Posts Tagged blog

I’m Back!

Ms. HalfEmpty is jumping back into blogging!

Ms. HalfEmpty is jumping back into blogging!

Hello? Is anyone there?

I’m the blogger who posted here almost a year ago (although I did edit the most recent post earlier this year). Yes, it’s been too long, but I’m back!

International Travel

I’m excited to announce that Mr. HalfFull and I are going on another epic adventure this summer!

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Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Baby, I’m Back!

Did you miss me? I missed you too. Yes, both of you!

Fantasy Football Draft

My brother and Mr. HalfFull drafted a San Diego Chargers player, so of course the jerseys came out for additional shenanigans. Too bad you can’t see Mr. HalfFull’s ridiculous championship ring in this photo. The commissioner wears three massive rings, so don’t start a fight with him during the draft!

Realistically, I knew I hadn’t blogged here in quite a while. But it really hit home last weekend before Mr. HalfFull’s Fantasy Football Draft.

He and his crazy friends do a live draft every year. One year, three of the guys (and some wives, including me) flew to Indiana for the draft!

But this year, the draft was at our house. Before the appointed draft time, I went out to dinner with the guys (and then disappeared until the following morning to spare my sensibilities). As we were chatting and catching up over dinner, my husband’s friend said that he reads my blog…or rather, he used to read it when I posted. Woah!

Two things struck me during this conversation. First, on the half full side, it’s awesome to have a third reader! Now I can address my readers as “all of you” instead of “both of you.” The second overwhelming feeling was embarrassment at my dearth of blog posts.

Posting Apathy

Why haven’t I posted more regularly? Well, there are lots of reasons.

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Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Feedback Nourishes the Blogger’s Soul

skier in midair

Ms. HalfEmpty has found that jumping on skis gives you pretty quick feedback!

Bloggers love feedback.  We’ve even been called comment whores.  If a post appears in the blogosphere and no one is around to read it, was it even there?

Writing about my personal life in a public space is scary.  I wonder what people will think of me and how they’ll react to my decisions.  Will people think my trip around the world was extravagant and unnecessary?  Will I be criticized for quitting my job?

By putting it all out there, I make myself vulnerable to feedback of all kinds.  Fortunately, I’ve never received a nasty comment. But sometimes the lack of comments gives me pause.  I wonder if anyone is reading.  I wonder if I wrote a bad post.  I wonder if I’m a bad writer.

I realize there are all sorts of benign reasons not to comment, but of course my mind loves to jump to the worst possible conclusions.  So it’s been especially heartening when people email me privately about my posts.  Here are a couple that made my heart sing:

AMAZING!  Wow, that was insightful, enjoyable, and provided an awesome perspective.

Your latest blog entry was your best so far in my opinion.  It was more of you…  It gave and encouraged perspective…

Since I started writing about my life away from the corporate world, I’ve also gotten emails from others who echo my feelings and frustration with the work world.  One was from a high school friend, who I lost touch with years ago after we went to different colleges.

I’ve been reading your blog, and just wanted to tell you that I’m in awe of your courage to stop working and pursue your passion. Your latest post particularly hit home for me…

It is so awesome to hear that my writing reaches people and resonates with them (and of course, I love knowing that I inspire awe).  This email got me thinking about our shared high school background.  We both took the hardest classes (Gifted & Talented or Advanced Placement) and did well.  We were taught to excel.  We were attached to outcomes.  We were ambitious.  This competitive culture often led to long hours of homework and a school/life imbalance.  My friend is finding that same imbalance in her current work/life situation.

I certainly don’t have the answers, but I have tried to restore balance in my life.  It’s a significant change from my academic days when I pushed through, worked harder, and willed things to happen.  Now, I’ve taken a step back and am open to new possibilities.  I’m trying to let things come to me, but it’s difficult after a life of planning and striving.

Perhaps I’m looking for something that doesn’t exist.  I’ve been a perfectionist all my life, so I’m used to seeking the unattainable.  Mr. HalfFull often reminds me that even though he loves his job as a teacher, most of it isn’t fun.  But he endures it to get to those moments of bliss.

Maybe the experience of working at work we love is like marriage. We are enamored at first and then settle in. We become committed to the commitment we have made: most days average, some good, and a few that take us back to the beginning, reminding us of the inspiration that brought us to the point to be lucky enough to call most days average.

Committed to the Commitment

Thank you dear readers for commenting, emailing, and just reading.  I love your suggestions, insights, perspectives, and conversations.  You feed my soul.

  • How much of your personal life do you share in public?
  • Do you seek out feedback? 
  • Have you gotten feedback out of the blue that made your heart sing?
  • Do you believe that work is generally not fun?
Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Radio Silence

Earthquake

No, this isn't warning Virginia residents that we are back in town; it was an earthquake!  I felt like I was balancing on a surfboard in huge waves as I heard things falling and clattering around me.

Dearest Readers (yes, both of you), apologies for our month of radio silence.  Mr. HalfFull and I are alive and a little more half full, having safely returned from our 30/40 World Tour over a week ago.  We arrived just in time for the first earthquake I’ve ever felt, and now a “once in a lifetime” hurricane to come!  Awesome.

You may have wondered why you’ve only read about our adventures in Fiji and New Zealand since we advertised that we would be visiting eight countries on a trip west around the world.  Fear not!  We will be telling you stories from our full trip in due time.  Perhaps our posts will be even better now that we’ll have the benefit of time for reflection.

Kohimarama, New Zealand

Ms. HalfEmpty gets internet time on her makeshift duffel bag desk in Kohimarama, New Zealand

Why we were such blogging slackers?  Bottom line, consistent posting turned out to be much more difficult than expected.  As I mentioned, internet access was limited.  On top of that, being on the move and changing accommodations (nightly, at times) made it imperative to book rooms and pay bills when we were able to get online.  Sadly for you (and my Mom), email and blogging came in low on our travel priorities list, thus falling by the wayside.

But on a half full note, we are back home with many stories to tell!  Stay tuned…

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Analysis Paralysis

Mr. HalfFull and I have been pondering the packing list for our 30/40 World Tour, and have decided to purchase a netbook.  Our home computer is an iMac, which of course is not portable.  We each have work issued laptops — a MacBook for Mr. HalfFull and a Dell for me.  My Dell is too big and heavy for travel, and Mr. HalfFull is unwilling to risk loss or damage to a laptop he doesn’t own.  So those are out.  Thus, we have settled on a netbook as the ideal travel computer for us.

Our primary uses for a netbook on the road will be blogging, email, photo storage/editing, banking, trip research, and booking accommodations and ground transportation.  Remember that we are each taking only one carry-on bag, so size and weight will heavily influence our decision.  Mr. HalfFull has been researching netbooks with dual core processors and came up with a few contenders.  He pokes fun at me for being thorough, but this pre-quest research seems to have tapped into a dark OCD corner of his brain.  Netbooks are intruding into his daily thoughts, and even affecting his sleep.  Can you please help us?

Netbook Price Weight Depth Size Battery RAM Storage OS Cool?
MacBook Air $1200 2.3 lbs 0.7″ 11.8″ x 7.6″ 5 hours 2 GB 128 GB Mac yes
ASUS Eee PC 1008P-KR $500 2.5 lbs 1.0″ 10.3″ x 7.0″ 5 hours 2 GB 320 GB PC yes
Lenovo IdeaPad S205 $550 3.3 lbs 1.1″ 10.6″ x 6.6″ 5 hours 4 GB 750 GB PC no

You may be looking at this list thinking, only 5 hours of battery life?  Aren’t there netbooks that can last for 10 hours?  This may be part of some sinister half full plot to keep me on vacation, as opposed to ISTJ work mode!  We will not have 24/7 electricity in some of our destinations, so my computer time will be [should be, suggests Mr. HalfFull]  limited by my netbook’s battery life.  In fact, when we listened to the Lost Girls speak back in March, they discussed Amanda’s incessant drive to work online during their trip.  Thankfully, her friend Jen finally persuaded her to live in the moment and experience their trip outside an internet café.

MacBook Air

11-inch MacBook Air

We loved our hands-on experience with the MacBook Air, but it’s over $1000, making it one of the most expensive netbooks (Steve Jobs would not approve).  One of our major concerns with such a costly investment is theft.  We don’t know what kind of physical storage will be available as we travel the world, but it’s unlikely that we will have a safe everywhere we go.  Also, the Mac brand is highly recognized and sought after, increasing the temptation for would-be thieves.  But we do have an iMac at home, so a MacBook Air would ensure complete compatibility for software and files from one to the other.  It is simply a beautiful machine — slim (0.68 inches at the thickest point) and lightweight (2.3 pounds) — despite being the biggest in terms of length and width.  But the Air is scheduled for a speed boost with the new Sandy Bridge processor.  So we would like to wait for that, but it’s not expected to be available until June.  Will it be in the first few days of June before our trip???  If we wait until June and it isn’t released, we will probably have lost our window of opportunity to order one of the other less expensive netbooks online due to shipping time.

Asus Eee 1008P Netbook

ASUS Eee PC 1008P-KR

The ASUS Eee PC 1008P Seashell Karim Rashid Collection Netbook was designed by an artist.  I consider myself to be very rational, but I also have a deep appreciation for aesthetics.  In the past, Mr. HalfFull has accused me of valuing form over function, which I don’t think is completely true.  The entire surface of this netbook is covered in Karim Rashid’s soft-touch “Techno-chic Digi-wave design,” which has the added benefit of not showing fingerprints.  This is form AND function!  The waves in this basket-weave design “adhere perfectly to the golden ratio” with a material similar to the soft matte rubbery coating usually found on mobile phones, which seems like it will be a great protector for travel.  To top it off, it comes in a color near and dear to my heart:  coffee brown!  Do you think Karim Rashid designed it just for me?  That’s genius…sorry, Genius Bar.  Another awesome travel feature of this netbook is that all the ports are covered, which could be handy in sandy locales.

Lenovo IdeaPad S205

Lenovo IdeaPad S205

Finally, the newly released Lenovo S205 includes far more memory and storage than the other models at a similar price to the ASUS.  In comparison to the others, it’s a bulky machine with a shiny cover that will surely show fingerprints, but it’s power lies inside.  This netbook is even capable of HD video editing.  I don’t plan to do a lot of videos, but I may want that capability in the future.  If I were purely tech focused, this would be the obvious pick, but it is a pound heavier than the others, which matters when your whole life is on your back for ten weeks.  But Lenovos are known for their excellent full-size keyboards, whereas the ASUS is only 92% of full-size.  Size may not be a big deal for me [Mr. HalfFull:  That’s what she said!], but a certain sausage-fingered gentleman could find himself constricted.

Mac vs. PC

Another thing that concerns me is cyber security.  Since we will be relying solely on open networks while traveling, will the Windows machines be more prone to viruses and hackers?  I guess there will be an added expense of procuring anti-virus software for the PCs.  The Mac tech geeks I know don’t install anti-virus software or software firewalls.

Of course we had to at least consider buying a used netbook on Craigslist.  There are a few MacBook Air machines for sale, but I’m not sure why.  Most of the posters claim that it’s a new machine, which seems suspect.  If I bought an older non-Mac netbook on Craiglist, I would be worried about the battery life, which is critical for travel, not to mention expensive to replace.  But at least in this case I would be paying a lot less upfront, and probably not care as much if it was stolen.

What’s the right answer?  We’ve only got 4 weeks left!

  • Which netbook do you recommend?
  • Is a computer critical travel gear these days?
  • What qualities are most important for a travel computer?
  • Do you consider the 11-inch MacBook Air to be a netbook?
  • Where do you fall on the form over function spectrum?
  • If you own a Mac, what security do you use?
  • Are you a Mac or a PC?
Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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The Countdown Begins

Ms. Butter is my good friend from college.  [She earned this name by consuming copious amounts of REAL butter in the dining hall and professing its health benefits.  Julia Child would approve.  My little brother had only met her once, but whenever I spoke of her by name, he would confirm, “Do you mean the butter girl?”]  Unfortunately, I don’t see her very often since she lives hours away, but we do communicate regularly via Twitter and email.  Recently, she asked me if I had a countdown going for my 30/40 World Tour: Quest for Passion.  Um…why do I need a countdown?  I have a calendar.

Ms. Butter suggested that I make a paper chain for my countdown, but I was definitely not sold on the idea.  I’d heard of and seen paper chains before, but never for a countdown.  I thought they were just for kids to decorate schools.  But Ms. Butter explained that her family always created paper chains at the beginning of December, and made a paper ring for each day left until Christmas. Then every day they would remove another ring, and as the chain got shorter, she had a great visual of how much closer it was until Christmas.

Hum…ok, I get the idea, but is this really something I need to do?  Who has time to cut strips of paper and assemble them into a chain?  Where would I put such a thing?  What if I forgot to remove a chain one day and lost count?  Do I really need another project or to-do item?  Why would I spend the time to create something if I was just going to rip it up in the end?  I was definitely half empty on this project.

strips of paper

Strips of paper cut from an old map

Despite my negativity, Ms. Butter was persistent…

Ahh, I think a paper chain is in order. 🙂  This is totally good fodder for your blog!  There is the whole question of whether you are going to view its getting shorter with each passing day as “ruining all your work” (half empty), or… getting you closer to the REAL and exciting goal of going on the trip (half full)!

Ms. Butter checks the calendar

Ms. Butter counts the days on the calendar (after we finished the bottle of wine)

Ms. Butter and her husband were in town last week and joined us for tapas and paper chain making.  Ms. Butter had previously cut strips of paper from an old topographic map.  (Coincidentally, it was a map she got from our college and had saved all this time to bring full circle!)  I found myself starting to get excited about the project after seeing the multicolor paper strips from a map.  How perfect for a travel countdown!  Perhaps this wasn’t as bad as anticipated.

Ms. Butter links the first two paper strips together

Ms. Butter links the first two strips of paper together to start the paper chain

To make sure the paper chain was completely accurate, we broke out the calendar and Ms. Butter began to count the days.  Of course, I asked her what would happen if I couldn’t remember if I had removed a link or not.  She knows me well and was already armed with an answer — that I would write the actual date on the inside of each link.

Paper Chain

The paper chain grows longer

So we started our assembly line with me writing dates on the back and Ms. Butter linking the strips together with tape.  We had an efficient system and the chain began to grow longer until it was finished.

Complete Paper Chain

Finished paper chain displayed on top of our world tour map

I found the perfect spot for the paper chain — on top of the world map tacked to our bulletin board.  We originally posted the map to help us plan our trip and it now has tacks for all our trip destinations, as well as ribbon to connect the various legs.

Each morning as I leave for work, I remove a link from the right side of the chain.  I randomly hung up the paper chain as I was holding it and didn’t realize the earlier dates (remember that I wrote the actual date on each ring) were on the right side.  At first this bothered me since our world moves from left to right.  But as I thought about it’s placement on the actual map it made a lot of sense for the flow of our westward trip.  Right now, in the early part of my countdown, I’m on the right side of the map with the early trip destinations.  By the time the countdown is done, I will have moved through the whole map and all the destinations to be back in the US to start the actual trip!

One of my concerns with the paper chain was destroying it after all the work that went into fashioning it.  Mr. HalfFull already pokes fun at me for the way I open wrapped presents, carefully removing each piece of tape at the seams.  He and Ms. Butter joked that I’d probably undo each link delicately at the seam and maybe even preserve them in a box.  But after using Ms. Butter’s cool tape gun, we realized that the paper was too stiff and thick to be held in place by a small piece of tape on the inside.  So Ms. Butter started using tape all the way around each ring to make sure it stayed intact.  This had the added benefit of forcing me to actually rip each ring off.  It wouldn’t be so easy to daintily unroll each ring.

At one point while writing the dates on each paper strip, I got distracted and wrote the wrong month.  So I had to scribble out what I had written.  Ms. Butter made me save this one for a test run.  So I put the current date on it and she added it to the chain.  My first test was to rip it off and discard it as a half full thinker moving toward a goal.  I did rip it and throw it out.  But that was pretty easy since I had already messed it up.  I’m not sure if I’m half full on the countdown since the chain is starting to make me nervous about having fewer days to plan and prepare.  But I became half full on the project, probably because of Ms. Butter.  Lesson learned:  butter fills you up. =)

  • Have you ever used a paper chain as a countdown?
  • Do countdowns make time pass faster or slower?
  • Are countdowns more useful for adults or children?
  • How do you open presents?
Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Crêpes, Castles, and Creationism?

On Friday night, Mr. HalfFull and I attended Shoot, Busk, and Blog: The Ins and Outs of Writing, Shooting, and Playing on the Road, a free travel event in DC.  [Aside from Mr. HalfFull:  what the heck is busk???  According to dictionary.com:  “to entertain by dancing, singing, or reciting on the street or in a public place.”]

Mr. HalfFull scales castle gate @ Medieval Times

Mr. HalfFull scales castle gate @ Medieval Times

Amazingly, the free event had free food and an open bar!  While we were enjoying our hors d’œuvres and drinks and waiting for the presentation to begin, we noticed the flyer rack at the hostel and had to laugh.  It lauded such attractions as Medieval Times, Calvert County, Natural Bridge, and Leesburg Outlets.  Is this the best that Western civilization has to offer?  Are these really the top advertisements for people visiting our nation’s capital???  None of these gems are even in Washington, DC!  In fact, they’re all a 1-4 hour drive outside the city.

Let’s consider the actual attractions.  Medieval Times is a fake castle in a shopping mall in the suburbs of Baltimore for children’s birthday parties and drunk adults eating without utensils.  See, it’s possible to learn historical facts, while being cultured!  Mr. HalfFull may or may not have thoroughly enjoyed this event for his 39th birthday.

Mr. HalfFull with cowboy riding dinosaur @ Natural Bridge Visitor Center

Mr. HalfFull with cowboy riding dinosaur @ Natural Bridge Visitor Center

What about Natural Bridge?  It’s almost 4 hours away in Virginia!  We’ve been there.  Well, not exactly all the way to the bridge.  Upon arriving at the visitor center, you are greeted by a cowboy riding a dinosaur out front.  You think I’m kidding?  See photo at left.  How’s that for historical accuracy?  We have renamed it the “unnatural bridge” based on the statue and were a bit turned off by the visitor center and $20 ride to see the actual bridge.  This was a good reminder for our 30/40 World Tour:  don’t put too much stock in the flyer rack.

It turned out to be a lucky night for me!  I won a super soft American Apparel t-shirt for being one of the first registrants.  Then my raffle ticket was drawn and I picked The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World as my prize.  The three Lost Girls were speakers at the event and graciously signed my book!

When I was talking to Lost Girl Amanda Pressner after the event, she asked about my blog.  I sheepishly told her that it was only a week old, said it’s called Half Empty for Now, and explained that I am Ms. HalfEmpty and my husband is Mr. HalfFull.  She immediately responded, “Oh so you’re trying to see things from his point of view.”  Exactly!  I loved that she got it immediately and it made me feel good about the concept and naming.

The Lost Girls book cover

My impetus for travel is very similar to The Lost Girls.  Perhaps I am a lost girl too.  I’ve only read a tiny part of their book, and already it resonates with me.  The Lost Girls

shared the desire to take a giant step away from our goal-oriented worlds to get a better sense of who we were — and what we really wanted from our lives.  Up until then, we’d successfully hit the milestones that are supposed to give young women a sense of purpose:  Moving away from Mom and Dad.  Graduating from college.  Getting our first jobs.  Falling in love. …we all wondered:  Were the paths that we were heading down the right ones for us — or were we simply staying the course because we thought we should?

After the travel event, Mr. HalfFull and I tried to get a table for dinner at Brasserie Beck, but they were booked.  Disappointedly, we walked toward the Metro and spotted Point Chaud Café and Crêpes.  J’adore crêpes!  We split one savory and one sweet crêpe to top off a wonderfully half full night.  [Mr. HalfFull saw my notes for this post where I had written “crêpes (half full)” and commented that he thought the crêpes were very full and generously stuffed…haha!]

  • Did dinosaurs and cowboys really exist at the same time?
  • What type of flyers would you put in a DC hostel?
  • Do you prefer sweet or savory crêpes?
  • Are you a lost girl/boy?

 

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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