Wednesday, May 28


Yesterday I received the following email from my brother titled "Tragedy:
Dude. My iPod died. RIP. No recovery. It died a quick death on the bedroom floor. Father's Day is around the corner???" I think that was his way of suggesting I chip in for a new iPod for him but I keep reminding him that he's not my dad. I must confess that I did feel sorry enough for him to consider buying him a new iPod. He travels ALL the time and I know how hard it will be without one. I then came to my senses.

Still, I felt SO bad for him. Honestly! He apparently dropped it on the hardwood floor and it didn't survive. Turns out iPods don't bounce all that well. It was bound to happen though. My entire life my little bro has been a spaz with a tendency to break pretty much everything in his path. The good news is that he's not materialistic and doesn't see the point in obsessing over owned objects. The bad news is that I always took very good care of my stuff and he always broke it. That being said, nobody, and I mean nobody, loves their iPod like my brother loves his. The only things I've ever known him to take very good care of are his family, his house and his iPod. That's pretty much it. I asked him if he couldn't just go out and get a new one but he said I'd have to convince his wife. No offense to my sister in law, but that comment gave me a flash of being incredibly happy that I'm not married. If my iPod broke, I'd just dip into the house fund and run (RUN) out to replace it. I wouldn't have to talk anyone into it, I'd just selfishly/foolishly do it. Cool!

Of course my brother's loss made me rush home and clutch my dear little iPod close to my heart. I even remembered to upload a crap-load of songs I'd neglected to move earlier. A couple of months ago I spent a Sunday afternoon transferring music from an old computer to my thumb drive. By the time everything had transferred I had moved on to other things (I have the attention span of a gnat) and I never got around to moving all of that music to my laptop and iPod. I finally moved it all over this evening. When I originally transferred music from my CDs to my iPod I tried to move only the songs I REALLY liked. I rarely bothered to transfer entire albums over, yet I still have close to 3,000 songs on the pod and that's nothing compared to what my bro must have on the iPod formerly known as his.

In honor of my brother's loss, and because I have 650 fresh songs in my music library, here is a list of the top 10 songs that show up on my iPod shuffle along with some notes:

Don't Go Back to Rockville - REM
(Man, does that take me back! I must have listened to this song about 800 times in college. I still love it.)

Crystal - Fleetwood Mac
(Sometimes there's nothing like a little Mac to get you through the day.)

Kiss Me, Son of God - They Might Be Giants
(These guys always make me smile. Also, I like to include them on mixes I make for the kids in my life.)

It's Me, Oh Lord - Charlie Hayden & Hank Jones
(Have you heard this album!? It's a fantastic mix of amazingly mellow interpretations of old spirituals. It's SO relaxing and lovely. You've got to give it a listen on iTunes. I dare you not to love it. And if you don't... I don't want to hear about it.)

Bye, Bye Love - Ray Charles
(So much energy! Ray sings the hell outta this one.)

Ochie Cherny (Dark Eyes) - Sophie Milman
(Moody French music... cool!)

(Just Like) Starting Over - John Lennon
(Awww. I miss John. I wish I could say the same of his annoying wife. Umm, that sounded a lot meaner than it was intended.)

Heart of Gold - Neil Young
(I'm kinda over this song but it's technically a classic so... *shrug*)

I Can Do That - A Chorus Line
(Yea! Showtunes!)

Martha - Tom Waits
(I have mixed feelings about this song. It's a pretty tune but the lyrics spin a haunting yarn about the most depressing case of drunk dialing ever. Then it just sort of ends but, because it's a Tom Waits song, you know it doesn't end well.)

So, there is a taste of my iPod shuffle. I know we've done this before but what's on yours? Shandon, Trooperdog, Norman... care to share? And don't forget the notes! (That's an official tag.)

Saturday, May 24

Swimming with the sharks

Last time I posted, I mentioned a favorite motto of mine "Go big or go home". I'm also fond of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em". It's the latter that's giving me trouble these days.

You see, a couple of months ago, while on a business trip, a new friend and I were discussing real estate, 401ks and investments. I know, not a lot of fun but certainly interesting given my current financial situation. Because I've been saving for a new home I have no mortgage but a decent savings account. I'm therefore considering investing in the market. I have a 401k that is growing (but lately at a bummer of a rate) but I'll never retire on that thing alone so I need to start something new. After all, I'm a single gal who needs to look out for herself. I'm thinking it's time to start an IRA and little stock portfolio before I'm dirt poor and a new homeowner. Thing is my new friend was talking up a rather famous axis of evil variety corporation. She went on and on about how she never would have invested in them but ended up working under one of it's many tentacles for a while and as a result she now has a lucrative portfolio of their stock and enjoys regular dividend checks. That sounds good enough, right? Well, here's the problem, the company she was speaking of is Philip Morris/Altria. Yeah, you heard me. As we continued to talk she finally blurted out "Hey, I was just trying to sell some cheese. Besides, I figure we're talking about grown-ass people. We all know smoking cigarettes kills people. It's no secret. If they want to buy the damn things, who am I to stop them?" It's a dark thought isn't it? Still, it got me thinking about all the evil companies out there that just keep making money hand over fist no matter how much we hate them and how many times they lie before Congress. Is it time to maybe join 'em?

Hear me out, every time I fill up my tank at the gas station I think "Damn! I'd kill for an electric car!!" then "Damn! How can I get a piece of this action?" I drive a 9 year old car and take good care of it. It's reliable and gets better mileage than most of the the gas guzzlers I see on my way to work every day. Yet I paid $60 for a tank of gas the other day and that's nothing compared to what I'm guessing it will get up to. If I invest in those oil bastards do you think I might get some of my money back?

I'm starting to freak out because I can really hold a grudge and have been known to boycott retailers for decades but I feel I may be caving. I've been boycotting Walmart since that famous story aired on 60 Minutes about 20 years ago. I now know many people who work closely with the Walmart folks and I can tell you that company may be evil (it targets small town America and kills main streets all across the country and continues to snuff out every whisper of union talk) but they also happen to be one of the smartest companies out there. The down side was put very well by Alton Brown on NPR today when he said "Show me a dying town and I'll show you a Walmart within 5 miles." So dang true. The fact of the matter is that The Gap may go under but Walmart is here to stay. Perhaps most disturbing is that they managed to go up a notch in my book (*gasp*) when they began undercutting pharmaceutical companies by forcing them to sell generic prescriptions for $4 a pop. I was even impressed. For the record, as far as I'm concerned, the pharmaceutical industry is at the bottom of the barrel in terms of unethical practices followed closely by the health insurance industry. I used to consider Walmart to be right there with them in the scum bucket but now I find myself grinning as I think about big bad Walmart sticking it to those other industries. And let's be clear, Walmart can do it. Walmart can pretty much screw anyone they want. It's scary. Remember that dock workers strike? Guess which company responded by buying their own cargo ships then pulling them right up to the overseas cargo ships and unloading their goods with their own workers? Yup, that would be Walmart. Walmart is the only company out there who can find and buy cargo ships in a 48 hour period and completely work around a major strike. Forget India and China gaining on the US, Walmart is becoming the real Superpower and we really don't want to piss them off.

So in the midst of all of this evil, I find myself considering investing in some big bad companies. To be clear, I work for a ginormous company that many consider to be evil so maybe that has a little something to do with my recent thinking.

Here are the big, bad, dark-side companies I'm considering investing in:

On a slightly less freaky front, I'm also considering:

If I actually go through with this, what other reasonably ethical yet profitable companies should I invest in to wash the stank of greed off my hands? Do any even exist? I know enough to stay away from lenders (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Countrywide) and airlines but what about Starbucks, Whole Foods and Body Shop? They seem like happy, shiny companies. Trouble is I know folks aren't in the mood for over priced coffee, food or lotions. Hmm, it's a lot to consider.

You'll be relieved to know that I still could never stomach Halliburton (queue the Imperial March from Star Wars. Umm, btw, doesn't this seem sort of inappropriate yet perfect all at the same time?). Even me and my new thinking can't go there. Halliburton's just so evil. I've got karma to consider and I'm already treading into dangerous territory with Exxon and Philip Morris. I also don't think I can dive into the Walmart stock pool. I have family friends who do well by Walmart but I just can't do it. Meanwhile, Chevron is supposed to be environmentally worse than Exxon but I'm not sure how. *sigh* I've got a lot of homework to do. Where is that magical alternative energy company I'm looking for?

Damn, do you think I'll have to start wearing a black cloak and extra sun block so I look like the evil doer I'm becoming? Eeek.

Friday, May 23

Go big or go home

My friend Thom would be proud of me. I did a great networking exercise today. I've been working on it for months but it finally came to fruition this afternoon. It all started a few years ago. A few friends and I discovered that if we just boldly put ourselves on an executive's calendar, he or she would take us to lunch. It sounds presumptuous but it really works. I pretty much show up where my Blackberry tells me and so do they. Most of them spend their lunches in business meetings so the chance to relax a bit and have a less stressful lunch with an lower ranking colleague is a nice diversion.

Following my big professional conference from last Summer I decided to do the same but with friends from the conference. Part the conference was a dinner with the big executives from our division. We all sat at tables and every 20 minutes or so the executives would get up and switch tables. In this way we got some quality face time with each of them. Trouble was, the head executive of my group was unable to attend the dinner. I decided he should take a few of us to lunch to instead and he kindly agreed. After several cancellations, due to much traveling, we finally had lunch today.

Since the original lunch was set, this particular executive has been promoted and is an even bigger wig than when we first tried to get together. I pulled a few fun friends together from the conference and headed off to lunch to meet him today. Before I left, another friend asked if I had my "elevator speech" ready. (This is the one minute self promoting spiel that you're supposed to have ever ready in case you're in an elevator with a big wig.) I said "No, he's not that kind of guy." It's true. This particular executive is a much more down to earth and social person. I knew we would not be spending our lunch discussing work. I was right. In fact, when one person started steering a conversation towards a work related topic I saw our featured executive start to fade. It was just a moment then we recovered nicely. Mostly it was an entirely enjoyable get together. My favorite moment was when we were discussing favorite films. Our big wig replied "I like old school. (pause) I don't mean as a type of movie, I mean Old School the movie." I like that in an executive.

We all had a really nice time and got to know each other better. My friends officially love the guy now. He really impressed them with how approachable he was. I, of course, followed up with a thank you email. Because today was an unofficial half day he could have easily blown us off and headed home to his family at noon. I wanted to make sure he knew how much I appreciated him doing lunch with us instead. He replied right away and said he really enjoyed it. I'm so glad everyone had a good time!

We're definitely planning other executive lunches. Since I set this one up with a big wig I knew, my friends are now in charge of setting up lunches with some big wigs they know (and they better be as much fun as mine!). We're even considering making lunch plans with the CEO and CCO of our company. Like I always say "Go big or go home". The worse that can happen is one of their dozen or so assistants says no. It's worth a try though, right?

Sunday, May 18

Summer Reading

Ever since finishing my last book I'm happy to report I've been on a reading kick. That's generally how I read... in spurts. The timing is good because television is limping to the end if it's annoying and abbreviated season. In all honesty, I prefer reading to watching television but tv is just so lazy and easy to get caught up in after a long day. I tend to find interesting things to watch and even get obsessed with. I also find that when I'm stressed out I can't focus on a book no matter how good it is. If I'm in one of my reading kicks it usually means I'm pretty calm about life and that's a relief.

Several months ago a colleague kindly bought a copy of The Pillars of the Earth for me insisting that I'd love it. I read the first hundred pages, or so, and just couldn't get into it. I could see how it had potential and lots of effort was put into character development but... it just wasn't any fun. One character in particular was really bugging me. Worst of all, my friend would ask me about it every once in a while and I'd have to tell him I'd got caught up in some other book, which was true. I tend to do a lot of reading on planes these days. Trouble is, Pillars is a behemoth and I refused to lug it on and off planes so it's been sitting on my ridiculously overcrowded nightstand ever since. Well, I picked it up again Friday night and finally got through the boring stuff that was making me crazy. It's really picking up and I'm officially enjoying it.

In the mean time, over at Posy gets Cozy Alicia asked her friends for some light and fun reading ideas and her readers came up with some great suggestions. Reading their suggestions was almost as much fun as reading Alicia's posts, which, by the way, have been strangely absent lately. Hmm. I'm hoping she's ok and just off on a fabulous vacation with her dear Andy somewhere.

Well, I received a package from Amazon (sorry Shandon!) and here are some of the books I chose based on the suggestions:
I Capture the Castle
The Light Years
Garden Spells
The Enchanted April
The Sisters
(Which, come to think of it, I believe I heard of on another blog)

I recently purchased a collection of Dorothy Parker Short Stories that Mom is currently enjoying. I've also been mooching books of other short stories. Mom and I have decided short stories make the best bedside reading but I've got my overburdened nightstand to deal with. I think I should make it my goal to turn off the tv this summer and instead turn to my nightstand for entertainment. In fact, despite the miserable heat, I think I'll go outside, grab a lemon off the tree, make myself some lemonade and read a bit more before retiring for the night. Sweet dreams!

Wednesday, May 14

So that's what good reporting sounds like...

I get my news each morning by means of NPR. I have a radio in my bathroom and I listen to Morning Edition while I race around getting ready for my day. I find that I'm way ahead of the average bear by the time I get to work every day because of this habit.

I also read the Sunday edition of the NY Times and dabble in the LA Times when I have time. If I want more info on a particular story I go online and search, or check out CNN or, for a completely fresh POV, watch BBC World News. Newshour with Jim Lehrer is another outstanding news source that actually spends time on it's stories, as does the BBC, a rare practice in this country. On the way home from work each day I listen to All Things Considered. I find these sources to cover most of my needs but I take them for granted. However, every once in a while a story really hits me hard and I 'm reminded of what good reporting looks and sounds like.

I knew some of the best and earliest coverage of the earthquake in China was coming from NPR because two of it's top reporters were in China when the quake hit. Melissa Block recently turned in an outstanding piece of reporting about a couple desperately searching for their two-year-old son and the woman's parents in the rubble of their apartment building. I was moved to tears almost immediately while listening to this story on way way home from work this evening. As difficult as it is to hear some stories I feel strongly that we owe it to people to listen to them. The couple in this story is living this terrible experience, the least we can do is listen to them and send prayers, best wishes, good mojo, money or whatever it is you believe in. Ms. Block does her job by being respectful while trying to remain impartial but it's clear that this story is getting to her. She does a wonderful job under a terrible set of circumstances.

It's so easy for us to go on with our day and forget all about what's happening far away in other countries. It's even easier when a government isn't allowing reporters to bring stories to the rest of the world as is the case in Myanmar. I know we can't all curl up in the fetal position and obsess on these tragedies. I know we all have responsibilities and lives to lead but do we really need to waste time watching stories on the Cannes Film Festival? Is Access Hollywood really necessary? Doesn't it all seem so silly considering what's happening in the world these days? Don't get me wrong, I love tv and a good film as much as the next gal, but these days I'm really turned off by celebrity and fame. How does a celebrity show up to a film opening in a $5,000 dress when the world is in such terrible shape? I understand contracts and commitments with studios but good grief. They must feel like such idiots knowing it's all so pointless and distracting.

I don't mean to be such a downer but I'm really upset by it all. But don't listen to me. Listen to the story.

*stepping off soap box*

Tuesday, May 13

Good stuff

I stayed up 'til almost 2:00 am last night finishing a really good book. It's been a long time since I've been so obsessed with a book that I dismissed a decent bedtime to find out how it would end.

What book had me so wrapped up? It's called Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. My boss finished it while on the plane last week, handed it to me and promised I'd love it. I picked it up Sunday night and absolutely loved it.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is the story of two girls growing up in 19th century China. They survive the nightmare of foot binding and virtual imprisonment only to be married off to pray for the birth of a son to prove their worth. I'm not a fan of the way women were treated in 19th century China but this book tells a well-researched story in a lovely and thoughtful way. I wanted the main characters to just have those stupid sons and live happily ever after. Of course, that's not exactly what happens but it's a beautiful and unforgettable story nonetheless.

As I explained to Shandon, earlier this evening, I enjoy my historical fiction with a little freak in it (the Tudors, the Romanovs and so on). That's where the foot binding comes in. I won't go into the gory details of the practice (they are readily available online) but I can say that I really had NO idea how those tiny feet were forced into being. I will tell you that the desired foot length was 7 centimeters. That's about the length of a woman's thumb. I know. Once binding began, all of the girl's weight would fall on her big toe for the rest of her life. Nightmare! (Man, and I thought Steve Madden hated women!)

The foot binding is the topic everyone gets hung up on when I mention this book. It's too bad because, while it's certainly a part of the story, there is so much more to it. A perfectly bound foot was one way a girl's family could hope to match her with a good husband/provider. Of course, once a girl grew up and married she was then pretty much a slave to her husband's family. A slave who could never run away. This book, however, focuses on the culture women cultivated to support each other and survive. That's where the real story lies.

Part of the culture I knew nothing about was that of a secret women's script called nu shu. Women were, of course, not educated but they learned to read and write nu shu and passed the knowledge on to future generations. Men paid little attention to the characters believing anything an uneducated woman scribbled was not worthy of their attention. Women took advantage of this attitude and used nu shu to communicate with each other and share their stories. They would write letters, embroider messages on fabric and, in the case of the book, write to each other on fans to communicate. Nu shu was not known outside of this women's culture until the mid 20th century when authorities arrested a women and found letters written in the unknown script on her. The authorities suspected the writing on her strange documents to be a secret code outlining an espionage plot. (That poor woman!) Nu shu remained unknown to outsiders, in large part, because it was customary to burn a woman's letters and embroidery upon her death so her stories and words would float up and greet her in the afterlife. It's one of the few nice customs I heard of in the book. The downside is that, because of that practice, authentic Nu shu writings are extremely rare.

When I think of nu shu I can't help but imagine all of the wonderful stories that might have survived had women been able to blog anonymously about their lives hundreds of years ago. *sigh* Can you imagine? What a thought.

Monday, May 12

Lesson of the day

I'm a happy-go-lucky gal but at work I can be pretty tough. I try to be reasonable but never cruel. I never take things personally or deliver messages in an unkind way. I try to keep a sense of humor about myself and what I do for a living, after all, we're not curing cancer. On the other hand, I don't have a lot of patience for the overly pushy or ambitious. I figure those types need to sit down, be quiet and take notes. Unfortunately, many of the youngins coming out of college these days possess an inappropriate level of confidence that sometimes needs to be knocked down a notch or two.

Case in point: Right before I left work today I received a very bossy email from a stranger named Jordan. I happen to be very good friends with Jordan's VP and was surprised to get such an annoying email from somebody in his division. In short, Jordon told me I had to approve something because "we feel" it needs to happen. Now, to be clear, whenever I see the words "we feel", or even worse "I feel", I pretty much hit delete. If there is one thing I'm VERY good at, it's protecting my company's brand and approving only that which is appropriate for said brand. I don't take direction well from those who don't respect my brand. Jordan is new. Jordan does not respect my brand.

I wrote Jordan back and explained that the reason we have a review process is so we can tweak concepts until they are just right. When he makes our required change, we will approve his concept. Until that time it is NOT approved and he may NOT move forward.

I didn't have the energy to take Jordan to school so I emailed my friend, Jordan's VP, and asked "Who is Jordan? Do you want to explain things to him or should I?" About 2 minutes later I received the VP's reply "I'll take care of it." Now, I hate to be a narc, but I don't happen to know any Jordan's over the age of 25 (I'm sure they exist but I don't know any) and I'm not about to take direction from one, especially when I have a contract stating I'm in the right.

Tomorrow, somewhere on the East Coast a kid named Jordan will likely wet his pants.

Mean? Maybe. Lesson: Be careful who you lecture, they may know your boss.

Sunday, May 11

Happy Mother's Day!

I'm lucky enough to still have an amazing Mom around to celebrate Mother's Day with. We had a very nice day together.

First I gave her my gift, a "megaset" of her favorite Poirot series. I searched forever on Amazon looking for the right set. I eventually chose one because it included a documentary called Agatha Christie's Garden. As you might have guessed, it was all about Agatha Christie and her dreamy estate. Anyone who knows me understands that I LOVE real estate. I adore documentaries that show homes in their natural state. I've long said "If a film features a good house, I'm sold." It's why I've been watching Miss Potter lately on cable. Great real estate.

Anyway, Mom opened her DVD set and was as thrilled as I to see Agatha Christie's Garden. We popped it in the DVD player and watched it over a traditional breakfast of scrambled eggs, biscuits and fried Spam (Don't you "eww" me! It's a childhood thing).

I then began polishing Mom's silver for her. She has a nice tea service that was in pretty bad shape. It looks fantastic now.

Dad eventually came home for lunch and a Laker game. I wandered off to read more of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (I've got two words for you "Foot Binding". I am so in! More on that in another post.) then we all made our way to my brother's house for BBQ. He made some amazing pork ribs and BBQ shrimp while my nephew kicked my butt all over the place via Guitar Hero. Man, that's a tough game. I only played one song, rather pathetically, and am possibly already addicted. Yup. Heroin and Guitar Hero... same addiction rate.

On the way home we listened to Dad's satellite radio. First we enjoyed an all-Elvis station then moved on to an old episode of Gunsmoke. We stumbled in on an episode where a woman had been found badly beaten and starving. The sheriff eventually finds the husband and tries to tell him off but the moron keeps insisting "She's my woman. I've got rights!" He repeated this refrain so many times that I decided he must have been some sort of Rainman of the West. I really wanted to listen to the rest of the show but my bladder had other ideas. I'll never know what happened to that poor woman. I'll just have to make up my own happy ending.

I'm now finishing some laundry and watching Cranford. It's another delightful Masterpiece offering with my favorite variety of subtle English wit. It also happens to have an incredible cast. I'd recommend it but I'm not sure it's for everyone. It's about a very slow paced town filled with a very old fashioned variety of scandal and drama. Mom and I love it.

It was an excellent day to share with Mom. She is a woman who was raised without a mother for all but about the first 4 years of her life. I often marvel at how she turned out to be such a wonderful mother without being around her own. I then remember that she was raised by several other lovely women. Her kind hearted aunt and the many mothers of friends who took her under their collective wing. She had many good examples but mostly I think she's got a good instinct for motherhood. She never let us get away with much but she always made us laugh. I think that's probably the best gift she ever gave my brother and I, a sense of humor.

So, Happy Mother's Day Mom! I love you more than words could ever express. I hope you had as nice a day as I had.

Wednesday, May 7


So, remember how happy I was with my job yesterday? I'm not so happy about it today. We heard about the re-org (reorganization) and it's a biggie. All of our jobs are being redefined. I don't know what my job description will be, what I'll be working on or who I will report to. I've been with my company for about 7 years now so I know a lot of people. That's the good news. The bad news is that I know enough to dread the thought of working with some of them. Even worse, working for some of them. Everyone is completely freaking out. Possibly the worst part is that we won't have any sort of definitive answer on this until about August or September.

I really like the boss I have now. I do my best work under her. I also like the categories I currently work on. I'm tired of others that I've worked on forever. I'm really hoping to work on something new but with my current boss. The odds don't look too good on that these days. I've been through re-orgs before, several in fact, but this one feels scary. This re-org touches pretty much everyone I know in our division. I already know of some friends who will likely move to another division when this is said and done. I've thought of doing the same but my current chain of bosses have listed me as "High Potential" (meaning they have classified me as "highly promotable"... whatever that means) and I don't think I want to mess with that. All this really means is that I have to keep kicking butt in my ever expanding current role and brace myself for an entirely new list of responsibilities in a few months. I'm trying to stay positive and think about how all of this means more focus for everyone. Then my mind wanders and the panic sets in.

*sigh* God give me strength.

So, how does a working girl handle this kind of stress? She's goes to Target during her lunch break and buys P.S. I love You (which I loved) and 27 Dresses (sight unseen). In the mean time, I ordered The Godfather and The Godfather Part II from Amazon and they arrived today! I'm now off to wash my face, brush my teeth, put on my pjs and get into bed to watch my new movies.

Tuesday, May 6

Ring, ring, ring went the trolley!

I just got back from my meeting up North. The meeting started out rough but we pulled through and it all came off very well.

Now, to the fun stuff. We flew into Oakland airport because it's smaller than San Francisco International. Because it's smaller, there seem to be fewer delays and it happens to be closer to the appointments we had to hit. My boss and I chose to be rebels though. While everyone else stayed at a sort of miserable hotel near the Oakland Airport (blechh!) we stayed at a fabulous hotel in the city.

We rented a bright blue PT Cruiser (aka The Smurf Mobile) and a GPS system and made our way into the city. We were considering going to Sausalito for dinner but fell in love with our hotel and decided to stay in the city for the evening. As I checked in I noticed an incredibly cute chocolate lab behind the counter who, we learned, was the Director of Pet Relations. I knew it was a "pet friendly" hotel but was surprised to see such a sweet dog upon my arrival. Turns out he is a rescued lab who lives with the Hotel Director. He spends his days greeting visitors and has a lovely home to go to every night. I loved him! They told us they were serving wine and cheese in the lounge so we quickly dumped our bags off in our rooms and raced downstairs for our evening snack. We then took a walk around the neighborhood. We were very close to Union Square and the streets were calling out to us. We passed several high end stores but were drawn to one in particular. I saw it from across the street but didn't see it's name. I pointed and said "That looks promising!" Turns out it was Neiman Marcus (queue the sound of angels singing). We spent a good amount of time sampling perfumes at the Jo Malone counter. Are you familiar with Jo Malone? Ladies, you must find a Ms. Malone counter and test the scents. (I happen to be a Orange Blossom girl.) They are so great. Anyway, we then checked out the ridiculously priced gold at the jewelery counter. We then ventured up to the shoe department where I talked my boss into buying shoes, on sale, for $300. You heard me. I wouldn't normally have been such a pusher, I'd already talked her into some perfume downstairs, but she has always wanted this particular brand of shoe. She claimed that they were the most comfortable things she'd ever slipped her feet in to. I told her that if they found them on sale, and in her size, it was a sign that she had to buy them. My favorite part of the shopping trip came when our sales clerk deserted us for "deeper pockets". Some anorexic trophy wife with a Louis Vuitton bag (which I happen to think are ridiculous and hideous) swept in and the clerk dumped us sale-rack-girls. She claimed she couldn't find the right size and asked someone else to help us. 10 minutes later the lights dimmed (that's how they tell you to get the hell out of because it's closing time) and the anorexic chick disappeared without making a purchase. We watched as her sales clerk cleaned up the 20 boxes of the anorexic's unpurchaed shoes while my boss bought her dream shoes. Our new sales clerk was an incredibly nice man. I told him I was glad he got the sale since the other salesperson so rudely abandoned us. He laughed and nodded. Ha, ha! Here was my view from the shoe department.

I know... couldn't you just die?

We saw that famous street with the trolleys running up and down tiered blocks. I would have snapped a picture but we were rushing back to our hotel for dinner. The French restaurant in our hotel offered one of the best meals I've had in ages. Curried squash soup anyone? How about roasted artichokes? I'd never had them before but they blew me away. After a fine meal and some yummy wine I made my way to my room and slept in this amazing bed. I think I now have to have a canopy bed before I die. Yes, that's a lamp sticking out of that fantasticly draped fabric. It's the best reading spot I've ever encountered. Isn't it great?! I loved it!!Here, you can see a tiny bit more of my room. That's the fabulous bed in the mirror. *sigh* I'll dream of that bed for a long time to come.

I like, and am extremely grateful for, my job today.

Sunday, May 4

Out of sorts

I woke up this morning completely out of sorts. I didn't know what day it was or where I was. I was sort of in a panic because I'm going to San Francisco this week but couldn't remember if I was leaving on Monday or Tuesday. Because I didn't know what day it was, I sort of freaked out. I was so relieved to find it was Sunday, I could sleep in and I didn't have to rush to an airport. Once I got up I decided to call our office travel center and have them email my itinerary to my home address so I'd know what was coming this week. Turns out I leave for San Fran tomorrow afternoon and return Tuesday night. I've already checked in to my flight and am feeling much more in control now.

I won't be traveling again until June. There is a big trade show going on and half of my division packs up for New York that week. It's probably the most fun week to be in New York because I'm literally running into friends at every turn. We all stay in the same hotel so I can go to the bar or restaurant day or night and have somebody to have a drink or a meal with. I'm not a big drinker, much to my co-workers dismay, but I will have a cocktail or two while in New York because there is no way I'll be driving.

As usual I'm preoccupied with figuring out if I'll have an evening to myself. If I do, I'm dying to see the recently opened revival of South Pacific. It's not a show I'm particularly in love with but it's a classic and it's getting rave reviews. I don't think I've ever seen The New York Times or The New Yorker freak out so much over a show. I don't ordinarily pay attention to reviews, but there is a lot of buzz around the woman playing Bloody Mary. I saw an interview with her and I'm now pretty much obsessed with seeing her in this show. She was a singer in Hawaii with no professional experience beyond weddings and banquets. The producers of South Pacific went to Hawaii for casting and asked her to come to Broadway. Needless to say she was thrilled and is now in shock to be performing at Lincoln Center. She's got a fantastic voice and, they say, has got a good chance of winning a Tony. The show has been extended to January 4th but I want to get in before the Tony Awards because it will be and even tougher ticket to come by after the awards start rolling in.

There is big meeting tomorrow right before I have to leave for the airport. We expect news of a huge re-org (reorganization) of our division. It should be an interesting morning. I just hope I can stay with my current boss. I feel I'm at my best with her. I've been busy covering two positions lately but I think we've found a good candidate to fill one of them. Hopefully she'll accept our offer and take half of my work load off my hands. Keep your fingers crossed!

Up too late

I've been shopping for a Mother's Day present (and got a good one!) then spending too much time on some new found online gems. I may be late to the party but have you enjoyed or yet? They're great!

I missed this weeks episode of The Office because I was watching Carrier. I caught it on hulu.come for free. There is a lot of fun stuff on there inlcuding that interview on late night television that you missed last night. There is a lot so enjoy on this site. Mostly it's television I've just not gotten to yet. The timing is a bit off though. My friend Tony is on a "kill you television" kick and he's got me thinking about limiting my tv viewing. I'm not a good viewer anyway. I barely pay attention to anything on a screen unless I'm in a movie theater. God only knows how much I miss while multitasking. Nevertheless, I figure a site like hulu might actually help me turn off the tv. I've got Tivo to fall back on and now hulu. If anything really earth shattering happens on tv it will show up on either or hulu.

If you're also into music you'll LOVE You just type in the name of an artist you like and Pandora will build a personal radio station around your entry. It's a fun way to listen to new music and hear some things you may not ordinarily be exposed to. Be careful with the forward button though, you're only allowed to skip so many songs in an hour (some sort of licensing agreement situation). Still it's a lot of fun and you can create several stations. It's not pop or rock-centric either. I entered "Vivaldi" and a nice selection of light classical played. The more the station plays the more you can "vote" on the songs. Your reviews help create the ongoing playlist. You'll have to set up an account but they just want your email address, birth year and gender. It takes 20 seconds to register and is worth it.

Have fun!

Friday, May 2


Have any of you been watching Carrier? It's the reason I haven't posted in a while. Carrier is an excellent documentary series on PBS (of course) about life on the USS Nimitz. Each episode is one hour and focuses on a different aspect of life on the aircraft carrier. I thought it was an absolutely fascinating glimpse into life on the Nimitz and the unique circumstances of being out at sea for months at a time.

Most of those interviewed seem to agree that an aircraft carrier is really a floating high school in terms of the social structure. The pilots are the jocks, and get all the perks, while the enlisted work their booties off, endure lots of drama and form their own close knit cliques to survive.

Although many of the jobs on board are mundane others are back breaking. Ultimately, it's hard to forget that aircraft carriers are just plain cool. Jets are cool. Pilots are cool! The whole concept of an aircraft carrier is ludicrous but Carrier helps shine a light on how it all works. I'm not sure who first came up with the idea of an aircraft carrier but they must have been nuts. They highlight one night when jet after jet simply can't nail a landing. The jets are all running out of fuel and it gets very stressful but it helps you understand how dang hard it must be to land on a moving target. I guess it never occurred to me how much a carrier can bob up and down in the middle of the ocean. What a nightmare!

Of course everyone on board is busy doing a job but the topic of politics is hard to avoid. Naturally, those in the Navy are not really allowed to discuss political ideologies but most say politics don't matter anyway. They're just doing a job. In today's pre-convention fervor it's refreshing to hear somebody say "I just don't care about politics. I just do what I'm told." Nobody even seems to care who the President is and they're right, I completely understand. When you're told to get on a floating city, sail across the planet, do a job to launch jets over foreign lands to help soldiers on the ground... it just doesn't matter who tells you to do it. If you signed up for it, you just have to go. Hearing those most affected by our politics say "I don't care." is actually breath of fresh air.

Of course, we're talking about the armed forces so, yes, it sometimes gets a little macho but, I must say, most of the time it's incredibly personal. You see some people make huge mistakes, you get to see others succeed, you hear how much they all miss their families and how much their friendships mean to them. Some of those featured are in WAY over their heads while you come to realize the Navy probably saved the young lives of many others. You come to understand the sacrifice of each individual and how incredibly young most of them are. Ultimately, they all make it clear that all they really care about are their families and friends. It's a good reminder of what really matters while the rest of the world continues to squabble endlessly.

The last episode of Carrier aired Thursday night but it seems to be re-airing on several PBS stations. Otherwise, you can watch it online here. Come on, give it a try. You'll love it!