin’s… well he deserved some bling!  Here are some thoughts and results…

The Planning

So this is my engagement ring… sorry for the quality.  Shinies are hard to photograph with a cell phone camera.

Enagement Ring

Austin bought it at Diamond Exchange.  He wanted to get a tension setting… but those are SUPER expensive so he found this unique setting which mimics the look.  The experience was positive so we went back to the store for our bands.

I had read in some wedding book of a Victorian tradition where you spell out words with gemstones.  Me not being a big diamond fan and the fact that using gems are a money saver we decided to run with it.  While those crazy Victorians spelled out words like “L-O-V-E” and “H-O-P-E”, Austin and I decided upon initials.  Austin would have two sapphires for Sheila Suarez.  Where I would have A-D-F for Austin David Flores (as you will see later this was harder then I hoped).

The Jeweler is a fantastic designer so with my input he came up with this for my band:

Sketch of my band.

Austin meanwhile picked out a white gold/”frosted” band.  He then designed his own gem setting, very reminiscent of this TrueBlood ring:

Only instead of two bands… its one… and Sapphires that make the infinity symbol… much like the tear drop stones on mine.  So really not like the above at all.

Results!

So creating customized interlocking rings is not for the weary…  It took a lot of visits to the store to ensure the bands fit the original engagement ring perfectly.  And even then its not perfect as to be expected from a man made metallic object.  But it looks darn good!  Austin’s was of course much easier.  Behold my precious…

The Set

Infinity is Sexy

2 peices

My band separated.  We have dubbed it Bling-A-Tron.

LOCK!

The bottom of it

One Ring to Rule Them All

So the final stones actually don’t spell out A-D-F but S-D-F for Suarez De Flores (my future last name).  I really wanted to match Austin’s name but after an extensive search the only F stone was the Mexican Fire Opal (left stone).  And orange does not match any A stone…  So for Suarez we used Spacerite Garnet (right stone) which is a light orange.  Luckily Diamond Exchange did their research and was able to figure this out for me!

Final Thoughts

Creating customized bands are expensive but I would do it again in a heart beat!  This is creating a legacy for your family and a hand me down.

If I had to do it again though I might have done a little bit more checking around as far as jewelers.  Though I will say Diamond Exchange really pulled through.  I heard though that putting in an alchemy request on Etsy.com can be great and more affordable.

Also using gem stones while cheaper can be tricky as they are not even close to as hard as Diamonds so may break easily.  My fire opal broke during construction and they had to replace it.  Luckily my jeweler constructed it so that when put together the Diamond sticks out slightly and protects the site stones, but still it is a risk that I will have to maintain.  Here is a scale to give you an idea!  The problem is this scale is not a set ratio so the difference between level 9 and 10 is .. well .. ten fold.

In the end, you will probably end up sautering together your ring.  While nice to be like a puzzle, after the wedding day you will most likely never wear them separated (mostly because wearing the band alone could risk breakage as its created to be together).  And if sautered together the ring is more protected from warping and breakage. Kinda shame… probably will do it myself… :/  And of course this costs more money.

So have fun and don’t pull out your hair!

Shinies – S

Biking On the Road is all the Rage

I didn’t have the best friday and I needed a diversion that wasn’t food or drink to bring me back to earth.  I really have been striving to find balance in my life as far as my health, stress level & recreational time.

After talking to some friends I heard about the Cross Seminole Trail head being just down the road from us.  I did some research online but found scant resources in my precursery search.  The most informational being: this and this. I actually used a different map then the latter which I can no longer find.

Either way we hydrated, put on sun block and hit the trail.

First 4.5 miles were great.  The trail was awesome and I was mad at myself for not doing this more.  In Pittsburgh, as a child, I used to ride ALL the time.

Uhohs

Then we hit the end of the trail. Uhoh.  This was supposed to go for 20 miles, of which we planned only to do 10.  All the informative end of trail sign said was “Use side walk”.   Which does not sound like good advice anyway since there was a bike lane on the road…  I guess for families that is good.

So as a conscious effort to follow the rules of the law we rode in the bike lane. And rode. And rode.  No trail reentry.

Finally we decided to cut our loses and ride back home by making a loop past UCF.  Which meant riding on University Blvd.  A road with no bike lane.  And as we found out a lot of ignorant drivers despite being near to a major University which should have lots of student bicycle traffic.  No wonder students are afraid to ride there.

We work off of University Blvd. and have been anxious to get some practice riding in the road on it, as we are by law supposed to. Plus, riding in the the road forces the cars to notice you rather then the side walk where distracted drivers have been known to turn and hit bikers. This being a Saturday with no traffic we felt it would be optimum practice.

First of all I know riding in the road is the best. But it did not feel safe. Despite no traffic angry drivers constantly cut it close, honked, yelled & pointed at the sidewalk.  Yes. We get it.  We are not blind.  We see the sidewalk. One car got really close to Austin.  We rode taking up the right lane as to ensure that drivers would not try to cut it close.  But they did.  In the 4 mile stretch we had at least 2 close encounters and 7 angry honks. One from a mail man!  Slowest vehicle on the road…

Why does the right thing feel wrong?  Other people.

I have mixed feelings about this experience.

I already know biking to work is hard for me as much as I want to do it as I only live 5 miles away.  1.  I’m not good at getting up early, as biking doesn’t take long but getting there with time to shower is hard. 2. University Blvd is just not bike friendly and its just a damn shame.  On all the roads there were bike lanes it was awesome and I felt fine but University Blvd was hell.

I feel like a chicken but though I plan on biking more I may just always ensure I take a trail or a road with bike lanes.  With some research I figured out that google maps has a bike trail view (bike button at the top of the directions) and I saw that we were supposed to veer onto a certain road to catch the trail again… Thanks for the signs, County.

I feel riding in the road was correct. By law and as I vehicle I had every right.  But with the angriness and the close calls it was just not a relaxing experience.

Austin and I will be taking a road biking course hopefully soon so perhaps that will change my mind.  I just wish I had the time to lobby for… or for the government to… put more money into bike commuting, bike lanes and educating the public about sharing lanes with bikers.  I feel UCF also is missing out but not pushing for a more bike friendly campus/locale.

I’m proud of myself though!  I almost gave up as one point but I kept on going and ended up biking 18.6 miles!  Pretty darn good I do think so… 🙂

Our Path: http://tinyurl.com/2dyjgzf

I guess my message is take bike lanes/trails as much as possible.  But do your research as far as your options.  And go out of your way to find safe roads if you do not live in a bike friendly area.

But if you are stuck on a road with no lane.  Own that lane with no apologies.  No matter how much they honk.  It’s safe and you have every right.

Honk – S