Friday, September 28, 2012

Deep Breaths...

So we have come to the end of week 4 of my first Grad School class and I am really liking it. We have lab assignment that are due every Tuesday and reading due for Monday's lecture every week as well. Those have been keeping me pretty much busy all the time and leave little room for pleasure reading and writing. It also leaves little room for a social life or even sleep. Still, I don't think I would trade it for the world.

In addition to that, I am working on my first full length contract proposal for work. I'm working closely with a subject matter expert to get all the technical stuff right (since I know next to nothing about IT Security) and I'm at the point now where I have the entire proposal template done. All I needs now is for him to get back to me with his technical write-ups and then I can put the entire thing together. It isn't due until Oct 16th, so we have some time (which in this business is a HUGE luxury).

On top of ALL of that I've been getting all my posts ready for the Samhain Sirens month long blog for October which starts this Monday. I felt a little bad that I turned in my posts late but my brain was just not functioning at all these past few days except when it came to school and work. Last night though I was on a roll and got all the posts done, most of my homework and a bunch of work as well (since I took a half day yesterday to get my passport stuff all taken care of). I even took a 45 minute break and went to the gym to de-stress.

One thing I've always had problems with is spreading myself too thin. I take on too much and then I get stressed and other things fall to the wayside. Two things that I love that I NEVER want to fall to the wayside are my writing and my working out. Both are what keep me sane. So I'm still on track for my book to come out at the end of November and I'm still working on Dark Cell pt. 2 (working title Dark Hall). I'm also going to release a collection of short stories from my series "Deal with the Devil" which chronicles the lives of a vampire "family." My costume for Samhain/Halloween is even going to be the main character from that. Haven't hashed out the details yet, but I'm shooting for the end of October for the release through Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon.

So yes, deep breaths, a couple work out breaks and a whole bunch of lists later, my sanity is back on track and I'm organized again!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I See Dead People

No really, I do! From a young age spirits of all ilks have been drawn to me; it's just something that I'm used to and has become part of my everyday life. Yesterday I struck up a conversation with a coworker about hauntings and the like. Through the course of the conversation it came up that I was a "sensitive" as many people put it, when it comes to spirits. He was shocked and replied that he would've never thought that from looking at me.

Here we go again... He meant nothing by this statement, he's a great guy who doesn't usually jump to conclusions like that so I let him slide. Looking back on it now though, what is one supposed to look like who sees and interacts with spirits? Am I supposed to be decked out in long flowy clothes, head scarf and an assortment of rings and necklaces?

This isn't the first time someone has said something like this to me. I've been told on many occasions that I look to "normal" to be "into those types of things." So I ask you, why must we always stereotype people? Why can't people just be, well, people? What makes up a person and sets them apart from others in their personality the interests that they have, etc. What they wear or what they look like shouldn't play a factor into that. On the flipside just because someone dresses a certain way does not mean that they have a certian personality.

What it comes down to is like I said in a prior post, I am who I am and part of that is the ability to interact with spirits. It's one part of me just like my hair color is one part of me or my religion is one part of me.

If you're interested to hear more about my spirit encounters stay tuned for an upcoming post as part of the Samhain Sirens blog!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Death After Life

Today while looking for interesting articles to tweet about for my company, I came across an interesting read on called "Hotels for the Dead: Mausoleums Reveal Spectral Light and Kitsch Decor". It's about a photographer by the name of John Faier who goes around to different Mausoleums and takes pictures of them. Most are from the 1950s and caught his eye because of the "saccharin and somber" quality of them.

These photos are hauntingly beautiful and caught my eye. They also made me start to think about how we dress up areas around death to make them more appealing. There's the example of these beautifully decorated mausoleums, putting flowers on the grave or even when we put nice clothes and make up on the bodies. This isn't a modern idea either. Societies have been dressing up both the bodies and the grave sites for centuries.

The greatest example of this would be the ancient Egyptians. They believed that you went into the afterlife how you were in the present life so the dead were dressed to the nines and put in lavish tombs.  The Mayans did the same thing with their burial mounds.

If you have a few minutes click on the link above and view the rest of the photos. You will not be disappointed.

Photo by John Faier

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I Am Who I Am

I am Sam. I am a red headed, pale, freckled, blue eyed Irish American/Norwegian American woman. I am one of the nicest people you'll ever meet but if you cross me I can be a complete bitch. I am close with my family both blood and otherwise. I am the person that if you gain my trust I will go to bat for you as many times as you need it. I am the person that if you break my trust then you are black listed in my book.

I am a geek who also enjoys sports. I am a Penn Stater through and through and nothing anyone can say can deter me from that. I am also a Maryland Terrapin since that is where I attend Grad School. I am a techy who has an undergrad degree in Anthropology. I am a technical writer, novelist, short story writer and nonfiction writer.

I am a person who falls in love with the person not their gender, sex or ethnicity. I am in love with the best guy in the world. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have a guy who treats me with the respect that I deserve. I am fortunate to be financially stable and almost loan free. I am lucky to have an amazing support system of friends and family who would do anything for me.

I used to have horrible crippling anxiety. I used to hate the way I looked. I used to let people walk all over me. I used to date a guy that cheated on me and then remained friends with him. I used to have friends that were never really my friends. I used to care a lot about what people thought of me and thus tried to please everyone. I used to think that I would be alone for the rest of my life.

I am a strong, independent woman who can take care of herself but also knows when to let other people take care of her. I am the person who when given a task will work their ass of to accomplish it. I am the happiest I've been in years.

I am Sam. I am who I am.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

GEOG653: Spatial Analysis

Last night I attended my first class for my Masters Degree and despite me stressing like crazy in anticipation, it really wasn't as bad as I thought. Honestly I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders now that I know what I can expect from this class. Yes it's going to be some work but the professor is awesome and my classmates seem to be eager to learn.

This first class that I am taking is called Spatial Analysis. To put it in terms hopefully you guys can understand better basically this class is all about how points, lines and polygons are related to each other on each layer of a map. Points can range anywhere from cities or towns to individual artifacts at a site, lines can be anything from boundaries of countries to sides of a house, and polygons can literally be anything. We then take these different shapes and show how they are related to each other. For example (which is one given in class) we can show how cities (points) are related to major roads (lines) in the state of Texas (polygon).

Our objective in this class is to ultimately create a final project using the skills that we learn about spatial analysis. Each week though we also will have a lab exercise that we will complete using the ArcMap software. The purpose of these are to both practice the concepts as well as show the professor that we know what we are doing (and consequently that we are paying attention during class).

For week one we don't have a lab, just an exercise that is optional. It's a little different this week since we only had one class last night from 5:00 - 8:30pm due to the Holiday. On a regular week we have lecture from 5:30 - 8:00pm on Mondays and lab section from 5:30 - 6:30pm on Tuesday. All of this is done from the computer. The picture to the left here is what I see when I am "in class." On the right is the webcam where I can view my professor or whoever has the floor at the time to speak. To the left is the lecture slides that explain what we are learning (this one is on Vector Analysis of Florida). At the bottom is the chat box where we can ask questions and interact with the other students. In addition we can click the hand icon at the bottom to "raise our hand" so that we may speak (with the headset that you are required to use for the class).     

This system is really great for people like me who work full time. We always have the option to go into the classroom if we want. This is helpful for both meeting the professor (who I have had the pleasure of meeting many times already) and any other students in the class. I do like the comfort of doing this from the couch in my apartment. I was able to slip on my yoga pants, enjoy and cup on coffee made by Grant and focus on learning taking notes (which I am obsessive about). \

Like I said above I know this class is going to be work, especially when it comes to the final project, but I am confident that I will do great in this class. I am excited to move forward with it and share with you guys my journey to getting my Masters Degree in Geospatial Information Science!