Monday, September 7, 2009

Since When does "Education = BAD?"

President Obama is making a speech to the children of America. This is NOT A NEW THING... many past presidents have spoken directly to America's youth including Bush and Reagan. Why are "people" uprising against having their kids listen to President Obama's upcoming speech?

I believe it's merely a side affect of the right-wing Republican spin machine. They claim that Obama will use the opportunity to "advance his political agenda". Sorry, this one American has read his proposed speech and just doesn't see anything bad about it. Obama stresses the importance of personal responsibility to pursue your education, even if you don't have the best of family situations. He tells kids that they each have something special that they are good at, and they should take time to discover it. People should READ the damn speech before they condemn it or ban their kids from hearing it. It's a message far too few of American kids hear from their own families.

You can read it here:
I'm posting the full speech at the end of this post, because it is such a good message for our kid to hear.

Hmmm.... is this Nazi or Commie speak in disquise? Our country is full of stupid, stupid, IGNORANT people that only listen to sound-clips played on FOX or Rush Limbaugh. I'm ashamed to be classified in the same category as "my fellow Americans".

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event
Arlington, Virginia
September 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."

So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.

I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Work out stuff

This is a trival post, so stop reading now if you aren't in the mood.

I go to the gym, but am still a "newbie". I struggle through the allotted 45-60 minute cardio.

Every other workout I attempt the weight lifting program. I always feel weak, but noticed today how others do....

1) I lift 170 lbs on the leg press. I saw a man downsize it to 90lbs.
2) I lift 70 lbs on the leg extension... but someone else downed it to 40lbs.
3) Each of my butt checks lifts 110 lbs on the Glute machine. I saw a "hottie" young woman only do 50lbs.
4) OK... I only do 50lbs on the Fly and 70lbs on the chest press. And only 20lbs on the bicep curl and tricep extension. (Wooo Hooo ... don't look now, I'm getting ripped on my upper body! :)

Now, I do not think of myself as in shape or strong in any sense of the words. I'm always surprised at how little I can do compared to the rest of the gym members. But, I wonder if I am nearing normal range on the weights?

My cardio needs to improve greatly. I have a bum ankle - sprained over a month ago. So I end up having to use the stationary bike instead of the treadmill. Seems ok. I sweat a lot. But I still wonder if I'm doing enough. Oh well, "some exercise is better than none" I guess...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wisconsin Road Trip

I travelled from Madison to Hudson WI and back over the past two days. That's nine hours of driving for those of you that don't know the geography. After a while, the radio stations are limited to religious or country programming.

1) I listened to Relevant Radio. They stated that if a politician believed in the right to abortion that they are "not doing anything for the common good". I heard a five year-old boy ask "Why did God create the world?". The voice was innocent and sweet - it made me smile. The answer was totally useless and not understood by the boy.

2) I heard a song with lyrics that went:

"God is Great. Beer is Good. People are Crazy."
You decide if I switched radio stations.... :)

3) Do the people picking their noses in their cars really think we can't see through a window?

4) I saw a lot of adult novelty stores and places to buy fireworks. Next time I take the trip, I will count them.

5) I saw the beginning of autumn colors. Sad that it is an early sign of summer fading, but pretty too.

6) I saw a huge McCain-Palin sign in someone's yard. Someone needs to tell them the election is long over.... and they lost.

7) I saw a Bison. (Not the animal - the Bison Transit semi-truck.)

8) I saw AT LEAST three statues of a mouse holding a wedge of cheese....

9) I saw a small older farm house tilted at a 45 degree angle. It was still standing, but I can't believe it is safe to live inside.

10) I saw SpongeBob Square Pants! (Not the real one -- only a picture on a billboard.)

11) When did Home Depot and McDonald's begin advertising together? Is there something about buying plumbing supplies that make people crave a Big Mac?

12) I only saw one old semi-truck used as a Kwik Trip sign. Always cool, no matter how many times I drive by.

The only way I keep from falling asleep on these drives is to look for unique stuff....

Gift or Coincidence?

I was crabby and down the other day. I'd like to think that God sent me some gifts to cheer me up, but it could have merely been coincidence.

I saw a flock of geese. They fly with such precision. They flew low and I watched them land in a field to feed. I love hearing them "honk".

I saw a deer. He was just standing majestically in a field as I drove down the road. Peaceful, strong, silent.

I saw a fox. A fox! She "pranced" out of a group of trees and stopped short of the road. I've never seen a fox up close before. They are very beautiful. I saw the fox right in the village limits, which made it very surprising.

My crabby, pessimistic attitude was turned around. I saw the beauty of nature and felt lucky to have seen it. I noticed the sun, the blue sky, the light clouds, the green grass and trees. Our world is filled with beauty if we take the time to notice. It made me smile and happy for most of the day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm Fried... totally spent

Wow... It's been over two weeks since I posted. So much has happened, and I don't think I can convey all of the emotions that surround my experiences.

My son moved into college. He is my youngest child, so I am "officially" an empty-nester even though he lived with his dad during high school. He's in St Paul, MN and seems very happy! (One bright light to my two weeks...)

My ex-husband is arguing about money for the kids... which is ridiculous. So, I just continue to pay and pay and pay because I don't want the kids to feel bad.

All on the same day, I learned of one daughter's cancer scare, another daughter ended up in the hospital in ICU, and another daughter got incredibly angry with her dad and I. It was a VERY BAD day...

I spent a week with my 92 year old mother-in-law. She's very strong for her age, and only called me by my husband's ex-wife's name once. That's darn good for an entire week!

My work is blowing up and out of control. Period. Can't comment much other than that without going NUTS.

I'm under investigation by my company's Legal department, and the FCC. It's oh so fun trying to resurrect documents from 2004 through 2009...

I feel guilt for firing two people two weeks ago... I had to do it, but I feel so bad for them. I need to interact with them to transition their work, and to give them personal recommendations for new jobs. It's hard to talk with them.

My cat continues to crap on the floor.

I haven't stuck to my healthy living plan. Eating comfort food is good when I feel like crap and am stressed out. So, I end up disappointed with myself.

Oh well.... each of these things deserve their own post with lots of emotional outpouring. I just don't have the energy to do it. I'm exhausted. I need to sleep. I need to wake up energized to take care of my work... because I could lose my job very easily with all of the corporate restructuring. (Our CEO announced that downsizing will continue throughout 2010 and beyond.)

I'm going to take a hot bath, read a book, and fall asleep early.

Nighty Nite.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ron Dayne shops The Pig

That's right folks... Ron Dayne, former Badger superstar and NFL player, shops at Piggly Wiggly in Waunakee.

I saw him today as I strolled down the snack aisle. Turns out this NFL free agent lives in my little town.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I made a grown man cry...

Yesterday was an AWFUL day. The word "awful" doesn't really convey how horrible the day was for my coworkers and I.

Yesterday, my business unit received the definitive word on the new downsizing effort.

I had to let half of my Wisconsin staff go. (I only have one Minnesota person, so she was retained.) I literally have 1/3 of the staff that I had 8 months ago... but more responsibility and work. I've dropped from 9 employees to 3 in WI, and inherited the whole State of MN as a new territory. Oh yeah, the company only gave me one salesperson to cover the entire state of MN!

First, I needed to inform "Whiny Boy". Even though he whines a lot, he's a good guy and a hard worker. He moved into a new job in January 2009, but before that he was always 200% of quota. He expected to be let go, but was devastated nonetheless. He has two young kids (one with a heart condition) and two mortgages. He actually broke down and CRIED... and left with a hug from me. It was horrible.

Then I had to tell "Mr. Silver Tongue", named after his gift for gab. He's 62, has colon cancer in remission, with a wife that may have a brain tumor (yet undiagnosed), and not financially able to truly retire. He just didn't believe it. I didn't know how to handle the disbelief. Mr. ST was basically IN SHOCK. He was so shocked that he walked around the office for the next 7 hours talking to everyone and anyone about it... basically asking people "why him?". He was very mad at me too.... especially when I told him "why him".

We also lost several very experienced people that support my sales team... which was unbelievable how deep the downsizing cut.

Then I told the remaining two in WI and one in MN.... the remaining staff was shell-shocked. Others within the company contacted me and "the remainders" all day with "why Mr ST?". My remaining employees felt bad, as if they were survivors that didn't deserve to live. I had to justify my decision... ALL. DAY. LONG. Albeit, Mr ST does sell a lot, continually exceeds his quota, but isn't interested in learning the new technology that we sell. Still, he is beloved and everyone in Wisconsin (customers included) will miss him.

My job was saved. I wonder why I was lucky enough to keep my job. If it was my decision, I would have been downsized. I just don't have enough direct reports left to justify my managerial position. Even some of my employees feel that they aren't worthy of keeping their jobs.

Today we tried to rebuild the team. It was surreal... sad but honest in what we are tasked to do. And I talked with many nervous and concerned customers.


I know I am paid to do a particular job, but I don't have to like it.

My heart hurts for the ones that lost their jobs this week.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Creepy Crawlies

I found THESE on my roses and flowering tree.... and my head was waaay too close to the leaves when I discovered them crawling all over! (I have a phobia about bugs being in my hair.)
Meet the Japanese Beetle.... very destructive and very hard to kill or control. The devour the leaves on many different plants. And to make matters worse, their larve grow under your lawn and kill it.
I want them DEAD.
Hmm, unless we can round them all up and send them back to Japan...

Monday, July 27, 2009

When it rains it pours...

Happy Monday everyone. (she says sarcastically...) It's anything but happy for me.

First thing this morning, I find out my company is being investigated by the FCC... this time focused on my area. So I have a heavy subpoena to comply with that will basically make me kill several trees just to prove my team did nothing wrong, and complied with every rule. What a hassle and waste of time...

Then, the company announced there will be job cuts in my business unit... to the tune of 10-20%. But the good news is that those that will lose their jobs, will lose them quickly... by early August. (That's next week people.) Yippee. I'll either lose my job, have to fire some folks, or both. Yuck Yuck YUCK

There are many great things about working for a large company... decent benefits, lots of opportunity for transfers, job security (usually). But when it comes to "force reduction", or job cuts, you become a number to someone at corporate headquarters. They merely see the financial impact of how many employees "should" be cut to save enough expenses to meet Wall Street's expectations by year-end. (But on the bright side, maybe my stock will go up in price.. :)

I've survived a few downsizings in the past, but this time I'm VERY much at risk. Small declining customer base, stagnant sales results, declining number of employees, and a new boss that doesn't really know me or my capabilities yet. Cross your fingers for me!!

BTW, did I say I'm having a bad day?? Cuz I am. And I'm whining about it. I'd say I'm sorry for wasting your time, but no one is forcing you to read this... and I needed to get this off my chest.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'm Terrific!!!

Someone sent me a card that told me so! :) I'm doing my Happy Happy Joy Joy dance. (And if you don't know what that is, you obviously didn't watch Ren and Stimpy.)

I'm just darn glad I didn't receive a fuzzy baby animal card... those suckers convey bad news.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Surprise from my I-Phone

I work for AT&T. I see the marketing ads that we publish to make folks want the I-phone. It's corporate advertising-- I understand why we need to please Wall Street.

Well, today my car was in the shop for a brake job, wheel alignment, rebalancing of the tires, and an oil change.

When I got to the shop, they were not quite finished and I had to wait another 10 minutes for the car to be done. As I waited, I checked my personal email on my I-phone. While in the waiting room, I received an email from Zimbrick (my car repair shop) reminding me that my vehicle was due for maintenance... and it had several coupons attached.

I chuckled.... And went to the service manager, whose name was on the email.
Did he know the company was sending these emails? (No...)
Did he honor all of the coupons I received that afternoon while in the waiting room? (Yes!!!)

Boo Yah!
I saved over $60 bucks because I was able to check my email while killing time at the car repair shop!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fighting in my sleep

I'm so glad my husband was traveling and I slept alone last night. I dreamt about being chased and attacked. At one point, my "attacker" was holding my head with his arm outstretched. I flailed my arms trying to hit him, but couldn't reach him. (You know - kinda like a big kid taunting a little one. :) I ended up kicking him HARD. And woke up kicking and hitting the air. Twice last night, I woke up punching or kicking as hard as I can. I can't tell you why I had these dreams. Weird stuff.... I'm just glad my husband wasn't here to accidently become my punching bag!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Big Sister

I’m very impressed with Natalie’s attentiveness to her siblings. She is a WONDERFUL sister. I probably don’t tell her this enough. Last week, I was listening to stories of things that Natalie has done recently for her siblings. It made me think. She is always there for any of her younger sisters or brother when they need her, or when she thinks they will appreciate her involvement in their lives. (Natalie – You are amazing.) It made me think about my life and realize that MY big sister always played a similar role in my family. Although, I’m sure my big Sis, Sue, never got the appreciation she deserved.

So here’s to MY "Big Sis", Sue:

You were a pain to live with at times, but so was I. That's because we were so different as teenagers, but we’re really not that different at the core of who we are now.

I watched you lead the way in family matters and gaining independence. I learned from your mistakes and thank you for the path you paved for us younger sibs when we still lived with our parents. (Heck, you even helped me when I got my first period because we were visiting our father!!)

I looked up to you as you left the house, got married, and started your family. You taught me a lot – from cooking, coping with life issues, the joys of simple things, and how to fix a good Bloody Mary. You even taught me that toddlers can “gum their chicken to death” before they have grown teeth!

When I decided to quit college and get married, you were the ONE person in the family to support me. You agreed to be in the wedding and let me stay with you before the big day. (BTW, I’m SO SORRY that you weren’t the Matron of Honor. I was stupid.)

You were also the one that kept the family connected. You called everyone weekly. You organized cookouts and family get togethers. You were always interested in your siblings’ lives and took an interest in your nieces and nephews. There were times when you just “kidnapped” my kids for a couple of days to play and bake cookies. Ash and Adam still talk about these trips.

You were our dad’s caretaker. No question about it. When the inevitable occurred and our dad entered long-term care, you picked the best facility and checked on him DAILY. Because my kids were very young at the time, your caretaking was SUCH A HUGE help and brought me and our brother peace of mind.

Then you went away to CA, and I miss you. I’ve done a poor job of maintaining regular conversations with you, and I’m just realizing how much I’ve lost. You are always kind, giving, caring and selfless. Additionally, you have a great sense of humor, cooking skills, intelligence, and optimism. I’m sorry I missed out on enjoying more of your life in the past few years, but I want to change all of that.

My Big Sis is coming to WI this week. I can’t wait to see you! I realize that you want to see many family members and old friends, but I hope to make it a “vacation” for you, Dre and Christina. I miss you Sis!!! Can’t wait to see ya!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I have SO MUCH to do at work, and I am SO FAR behind!

To get access to some of the tools that I need to do my job, I need to take "mandatory training" that should last a mere 30 minutes.

Ok... I can multi-task and half-listen while I do REAL work.

But this training has droned on and on and on and ON for 75 minutes! And it's still going strong!!!


Will I ever just get my user ID and password to use the darn web conferencing / collaberation toolset??????????

Monday, May 11, 2009

Allergies Suck

It's a bright sunshiney day...

My eyes are watery and itch.... A LOT.
My nose is runny... and itches A LOT.
I sneeze
and sneeze
... and sneeze
....... and sneeze some more!

I can't breathe out of my nose.

I take Zyrtec and it doesn't help.
I take one Benadryl and it helps only a very little.
If I take another Benadryl, I'll be asleep.

I hate allergies.

Madison is the fourth worst place in the USA for pollen and other allergens this spring. If you don't believe me, look here....

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Radio - A Joke

I received one of those "chain emails" today from my Sister in CA. It's hilarious so I'm sharing with the blogosphere..

Just when you have lost faith in human kindness, someone who teaches at Kean Elementary in Wooster, Ohio forwarded the following letter. The letter was sent to the Principal's office after the school had sponsored a luncheon for the elderly. An old lady received a new radio at the lunch as a door prize and was writing to say thank you. This story is a credit to all humankind. Forward to anyone you know who might need a lift today.

Dear Kean Elementary: God bless you for the beautiful radio I won at your recent senior citizens luncheon. I am 84 years old and live at the Sprenger Home for the Aged. All of my family has passed away. I am all alone now and it's nice to know that someone is thinking of me. God bless you for your kindness to an old forgotten lady. My roommate is 95 and has always had her own radio, but she would never let me listen to hers, even when she was napping. The other day her radio fell off the nightstand and broke into a lot of pieces. It was awful and she was in tears. Her distress over the broken radio touched me and I knew this was God's way of answering my prayers. She asked if she could listen to mine, and I told her to kiss my ass. Thank you for that opportunity.
Sincerely, Agnes Baker

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Gym Fridays

It seems that no one works out on Fridays. (Honestly, I usually only work out on Fridays if I can sneak it in before 5pm.) But this week was different.

At the gym this Friday evening, there were a mere FOUR people there. And one was a trainer! It was a very different experience than normal. No waiting for a machine... and I could stay on as long as I wanted, not a 30 minute limit.

It was interesting to watch the personal trainer. He had his trainee spend only a little time on a treadmill -- running, not walking. Then not a single weight machine was used! All good old-fashioned calisthenics. Lunge while you walk around the entire track. Now do it holding some dumbbells. Crunches. Some free weights - biceps and presses. No need for expensive Nautilus gear... just do the basic push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, and squats. Mix in a little running, and viola! You're a new person. :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I don't have cancer!


Yes, I was EXTREMELY worried. When the doctor tells you they found "an area of concern" on your test, it scares you. Very much.

Glad to report that after more tests, it was decided that I DO NOT have cancer. Whew! I didn't realize just how worried I was until the weight was lifted from my chest. I can breathe again. :)

Do the Happy Happy Joy Joy dance with me!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The joy of new construction

Last weekend, I was bitten by the Spring / Summer bug. I spent hours cleaning our screen porch, hosing down the patio, and cleaning all of the outdoor furniture. I'm looking forward to quiet evenings on the porch, or sitting in the sunshine on the weekends.

Today, a builder began digging in the lot behind us. Crap. Our porch is already getting hit with lots of blowing dirt. And it will continue with dirt and construction dust and debris for the next 3-4 months. So much for backyard cookouts this year. Right now, I've got a great view from my patio of a big dirt pile. :(

If a family was happy about building their dream house behind me, I might be able to be less selfish in my thoughts. But the builder is putting up another spec home and doesn't have a buyer yet.
And to top it all off, the builder is constructing the house very deep on the lot and close to our backyard lot line. This will make it only more difficult for us to sell at a later time, and it will give me a great view of their house from our patio.

I'm very disappointed today. And crabby.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My sturdy left breast..

Who knew?

I went for a mammogram last week. I don't believe it when women say it's a "little discomfort". It plain HURTS. If someone only feels "discomfort", then I feel sorry for her lack of breast stimulation!

Anyway, I digress. I went into the room for the films.
The right breast was done..
Top to bottom pancake - click.
Side to side pancake - click.

The left breast was put into the vice grip...
Top to bottom pancake - NO CLICK.
Let's try it again!
Wait for it.... NO CLICK.
And again...
And again...

By this time, the woman was distressed that I broke the darn machine. (I always knew my breasts were small, but never thought of them as MIGHTY!)

And may I say that I was not pleased also? When the machine senses it took an image, it automatically releases the vice tension on your breast. However, when it DOESN'T take an image, it stays locked TIGHT in place until the technician comes over to crank your breast free! Ouch!!!!

Anyway, we end up going into another room with a different machine to finish the left breast films. Finally!

And what happens today? Oh, the clinic calls and asks me to come in for MORE films of my left side! (This is very normal, so don't freak out.) But really, how many more pancake-like smashes can my little teeny breast take??

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Adam!

My youngest child, Adam, turned 18 yesterday. Wow... all of our kids are now officially ADULTS. Here's to you, Son...

In 2000 at the British Virgin Islands with Ashley.
Typical hamming for the camera at age 10.
A favorite pic of ours... Lee and Adam having a "guys' day". Age 11.
After a football game last year. Notice the stitches on his forehead... earned from running head-first into the goal post. Age 17.
I love you very much!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sexy Clean

A man that cleans the house is downright sexy! There's just something about seeing a man with a vacuum cleaner, working hard to save me time, that makes me smile.

I came home today to find my husband cleaning the house. He was just finishing vacuuming as I walked through the door. What a GREAT surprise!!!

My house hasn't been cleaned for weeks... so this was no simple "touch up" cleaning job! And he's tall, so he cleaned things that I sometimes let slip... like dusting the range hood fan and the tops of window and door frames. I don't really want dust up there, but if it's above my line of sight, I may not notice it as much as the dust bunnies on the floor.

I have The BEST husband in the world. Not just for today's cleaning, but for so many, many reasons. (I better not enumerate, otherwise our kids will feel compelled to post snarky comments.) I love you Honey and THANK YOU!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Time Flies

Why does time elapse faster the older we get?

As a child, we can't wait to grow up. We want to be a "big kid" and do things for ourselves. I remember being a freshman in high school thinking that four years would NEVER end.

As a young adult, I couldn't wait to graduate college, get that promotion, buy our first house, start a family. It's often a time of "after I do this" some new phase of our life will begin.

As mothers we cherish our children, but encourage them to crawl, walk, sleep through the night, eat solid food, toilet train. We're always pushing them to learn something new, and thus, grow up. Remember how we looked forward to not buying diapers anymore? Or the money we'd save once they went to school and full-time daycare was no longer necessary?

Suddenly, the kids are in their tween stage filled with middle school emotional upheaval. And then they begin pulling away, which is a normal developmental milestone. Although this milestone doesn't seem so much fun.... (a child rolling their eyes at you vs. laughing in joy as they take their first steps.)

As mothers, the children's high school years literally FLY by. Kids become more independent, mature, and become people in your eyes. No longer a kid you need to care for, they are a person you genuinely love and like to be around. Many parents and children become actual friends. And then... they're off to college or independent living. You look back at the photos and feel like it "was only yesterday" when your child was a toddler.

I often wonder if time will slow down now that my children are grown. When I look at elderly people, many act as if time crawls for them. (Have you been to a nursing home lately?) However, I spent yesterday with a few 60 y/o retirees. They had been retired for several years, but still feel like time is zipping by. It made me think that time flies by if you don't consciously SLOW DOWN to enjoy the journey.

If I could do it all again, I wouldn't worry about cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, or getting the kids to bed on time. I'd languish in the smiles, laughter, tears, and conversation of each relationship (parent, child, friend, spouse). I need to remind myself of that going forward, so as to not waste a single day on unimportant stuff.

I thoroughly enjoy every one of my children. It's heartwarming to see them go off into the world and become their own independent person. But I still can't help be amazed at how fast the time has gone, because it still seems like just yesterday they were oh so young!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fighting Avocados

I will pay money for guacamole. Nothing good can come from fighting avocados. They have ugly bumpy green skin, large hard pits, are tasteless, and won't mash unless *perfectly* ripe!

Better yet - I will forever boycott avocados. After all the problems they gave us last night, they do not deserve the privilege of knowing me and my family. Although, it was hilarious attempting to make guacamole with avocados that just wouldn't die!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Daylight saving time revolution needed!

I think we need a worldwide revolution.
Daylight saving time should NOT steal an hour of our valuable weekend.
Why not spring forward on a Tuesday instead?
I'd much rather lose an hour mid-week than lose one of "My Precious" 48 hours on a weekend.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

How Sweet it is...

I'm pampering myself today. That's right folks that know me... I'm doing for ME and ONLY ME today. :)

I drank coffee in bed while catching up on my favorite TV shows.
I went to the gym because I'm actually starting to LIKE it!
Went grocery shopping and bought my favorites.
Treated myself to a manicure and eyebrow wax. (My hands are soooo pretty!)
Curled up in front of a cozy fire.
Watched Sex and the City movie. (Total drivel, but a guilty pleasure none the less.)
Ate sauteed mushrooms with a porterhouse steak for dinner.
And now I'm heading for a hot bubble bath with a good book.

Many would find this type of day boring.... but it happens so infrequently that it's blissful to me. We all deserve to be self-indulgent at times. And today was my day!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Still here

I haven't posted for awhile, but I am still alive and here at Blogger. I've been self-absorbed in my own little pity party of a world. As I climb back toward the light, I want to share a few words of wisdom I've picked up along the way...

1) You can either choose to be a fun-loving Tigger, or a sad sack Eeyore. (Randy Pautsch)

2) Things can usually be better, but they can ALWAYS be worse. (Da Telephone Man)

3) The best exercise is the exercise you do. (My doc)

4) Judge not, lest ye be judged. (Book of Matthew)

5) Put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to help others. (Every airline. Basically, if you don't take care of yourself, you will have nothing to give to others.)

6) Treat yourself as kindly as you treat your kids and loved ones. You deserve your own special caring too. (aka Do unto yourself as you do unto others.)

7) Embrace love. If you open your eyes, you'll discover it's all around you.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Cassie!

In my new tradition of blogging, I want to wish my wonderful daughter a Happy Birthday. I didn't post yesterday (on her actual birthday) because I felt my post was so bland compared to her sister's! Well, we all know QG has a way with words that I can only hope to achieve some day. :)

Happy Birthday Cassie! I love you!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Batman Lives!

Batman was at the gym tonight.

The gym has a Lifestyle Adjustable Dual Pulley machine, which is basically an all-in-one machine with pulleys and stacks of weights. As I was working my triceps and biceps with a mere 15 pounds of free weights, I caught sight of a man (aka Batman) hanging upside down from this machine. I didn't mean to, but ended up staring at him for a good 20 seconds.

The guy brought his own ankle straps to the gym, hung upside down spread eagle style, and did upside down sit-ups. He really looked like a bat, because he was dressed all in black and the machine was in a corner. Normally, I'd think the guy was a show-off. But he was mid fifties, balding, not very handsome, but very muscular.

Amazing, but humbling.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Congratulations Adam!

I'm smiling ear to ear. It's so wonderful to see (or hear) your children happy!

Adam received his acceptance letter from Macalester College today. It was his first choice of school, and he was worried about whether he would get accepted. The college is located in St. Paul, MN and is a small liberal arts college with under 2000 students. Strong academics, politically active, very liberal, with a diverse student population. Surprisingly, 13% of their students are international and they pull kids from all over the country (not just the midwest).

Congrats Adam! I'm very happy for you!

BTW, just what is a Macalester Scot? It's an odd sort of mascot name... ;)

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Does every gym have a Tats?

QG (Quartergoddess for short) has posted about "Tats" a man at her gym. Evidently, he provides nice eye candy for her.

I'm new to going to a gym. (Yes, QG -- I'm one of those newbies that annoy you when they use your favorite machine.) I noticed a well built man with tattoos today... quite the muscle bound guy. Not my type, but interesting to look at.

My gym has all of the cardio machines facing windows. So you can stare at the built-in TV, the outside world, or your reflection in the TV if you have it turned off. So, no staring at my local Tats while doing cardio... but I had to wait for him to get off the darn weight machines today. Kinda annoying that every machine I went to use was set at really heavy weights, but at least I had something to look at.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Kelly!

I planned to call you to wish you a happy birthday. By the time I had a short break at work, it was 5pm. Because that means midnight in London, I didn't call and wake you.

I love you very much and miss you!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Obama can't fix it without all of our help.

Why does the election and inauguration of Barack Obama move me so much? Yes, he is the first African American president; but, that's not the reason for my emotions.

For the first time in my life, I feel hope for my country. Obama inspires me, and I'm hopeful he will inspire our country. As individuals, we have become "Me-Centric", very selfish and materialistic. We stopped believing in our government, and that our country was something to be proud of. We need to think about others, and do what's right because it's right - not because it's easy or self promoting.

I believe that only through a significant change in American attitude can this country salvage our future.

If we do nothing, our planet will die from global warming.
If we do nothing, our country's treasure will continue to flow to our enemies as we buy their oil.
If we do nothing, our greedy corporations will continue to control our government and lives.
If we do nothing, our health care system will serve less and less citizens; our schools will fail more children; our middle class will continue to erode; and our hungry will go unfed.
If we do nothing, we do not help stop the genocide, hunger, and disease running rampant in other lands.

Our government can't make these changes. People need to do it, one step at a time. Through volunteering your time and talents. Through giving money to those in need. Through buying American products even if they cost a little more. Through living "green" to limit our dependence on foreign energies. Through being healthier to limit the stress on our health care and financial systems. Through mentoring a child. Through being a better parent. Through living within or below our means.

So, why does this man move me so? I think it's because I see the possibility of a better nation if he can truly inspire us all to change.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Spinning kicked my butt..

I just started working out - again. Only this time, I'm going to stick to it! I have no lofty goals. I merely want to be stronger, my lungs better, and to cultivate a new habit of self-care. If I happen to lose some weight (or inches) in the process, that's just a pleasant bonus.

I joined a gym, even though I have both a treadmill and an elliptical machine at home. I joined with a friend, in hopes of motivating each other. Well, Tom moved out of town and I still have a membership. It's an awesome gym - at the Waunakee Village Center. Clean, bright, not too crowded (except on Saturdays at 10am), brand new building and machines, people of all ages, and CLEAN.

Well, folks, in my enthusiasm to get started on a healthy habit... I enrolled for a Spinning class. I thought, how hard can it be? It's just riding a stationary bike, right? WRONG. It's darn HARD. On average, my 50 minute class will burn 500 to 600 calories if I push myself at 60% exertion. No lie! Well, I exerted and exerted but I still couldn't get out of my seat for those standing hill climbs for very long!

Oh well -- the 65 y/o woman on the bike next to me couldn't do the standing climbs either. It made me feel good to know that at least I could keep up with her. And by class #10, I'll be so much stronger!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why do I even pause on Fox News?

Why do I even PAUSE the TV channel on Fox News? As part of the inaugural coverage, commentators were saying how unusual it is to see the new and former presidents be so cordial and friendly. Handshakes and smiles are typical, but embraces and gift giving are very unusual.

FOX News said it's a testament to the Bushes. They are just "bred" to be gracious and giving... and "maybe the Obamas are learning that about the Bushes"

Huh? Who brought who a gift? Oh yeah, that was the Obamas presenting a gift to Mrs. Bush.
Huh? Who was usually the first to hug? That's right, the Obamas.
Huh? Whose lips could you read by the helicopter, saying "thank you so much"? That's right, Michelle Obama thanking George W.

Suck it Fox News.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dreaming of Island Living

I watched two epidsodes of House Hunters International. It's a show where people look to buy real estate in a foreign land.

I really yearned (yes, YEARNED) for one of these beach houses. I saw homes in Roatan (island off of Honduras) and Curacao (in Dutch Antilles).

It just confused me motivationally....

Do I run to the gym because I'm motivated to look good in a bikini?
Or do I eat fast food and work 16 hours a day to earn enough money to afford one of these beach homes?

I can't do both. There are only so many hours in a day!

The shows remind me of Toad Hall in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, where I was married. Gorgeous ocean views, trade winds, private 6 acre compound with open air living spaces, private swimming pool.

I want to live there.
Except, I'd miss the kids.... darn it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Geese are dangerous

A US Airways flight crashed into the Hudson River today, after hitting a flock of geese. It appears all passengers are safe and unharmed. They surmise the geese got caught in the two engines, causing them to fail. I just heard a reporter equate the incident as "being similar to when you stuff too much into your garbage disposal and it stops working". Yuck! We're talking chopped up bird parts falling from the sky! This is more disgusting than the Palin turkey butchering video.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


At my age (43), you'd think I would have a better handle on total life balance. What I mean by "life balance" is the way one balances work, self, family, friends, and other obligations.

As a child, my family was usually faced with financial difficulties... so being self-sufficient and financially secure have been a big part of my adulthood. Maybe that's why I give WAY TOO MUCH of myself (time, stress, and mindshare) to my job.

Well, on to the story. ALL OF MY EMPLOYEES melted down on me on Friday. Every one of them literally lost it during individual conversations with me, and I had a couple of unhappy customers contact me. WOW. Yes, this is our busiest time of the year. Yes, we lost half of our staff in a corporate downsizing last month. I understand everyone is stressed and working well beyond what is normally expected of them. But really?? We need to spend 45 minutes to get you to understand I need a simple email listing of what you plan to sell this month? (YOU ARE IN SALES YOU KNOW!!!)

I let it get to me after a solid 12 hours of complaints and emotional meltdowns. Trying to be healthy, I went to the treadmill to work out my stress. Little did I know that my husband was home and able to hear me! I RAN, not walked. I shadow boxed the people I was angry with. I yelled at them too. (I had my IPod on, so I didn't hear myself.. :)

Anyway, when I came upstairs after my workout I found my husband looking at me tentatively. I was surprised to see him and asked if I was too loud. He responded with "Yes! I thought about video taping you, so that in case we ever got divorced I could show the judge that you are truly INSANE."

Well, all I can say in my defense is that a short RUN on the treadmill does wonders for your stress level. And, I am not letting the team's stress fall on me any more. They don't have to like me. As the boss, I just need to help them be successful even if it's painful.

Lazy? No!

I left the house at 6am for work and drove right over the 2 inches of snow that had accumulated in my driveway last night. I didn't get home from work until 7:30pm.

Should I have been a good citizen and shoveled the sidewalk? Probably. But it was DARN COLD - negative 15 below zero!!

I haven't cleaned my house since before Christmas. It's a pigsty in my opinion, (although others think differently). Instead of shoveling, I cleaned the house from 8pm until 11:45pm. Whew -I'm tired!! (It is very satisfying to see the direct result of my labor.)

Yes, I'll go outside tomorrow and shovel the white stuff. Just didn't want to do it in the dark and bitter cold. Somehow it seems warmer in the daylight, even if the thermometer proves differently. :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Do I know how to make a good first impression, or what?

As some of you know, I have a new boss who works in a different state. I used my wonderful SpotMe gizmo to find him and introduce myself.

Found him with the gizmo. (Cool.)
Walked up confidently, extended my hand, and said Hello. (Ok so far...)
Then I proceeded to say Hello to another man standing beside my boss, and introduced myself to him as well. (Thought it was the right thing to do....)
Guy #2 says very warmly, "Why, Fern it's good to see you again!"
When he saw my confused look, he quickly said "It's John."
And then... I did it. I bent forward so I could see his name tag, and said "I'm sorry, I didn't recognize you John."

And just who is John??
My senior vice president! Who I've met several times before. Heck, I even had dinner with him once. And, he just approved buying me a Blackberry Bold for Christmas.

Damn. I'm sooooo smooth and waaaay cool.

Monday, January 5, 2009

My internal Geek is showing

I'm at a three day sales meeting with 900 of my closest peers. When I checked in, they gave me the usual ID badge that I have to wear to access the meetings. (blah) Bad thing is they scan you when you enter the meetings, so you know they are taking attendance.

Then they took my picture and gave me a "SPOTME". This is AWESOME! You can text any of the attendees with it, view the agenda, presentations, access maps of the facility with it too.

But two things are extra cool....
1. You can point it at someone else's SpotMe and click - You now have their business card data on your device. Cool, but not inventive.

2. Better yet, it has a "stalking application" that lets you locate people. Very Cool. I select a person's name and have the device vibrate when the person is within close proximity of me. Then, I can follow the map to the person (like a GPS only with pictures) or set it to buzz me later when the person is around again. It's so cool when I want to find a person - like my new boss. But WAAAAY COOL tonight if I want to AVOID someone when I'm at the bar. :)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Bush's New Dallas Neighborhood Barred Non-Whites Until 2000

Posted on Huffington Post on December 8, 2008:

As was reported this week, George Bush has bought a new house in a wealthy part of Dallas, called Preston Hollow, to live in after he leaves office. Preston Hollow homeowners are used to having well-known neighbors; the area is already home to Dallas Mavericks' owner Marc Cuban and former presidential candidate Ross Perot.

While many of the Bushes' new neighbors seem perfectly happy and excited to welcome the former first couple, a few of them, reports the Wall Street Journal, have some significant reservations: "The impending presence of a former President is ratcheting up security fears. 'I am afraid with all the negative press the president has been getting, the whole neighborhood is going to be a target,' said a woman, who wouldn't give her name. She carried her King Charles spaniel Friday past the Bushes' new abode."

But Raw Story reports that the area had some issues long before Bush made it his new home. Until 2000, the neighborhood association's covenant said only white people were allowed to live there, though an exception was made for servants.

Enacted in 1956, part of the original document reads: "Said property shall be used and occupied by white persons except those shall not prevent occupancy by domestic servants of different race or nationality in the employ of a tenant." The entire covenant is available in PDF format via the Raw Story link.

When asked about his new home in an interview with The Dallas Morning News, Bush "played coy" in response to Tod Gillman's question. "Todd, why do you care?" Bush responded. "You live in Washington, D.C."