Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Something Scary

Eeek - I just discovered something scary.... If you remember a while back when I was in Atlanta, I had mentioned that they (the company I was doing a presentation at) had videoed me for a product spot on the company website. I thought it fell through the cracks and I wasn't going to be on it, but I just discovered - no such luck....

If you'd like to laugh - or be scared as I was.... here's the link...

Monday, April 26, 2010

I Need Feedback To Help The Hungarians!

OK - I need some feedback to anyone who might be out there reading this.....

I have a friend in Hungary who is a student in the university in Budapest. She is currently working on a paper and has asked for my input, but I figured, I'd put it out there for anyone who might be able and willing to help.
I, of course, had to add two picts as well -- one is of Flora and I at her university in Budapest. The other pic is of Flora when we visited her family in her hometown of Kalocsa (this is where a lot of the Hungarian Paprika comes from). She's standing next to a traditional dress of the area - the colored lace is the "speciality".

Anyways, here is her request...

I have a question to you, here... :) I chose to write a paper about
"Stereotypes in America" for one of my classes (called American Government), and
I remember you writing a letter to me once about some of those stereotypes, I will look for that email, but that made me think of asking you again, if you could please
please write me something about what you have in mind...

It would help me a lot, if you could write a list of stereotpyes based on your own
experiences, and if you can, please also add as much info as you can under some
of those stereotypes you listed. For example if you can go on and on and on
about the Mid-West or the South, PLEASE do!!! :) I'd love to read it (I love
your style :D) plus it would really be a great help! I will have to be done with
the paper by next week, so as soon as you can do it, please send it to me!

Oh and the stereotypes I'm mainly interested in are
1) race-based
stereotypes (latinos, black people, muslims, etc.) and
2) geographic
stereotypes -- "Are you from California? You're likely to be creative and
open-minded, though not very involved in your community. Mississippi? You may be
friendly but slightly neurotic. New York? You're probably more than a little
neurotic, but intellectually curious and tolerant." ( ) [By the way if you have
any idea how could I get the study from this previous website without being a
member and pay for it, I'd welcome the info:)!! Have you ever read a Monitor
magazine or is it something very "scientific" that no one really reads except
for university professors and sociology students??]
So the point:
please please write me a list of stereotypes in these two categories (racial,
PLUS ONE: stereotypes about Americans (that live in
people outside of the US) (like Hungarians say a lot of times that Americans are
loud, nice, creative, friendly, etc.)?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Here We Sit....

So, thanks to the weather in Chicago, we've now boarded the plane but are sitting on the Tarmac waiting.

There's nothing like being told that atc has us on hold and we may have a delay, but then slowly trundling off down the runway, only to feel the wheels stop rolling slowly and the whir if the engines as they shut down. And then you suck your breath in and plead with Gof to let it be some mistake... And then captain Eric gets on the pa system and says we'll be sitting here waiting for the all clear to take off - it could take 15 minutes or it could take 45 minutes.

And there you sit with the muttering and the anticipation and the two kids in the back who are shreiking and screaming and you think - this is going to be another long flight...

Goodbye Dallas!

Now is the time for me to leave big D!

I actually got to do my presentation early and was happy to shoot out the conference room door about an hour ahead of schedule. Everyone was wanting to skip breaks since it was a saturday. My rate-o-meter was pretty high as 40 people sat upright for my hour and some minute pres without nodding off. That included those taking notes!!! Always makes you feel like you succeeded when you see that! I don't know if it was Texas nice, but I must have had about a dozen people come up on both days and tell me my lecture was extremely educational - I'll just take their word for it!

Now, after rushing to the airport, I'm sitting in some desolate hallways in a very quite airport waiting to board my delayed flight. It's Saturday and i wanna be out of here! I know im going hone to weather, but I'm going home!

Hopefully sometime soon I'll be saying goodbye to Dallas!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Things That Shouldn't Make A Fun Day

The day found me at the Texas Health Resources corporate offices sitting through and giving lectures on Sterilization and Care and Handling in the sterile processing departments. My presentation actually went very well and I'll be back at the grind again tomorrow.

So - this left me free on a Friday evening in Dallas, TX. Everyone that I know here is otherwise preoccupied. I had to make my own fun!

I drove down to the city from Arlington -- fun to pass the signs for Texarkana (the birthplace of moi) ... it seems as if everyone is wanting to go there from the line of cars I saw going and coming...

My aim in going downtown was actually to see the book depository where JFK was shot at. In all the times I've been in Dallas I've not been able to get down to see the grassy knoll.

I paid my $5 for parking and my $15 for entry and recieved a set of headphones and recording of the tour and was ushered to the elevator going to the 6th floor. I climbed on with five other guests and we glided up to the 6th floor where the doors opened into a packed picture museum full of meandering tourists. The pictures were large boards placed on the walls and traced everything from the birth and life of JFK to the political climate of the nation at the time of JFK's assasination. There were the famous step by step photos of the assasination - from the first hit to the frame where Jackie was climbing over the back of the convertible. You rounded another corner and you were faced with a glassed off section which contained old cardboard book boxes (incidentally, they were labelled from a manufactured in Chicago, Illinois) stacked in the corners and framed around the corner windows where Oswald had shot from. Another aisle had a presentation of all kinds of camera which were owned by spectators along with the shot they got of the assasination and an explanation of where they were standing and who the photographers were.

Going up a flight of stairs to the 7th floor, there was a special presenation of photographs taken by the Dallas journalist photographer, Bob Jackson. Jackson is the one who took the famous photo of Lee Harvey Oswald being shot outside of the police station. There was a section with the JFK event and Jackson talking about what had happened. Jackson was actually following in the motorcade in a convertible with several other journalists and photographers. They really weren't able to see much until they turned corners and could see the president's car. When they were turning onto Houston by the grassy knoll, Jackson had actually taken a roll of film out of his camera, had placed it in a red envelope and was supposed to pass it to another guy who would take the film to the newspaper. As they were turning the corner and Jackson threw the envelope, the wind picked it up and the runner had to chase it a little. Jackson says that they were all kind of laughing about it when all of a sudden they heard a pop and then two more quick pops that sounded like gunfire. By this time, they had turned the corner and were in front of the book depository. Jackson looked up at the building at that point and, on the 5th floor, he saw two "black men" who were looking up to the window above them. At that window, on the 6th floor, Jackson could just then see the end of a rifle disappearing in the window.

All in all, I would say that the Jackson part was the most interesting part of the tour and that the rest was overcrowded and overrated and was not really worth the $15 (plus $5 parking) unless you just wanted to say that you had been there. I spent $20 and can now say I've been there!

Looking across to the book depository - count six floors up and thats where Oswald fired from.
Where the last car at the back is, is about where JFK's car was at.
Across the street, in the park at Dealey Plaza, there are two brass plates for the assasination. This second one depicts where things occurred.
The motorcade turned off of Houston on to Elm which is the street JFK was shot off of.
Here's the irony. The book depository is across the street from Dealey Plaza park, where this white pillar is. Right across from Dealey Plaza park is the county courthouse and the jail where Oswald ended up and was shot by. Kind of funny that they didn't have to take him far.
This is Dealey Plaza park looking towards the book depository.
So, as I was touring the book depository, I was thinking how it was kind of sick that people plan a day based on this horrific event. There were high school students meandering around and giggling and not even paying attention to things and you just think how they don't even really understand what had happened. No matter who he was or how there were people who didn't agree with some or any of his politics, etc, he was still a president and someone killed him and thats just a horrific, life-changing, nation-changing event. And now we pay $15 to relive it. Crazy!

Since the Sixth Floor Museum closed at 6pm, I got back in my car and was about to start it up, when I looked across the DART tracks and saw a large old warehouse with "BODIES" written across it.

So, this is another exhibit that I've run into in a 100 different places that I've been and I've always been revolted by the thought and passed it by, but now, that it was 6pm, I decided to see if the Bodies exhibit was still open and, if so, what it was all about.

Another $22 later (good thing I got to just leave my car parked at the $5 lot instead of moving and paying again), and I was inside an touring exhibit that has been on a lot of people's radar for a while.

The whole idea of it has been a basic sticking point with me. They take bodies and peel the skin off and then put them in different shots so that people can see what the insides look like.

You enter the exhibit and they have this classical guitar music playing. Under any circumstances it would be beautiful and relaxing, but I must admit, it was a little creepy listening to it with human bodies splayed out. Some parts I didn't have problem with. There were actual organs that were kind of dried and displayed. It was okay just looking at the organs, even interesting. The heart, the brain, hands and bones. I found the knee and femur interesting as I got to visual mom's predicatment a little better.

You round and corner and you're greeted with a body... It was in the pose of someone playing soccer. The muscles were exposed and the nerves. The head was fully there, intact with lips and eyes. I think the eyes are what made it so wrong. I kept on thinking about that saying "the windows are the eyes to the soul". It just made it seems too alive to see the eyes. You could see it was a person.

It made me think of some freakish sci-fi book by Robin Cook or some other weird medical author. Made me envision these people who were killed just for "science" and for their bodies. There were probably about 10 bodies in total, the rest of the exhibit was just body parts in display.

There was a body that was displaying different implants like knees and hip and screws in the head. That was slightly interesting, but I kept on feeling the eyes as I looked at it and I just felt like I was peeping in on something I shouldn't be looking at.

Another body was cut into like three sections and showed body fat and where women gain body fat. It was this fully preserved body with the skin still on and the boobies just hanging there. The very front of the face was sliced off of this body so you couldn't see the features - it was just the body. You went around the back and there was a saggy, white butt. And then I looked up the back and I saw the head. It was a fully in-tact, back of the head, skin included. And then I saw the hair -- the hair that had been shaved off and was still evident in little stubs and I actually started to cry a little because it juat made me thing of Auschwitz and those people and I felt totally wrong for looking at someone's dead, naked body.

The back of the exhibit had this sign that said you might want to consider coming in because it had "fetus" and other exhibits. They said the babies (as I choose to call them) had resulted from natural death in the womb, etc. I figured I could handle that because I had grown up going to Chicago Science and Industry Museum and had viewed, a 100 times, the baby exhibit there. There were only about 5 babies in this exhibit. It wasn't bad as they were in liquid. I didn't like the teens that were standing around them laughing and saying they looked like "jelly beans" and other things. Totally disrespectful. I DID mind just before you leave the exhibit, they had two babies (age 24 and 32 weeks) in a case. They were just lying there, not in liquid, just lying there naked and cold. That was terribly sad.

I finally decided, after about 15 minutes, that I had had enough and that I had seen the exhibit and that now I could say with experience that I don't care to view people's bodies for education or fun or whatever people chose to visit them for.

I walked back to the car and took off back for good old Arlington and a quick dinner - and bed. I have to get up to work on Saturday so its not a typical Friday night!

The Trifecta Of Fun!

So this is where I stayed in Dallas! The trifecta of fun! I had to take Six Flags Drive to Drive In Front Of Six Flags to BallPark Way to Nolan Ryan Expressway -- and then I had to go to the bank over by the football stadium. Pretty crazy! Might as well have everything in one spot!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Not Much

As this is the anniversary of the OK City Bombing, I was going to post some of my pictures from the OK City Memorial that I took a few years ago. Unfortunately, I had put them on a CD and now my new laptop can't find the program to open the pictures :( Guess I'll have to make it back to OK City again at some point.

So, instead, I decided to make you a laugh. This is a little bit longer, but its a funny spoof that was on hulu... a Sarah Palin spoof so you know you'll get a good laugh ... Enjoy!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Crazy day!

I had to have Bailey spend the night last night because I had made an appointment for the dogs to get groomed as they were both getting pretty stinky and sticky. Unfortunately, their appointement was at 7 a.m. - hence the sleepover.

After dragging them in and leaving Calvin yowling in the back room for his mama... I ran home, changed and then ran back to work.

WHERE -- I immediately sat in my little cube and pulled up a laboriously long slide show I've been working on for two seminar presentations this week. Its kind of last minute because I've been trying to get a response as far as presentation length from the woman heading up the seminar, and she finally, today, just let me know I have an hour and half . Yikes! I had trimmed it down because I thought I had too much, now I have to bulk it back up to get more.

At about 11:45, the groomers called and I picked Bo Didley and Yoo Hoo up and because they were crying so forlornly, I stopped at the dog park and allowed them a quick romp. Whereupon, Bailey immediately dived into the mirky stream that runs through the park. AND, as Calvin trotted so obediently past her (as I had warned them to stay out of the water....) I noticed that he was way too fuzzy still. SO - after the dp, I ran lickety split right back to the groomers and had them trim him down. Then - back home - and then - back to work.

WHERE -- I continued to labor on my presentation until quittin time. I printed the monster off and am going to peruse through it tonight to rack up my final changes tomorrow.

After work - a quick run and then home to make dinner for mom. Tonight it was stuffed shells in a shrimp sauce with asparagus. No - not Julia -- it was half from a frozen bag and half improvised with a few additions. Turned out good though. Clean up...

And now - I actually have a minute to sit and READ! I'm on my way to finishing Julia and starting on Under the Tuscan Sun. I'm guiltily spouting this off on the blog, while I know I still have a dozen or more e-mails that I need to respond to -- but I'm plum tuckered out so -- if you're reading this and I owe you and e-mail.... Sorry :)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I'm In Love

Yes! I'm in love! I'm in love with the most amazing, beautiful, deliciously enchanting, wonderful -- sauce! Yes, a sauce!

I've been voraciously devouring Julia's Child's autobiography (which, incidentally, I purchased from The Strand in NYC a few weeks ago) "My Life In France". Its the greatest book I've read in a while because everything from her personality to her talent with words shines through. Its a book that just leaves you intrigued and enchanted and -- HUNGRY! Her descriptions of the path that led her to fall absolutely head over heels in love with French cooking, is just as effective to read as it is to eat. My mouth waters every time she describes something and its left me with this driving ambition to go home and try stuff out myself. I am NOT a fish lover at all, but with her writing, I suddenly have become madly obsessed with le poisson!

So - when I got home last night, I decided that I was going to match my ambitions and hit the market and stock up for some cooking. I spent WAY too much money and found the other MOST amazing thing EVER! At this big, cheap supermarket that I go to every so often (I have to drive about 30 minutes to get there but you often save quite a bit), I was looking for a fresh mozarella cheese and so I wandered into the dairy aisle. I passed Kraft cheese and some yummy sounding Wisconsin cheeses, but I am a complete and utter cheese snob so only imported or rather exotic sounding cheese tempt me. I didn't find what I wanted, but I noticed another aisle that a few people were perusing and so I pushed my cart over and, lo and behold, the heavens opened and big beam of light and the sound of singing filled the air! There was a whole other aisle with IMPORTED cheeses! Cheese from Italy, from France, ones from England... and my favorite ever -- this cheese imported from Ireland called "Dubliner". I madly threw block after block of interesting and delicious sounding cheeses on top of my pile of goods. I'm in HEAVEN!

Ok - so back to, what I'm apparently discovering now, is my other love.

I had bought some Alaskan Haddock because it looked the freshest and a few other fine ingredients, including some wonderful imported Irish butter, and I had decided that Saturday night I was going to experiment with Julia's Beurre Blanc sauce. It sounded so decadent and lovely I just had to give it a whirl - or actually, a whisk.

I pan-fried the Haddock in some of the imported butter with shallots and some chives -- turned out beautifully. Then, while that was frying up, I started the adventure in my tiny pot of fish stock (which I made a cup of and then meant to take only 1/4 cup out of but forgot and ended up having to dump some and was quite sure that my recipe was ruined but it wasn't..), added some white wine vinegar and more shallots. Then for the piece de resistance! I added almost a cup of the imported butter, piece by piece, and whisked my heart out. I believe it should have been a little thicker had it not been for my fish stock mistake, but all in all.... well.... like I said.... I'M IN LOVE!

Mom never hardly ever finishes her dinner anymore but we both ate like mad, starving wolves. Mom kept on saying how good it was and Calvin got a drop and then I gave him a little piece of fish with the sauce and by the time I got the dishes to the dishwasher, he was literally climbing into the dishwasher to get to the small saucepot I had put in the back which still had sauce on the sides.

Of course, you say, anything would be utterly divine with almost a cup of butter in it -- but, you'll never ever imagine how absolutely divine it is until you try it!

So - now, not that I'm going to mimic some sappy, feel good movie that is on the DVD shelves (not to name any names), but I am determined to find Julia's book and try a few more of her recipes. Reading her autob really makes me more curious about the book and all. I've never seen it and have only heard her enough to mock her, but I've never really experienced the joy of cooking with Julia.

I'll keep you posted along the way as I track down, purchase, read and experiment with Julia's book. I'm sure I'll have more love stories to come!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Made A Run For The Border

Another ea rly morning. I got on the 7:14 flight so I had to leave my hotel at 4:30 a.m. Just didn't know how long it would take.

I had been kind of curious when I got down to TX/NM, what the "border" exactly looked like that was supposedly keeping our friendly neighbors in their own country. I was really confused as far as where the border was and finally figured it out at like 4:45 in the morning when I was looking at my GPS. I got to this place in the road where the border was right along side and I suddenly realized that what I had thought was just plain old El Paso before was actually Chihuaha, Meh-i-co. The border was this rather unintimidating wall that was actually not as major as the walls that they build along side the highways at home that block the highway noise from neighborhoods. This was wall, by highway 10, was actually kind of down in a valley and the road on the US side and the houses on the Mexican side were up on the hills so you could totally see everything. There was definitely a difference between the houses and the lights and the streets, but it didn't hit you right away. Welcome to Juarez, Mexico! Now put me on a plane and bring me back to the midwest!

And the midwest was - back to Chicago - and on to a flight to St Louis.

I tried to get in a little earlier, which I did, so I could meet up with my friend, Cathy. I hadn't seen her in quite a while. It was two summers ago that Cathy, Kim and I did a trip to the Boundary Waters in upper MN. BLAST! Cathy and I spent some time reminiscing about things that were absolutely hilarious! By the way, Kim - both Cathy and I were needing you at the restaurant tonight as the mosquitos were a little pesty.... where is our mosquito distractor when we need her!

Looking forward to a 2 hour drive over to Columbia tomorrow. I actually get to take a shower in the morning instead of the night before as I don't have to be to the account until 9 a.m.

Good Night St Louis!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Its Not Mexico -- Its NEW Mexico

I got into El Paso, TX around noon and the rep I was working with picked me up post haste and we zipped over to the Army Med Ctr. They were having some issues with instrumentation so I was taking a look at their problem and trying to do some product conversion of my own as well. We were out of the facility by about 1:45/2 and then we zipped back to the airport where Kirk caught a flight back to Phoenix and I caught a car to my hotel in La Cruces, NM.

Its about a 40 minute drive from El Paso to La Cruces and you have to drive through the dessert and the mountains. Its pretty barren. It always amazes me how empty the sky is. Its this big slab of blue with the occassional big white puffy cloud floating around. The clouds that are hanging about the mountains put these great big shadows sporadically across the sides of the mountains. You can see forever, even with the mountains in the way because its this perfectly flat, dry landscape.

I had to laugh as I was surrounded by true Mexican spirit. Literally every radio station that I put on was just rapid fire Spanish. I finally found a classical station and she was alternating between Spanish and English - it made no sense. Then she announced a piece by Grieg and -- I'm dead serious -- they played the piece with a mariachi band! Those trumpets and guitars and everything -- I was almost on the floor of the car because I was laughing so hard! Even this street was name "Nacho"!

I had read before I came, that there was a monument to the Bataan Death March. I guess, from what they say, its the only federally funded monument in the country. Its these three soliders - one is looking back (the past), one is looking down (the present) and the other is looking forward (the future). Its pretty cool because they have footprints on the path behind and ahead of the three. The footprints are representative of those who died (behind) and those who survived (ahead) the death march in the Philippines. The took actually cast molds of the survivors feet and then did the impressions (I believe the deceased ones were done with their shoes or something).
The monument is in a Veterans Park and so they have a big wall with all the people from NM who died in the different wars. They have all the wars the US has fought and the total number of deaths in each war. I'm adding it for the learning experience :)

And to conclude -- I drove around a little more and admired all the adobe-ish houses with no color and flat roofs and lawns composed of pea gravel. It looks like Mexico - it feels like Mexico - its NEW Mexico! Enjoy the SI SENOR restaurant roses that I got to admire while we still have daffodils and tulips at home :)

Cowboys And Carob Chips

So my schedule today is working at William Beaumont army hospital in el paso, tx. I was going to leave last night but ended up changing things so that I had an early (as in 6 am - had to be up by 3:30) flight. This flight has taken me to Denver and then I'm going to el paso from here.

So in the meantime, I had a few hours to kill which I spent part of that time in the red carpet club on my laptop. The other half I've walked to my gate (about 100 miles from my original gate) and here I wait, amusing myself people watching.

The first group I noticed as I sat was a gaggle of older gentlemen who reminded me of dad and made me miss him. They had their WWII baseball caps on and were looking a little lost and confused. One of them sat down and was breathing a little heavy as he took a rest. Poor guys. After travelling with dad, you do look at his peers with a different eye. I wanted to go up and hug em, but I didn't :)

The second group I spied were all the cowboys. I guess I'm in the land! The magazine shops had all these covers displayed with cowboy hats and horses and all. And here I sit, watching these wide brimmed, boot clad, proverbially bow-legged cliches lumber along the terminal hall ways, twanging away on their cell phones.

And of course we can't forget our third group. The hemp clad, birkenstok wearing families of 5 carrying their reusable water jugs and eating snacks of flax seeds and Carob chip, gluten free cookies from their north face backpacks.

Ah! This is Colorado - and I'll soon be leaving to mosey on with the cowboys of el paso!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Brace Is OFF!

Good news! After three weeks of having her brace on for her fractured femur, mom went to the ortho dr and they took and x-ray -- and she's healed! The dr was pretty impressed after only 3 weeks that the bone is back together! Mom is relieved that she doesn't have the brace - and she's learned an important lesson... don't put the horse before the cart :) She was bemoaning the whole day before that she was probably going to have a cast and she was just hoping that she could stay out of surgery. I kept on telling her that she shouldn't think that way, that she could be fine, etc. And, we get there -- and she's fine! I'm so thankful!

Monday, she's going to have a bone density scan test to see what her bones are like. They know she has osteoperosis, but just not how bad. We'll find out tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Early Morning Post

Nowadays in the airport, you always seem to run into someone or other who is military. There are always soliders going home to visit family or shipping back to Iraq or leaving for training or switching bases. Its an interesting time.

One thing thats been proven time and time again is how ferociously patriotic Americans are! I know that I’ve had friends from other countries comment on how Americans are so into their country and so loyal. That makes me kind of proud, because I think it is true. And then to see it in action, you want to wave a flag or something. No matter what your sentiments on the state of the union or the current governmental leaders or political debaucles – deep down, being American is generally a pride point with a most Americans. Not always really in a cocky way, but in the way that Chicagoans are so loyal to the Cubs or a homeowner is proud of their rundown studio condo. You know its not necessarily the best and things may look crappy a lot of the time, but its yours and theres that sense of ownership and even history and work that’s been put into something and you insist that, because its yours, it can only get better.

So, when you walk through the airport and you see a guy in camouflage coming to step into the airport security line, and a row of people saying “please, go in front of me”; little old women giving them a rub on the arm and an “I’m praying for you” or “God bless you”; men in business suits asking them where they’ve been and where they’re going; normal everyday people just saying “thank you for what you do”… it kind of makes you well up a little and think “we are a pretty awesome place that we’d actually acknowledge that these people are doing something to keep us who we are and are willing to sacrifice without question. They may have joined for the education or the money (as small as that amount may be), but they joined and they’re doing their job, in the long run, for us.

There are bad stories about people in the military abusing their power in the places we land, but there are a million good stories of men who have saved men and women and helped pull goats out of wells and given chocolate bars to children who had never had chocolate, and helped build schools for places where education has never been a priority. Theres always bad with the good, but I choose to think that most of the guys who go over to these other countries, are fighting to give people the same chances that we have in life and to preserve dignity and humanity. How can you not want to reach out to someone that is trying to do that.

There was a time a year or so ago when I was going to visit a friend in Idaho for the weekend. I had been working in D.C. or New York or Pittsburg or someplace out east and I needed to get to Boise, so my route took me from origination, to San Francisco to Boise. The flight from where I was to San Fran was about 3 – 4 hours and it was a pretty big plane. It was one of those 2 seats, 3 seats in the middle and 2 seats on the other side. My seat was next to a military guy and so we started chatting. He had just come from Pakistan or Iraq or some such place. He was in the canine unit for bomb sniffing so he had a dog that he had brought with him because, once they train their dogs, the dogs go everywhere with them. He had flown for about 20 hours prior to that – from his origination to someplace else to someplace else to D.C. (or wherever we were) and then to San Fran. His home was in Okinawa, Japan at a base there and so he was going to have to fly from San Fran to Tokyo (which is about 6 ½ hours) and then from Tokyo to Okinawa. CRAZY! I could tell he was SO extremely tired and he was going back to his wife and kids in Okinawa and he hadn’t seen them in, I think it was 6 months, so he was excited as well. He was a tall guy and, even though we were in economy plus which gives you some extra room – it was still, I’m sure uncomfortable for him.

As he told me what he had been doing overseas and what it was like over there, I just felt so bad for him that he had come so far and had so far to go and that he had been living in the dessert in HOT HOT weather for so long. He told me about these spiders that were there that were the size of your upper torso. The bombs that had gone off and those they had prevented and the state of the people there. I admit, I got that sense of “American”!

So, I’m not saying this to toot my horn, but just to give you a sense of nothing more or less than anything else that I’ve seen or heard people do in airports around the states. By the time we landed, I knew what flight this guy was going to for Tokyo and when he was leaving (which he was really pushing it time wise) and I just felt like I wanted him to be comfortable on the way home. I almost ran to the Red Carpet Club to fix things for him.

As you know, I get points when I travel and I’ve always determined that I’m not using those points for myself, but I’m using them for other people. When I got to the Red Carpet Club I took my points, found his name and his flight and I upgraded him to first class for his Tokyo flight. Because it was overseas, it took like 35,000 points to upgrade and I admit that when I completed the transaction, I called my BFF and asked her “Am I crazy for doing that?” to which she replied “Not at all” (thank you Melissa!). I know I would do it again if that same situation presented itself. I wish I could have upgraded the dog as well…. (Can you believe they give the dogs this medication that not only makes them sleep but basically empties their bladder so they can travel for long periods. I just couldn’t believe how long that dog had been down in cargo holds.)

I guess its just amazing to me what these military guys do for “kin and country” and how its not ever a high paying job and, sure there definitely get some benefits, but it’s a hard life. Its encouraging to see people appreciate all that and to look at these people as human beings who are doing something a little more than going to work everyday.

One more story – one that I just read. It again makes me proud of being American even though you may struggle with the overall spenditure and all of it. We are definitely a country of “goodwill” when it comes to helping the needy and giving back to those who have less than us. We’ve proven that time after time.

I was just reading in the United “Hemispheres” magazine (, about the Comfort. It’s a US Navy hospital ship called a Mercy-Class hospital ship. It’s a converted oil tanker with 1,000 hospital beds, 850 drs and nurses, 12 ORs, 4 x-ray rooms, 4 ultrasound rooms and a media set up that allows the ship to connect with specialists at home for special surgeries. They just sent the Comfort to Haiti not long after the earthquake for, originally, a 6 month stint and its now turned into an indefinite stay. They’ve helped save the lives of thousands of children and men and women and done things that the medical facilities in Haiti would not have been able to do. Its an amazing story to read and you think of the expense, but then you think of how much we have in just general life as opposed to the people in Haiti who loss the basics of life, that we probably consider to be mundane. No matter what the economy, we’re still so much richer than so many countries out there. And, long and short, again, these military men and women are doing these long stints away from their families, in this horrific situation, and they’re doing it in our name.

I think its all pretty cool and it makes me pretty proud! Just remember to give a smile or a thank you or any other little token you can to someone in military uniform. I don’t know where we’d be without them as they’ve definitely helped to shape our country!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Did Someone Say CHOCOLATE?????

Today our meetings brought us out to Hershey, PA! Good old CHOCOLATE WORLD! Penn State Milton Hershey Medical Center -- its HUGE! They have like 50 ORs, its just a massive place!

Hershey is a very interesting place. Its definitely its own community. Once again - my pictures are all time past so I need to go back if you really want to see Hershey pictures. Simply everything in Hershey is centered around chocolate. The names of streets -- Cocoa Lane, Caramel Blvd, Chocolate Street, etc. The restaurants -- balsamic vinegar and chocolate salad dressing, cocoa dusted diver scallops, etc.... (seriously -- these are actual dishes and they sound totally weird but they're AMAZING!).

The really cool thing is that when Hershey started a long time ago, they kind of tried to keep everything in the area. All the milk, etc that they needed for their factory. Its all a family business. So now when you drive around, everything is Hershey, and its not all corporate, a lot of it is still various family members. This is one of the large dairies down the road from the factory.

Anyways, after Hershey, we had to drive over to Lebanon for another quick meeting. So, usually, around Hershey, it seriously smells like chocolate. Well, driving out to Lebanon -- it was RANK! It smelled like pooping, dying cows that were swimming in heated stagnant water that was actually houses the dead carcasses of animals that had been dead for months. Lauren and I were both seriously puking in our mouths. We were grabbing anything we could to stick under our noses so that we'd smell something else. I wound up with a bottle of nail polish which freaked Lauren out because she thought I was going to get high. I didn't -and it did mask the smell.

The meeting we had was at the VA hospital in Lebanon, PA. Whats in Lebanon? NOTHING! Absolutely NOTHING! Which is amazing, because this is serisouly the most beautiful VA that I've ever been to. Its not gorgeous inside, but the building, as you can see, is pretty amazing. Unfortunately, VAs are the last thing that has money spent on them. They're usually some of the scariest places you can visit. Not only all the vets with issues and all the scary people that you see roaming the halls (nothing against vets, but the hospitals have really really sick ones that are there), but most everything is completely outdated and falling apart and, not really dirty, but definitely falling apart. It really really is sad. BUT - this renewed my faith a little as they were doing some construction and trying to put some new additions on and the building itself was just so pretty.
We had been complaining about Lebanon being out in the middle of nowhere and that we'd have no place to eat because there was nothing there and right on the way there, we saw this sign for a new restaurant called the BlueBird Inn. It looked really cute so we stopped on the way home for some lunch. AMAZING! The old Inn was built in 1859 and it was brand new redone so it even smelled new and was just really gorgeous. The food was out of this world! We had this grab and artichoke dip and it was delish! I also had a crab bisque that was amazing!!!!! We left so full!

The drive back to Philly takes about 2 hours so we hit the road and got back in time to get some office time in. I had a ton of flights to book as I've got a busy two weeks coming up. Stay tuned for the further travels of the "Crazy Consultant"!

Out East For The Week

So here I am in Philly for the week - well, at least a few days. I had a meeting out here and then I just stayed to work a few extra accounts and stay with my rep/friend, Lauren. My boss flew out with me in the morning on Tuesday, we had a brief meeting and then headed over to CHOP (Childrens' Hospital of Philadelphia) to meet there. Afterwards, we ate at Buddakin, this great Asian-Fusion kind of place downtown and also the restaurant where they filmed the speed dating scene of "Hitch".

Here's a few shots as we drove around showing Ed the sights as he hadn't been there before. If you ever want to see true pictures, let me know as I have ones from when I actually toured things ever so long ago. I think some of them may still be 35 mm shots :)

Independance Hall where the Declaration of Indep. was signed. This is right across from the new glass buidling that houses the Liberty Bell. I have shot of the Bell before they actually moved it -- you can't really see it from the road even though its all behind glass.

This is City Hall. They're actually sandblasting the stone so the top part, which is done, is all white and gleaming and the bottom part is still dark and used looking. The tower dome is topped by a statue of William Penn who founded the city. Interesting building tidbit... Philly City Hall is the second tallest masonary building in the world.

This is the Philly Art Institute -- the famous buidling where they filmed "Rocky" running down the stairs in the movie .... "Rocky" :) The Schuylkill River runs in front of the Museum and they do a lot of that rowing sport along the river that way.... those big long boats that they do team rowing in. They have boat houses right down from the Museum. Its kind of cool to see them rowing.
This is not historic in any way, shape or form. But, I found it amusing to see my brother's name spellled correctly on the front of a second hand shop (at least, thats what I believe the shop was).

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Ferocious Terrier Strikes Again

This is Calvin, my precious, adorable Airedale Terrier....
This is what Wikipedia has to say about Airedales....

The Airedale Terrier (often shortened to "Airedale" or "ADT") is a breed of the terrier type, originating in Airedale, a geographic area in Yorkshire, England. It traditionally was called the "King of Terriers" because before the creation of the Black Russian Terrier by the NKVD, the Airedale was largest of the terrier breeds. The breed has also been called the Waterside Terrier, because it was bred originally to hunt otters in and around the valleys of the River Aire which runs through Airedale. In England this breed has also been used as a police dog.

Well-to-do hunters of the era were typically accompanied by a pack of hounds and several terriers, often running them both together. The hounds would scent and pursue the quarry and the terriers would "go to ground" or enter into the quarry's burrow and make the kill. Terriers were often the sporting dog of choice for the common man. Early sporting terriers needed to be big enough to tackle the quarry, but not so big as to prevent them from maneuvering through the quarry's underground lair. As a result, these terriers had to have a very high degree of courage and pluck to face the foe in a tight, dark underground den without the help of human handlers.
During the middle of the nineteenth century, regular sporting events took place along the Aire River in which terriers pursued the large river rats that inhabited the area. A terrier was judged on its ability to locate a "live" hole in the riverbank and then, after the rat was driven from its hole by a ferret brought along for that purpose, the terrier would pursue the rat through water until it could make a kill. As these events became more popular, demand arose for a terrier that could excel in this activity. One such terrier was developed through judicious crossings of the Black-and-Tan Terrier and Bull and Terrier dogs popular at the time with the Otter Hound. The result was a long-legged fellow that would soon develop into the dog we recognize today as the Airedale Terrier. This character was too big to "go to ground" in the manner of the smaller working terriers; however, it was good at everything else expected of a sporting terrier, and it was particularly adept at water work. This big terrier had other talents in addition to its skill as a ratter. Because of an infusion of hound blood it was blessed with the ability to scent game and the size to be able to tackle larger animals. It became more of a multipurpose terrier that could pursue game by powerful scenting ability, be broken to gun, and taught to retrieve. Its size and temperament made it an able guardian of farm and home. One of the colorful, but less-than legal, uses of the early Airedale Terrier was to assist its master in poaching game on the large estates that were off-limits to commoners. Rabbits, hare, and fowl were plentiful, and the Airedale could be taught to retrieve game killed by its master, or to pursue, kill, and bring it back itself.

This is what Calvin's "mama" has to say about him. He's one FEROCIOUS hunter! He, without a doubt, proves that he's meant to hunt out small animals, from rodents to fowl. He's a lean mean, huntin' machine.

A year or so before dad died, he was quite worried that Calvin was becoming a very mean dog with tendencies for blood. He (Calvin, not dad) was quite taken with chasing squirrels and chipmunks, which he actually frequently caught and played with. One of his last catches when dad was alive was this adorable little cardinal.

We had actually just come home from a romp at the dog park and Calvin rocketed out of the car into the yard. As I strolled out of the garage I saw him dancing around the yard like a puppy and I heard him playing with one of his squeak toys, or so I thought. The squeak ended up continuing on in a different kind of way and I did a second take as I moved closer and saw a bright flash of red. All of a sudden I realized that it wasn't a squeak toy, but an animal. I finally got Cal away from the bird and it was just laying there, I thought perhaps deceased by that point. But, as I stood looking at it, I noticed his chest heaving and he was shaking.

Being that the cardinal is the state bird, I HAD to take action! :) I contacted Calvin's vet who informed me of a vet in a nearby town that also acted as an animal rescue for wildlife. I grabbed a bowl that I use for surgical instruments for work, stuffed a blanket in and carefully deposited the little shocked Cardinal into the bowl. Then, in a flash, I strapped him into my front car seat and took off for the vet.

The funny thing is I had to sign my life away to get them to take care of the bird. I had to sign all of these forms that said that I wouldn't come back and claim the bird after he was better. It was a hard call, but I thought it best that we said out goodbyes at that point :)

To assuage dad's fears of a maneating Airedale, I chatted with the vet about Calvin's tendencies to bloodshed and I was assured that he was doing what he was bred for. He never kills these things on purpose, but just kind of bats them about and plays with them. Once they're still, he's done with them and goes off. Sounds horrible, but I guess thats what "ratters" do!

Here's an example of Calvin batting around and squeaking his monkey (Karl, please make no comments on this combined with his indecent pose....). I think the monkey is long gone as Calvin's made sure to do away with him. Well, he's not as bad as his neice, Bailey, who chews the squeakers out of all Calvin's little toys.

Here's a shot of Calvin and Bailey hard at work, being their Airedale, rat-hunting selves. Here's a little fact about their docked tails. They were bred to go into holes to chase "varmin" but sometimes they would get stuck so their tales were bred so that their owner could grab hold of the one visible piece of their canine and pull them out of the hole. Handy-dandy, huh?
If you were a rat or a "hole" creature, how could you ever be scared with this adorable face coming after you????!!!!!!!

The reason I write this story, is because, today, while on a brisk walk down the street, Calvin happend upon a pile of leaves at the side of the road that was rustling and moving. I let him stop to sniff - mistake. He sniffed briefly and, all of sudden, there was a rush and a flash and then I pulled him back and saw the tale of a little "Fieval" in his mouth and it was squeaking just like his squeaky toys. He stood there with it squeaking for a second and then I hit him on the head and he dropped it, and I'm afraid, there is some mouse family minus its mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandma or grandpa. Its little guts were exploded all of the road and Calvin looked quite pleased with himself that he had ridded the world of another frightening little rodent.

Sad - but its good to know I don't have a defective dog. He's doing what he's supposed to - and I must admit, that I do have a little bit of sad joy that there's one less mouse that we have to worry about entering the house or the garage (or my car as I just spent $500 cleaning out a massive mouse nest from my car engine).