A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

Three Reasons I Heart Google January 16, 2009

For Christmas I asked for Microsoft Office for Mac; however, I am finding that although it is a great program, I am not using it for my writing like I imagined I would. Instead, I have become addicted to Google Documents. I still am exploring what Google Documents has to offer, but here are just a few of my top favorite features, which in my opinion are AMAZING!

1. Accessible anywhere–When I was on my around the world trip I didn’t take a computer and instead wrote story ideas, poems, thoughts and reflections all in multiple journals (I was a freak and carried two leather bound, one plastic covered, and two smaller journals.  One of my worst nightmares is to be caught idle without pen and paper!) The fact that I can freehand write, then type it into a Google document for safekeeping while I’m on the go is priceless. And, now that I am back home, I still prefer to type in Google documents because I never have to mess with uploading or downloading files, making sure I pulled the correct versions, or worry about leaving my files on my computer, hard drive or flash stick.

**Note my next big trip I might take my computer, but then  1) I would have to worry about battery life, and most places I stayed on this trip didn’t have electricity 2)I would be “weighted” down with fear of losing or getting my computer stolen 3) I write a lot when I am outdoors…dust…rain…sun…you name it…not so computer friendly…

2. Sharing Option: When I first started planning my trip I created a master spreadsheet of all of the things I needed to do, their current state and next steps. I also created a packing list, an estimated budget and a rough itinerary of some of the places I wanted to go. The majority of my trip, we travelled by the seat of our pants, going places people recommended, using the city’s I-site for information, or pulling information from guide books.  However, before leaving the states I put together a rough itinerary spreadsheet and sent it to my fellow travel companions and we were all able to modify, change, and add information in real time (no kidding, you can see the other person’s cursor moving and typing in the document if you are both working on it at the same time–a little eerie but cool.) Even though my parents never used it, I shared the files with them so they could have a rough idea of where we were (places/dates always ended up changing but at least they knew what country I was in!)

3. Revision History–Everyone writes differently. When I write I continually save throughout my writing (every 10-20 minutes or so) as I have gotten burned before, loosing everything I had written. Devastating, but lesson learned. Now a days it is common to have an autosave feature to back up your work as you type so you don’t have to, this blog for example does it for me.  I never found a feature like this in a normal Word doc (and maybe it existed but I never knew?), and sometimes I would write something, save it and realize that what I had written before was better but have no way of retrieving it because I saved over it! (and, yes, I’m not super techy so I’m sure there probably was a way to retrieve the files…)

With a Google Word Document, all you have to do is: go to your Tools Tab select Revision History and a full page including the date and edit revisions are recorded. You never have to worry about losing that “perfect sentence” again–you can always go back later on and retrieve it! If you kill off that character but wish you hadn’t—oh wait, he can come back to life.  And, the information is presented in a non-effacing way. You click on the dates you want, and can compare the difference in changes.

Genius. Love it.

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Finding Serenity… January 10, 2009

Hotel Deca

Right now I am sitting on a purple velvet sofa in front of warm fire. A skinny sugar-free Carmel latte’ in hand, I am warm on both the inside and out.  The walls are decorated with large pieces of art–oil on canvas–my favorite. There is a tall dark wooden book shelf to my right lined with colorful glass vases that reflect the dim light given off by the frosted glass lamps lining each of the two columns in the entrance way which are jutting upwards like tulips glistening in the yellow sun, constantly reaching for that warm ray of light. Instrumental music is playing from the speakers overhead, it is a combination of jazz and spa-like melodies enhancing my surrounding like smooth whip cream on top of a steaming hot chocolate–it just wouldn’t be complete with out it.

My leather bound journal is lying open next to me, lusting for attention like a women lying naked on her back in bed.  Black ink covers the page, words for my book are staring back at me as I type them into a Google document. Words I wrote while in the airport coming back from California, on my brother’s couch in Kenmore, during a traffic jam in Bellevue–materializing on paper when I finally get the opportunity to isolate myself and write, which has been infrequent since I have been back in Seattle.

Writing has become a drug: I want to write all the time, and the cravings only intensify when I can’t get my fix. I have become an addict. I’ll be out with friends, watching my nephew, hanging out with my family–all of things I want to do, but with an addiction, you have no control over the feelings affecting your mind and body. My fingers beat the table, yearning for my keyboard–I want to feel the keys under my fingertips, I ache to see the words fill the wall of whiteness in front of me, I lust after the emotions that fill my insides as I write, overwhelming me like a storm in the sea, rising and falling, thrashing ferociously and then suddenly–everything becomes calm.  A feeling of tranquility rushes through me.  I am in my zen. I have found serenity.