29 September 2009

Columbia, Part II

On Sunday, I went back to Columbia to see more things and to take more photos.

The second leg of my tour began at Finlay Park, where I saw a gorgeous fountain and a great view of the Columbia skyline. Across from the park, I saw the lovely Governor's Mansion and Gardens—albeit through a fence, since the grounds were closed that day. I then cruised through the historic district and headed back toward the Columbia Museum of Art. Along the way, I saw local artist Blue Sky’s Busted Plug Plaza, which is a public art installation that is believed to be the world’s largest fire hydrant.

At the museum, I caught the last day of Cleve Gray’s Man and Nature exhibit and saw Claude Monet’s Seine at Giverny (L'Ile aux Orties), which I think translates to The Island with Nettles from the Seine at Giverny series. I also saw two paintings that made me stare in amazement: Guido Cagnacci’s David Holding Goliath’s Head (1650) and Elliott Daingerfield’s The Moon Path (1900). I don’t know if you can tell by the online images, but Cagnacci’s painting appears to be glowing, and Daingerfield’s painting seems to sparkle with tiny bits of light. More than that, it soothed me, as if it were reaffirming something I didn’t know I knew.

Before heading home, I walked around USC’s Horseshoe area, which looked surreal in the late afternoon sun, then had a light picnic dinner by the canal at Riverfront Park.

22 September 2009

Rolling on a River of Change

Arts in the Heart of Augusta—a three-day festival featuring crafts, foods, and performances—was the big event going on this weekend. I had planned to attend on Saturday to watch open mic performances and whatever else I fancied, but I changed my mind at the last minute due to the $7 entry fee. With no income (I left my job voluntarily, to take a sabbatical), I couldn’t justify spending $7 to shop for things I couldn’t afford and to watch performances I was only slightly interested in.

I ended up strolling alongside the Savannah River on Augusta’s Riverwalk, then sitting in shade and having a nice phone conversation with a dear friend. Then I drove a mile upriver to North Augusta’s Hammond’s Ferry and lounged on a floating boat dock in sparkly-gold sunlight, close enough to touch the scintillant river traveling beneath me. I realized the river doesn’t see the changes ahead as it journeys toward and into the wondrous ocean, and neither do I, yet we flow forward nonetheless. We see changes when we reach them, and we’re wise to welcome them, because change is natural.

That was the most sublime half hour I’ve had in ages. I browsed a borrowed I Ching book (Book of Changes) while the meandering breezes tested different styles on my hair. I stared dreamily at nothing. I squinted in half-interest at occasional boats passing by. I did not, however, toss coins or count yarrow stalks, because I had no questions to ask that day. I knew the answers were already within my self and in everything around me.

15 September 2009

One New Resume

I did see a couple of new exhibits on Sunday at the Morris, but most of my weekend was spent completely redoing my resume. I was in perfectionist mode, laboring over every word, trying to be as concise as possible while also saying as much as possible. Not so much I overwhelm, but enough so I hold interest. I even researched my old performance reviews to get specific numbers and achievements.

It was worth the effort, though, and it’s such a relief to have it polished and posted and, I hope, working for me on various job sites. There are probably hundreds of applicants for any decent job posted on any decent website, so my strategy (along with applying and networking like everyone else) is to have such a great resume, the recruiters find it, call me, and say “Oh my gosh when can you start?!” That’s the idea, at least.

Another strategy I’m seriously considering is relocating to the Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina. Although no NC cities are featured in US News’s Best Places to Find a Job, I suspect Research Triangle Park (RTP) holds more promise than the Augusta area. According to RTP’s website, “RTP is the largest and longest continually operating research park in the United States, encompassing 7,000 acres. With more than 170 companies occupying 22.5 million square feet of developed space, RTP is globally renowned as a center of innovation.” Plus, there are many other companies in the area, outside of RTP.

By the way, I also found US News’s 30 Best Careers for 2009 to be helpful, along with the related articles, Ahead-of-the-Curve Careers and Overrated Careers.

08 September 2009

Strolling Through Columbia, SC

On Saturday, my friend Kristin met me in Columbia. She drove down from her home in Raleigh, NC, and I drove up from Augusta, GA. Although Columbia isn’t a midpoint between those two cities, it seemed a good place to spend an afternoon exploring.

Our meeting place and first stop was the West Columbia Riverwalk by the Congaree River. Since the park has walking trails and picnic tables along the river, that’s also where we ate dinner. But first, we drove all over town to find a grocery store for lunch (since neither of us eats at restaurants), then spent most of our afternoon taking a self-guided walking tour of the downtown area. We started in the artsy Congaree Vista district, walked around the SC State House grounds, then walked down Main Street to the Columbia Museum of Art.

After dinner at the riverwalk, we were completely pooped and ready to head home. Kristin’s shoes were devouring her feet, mosquitoes were devouring my skin, and the heat and humidity had zapped both of us... but that’s the South, right? I don’t know how the day slipped by so fast, but I’m planning another trip soon to see a few more places in Columbia:
Until then, click here for lots of photos (and lots of pink, somehow) from our Saturday walking tour.

01 September 2009

One New Browser

I just started reading a great book by Jennifer Niederst called Web Design in a Nutshell. Early in the book, Niederst covers the variety of web browsers available, from the text-only Lynx to the ubiquitous Internet Explorer (IE). She seems to prefer Mozilla’s Firefox, and considering her guru status, that means a lot.

After using Firefox myself, I prefer it too. I began using it out of desperation after a severe malware attack in July. Those cooties were so clever, they sidestepped Malwarebytes and other programs, and they even hijacked my attempts to search for an antidote. I finally entered a search string that didn’t trigger a redirect, then found a cure on a Geeks to Go forum. After that, my next download was the Firefox browser, and I’ve been happily using it ever since.

Firefox is generally more secure than IE and is definitely more adaptive to W3C standards coding, making it a favorite among web developers and techie types. There’s even a nifty web developer add-on, along with many other useful and/or fun tools. But tech talk aside, I’ve found it to be flat-out better than IE regarding speed, appearance, and user interface—everything, really. Perhaps that’s why I wasn’t surprised when Firefox reached one billion downloads just over a month ago. One billion and blazing.