Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - A Year in Review

Each year I like to look back and reflect over all that has happened. It's a great way for me to see how I've grown as a person and all the wonderful things I experienced...and the trials. Life experiences are always growing experiences whether they are good or bad. So, let's get started with the recap...

January - I traveled to Alabama to visit my friends Paige and Steve...mainly Paige while Steve was away at a conference, but I did get to see him at the end of my visit. In my attempt to escape winter weather, I brought an ice storm with me to the south. Nice.

February - We had a major snowstorm in Louisville along with tornadoes too. In the midst of the snowstorm, my car died, foreshadowing it's impending death. On the bright side, I was able to make an 8-year-old very happy by getting him tickets to his first college basketball game ever to see the Louisville Cardinals.

March - My friend, Jan, surprised me with tickets to see Michael Buble' in concert. Definitely a memory-making event as we got upgraded from nose bleed to floor seats. March also welcomed to the world Leah Mae and Jane Adair. As Jane entered the world almost a year to the day of her big sister, Emma, little did we know then that Jane would be a big sister herself come June 2009. You gotta love those baby-making Barretts!

April - Brock Matthew Blackwell was born and greeted by a welcoming committee that filled the waiting room, hospital room and everywhere else they could be. It wouldn't be a Blackwell birth without a grand hoop-la. The little man is cute and crawling. I also launched my "Musings of the Week" posts for those times when I just need to spew forth on multiple topics but nothing in particular.

May - I experienced what a real sewer backup is like when my sewer exploded like a baby elephant with a diaper blowout in May. Thankfully I have a Dad who is the greatest man on the planet and tile flooring where this nasty mishap overflowed. Be thankful for the small things.

June - If there was a word for 2008, it would be "new." I bought a new computer in June, ditching the old dinosaur. I'm happy to report that I love the new computer, even if it is Vista. It should come in handy to help me with some of the resolutions I'm thinking about for 2009. Stay tuned.

July - To continue the "new" theme, I bought a new car in July (technically June 30) and put my other car to rest. After 3 breakdowns in a year, it was time. I feel somewhat responsible for the Big 3 automakers failing as I bought, for the first time ever, a non-GM or Ford vehicle and opted for a Honda.

August - Coming in threes, a new fridge was purchased in August. My other one died and thankfully this was the last big ticket item that had to be replaced in 2008. I also made my annual trip to Adel, Georgia, to visit my great friends, Chad and Tracy. Little did we know that during our visit, Tracy discovered via a home pregnancy test that they were expecting. I didn't get the news until about 12 weeks later. Baby Toddette is due to make her grand appearance in April.

September - We experienced more weather oddities in September as a major wind storm hit the area. With power outages in many places for a week or more, I was thankful to be spared and only out for about 24 hours. An interesting perk from the storm...I went to lunch with a group of friends that Sunday afternoon after church when the storm hit. We didn't know it was quite that violent at the time, but realized later on our way home that it was. Lunch that day was free for anyone using a credit or debit card...which included me! None of us ever got billed or charged for our meals. Small blessings amidst swirling winds.

October - I traveled to San Francisco for a business trip and had a blast. I love my job, even with all its stresses. In these days, I'm very thankful to have a job I love and be able to work with some really cool people.

November - Speaking of my job, one of my co-workers found a sweet potato patch hidden away in the landscaping of downtown Louisville. Along with the growing vegetable, she also found a $100 bill a few days later. Real-life fairy tales like that make me smile.

December - This has been a great month! I got to make a memory with some of my closest friends by seeing The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and to chronicle the event, I used my new digital camera. I'd like to point out this was yet another "new" purchase, but bought with Christmas money. Merry Christmas to me!

May all of my faithful blog readers have a happy and prosperous new year. I'm praying 2009 will be better than all we can imagine....

Monday, December 22, 2008

When the Line Between TV and Real Life Blurs

I love The Office. You either "get" that show or you don't. There aren't any fair-weather fans. For those who've never watched it and live under a rock, here's the premise...a branch office of the paper company, Dunder-Mifflin, is being documented by a filming crew who meander through the lives and cubicles of the cast/office workers. Michael Scott, played by the hilariously funny Steve Carell, is the non-PC boss who thinks everyone loves him. Every cube dweller has their own personality and quirk that add spice to the show. Outlining them all would take a full blog post. But, to understand the scene I'm about to describe, remember the point that Michael Scott is non-PC.

If you work in an office, you have those "Office" moments when you can relate to the show because what just happened could have happened between Michael and Stanley....or Phyllis and Angela. We had just such a moment here last week...

Our President was heading back out to the West Coast and made his way throughout the office to say good-bye and wish everyone a happy holiday. As he entered into our editorial department, he said, "Merry Christmas....Happy Holidays.....Happy Kwanzaa!"....and immediately turned to the African American member of the team and said, "Is that how you say it?..."Happy Kwanzaa?" The team member shrugged his shoulders and our President was off to the airport. The rest of the employees who instantly realized the Office moment that just happened all gave blank looks into the imaginary camera just like Jim Halpert would on the show.


I love my job.

**For the record, my President is very PC....he was probably just having a lapse that day.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Musings for the Week - Reading, Picture Taking and Being Blessed

1. Over the Thanksgiving long weekend, I had a burst of excitement for reading again. Maybe it's because I did away with my Christmas shopping lickety split by doing it online and had plenty of time for rest and reading. I just finished reading The Memory Keeper's Daughter. Beautiful story of the value of life and the tragedy of those that don't see that value. I've kept a tally of the books I've read this year - 8 so far, and hopefully more - to show me how much I am reading and it is sort of embarrassing. In thinking through my 2009 resolutions, one may need to involve a better discipline to read and expand my horizons. Stay tuned for a future post on my 2009 resolutions.

2. Each year my company works with an adopt a family organization for Christmas. We adopt two families in need and are divided up into teams to work together on shopping and wrapping the gifts. This is one of my favorite things about this time of year. For all the many years I've worked with this management team at this and other companies, we've always done this, and it's a real much to my heart as those families that receive the gifts. Our family this year is a single Dad with four children ranging in age from 12 down to two months. The Mom is in jail for drugs and Dad was called back from Iraq to care for the children. And, they heat their home with a wood stove. As we wrapped all the gifts yesterday and they piled up in the conference room for pickup today, we were so excited about the expectations of what the family would get. I'll be posting pictures on Facebook soon, so check them out there. If you aren't my friend on Facebook, add me!

3. Speaking of pictures, I finally stepped into the 21st century and bought my first digital camera....for $55! I'm cheap when it comes to non essentials and refused to pay more than $100 for a camera. I found a Kodak Easyshare 8.2 Megapixel camera (and it's pink!) on sale at Best Buy for $79. Deduct a $25 gift certificate I had from my laptop purchase and voila! $55. I've historically been a horrible paparazzi because I'm too engaged in activity or socializing to take pictures, along with the fact I dreaded getting them developed and putting them in an album. Now with the glory of technology, I no longer have to worry about heading to Walgreens or being a scrapbooker. A simple upload to Facebook or my favorite photo sharing site and I'm in business. So far, after a short stint of buyer's remorse, I'm very pleased with my purchase.

4. I saw the funniest road sign the other day on Interstate 71. There is a sign that says "Stay in Lane." Stay in lane? Like someone is driving down the road and thinks, "Hmm, about now, I'd like to drive on the median for a while and see how that goes." I realize there is construction going on so maybe lane driving is a challenge, but usually bright orange cones make me pay attention even more. I'd take a picture to post, but doing so would require stopping in the midst of construction on a busy highway and well....I need to "Stay in Lane."

5. I am enormously blessed beyond all I can imagine with the job I have. For those that have known me for a while, you're quite aware of the many jobs I've lost due to dot com busts, downsizing, mergers and relocations. At one time I felt like the poster child for the unemployed. In these troubled times, everyone is jittery about the future of their employment. I've heard of numerous folks losing their jobs, taking cuts, etc. I am wise enough to know that no one is immune, including me. But this week we had our annual company lunch to celebrate the holiday and discuss 2009 benefits. We canceled our Christmas Party a few weeks ago in an effort to save on costs and so 2009 benefits were a bit of an unknown. Our management team made a few reallocation of funds to help us keep the benefits of most importance in tact and reduced other areas in hopes that we can restart everything stronger in 2010. I love my job (with all its stresses and responsibilities)....I love my management (they do make wise choices)...and I certainly hope the year ahead will be great in spite of the media's dismal reports.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

This year, my friends, Christie, Beth and Amy, decided, in lieu of gifts, we'd "make a memory" as our Christmas celebration. We all love the theater and after a failed attempt to get to the Derby Dinner Playhouse performance of White Christmas, we opted for a Saturday brunch and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. It just doesn't get much better than that.

For those who don't know the story written by Barbara Robinson (you need to check that book out of the library and read it if you haven't), it's the story of a rowdy family named the Herdman's. A brood of uncontrollable bullies that all the children stay away from. Their only refuge from the Herdman's? Church...except when someone brags to a Herdman that they get treats in Sunday School and the next week the whole crew shows up...just in time for the announcement of casting for the Christmas Pageant.

What ensues is somewhat predictable, but tugs at your heart strings just the same. The Herdmans hear the story of Jesus' birth for the very first time and those that have heard it told year after year have a new appreciation for the true Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. The transformation is seen not only in the Herdmans, but all the people involved in the retelling of the greatest birth of all. As I sat there weepy-eyed as Luke 2 was read, I was reminded of the simple truths of that story. And, how Jesus came for the raggedy and unruly, not just for the prim and proper.

As we left the theater, I was happy to know I wasn't the only one who shed a few tears. I can always count on Amy being my softie partner in crime. But, I was quick to notice a Dad sitting in front of me quickly wiping his eyes as the lights came up. This was just the way we'd hoped to make a memory.

After our group picture to validate we were there, we headed to the elevator to get to our car. Surrounding us were tons of special needs children and adults along with their chaperones. The patient leader was trying to coordinate all the groups and make sure no one strayed away. My heart was touched again. These sweet, innocent and helpless people would never have experienced that show today without merciful and giving people willing to go the extra mile to plan and oversee this outing. These folks with Down's Syndrome or other mental issues may have grasped very little of the play they just experienced. And most of us would dismiss their need to go for that very reason. But like the Herdmans, raggedy, unruly and simply not like us, they soaked in the love of those that let them do something we all take for granted.

The Baby that was born, giving us the reason we celebrate this holiday, came for all the world.....even the least of these. I hear Linus whispering in my ear, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." ....quickly followed by Gladys Herdman proclaiming...."HEY....unto you a Child is Born.....He's in the barn...go see Him." I hope you spend some time at the manger this Christmas season.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

On Dasher, On Dancer...On Clicker

If I was a reindeer, I'd want my name to be "Clicker." Prancing isn't my thing, nor is dancing, although I enjoy my own groove. And being called Vixen could be damaging to my reputation. Clicker would work just fine. I find that I probably click my mouse about 10,000 times a day. I need a click-o-meter to determine that actual number. Ah, if only that would burn calories like true exercise...

This past Thanksgiving weekend I spent a lot of time clicking as I procured 90% of my Christmas gifts online. Shopping online is glorious and has to be the best feature of the Internet. Ok, e-mail, IM, Facebook....there are others, but for convenience and time-saving, there is no better way than to click "Add to Cart."

Since I have a small family and we're not big present-givers, I don't have a lot to purchase. Some of my friends have decided that in lieu of presents we spend the day together, which is my favorite gift....making a memory. I'm not a fan of shopping (which surprisingly hasn't snagged me a man yet) so getting this done early makes me a happy camper.

There is still time for you to participate in boosting the economy by doing some of your shopping online. To maximize your savings, be sure you search for promotional codes for the sites you'll be visiting. These are the cryptic codes that give you anything from free shipping to percentage discounts on your purchases. Current Codes is one of the sites I use. It's not the most user friendly site, but most codes work. RetailMeNot is another great site for promotional codes. You search by the store or domain of that store and your search results show codes and their success ratings. This site also allows users to submit codes they've found. If it's free shipping you desire, visit to search by store and get various codes to qualify you for free shipping depending on your purchase levels.

'Twas three weeks before Christmas and I was becoming St Nick
As all through the house you could hear the sound of my clicks....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mr. Obama Goes to Washington

Last weekend I watched the classic flick, "Mr Smith Goes to Washington." I'd never seen this 1939 Capra story featuring Senator Jefferson Smith played by Jimmy Stewart. Let me stop here and say that Jimmy Stewart was one attractive and endearing actor in his day. But, I digress...

The story goes that a senator dies suddenly and the governor of that state must appoint a replacement. Jefferson Smith is the people's choice, actually the governor's children's choice, for a replacment. He leads the Boy Rangers and lives to spread good throughout the world. Against the counsel he receives from Joe Paine, the other senator from Smith's state, and the seedy "Taylor Gang" who are playing the leaders of this state like a fine chiseled marionette to see their underhanded, money-making efforts come to fruition.

When Jefferson Smith is accused of having no experience to serve in the Senate, the Taylor Gang go about conducting a mission to tear him down. They go so far as to shut the media up and take down all the young boys in his state that are rallying their land around Mr. Smith. Jefferson decides not to give up and spends over 24 straight hours reading the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and The Bible until, he hoped, the world would believe him and good would conquer evil. In the end, Senator Paine reveals fake statements from Smith's home state declaring him the underhanded one and showcasing their lack of support. But, like any good movie with a happy ending, the end has a twist, and when Smith speaks the truth Senator Paine finally breaks under the pressure of corruption bearing down on his soul. Mr. Smith's endurance eventually pays off to overcome evil.

I found it interesting how little has changed since that movie was made. The media is still corrupt. Senators still listen to their puppeteers when making decisions. Yet, the difference? Most of us won't sacrifice sticking up for the good to overcome the evil.

In less than two months, we'll have a new president. I did not vote for President-elect Obama but the truth is, he will be our President. Senator Obama will head to Washington and have an insurmountable task ahead of him. If a President ever needed prayer, he does.

Our country is in a fragile state. Our economy is a wobbly as Humpty Dumpty on the wall and after more than 20 years of being told by the consumer's response to improve, the American automakers have finally hit rock bottom. Each day I give thanks for my job and pray that we can weather the storm that is ahead. Job number one for our new President is simple...fix the economy.

My main issues of opposition of President-elect Obama were his stance on various social issues, such as abortion. It appears that providentially his world will be consumed by saving the country's economy that any more left movement on those social issues may take a back seat. There are some hidden blessings in this time of economic downturn.

President-elect Obama, you have a enormous job ahead of you. The spin is over, now you have to live up to the pitch. Flee from the corruption saturating Washington and become humble enough to follow the path that is Good. Many tout that the future is in your hands, but I know Who holds the future. And I plan to pray to Him each day for Him to penetrate your heart.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Woot, Woot!

I am a huge procrastinator when it comes to semi- and major purchases. I would rather struggle along with whatever I have currently than make an investment in something new. Call me cheap, but I prefer the moniker, "Frugal." Back in June when I purchased my new Boo-mobile, I agonized over the buy even though the car I was driving was draining me dry financially, and at the pump. There's just something about a major financial investment, no matter how big or small, that causes me to pause.

Unlike most of America, I still have a land line at my home. Call me old school (for those keeping score, I'm now Old School Frugal) but sometimes I just like having a phone at my residence that doesn't follow me wherever I roam. Plus, my internet provider is also my land line provider. But, the two cordless phones I have were either poorly functioning or dying. My answering machine/phone combo was the cheapest thing you could find at Radio Shack and didn't include Caller ID. My other phone was so old the battery barely lasted through 15 minutes of conversation. I seriously can't remember how old that phone was or when I got it, so it's definitely paid its dues.

I priced phones to replace both of my less-than-perfect phones and realized it would be upwards of $80 - $100 to get two handets and an answering machine. Even one good handset with answering machine was $50 or more. So, I limped along doing the best I could with what I had. They were doing the best they could do with what they had in them. Although knowing Caller ID was part of my home package, it bothered me I wasn't taking full advantage of that service.

Enter This glorious web site is one I check daily for their deal of the day. Their gig? They sell one item per day. That's it. They have a clever description about the product and a daily Wootcast (Podcast) that make visiting their site enjoyable. One day, my dreams came true and they were selling a Uniden DECT 6.0 Dual Handset Cordless Phone with Digital Answering Machine. The going price for this unit elsewhere would have been $80 or more, but on this particular day, I was able to snag it for $35 plus $5 shipping. My package arrived about 5-6 days later and I'm up and running full speed with my new phone system. After many months following Woot, this was my first purchase and I was very pleased.

In times like these, you need to find ways to pinch pennies anytime you can. is definitely the place to do that, as long as you are patient. Check out their Shirt Woot site too for interesting and unique consumer-designed t-shirts. And, for all my fellow geekers out there, periodically has a "Woot-off" where the item for sale is changed throughout the day. It's like Christmas!

All together now..."Woot, Woot!"

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Magical Sweet Potato Patch

Once upon a time in the city of Louisville there were two ladies...Debbie and Kim. Many days while they were at work, they'd take a break to stroll around the downtown area near their office. They'd walk around Waterfront Park and take in all the sights and sounds of a sunny afternoon.

One day as they passed the water sprinkler area of the Waterfront Park, Debbie noticed something she'd seen each time they walked by....beautiful lime green vines. Of course, those plants were there to beautify the surrounding area for the folks frolicing in the sprinklers, but Debbie knew she'd seen them somewhere before. It dawned on her....they were sweet potato vines.

After many trips to that area, Debbie decided to investigate further to see if this truly could be a sweet potato patch. Lo and behold, there poking itself out of the ground was a very large purple-skinned sweet potato! Debbie was amazed at her discovery! Kim couldn't believe she was actually digging the potato out of the ground. The city beautification team has planted these everywhere translating to a food supply in major park areas across town. To Debbie this also meant a way to help the homeless by alerting the city of this bounty.

A day or so later on their next walk, Debbie decided to check out the sweet potato patch and much to her delight there was a moldy $100 bill sticking out of the ground where the potatoes had grown. Could this be? Not only are sweet potatoes growing, but so is money! No doubt Kim was a believer in the magical sweet potato patch now that money seemed to be growing on vines. Debbie took the bill to her local bank just to confirm it wasn't fake and was assured it was an authentic $100 bill.

Debbie had been granted these two magical wishes - a sweet potato and a $100 bill - and she just had to make sure some good would come of this magical patch and other patches around the city. Her calls to the local government offices went nowhere as nobody took this news as seriously as she did. Debbie even elevated her calls to the Mayor's office.

A day or so later Kim and Debbie headed out to walk again. Maybe it's the walking that is magical because on this day she saw the Mayor of Louisville on the sidewalk. Debbie, having no fear, walked right up to him, introduced herself and explained the story of the magical sweet potato patch. She lamented about how no one was responsive to her inquiries on how to provide this food to homeless shelters from all the locations that contained the beautiful green plants. His response, "I'll look into it." And Debbie lived happily ever after with her $100 bill and a stomach full of sweet potato goodness.

The moral of the fairy tale? Always look under ornate vine plants, you may find food or funds. But just enjoy your discovery and don't attempt to change the world. Nobody will listen.

***Yes, this is a true story. Every fact happened. I witnessed both the sweet potato and $100 bill, although I didn't see the Mayor. There are sweet potatoes planted all over Louisville so the next time you tip-toe through the water park, pick your vegetables before you leave.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

His Eye is on My Contact

I've worn contacts for more than 16 years. Never in that time have I ever lost a contact...until about a month ago. I wear gas permeable contact lenses...translation: hard contact lenses. With their light green tint and hard surface, it's difficult to lose them easily even if they pop out. But one fateful night it happened.

It was about a week before my departure for a business trip and I was conducting my nightly routine in the bathroom, which includes the removal and cleaning of my contacts. As I popped out the left contact, it felt as though it was still stuck in my eye. I scurried over to better lighting to see if I could see it in my eye. Not there. Great. Now I've trampled through the house and it's probably lost forever. I shook out my clothes, shook out my rugs, and searched in every nook and cranny as I retraced my steps. Nothing. Sigh.

The next morning in a panic, I called my doctor's office to order a new lens. I was leaving in a week and didn't want to head out of town a cyclops. Sure, I have my glasses, but they aren't optimal for an active life on the go. The nurse assured me I'd have the replacement lens by Friday and so I survived that week with glasses, or one contact. I can function somewhat without my contacts, but only in familiar locations. When I picked up the contact, the nurse said, "Oh I bet you find it when you go home." No way, lady. Not only had it been four days since the escape, but the vacuum had been run since then, surely sucking up the contact remains, if there were any.

I was content and careful now that I was running with both eyes again and in the planning mode for my trip the next week. No time for any other mishaps. On Saturday I had lots of errands to run and laundry to do before my departure. After a busy day on the go, I collapsed in the recliner in my bedroom that night to watch some television before bed. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a shiny object in the carpet right by my bed. Could it be? Surely not. I carefully bent down to pick it up, figuring certainly it was a piece of discardable plastic when lo and behold, my missing contact! After walking over that part of the carpet multiple times since Monday night, this siting of my contact can only be explained by the contact clinging to my clothes as I separated them to do laundry and the lens falling visible on the ground. Or was it something else?

The days leading up to my trip were filled with lots of busyness - preparing presentations at work, taking care of the things in my personal life I'd be away from for the week - causing me to worry and fret. Sure, that contact probably clung to some clothing in my hamper, but I truly believe God had His Eye on that contact. For when I saw that preserved and intact contact shining up at me it was as if God was audibly saying, "If I can protect a silly little contact for almost a week and bring it back to you, can't you trust me with your life?" I can't explain the joy and peace I felt at that moment over the contact discovery. But it was more than a discovery, it was a true revelation of God's Protection and Provision in my life.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" - Matthew 6:25-26

It's amazing how clearly I saw God's Hand on my life when that which helps me to see was lying on the ground.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Table Topics - Birth Order

I'm an only child. For those of you gasping at the horrid thought of that, it truly isn't that bad. Although I'll admit to being spoiled, it wasn't to the stage of rotten-ness. For all the good there is of being an only child there is the bad, but as Popeye would say, "I Yam What I Yam" and proud of it.

I've had lots of discussions lately with various friends and co-workers where this issue has come up. Usually it starts at someone looking at me wide-eyed in disbelief that I survived the horrible world as an only child. Some others are parents of children who confess to other mothers in my presence, "Oh don't let your child be an only" as if it was some sort of ailment. I developed quite well socially, thank you. And, if the worst thing your child encounters is being "a lonely only" then count your blessings. I've even had mothers of only children want to hug me in support of their situation that there is hope for their only children. I heard about an interesting conversation amongst a department at my workplace where the predominant element is only children or mothers of only children. We have a lot of only children that work at my company for the number of employees we have. We only children like to say that is probably because the most creative and intelligent in the world lived life as an only child. But, we're probably biased.

There are positives and negatives with every birth order. First born children are known for their strong-wills and leadership qualities. Middle born children, bless their hearts, are almost on the level with with us only children in reported dysfunction. And, those precious final born children, the babies of the brood, seem to have their issues too. As a fan of Jon & Kate Plus 8, I've noticed their use of birth order with the sextuplets when heading to the doctor or other activities where everyone has to have a turn. Poor Joel is the final born and struggles with being last all the much so Kate has decided to implement reverse birth order.

I found out recently that a couple of my closest friends are expecting - Tracy and Chad, their first, and Ashley and Kyle, their third in three years (God definitely wants them to reproduce!). Immediately some people asked Tracy how many more they would have. In true Tracy fashion, that conversation is not for public consumption, but I have to say that even though I've not had children, I'd not be quick to answer that question either in the midst of my first pregnancy. Although Ashley was a bit overwhelmed at first at the thought of baby three, she quickly recovered given she's been through this twice already; what's one more? But, it did cause her to say that she'd want a fourth eventually so sweet Jane wouldn't be the middle child.

That brings us to today's Table Topic:

Do you think birth order matters? Did your birth order make a difference in your life choices?

No matter whether you are one or one of ten, I'm thankful for every life that is born. My parents tried for almost 20 years to have a child and I'm so glad they never gave up.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

San Francisco Treat

My recent trip to San Francisco was just fabulous. In the midst of political news and economic woes, it was nice to get away from the routine and daily grind of the office. I feel very blessed to have a job I love and work with people I love. It makes work, even with the stresses, loads of fun.

I'll try to recap the trip with the highlights without boring my faithful readers with every gory detail. My flight out to the West Coast was smooth and without delays. Delta is a great airline. Their customer service seems to have improved over the years. There is something special about a little pampering when you are traveling. Speaking of "Smooth," on my flight from Atlanta to San Francisco, I sat next to Carlos Santana's cousin. That's the closest brush to fame I had the whole trip. He lives in Santa Cruz and is a mountaineering guide that takes folks on bear hunts. I asked him if he was involved in music at all and he said, "I have a guitar, but it's still in the case." Guess not.

We stayed at the Sir Frances Drake Hotel, a historic hotel that opened its doors in 1928. It is located right next to Union Square in the heart of the city. The hotel definitely looks like it's been around for 80 years, but they've done a good job keeping it in working order, complete with the costumed doorman. The highlight of the hotel for me? Free Aveda products in the bathroom.

A lot of our trip was spent in meetings at the hotel where we could hear the "ding ding" of the trolley cars every few minutes from the street below. Once our day was complete, most of us either spent the night on the town (not me) or in our hotel room catching up on the work we needed to do (that was me). But, my trip was far from devoid of fun...

On Wednesday, we ended our meeting early to head to Fisherman's Wharf and a cruise on the bay. As we headed to Pier 39, Captian Erik walked up to greet us with a McDonald's bag in one hand and looking like surfer dude Matthew McConaughy. Not really what we expected. But he and the first mate, Heffee (pronounded "Heff-ay") made our trip memorable. It was a beautiful day as we sailed our 41-foot Privateer down the bay, past Alcatraz, past Angel Island, Sausalito, Belevedere, and on to Tiburon where we docked for dinner at Sam's. (Check out the "Sam Cam.") The cruise back was during sunset and the picture above was shot by one of our team members as we cruised past the Golden Gate Bridge. You can see more pictures here. A lot of the sales folks on the cruise do this sort of thing all the time, or live in Northern California. But for me and my team, we all commented multiple times, "Do you realize we are sailing in the San Francisco Bay?" The privilege of doing that made us grateful and thankful. We definitely didn't take this for granted. If you ever want to cruise the Bay, check out Captain Erik's company; they take good care of you.

The final night I was there, we were on our own, and I had a craving to see the ocean. Although the city is hopping 24/7, my love of California is the ocean views. One of my co-worker's Mom came for the trip so they could stay the weekend and the three of us girls had a wonderful dinner at Cliff House Bistro. It was foggy when we got there, so a bit tough to see the ocean, but by the end of dinner, the fog had lifted and I got my ocean fix. Add in a great dinner with two sweet people and a nice debriefing of the week over scrumptious seafood and I was one happy southern belle stuck in this very foriegn land.

There are more OCD tendencies causing me to buy a cell phone charger at the Atlanta airport and almost missing my plane...dinner near the Bay Bridge at Pier 1 at The Slanted humble thankfulness for some great compliments from a respected co-worker...our joke of who we'd save first if the sailboat sank...our jubilant response at the Cincinnati airport to see a Chick-Fil-A and a McDonalds! I'm still a Kentucky girl at heart.

One of my employees experienced his first sales meeting during this boondoggle. I failed to tell him in advance that we all greet each other with hugs and affections much like a family. To a lot of people that may be a surprise, but to us, it's just another day on the job. Yep, I dig my job....totally.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Musings of the Week - Harry Potter, San Francisco, and Contact Tragedies

1. I finally finished the Harry Potter series. I started reading the audio books over a year ago and last week closed the chapter on the story of the young wizard. If you haven't read them, I highly recommend it. I'm not obsessed with the books as some are, but I enjoyed them. If you've read the books, I encourage you to listen to the audio books. It's like story time all over again and they are narrated by Jim Dale, the talented narrator that also narrates the hit show "Pushing Daisies." I think if I read them again, it will be audio book because his storytelling ability makes the words come to life.

2. Last Sunday we had our church services outside due to the after effects of Wind Storm 2008. One service, one location, all of us together at 10:30am. I came to church with my lawn chair and sunglasses and I loved it! I felt like I paid attention even more to the sermon, because the fresh air was rejuvenating. Nothing like worshipping God in the midst of His Creation. I hope we do this more often, sans the week of power outage.

3. Next Tuesday I'm heading to San Francisco. To celebrate a great second quarter of business, my company is having our sales meeting on the West Coast. First off, it's a bit surreal that my company is celebrating great business in the midst of this odd economic world we live in, but I'm counting my blessings and praying for it to continue. The beauty of a business get to stay in swanky hotels that I could never afford, go on fun excurisions, and eat good food. I'm sure it will make for a future blogpost.

4. Monday night I lost my left contact lens. After sixteen years of contact lens-wearing, I lost my first contact my own house. As I took it out in the evening to clean it, I thought it got dislodged in my eye. So I scurried around for the right lighting and mirror to get it out and couldn't find it in my eye. Being the hypchondriac that I am, I assumed it floated back behind my eye, into my brain to cause a future tumor. After realizing I couldn't find it, I shook out all my clothes, rugs, and blankets, but to no avail. I called the doctor's office the next day, knowing I was leaving town in a week, to order a new one. The nurse was great and assured me it would be in by Friday. I picked it up this morning. Oh, and she also assured me that my contact couldn't float behind my eye and into my brain. I'm so glad people tolerate my madness.

5. This being National Stay at Home Week, I've not really done that and with all the new shows debuting, my DVR is overflowing. It may reach new levels while I'm gone next week recording and saving all the shows I want to watch. I have made it through a couple debuts this week...Heroes and The Office. I felt like the old Heroes was back and my favorite villian Sylar is stronger than ever. And, even though *SPOILER ALERT* Jim proposed to Pam, I sense that we'll spend the season watching a thousand obstacles get in their way to the altar. I'm an only child and I love tv.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Being Powerless

What a week in Louisville! It started last Sunday on a blustery afternoon and we had no idea what the winds would blow in. We experienced the effects of Hurricane Ike, what I like to call "Hurricane Ike, Jr." that literally took our city to its knees in a matter of four hours. As I left lunch after church on Sunday, I realized it was extremely windy. I fully expected to see the Wicked Witch bicycling through the air or Winnie the Pooh hanging on to a fragile limb. But, I didn't know the extent of what I was driving in until I got home.

I arrived home to no power and the notification from friends that something harsh was going on. Reports on the drive home were downed power lines, downed trees, and I knew it was bad news when our evening service at my church was canceled due to no power. Therein began my quest to exist like a pioneer. I have a land line in my house, but all are cordless phones, so the only phone that worked was my cell phone, which was losing power fast. I decided to spend the afternoon doing a little Bible study to calm the nerves, but after a while, reading by flashlight was difficult.

I decided to go out to my car to charge my phone and listen to the radio since I was fresh out of AA batteries and my one and only battery-powered radio batteries were dead. While listening to the radio, I realized the immense amount of damage and outage. Winds of 75-81mph were reported in the area causing massive destruction. Nearly 300,000 residents were without power, the police were asking people to stay home, and my power being out and no damage was a blessing many people weren't experiencing. Am I living in Hurricane Alley, or the Ohio Valley?

As daylight ended around 8:30, I decided to get my MacGyver on and figure out a way to get my radio to work. I scavengered batteries from my remote controls (obviously useless during a power outage) and got my radio to work! I was in bed by 9pm and listening to talk radio for the latest city updates. A nice throwback to what many of the older generation calls "the good ole days."

I was one of the blessed homes. At 6:40am the next morning, my power came on. One of my co-workers never lost power and said she suffered from "I didn't lose power" guilt, and I have to say I fared so much better than most and felt that guilt too. Almost a week later and schools have been closed for the week, and 95,000 residents are still without power. It's been surreal. While our infrastructure was in ruins, the weather was absolutely beautiful...a blessing for those who had no power, hence no air conditioning for the week..and none was needed. And our city was preparing for the Ryder Cup with thousands of out-of-town guests arriving for the golf extravaganza. This week has seemed like three weeks in one for a lot of people.

All week, I found myself asking the same question, and being asked this question multiple times...."Do you have power?" "Are you still powerless?" It hit me every time those questions were asked that we are powerless in our lives without True Power. I might have electricity flooding through the veins of my house circuitry, but if I'm not connected to the One who provides real Power, I'm powerless. Act 1:8 says, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you..." I'm so thankful that no matter how strong the winds and devasting the damage, the Holy Spirit never has an outage.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

I am not a political junkie. Nor can I say that I'm well-versed in discussing all the aspects of the debates on war, the economy, or issues in flux on Capitol Hill. But after being immersed in the Republican National Convention coverage this past week, I have a resurgence of excitement that maybe, just maybe, there is a chance of fulfillling history in November's Presidential election....and not by electing Obama.

When John McCain announced his choice of a running mate, Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, most people either gasped and reacted harshly with slanderous comments, or yelped for joy at the possibility of a woman with the right kind of worldview being a heartbeat from the Presidency. I was initially ecstatic and the more I hear of her, and after her history-making speech at last week's convention, I don't know that I've been this excited to vote than when I cast my first presidential vote for the Gipper...the greatest president, Ronald Reagan.

This post won't speak in numbers or stats or polls, but on my reasons for why I love Sarah Palin. When asked about my views on all things political, I start by replying, "I'm a conservative evangelical, so if you want to continue the conversation, let's go!" My CEO has always given great advice to those in business..."always hire people smarter than yourself" Palin may not be smarter, but she brings to the Republican ticket the luster that McCain needed to dissuade the slick-tongued diatribes from his opponent. It's been great seeing the other party trying to deal with this "pit bull with lipstick." Here are just a few reasons I love Sarah Palin...(gee, how many times can I squeeze in 'I love Sarah Palin' in one blogpost)

- She's a mother of five children. That alone gives her every bit of experience needed to run for this office. Anyone that has watched mothers with more than 3 or 4 children know what I mean. It's not an easy job. Add in the fact she has children in a wide range of ages and a newborn makes it even more impressive.

- She's real. Even when the news of her 17-year-old daughter's, Bristol, pregnancy broke, the media tried to challenge her ability to mother. This issue is a real issue that parents face all the time. Down deep, is Sarah and Todd Palin happy about this? I'd guess not. But their unconditional love and support of a child that got herself into this situation shows a lot about their parenting abilities.

- She's an innovative governor. From selling the governor's private jet on eBay to bringing the state of Alaska to a surplus over their budget, she isn't the conventional politician. For those on the other side proclaiming change...she's living it.

- She's bold. Anyone who can walk on the stage at the RNC and deliver a speech like she did without missing a beat and mesmerizing even the liberals watching means she's not afraid of a challenge. Most Moms worth their salt never back down to anyone no matter how much whining and complaining they encounter.

- She stands for what I believe in. She's pro-life and that stand alone speaks volumes. How you value life shapes all other decisions you make. She has been slammed for requesting prayer for decisions she faced as Governor of Alaska. Thank goodness we have a prospective VP that isn't afraid to ask people to pray for the issues in our country. Although there are things in her past that I may not agree with 100%, I realize I won't agree with every candidate on every issue. But I do want to agree with a candidate on those issues that mean the most to me.

- She's a woman. It may not cause all the Hilary fans to run to the right, and we know Obama-lovin' Oprah refuses to have her on her show, but for the average woman in the United States, she is a role model. For Moms, she knows what it means to raise a family and follow a career. For Moms of special needs children, she knows how it feels. For those of us who are career women in the workplace, she is an example of how you can believe in your dreams without compromising your beliefs. I am woman, I love Palin.

As the saying goes...."The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world." I hope that comes true in November.

Monday, September 01, 2008


My friend, Amy, has recently been dealing with loss or the reminder of loss. She caused me to start thinking about that and the word...separation....which is really the consequence of any kind of loss. Webster's defines it as "a point, line, or means of division." The word and definition are bleak.

I pondered on this as my PVD (post-vacation depression) took longer to get over this year, primarily because of the wonderful time I had with the Todds. It reminded me how much I miss them and savor those times, no matter how simple, we have together. That led me to think of all the people in my lives I'm separated from...

...Chad and Georgia ...Alisa...though just in Lexington, it feels farther Alabama South Carolina
...Regina....on the mission field in East Asia Virginia
...a ka-zillion other friends who've left Louisville for places near and far that I rarely speak to or see
...and a plethora of loved ones in Mom, Granny, Granddaddy...the list goes on

Reflection on this made me realize that in the beginning, separation wasn't something we would experience. God's plan for our life in the Garden was to be in communion with Him and each other. A veritable paradise forever. Then sin entered the Garden and separation was introduced to the world. We became separated from God. When I long to have everyone I care for and love present and reachable in less than one hour, I realize that will never be attainable on earth again.

For those who are believers in Christ, I know if I never see them again on earth, I'll join them one day in Heaven. That is one of the many appealing things about my eternal life in Heaven and one of the things that should motivate me to share the Good News much more than I do. And I can have that promise because, even though sin separated me from God, because He loved me so much He sent His Son to die for me, and because of Jesus' sacrifice, I am no longer separated from God.

"For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels or rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" - Romans 8:38-39

It's so comforting to know that one day the word "separation" will be erased from my vocabulary.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Top Ten Things Overheard on the 2008 Adel Trip

My friend, Christie, and I made our annual trek down South to the glorious city of Adel, Georgia, to visit our great friends, Chad and Tracy Todd. If I could swing it, I think I'd go once every three or four months, if Hotel Todd didn't grow weary of my visits. Going to visit the Todds is always loads of fun and I think every year it gets better. There was lots of laughter and more things to talk about then one blogpost can hold (or post for public consumption). On our visit there two years ago, Tracy wanted to know if I was writing a blogpost, and I did. And have each year. This year we all came up with this blog idea during the trip and I took copious notes to make sure I captured the moment. Without further ado, straight from the home office in Adel, Georgia, tonight's top ten list...

10. "Call 511" - You may have noticed these signs on the side of the highway to access traffic information. During our trip down, we encountered a major backup in Chattanooga and a few more slow-moving spots in Atlanta and shortly before Tifton. Every time we'd come to a stop, I'd proclaim "Call 511" thinking our tax dollars are going to pay for a great service. It's not that exciting. We never really got correct information (much like your morning traffic report) and the voice activation menu never understood me and almost connected me to a live representative 2 times. Typically "Call 511" followed Christie's comment, "Brake lights as far as the eye can see!"

9. "I see another cop" - We counted 27 cops on the way down and 10 on the way home. It's a nice way to spend your time in a long car ride if you run out of games. It's either that or count the "See Ruby Falls" signs (we've counted those before). Shortly before arriving in Adel, cop #26 caught us off guard and Christie's comment when pondering the possibility of us getting a ticket in the tenth hour of our trek was, "Now that would put a damper on the evening." Thankfully, no ticket.

8. "So, you aren't bringing any Peanut M&Ms?" - Our road trip snack of choice has been a big ole bag of Peanut M&Ms. Usually we wouldn't finish the whole bag and Tracy would get the benefit of munching on the rest during our stay. Since we're all on diets this year, the M&Ms were replaced with 100-calorie snacks and granola bars. But, that didn't stop Tracy asking us if we were still bringing them. Around Tifton we stopped to take a bio break and decided to buy Tracy a bag of her own M&Ms. But we couldn't leave Chad out! So we bought him some boiled peanuts from the Chevron. Yeah, that's the deep south....boiled peanuts at the gas station next to the microwave in a crock pot. Chad and Tracy loved the gifts.

7. "Jones, get the chart!" - As I mentioned, we're all on diets of some sort. I'm doing a six-meal a day plan and Christie is doing Weight Watchers. Tracy, the ever-accommodating hostess, had made notes about the homemade food she prepared with the calories, fiber and fat so Christie could calculate her points. Each time we got ready to eat, Tracy would say, "Jones, get the chart!" and we'd figure out points. Tracy's engineering mathematical mind loved the constant calculation. To support our cause, Tracy even introduced us to her video exercise routine. We did a 45-minute Hi-Def Sculpt one morning. As we were sweatin' like pigs, Tracy would say, "It's almost over." I think we heard that six times before it was actually over.

6. "We could look that up if the computer would come on." - Shortly into our stay, the Todds computer died. You don't know how dependent you are on these machines until they don't work. More than once we all uttered this statement. On Saturday, our trip to Valdosta included a visit to Best Buy to procure a new laptop for them. We all had our roles (assigned by Tracy)...Christie's role was to distract unwanted assistance, which she did well by causing an alarm to go off near digital cameras. My role was to tell them if the sales rep was being honest since I just went through this drill a month or so ago. I'm happy to report our plan worked marvelously.

5. "Will we be home by 10pm?" - It was Phelpsmania at Hotel Todd! We were privileged to watch history in the making as we cheered on the gold medals Michael Phelps brought home for the USA. Chad was well-informed on the times of his competitions and most occurred around the 10pm hour, so we had to ensure that we were in position for the witnessing of history. We even got to experience one of the gold medal victories with the Bradfords, a wonderful family that we've been privileged to get to know through the Todds.

4. "I'm my own man." - Chad, being the great husband he is, did the grocery shopping for Tracy before we arrived. But, he did veer off the detailed list a bit, to which he responded, "I'm my own man." This statement was a recurring theme throughout the weekend. One example was Chad's need for a new pillow. He said, "I need a pillow for $5" Tracy rolled her eyes and Chad would reply, "I'm my own man." Priceless. And, Chad found his $5 pillow at Wal-Mart.

3. "Never lead a 10" - The game of choice this weekend was Rook. I've played before, and Christie has too, but not enough to retain the rules. Well, we weren't the star pupils of Rook training. Although aspects of the game are similar to Spades, the strategy is much different, which caused us both mental blocks. "Never lead a 10" was one of their Rook tips along with "Bleed trumps." Christie and I plan to play some rounds of Rook at our Senior Adult game night before next year to stay fresh. Of course, we'll probably get beat horribly by our seasoned senior Rook players.

2. "I still taste the broccoli" - For Sunday's lunch, Tracy made steamed broccoli to continue her support of our healthy eating. She would prefer broccoli with cheese and Ritz crackers, but wouldn't we all? She decided that the steamed broccoli wasn't her favorite and most of Sunday afternoon she'd say, "I still taste the broccoli" Maybe she was weary from shelling the 5-gallon bucket of peas that was a sweet gift from one of their church members. Hopefully she's not still tasting broccoli....and thanks to our pea-shelling skills, she's not still shelling peas either.

1. "Don't blog about that." - Periodically throughout our stay, Tracy would say "don't blog about that" to indicate that was off limits for public consumption. Believe me, there are enough funny moments, comments, and experiences to fill another blogpost. Since I "didn't blog about that" hopefully Tracy will approve of this blogpost.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

"Is Your Refrigerator Running?"..."Um, No"

A week ago Wednesday, I came home from church (ironically from a Bible study I'm leading on contentment, no less) to hear a funny noise from my fridge. A "buzzzz, click, buzzzz" (insert your sound effects here) noise was coming from my fridge. I'd heard this noise before and remembered a couple of years ago it was caused by a bad switch that needed replacing. Due to my sky-is-falling tendencies, I decided to empty the ice bucket, just in case it was the ice maker overflowing or some such issue.

The next morning I called my Dad aka best man on the planet to ask him if I should call a repairman or what I should do. My Dad is a perfectionist, and a handyman...he can fix anything, so I always consult him before seeking outside help so that I'm not over-reacting. He said to let him come and take a look and he'd call a repairman if needed.

While I headed on to work, Dad checked out the situation and decided to call a repairman. I don't keep Yellow Pages at my house anymore because, well, there is the internet, so I found it funny when Dad called me to find where my Yellow Pages were hiding. I told him "let me Google it" and in five seconds I had a list of possible repair facilities. Dad is pretty computer savvy for his age, but hasn't given up the phone book just yet.

After a visit from the repairman, it was decided the fridge was dead. The compressor died and was beyond repair...and out of warranty. Dad called to consult on the situation and I told him I trusted his judgment...pick one out for me that can be delivered the fastest. What money I'd save on shopping for a bargain I'd lose in the spoiled food. Plus, this is a "boy job"...a job solely created by God for men to do. I wasn't created to figure out what fridge I needed, I was created to take all the goodies in the fridge and whip up a luscious meal. As long as I have a freezer part and a fridge part, I'm good.

The next day, I was blessed to be able to work from home so I could be there for the delivery and installation. I didn't open the fridge except once or twice before I emptied it to transfer everything to the new icebox. Thankfully, I didn't lose any food. Athough I discovered through all of this that I don't do well with major disorder in my life, I was thankful that I was able to get a new fridge so quickly. I hope this is the last thing to break down in my life for a while. First my computer, then my car, now this. They come in threes right?

In looking for humor in every situation, I had hoped somebody would have played the phone prank on Thursday "Is your refrigerator running?" so I could accurately respond..."No, it's not." Nobody did, but just thinking about that made me chuckle amidst the chaos.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Table Topics - TV Crushes

Growing up as an only child, I watched a lot of TV. Thankfully, in my younger days, television was much more suitable for family viewing than it is now. One of the things that I remember as a young girl was those silly crushes I'd get on the latest TV heartthrob. You know what I'm talking about (if you are willing to admit it). You'd watch a show and find some guy so dreamy (long before the days of "McDreamy") and then when you accompanied your Mom to the grocery store, you'd slip the latest Tiger Beat in the basket so you could cut out all the pictures of your "man" and plaster them on your bedroom walls. Ladies, I know you are nodding and giggling right now. And, men, don't tell me Farah Fawcett didn't find her way on your bedroom wall.

I had multiple crushes. But, I'd have to say my main one, the man that garnered the most wall space in my bedroom was Scott Baio. Now, my crush occurred during his Happy Days era, not his offbeat "Scott Baio is 45 and still single" VH1 era. The moment he walked on that show as Chachi Arcola, I was smitten. And his "Wa-Wa-Wa" flirtatious proclamation made me swoon. Sigh. I grew up with Scott Baio and sadly pined after him into his Charles in Charge years. Next in line was Donny Osmond. I believe my love of purple began during my Donny crush. And, of all my crushes, Donny still looks the same.

The list goes on.....Gary Sandy, who played Andy Travis on WKRP in Cincinnati. Wesley Eure who played Will Marshall on the Saturday morning series, Land of the Lost. Christopher Knight who played Peter Brady on The Brady Bunch. (Why did all my crushes seem to end up on crazy VH1 reality shows?)

So, that brings us to today's question.....

Did you have a "TV Crush"...if so, who was it? Or who were they?

Saturday, July 19, 2008


I work in the downtown area of Louisville, Kentucky. If you don't live here, you may think of that as the hip, urban place to be, but we're not quite your New York, Atlanta, or Chicago. The town is definitely trying to become more "metro" but we still have some miles to go before that happens. To rejuvenate the downtown area, the University of Louisville is planning a new home for their basketball team, set to open Fall 2010. This swanky new arena has been the talk of the town for a while, but those within blocks of the construction are ready for its completion.

My office building is located about a block from the arena site which sounds glorious, but the area surrounding the new location is, how shall I say, somewhat depressed. Across the street from my building is a huge hole in the ground next to a row of buildings that have been standing since the early 1900s but empty long enough that we're convinced unknown mold is growing inside and various wildlife call it home. Thankfully that will all be demolished and rebuilt as a luxurious retail facility to complement the arena up the street.

We've encountered extended road closings and other peripheral obstacles as the area becomes prepared for the new arena. This morning at 7am, one of the current buildings that has to get out of the way was imploded. I love that word...implosion. It sounds exactly like what it means. To prepare for the impending implosion, my company had to take special precautions....first step, shut down our air conditioning system to avoid soot invasion. Since our building would have no air during the hottest part of the summer, all of our computers had to be shut down to protect them from overheating and having their own implosion party.

Even though the imploded building isn't very tall, the idea of watching a building intentionally collapse was intriguing to me. Not intriguing enough for me to be downtown at 7am, but I was up to watch it live on the local stations. I could have watched it all from the roof of my parking garage, where the media was headquartered, about two blocks away, but the television coverage was probably better. Although it lasted only a few seconds, it was cool.

At the end of this post is one of a ka-zillion videos on YouTube. This one was my favorite as a Daddy took his child to the new Humana building to watch it happen. As the video ends, you won't see my building, but it's just below the bottom right hand corner, if you'd like to visualize where I spend my Mondays-Fridays. If you want to see more videos (or if you are just that bored), go to YouTube and search "louisville implosion." There is one that shows the Mayor's SUV parked illegally. Good times. In other local Louisville news, while half our city was glued to watching a building disappear in a puff of smoke, the rest of our city was standing in line for the American Idol auditions. Man, I love my hometown!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Musings for the Week - Staycations, Dean Denny, and Sax Players

1. Last week I had what is now called a "Staycation," defined as vacation time where you "stay" at home. I'd highly recommend them. Even though I may not have whisked away for an out-of-town venture, I was able to spend some time with friends I'd not seen in a while and very good friends I don't get enough quality time with regularly. I caught up on my DVR watching, caught some movies and enjoyed a low key week. Although I have an actual vacation planned for August, this July staycation was simply glorious. Yep, I'd do it again.

2. During my Staycation, I saw Get Smart. I went in with low expectations but truly enjoyed the movie. I've concluded that any movie with Steve Carell, I'm going to love. Some movie snobs may find many things to gripe about with this movie, but it made me laugh out loud and if a movie can do that, it gets five popcorn boxes in my movie rating scale. To continue the Carell love fest, I just read this week that he's signed on for three more seasons of The Office. By far my favorite comedy, I know I'll go into mourning the day it ends. For those keeping score, the movies out I'd like to see....WALL-E and the upcoming epic, The Dark Knight.

3. This week brought news that made me happier than I can describe. I think I need medicine. Denny Burk was named Dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I'm not a seminary student, nor have I ever attended Boyce, but I know Denny and his wife, Susan. They were active members of our church while Denny pursued his PhD and then left as he accepted a teaching position at the prestigious Criswell College in Dallas. What a sad day. I remember my friend, Christie, and I having dinner and coffee with Denny and Susan shortly before they left. Bittersweet. Denny is a guy who can talk about theology and politics so far above my head that I can't reach it on my tippy toes, but can boil it down to something I can understand in the next breath. And, all this while being hip to the newest pop culture-ism out there. He taught the college class at our church while they were here and the students loved him. Even more than Denny, the love for Susan seemed larger. Every girl wanted a piece of her. I still apply wisdom I learned from Susan to my life today and share it with other women. So often we say good-bye to seminary students we love and never cross paths with them again, aside from our virtual connections, this side of Heaven. A rare treat of having such a great couple back in town is like Heaven on earth.

4. I love the Hallmark channel. I think this may add years to my biological age or decrease my cool factor, but in either case, I'm proclaiming it. Each night at 9pm, Hallmark Channel shows a movie. I can always count on this movie to be clean and maybe even have a sweet romantical story that doesn't scream R rating. Sure, I may shed a few tears, but I've been able to enjoy two hours of no profanity and family-friendly entertainment. I am my Mother's daughter. Man, I feel old.

5. Periodically at the corner outside our office buiding a guy plays his saxaphone. Sometimes it's at lunchtime, and other times it's all day. There is no rhyme or reason to his schedule. My cubical home is positioned by a window above this musical corner, so the minute he starts, we all can hear him. Here in the Infield (what we affectionately call our cube pod) we get serenaded by the smooth jazz tunes of Mr. Sax. At first it was a bit annoying, but now it's like Muzak to our ears.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Car Buying Tips

I am not fond of shopping for a vehicle. Although I worked in the car business for seven years and manage a sales team today, I'm still not overjoyed to go haggle for a car. Maybe it's because I know what goes on behind the scenes on the other side of the table since, well, I'm there daily manuevering deals with my sales team. But, knowledge is power, and it's equipped me with some skills when it comes time to purchase a car.

My car, which I previously reported was having issues, died again a month or so ago. After putting as much money into this car for repairs that would have made a nice down payment, and my Dad's wise words, "I think it may be time for a new car" I decided to bite the bullet. My plan was to begin looking about six months from now. I first had to buy a new laptop (why does it seem everything big konks out at once?) because I use my home laptop for work and needed to save to pay that first, then save for the car down payment. A marvelous blessing came out of nowhere - my Stepmom graciously and unexpectedly wanted to pay for my computer. I cannot put into words what a huge blessing that was for me. Beyond taking care of that cost, the money I'd saved could now be used towards a new vehicle. As much as I wanted to wait six more months anyway, I knew if I didn't take the plunge now, when the next $800 repair popped up in three months, I'd be mad at myself. So, off I went.

Thanks to a tip from a co-worker, I visited a Honda dealership he recommended, and was determined to get a dependable, reliable car that would last. I now am driving a new blue Honda CRV LX that I lovingly call the "Rapturemobile" or "I'm driving it until Jesus comes." Hopefully I'll come up with a clever name, but that one seems to fit right now.

As a single female, car shopping stinks...unless you are armed with intelligence. For those of you in the car market, or who may be in the market again someday, here are a few tips that helped me secure a deal my budget could live with.....

Do your research. I spent a lot of time online figuring out my options. But even before that, I polled my blogging audience and asked a lot of people their thoughts on reliable, dependable car options. Even during my last episode with my dead car, my AAA Rescue Ranger gave me insights from his experience. There are lots of places to research are just three of the sites I used. Beyond just looking up various model choices, I also did research on bank rates and used various calculators to determine the scenarios I could face and what I could afford. It's good to get an idea of what various cars, new and used, are selling for to be educated in the market for your area.

Be firm in what you can pay before you go. Whether you have a certain dollar figure, a maximum monthly payment, or the most you can put as a down payment on a car, know those figures before you start your actual shopping. This keeps you from waffling when a salesman puts the heat on you. Also, start by revealing the low end of what you can pay. This gives you negotiating power so when they balk and you have to "give" something to "get" what you want, you are still within your budget. At the last stage of my recent negotiation, I was clear that if they couldn't reach a deal within my budget, I have a car, I can drive away.

Pick the right time to go. I went to the dealer on June 28. Go towards the end of the month. Salesmen have quotas and are more willing to bend when you go at the end of the month. When you start to look at cars, ask how long they've had the car in their inventory that you are interested in purchasing. For used cars, the longer they sit unsold, the more likely they may have to sell it at auction or to a wholesaler. For new cars, the older inventory has to move for the dealer to get more inventory from the factory - a "turn and earn" method most all dealers encounter with the manufacturer.

I'm no expert, nor do I have all the answers when dealing with car salesmen, but I know that at least these areas have helped alleviate the stresses of car shopping. And, now, more importantly, the stress of coming out to my car after work, or church, or at the gym and fearing it won't start is gone. Hallelujah for the Rapturemobile!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why I Love Preschoolers

Last Sunday night I had the opportunity to work with the 3s and 4s in our preschool ministry during our evening service with my friend, Amy. Since I'm not a Mommy, hanging out with these little ones can be a joy because, well, after an hour or so, my responsibility is over. I get to enjoy the fun stuff. Sunday night was an exceptionally fun night and caused me to reflect on a few reasons why I love preschoolers...or at least 3s and 4s....

1. They can "go potty" all by themselves...or pretty much fly solo. Although I'm not a Mommy, I've changed a few diapers in my day and being able to let a little one visit the bathroom without much assistance is glorious.

2. They think I'm hilarious. I love a captive audience. Sunday night, Amy read the story of David and Goliath. As she read certain words, I'd make hand motions or sound effects to go along with the drama of the story. Every time I'd act out "army" the girls would roll in the floor giggling. No, it isn't that funny, but to them, I'm the best thing since the last Disney movie they watched.

3. Their short little lives seem long. Their lives move at a snails pace to them and they savor every moment. Karis said, "I've had SOOOO many birthdays!" I had to chuckle to myself and think, "Honey, you have no idea..." I said, "Wow, Karis, how many birthdays have you had?" She dramatically held up her fingers and said "Three Years!!" I'll ask her in 30 years if she feels like she's had so many birthdays.

4. They give unconditional love. Maddie is full of expression and loves to tell stories. Her bouncy blond curls make her one of the most engaging little ones in there. Usually at this age, they aren't much for cuddling and are starting to shy away from the lovable huggable ways of their younger years. Not Maddie. I can always count on her for a hug. I asked her if she wanted to come home with me and with her gigantic smile and hug around my neck, she said, "Yes!"

5. You get priceless conversations like these....Amy and I were having an adult conversation while sitting with the kids and molding Play-doh,...

Amy: "When kids get older, motherhood becomes more of a duty"
Gracie: (GASPS) "That is a bad word!!"
Amy: "No, no Gracie, we're talking about 'responsibility'"

Obviously, in Gracie's house, the word "dooty" describes a bodily function and she's been instructed not to say it. Try explaining to a 4-year old about homophones.

The next time you are caught with a preschooler for an hour or so, sit back and enjoy the moment. It passes oh so quickly.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ditched the Dinosaur

After six years and 60,000 technology improvements, I finally caved and got a new laptop. I don't make major purchases like this without lots of research (and prayer) because I'm, well, cheap. Even being a techno geek like me, I'm a late adopter when it comes to the latest and greatest computer or gadget debuts. My co-workers still gasp when they realize all the TVs in my house are more than 10 years old.

The time had come to say good-bye to good ole Compaq. She has served me well since 2002, but six years in laptop years is like 80 in adult years. Her gait became pretty slow and she just couldn't load all the newfangled updates found on the internet. Parting is such sweet sorrow, but for the sake of my ability to work from home and to be able to use my computer for more than table decoration, it was time to bite the bullet.

I had heard all the bad things about Microsoft Vista and dreaded having to go that route. Just asking my tech guys at work caused them to throw up in their mouth. But, the laptops available for consumer purchase are all loaded with Vista, so I sucked it up and drank the Redmond Kool-Aid. And, actually, I like far.

To sum it up, Vista is merely Microsoft's attempt at being a Mac without the ability to slap an Apple logo on their wares. It isn't as horrible as I imagined, but I also made sure I got a ginormous hard drive to carry the weight of the graphical burdens of the operating system. Compared to ole Compaq, though, anything was an improvement.

I would recommend Best Buy for those of you in the market for a laptop. My HP was on sale and the "Geek Squad" will load all your software and unload all the promo junk HP pre-loads that you don't need, for a fee, of course. But, it's well worth it. I just had to install my mouse and my wireless modem/router (which was bad...thanks, AT&T!) I'm now working with my wired modem until I get my replacement router gateway so I can move about the house untethered. Now that AT&T provides the WiFi at Starbucks, I'll be able to get free WiFi there as an AT&T subscriber...holla!

When I went to Best Buy this past weekend to purchase my goods, I told Nathan, my sales dude, "I'll be the easiest customer you have all day. Here's what I want." Sales tip: Always go into a purchase like that with your mind made up and your research done. You won't end up spending more money on things you really don't need. And, as a bonus, Nathan earns an easy commission.

I love my sleek, black HP laptop, although I did reminisce about my Compaq purchase in 2002. Best Buy got my business then and I remember getting a $200 discount for signing up for an MSN dial-up account. My how times have changed.

Friday, June 13, 2008

For All The Office Fans Out There

One of my favorite charitable organizations is the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I try and donate each year because I love what their goal is - to enrich the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions by granting them wishes. I was never in that position as a child, but did spend a lot of time in the hospital with other medical issues of my own around other kids my age suffering with much more serious conditions. Trust me, you grow up really quick when you are placed in a position most often reserved for the older population. But, I digress...

I love The Office. The witty writing and hilarious daily situations the cast encounters resonates with me, an office worker. I'm completely in love with Jim Halpert and wonder where my Jim is. Now, I have even more reason to love the show, and more importantly, the cast.

A sixteen-year old named Anna from North Carolina suffers from hypoplasia, a condition that affects the development of her arms and legs. She has a passion for all things related to film, theater, and television and had one wish - to visit the set of The Office.

The story on the Make-a-Wish site details her experience and the interaction she had with the cast and the fun things she got to experience during her visit. I knew I loved the show for some reason, now I have documentation. From getting time with all the cast members to a signed copy of that episode's script, Anna got the royal treatment. If you don't watch The Office, maybe this might make you catch an episode or two.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

You Know Jared Never Had This Problem

In my quest to live a healthier lifestyle and balancing that with a life on the go, I often find myself at a Subway. Sure, I guess I could plan better and pack a supper everytime I have to rush from work to church or other food-less function, but alas, I don't. In the past, a swing through Mickey D's or Wendy's did the trick, but it doesn't really work well with my new regime. Confession: Yes, I do still eat at those places periodically.

Over the past few weeks, I've encountered challenges with my local Subways. You'd think ordering a sub sandwich wouldn't be so tough, but you'd be surprised. A few weeks ago, I headed to one of these joints after church. Wednesday nights are a challenge as I don't have time to eat prior to our Bible Study, so I normally grab something afterwords. I drove up to one of the three Subways on my route home to find this sign on the door: "We ran out of bread - closing at 8pm" Now, what is a Subway without bread...a "way?" So, I headed on to the next Subway, which was packed, probably due to the bread shortage a few streets over. I shared with the staff about my plight with store number two and they said, 'Oh yeah, that store runs out of bread all the time.' Nice.

The next week I decided to try a completely different Subway in hopes to avoid the breadless trend and encountered a worse scenario. This Subway happens to be located very close to two hospitals so I assumed they'd be tops on providing great service for the traffic their store surely receives. Bad assumption. I walked in and got in line behind a guy buying five footlongs. Don't blame him with the current $5 footlong promotional going on. I don't know that I've seen two more slow-moving, depressed Subway workers in my life. They needed a hug. But, since they were two steps from a comatose state, I was doing good to get them to understand my order, much less communicate my sympathy.

As I slowly progressed through the line, the next customer came in. She was on her cell phone, which is a huge pet peeve of mine that I'll address in a future post. But, to shorthand it....people, put your phone on silent for 15 minutes while you order, that's what voicemail is for! Thankfully she was behind me so as not to make this molasses-style progression any worse. She got off the phone right before her order was taken and then her phone burst into song and she was back on it again, just as the Comatose Subway Chick was trying to determine her order. At this point, it became hilarious...but it had only just begun...

The nice footlong-purchaser man had arrived at the register....only to be told that his bill was $30. What? For five footlongs? Oh, minor point Comatose Subway Chick failed to point out...not ALL footlongs are $5, just some. Nice. Sandwiches made, the nice man just coughed up the buckage to get out of there. Moral of that the fine print in those ads.

Thankfully, there was enough bread and my order was finally done. I grabbed a Coke Zero from the fridge and, oh, um, it's broken, so the drink is hot. Fine, I'll just take it home and put it over ice. Sigh. It's tough eating healthy.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Musings for the Week - Clean Teeth, Nutella, and Survivor

1. I had my six-month checkup at the dentist on Monday. Of all the myriad of doctors I visit, the dentist is, by far, my favorite. The quirky enjoyment comes from the fact that I have really good teeth. Only one cavity my whole life! I learned something quite valuable during this visit. The new hygienist at my dentist's office told me how to reduce the plaque build up before my next visit. Take my toothbrush dry before I begin brushing and brush the area most affected for one minute each time I brush. This technique is supposed to reduce build up by 50 percent. I'll find out in six months.

2. I heard some tragic news on Tuesday. The Pastor at FBC Bell Shoals in Florida, the home church of one of my friends, the Barretts, was killed in a plane crash on Monday. Forrest Pollock, 44, and his son, Preston, 13, were both aboard the plane when it crashed. He leaves behind a wife and five other children, all under the age of 16. I've been praying for this family and church since I heard the news. It's a stark reminder that life is but a vapor and we all need to be ready for eternity.

3. After backpacking through Europe for two weeks, one of my co-workers, Johanna, came back with lots of stories and pictures of their tours. She introduced me to a delicacy that I've seen in my local grocery but never had tried before - Nutella. This chocolate and hazelnut spread is to die for. I'm now hooked. She and her husband ate a lot of this while traveling on a budget and it's now become one of my favorite snacks or breakfast selections slathered on whole wheat bread. Since I'm on a kick to be healthy and lose weight (12 pounds to date!), getting a bit of chocolate in my day hits the spot. Don't be deceived; Nutella isn't health central, but a little bit once in a while is good for the soul.

4. I watched the Survivor finale last Sunday night. Of all the reality shows on TV, this one knows how to reinvent itself. After 16 or so seasons, it's still worth watching. This past season of the Fans vs. the Favorites was the season of blind sides. It definitely made for some good TV and keeps me coming back for more. And, for the romantics in the crowd, Ozzy's sappy speech to Amanda at the final tribal council was sweet and sets the course for the next Rob and Amber for the world to monetize.

5. When you've been single as long as I have, with zero prospects in the pipeline, you begin to wonder if you'd ever have that heart flutter, word fumbling feeling again. Well, I felt affirmed as I crossed paths with a guy this week that did just that. Now before my friends start planning my wedding, it's a mere passing flutter. But, it renewed my faith that I can still get that feeling. And, when the right guy comes along my heart is ready for action.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Table Topics - The Case of the Disappearing Numbers

I love a good mystery to solve...until it affects me. A few days ago I was looking up a phone number in my cell phone and it was missing. Given my verbatim brain super powers, I could almost note the date and time I entered that number three weeks ago and was certain it was there before. I dismissed it as a blip in my powers and moved on.

A few hours later I was text messaging and noticed some of my recent texts were displaying phone numbers, not names. Hmmm, a sign those numbers were missing from my phone as well. Panic set in as I did some random searches of newly-added numbers and some numbers added over a year ago and realized I had an issue. I've lost numbers in the past by saving them inadvertantly to my phone instead of my sim card, but since I use the sim card exclusively, I've had no problems...until now. I don't really have a phone list or backup plan. I suppose if I lost my cell phone or my sim card died, I'd be doing what the rest of the world does and emailing folks to alert them I need their phone number and setting up Facebook "I lost my cell phone" groups to procure the forever lost numbers. I came to the stark realization of how dependent I am on my cell phone.

As a T-Mobile customer for almost nine years, the customer service folks love me. They were baffled by the problem but after a quick reset of my phone, the numbers mysteriously reappeared. It seems that my phone's software had some sort of glitch that caused these numbers to disappear, but the trusty sim card was protecting them all along.

Today's Table Topic question is this....

Do you depend on your cell phone for all of your contacts? If so, what is your backup plan?

I tried to recall what I did before a cell phone, and I think I had one of those cute little phone books tucked away in my purse. But honestly, most common numbers I committed to memory (see "verbatim brain" above). Technology is wonderful as long as it works.