Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday the family spent the afternoon at Camelback Tubing Park. It was fun, but I could do without the long lines waiting to get to the top of the hill.
What was the most interesting was the people watching. There were a large group of Orthodox Jews who were there enjoying the snow. It was just odd seeing the women with their long skirts and ski pants underneath.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I believe in Santa Claus. He might not ride around the world in a sleigh, but I know he's delivering his gifts when I get to spend the holidays with my family and friends.
Music also plays a particularly special role during this season. It instills messages of peace and hope and it brings me back to my childhood when I would try and wait up all night trying to catch Santa in the act. My parents were none too pleased.
So here is a list of my Top 10 favorite Christmas songs.
10. Wonderful Christmas Time - Paul McCartney
9. Where Are You Christmas - Faith Hill
8. Last Christmas - George Michael
7. Christmas Don't Be Late - The Chipmunks
6. Feliz Navidad - Jose Feliciano
5. I'll Be Home for Christmas - Bing Crosby
4. Something About Christmastime - Bryan Adams
(I couldn't find a video for this song, so here's Bryan's other Xmas one!)
3. Do They Know Its Christmas - Band Aid
2. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Bruce Springsteen
1. Happy Christmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon
Merry Christmas to you and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!
Monday, December 22, 2008
I went out in crappy weather to Rutgers. It was the Rutgers Alumni Wind Symphony ensemble. I love watching live music. It's so moving to me So personal. Magical how a collection of notes could make something so beautiful.
I liked picking out the parts each instrument was playing. The flutes, clarinets, french horns, oboe, trombones, tubas, trumpets, saxophones. But I loved the percussion section the most. They all changed between different instruments, often within one song. Chimes, xylophone, various drums, timpani, cymbals, triangle, wood blocks, tambourine, jingle bells.
For the time I was there I forgot about the world and just focused on the music. Concentrated on specific instruments, then let my mind go to absorb the entire symphony play together. I watched the conductor wave his baton leading the ensemble, all connected to him keeping time.
My favorite part was the Christmas Finale -- a medley of Christmas carols that the audience was encouraged to sing along. At first I was shy and thought it was silly, but soon I was singing along and turning into complete mush. I was singing despite my teary eyes and the sobs stuck in the back of my throat trying to escape.
I was singing in a theater with a few hundred strangers, but there was a connection that I felt that I hadn't felt in a long time. It was strange, and comforting and beautiful. It was good to be a part of something, no matter how fleeting. It made the loneliness go away for a little while.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
I'm a project manager in a very small (12 people) company that creates online training courses for companies. The type of projects that I work on are 'off-the-shelf' or minimally customized compliance courses for pharmaceutical companies. We partner up with another company that develops the content. We take their content and pretty much cut and paste the content into our home-grown rapid-development tool (RDT).
The development life cycle is around 10 days from when the content has been approved by the client. In those 10 days:
- the text is imported in the RDT
- audio recording is scheduled, received, edited and added
- new graphics are produced
- Beta is presented to the client on our client extranet
We have a suite of different compliance courses, so clients typically choose one from our library and apply minor modifications to it -- policies specific to the company, or changing "your company" to the company name to make it seem more custom.
Really, it's not difficult to develop one of these courses. After a year of doing it, it's become more and more like monkey work to me. The skills needed to do the work are cutting/pasting text, Photoshop, audio editing, and some XML code updates. If there are functionality changes, I'll let the Flash developers take care of that, but there are even some Flash updates that I'm able to do. So because many of the tasks are within my skillset, I took over about 80% of the developments of my projects. I became a Project Doer more than a Project Manager.
For the longest time I saw it as a benefit that I was able to be my own production team. If I needed something done, I didn't have to wait my turn for one of the developers or graphic artists to become available; I just did what I needed to do. I was pretty self-sufficient and was left alone to get things done because my projects were getting done quickly and mainly under budget.
But as I became the Project Doer, I became less of a Project Manager. Because of the short life cycles and the minimum resources needed (me), creating detailed timelines didn't seem to be so important. Clients were always delaying feedback and I'd wind up spending more time adjusting schedules than doing any production work. Reporting on status to my boss was also kind of a joke, too. There was little organization in the project manager department. There are no documented processes on anything that is done. No consistent use of project management tools for the oversight of all the active projects and there was no enforcement from my manager or anyone else on the management team to use any tools. To me, it was a lot of make it up as you go along.
When I started there a year ago, I had ideas of implementing some project management methods, tools... anything that could be used to create some process that we could use consistently. They never really got off the ground because they didn't get the buy in needed from management to keep it going. Billable projects got in the way, the learning curve needed to use Microsoft Project Server seemed to be too high, or it just didn't seem to be important enough to anyone. So after a while, I just gave up trying to work on something that would benefit the department. I was tired of getting shot down. I just became focused on what I needed to do to get through the day.
In the meantime, I've been going to grad school to get my masters degree in education and become a Instructional Designer. I love the challenge of taking raw, dull content and turning it into a relevant, engaging and meaningful training course. It allows me to use my creative, logical and analytical mind all at once. But it kills me when I see the stuff that we're building. So boring. So mind-numbing. I don't even think the user interface is very good. In a nutshell, I'm not very proud of what's delivered. The content is developed by our content partners and our company owners are so attached to that damn RDT. There are some battles that can't be won. That in itself often makes me frustrated about the work I do.
But today almost put me over the edge.
I had just sent an email to the owner of the company asking if they would sponsor my registration to an upcoming eLearning conference as a career development opportunity for Instructional Design. Then in a completely unrelated matter, I get called into a meeting with the owner and my manager because a client was having audio problems with a course that I recently deployed. In addition to bandwidth problems they were having, the audio files in the course weren't compressed correctly and were too large.
"Who did the audio editing?" asked the owner, knowing full well it was me. Who else did the audio work on my projects.
So he went on about how he and my manager had standards for editing and compressing audio so they aren't huge files that hog bandwith. (To which I'm thinking, "Oh you have standards? Are they shared? How the hell am I supposed to know that? It's not like we have a process for anything else in this place.")
But instead I respond, "Ok. That's good to know."
"It's also good for you to ask." And he leaves the room.
I may as well have been punched in the solar plexus. I felt like such an idiot.
I so much want to be able to come up with excuses. To lay the blame on management for not having processes or guidelines, or anything that would make me feel like I'm not making things up as I go along. But I do have to take some responsibility for myself. The problem is that I don't know where that separation line is.
And then I realize that I don't even want to do this job. I don't want to be a project manager -- especially this bastardized version of one. I wanted to just give up and tell them to fire me.
Then fear set in. Because I know I need to make a change, but I'm terrified to take the steps needed to do so.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
I had a great weekend in NYC, but I'm much too lazy to write about it. Especially now that it's two days later and I still have homework to do. But here's a pretty picture of the hanging snowflakes at the Time Warner mall in Columbus Circle. They change color and every 15 minutes, they're synchronized to holiday music and fake snow is blown from the top of the atrium.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Around this time each year I take a time out from the chaos that starts up and I think about all that's happened this past year.
There's no sugar-coating it, 2008 has been rough. The economy is gasping for air, the west coast is on fire, polar bears are now threatened, and our men and women of the military are still in harm's way. But from this darkness, I do see the light on the horizon. There is hope.
I see it mainly in the way people have come together to join in a common cause. To make the world a better place. The geographic boundaries are blurring and we have created communities from across the planet. I only have to look at my Facebook account to glance into the lives of friends from all chapters of my life. It proves to me that we are all connected and it's that thought that comforts me.
So for Thanksgiving, I give thanks to you... my friends and family that have crossed paths with me at one time or another. I hope you always have a safe, warm place to call home with enough comforts to share. I wish you health and happiness; the joy of exploration and curiosity; and the satisfaction of seeing your dreams come true.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The weather is crappy so I can't attribute my mood to that. I'm at work, so I definitely can't attribute my mood to that.
I think it's the promise of a long weekend where all I have to do is be hungry.
That's enough to be thankful for.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Today's pet peeve is the way some people start off conversations.
"I don't know if you read my email, but..." and then go off into a monologue on what their email actually said.
This doesn't have to be specific to email, but in any situation where Person A expected Person B to have knowledge of something, Person A starts with "I don't know if you have knowledge of something", then proceeds to tell Person B exactly the knowledge of something Person B was expected to know.
Wouldn't it be easier just do ask "Hey, did you read my email? What are your thoughts on it?" This way it conserves words, gets to the point of the conversation and doesn't aggravate me when I try and listen in to conversations that have nothing to do with me.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I was in a client meeting today with members of the project team, including my manager. I had offered an opinion in favor in taking a particular approach and my manager completely cut me off and negated what I had to say. I shut up and felt no need to contribute further to the discussion.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I was checking out a different search engine and typed in the word 'dinosaurs'. One of the results came back with "Bible explains dinosaurs." Oh, I had to read this one.
What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?
According to the Bible: Dinosaurs first existed around 6,000 years ago. God made the dinosaurs, along with the other land animals, on Day 6 of the Creation Week. Adam and Eve were also made on Day 6—so dinosaurs lived at the same time as people, not separated by eons of time.
Dinosaurs could not have died out before people appeared because dinosaurs had not previously existed; and death, bloodshed, disease, and suffering are a result of Adam’s sin.
Really?? Oh and it gets even more interesting...
Did you know that before the world was exposed to sin, all animals, even dinosaurs were vegetarian? And the reason why the big dinosaurs aren't around today is simply because they just couldn't fit on Noah's Ark.
Poor Noah, looks like you needed a bigger boat.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Gun purchases have also been climbing because of the worsening economy, which fuels fears of crime and civil disorder, industry sources and specialists said.
Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture? As the economy goes down the crapper, citizens are loading up on guns.
For what? To protect them from a new apocalypse? Does this mean that we can expect the United States to turn into a Mad Max movie where it's every person for themselves? (Although I have to admit, the leather look is quite tasty.)
This increase in purchases are happening, of course, in the great plains areas of the country. They cite the need for the guns as insurance against an increase in crime or greater restrictions on gun sales in the future.
Yeah, the future has me worried. Worried that fear of the unknown will do more to separate us from our neighbors, instead of bring us together for a common good. I wonder if we as a human race will be able to change the way we treat the environment before the planet decides it has enough of us. I don't want to add another worry that the US will return to the lawlessness of the Wild West.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Today's article from CNN, What your zodiac sign says about your career, is another one that kept my interest.
Gemini (May 21 - June 21) Gemini's need a profession that keeps them motivated and interested -- no two days at work should be the same. Gemini from the survey reported working such jobs as art/design/architecture, nursing and personal care, sales, law enforcement, firefighting and machine operation -- all of which are right up a Gemini's alley.Well, my days have become monotonous. Maybe I should become a firefighter?
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Here's a great site to prepare for all those flash bulbs that will be going off while
Ten Ways To Look Fabulous in Pictures
6. Stretch Your Neck
Turn your head slightly away from the camera, extend your neck, then tilt your head down. Your face will look thinner and you won’t have a double chin.
Monday, October 13, 2008
The idea of making some big changes in your life is very appealing to you right now -- possibly even including making a career change. But be careful not to assume that a new job will equal a new life. There's much more to it than that. A different daily monotony is still a daily monotony, no matter what the new title may be. So it's important to add a healthy dose of reality in with all of your wishful thinking and fantasizing. Give this idea a little bit more thought before acting on it.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
I took my camera with me on one of my afternoon walks to capture Nature's wardrobe change. Enjoy.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Tyler Durden, in case you don't know, is from one of my favorite movies, Fight Club.
My favorite rule is number four,“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
Is this another way of saying 'simplify'? Get rid of the crap that weighs you down?
The article is all about innovation, but I can easily apply this to life in general. I mean, if I waste time worrying about a life I thought I was supposed to be living, it takes me away from the life I'm living right now.
Monday, September 29, 2008
"The opposite of happiness after all isn’t sadness or depression. It’s boredom."
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
This is the first stage, when everything is brand new and open to such amazing opportunities. I throw myself into whatever it is and want to learn everything about it. How it works, how I can manipulate it, how I can make it my own. Then the newness wears off and the rose-colored glasses come off.
I start to notice the flaws. I start to question why. I look for ways to 'fix things' and make it as I think it should be. I slow my pace and do more observing than jumping right in.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Saturday, September 06, 2008
In my coursework, the theme has been on the sociology of education and how conflicts have existed since the founding of schools in America. In an effort to create a new, unified nation, schools served as the true melting pot. The goal of schools were to Americanize all citizens -- to create a common ideology, religion, culture, language and allegiance to their country. This of course affected those who were not of the country's majority: white Anglo-Saxon Protestants.
In education, in politics, in foreign and domestic relations, in science... it seems that all conflicts all stem from religion. From one being more correct than the other. And it's usually the social elite that determined that their view was the 'right' one and that everyone else was wrong and that it was their duty as Americans to save those savages and bring them to the righteousness of their faith and all that it entails.
The school system was often seen as a way to screen out members of society to determine if they would be put on the education track to advance to universities and become the leaders of tomorrow, or if they would be put on a vocational track to become the workers of tomorrow. Often these decisions were made by standardized tests. But if you consider the discrimination already in place in schools, more often than not, privileged students of middle to upper-class society were put on the college-prep track and under-privileged students of lower class society were put on the vocational track. So the gap between the upper-class elite and the lower class commoners continued to exist and become wider.
Republican, Right Wing, Christian Conservative, small government vs. Democrat, Left Wing, Liberal, big government. One provides the safety net, the other provides the push towards self-reliance.
Foreign & Domestic Relations
You hear the comments, "America - love it or leave it", "Speak English only." Historically, there has not been a lot of tolerance for different cultures in America. And around the world, our goal is to spread God-fearing Democracy whether they like it or not.
Evolution versus Creationism. Advancement of medial science versus moral and ethical debates. Beating the Communists to the moon.
Everything has been passed through the filter of us vs. them. What ever happened to we?
I have to believe that it's reasonable that every person would want everyone to have access to fair and equal education. That all parties want a strong, safe, healthy and prosperous nation. That we want basic human rights, not just for Americans but for all citizens of the world. That we push the limits of human ingenuity and aspire to scientific advancement that better mankind and the environment. It should not matter if you call your guidance God, Allah, Yahweh, Mother Earth, The Creator, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, or nothing at all.
As for me, this is what I believe:
- I was raised Catholic, but no longer prescribe to that faith. I blame it on Man's fallibility rather than on religion's.
- I can be close to 'something bigger than myself' without following a particular faith, doctrine or creed.
- Live by the Golden Rule.
- Everyone is equal: men and women; white, black and every shade in between; King and Peasant. As I tell my mom all the time, "The Pope shits, too."
- It's not who you love, but how you love. (Thanks, Kevin Smith!)
- Actions have consequences. Karma, fate or divine intervention -- call it whatever you want.
- You get out of life what you put into it. Hard work and determination will take you far. But sometimes a hand to help you up or a kick in the ass is needed.
- And most importantly, burgers, a beach and Bruce can solve any personal crisis.
I didn't have an agenda in writing this. I have no intention of starting a debate because I assume that to mean that the goal is to change mine or someone else's beliefs - and I don't really care that much.
But there are polarizing events like politics and religion, and other events that bring people together like the Olympics and the Stand Up 2 Cancer event last night, and I wonder why? What breaks the barriers and unites human to a common cause?
Why can we all just get along?
Friday, September 05, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
I took a personality test on the site YouGetMe.com. The survey was a 40 question tool where I rated myself on each. Here are the results. I have to say that I think they're pretty accurate.
Your personality tendencies in a nutshell...
You enjoy making plans and commitments but you sometimes don't follow through. You are curious about many different things and highly value artistic expressions and ingenious thoughts. You tend to be relaxed in most situations and can handle stress well. You are typically respectful toward others and dislike confrontation. You show some tendency toward being outgoing and sociable.YouJustGetMe.com's guest psychologist Dr. Peggy has a little more, uh, informal interpretation of your traits...
About those "Casual" and "Disciplined" bubbles... Conscientiousness is not one of your defining traits, meaning that you are neither anal retentive nor anal expulsive. What does that mean? In a nutshell, you keep it together fairly well, but you do not suffer too much if you let things fall through the cracks every once in a while. If you make plans with a friend, chances are good that you will show up at the designated time. Then again, something better may come up or you just might forget. Either way, you're good. Another possibility is that you are very conscientious about some things, but more relaxed about other things. For example, you might demand the utmost rigor and discipline in your scholarly/work life, but keep your home looking like a garage sale gone terribly awry, with various articles of clothing and personal belonging strewn about. Where's Fido? Hopefully he hasn't been eaten by the alien life that has developed since the last cleaning.
About that "Alternative" bubble... You are intellectually curious, imaginative, and literary. I do believe the technical term is "artsy fartsy." When reading poetry, the images may move you until you quiver with delight, or perhaps quivering from all of the espresso that you've been drinking. Speaking of caffeine, it would not be a big surprise if you indulged in other substances to heighten your senses. After all, whoever heard of creative geniuses who were sober? Freud was a coke-head, Hemingway was a fall-down drunk, and Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil, probably while high on wacky tabacky. You have quite the active fantasy life and are often in la la land, earning you the well-deserved nickname "space cadet" from your loved ones. Mostly, you're a lot of fun to hang out with because you're always game for whatever idea your non-medicated (but should be) friend has in mind. The next time someone suggests that you streak naked in the dead of winter, do think twice, or at least wear some mittens.
About that "Unemotional" bubble... Some people consistently react emotionally to their environment and freak out over little things. You, my friend, are not among those people - at least not usually. Worrying and stressing are not your typical style. Even faced with absurd circumstances, you are calm and may pride yourself in your ability to use logic and reason. As a consequence of your Dalai Lama-like persona, you seldom experience the highs and lows of more emotionally reactive folks. Rather, your moods could be graphed like the flat-line of an ER patient. That analogy may seem grim, but *really*, who is more placid than the person who ceases to be? Anyhoo, if you're annoyed with my analogy right now, it's probably because you only scored medium high in the emotional stability trait and have some tendencies to be easily disturbed and offended.
About that "Cooperative" bubble... Your scores would suggest that you tend to be more agreeable than you are competitive. What does that mean? For starters, it means that you have a fairly strong tendency to believe in social harmony and cooperation. You are a nice person. You want people to get along and do the right thing - for each other, for the greater humanity. That's not to say that you are a total pushover, but that you believe in the niceties of life. This is probably why you are very popular with people and have many friends. The difference between you and someone who is very high in agreeableness is that you have a bit of an edge. Maybe you laugh when people fall down and hurt themselves, maybe you secretly occasionally think people suck. Whatever it is that's holding you back from winning Ms. or Mr. Congeniality, that's also what makes you more interesting.
About that "Extraverted" bubble... I have a friend who can strike up a conversation with anyone: Nobel Peace prize nominees and winners, muppets, sanitation workers, perfect strangers, my crazy uncle Harry. My friend is a bona-fide extravert. Your scores indicate that while you tend to be extraverted, you also have some degree of reserve. Perhaps in some situations, you prefer to say less or maybe you have duct tape over your mouth. Either way, you may save your high energy for the situations when you have a need or desire to be "on" and your quiet moments for those with whom you feel most comfortable.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
I am currently enrolled in an online university to get my Masters in Eduction, focusing on Instructional Design for Online Learning. I have 12 credits until completion. In two weeks, I will start a Train the Trainer certificate program at my local community college. And I just enrolled (for audit) in an online course on Connectivism and Connective Knowledge just for the curiosity of it.
What's strange is that no one is making me do this. I have no real reason for perusing all this other than the desire to know stuff. For the past 2.5 years, the stuff I want to know is all about education and instructional design. Who know, maybe in another 2.5 years, I'll want to know more about the mating rituals of Peruvian cockroaches. But today, it's about education.
I'll keep you posted as to what happens.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Monday, September 01, 2008
Karen's husband Rob was the entertainment as he plugged his guitar in for a one man show. As more alcohol was consumed, it turned into amature hour as the hostess and guests hopped on mic for their moment in the spotlight.
I was no exception.
Nikki and Karen tortured us with their interpretation of Kenny Rodger's "The Gambler". What's especially great is their complete disregard to the timing of the song. They just sing as if Rob wasn't even playing.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
I was just sent the link to the photographer's of the first wedding blog. Todd Laffler's pictures are quite simply stunning. He shoots as a photojournalist and I love it.
My mom did a reading at the ceremony. That's her in the photo.
The pictures were so great, I had to look at his other stuff. Check them out. They're all amazing. And I know how great they are because I don't even know these people and the emotion in them is making me get all mushy.
Friday, August 29, 2008
But yesterday I was so aggravated by people talking in an office behind me, that I just did what I normally did and Twittered about it.
Today, a coworker asked me about my Facebook status and asked what that was about. "Who were you listening to?" She wasn't being combative in asking, she was just humored and curious. I had to quickly think on my feet because I wasn't about to tell her that she was one half of the duo who I wanted to impale.
"That was for all the talking that was going on around me. I was trying to write something and I kept getting distracted."
It's crazy how I can lie with a straight face.
So the dilemma is, do I have to censor myself on Twitter? Should I disconnect Twitter from automatically updating Facebook? Should I de-friend her? (I already de-friended my manager because I didn't want him having that close of a peek into my personal life - especially if I like to rant about work every now and then.)
Monday, August 25, 2008
I wish I could be more enthusiastic about telling stories about my trip. But I'm too tired. My body aches, my stomach hurts and I just want to sleep. Funny that these symptoms didn't show up until I was home.
I did have a good time, don't get me wrong. Hanging out in an apartment with my brother, my cousins and one of their boyfriends gave me a closeness with actual humans that I've been longing for for a while. Even our annoyances with each other became funny. We were the '5 Assholes' who were quick to pull away from the rest of the group to do our own thing.
I'm annoyed with myself that I didn't even write in my journal while I was there. I had no desire to remove myself from 'being in the moment' to stop what I was doing to write down the stories of the day. Now I might forget the drama that went on the whole week.
Being home, I have to concern myself with my homework again. I'm not motivated. I have to get back into work mode. I can't decide if I like my job today. I have to think about working on those home improvement projects that I've been letting slide. I don't feel like figuring out where the money is going to come from. I would rather just float on a raft in the warm waters of the Caribbean ocean letting the waves rock me to sleep.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Most of it has been stupid 'in the moment' things that us cousins will probably only find funny. There's been a lot of laughing, and drinking and swimming and more laughing. But there's also been plenty of drama. I attribute that to the merging of families and the stress that goes along with that.
But my Blackberry isn't working here and it's pissing me off. No phone service, no text message, no nothing.
Off to get some dinner.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I’m at JFK airport waiting to board my plane to Puerto Rico. There’s a family wedding there tonight. I was at a family wedding in NJ last night. I’m already all wedding’ed out.
I love to travel, but I hate… let me repeat. I HATE the whole check in process.
I arrive to the airport curbside, loaded up with luggage, backpack, dive bag, two parents, aunt & uncle and a million other clueless passengers. Already, there’s a line out on the curb for curbside checkin. Inside is another line weaved in and out among chaos.
Being in an airport changes you. It turns normally sensible, logical people into babbling idiots. It turns me, a normally sweet, thoughtful and caring person (Mike, stop laughing) into a raging, homicidal maniac. I want to kill every stupid person next to me, in front of me, behind me, who breathes the wrong way or asks a stupid question like, “What do you mean I have to show my boarding pass?”
The security check in line is the worst. Security is a stupid name to call it, because the yahoos who work there look like they just got off their night shift at McDonald’s.
There was one woman who had to keep going through the metal detector because she kept setting it off. I wanted to smack her. First off with the shoes, then the belt, then the change in the pocket. “Your earrings!!” I yelled to her as she went through the third time, holding up everyone waiting behind her – like me. Finally she made it through without setting it off and I clapped.
I can see my stuff already through the x-ray machine, laptop sitting on the conveyor belt vulnerable. I just want to get through so I can claim it before someone else does.
Now that I’m through and on the other side of the gate I can breathe a little easier. I’m starving and dehydrated, but the first thing I spot is a free internet hot-spot and the addicted cyber-geek in me practically drools and my first instinct is to blog rather than find some sustenance. Sad, I know.
I’ll be on my plane in about an hour. I’m still waiting for my cousin Christine and her family to arrive. Her parents are already here and waiting for her at check in. Me, I just have to keep my cool, read some cheesy magazines and listen to my iPod. It will be a long week. I’ll keep you posted.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Sebastian Bach from Skid Row and Dokken both opened up for Poison. Neither of them were anywhere near their vocal range from their heyday. I was in the food court while Sebastian was on stage. All I heard was screaming. We went up on the lawn to watch Dokken, but I was pretty disappointed when Don didn't hit the high notes/screams that he was known for.
Finally the lights went down and Poison took the stage at around 9:00. Musically, and lyrically the are not Grammy contenders. Even time had taken a toll on Brett's good looks. He was looking a little haggard and bloated. Poor, Brett.
CC Deville was a silly, little maniac. He pranced around on stage with his glittery guitar, checked his hair in his mirror, and egged on the audience for more cheering. That clown is all ego, but he held up the best out of all the band mates.
The show itself was pretty short. Only an hour, fifteen minutes in total. CC Deville had a guitar solo and Rikki Rocket had his drum solo which took about 10 to 15 minutes out of actual band play time.
But what they did play was fun, eternal adolescent stuff. I was brought back to junior high when my jeans were tight, my hair was high and I would be caught dead without my studded belt and feather earrings on.
It was a naive time then. Singing about "in the old man's Ford; behind the bushes; till I'm screaming for more-more-more" was just that. Just singing. Love only lasted as long as a hook up in the closet at a party and the only worries were who was going to win MTV's Friday Night Video Fights and making sure that Billy Warner didn't get my note where I told my best friend that he was cute.
Sometimes I wish I was fourteen again.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Mike: My thing is broken. It doesn't work anymore.
Me: That's what she said...
(as I was walking away)
Thank you, goodnight! Try the veal...
Monday, August 11, 2008
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Steve: I feel like a jerk!
me: you should. i'm telling
Steve: now I will punch YOU
me: no. because i have on my protective cloak with a shield charm
Steve: a shield charm
Steve: I would punch the shield charm RIGHT THROUGH YOU!
me: no, my pet unicorn will trample you and impale you with its horn
Steve: I would break the horn of the uni-horn and stab it to death with it
Steve: stumped you didn't i
me: no because my doppelganger will throw things at you for ever until you die
Steve: I will dangle your doppelganger from the roof by her toenails while I bludgeon you with your own dog.... then I will do it again to your doppelganger and say "this was so much fun. Why didn't I think of this before!?"
me: no because i will punch you
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Take a time out. Freeing up your time starts with taking a step back to take a good look at your life. You need to block off at least an hour. Several hours or half a day is better. A whole day would be awesome. A weekend would be even more ideal, though not necessary practical for many folks. With this block of time, take a look at your life with some perspective. Is it what you’ve always wanted? How would you get to where you’ve always wanted to be? What do you enjoy doing, but don’t have enough time to do? What things actually fill up your day? Are there things you could drop or minimize to make more time? We’ll look at some of these things in the following items, but it starts with taking a time out to think and plan.Let's look at the things that occupy my day:
- Let Barry out, then go back to sleep for 30 minutes. As Barry eats breakfast, I either lounge in bed for those last precious minutes, watch tv or lately, do some pilates.
- Take Barry for his morning walk.
- Shower and get ready for work.
- Drive 30 minutes to work.
- Eat breakfast, read personal emails, comics, news, blogs, links, and gossip with coworkers. By 9:00 - 9:15 ish the work day begins.
- For the next 8 hours I hop between reading/writing emails, updating content in courses, editing graphics, chatting with Mike and Steve, internet surfing, eating, phone calls, meetings...
- 30 minute drive home.
- Let Barry out and feed him.
- Make dinner, eat and watch the news on tv.
- 7:00pm take Barry for his hour long walk.
- From 8 to 10 I'm online again either doing homework or blogging/surfing/reading.
- By 10 pm I'm in bed reading a book until I fall asleep.
Monday, August 04, 2008
I drove up there with my brother and Barry through a crazy rain that I thought would never let up. Finally we arrived and was amazed at all the new construction and landscaping that was done since last year. The most fun additions were a pond and a pool on their 42 acres of land.
The pond was warm and soon it was full of kids and adults and even my dog as we enjoyed the rare opportunity for some cooling off in the waterin' hole. The mud squished between my toes along the bottom. There were diving contests off the rocks. Frogs croaked along the banks. All I needed was an inner tube raft and a beer.
There was also some excitement. Ryan locked his keys in the trunk of his car and had to call AAA to unlock the car. It was quite an event as we all cheered on the porch as the rescue truck drove down the driveway. Poor Ryan, he's not even in the family yet but he gets as much crap as anyone else. He had to put up with being the butt of the jokes for the rest of the day. But at least he's the star of his own video.
Family gatherings are always special. They don't need to be fancy, just as long as there's food, everyone's happy. What's really wonderful is how the cousins have grown up so close and now the new generation of cousins get to experience the same closeness that we have. They will always know that their family will be there to turn to for laughs and for comfort.
I feel very lucky to have the family that I do. I know I don't tell them that often enough.
See the photo slideshow.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
The Big Read, an initiative by the National Endowment for the Arts, has estimated that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed (though the list seems to be missing #44 and #51, and I couldn't find it at the website). How do you rank? I read 24 books on the list.
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Here are my photos:
- on a Chicago travel site
- used in a slide show (slide #68)
- on a Huey Lewis artist site
- a stock photo aggregation site
- in a hotel review
- on a wiki type page
- a Philadelphia travel site
- a consumer advocate site
- on a Tampa travel page and on their iPhone app page
The first time was in March 2007, when a Wall Street Journal reporter was doing a story on VIP only areas of exclusive vacation hotels. She found this photo of me lounging in the infinity pool of the El Conquistador Hotel in Puerto Rico. First she sent me questions over email and then she called me for a phone interview. You can read the final article Class Warfare at the Infinity Pool. I was even quoted!
At the El Conquistador Resort in Puerto Rico, Claudine Caro infiltrated the infinity pool during her four-night stay last August. The pool is meant for use by guests of Las Casitas Village, a small complex adjacent to the main building. (There, current peak-season room rates start at $269 a night -- about $40 more than a room in the main resort. One-bedrooms start at $485.) Ms. Caro, a 33-year-old in South Brunswick, N.J., who develops educational courses for a pharmaceutical company, and her cousin visited the pool twice around dinnertime, when there weren't any attendants around. "We walked in like we owned the place," she says.
After my 15 minutes of fame were up from that, I got another 15 minutes. CNN was preparing a series of stories of road trips, and being that I just finished my Laid-Off Blues road trip, I sent in my story. Not only was it featured in a CNN iReport piece, I was interviewed again over the phone and they developed a multimedia slide show with me narrating!
It blows my mind how this crazy thing called the internet, which I dove into head first in 1995, now chronicles my life in ways I could never have imagined. In some ways, its a little frightening and I do need to be aware of what I'm putting out there, but for the most part, it makes the world a much smaller place.
My made-up songs are usually sung to the tune of commonly-known diddies, often using variations of Barry's name (Barry Fuzznoze, Barry Dog) and some activity, usually smelling his butt.
So today I will enlighten you with some more songs to get stuck in your head.
(Sung to the tune of "You Are My Sunshine")
You are my fuzznose, my Barry Fuzznose
You are so fuzzy, I like your nose
You never know, nose
How much I know, nose
How you like to smell your butt.
(Sung to the tune of the "Oscar Mayer Bologna" song)
My Barry has a first name, it's B-A-R-R-Y
My Barry has a second name it's F-U-Z-Z-nose
I like to squish him every day
And if you ask me why I'll say
That Barry Fuzznose has a way
Of smelling his butt every day
(sung to the tune of the "Lone Ranger Theme")
Barry dog, Barry dog, Barry dog dog dog
Barry dog, Barry dog, Barry dog dog dog
Barry dog, Barry dog, Barry dog dog dog
Yooou are a Barry dog.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Well hearing that song brings up memories of a tidbit of silly information on me.
I had gone to CCD, which is like Sunday school, except it was on Saturday morning. It was pretty much a social event since you got to hang out with your friends from school for an hour on the weekend. You stated in first grade and went all the way through to 8th grade where it all culminated with Confirmation, where you receive the sacrament of the Holy Spirit.
The best part about Confirmation was that you got to choose your Confirmation name. I didn't have a middle name so I thought it would be cool to finally get one. And it was all my choice!
Typically you would select a proper Christian name from the Bible. Friends had chose Mary, Elizabeth, Theresa. Not me. I chose Samantha. I wanted a rock star middle name and at that time, the coolest slut was Samantha Fox. (Lita Ford was also an option, but 'Lita' just didn't sound right with my name.)
Not to ignore my first name, it also has a story.
My dad was a fan of Claudine Longet, a popular singer/actress/dancer from Paris of the 60's and 70's. She was married to Andy Williams and later dated skier "Spider" Sabich. She was later arrested for 'accidentally' killing Spider by shooting him in the back, but was acquitted because of mishandling of evidence and other police blunders. She then later married her defense lawyer who left his wife and children to be with her.
So there you have it, folks. I'm named after a homicidal beauty home-wrecker and a bimbo slut.
Where does your name come from?
Monday, July 28, 2008
Have you ever been so infuriated that you wanted to straddle some guys neck just so you could pummel him in the face multiple times?
This weekend I was with my cousin at her boyfriend's house, hanging out at a family BBQ before we went off to see "The Dark Knight". I had met the family before at the Superbowl party. They were warm, welcoming and pretty cool so I had no insecurities about being there. I did notice that the boyfriend's brother paid extra attention to me. I could actually feel him looking at me. It was not a reciprocal feeling on my end.
We were sitting around the table eating when The Brother overhears me telling my cousin about my date the next day.
"You don't have a boyfriend? You're single?"
"Why? You're a nice looking girl."
"Um, I don't know. "
"Even been married before?"
"Really? What's wrong with you?!"
Oh. My. God. AREYOUFUCKINGKIDDINGME?
The rage begins with a fire in my chest quickly radiating out to my extremities actually causing my fists to flex. I quickly had to reel it in because I was a guest and I didn't want to embarrass my cousin.
This guy... this F'n GUY, is most likely someone who would give you the shirt off his back to help you. He's probably really sweet once you get to know him. He probably thought it was some sort of back-handed compliment or his perverse method of flirting. But I only met him once and on the surface, he mainly comes off as a jackass.
And really, fuck him! Divorced (I think) father of one who wouldn't be hurt by eating a salad once in a while. His love life isn't one for a Hollywood happy-ever-after story.
I had to coolly respond, "What makes you think that there's some problem with ME that I'm single?"
I think he saw how ferocious I was and the conversation was dropped. He also (wisely) decided to not go to the movies with us as originally planned.
So really? What's up with that question?
I've heard it often enough from distant aunts "you can't wait forever... what are you waiting for?...you're not getting any younger..." Each time it gets responded with a gritted smile and giggle but the rage is there. The last time I lost it and said "Well, I've never been married, therefore I've never been divorced and I consider that a pretty good thing," to my divorced aunt. Whatever. Screw her.
I don't necessarily like being single, but I'll take it any day over settling for some ho-hum guy just so I can say that I'm not alone. And I hate having to defend that to family and ass-clowns who think they're trying to be cute.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
You know, the universe doesn't always care if you're looking for romance or not. Some days (like today), you just get a big ol' dose of flirtatious energy. Consider yourself lucky to be blessed like this, and start using that energy! Smile at as many cuties as you can -- and maybe at some not-so-cuties, too! You're all about making other people feel good, which in turn will make you feel good, too. Blow kisses to grumpy-looking folks and watch their frown turn upside down.What a very appropriate horoscope today as I HAVE A DATE! And while I am interested in getting to know the person I'm meeting, I'm just more excited to be back in circulation (so to speak) and to have the universe smiling on me today.
Wish me luck.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Me: You need a trajectory object to throw at him.
Mike: I'll throw my balls at him.
(He meant his golf balls trophy that he had hanging on the wall.)
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Yes, poop stories make me laugh. My poop, your poop, the dog's poop, even strangers' poop. It's the one thing that all living things have in common, so why not laugh about it. In fact, if you want to laugh, here's the funniest poop story I have ever read. Even thinking about it now makes me laugh out loud.
Anyway, now with my new book, I will be able to always have some blog fodder to share with you even when I've run out of things to say.
For example, here's one interesting nugget of information:
On a trip to Vienna, the White House flew in a special presidential crapper so that President George W. Bush's crap could be collected and disposed of in a secure manner. Secret Service agents capture Presidential Poo in order to prevent foreign intelligence agencies from collecting health information about the commander in chief's health. Governmental agencies, including the US CIA and the Israeli Mossad, have used this approach to gain valuable information on the health status of world leaders such as Mikhail Gorbachev and former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad.So looks like the writers of Scrubs were right when they said to "check the poo".
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Lay Your Hands On Me (slow version) - Bon Jovi
This slow, grooving version was a great song to start the morning with.
Within Your Reach - The Replacements
The sweeping guitar flanging makes me feel like twirling circles around in my room with my hands waiving hippie-like in the air.
Keep Yourself Alive - Queen
A steady driving beat perfect for that morning commute past cornfields and cows on two lane highways.
Mercy - Duffy
With the first bass notes, you might think it's Ben E. King's Stand By Me. But this sassy song puts me in a mood just right to catch up on work emails and mentally prepare myself for a day of nonsense.
Describe your musical morning...
Monday, July 21, 2008
- Christian the Lion - When he runs into their arms... mess.
- World's Strongest Dad - When the dad carries his son across the finish line... huge mess.
- WALL-E - When Wall-e and Eva dance in space... ridiculous mess.
- Pedigree Commercial - Those puppy eyes...sobbing mess.
- U2 'Walk On' - Reminds me of September 11. "I know it aches, how your heart it breaks, you can only take so much..." singing mess.
- Ross and Rachel - The kiss everyone was waiting for... cheering mess.
The evening of my crappy day at work, I decided to treat myself to dinner and a movie. A popcorn dinner, that is. I went to see Sex In The City. I needed some girly time.
There was about a dozen people in the theater, and the estrogen was overwhelming. I had my tiny bag of popcorn, my legs were comfortably propped on the seat in front of me and the lights dimmed. I was ready to put behind the problems of the day and be absorbed in the lives of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha. I missed those girls.
I loved watching SATC on HBO. It was the only reason that I actually subscribed to it. When SATC aired its final episode, HBO was canceled. But what I loved about the show was the relationships between them. They were so open, so honest. They shared the good and the bad. With one phone call, they could join forces and solve any crisis or heartbreak with a cosmopolitan, Manolos or brunch. They had a friendship that I envied.
I have friends and cousins who I am close to. We share personal stories, confide deepest secrets, laugh over embarrassing moments, or just wonder what kind of lives we will lead. But what seems strange to me is that there isn't one person who I share all aspects of those topics. I don't have one best friend, but a network of friends who get different bits and pieces of who I am.
I wonder why is that? Is it me? Do I chose to spread myself out so as not to get so deep with one person? Maybe. I can go weeks or months without speaking to some of my friends and not think twice about it because when we do get back in contact it's as if no time had ever past. To me that's special. Like the friendship is strong enough to not have to coddle or babysit it along the way.
I spend a lot of time by myself and for the most part, I enjoy it. I can do what I want, when I want, without having to ask for permission or arranging schedules. But when I want company, its hard trying to find the right girlfriend to invite. One's either too cranky, or too pregnant, too Mommy, or too married, or just too far away.
Then there are some friends who I dearly miss, but whose life have taken such a different path from mine that there is hardly anything left to talk about.
As Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte all mended to Carrie's broken heart, I wondered who of my friends would be there for me in my time of crisis? How have I made myself available to them?
So now I'm curious. What are your friendships like? Do you have that one best friend? Do you have a network of girlfriends who can tell you that yes, those pants really do make your ass look fat? Or do you flitter around like a butterfly to random groups of people who knew you at different points of your life?
Leave me a comment.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
We left the office at noon for lunch at a local rib joint. Then we were off to the mini-golf place for some silliness. It was extremely hot out, about 95° and even though we were carting around plenty of beers with us, it was almost too hot to drink them... almost.
I was pulling some amazing shots out of my ass. Birdie, par. Across the course the other teams would hear "Claudine got 2!" and they would tremble in fear. Was I the next Tiger Woods?
Alas, they were not getting the full story. Among my super shots were also some 7, 8 and 9 stroke holes. Tiger can rest easy.
My overall score was somewhere in the 80's. But in the end, I was a winner. Winner of the highest score. If I'm going lose, then I'll lose the best!
Thursday, July 17, 2008
It started at 8:30am when I saw the message light was on. 'Client' was having problems with the course we delivered yesterday. It wasn't sending the completion data back to their database when the course was finished. But at one time, back in April, it did. What changed? Oh, and by the way. They are launching this course out to their public tomorrow. Go get to fixin'.
So after I give 'Client' a call to confirm that I received her message and that I'm on the case, I bang my head on my desk. Crap. My two developers who worked on this project are not in the office. One's out sick, the other works from home on Thursday.
Immediately, I start with the emails telling the developer and the company partners what's going on and start with the investigating. Is it the code? What timestamp is it? Which was the last confirmed working version for them? This went on for about 3 hours back and forth on IM, email and phone.
Finally we uncover what may be the root of the problem. It was me. The last image change the client asked for affected an asset on the last page of the course. That last page asset was the way we were telling the client's database that the course was finished. When the asset was updated, I saved it as the wrong format, thus removing the completion code delivery. Double crap.
I had to join Client on a conference call this afternoon to provide an update as to what the issue was and what our solution would be. Luckily they weren't jerks about it, at least not on the phone to me. It was productive and forward-looking so I didn't feel on the defensive. Why can't all clients be like that? Although I'm sure as soon as they hung up the phone they were cursing me out. Come on, that's what I would do.
So now it's wait time for me as I stand by as the developer does his thing. This is the worst part for me, the waiting. Because I want to be doing something, but there's nothing that I can do.
This is one of those days where I wish I was 6 years old again and my only worry was what color crayon to use in my Barbie coloring book.