Drought of Posts

I know it is has been a while since I posted anything! I even have drafts written I never submitted. I have no excuse, I have simply not felt like posting things. This happens to me a lot when I am at my parents. Keeping up any kind of schedule is almost impossible, mom works on spur of the moment and she smokes so much I immediately am assaulted with respiratory problems and sore throats. I need to get over it, so here I am in town spending some time smoke free, dog free, dog poop free, and mostly going places to use the free, unlimited and fast internet. Such an easy solution.

Drought of Photos

This drought is over. I had a hard time misplacing things when I got to Michigan because you have to get everything away from the dogs who will chew everything and anything. I lost my phone and batter charger for my camera. I am happy to announce though I have been taking pictures for the last couple weeks and the drought is over!

Nashville Nights ( I was just passing through one night, it’s even crazier than New Orleans)

Mammoth Cave (Really not good photos – I am not good at that lighting, the tour was rushed, and honestly it was boring, more to come about that.  Oh and I forgot to reorient pictures into portrait.  I am sorry.)

Michigan Summer

Drought of Cash

I have been hesitant to spend much since I know I will have to have enough money in savings to go to pay my loans for 2 years while in the Peace Corps. So I have been a very boring person.  I have been reading a lot of 99 cent and free Kindle books.  Going for walks. Spending time with family and my dog.  Also trying to keep up with the unemployment thing. I actually had to fly down to Florida for a meeting to learn how to apply for jobs on the internet.  The Florida unemployment system seems ridiculous, they have all my information and yet someone hacked their account and changed the settings so that everyone spoke Polish, was Hispanic and a migrant worker. And the letter they sent me used text type (pls).  Hopefully I can get into the Peace Corps and get a part-time job for in between once I get back.  There are no jobs in my field available at the moment for my level.  Seem to be above or below me.  I have to search for five jobs per week for unemployment. So far no hits. Lots of spam and scams.

But, I am thinking of going up to Sleeping Bear Dunes north of here if I can let my mom borrow one of her cars or get my car to act normal.  Oh, did I mention in Asheville I found out my car has seven, yes SEVEN, oil leaks. My dad just put two quarts of oil in for me.  Such a nice guy.   Either way, Sleeping Bear Dunes is a national park voted Good Morning America’s “Most Beautiful Place in America” contest in 2011.  It is on the coast of Lake Michigan and has dunes, bluffs, forest and apparently a lot of ticks this year because of the mild winter.  I have never been.

Real Drought

While driving through Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana is was very apparent that there was a horrible drought occurring.  It honestly was as brown as fall.  Where I am at now it is not too bad, but south of here in Michigan it is pretty bad. Thoughts and hopes of rain for all the farmers and those who depend on the agriculture market for survival.  Everything here is so green and luscious looking.  I can pick fruit and vegetables out of the garden and wild blackberries on my hikes through the woods.  It is sad to see so many places so brown.

Updates? Where are the updates?

We’ve Got Problems Kids

(My mom always says that to her troupe of four dogs before coming or going or when dad gets home.  It incites a doggy riot.)

I have written several posts and still not submitted them to Elephant Journal or here or anywhere.  I still have not been able to upload pictures.  I still have not even re-sized them and put a watermark on them from my other computer.  I have not done a lot other than try to figure out Peace Corps application things.  I could not get my finger prints done here.  I had to go to Grand Rapids and then go to two different places there to find someone who still did the cards.  Sigh…living in the boondocks of a state that cannot get its budget together.

Also, I need to buy a ticket to Florida for the unemployment people.  Fun.  And my Peace Corps application materials got in late since Kathy had to overnight the package from Florida and we were both on road trips when it came.  So even though I got it all done the day after I got the package, I cannot get an interview until after they reset the new system August 15, which is coincidentally the day I leave to South America.  So what type of health insurance should I get because I need to do a medical kit if I get a nomination.  Then it turns out that I do not have to worry about that so much because now they do not give out the full medical kit until after you get an invitation, since it is country specific now (well after August 15) and it is also all electronic I think.

But instead of getting my insurance I still have not done it.  Or booked something to show proof of onward travel from Colombia.  Where should I leave Colombia from?

So it should be interesting depending on where I am in the world if I get an invitation.

Also, a package I sent to Helen including 20 dollars and all the gifts from my road trip got “lost” from an “open” package.  I read that as someone tore the envelope open and stole the money.  I wish I had written the serial code down to get whatever postal worker took it.  No wonder I use UPS or FedEx.  Oh minus the post card from Mammoth Cave, she got that.  Not the bracelet or stickers or anything :(.

Peace Corps

So, you are probably thinking: “What?  Say that again?  Did you say Peace Corps?  What about finding yourself?”  Well I have to admit it took me until the last minute to submit my application.  I had everything filled out.  I sat and watched it.  I logged in every day and looked at the submit button.  Kathy chastised me, since I chastised her for a late recommendation.  If I didn’t want to do it I could decide later.


Then I got an email saying if I did not submit it I would not be available for leaving until 2014.  And even then I still waited until the last day when I realized the terror I felt if I did NOT get in.  I realized this was part of me that had never changed. I had always wanted to do this.  I could not do it in college because I tore my ACL and MCL my senior year and had student loans.  I got all the way through a nomination to the medical process.  Somewhere in the Caribbean for water/wastewater work.  But could not go.  I cried for days.

Since then I have tried Engineers Without Borders but you have to pay all of your way and help fund the project and that just was not an option for me.  Then I started saving money.  Before I lost my job I was trying to figure out how much money I would need for two years even though I only had one year of travel plans.  Why is that?  That is what I would need for the Peace Corps.

So.  I have applied. Sent in my fingerprints and security paper work.  Paperwork about my loans and money I get from my ESOP is in (in 2014 even though my company policy is for one year after date of service?  I am hoping it is the extra year so i can consider to be working for five years and then I am vested for the entire amount).

So Where Am I Going?

I said I want to go to South America.  Of course that does not mean anything.  My three options so far are math, science, or English teaching with math or science being the most likely.  Really this should be taken with a grain of salt because PC changes details like this up to, and sometimes even after, your invitation.  He also said if I go it would likely but not guaranteed to be in July 2012.  Again, can change, no guarantee.  In fact likely to change.  But if that does happen here are the countries that have math teacher programs that I got from the Peace Corps Wiki Calculator:

And these are the ones with science teacher programs:

Those that left in July in 2011 and 2012?

  • Tanzania
  • Malawi
  • The Gambia
  • China
  • Burkina Faso
  • Ghana
  • Cameroon
  • Liberia
  • Sierra Leone

So…it does not look like if I get in that I am going to South America with the PC with the current options, which of course could change at any time.  I was really nervous at the thought of Africa.  It is so unknown, so far from home, and so expensive to get to from.  Plus I just see pictures in my head of people living in mud huts with no water and no electric and no English speaking people for miles.  It is hard to get around, but after actually researching blogs of people who are actually there, it does not seem so scary.

Why Didn’t I Tell You Sooner??

Oh. Sorry.  I really want this.  This is part of me that has not changed.  The me that wants the challenge of expanding my perspective of needs and wants and who wants to try and do some good.  It is so jading to work in water and wastewater consulting because you cannot do good most of the time.  People just want to pay to keep the status quo with their water and sanitation.  They are willing to pollute their water instead of living well and paying taxes to fix the problem.  And these people are some of the richest in the world.  They would like to not put money into infrastructure until it is broken.

Because I want this so much, if I do not get in I am going to feel bad and be embarrassed.  However, if I do not write about what I am doing then I just do not write and I do not want to let this blog thing go.  I am worried that because I saw a therapist and because of little things I might not pass med test or get deferred.  I am worried because I do not have a lot of teaching or volunteer experience since college.  And I am worried because I have to wait so long for an interview.  Spots are being filled now!  I saw blogs of people going to Africa for science teaching in July!

I really need to stop obsessing and worrying and just buy my insurance and get out into the world and travel and see things and people before I leave to South America.  I need to exercise and do yoga which I have not done since I got to Michigan.

My Thoughts are not Others Thoughts

So I should not have to say this but I see all the other Peace Corps Blogs, which I have been reading somewhat obsessively, saying this.  If I get in I will add a disclaimer on the page, but these thoughts only represent my thoughts and no way involve the thoughts of the Peace Corps or US Government.

Blog Updates and New Purchases!

Hey everyone! I am house/dog sitting for my friend S again! I have been staying on and off with my friend’s C and J and their cute baby who smiles whenever he sees me, I think I am in love! It is great catching up with friends and blogs and traveling information and in general doing inside stuff because it has rain ever single day, all day since I have been back!

Blog Updates

New Purchases

I have been a busy busy bee.

New Computer
Acer Aspire One AO722-0473 11.6-Inch HD Netbook (Espresso Black)

I bought my new computer.  After months of agonizing over what to buy (ultrabook, tablet, Macbook, netbook, laptop…) and then physically agonizing over carrying my huge laptop and accessories bag around the Minneapolis Airport, I finally bought my new computer.  It is an Acer Aspire One.  I decided my budget was cheap and I needed something I would not cry about if I lost it, broke it, or someone stole it. However, it still had to be functional.  I need to be able to bulk edit photos, browse multiple websites to blog and keep in touch, video chat, use Google Voice/Chat/Talk, and watch Hulu Plus.  This is a good one so far. It is light, keyboard is large, it’s not so tiny it is difficult to use, it works with Google Talk/Voice/Chat really well, and Hulu is even better than my old computer (hello Daria and Bones).  I still need to check out photo editing.  To boost the computer a bit I also bought…

4 GB Memory
PNY 4 GB DDR3 1333MHz (PC3-10666) 204-Pin Notebook SO-DIMM, Single (MN4096SD3-1333)

I opted for the upgrade to 4 GB of memory on my own.  I bought it and installed it easily by myself.  You just need to:

  • Slide battery release at top with screwdriver
  • Remove battery
  • Remove tiny screw on opposite side of battery
  • Slide bottom casing towards the side of the screw
  • Lift casing
  • Push to pins on edges of memory to pop out old memory
  • Slide old memory out (take note of which way the metal end goes – down towards screw end of casing)
  • Slide new memory in paper side down metal into slot
  • Push down to lock pins
  • Replace cover by putting four corners into the correct slots and sliding up towards battery
  • Replace screw

Literally took 3 minutes and it only took that long because I did not notice the slots used to put the cover back on.  Another option is to watch this guy do it in 60 seconds or this guy has a clearer picture but sometimes moves the laptop off-screen.

The package came with a free movie download, have not tried to get that yet.

Amazon Kindle Touch
Kindle Touch, Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display – includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers

I actually bought this one a while ago when I got rid of all of my stuff, including my books.  I realized I needed books!  I chose the touch WiFi with advertising because of price, 3G only goes to Amazon’s store and Wikipedia, and because it has amazing battery life.  It can last for weeks of usage without a charge, I have tested this and found it accurate, but remember this is not using it all day.  It can connect to WiFi to get to Amazon store and to its experimental browser which is not really fancy but works better than my crappy old phone to check Facebook.  It has a lot of little games for free or cheap and some other apps.  It is not like the fire or Nook Tablet.  But I really enjoy it.

I was even able to replace almost my entire Paulo Coelho collection for 12 dollars because Paulo Coelho put his entire collection except Aleph and The Alchemist on sale for $0.99 each.  The sale is over now and everything is back up to apx. $10.00 each.  I told you guys to get on it!

Photobucket Pro

As a way to back up photos and track where people are linking to my photos from I bought a subscription.  So far I am slightly upset because my new computer does not read the stats and half the referring pages are unknown.  I have yet to upload my full size photos so we will see how that goes this weekend.  I plan on uploading all my photos into private albums full size so that the photos I already have backed up are accessible on the road.

New Shoes

Sadly my plantar fasciitis has flared up and the Merrell shoes I bought are not going to be able to hold up good enough for my arches.  I bought a new pair of Orthaheel flip flops and slides from Fleet Feet Sports in Altamonte. This is a great all around running store with clothes, shoe fittings, shoes, supplies, gear, and hydration products for running and cycling.  The flip flops, which do not look that dark in real life, are great.  It took a while to get used to the thong in between my toes again (I do not wear flip flops often). The slides have given me blisters the one time I wore them but I think my old pair (which I wore down until there is no more arch) did at first too, I just need to put something over the back seam.  I will only bring one pair with me.  Probably the flip flops.

Photo Update – Michigan Almost Summer Day 7 and My Trip “Home”

So here are the photos from the day I left Michigan.  One final walk with Jack and then butterflies in the raspberry/blackberry patch.  Then off to Florida on a long journey that involved a trip to Minneapolis St. Paul (MSP) airport from Grand Rapids (GRR) for a 2.5 hour lay over.  Though there was a lot to do at MSP including arcades and food courts and lots of shops, I am too cheap for that so I edited photos and worked on the blog. The one thing I dislike about the airport is that the end of the terminal I was leaving from (“G” I believe) did not have enough seating for all the people from 4 or 5 gates. I love leaving from GRR though.  Small, spacious, short lines, easy security.  The seating was really only adequate for one or two flights.  Plus the food options for healthy food was not very good and mostly involved tofu (I do not eat soy).  But, time flew by and then I was on the plane on my way “home.”

Home this week has been one night at Ms and then the remainder with my friends C and J and their cute baby I.  He is adorable and smiles and laughs at me whenever he sees me.  I think I am in love.  I love babies who like me.  C has a friend in Cartagena (they are both from Venezuela) who will help me around and with Spanish if I help her with English and bring her some fish oil tablets.  Apparently they are cheaper here.  So that will make a good start to the trip!

Other Photo Journal Days from my trip to Michigan to visit family:

Here are the final pictures from Day 7!  You can see all the files in Photobucket or peruse the selection below!

Jack on the trails!  I miss him so much but he loves going for walks in the woods.

My sister and I used to make moss houses for our Polly Pockets when we were children.

This is a really bad picture of the robin but they were flying around a lot trying to distract me from their baby which was flapping around on the ground trying to learn to fly.  I stayed until I thought they might attack :).

Mom’s cat Rudy.

Photo Update – Michigan Almost Summer Day 6

I am behind.  I know.  But, there have not been many picture opportunities because of rain.  My grandma is doing great after her surgery.  She had two organs and a cyst remove and she is in her 80s.  She is one strong woman.

I did go for a walk yesterday and today and took a few more pictures though. Here is Day 6 (of 7) pictures!  If you missed it, there is also Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. There are not as many pictures because I walked with my dad and he is always imparting bits of information and wisdom as we walk.  Like what type of trees are there and their health status and which trees he needs to cut for firewood next year and which trees he needs to cut to make sure they do not fall on the trail or their shed/house. Dad had to patch the roof of the shed this weekend because a branch from a dead tree fell on it.  It makes me nervous when he goes up a ladder.

The most notable moment of this walk was watching Jack fall into the swamp.  He did not even know what was happening.  He was chasing a frog or something and suddenly splash!  He stuck his head out of the algae and plant covered green water confused and then pulled himself up to the shore.  Jack hates the water so I was surprised that it only took him a few moments to get over the shock before he shook it all of and started running after a squirrel.

Jack is really happy in Michigan with all his friends (mom has four, yes four, dogs), walking through the woods, and my parents which feed him anything he wants.  He absolutelyloves going for walks in the woods.  He gets so excited when you ask him if he wants to go for a walk.  I am glad to see that.

Here ya go!


Photo Update – Michigan Almost Summer Day 3

Here are day 3 photos!  Maybe I will get tired of going the same few paths from Day 1 and Day 2 so I will take pictures of something different.  Until then here are more pictures of the beaver pond and trails.  Also added some pictures of my moms iris and hibiscus.

Photo Update – Michigan Almost Summer Day 2

These pictures and the pictures from my first day in Michigan are from my grandparents and parents property.  Jack and I like to take long walks in the woods in the evening.  I walk along and he runs around and when I call him he comes running back and head of me.  He looks back at me like I need to hurry and catch up.  That means he just scares away most animals.  I did see something maybe mink or something and a couple of white-tailed deer and some herons and geese from afar.

Here are pictures from day 2.

Photo Update – Michigan Almost Summer

The weather is a gorgeous 60-70 degrees.  The sun is warm, the shade is cool.  Flowers are in bloom and butterflies abound.  And I am reunited with my dog JackHere are a few updates from central Michigan.