Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mike Leaving

In September, my boss annouced he was going to retire at the end of the fiscal year (which had just started, so we still had about 11 months to go). Being that he's our CEO, search parties were formed, and the job was officially posted (probably in half a bazillion places around the internet). In the late winter, the four top candidates came in to interview, and at our convention last month they announced Mike's replacement - a guy from the USTA who seems to be very cool (though today was the first time I ever heard him utter words).
I'm excited for Mike. He's dedicated the better part of his life and professional career to this asssociation and his job. He deserves to retire, to do what he wants when he wants, and to not have to answer to any more ridiculous people (of which I've come to find there are many in a job like his - hell, even in a job like mine). On that same note, I'm sad to see Mike go. He's who gave me this job. I was making a major career move coming here, sitting behind a desk, doing something completely foreign to me, but Mike seemed to see that it was a job I would do and do well (despite having zero prior knowledge of the program whatsoever).
All that being said, I'm excited for a new chapter at work. I debated on whether to try and exit stage left with Mike, or stick it out and see what happens with the new guy. While I did put my hat in the ring for a pretty sweet federal job, those things literally take months to fill, so while it sits over there on the back burner, I will continue to do the job at hand. The speed and effort behind which I put my prospective departure was always dependent on who the new guy would be. Out of the 4 original candidates, I only disliked one. Had that person been the pick, I'da had my resume out to every job within a 20 mile radius within a weeks time. Thankfully that wasn't the case, and I'm looking forward to working with newbie.
There are always things we'd like to change at work. I feel like this is a good chance for our office to make some real changes. I can only imagine how long the list of prospective changes will be at our next CEOAC meeting. All the things we tried to pass by Mike over the last few years will now be presented to the new guy. He's got a different outlook on things, and undoubtedly a different way of doing business. I'm certain that while many things will remain the same, many things will change, and hopefully for the better. This isn't to say that I'm unhappy with my job, or how the office is run. It's more that there are little things that could and should change - things that would make a big difference around here - and boost morale if nothing else.
So, it's all a bit bittersweet. The end of an era if you will. Mike will be gone in just about a month, but the new guy will not start until September 1. This could be an interesting summer.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Moving the old blog

Ok, so the next SEVERAL blogs below are reverse order (as all blogs read) reposts from my old MySpace blog. I'm considering cancelling the account, but didn't want to lose my old posts. They're all dated, so you can clearly see when they're originally from.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008 - I’ve been to the holideck

Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I’ve been to the holideck
From my experience with Star Treck, there were numerous episodes (or maybe it just seemed like numerous episodes) where someone goes to the holideck. This person would ask the computer to load program xyz and magically they'd be transported (or so it seemed) to a dark, smokey lounge, with a live jazz band, or maybe a blues singer, a stiff martini or single malt scotch served right up at the bar, or perhaps delivered by a cocktail waitress. This, my friends, was my honest to God experience at a joint in Ft. Worth.
Yes, yes, I've been back from Ft. Worth for a month now, and I've been meaning to write this blog from the moment I walked outta that joint, but here I am - just now getting around to it.
So, on my 4th day in Ft. Worth, my best work buddy Kaycee FINALLY rolls in to town. We'd made plans to go out for dinner and drinks and whatever trouble we could find to get in to. I'd passed by a wine bar several times in my walks during my 3 previous days there, and recommended we try that out as our first stop of the evening. The wine was good, the food wasn't bad and overall it was an interesting (and not particularly cheap by Ft. Worth standards) excursion. We decided to leave after 3 glasses and see what else we could find around town. While heading over to a recommended joint, we passed by the Scat Jazz Lounge and the bouncer outside offered us 2 for 1 and said that a really great band was there that they don't get to book very often because they're very popular. We declined and kept walking to our original destination. Upon arrival we realized it was the "student" hangout, and promptly exited stage left. We agreed that the jazz bar might be ok, and decided to go for the 2 for 1 offer. We paid the guy and he tells us we have to take the elevator down one level to get in. Doors open, we step inside and apparently one of us said "computer load program" cause that's what happend next.
The doors open and we're in a short hallway just outside of the bar. It's VERY dark, and when we walk in there's an enormous jazz band taking up 1/4 of the place. They're pretty good (as we were expecting) and so we wander around trying to find a seat. Since it seemed that this was, in fact, a limited engagement, the tables were all full, but we did manage to find one near the front on the far side of the joint. The cocktail waitress comes over and we order drinks (though not martinis, nor single malt scotch). "So we're sitting there, in almost complete darkness, at a table for two, when a couple comes in and sits at the table in front of us. Oddly, they're dressed in 50's garb. We look around thinking how odd it is, but nobody else seems to notice. Behind us is a group of old ladies, obviously living up the jazz scene and paying little mind to anyone outside of their group.
The band takes a two minute break and is joined by a guy who proceeds to pick up a mic and address the audience. He's dressed in a 3-piece suit, and is clearly not your average, everyday Joe. He starts to sing, and dance with the mic and we decide that we really need to get out before the Klingons blow up the ship without our knowledge.
We weave our way out of the bar and back to the elevator in the hall. At this point Kaycee actually says "computer, end program." The doors opened, we got in, and were magically transported back to reality. "Seriously, was that not just like being on the holideck? You know what the holideck is, right?" I had to agree wholeheartedly. We had been to the holideck. Totally freaky.

Monday, April 21, 2008 - Chores for two - what I’ve been trying to accomplish for years!

Monday, April 21, 2008
Chores for two - what I’ve been trying to accomplish for years!
Chores for two: Why men don't pitch in
Leslie Bennetts explores the role men play in housework and childrearing
By Leslie Bennetts
Tango Media

As a reporter, I often travel on assignment. When my children were small, the prospect of my leaving town for a few days typically elicited great alarm from our family's nearest and dearest. "Who will take care of the children!" they exclaimed, as if the little darlings had only one parent. When I replied that their father would doubtless make sure they didn't starve to death while I was away, everyone from my women friends to my mother would simper adoringly, "Oh, you're so lucky! Jeremy is soooo wonderful!"
Like my husband and me, our upstairs neighbors during those years, Amy and Nick, were both working journalists with complicated schedules, as well as children and a dog. When Amy saw my husband hauling groceries into our apartment one day, she asked me what on earth he was doing.
Since the bags were overflowing with the usual staples of family life, from breakfast cereal to toilet paper, the answer seemed pretty obvious. But instead of questioning Amy's observational skills, I explained that twice a month Jeremy bought large quantities of household supplies, thereby reducing the number of necessities I had to lug home every day. Duh.
Amy looked as if she were about to swoon. "Oh, you're so lucky!" she moaned, her voice trembling with an unnatural fervor so exaggerated as to suggest I had just won the MegaMillions lottery. "My husband would never do that! Jeremy is soooo wonderful!"
When the big holidays roll around, the sainted Jeremy and I always have a houseful of guests. I spend days planning, shopping, and cooking lavish meals for ridiculous numbers of friends and relatives. I do everything from the flower-arranging to the silver-polishing to the table-setting.
After eating themselves into a stupor, one or two people usually rouse themselves long enough to make halfhearted, visibly insincere offers to help clean up. We tell them not to worry about it; Jeremy does the clean-up.
Sinking back into torpor, they sigh with relief. "Oh, you're so lucky!" they murmur. "Jeremy is soooo wonderful!"
Excuse me? Here's a news flash for you: Jeremy is not soooo wonderful. I, actually, am the one who is soooo wonderful.
Although both Jeremy and I work full-time, I do all the cooking, and I have always taken care of considerably more child-rearing tasks and domestic drudge-work than my husband. In this regard, we resemble most other two-career American couples.
According to the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, women spent an average of 27 hours a week on housework in 2002, while men spent 16 hours (which at least represents an improvement over the 16 seconds or so a lot of them spent a generation ago). Even today, married men perform little more than a third of household labor, whether or not their wives are in the paid labor force. And women spend more than twice as much time as men do on child care.
Ask your typical American dad what size shoes his children wear, and you will likely draw a blank stare. He has no idea. Guess who makes sure the kids' toes aren't poking through their sneakers?
My own husband claims that any imbalance in our household contributions derives solely from the fact that he has to go to an office while I work at home, a luxury that permits me to take care of many domestic tasks during my workday. This disparity in our schedules may explain why I make dinner every night—because I'm home to stir the pot on the stove—but it does not explain why our weekends begin with him enjoying a third cup of coffee over the morning newspapers while I rush around making breakfast, cleaning up the house, and organizing the children's day. I'm the one everyone asks when they want to know when the next orthodontist appointment is, what the cross-country meet schedule is, or where the birthday party is being held (yes, I remembered to buy a present; yes, it's wrapped and ready to go).
And yet everyone acts as if Jeremy deserves some kind of medal just for making a run to the supermarket. No one has ever suggested that I'm a heroine for doing the things every mother is expected to do. I admit that my husband helps out more than many men, but here's another news flash: It isn't because he's such a fabulously enlightened being. Left to his own devices, he would doubtless park himself in front of the TV like some sitcom male-chauvinist couch potato while I did all the work. The reason Jeremy "helps" as much as he does (an offensive terminology that itself suggests who's really being held responsible) is simple: He doesn't have a choice.
From the beginning of our relationship, I made it very clear that I wasn't going to be any husband's unpaid servant. If Jeremy wanted to be—and stay—married to me, let alone have kids, he couldn't stick me with all the boring, mundane stuff nobody wants to do. We were going to share the work, or we were going to forget the whole deal.Unlike my first husband, who announced after our wedding that he didn't like the way the French laundry did his shirts and he now expected me, the Wife, to wash and iron all of them, Jeremy recognized both the righteousness of the principle involved and the intransigence of the woman he'd married, and proceeded to pitch in.
That was 17 years ago, and while we haven't exactly achieved equity, we've come a lot closer to it than most of our peers, judging by all the dreary surveys proving that men are slugs and their wives are superwomen. So how have I accomplished this? By holding my husband's feet to the fire every single day of our lives, of course.
Yes, dear readers, it's true: Maintaining some semblance of parity in your marriage requires you to deploy the same kinds of nasty tactics you swore you would never stoop to as a parent but nonetheless found yourself using the minute you actually had a kid. Bribery and punishment work; so do yelling and complaining. Threats are also effective, as long as everyone knows you mean business. With husbands, tender blandishments and nooky are particularly useful, as is the withholding of the aforementioned.
These strategies admittedly take a lot of energy, but not as much as performing all the functions necessary to maintain home and family by yourself. When my husband has lingered too long over the sports section and I'm feeling overwhelmed by the number of errands that must be run, I hand him a list.
"This is what I need you to do today," I say in a tone of voice that brooks no equivocation. He may moan and groan, but the jobs get done. And while I still have to mastermind the operation — somehow he is never the one who remembers that our son needs new mosquito netting, baseball cleats, and basketball shoes for sleepaway camp — I'm not the only one schlepping around town checking items off the To Do list.
What I don't understand is why my insistence on some approximation of equality is unusual. I live in Manhattan, which is full of smart, educated, successful women who are juggling the responsibilities of family and career with extraordinary competence. And yet most of them will readily admit that their husbands don't do half of anything remotely domestic.
Go to any school event for parents and you will find it crowded with working women who have taken time out of their busy professional schedules to meet with teachers or sit in on classes or attend the fourth-grade play. My children's school sponsors a regular forum where parents gather to discuss such pressing issues as curfews, homework, and the social mores of hormone-addled teen-agers. At every single one, the room is full of women — doctors, lawyers, and CEOs, as well as stay-at-home moms. The only man who ever attends is a widower who admits his son never tells him anything, so he comes to the discussion groups in hopes of learning what his kid is up to from his classmates' moms.
Where are the other fathers? In their offices, no doubt. Before you start protesting that this is exactly where those big strong male breadwinners belong, let me make one thing crystal clear: In many of the families I'm talking about, the wife is actually the major breadwinner. This seems to have no effect whatsoever on the husband's willingness to be an equal partner — or on the wife's readiness to demand that he become one. Although almost half of all working women provide at least half of the family income, and women are the major breadwinners in nearly a third of all American households, they remain far more likely to take time off from work when their children are sick. Needless to say, one survey after another shows that men also have more leisure time. Ask most working mothers what they do with their leisure time and you're lucky if they don't hit you.
The fact that guys, when left to their own devices, rarely rush to offer more toilet-scrubbing and diaper-changing is not in itself surprising. As Martin Luther King Jr. once observed, "We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."
So why aren't women demanding something closer to parity? While many are resigned to seething in silence, the stakes are far higher than they seem to realize. When wives permit their husbands to shirk a fair share of the homemaking and parenting, not only do they themselves suffer, but chances are good that they're also sentencing their children to a similar fate. When you have kids, everything you do teaches them how to live their own lives when they grow up. Unfortunately, all too many women are still teaching their children that "woman is the nigger of the world," as John Lennon and Yoko Ono put it so memorably in a song lyric years ago. And what too many fathers teach their sons and daughters is that men can get away with dumping the scut work on their wives, and that women will grit their teeth and put up with it.
So all I can say to my fellow wives and mothers is: Rise up — you have nothing to lose but your unjust share of the burden. I know what you're thinking: "I've tried to get him to help out more, but he won't! What am I supposed to do?"
You're supposed to insist, that's what you're supposed to do. It's not as if women don't have leverage these days; despite the stereotype of the middle-aged guy running off with the secretary half his age, two thirds of all divorces among Americans over 40 are initiated by women, not men. What does this tell us about their relative levels of satisfaction within marriage?
And while I recognize that gender stereotypes are risky, in my experience husbands are a lot like children. They will get away with whatever they can get away with. When you put your foot down and make it clear that you won't take no for an answer, somehow the kids' rooms get cleaned, the groceries bought, the laundry folded. It really does work, I promise.
Leslie Bennetts is the author of "The Feminine Mistake" and has been a contributing editor at Vanity Fair since 1988, writing on subjects that have ranged from movie stars to U.S. terrorism policy.

Monday, February 11, 2008 - Memories and Michael Jackson

Monday, February 11, 2008
Memories and Michael Jackson
Do you ever forget how much you loved Michael Jackson? No, not recently loved him, but in like 1st grade loved him. When I was in 1st grade, along with many of you - Michael Jackson was da bomb. He was the coolest, most talented, best entertainer out there. We all loved his songs (go ahead, try and deny it), wanted to do the moonwalk like him, and watched Thriller over and over again. Regardless, I'm not on here typing away to convince you of anything.
So, we've established that I loved Michael Jackson as a kid. I continued to enjoy his music even though Michael, as a person, became the exact opposite of someone who I would admire. The music he made during the early 80's, and even the early 90's was great. Catchy tunes that have been sampled and remade time and time again in the current music scene. This is what leads me to this blog and the recent updates to my playlist.
Rhianna's newest radio release has a nice sampling (or pseudosampling) from Wanna Be Starting Something which in turn leads me to think of Michael Jackson, which in turn leads me to think about a very long trip to and from Connecticut with my partners in crime Ron and Cami (and Will was along that trip which made it even better). We didn't always all agree on what should or should not be on the radio, but we all agreed on Michael Jackson. (BTW, Cami or Will if you happen to read this - one of my favoritest memories ever.) This story has already been recapped in a 2 part blog way down my list called "We're supposed to take 95 north," and "We're supposed to take 95 south."
Anywho, all this brought me to today when I finally remembered to add some MJ songs to my playlist - along with Rhianna, and some new Chris Brown. When you have nothing better to do, or need the best playlist ever to get you through your day - check it out :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - Fit Club

Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Fit Club
So, I'm pretty sure I've been complaining about being fat and flabby since round about mid 2001. And then I got un fat, but remained flabby around 2006, and now I'm back to fat and flabby (though relatively less fat than prior to 2006). I'm good at complaining, it's one of my strong points. What I'm not good at is actually getting my ass in gear to do something about whatever it is I'm complaining about. Here is where the buck has stopped for me. See, there's parts of being fat and flabby that I can change, and parts of being fat and flabby that I cannot change (at least not without lots of moolah and major surgery), but it's freakin' ridiculous for me to sit around and bitch about it when I have control over a great deal of my issues.
We have a "gym" at work. A small workout room with a couple of treadmills, a few bikes, a rowing machine, and some very antiquated weight equipment. Being AAHPERD, we're all about encouraging people to get in shape and the crappy parts of our "gym" are in the process of being upgraded to encourage more people to exercise there and reward those who already do.
With some coaxing from a coworker, I decided that I would start utilizing our "gym" this year. We said we'd stay after work twice a week and walk or do some light weight lifting for 30 minutes. This has happend all of twice now - in the whole month of January. We cannot get it together - no matter what. Someone has an appointment, or has to work late, or has to pick someone up - whatever. Today I brought all my workout stuff - even remembered my shoes. I decided that with or without company, I would stay after work and actually exercise. Sweat. Raise my heart rate to something well above a measley 100bpm. I'd do it with or without my trusty coworker. And I did. And it was satisfying!
I started off with my customary walk on the treadmill - only this time I walked for at least 15 minutes instead of 5 or 10, and I carried some handweights for added umph. From there I tried to use one of our exercise balls, but they both needed some serious air, so I gave up on that. I decided instead to work with the hand weights. I'm always mortified by the way my arms look, so here's my chance to change it. I did triceps, biceps, deltoids (all 3 of them on both sides), and then I did it some more. I did sets of crunches - two different times. Leg presses, hamstring curls and a little bit of calf strengthening (not that my calves aren't already the strongest things I've got). After that I was actually sweating a little. I stretched, and finished up after about a 40 minute workout. I was pretty impressed with myself. I didn't need anybody to tell me what to do next or how many times to do it. I actually pushed myself to do something - anything. Now, if only I can continue this routine - at least twice a week (frankly I'd like to do more). Yay me!

Friday, January 18, 2008 - My reintroduction to Dr. Seuss

Friday, January 18, 2008
My reintroduction to Dr. Seuss
How long has it been since you read a Dr. Seuss book? Well, for you parents it probably has only been a few days or a few hours or perhaps even a few weeks. I can safely say that since the birth of Josh, and even a few months prior, some 7 years ago, I've been reading Dr. Seuss on a somewhat regular basis. This is all fine and dandy except that in my standard arsenal I've only got a few books. One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish, Green Eggs and Ham, Baby oh Baby the Place You'll Go! and the like. These are standard, yes, but I feel as though I've lost valuable years of reading since I purchased a few more over Christmas. I always get Josh books, consistently throughout the year, but I do like to get some for Christmas as well. When I went to shop at Borders this year they had a 3 for 2 sale on Dr. Seuss books. Buy 2 get 1 free basically. So I figured why not pick up a few more that we don't already have. I bought two single title books and then one big 6 story compilation edition. Josh pulled the big book off the shelf the other night and asked if we could read some of it.
Starting at the begining of the book I noticed that I recognized nearly all of the titles inside, yet, I couldn't actually recall what the stories were about or if I'd even read most of them before. I figured this would be good for both of us. This book is not something that your average 6 year old grade level reader can tackle. It has the big stories, the stories so fantastically written and wonderfully worded that there are undoubtedly 6th graders out there who might have trouble breezing through. Starting off with "And To Think That I Saw It On Mullberry Street," moving through "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins," and last night tackling "Horton Hatches an Egg." This has been quite the adventure in reading the works of Dr. Seuss.
I feel like I missed out on a significant portion of my childhood not having read these wonderful stories before. Sure I had "Hop on Pop," and "The Cat in the Hat," among many others, but these great stories I'd never had the opportunity to read. Nonetheless, I am now quite committed to reading the entire works (if you've met me you probably already know that once I like an author I'm all about reading his/her entire works). I'm really thrilled to sit down each night and read these outloud to Josh. I just hope he appreciates them half as much as I do.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007 - Death of a perfectly good travel bag

Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Death of a perfectly good travel bag
So, if you've talked to me, or read any of my blogs over the past 6-8 months you have probably noticed that I've done a bit of travelling. Most of this is work related, some of this is volunteer related, some of it is maintaining my certification and so on and so forth. Regardless of the purpose, I've been making my rounds about the country (and on one recent occasion outside of the country). Travel has not been new to me since the day I was born. I've had my own luggage since I was a small child and I try to keep myself (in a travel bag sense) in something sturdy that will endure the test of years of trips instead of just one or two trips.
Back in college, Brandy had a great little toiletries bag that I was oh-so envious of. It carried virtually anything she would need on a trip and folded up nicely to fit in a suitcase. I couldn't ever manage to land myself one of these nifty contraptions simply because I wasn't looking for one when I was out and about. Finally, some 4 years or so out of college I did manage to pick one up and put it to good use. Over the past 4 years the travel bag has seen Jamaica, NY (repeatedly), Arizona, Indiana, Baltimore, Hawaii, California, Atlanta, Miami, Venezuela, Dallas, Kansas, Chicago, Connecticut, Massachusetts and WV (on more occasions than I wish to recount). It has always held up wonderfully no matter how much I cram in to the main compartment. Faithfully it holds my moisturizer, saline solution, glasses, toothpaste, a million shampoo and conditioner bottles from Marriotts across the country (I love the orange bath & body works scent), and eye makeup remover. This bag has served me very well.
Let's rewind back to August and my very impromptu trip to Venezuela. I pack up the travel bag real quick and toss it in my suitcase. To the best of my knowledge, I didn't pack anything out of the ordinary in the way of toiletries. The standard issue moisturizer, and whatever else I listed above. I probably threw in a handful more q-tips, but they have their own special section alongside the razor, floss, and toothbrush. The main compartment remained unchanged as far as its contents go. I make it to Venezuela in one piece and my luggage follows suit (which is more than I can say for Todd's luggage). I somehow survive the week and begin the tedious job of packing up all of my belongings after 10 VERY LONG days (I swear we were there 3 months). I finish putting everything back in its customary spot, grab the zipper, give it a little tug and RIIIIIP, the main compartment gives way - thankfully at the top and not the bottom. Aghast, I quickly give support to the bottom of the bag and arrange the zippers so that the pressure is not on the newly damaged section (I want to preserve this bag at least until I get home). Well, once I'm home I investigate a bit further and the rip isn't so bad. Sure, it's not like a brand new bag, but it still serves its purpose and nothing is falling out. I continue to use the bag for all of my recent fall travel and the rip only gets minimally larger (as one would expect).
Well, today, I believe, was the final straw for the travel bag. I just made it back from Dallas and commenced to unpacking everything. I went to unzip the maincompartment to fetch my glasses and RIIIIP, the hole became exponentially bigger. Virtually anything could fall out now and I don't think there's any hope left for its recovery. New to my Christmas/birthday list is a travel bag. Though I'd like to pick it out, so don't get any bright ideas.

Friday, November 30, 2007 - How Project Playlist has failed me

Friday, November 30, 2007
How Project Playlist has failed me
You might have noticed how I'm kinda into the whole Project Playlist thing. Or, maybe you didn't notice, but it's that little purple box about midway down my page that plays odd and assorted songs that I painstakingly search out and put on the list for your enjoyment (or the cure my boredom on slow days at work -either way). Generally speaking I can find virtually any song out there via the search engine - though some titles/artists are more difficult to come by than others. Regardless - I like to think that there isn't a mainstream song out there that can't be found and posted. Here's where I'm wrong.
A little backstory to let you know that I'm not completely crazy (or maybe to reinforce your already sinking suspicion that I've not been all there for many years now).
Round about the 2nd grade (circa 1985) we got cable television at my house. It was a glorious wonderland of stations and my personal favorite was MTV. Now, you might recall that back in the day MTV actually played music videos. Music videos opened up a whole new world of music to me because I was basically restricted to whatever my parents listened to or what they bought for me to listen to. My dad, heavy in to Toto, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and the like, and my mom heavy in to the Christian contemporary. This left me with the top 40 radio stations and the occasional tuning in to DC101. MTV brought me (most memorably) David Lee Roth, Men at Work, and for all intents and purposes of this blog - Survivor. Survivor was pretty hot in the 80's and so their videos were played often throughout the day. One song and video really stuck with me and I took to creating a dance routine to go with it. No need for video recording (we didn't have a VCR anyway) - "High on You" came on about 15 times a day, so on any given afternoon or weekend, I could hear and see it multiple times to put my routine together.
Now, I don't remember one step to the routine I made up, but I do still have a fondness for the song. The tune is catchy, the lyrics are passionate, and it has significant meaning to me. I heard it on the radio one day last month, and I made a mental note to add it to my playlist. Imagine my utter disappointment and frustration when I searched and searched and searched, yet "High on You" by Survivor does not exist within the realms of Project Playlist's search engine. You're all missing out by the absence of this on my page (cause I know you log in weekly just to listen).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - A funny thing happend on the way to the....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007
A funny thing happend on the way to the....
Well, not so much on the way to anything, but rather at the Nova Brewfest last weekend, and more specifically, at the Welbilt show portion of the day.
So, we went to beerfest. Met up with Beth, and Ryan and his girlfriend whose name escapes me at the moment, but undoubtedly Beth will comment me with this information. We wandered around, tried lots of beer, got a lamb gyro (it was nowhere near as good as the one at the previous beerfest), a funnel cake, Josh got pizza and Brad had a cigar (he's sneaky like that and before I know it he's puffing away). We're all chillin' and finally 5:00 rolls around and the band takes the stage. Now, at this juncture in the beerfest weekend there aren't alot of patrons left. It's the last band of the last day and everyone is packing up shop and heading home in the next two hours, so it's not like we're having to swim through the pit to get a nice spot to watch them play. We pick a nice spot on the hillside and park it. Down by the stage are a couple of different groups of people. One is obviously the Welbilt Girls who are a staple at every show and do such a great job supporting and promoting the band. If I were younger and without family I would undoubtedly join their club. The other is a group of 3 guys and 3 girls. More specifically - 3 sorta heft guys and 3 relatively skinny girls showing off at least one tramp stamp (hilarious). Whatever, I wouldn't have even noticed these people except they were BEGGING to be noticed. I guess about 3 or 4 songs in to the set the one guy decides he's Patrick Swayze and the tramp stamp girl is Jennifer Gray. I kid you not, he pops the collar on his plaid flannel shirt (ya, I didn't know that was possible either) and starts doing a whole routine with this girl - as if they're on Dancing With The Stars (or better yet, the main performance in Dirty Dancing). It was freakin' hilarious. Brad commented that the guys in the band were probably getting a big kick out of it too and I noted that they probably weren't paying much attention (especially since they were dancing right under the front of the stage which is a good 10-12 feet off the ground). However; Nate prooved me wrong when he actually commented that that song was "fun... really fun." At which point we all lost it even more than we were previously. So, then the entire group started dancing, swinging the girls around and being generally...... well gross. To add to this delightfully hilarious scene, a guy (ok, I think it was a guy but it could have easily been a girl - we will never know the truth) is seen walking up the hill towards the back of the festival area. He is all alone and I guess feels like nobody is around to watch, so he starts swinging his hips and waving his hands around to the music. He's really in to it and he's waving and dancing as he walks up the hill. Just about the time he makes it to the top, dancing all the way, a park authority golf cart drives up and says something to him and he just keeps on dancing and waving his arms about. This too provided unending laughs for our group. I suppose this sort of behavior should be expected at an event where $1 beer is served. I just have to note that nothing of this sort was witnessed at last month's beerfest (thought it was a better beerfest overall).

Sunday, September 16, 2007 - Yo Amo Pastalitos! - Episode 9

Sunday, September 16, 2007
Yo Amo Pastalitos! - Episode 9
I might have mentioned in prior blogs that the food in Venezuela (at least the stuff we were being force fed) was not the world's greatest stuff. We wanted to go out and be adventurous, sample some of the local flavor, but the opportunity really wasn't there (until the very end when we were all outta dough of course). On day 3, the start of competition, I discovered the concession stand in the basketball facility. I happend to be in there because my little phenom swimmer was to subjected to drug testing. I'd been in there first thing in the morning, but only to tape up basketball and then I hightailed it to the pool. Stopping by, or even looking for the existence of a concession stand was not an option. Regardless, I ended up there, for 2 1/2 hours, later that morning. While we waited and waited.........and waited, for my girl to pee in the cup - I made my way around to the concession stand. Little joint - sorta what one might find in a middle school somewhere. They had the usual, soda, cookies, chips - and then the not so usual, 3 different kinds of wafers (I should blog about wafers just cause I love them so much and they were completely abundant down there), odd and assorted juices, and homemade pastry type things.
Let's keep something in mind here - at our concession stands we sell what? Nachos, hot dogs, popcorn, perhaps a burger if they're real well equipped. Maybe they've ordered pizza to sell. It's virtually always something along those lines with the candy, soda, and whatnot. I suppose that hot dogs, and nachos just aren't staples in Venezuela like they are here, but these pastry things apparently are.
Well, lunch has come and gone and the bus left us ages ago, so we're sitting around waiting for my girl to pee in the cup...........still. I head back to the concession stand and order up a Pepsi. I am eyeing these pastry things and wondering if they're gonna be safe to eat. My stomach cannot handle poorly cooked food - or really greasy food - or undercooked food - or really much of anything on any given day. I'd prefer not to have an adventure in foreign concession stand cuisine ruin my day and/or my entire week in Venezuela. Nonetheless, it's my only option for lunch so I figure I should give it a go. Along with the Pepsi I ask for whatever's in the case there. Uno. The guy (who later became a fantastic friend) grabs a papertowel, picks up the pastry and hands it over. It's nice and warm and flakey. It smells pretty good and they've already told me it's filled with meat. I take a deep breath and bite in to it - completely unsure of what to expect. Well, what I got was complete and utter amazement. It was good. It was so amazingly good. A flakey filo dough, square, filled with chicken and spices. It was by far the best thing I'd had to eat since my glorious crabcake sandwich at the Tidewater at Dulles. I expressed this sentiment - "This is the best food I've had since I got to this country!" Mind you, not a single soul there had a clue what I was saying, but they could tell I was thrilled to death with my lunch. I asked what it was called. Being super dumb and full on knowing the world "nombre," I didn't manage to pull that outta my limited vocabulary. Nope, took several tries to get them to tell me what the damn thing was called - the hard way. "Pastalito!" Sweet meat and pastry nectar of the Gods - pastalito! I was so excited by this I could hardly contain myself. I don't remember if I went back for another one immediately or later that day, but I definitely went back. In fact, I went back just about every day at least once. I took whomever was interested with me and forced them to eat one as well. Surely if I loved it they would love it too - and I was right!
I believe it was day 5, I was heading over before volleyball got underway to grab myself a Pepsi and pastalito and I asked for takers. Mike was willing, so he came along. Seeing my new concession friend I said "tres pastalitos y Pepsi." Yep, I was getting right good at the Spanish (or not, but I could at least order what I wanted from the concession stand). So Mike gets the pastalito in hand and looking familiarly unsure - takes a bite. Waits for it, smiles, and says "this is the best thing I've had to eat since I've been here." Oddly familiar - yep, my sentiments exactly. I was super excited to have a friend to share my pastalito love with. I forced this experience on virtually every athelete, parent and spectator I could convince to follow me over there - each one truly pleased to have come along. I would eat pastalitos over the OV virtually any time the opportunity struck - and with all of our athletes getting drug tested it was really quite easy to do so.
I really need to put some time and effort in to one of three things. 1. Find an easy recipie and start making these bad boys at home (somehow in the oven cause deep frying is not something I'm keen on). 2. Find a store that sells them ready to cook. 3. Find a Venezuelan restaurant that would actually serve up something you'd find in a concession stand.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007 - Extreme street crossing - Episode 8

Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Extreme street crossing - Episode 8
I really didn't have much reason, or opportunity really, to cross the street while in Venezuela. Our hotel was on what appeared to be the main drag. Lots of stores and such up and down from the hotel and virtually anything you could want was on the same side of the road. I did; however, have a couple of experiences crossing the street - during daylight or just post daylight hours - that were.....harrowing, shall we say?
Day 2 - Opening Ceremonies. This event was held in a nice stadium that was conveniently located directly across the street from our hotel. It started right at dusk, so while there was still plenty of daylight, all of Team USA crossed the street. The street was a 6 lane with a decent size median in the middle, so if you could only make it halfway across at one time then that was ok. No serious issues crossing over to the stadium, ceremonies happend, Miss Venezuela was there - the boys went nuts, and the shindig ended. Leaving the stadium it was definitely dark outside. Probably 8ish at night, but still quite busy out as it was Saturday evening. There are stoplights in Venezuela, not unlike here, and if you're lucky there are also the crossing lights. I'm pretty sure there was no crossing light in front of the hotel, but we can all see red and green and it's pretty easy to judge when it is and is not safe to cross the road. Myself and a female athlete were standing on the corner, being the first two out of the ceremony, waiting on the light to change so we could cross. The light turns red, traffic stops, nobody is turning right, so we proceed to try and make it to the median. Not halfway out in to the road, light still red, a motorcycle comes flying through the intersection right at us. I grab the girl and pull her backwards as I'm exiting stage left myself. I swear these people don't know what a stoplight is. My best guess is that stoplights only apply to vehicles with 4 or more tires, and those with two just kind of have their own traffic laws. Regardless, we made it across safely after that incident.
Day 5 - The Lunch. You might recall my last blog where I discussed the volleyball lunch, and my adventure with Todd to every ATM within a 3 block radius. This adventure involved a good bit of street crossing. To start with, it was midday on a Tuesday - lunch time. People take lunch in Venezuela just the same as they do around here. It's a busy time of day to say the least. As we walked up to where we needed to cross to get to the pizzaria, I noticed that there was a crosswalk - of all things, a crosswalk - only it wasn't at an intersection, nor a light of any sort. Nope, just a crosswalk, in the middle of the street. Anywho, I figured a crosswalk in the middle of the street is about as good as it's gonna get around these parts, so myself and another athlete or two decide to brave it. Traffic is flying by like mad. I'm pretty sure these people have zero traffic laws, and if there are actual laws........well, they just don't follow them at all. It's kind of like double dutch - when you're watching the ropes turn, and you want to jump in, but you have to time it just right. You're trying to feel the rhythm, and when you think you've got it you make a break for it and run in. That's what it was like crossing the street. A few busses, or box trucks, or SUVs would fly by, and you'd gauge the next few cars coming up the road. Was there time to make a run for it? Would it be safer to just wait for the light to change, 2 blocks up? Two lanes are traffic free, but there's a car whizzing up lane 3 - so we should walk up to lane 3, wait for the car to fly by and then shoot the gap to the median. This scenario is ineveitably what happend. Now, on the opposite side of the median there was considerably less traffic. The light on the next block did a superior job of stopping up the flow coming at us, so we were able to just cruise across. Once 3 or 4 of us got over there, we decided that we didn't want to eat at that joint, so we braved it and walked back across. Actually, walking never really happend - we stutter-stepped really. A half jog, half walk, half back track sort of jig if you will. Once we were back with the rest of the team we decided that we'd rather have the pizzaria, so we braved the traffic yet again.
By the time we had to go do the ATM run, I felt fully confidant that I could cross the road under any circumstances because I'd already crossed about 10 times in 10 minutes. We sailed across to the ATM and coming back was no sweat either - it was the inbetween that was blog worthy. After lunch I crossed by myself cause I had to catch a bus back over to the University to cover Track & Field. Miraculously I survived that too.

Monday, September 10, 2007 - The ATM(s) that wouldn’t give - Episode 7

Monday, September 10, 2007
The ATM(s) that wouldn’t give - Episode 7
During my unexpectedly long stay at Dulles on my way down to Miami, I thought that I might just go ahead and exchange some of my cash for some Venezuelan money. I sure as hell trusted the exchange at Dulles more than whatever the hell was gonna greet me in Caracas, so I found the nearest exchange window in the C terminal. The girl was quick to tell me that she didn't have any Venezuelan money (I later found this to be Bolivares) to give me. She said they'd probably have it in Miami, so try once I got down there. 12 hours later, while waiting in the massively long line that was our group, at Miami International, I spotted an exchanged and decided to give it a go. 5 minutes later I had exchanged $50 for 120,000. Bolivares. That was pretty damn exciting to me. Not knowing what kind of money spending situation I might be in, I was pretty sure that 120,000. would most likely get me through the next 10 days (keeping in mind that my meals and such were supposed to be taken care of by the USADSF). The money seemed to last forever. A huge litre and a half of Pepsi was only 2000 bolivares, as was an equal amount of water, and snacks and such were rarely priced over 5000. I began referring to the cash on hand as 1000 (ones), 2000 (twos), 5000 (fives), 10,000 (tens) and 20,000 (twenties). I never got my hands on a 50,000, but I know they exist. I was spending 20's like they were going outta style, and loaned one or two (thankfully got that cash back in hand a few days later). This; however, is not the purpose of my blog, but rather the back story.
Now, once we got in to Valencia there were banks everywhere. Banks, on every corner, two or three of them. You know how when you go to the DMV, and you take a number and you park yourself somewhere amoung the masses and then the little message boards light up with the next number in the que? Ya, well that's how the bank is in Venezuela. Literally........identical set up. Baffling, I know. In addition to this, there are ATMs like mad. Each bank has a row of 3 or 4 inside, and then maybe a few more outside. And infront of each ATM is a line of people going down the steps (this was a common sight each morning). I didn't have much cause to get cash, and neither did anyone I'd been hanging out with...........that was until the lunch.
We were all pretty freakin' sick and tired of the OV. The food, while edible, lacked something to be desired........... with that something being excitement. It didn't matter what you might be in the mood for - you just ate what they served you and that was all there was to it. So around day 5, when we'd all really had about enough, Todd suggested that we have a nice team lunch at an actual restaurant. Prior to this, our only restaurant experience had been McDonald's - and even that was not particularly exciting - interesting as it was. To top off the suggestion that we have a team lunch - he offered to pay..........for everyone. The exchange rate was definitely in our favor, but I was really amazed at the generousity he was suggesting. So, the team agrees that we're going out to lunch. We walk around a bit. Play in some traffic (blog about that topic to come later). And eventually find a "pizzaria" where we decided to eat. After an extreme lesson in ordering your food in Venezuela, we managed to get everyone squared away. This was all fine and dandy till it became apparent that the place didn't take Visa. The plan had been for Todd to foot the bill on his Visa, and since that was no longer an option, he figured the next best thing would be to hit up an ATM. I've used ATMs in lotsa places - even in lotsa places outside of the USA. Only one time, in Scotland, did I ever have a problem with the machine not forking over some dough. This was just not the case in Venezuela. First ATM we went to, it asks a ton of questions, wants to know your passport number and such. Ok, so we get through all that and it won't fork over and dough. Moving on to the next ATM - try things a little differently, still no dough. This process continues through at least 4 ATMs. At this point we think we'll just try for the bank teller - that was until we walked in to find that it was the DMV. Exiting stage left - we ended up walking back down to the hotel to the exchange desk there. Turns out, Todd's got mad cash on him, and can just exchange it for the necessary amount of bolivares. Truly amazing. So, with the 300,000 bolivares in hand, we make our way back down to the restaurant and pay the bill. Quite an adventure really. And, miraculously, no panic ensued (though you should know, I was on the verge).
Fast forward to Saturday - our last day there. I wanted to get a little money to buy some lunch and perhaps a souvenir or two. I'd spent my last few bucks on a couple of beers and, over the course of the week, numerous pastilitos (blog on this topic to come soon). I walk out to the front of the hotel and put my card in the ATM - it won't even go through the motions with me - it just says "no" flat out. So, I move on to the next one. I got a smidge further, but still "no." I can see where this is going and can't find a reason to continue torturing myself. Thankfully I was able to successfully use my Visa at Pizza Hut - otherwise I might have starved to death.
All in all, my recommendation would be to make sure you take care of your exchanges early on when travelling in Venezuela (and probably most of South America). The ATMs are not going to give you jack.

Thursday, September 06, 2007 - The Smoldering Accordion Player - Episode 6

Thursday, September 06, 2007
The Smoldering Accordion Player - Episode 6
It's due time that I put some serious effort in to describing the unique musical experience that was my trip to Venezuela. Of course it's a different country, with a different language, a different culture, different food, water you can't drink or bathe in safely, and along with all that - different music. At the start of the trip we got on a bus, and the bus driver cranked up the radio. The music was pretty salsa-esq, with an occasional hip-hop-ish tune thrown in - all of which was accompanied by Spanish lyrics (go figure). I guess about an hour or two in to the ride (lets not forget how it took us a good 4 hours to get from Caracas to Valencia on the way in), I actually recognized a song. It was a Madonna song, and initially when it started to play I assumed it would be a remake with Spanish lyrics. I was extremely surprised to find that it was, in fact, Madonna singing; however, the song had been "salsaed" up just a smidge. From there I also heard some Roberta Flack and at least one other American song, though I neglected to write down the artist and/or title. This was highly entertaining to me. and after the brief detour in to American-esq music, it was right back to the hard core salsa stuff. Now, fast forward a few days to my morning breakfast meeting with JK. I was on a pretty straight schedule - much to my dismay - of getting up around 6:30ish every morning. I would get ready, grab my kit and head down to the restaurant for my breakfast of a croissant-looking roll smeared with melocotion (which is actually a really good honey-fruit-jelly sorta stuff). At some point I did try the chicken also, but then they replaced it with some scary looking beef (and one day what appeared to be vienna sausages) - from that point on I passed on everything but the roll. Anyway, JK would always be sitting down there by himself at 7-something every morning, so we came to be breakfast buddies. One morning, as we're sitting there, I noticed the big screen in the bar area was playing music videos. Since the songs were all in Spanish and were, of course, something I'd never heard - I paid little to no attention. I did happen to look up at one point and actually watch the video. Now, here in America, we've got no short supply of hot boys singing their hearts out in to a microphone on screen (or playing the guitar, beating the drums for all they're worth, playing a piano - whatever.... you get my drift). The same thing applies in Venezuela too - except that they're possibly a little more musically diverse than we are when it comes to instruments. So, as I'm gazing at the screen I see the typical steamy guy singing his heart out in to a microphone right up in the camera lens. Behind him; however, is not a guy making love to his guitar, piano, or drum set - no, no, no. The guy behind him is steamy, smoldering really, and playing his heart out oh so passionately guessed accordion. I nearly fell outta my seat because this was so unbelieveably hilarious to me. Can you see it? Perhaps you should try and search for it on YouTube. JK, I'm sure, thought I'd lost my mind - and doubtfully for the first or last time that week. Hell, by the end of the trip the entire team probably thought I was completely bonkers - but that's ok. Nonetheless - I felt it sincerely important to relay this to the rest of you. We're really missing out up here. All we get are stringed instruments as the object of our rock star's desire, but there's a whole other world down in Venezuela.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007 - Choose Your Own Adventure Elevators - Episode 5

Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Choose Your Own Adventure Elevators - Episode 5
So, one of the interesting tid bits about our hotel in Valencia were the elevators. There were three of them to cover the 18 floor hotel (though there was no button for the 18th floor - there was a sign in the elevator clearly stating that the ballroom and conference rooms could be found there.)The elevator on the left was marked "service", but wasn't any different than the other two and nobody except the actual staff seemed to care that it could possibly be different. Each elevator had it's own "charm". One had buttons that were "messed up" to say the least. The number 7 was recessed in to the control panel among other aesthetic issues. Another had a very nice, modern looking control panel - silver with l.e.d lights in the center of each button. All very nice and intact - with no extreme signs of wear and tear. However, despite this elevator's "upscale look," it had a true mind of its own. I cannot speak for floors below the 14th, as that's where I stayed and virtually everyone I ever had cause to visit was on 14 or above, so perhaps the issue I am about to describe only plagued the upper floors. On occasion, and one could never predict when the occasion might arise, the elevator would not go to the floor you asked it to go to. Not unlike every other elevator on the planet - you would step in, push the button marked for the floor you'd like to stop on and the doors would close. What happend next could be anything from highly entertaining, to highly aggravating, to infuriating (depending on how much of a hurry you might be in at that given moment in time). By chance, the elevator might stop on every other floor - yet nobody had pushed any of those buttons, nor was anyone EVER waiting to get on the elevator at the unsolicited stops. Even better, the elevator might not even stop on the floor you asked it to stop on. I can't tell you how many times I pushed 14, only to end up on 15 - then opting to disembark and walk down the stairs because I wanted the ride to END. I recall one particular incident where an athlete and I were heading up to my room so that I could dispense some medication, or hand out a bandaid, or something of that matter. We got on in the lobby, hit 14, the doors closed, and the elevator actually went all the way to 14 without stopping (not to mention it actually stopped on 14). We looked at one another in amazement and I recall saying, "holy crap! That never happens!" To the best of my knowledge, that was the sole time there wasn't an "adventure" in the elevator. You just never knew, from moment to moment, what kind of ride you were in for. It could involve the stairs, or perhaps a visit to the 10th floor which was closed for renovation. More often than not it involved a visit to 5 different floors when, in fact, you only wanted to visit 1.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Manageing the four languages - Episode 4
I often find, in everyday life, that if I come across someone who doesn't understand what I'm saying when I speak then certainly they will understand what I'm saying when I sign it in ASL. At least that's what makes sense in my head. Nevermind that the reality of it is not the slightest bit true..... my head continues to think this way. To complicate matters, I've taken 4 years of French. I do not claim to be even slightly fluent in the lauguage; however, I can read it enough to get by and in conversation I might be able to convey the essentials as well as understand the essentials. Keeping tabs, I've got 3 languages in my head on a regular basis. Now, ship me off to a country where the general population speaks Spanish. I don't speak Spanish beyond "hola", as everyone knows full and well. I did want to at least attempt to learn enough to get by while I was there, but I found it increasingly difficult to manage all of the languages in my head.
First, there's english. Seeing how this is my first and primary language, I always start with it whenever speaking is necessary. Unfortunately, in a Spanish speaking country, this doesn't get one very far. My second instinct is to sign. First, I sign because I'm with the deaf team - therefore ASL should be an acceptable form of communication - except when you're away from the team.....and then second, in my head it's what's supposed to come next after English fails....
Now we move to where French comes in to play. I can't communication in English, I can't communicate in ASL, therefore, next up to bat is French. Well, no, next up to bat is supposed to be Spanish - yet I don't know any Spanish. In utter frustration I try and try and try to conjur the word I am trying to say - in a language other than the one I primarily speak - but all that I can come up with are things in French (and that, my friend, will not get you very far in a Spanish speaking country).
Needless to say, I spent a huge part of the 10 days trying desperately to communicate with some really great, patient, and friendly Venezuelans. We've all exchanged emails and I've employed Google Translate to try and help me out at least a little bit. I'm positive that the translations are extremely literal, so I am not hopeful that my exact meanings are getting through (but it's better than nothing).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - Donde Busscar? - Episode 3

Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Donde Busscar? - Episode 3
"Donde busscar?" "Where's the bus?" This became a favorite phrase of mine during the trip. Thanks, Todd, for introducing me to it
Yet another recurring theme over the course of the 10 days was the absence and/or malfunctioning of the buses. This theme is present from the very begining when we arrived at the airport. A bus was supposed to be there to fetch us upon arrival. Instead we stood on the curb and waited for two hours until two different busses came to take us on our 4 hour ride from hell. This continued on the next day when trying to go from the hotel to the University for volleyball practice. Bus was supposed to pick us up a good hour -hour and a half before it actually did. Continuing in that same vein - after practice we must have waited for at least another hour for a bus to get us then. This sort of thing happend over and over and over again. You could ask anyone who was still at the University well past the time they should've left - "what are you doing here?" And they would reply "we're waiting on our bus." The same could be said for entire teams standing out in front of the hotel.
Now, if it wasn't that the bus just wasn't showing up - it was that the bus was broken down (theoretically a legitimate excuse for not showing up). I'd heard some stories about busses breaking down with a whole team on board, but I hadn't actually experienced this for myself until pretty late in the week. Our bus did not show up, so we decided to get on Mexico's bus. We were pretty sure that the bus had been driven down from Mexico city by the looks of the thing and frankly I was really unsurprised when it broke down while trying to pull out of the spot it was parked in. We all unloaded (thankfully we hadn't actually left the University) and commenced standing on the curb as we'd grown accustomed to over the past 7 days or so. That bus sat in the University parking lot for the remainder of our time in Venezuela. Every day we'd pull up and say "well, the bus is still there." I guess there wasn't really any hurry to have it towed away and fixed - I'd venture it's still there now. I think busses assigned to team USA broke down no less than 5 times during the course of the week, and I was relieved to have only been on one of them and even more pleased to not have been stranded in the middle of nowhere when it happend. I believe during one incident, the entire boys basketball team had to be cabbed in - 4 at a time - because the bus broke down half way between the hotel and the University.
My favorite "bus" incident of the entire trip was just prior to the Mexico bus break down. Earlier that day I'd been on a bus from the University to the OV. It was kind of a small crappy bus (believe it or not, the busses we normally took were very nice charter busses - far nicer than the charter busses we have here in the US), but we weren't complaining cause it was taking us where we needed to go. As a general rule, driving is pretty eratic in Venezuela (at least that was my experience), so the bus lurching all over the road really wasn't a shock. As we're driving, and lurching, and swerving, a work truck pulls up beside us. Now, this guy can't drive either (of course) and he (or the bus, I'm not really sure which was at fault) side swiped us. Not once......but twice. The bus bore the marks on the right front side and right rear side. As soon as it happend I was like, "well I can't believe it took us nearly all week to get in to an accident." The bus pulls over, as does the truck. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this will be a quick and easy review of the accident and we'll get to go sooner rather than later. To my utter amazement, the drivers take a look at the bus, then the truck, agree that the world won't come to an end, and we're on our merry way.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - The first 24 hours - Episode 2

Tuesday, August 21, 2007
The first 24 hours - Episode 2
Alright, so I said this would be less episodal and more subjective; however, I feel like rehashing the first 24 hours in the order that they occurred - so here goes.
My flight outta Dulles was supposed to be at 6:30pm on a Thursday. I sneaked outta work a smidge early to give myself enough time to go home, throw my crap in the car, and allow myself to be driven to the airport. So far, so good. I got there at a decent time. Was able to check two of my 3 bags curbside, but had to take the third bag of medical supplies inside and pay to check it. (Side note - if the USADSF, or whomever you please, is not footing the bill for more than two bags to be checked, pack it all in 2 -it's not worth the extra cost.) That took a bit more time than I'd hoped, but I was ticketed and really have no problem being the last person to board the plane. I finally get over to my gate to find that the flight has been delayed about 30 minutes. Now, I've been travelling alot with my new job, so slight delays have become pretty commonplace with me. Generally the problem is that the plane I'm supposed to get on hasn't actually shown up to the airport yet - this is a recurring theme.
I take my new found time and go for a walk up the terminal to find a decent dinner. There's a neat wine bar/restaurant up at one end, but frankly I felt underdressed in my Adidas t-shirt, clam diggers and flip flops, so I kept walking. After a bit I decided to try my luck in the Tidewater even though it was slam packed. I found a seat at the bar, ordered a Sam Addams and a crabcake sandwich (I know, go figure). The guy sitting next to me was nice and I chatted with him for a bit. Another guy came in and sat on the other side of me and inevitably I would spend roughly the next hour and a half hanging out with him. On three separate occasions I got up, walked to my gate, and found that my flight had been delayed even longer. Greg from Vermont, thanks for being the only entertainment available at Dulles! Unfortunately Greg also had a flight to catch, so we parted ways and I made my way up to Starbucks.
At this point in time I should've already been halfway to Miami, yet, I was still at Dulles. I shopped around and waited and waited, but the flight wasn't happening. Bad weather was inevitably to blame, but it was getting a bit rediculous. I started to fear that I wouldn't make it down there in time for the flight out to Caracas the next morning and I wasn't sure what would happen then.
Finally, well after I should've landed in Miami and been lazily watching TV in the Marriott, I got on the plane. Got in to Miami about 1am, went straight to bed and got up at 7:30 the next morning. Went out to breakfast, met up with some coaches, athletes, and Lonnie and we gathered everyone to head to the airport. It took us awhile to get through the check-in at Miami, with only one small snafu involving a coach without a passport (he showed up a few days later than the rest of us). That flight took off on time and things were looking up. We arrived in sunny Caracas on time and made it through customs easily. The group headed out front to board our bus to Valencia, yet, no bus was there. A two hour wait ensued, and finally a couple of crappy busses with no a/c showed up and we all got on.
Valencia is a little less than 100 miles from Caracas and the roads are not bad. This should have been a 2 hour drive, yet, it was not. I believe the total road time was a good 4 hours with no less than a 1 hour stop off at a rest area where the drivers just sat and chilled..........with beers.
It gets dark very early when you're that close to the equator, so even though it was only 7pm it seemed to be about 11ish. Everyone was completely exhausted, but we made it to the hotel in Valencia relatively unscathed. Check-in didn't take too terribly long (when compared to the 4 hour bus ride) and I felt like overall the trip was going well.
I unpacked my things in my room, organized the closet nice and neat, showered, and hopped in to bed. I might have only been asleep for 30 minutes or so when there was a loud knock on my door and someone calling my name. At this point I opened my eyes and said out loud "I knew it was too good to be true." I threw on some shorts, checked the peep hole and opened the door to find the swimming coach and several men I didn't know standing outside of my room. They'd kicked the coach out of her room because "some Canadians need a place to sleep." You can imagine my retort being something like, "and why does this involve me?" They were demanding that the coach leave her room and stay in my room because I was the only person in there (specifically because I need to treat athletes in my room and it's not quite fair to constantly ask someone to leave the room). Of course I let her in to stay - it wasn't her fault they were being so completely rediculous. She got her things together, hopped in to the other bed, and went back to sleep. Wouldn't you know as soon as I got back to sleep there was a knock on my door AGAIN! Same stupid guy asking if I had a single room - "no you moron, I HAD a single room till you kicked poor Kathy out of her room and threw her in here!" He finishes up with "are you hearing?" Right, cause this is completely relevant to waking me up in the middle of the night and kicking people out of their rooms.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - Where do you want me to start?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Where do you want me to start?
I guess I should start with the really bothersome aspects of this entire experience. If I get that stuff off my chest first then I'll be able to move on with the positives of the trip (there were plenty of positives) and not drone on about the BS of it all.
"Donde agua?" "Where's the water?" This was a phrase that everyone should've mastered on the plane from Miami. I recall receiving an email from the organizers where they clearly stated that no one was to drink, brush teeth, or in any other manner ingest the water once we were abroad. This statement was followed by a statement saying "we will have plenty of bottled water for everyone!" Upon arrival I relized that this was not the case. Not only did they not have plenty of bottled water for everyone - they had NO bottled water for everyone. The hotel did have filtered water that they would give you to drink, but upon arrival it was pretty scary trying to decipher what water was safe and what water was not because none of it was coming from a nice sealed bottle. I pretty much beat my head off the table anticipating the entire US team balled up in their rooms dying of dysentery prior to competition ever commencing.
Continuing in this same vein.......... We get up the next morning and volleyball needs to have practice. I come out the front door of the hotel to find that they're out on the sidewalk hitting balls around cause no bus has come to pick them up. Inevitably this turned out to be a positive for me because I really just wanted to work volleyball and swimming and here was my in. I claimed the volleyball team.
Nevermind that we had absolutely no schedule. No practice schedule, no bus schedule, no food schedule, no events schedule - nothing. The coach and players are asking about water, but again, there isn't any. I thought that there would be a simple explanation about the absence of bottled water, so I went to find the team leader. Simply put - he had no water to give. This of course begs the question "why did you send out an email saying there would be plenty of bottled water for everyone?" We did manage to squeeze a few bottles out of his personal stash to take to practice and that was gone before the practicing ever started. I can't tell you what it's like to travel to another country - with questionable hydration practices, with an organization that doesn't see a need to stockpile bottled water for it's athletes. This was quickly becoming an Athletic Trainer's nightmare. So we had the first practice. It was hot, and sweaty, and everyone was awfully dehydrated by the time we got to the Olympic Villa (OV)for lunch. As a team we stole no less than 1 case of water from the OV "cafeteria" and decided then and there that we would make our own stockpile - eff the rest of them. The next day the "cafeteria" began monitoring the water and would only allow a person to take one bottle. Later in the week we would find that if you weren't in the first "wave" at a meal, the water would just be gone (as would food on some occasions).

Monday, August 20, 2007 - Yes, I’m still a Venezuelan doctor...(preface)

Monday, August 20, 2007
Yes, I’m still a Venezuelan doctor...(preface)
Well, you may or may not recall me writing a nice bit on how I'm a Venezuelan doctor - just about a year ago. I swore up and down that I would never....ever... put myself in to that sort of situation again, but happend anyway. What can I say - I'm not a bad person. Regardless, this year's adventure actually took me to the mother land of Venezuela (where all good Venezuelan doctors practice you know) for the Pan Am Games. The trip was very very very last minute, so don't be too upset that I didn't let you know I was going. I'm pretty happy to be back - drinking water out of the faucet, trying to get the nasty water stain off my feet, eating salad, and loading up on all my favorite dairy products :) I did have a good experience overall though thanks to a really great volleyball team, nice and patient Venezuelans and certain other comiserators :)
As you can imagine, this adventure gave me blog material for weeks, so I'm going to try and break it down in to episodes by topic instead of by incident (though I'm sure there will be incidental accounts as well). Stay tuned - there's TONS to come!

Sunday, August 05, 2007 - Googlenopery...

Sunday, August 05, 2007
I enjoy the Washington Post. I get it delivered to my house every day of the week, every week of the year, and (if I'm lucky) I take the opportunity each day to peruse the pages, read what I like and recycle it when I'm finished. Sunday is particularly good because so many more things come with the Sunday edition. Today I was blessed to receive a full catalog from Ikea (I'm gonna bring it over for you Erik - you need it far more than I ever could) among the traditional tidbits I enjoy. Regardless, I'm writing not about the fabulous Ikea catalog, but rather reposting the column I generally find the most amusing "Below The Beltway" by Gene Weingarten. Always funny and witty, and often re-post worthy. I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did
Nope, Yup, Nope, YupAn ontological treatise on flipping coinageBy Gene WeingartenSunday, August 5, 2007; W40
Three months ago in this space, a versatile new word was born. A "googlenope" was defined as a phrase that returns no hits when entered between quotation marks into the Google search engine. Until that day, the word "googlenope" was itself a googlenope. Today, it draws more than 1,000 hits, and the number is growing. The phenomenon has spread to Europe. Indeed, without my knowledge, someone started a Web site,, which is devoted to the art and science of what we shall henceforth call . . . googlenopery.
We at Googlenope International headquarters could not be more proud. But semantic pioneers do not get where they are by resting on their laurels. Today, we further plumb the field by finding new googlenopes, and pairing them with googleyups, phrases that ought to be googlenopes, but aren't.
As always, every time a new googlenope is created and published, it ceases to be a googlenope. In this manner, we shall slowly but steadily create a world where nothing has been left unsaid.
Googlenope: I'd like a middle seat
Googleyup: I'd like to die in a plane crash
Googlenope: world's funniest proofreader
Googleyup: world's funniest mortician
Googlenope: accidentally glued my foot to my dog
Googleyup: accidentally glued my dog to the floor
Googlenope: squalor of the French Riviera
Googleyup: splendor of Hoboken, N.J.
Googlenope: armpit hair topiary
Googleyup: nose hair topiary
Googlenope: 14-karat gold spork
Googleyup: 14-karat gold silly putty egg
Googlenope: died in a freak pogo stick accident
Googleyup: died in a freak mushy pea accident
Googlenope: turkey-chip cookie
Googleyup: chicken-chip cookie
Googlenope: sensitive middle linebacker
Googleyup: sensitive mass murderer
Googlenope: finest Cajun food in New Hampshire
Googleyup: finest Cajun food in the Netherlands
Googlenope: God is a bad dancer
Googleyup: God is a bad first date
Googlenope: All philosophers are gasbags
Googleyup: The Ontological Basis of Plotinus' Criticism of Aristotle's Theory of Categories
Googlenope: the kiwi and sausage diet
Googleyup: the ice cream and prune diet
Googlenope: worshipped for his knock-knock jokes
Googleyup: worshipped for his penmanship
Googlenope: give Hillary a noogie
Googleyup: give Jesus a noogie
Googlenope: Amish shotgun enthusiast
Googleyup: kickboxing Jewish Republican
Googlenope: the most delicious pus ever
Googleyup: the most delicious vomit ever
Googlenope: a passion for orthodontia
Googleyup: a passion for toilet-seat collecting
Googlenope: the World Blimp Racing Championship
Googleyup: the World Snail Racing Championship
Googlenope: uncircumcised hamster
Googleyup: uncircumcised anchovy
Googlenope: My behind isn't large enough
Googleyup: Do I look fat in this muumuu?
Googlenope: Himmler loved humanity
Googleyup: Himmler loved a nice plate of salmon
Googlenope: gangsta clog dancing
Googleyup: gangsta accordion music
Googlenope: how to press your pants with a waffle iron
Googleyup: how to shave your legs with duct tape
Googlenope: googlenopery
Googleyup: de-googlenoping

Tuesday, July 24, 2007 - Why you should listen to your hot water tank

Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Why you should listen to your hot water tank
A few of you might remember me mentioning a couple of months ago how we should get a new hot water tank. The water looked dingy, so we figured (and were given advice) to drain it and give it a nice rinse. So we did that, a couple of times in a row, yet.........still dingy water. So we figured that we'd have to set aside some dough to purchase a new tank. There are a wide variety out there, but I'd like to have something efficient and as large as we have now (50 gallons). I can deal with dingy water for a couple of months until we do it. Well, apparently the hot water tank had a different idea on what it was going to do in the meantime. Got a call from Brad about 11:30 this morning relaying his story of how a loud crash woke him up, he investigated to find a laundry room full of water and further investigated to find a very wet kitchen ceiling and a hanging pot rack that was............well, no longer hanging. At this point I could only think of the hot water tank, so I told him my theory and gave instructions to shut off the water and gas to it. Driving home I was terribly afraid that something worse happend - burst pipes or something of that nature, but was relieved to find that there really was no other explanation. The bottom seems to have just fallen out of the 12 year old tank (that's about their lifetime for anyone wondering) and when the laundry room could take no more it found another route out - through the floor apparently. 50 gallons at once - I'm surprised the entire 2nd floor isn't soaked. Anyway, now I'm off to hunt for a new tank at Lowes, Home Depot, Sears - the usual suspects. Nationwide will be coming tomorrow to decide who will come to fix our ceiling and such. I hope this results in new lighting fixtures for the kitchen - I hate the ones that are in there now.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007 - Social Experiments

Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Social Experiments
So, I decided that I was in desperate need of an ice cream sundae this morning. My neck is hurting, things have been less than grand with the recent and sudden passing of a friend from college and his little boy, and I just want some damn ice cream. So after lunch I convince my work friend that she too needs a trip down to the closest ice cream shop - Ben & Jerry's - where we'll partake of a nice sundae that's sure to not be good for us.
We get in to Ben & Jerry's and there's a couple in front of us. They're ordering, so I wander around to look at the flavors available. I notice, sitting in a corner of this extremely small shop, a kid - he's probably 16 or 17, but it's really hard to say cause I don't stop and stare at him - and he's just hanging out with a spoon in his mouth. Not a moment later his phone starts playing some serious racket. Now, when I say racket I do not mean my mother's definition of racket which is as follows: any noise that she does not deem to be pleasing to her ears. No, this was true racket - sounded like a broken walkie talkie stuck in the receive mode with all channels meshing together. Now, when my phone rings I answer it. Even if I'm enjoying the song it plays I answer it. At no point in time do I ever just listen to the song over and over and over again for the fun of it. That is what this kid was doing - to the broken walkie talkie racket. So finally, after a good 2 minutes, he changes it from the racket to the recent Rhianna release. Here's where the gettin' gets good. Not only is the song playing on his phone, he is singing along..... loudly. And not only is he loudly singing along to the song playing on his phone, but he is jammin' out to it - spoon in hand. As I mentioned before, he's sort of in a corner, and he's obstructed from the other patrons' view by a wall. I only knew he was there because I ventured up to look at the flavors. I realize at the moment of his jam-out, that his reflection can clearly be seen in the glass covering the ice cream. The kid is gettin' down like it's 1985 and there's some cardboard about to be laid out on the sidewalk. Truly amazing. But anyway, he's singing, and jammin', and whatever else and finally the song ends and he says "man I love that song", and everyone continues to ignore him as they had been doing. My co-worker says "what if I just walk over there and smack him upside the head." I agree that this would be truly funny and tell her that voilence such as that is perfectly acceptable under such extinuating circumstances. At this point he puts on yet another song - our order still hasn't been taken and we're only second in line, so we opt for Panera, turn around and exit stage right.
Feeling as though we've just escaped a cameo on Punk'd, we head to Panera, get a brownie and get back in the car. On the five minute drive back to work we witness yet another social experiment driving down the road. Seriously - lady (I think, but one can never be sure) jammin' out to her radio - not just singing along (cause I serious love to sing along to the radio), but waving her arms all out the window like she's at Fur or something. Seriously???!!! Seriously.....

Monday, July 02, 2007 - Rockin out in Cali.....

Monday, July 02, 2007
Rockin out in Cali.....
Well, I've been to California and back and sadly I just don't have that much to report. I guess the first thing that I noticed was when we made our descent in to John Wayne Airport. The mountains were amazing. Very steep and just sort of plopped down in the middle of the place. A few miles up there would be a smaller mountain "range" and then further along, a big steep mountain again. This would've made for spectacular scenery from the ground except that you couldn't see the scenery from the ground for the smog. Entire mountains were hidden behind the thick brown nasty stuff.
So, we landed and rode to the hotel and checked in. The Marriott was nice enough - though not nearly as nice as their website made it out to be, still a good place to stay. We had some lunch and drinks and got ready for the baseball game. Now, one would think that when you go out one night and it gets very cold that a lesson would be learned.....nope....not by my group. Once the sun goes down in L.A. it gets very very cold. Shivering cold. Do you think this prompted any of us to carry around warm clothing? Not in the slightest. Anyway, we went to a baseball game. It was a pretty decent time, though nothing compared to last year when we were actually interested in the teams that were playing. Nobody cares about Anaheim and Kansas City.....really....
Next day was good. Made our way around the convention, mingled, learned some stuff, picked up lots of free goodies and whatnot. Decided to head to Downtown Disney for the evening. There was an amazingly short supply of stuff to do within walking distance of the convention center. If you're not going to Disneyland then you're not doing much else. So, we walked over, found a nice restaurant, had some dinner and then headed to House of Blues to see what was going on in there. It was karyoke night wouldn't ya know. So we had some drinks and hung out for awhile and finally they opened up the back room with a DJ.... Well, not so much a DJ as someone put on a CD of music from 1987. So back to the karyoke. After some time I felt the booth vibrating and decided to investigate the back room once again. Finally they discovered that it was no longer the 20th century, much less 1987 and played some more recent and better tunes. Unfortunately by this point the place had all but completely cleared (thanks no doubt to the 1987 revival), so we dance a little bit and walked back to the hotel.
Thursday turned out to be a bit more of an adventure. After waking up and going to the most amazing session ever (live shoulder surgery taught excellently) and then hearing Vince Paple speak (eh, he was alright) I headed back to the hotel to sun myself. I laid by the pool for a bit and then decided I should get ready and figure out what we were going to do for dinner. It seemed that the "group" as a whole had alot of different dinner plans, so Jason and I opted for Chipotle - which was not close by at all. We walked for a mile or two and then hopped a bus for another 10 minutes or so until we arrived at Chipotle. Had some dinner and froze (notice the lack of bringing proper clothing for nighttime) while waiting for the bus to take us back. After reading the bus schedule we realized that it would be nearly an hour between bus number 1 and bus number 2 (for the two parts of our trip - I was not walking back a mile or so). We decided to duck in to a bar to grab a drink and some dessert before freezing once again on the bench waiting for the bus. Finally we made it home and met up with the rest of the crowd to head to the hotel bar across the street where a band was playing. I didn't last there too awfully long because my back was killing me - no doubt from all the walking in unsupportive shoes and heels. Ended up having to be repaired before the night was over, but I felt ten times better.
Friday was the day of our big adventure to L.A. and Santa Monica. I got the rental and we all piled in around 10:30am and headed off to L.A. for our breakfast at The Original Pantry Cafe. It was excellent if I do say so myself. Pancakes were the best I think I've ever had.....ever. From there we were off to Santa Monica. What a great little town! I wish we had more time there to hang out and explore the town. All that we really accomplished was a walk on the beach (though Shannon and Jon did manage to get in the water). We left there after just a couple of hours and headed back to L.A. to Art & Soul where Jason would be getting his tattoo. I believe we spent a total of 6.5 hours there before departing - nicely inked - for Pink's. The hot dogs were good stuff. Lots and lots and lots of options and a line around the block as promised. After that we went the wrong way on Melrose for quite some time (my fault for letting someone else read a map - my internal GPS should know better) before dropping Jon off at a hotel near LAX. I drove us home to Anaheim and it took an eternity. I was completely exhausted, but still managed to hunt down a 24 hour Walgreens so Jason could get the proper accoutrements for his tattoo care (and pain relief).
Bright and early Saturday morning we all departed, mostly on separate flights, and said "see ya next year!" All in all it was a great time and it's always good to see friends :) Miss you guys! Can't wait to do it again next year :)

Monday, June 04, 2007 - Inactivity and aggravation

Monday, June 04, 2007
Well, there's a chance that I'm coming to not so certain terms with my "desk" job. While I really love my job, and what I'm doing here - I'm faced with the aspect that I happen to spend the majority of my days sitting at a desk. I feel the need to move. I want to get up and do laps around the building - or run the stairs, or head outside to walk the trails in the park. What I do not want to do is sit here all day! Initially, I welcomed the change - the sitting, the relaxing aspect of the "desk" job. I still do welcome that at some times, but more than that I miss the moving around. The summer does this.... I think..... makes me want to move, to be active, to build muscle. I'd just go outside and take a walk, but I end up losing that free time sitting in traffic every morning, so I end up sitting at my desk instead. I have high hopes for school being out - and the temporary hiatus from insane traffic (keep your fingers crossed).

Friday, May 25, 2007 - Too much fun with the music player

Friday, May 25, 2007
Too much fun with the music player
So there's a chance that I'm completely obsessed with my myspace music player. Granted, I do often use it at work for something to listen to, so I like to keep it updated, but now it's turning in to a life story of sorts. I'm remembering songs that I loved when I was very little and adding those to it. Songs that remind me of friends from college, random people I've met, or experiences that I've had - all going on the playlist. The madness may never end - or at least it won't end until they tell me I can't add anymore songs (and I think I've got a good 40 to go before that happens). So, if you happen to listen to it and think -WTF? Just remember that the stupid song might have some strange special meaning to me :) Can you figure out which song reminds me of you?

Monday, May 21, 2007 - Crazy Whack June

Monday, May 21, 2007
Crazy Whack June
Well, it looks as though May is nearly over which brings to us the month of June. Normally this would be a time that I cherish as school is out, I'd get to lie by the pool daily and try my damnedest to get a decent tan (and perhaps actually get in and swim). For years and years I've been relishing June. Always a time of fond memories of NATA convention, hanging out with friends, and the start of summer. Alas, this year will be different....waaaaaaaaaaay different.
Now, don't get me wrong - I LOVE my new job. It's really fantastic. I feel like I'm really accomplishing things - for the first time ever in my career. I don't feel like I'm constantly fighting for what's right (or at least I'm not fighting in vain anymore). However, seeing how this is NOT an Athletic Training job, it does require one to actually WORK over the summer. While this entire concept is foreign to me, I figure that nearly everyone actually WORKS in the summer, so I could at least give it a try. Turns out, the craziest time, thus far in my new job will be the month of June.
(Disclaimer: Some of these events are self inflicted, but nonetheless, add to the craziness.)
The month will start off relatively slowly for me. My mother will be highly occupied on vacation in Arizona, so that's one less bit of stress for me. However, once the second week rolls around, it gets a bit hairy.
June 9-11 - I'll head to Dallas for about 2 days - 1 to visit with family - 1 to present to Youth Market Directors at AHA on AAHPERD and what we do. Hoping this all goes well.
June 16th - Bean's Baby Shower - Yes folks, our Bean will beget a baby bean and we shall call him......well, Peter. Regardless, babies command parties and this one will be held at my joint. If you've been invited, for God's sake, RSVP! If not, well, I'm terribly sorry. I'm just praying that only half of the invitees actually show up - my house is not big. Wish me luck!
June 20-23 - LDC - This is a work event, thankfully here in DC. For 3 days, State AHPERD leaders will descend on DC to learn, network, and listen to my presentations on my program and why they need to buck up and help themselves out (yes, it's a very long story, which I'll explain if you ask).
June 21st - Dinner with Deve and Gayle of the Northwest District where I'll be sponsoring a JRFH/HFH Workshop at their convention on an Alaskan ferry boat next summer. We've got lots and lots of planning to do. Yes, that was alot of work jargon that none of you understand, sorry.
June 22nd - Laura Lea & Tripp Fabulous at Friday Night Live - I cannot wait! EVERYONE should come to this!
June 23-25 - A world children art event - also in DC. I can't remember the name of this actual festival, but it involves child artists from around the world coming to DC for a week to display their art, learn, and visit. I wanted so badly to be a host family, but I'll be leaving prior to the end of the week long stay :(
June 26-30 - NATA Convention - Anaheim! Woohoo! Thankfully the month goes out with a bang as Shannon and I (and Jason, and Lonnie, and probably a few more of my ATC friends) head to L.A. to gather up our precious 25 CEUs for the year. NATA Convention is always sure to be a good time with friends and new friends and parties and learning and networking and I could go on all damn day, but I won't. (p.s. - those of you copping out this year are really missing it....boooooo!)
Once all of the madness ends, 4th of July will be here and I will most certainly welcome the break! July, thus far, is a relatively empty calendar for me, as is August, but then things pick up again in September.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - New Car

Tuesday, April 17, 2007
New Car
Ok, try not to get all pissy with me after reading this because I didn't call and tell you or whatever - bad news is not something I like to call and talk about.Now that I've gotten the disclaimer off my chest....Just about one week ago - I totalled my poor little Jetta. It ended up mushed under an SUV (go figure) on 66. Nonetheless, I came out relatively ok. What I'm pretty sure are minor issues with my back/neck/shoulder are progressing along nicely and I was able to go back to work after 2 days at home, and on drugs. Needless to say, I no longer drive a Jetta (sorry Lanie), as it was declared a total loss by the fantastic insurance company - Progressive. They have been, and continue to be, a truly fantastic company to have on your side and I'm really glad that things have gone so smoothly thanks to them. Today I got a new car after a good bit of haggling over the weekend. Some of you may, and probably most of you may not, recall my search for a Volvo back in 2005. I searched high and low for one that had what I wanted, but also for the price that I wanted. I came up empty on that search, and had completely let it go until we went to look at cars over at Pohanka in Chantilly last week. Over the past 6 years, we've spent hours perusing the cars at the Pohanka Lexus and Acura dealerships, but I'd never been around the side to their used car lot (as I'd never, ever bought a used car). Of course this was high on our list of places to look. Upon arriving and meeting a nice guy by the name of Mike Friedmann, he directed me to a 2005 Volvo s40 T5 AWD - the exact car I'd wanted not two years earlier - and he had no idea it was what I wanted - hell, I'd forgotten about it. It was a little bit on the pricey side, but after Progressive came through with a really fantastic settlement for my Jetta, and Brad did a little smooth talking, I was able to drive that Volvo off the lot this evening. So, all in all, bad things happen, but good comes out in the end. :)

Friday, April 13, 2007 - All put out - and probably over nothing.....

Friday, April 13, 2007
All put out - and probably over nothing.....
Ya ya ya, so here's the part where I use my blog to bitch about how I feel crappy today because of other people and their careless comments - or something like that...
Ok, so a few weeks ago my best friend since forever gave birth to her 2nd child. While this isn't a world changing event, it's big news for me. I'm thrilled for her and very much wanted to be there (especially since I missed the birth of her first child due to rediculous work constraints). Nonetheless, knowing that I might not be able to pick up and drive 3+ hours on a moments notice to witness the coming of the 2nd child, I asked that I please be one of the first people notified when, infact, labor was taking place or the baby had been born. Clearly family would be at the hospital and would know prior to me, but in the phone chain of things I did not think this was a rediculous request. Wouldn't you know that not only was I not called, I was notified 4th person. Her parents called my mom who told my sister who then proceeded to pick up the phone to call me. So, I'm a little put out by this. I got over it. I told her that her husband was back on "my list" for not enacting the proper order on the phone tree (i.e. - call Caroline prior to the rest of the world). He's been on my "list" for most of their relationship, so this shouldnt' come as a shock to either of them. Nonetheless, that has passed, she and the baby are both happy and healthy and I have no need for continued complaint. I only tell this tidbit because it provides a little back story for what happend today.
I've got a "work husband" or at least I've got an "ex-work husband" seeing how we don't actually "work" together anymore. I love the guy dearly. He's put up with my moaning, groaning, bitching and complaining and I have reciprocated for well over a year and a half now. Even though we don't still work together, we talk often and I like to keep it that way. I don't have a whole lot of friends who "get me", and he "gets me". It's just nice to have someone in your life who you can be completely honest with, who gets your jokes, who you can say anything to and they won't be all pissy with you, and who has seen you at both your best and worst and still likes you in spite of yourself. (Yes, generally one's spouse occupies this position, as mine does, but it's a double bonus when there's a non-spouse who also "gets you".) So, said "work husband" and I had chats all last week. Talked about nonsense, and non-nonsense, family, work, lunch...whatever. I just so happend to email with a mutual acquaintance of ours over the weekend and today I get an email from him telling me about a really big event that is happening in "work husband's" life - but he didn't tell me about it. Now, I am gonna go out on a limb here and say that our mutual acquaintance came by this information rather backhandedly and not from the mouth of "work husband." Nonetheless, this is not the way I want to find out big news. I don't want this information third hand, or second hand for that matter. I want this kind of information first hand. At this juncture I can't decide if I should be upset with "work husband" or if I should be upset with the acquaintance. I'm leaning towards the acquaintance because I'm nearly positive that when "work husband" finds out that the acquaintance has told me this big news, prior to him telling me, and prior to him wanting it to be public knowledge at all, he's going to be pretty freakin' pissed. But, I will have to wait and talk with "work husband" to be sure. Regardless, I was really put out to get this sort of news - once again - not from the horses mouth. I was so put out that it really disrupted my work day - primarily because I was having a hard time understanding why this kind of information wouldn't be readily shared with me. No doubt, I am entirely over reacting, but it's bothersome to me and that's what the blog is for, right? To vent!