Monday, December 31, 2007

This Thing Called Drum Corps--Part 1

It is the final day of 2007, and I could not let it pass away into the early morning hours of 2008 without writing something, how ever short it might be, about a summer 15 years ago, and what I did that sill marks me today.

In the summer of 1992, at the age of 19, I marched a corps. Translated, this means that I was in a drum and bugle corps called Sky Ryders. I played the mellophone bugle. It was the most concentrated and impactful experience of my life, and I alternately hated it and loved it, depending on how out of breath or sleep-deprived I was at any given moment.

That summer would be the first and last time I would march, as the expense associated with it combined with a summer's lost income, was more than I could handle, having to pay for college myself.

I had first learned of drum corps by happening across the televised DCI (Drum Corps International) finals competition on PBS a couple years prior, when I was still in high school. I was struck by how good the performances were. As I listened to the commentary between the performances, I learned that these folks were just kids, really. Once a person reaches age 22, he/she can no longer participate. And so, these amazing groups of people were made up of teenagers and college kids. Unbelievable. I wondered how they could be so good. At that point I had no thought of ever being good enough to score a spot in a corps, and I still didn't know enough about them to know how to even start the audition process, anyway.

And then I went to college--the University of North Texas, which has an amazing music program. I was in marching band, and there I met several members of the drumline as well as several trumpet and trombone players who had marched corps before, some had even marched for 6 or 7 years already. Many of them had just returned from finals and went straight into marching band rehearsals. I listened to them talk. I learned they had marched in Cavaliers, Madison Scouts, Blue Devils, Blue Knights, and even Sky Ryders. I began to learn which shows/programs a particular corps had performed in which year. I began to learn I simply must be a part of this amazing experience they were all talking about.

And yet I still didn't know enough or have enough money or enough self-confidence to decide to audition for one of the perpetually finals-bound corps. And I couldn't audition for the Cavies or Scouts anyway, since they are all-male corps. But then I learned that the Sky Ryders had relocated from Kansas to the Dallas area the year before and knew that I would audition for them.

And so, the Saturday after Thanksgiving in the autumn of 1991, with a full season of college marching band under my belt, and some really good playing chops, I went to Midlothian, TX to audition.
---------------------------------

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Interviewing Update

The follow-up phone call went very well yesterday...I guess technically it was two days ago since it is the wee hours of Sunday morning as I type this. I received answers to my questions and really feel like I'm getting a very solid understanding of the position and the expectations and what I can do with it.

Cenci asked me in a comment below what position this involves. The short answer is: Senior Field Trainer. The more thorough answer requires a bit of back story.

Actually, I had just written a loooooong backstory, but I think I can just write a couple of sentences and get the point across just as effectively.

I am currently a GM and Field Trainer. The Sr. Field Trainer is a new position for 2008 with added responsibilities and many challenges that will not only keep me busy and help my professional development, but it will also serve excellently as a way to greatly improve the consistency and effectiveness of the training programs throughout the organization.

There will be one person in this position per zone, and we have a handful of zones on the superstore side. I am absolutely confident that I can be successful in this position, and thusly make the position successful. I was nominated for the role by an HR partner, but I do not know how many others in the zone are also interviewing.

I want it. I want it badly. There are some opportunities in life that a person crosses and they know that opportunity is theirs. This opportunity is mine. It is mine now, today, and I will be successful in this role.

I should know something in the next week or two.

Now here I have riled myself all up again, and it's 1:17 in the morning. I don't need to be getting passionate about my job at 1:17 in the morning....I need to be going to bed. So, goodnight.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Rest In Peace, Anne-Marie

On Saturday, December 22, Anne-Marie collapsed at work. She worked at a bookstore in a northern suburb of Dallas. That bookstore is managed by my dear friend Nancy. Anne-Marie had just returned from her dinner break. She walked from the breakroom out onto the salesfloor, complaining of a headache for which she had taken an aspirin. A couple of minutes later, she returned to the breakroom where she sat down on the sofa and said to Nancy, "Tell me what's wrong with me. Help me."

She collapsed; 911 was dialed; Anne-Marie was taken to the nearest hospital. She was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm that had hemorrhaged, basically exploding in the brain stem. Her husband and other family came to the hospital; most of the store staff also went to visit her.

On Wednesday Anne-Marie was taken off life support. She was an organ donor.

The staff is going to gather after closing on Sunday night and have a dinner in remembrance of Anne-Marie. They are also going to play the CDs of her favorite musicians in the overhead music system as a way of honoring her life and contributions to this world.

Rest in Peace, Anne-Marie. May comfort find its way to her family, friends, and coworkers in time.

Thursday Off

I have today off as well as having had Christmas off. See my joy-filled face? No, of course you can't. You'll just have to believe me that my face is filled with joy right now. I am sincere about this. It is so very very nice to have 2 days off in a week.

I have a follow-up phone call on Friday at 10am regarding the position I interviewed for. I have several questions to ask of the person who interviewed me, and she has graciously agreed to take the time for another phone call. I really to infinity want this new position, and I want to make sure that I understand every aspect of it 100% and can be effective immediately in the position.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Best wishes to you all for a happy, safe, and festive holiday. Whether spent with friends, family, or in relaxed solitude, I hope your day has been remarkable in some positive way.

Mine went a little something like this:

*went to bed at 5:30am after staying up late late late watching several eps of Lost, Season 3 on DVD
*woke up at noon, continued to watch LOST
*ate light lunch of leftover chicken
* watched more LOST
*wrapped last two gifts that I forgot were sitting on table
*house chores
*made myself purdy (or at least clean)
*drove to Ft. Worth to spend Xmas with family
*felt sorry for self because my 2 sisters have so's and I'm alone
*slapped self for not being grateful for everything I do have, including 2 sisters who have so's
*watched ungrateful nephew open my gift to him
*ungrateful nephew threw my presents at me
*made decision not to get ungrateful nephew a birthday gift
*reminded self to feel grateful that I have an ungrateful nephew
*reminded self to delete stupid post from yesterday
*deleted stupid post
*laughing at self stupidity
*feeling tired from too much thought
*going to watch more LOST
*thanking goodness I have Thursday off!

Monday, December 24, 2007

This Christmas Eve

I am off to work in a couple of minutes. I hope to spread some holiday cheer at work today. I'd better find some first, heh. I'm tarred, so very very tarred. If you're doing any last minute holiday shopping, I encourage you to be kind and patient with the folks you meet along the way. I may very well be one of them.

The Night Before Christmas in Atlantis

If you know me at all, you know that I enjoy a TV show called Stargate: Atlantis. Below is a parody I wrote which I first posted in a comment on Joe Mallozzi's blog, and then later on David Hewlett's forum. In writing it I knew I wanted to accomplish 3 things: I wanted to mention each of the main characters as well as beloved supporting characters, I wanted the writers and producers to be the Elves, and I wanted it to be somewhat humorous. I know I accomplished the first two, and I hope I accomplished the third. I hope you enjoy it.

The Night Before Christmas in Atlantis

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the city
The twinkling lights shone, a serene scene so pretty.
The shield was raised over the stargate with care
In hopes that no enemy would infiltrate there.

Rodney & Zelenka were nestled all snug in their labs
While Lorne painted nightscapes in dibbles and dabs
And Sheppard with his Tolstoy and Teyla with her sticks
Had just finished a debate on the merits of classics.

When up in the sky did explode a great light
And a trembling of earth gave Chuck the Technician a fright
Away to the control room I transported fast
Wondering to what we should owe that bright blast.

The great light as it glowed on the city below
Surrounded the spire, a warm, soft halo.
When, much to my shock and surprise I did see
A man dressed all in red, a white beard to his knees.

With a sleek puddlejumper decked festive for flight
I knew at that moment he must be all right.
From the back of the jumper, his Elves hopped right out.
And this jolly old Santa took breath for to shout,

"Now Joseph! now Alan! now Martin & Paul!
On Robert, Carl, Brad, on the rest of you all.
Down the length of the pier, to the top of the spire,
Climb you strong, good Elves, climb faster and higher!"

As quick as a wraith dart, nary missing a step
For to dodge Ronon's glare, up the stairs those Elves leapt.
Onward up to the spire-top the helpers did climb
As Santa smirked and flew skyward, taking his time.

And then in a blinknod I heard near the gate
Voices discussing the meal which for lunch they just ate.
As I turned from the window and peeked down below
I spied those old Elves waving at me 'hello!'

Quickly they scattered as Santa's jumper came in to land.
And Colonel Carter stepped forward, extending her hand.
Santa shook it with mirth, a large bag at his feet.
He spoke not a word, but he paused for a beat.

Then with some silent signal, the Elves came to his side
And helped Santa pull his large bag open wide.
A jolly scene to behold, all of Atlantis was there.
Dr. Keller got a Josh Groban CD, Katie Brown a plant rare.

One by one they came forward, fear and hesitation melting away
For Santa had found them, even a galaxy away.
And they counted themselves lucky to be gathered together
Remembering all that in the past year they were forced to weather.

The line was winding down, the bag growing flat.
I turned back to the window, then on my shoulder felt a pat.
I spun around quickly to meet Santa's stare.
He handed me the bag and then suddenly wasn't there.

In that one short moment he was back in his jumper
The entire ship glowing from bumper to bumper.
The Elves waved goodbye and quickly scampered away
The hour was so late, it was now Christmas Day.

I felt in the bag, Santa's gift for me
It was perfect, exactly as he knew it would be
And I heard his voice shout out, "Stay together; stay alive!"
And I yelled back up towards him, "Thanks for Season Five!"

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Two Days More

Well the Cowboys game really killed activity in my store last night. With two days left before Christmas, people are finally feeling the pinch. Still, most are in good spirits. I work the closing shift again tonight, then go back at 10:30 tomorrow morning. We close at 7pm on Christmas Eve, and we'll be glad of it. It's really difficult to keep people focused on the 24th. They're all so exhausted and ready to go home to their families.

I saw that I have one last gift to wrap for my Dad, then I'm all finished. My family is meeting at 5:30 on Christmas Day for dinner and celebration. My younger sister has recently moved in with her boyfriend, so I guess he'll be there, and perhaps his mother as well. I don't know; it doesn't really matter, I guess. My sister hasn't married this man, which bothers my mother, which in turn makes me giggle. But the reason she states for not marrying him is strange. But that's a topic for another post.

I've been sleeping as much and as long as I can, but it doesn't seem to eliminate the tiredness. It goes right down to my core right now.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Three More Days

Yes, I am counting down the days.

The days are good, the days are sweet.

The days are damaging my feet.

Hah, that was bad. Work is fast and fun right now, but we're all getting tired and are ready to have Tuesday off. Today and tomorrow we're open 7am-midnight, and 7am-7am on Monday.

So many people are being nice and friendly that they far outweigh the few who are not. Go Joy!

I'm making a public prediction here: Planet Earth is going to propel the HD DVD format ahead of blu-ray and secure it's position as the bankable high def format.

Hey, what did you get me for Christmas?

Tri-Movie Review

Even though most of my time is occupied by work these days, I still found some time in the past week to watch 3.5 DVDs. This is mostly because I completed my Christmas shopping a couple of weeks ago. Go me. I have no idea right this second what is going to pop out of my fingers when I start typing about these fils, so be prepared.

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Wow, Jim Carrey can act. When did that happen? The production design was intriguing, the kids were good. Billy Connolly...I just want to wrap him up and take him home in my pocket. But the story, based on the books of course, was...meh. Could that be why I stopped reading the books after the first one?

Dreamgirls

I watched this one on HD starting at midnight and had to turn it wayyyyy down so that I wouldn't disturb my neighbors. I absolutely must buy this film and crank it up during daylight hours. I haven't seen the live musical yet, but now I have to. Incredible.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

I don't know why I put this in my Netflix queue, but I am so very glad I did. I had no idea it would be so funny to me! I laughed so much at this film and have been wanting to talk about Steve Carroll's genius in it with some friends of mine, but I have suspicions that 2 of my dear friends are much older than 40 and still virgins. And it's not exactly an appropriate film to discuss at work, so for right now I've had to settle with chuckling on my own.

Theremin

I only had a chance to watch 45 minutes of the documentary on Theremin, which discusses the life of (can't remember his first name) Theremin, the Russian scientist who invented the instrument. You know the instrument I mean....think the X-files theme. Yes...that's a Theremin. It is fascinating. It really is! Maybe I'll go and finish watching it before I go to work in a couple of hours.

Next up in the Netflix queue is Lost, Season 3, discs 1-3. At this point I cannot even remember where Season 2 left off.

(This post inspired by Charles' efficient Sweeney Todd review.

Friday, December 21, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...Crazy Yelling Beggar Man???

Yes, CYBM, one I have seen before, was found outside my store's front entrance begging for money last night. Security was called and spent quite a while getting him to calm down. Don't forget the 'yelling' part of CYBM. At least he was only in my store for 5 seconds before I could get him to leave.

I've dealt with this guy before. He likes to say, "God doesn't like ugly," when I'm telling him to leave. Last night I was outside the the store trying to get him to move (he was blocking the entrance doors), so I felt a bit better about being snarky right back to him.

CYBM: God doesn't like ugly.
ME: Then he doesn't like you very much, does he?

I'm sure there are a million more clever retorts I could have retortified with, but that's the first thing that popped into my mind. Possible future alternative responses could be:

>So you'll be receiving a lump of coal in your stocking for Christmas.
>Have you seen God's new lineup of skin care products for nasty yelling assholes such as yourself?
>What did you do to God to make him feel that way?
>I killed God and ate his eyeballs. What do you have to say to that?
>Let me know all about Ugly Hell, because you're going there soon.

Who am I kidding? I'll probably just be reduced to repeating, "Shut your mouth; get out of my store." CYBMs are so predictable, but why must I waste good material on them?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wish Me Luck

or wish me skill, or whichever word you choose.

This afternoon I interviewed for a new position in my company. If I am selected, I will still run my store, but my training role and responsibilities will change.

I should find out the decision in a couple of weeks. Several people need to weigh in on it.

Keep all your digits crossed for me.

Thanks.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tired Eyes and Blistered Toes

I should wear a pedometer at work. I have one, but it doesn't work well. My eyes are tired and I have, well had because I popped it, a blister on the bottom of one toe, from walking around my store so much today.

And Squeaky the Bookshelf Elf almost didn't have any food to bring to my staff because the person whom I asked to take it upstairs to my office for me (after I dropped it off at the receiving dock last night), put it in the breakroom by mistake.

But I got most of it back...Squeaky made me take it from the breakroom...and packed the staff's stockings full of goodies.

I must go to bed now and sleep a very long time. I work the closing shift tomorrow, so at least I can sleep in.

yawn....

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My Sunday Thus Far

Today is my last day off before Christmas, so I am making the most of it. What I want to do and what I need to/will do are vastly different lists.

So far today I have accomplished:

1. Got off work at 12:30am (wtf we need to be open until midnight is beyond me)
2. Shopped for goodies for the below-mentioned stockings
3. Went to bed at 2:30; got up at 9
4. Put names on all the stockings...what's the name of that new cashier starting tomorrow???
5. Wrote, addressed, stickered, and stamped Christmas cards to all the GMs in my district
6. Made/ate lunch
7. Checked my favorite websites

Next on the list:

1. Go to a mall dept. storel (CRAP!) to return and replace a sorely needed clothing item that fell apart after 3 wearings/washings.
2. Buy a couple things at the grocery store.
3. Major house chores
4. Watch Theremin DVD documentary so I can return it to the lender tomorrow
5. Take my 2-ft Christmas tree down from the closet shelf and put on display
6. Go to bed early because I start a long stretch of long days early tomorrow morning.

I just re-read this and it is a stupid stupid post, but I am a list-maker. Now off I go to ready myself for the rest of my day. The sun sets in 5 hours, and there's lots to do before then.

Which Would You Rather?

This is not a trick question. Which would you rather have?

A. A $5 gift card

B. pudding, fruit bar, juice box, applesauce, crackers, candy cane, oatmeal packet, granola bar, star crunch, oatmeal pie, fruity snack, fruit roll-up, raisins, chips, and cup of ramen, a stocking with your name on it

Each year I help Squeaky the Bookshelf Elf find stockings for everyone on my staff (I have to visit several Target stores for a number of weeks beginning in November to acquire enough), write each person's name in gold glitter paint on the stocking, and then fill them with snacks and treats as my, um, Squeaky's gift to my staff.

They may only be filled with inexpensive snacks, but I feel it is a far better gift than it's monetary equivalent. This year I, um Squeaky, is able to do the complete she-bang for under $5 per stocking. Because I must buy in such bulk, it really knocks down the price per unit.

I think people like personalized gifts, even if it's just a 99 cent stocking from Target with their name in gold glitter paint on it.

What do you think?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

To Bend or Not to Bend?


Many thanks to Don who sent me the lovely Christmas card and photo. He was diligent enough to write "Photo Do Not Bend" on both sides of the mailing envelope. And yet, somehow those instructions weren't heeded. Fortunately, the card came out completely unscathed, and the photo is in pretty good shape, all things considered.

I wonder what it would look like if he had written "bend it all to hell and back" on the envelope. Hmmm, I must mail something this way at some point in the future and see what happens.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Did You Know...

1 cow = 1,460 gallons of milk per year
1 goat = 5000 cups of milk a year
1 angora rabbit = 2 pounds of fine wool each year
a trio of rabbits = 72 rabbits after 1 year
1 hen = 200 eggs each year
1 beehive = 50 gallons of honey each season

Did you know that heifer international supplies animals, training, and businesses classes to people in poor communities throughout the world.

I like it when people are willing to learn and work to improve their lives. The idea of self-reliance has always been appealing to me.

It's $20 to donate a flock of chickens to someone. A share of a goat, sheep, rabbits, or pig is $10. An entire heifer is $500.

If I were a better person, I would have asked my family to donate to heifer on my behalf as my Christmas gifts. But I'm not a good person, which is why I'm glad there are organizations like heifer that allow me to donate to ease my muddy conscience.

Check it out and see if there's anyone on your list who would think that is the best Christmas gift ever.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Kitty Adoption

My sister, BIL, and nephew have applied to adopt two rescue kitties. They told me on Sunday the name of the place, but I cannot remember it. It is one of the many organizations that PetsMart partners with for pet adoption services. My sister had to provide a couple of references and just emailed me tonight because they need another reference. There is even the possibility of a home visit.

I guess it's good that the rescue organization takes the adoption so seriously, but it's also rather amusing. I told my sister to give the org my cell number, and that I would return their call when they contacted me. We grew up having a cat, and my sister's family took care of Gracie (including insulin shots) during one of my 2-week sojourns a couple years ago, and they just finished taking care of my BIL's sister's 2 cats for almost a year.

Have you heard of anything like this before? I mean, references and home visits?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

N-i-k-k-i S-i-x-x

Yes, this person, formerly of Motley Crue, was doing a book and CD signing at my store last night. It was wild and wildly successful, and very entertaining for the average bookstore patron to witness.

My day started at 6am Friday morning, when I awoke after a mere 4 hours of sleep, made ready for work, then arrived at my store at 7am to see 20 people already camped out front. When we opened the store at 9am, 75 people streamed in to pick up their wristbands for the signing line order.

And then, all damn day long, people in and out of the store, asking the same 10 questions over and over and over and over. I took my lunch break at 1pm, at which time I enjoyed a piece of banana nut loaf cake (like banana bread) from my cafe. I should have eaten more, because I didn't get an opportunity to sit down or take another break for the rest of the day.

The atmosphere was like Harry Potter on heroin.

I say that in jest, but the title of this guy's book is The Heroin Diaries, so you can see the connection.

The rules of the signing were simple:

Wristbands for line order will be distributed starting at 10am on the day of the signing
You must have a copy of the new book and/or the new CD soundtrack to the book to get a wristband
One wristband per person
He will only sign the new book and/or CD
Absolutely no memorabilia is permitted
No posing for photos
Do not try to hug him
You will be removed from the signing line if these rules are not followed

Simple, right?
You'd think so.

Everyone thinks their situation is special. They think, 'hey, if he'll just take a look at this cool ratty nasty dirty poster I have from 1982, he'll surely sign it!' or 'I drove all the way from (insert city or state here), and no one told me about any wristbands' or 'I'm a recovering heroin addict, if you tell him that, he'll surely want me bumped to the front of the line'.

Um, no. Be polite, but be assertive and firm and loud. It's amazing how people respond to strength and will do what I tell them to. 'You must line up on the blue line on the floor.' 'I will have you removed if you have any memorabilia with you.' 'You must keep this area clear.' Not rude, not nasty, just spoken very loudly and with my total. I'm really damn good at these things.

So, the author arrived a bit later than planned, but he signed books and CDs for everyone who had wristbands. It was a very slow process, taking almost 4 hours, but several hundred people left happy.

My store is trashed...empty coffee cups, water bottles, and packs of cigarettes (wtf?) all over the place. But I made a crapload of money, and a few hundred new people have visited my store for the first time and hopefully will return to shop at some point in the future.

After he finally left, my boss (who had come to help with the event) and I went across the street to one of the restaurant bars and debriefed the event. We were self-congratulatory, of course. It was a great event and generated a lot of money, but I'm glad it's over. Now I can refocus everyone and everything on the holiday gift shoppers.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Who wants a Christmas card?




I had two sets of cards made, which each picture above on a set. I made them with my mac, transmitted them into the ether, and received them today. They really turned out well, and I am proud to send them out to all.

The first image above is one I took in Estes Park, Colorado, in March of this year. The second is elk enjoying the snowy ground in Rocky Mountain National Park, also taken in March.

If you would like to receive a Christmas card from me, please email me your name and address to respighimahler@aol.com.

Thanks!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Shut Your Mouth and Get out of My Store

This is what I repeated over and over to a ranting, raving, loud, manic man tonight.

I was on the first floor when a couple of customers told me a man was out of control on the second floor. I hopped upstairs and found one of my peeps, my Inventory Manager, trying to get Crazy Red Jacket Man to leave.

Over the years I have unfortunately had a good amount of practice in getting the out-of-control and off-their-meds people to vacate the store, but they always create a big scene when they do. Using our walkie-talkies, I told my staff to call security and the police.

One of the tricks I use to get said crazy person to leave is that I start saying 'let's go' while slowly walking down the stairs to the front door. It works every time, because they want to follow me to continue their rant. I've learned that they will not leave if I just stand there and repeat repeat repeat that they must go.

I've also learned that they stop again just short of the front doors and begin their rant again, because they now have a big audience (people waiting in line at the registers, people in the cafe, etc.) This is where I again walk slowly toward the front doors, open them, and wave them out the door. The whole walk n talk sounds simple, but it really does work..most of the time.

Tonight, Mr. Crazy Red Jacket Man wasn't leaving, so I took a chance--I took two steps forward, completely invading his personal space, looked him firmly in the eyes, and repeated, "Shut your mouth, and get out of my store," over and over until he finally started to leave. Of course that was the point at which security showed up.

Following an 'episode' such as this, I always get feedback from my customers and my staff. I apologized to my customers that they had to see that, to which they always respond, "It's ok. I thought you did a good job." And my staff always asks me if I'm ok, which is nice. And then my staff and I spend the rest of the evening laughing about it, because really...haven't you always wanted to say "Shut your mouth, " at work and not get in trouble for it?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Memphis BBQ--Part 1






At last, my long-awaited review of the two barbecue dinners I enjoyed while in Memphis this past week. And I want to start by saying that today it appears that blogger has fixed the problem that wasn't allowing me to imbed links or video. I'm very excited, because now you won't have to cut n' paste the url to go to the websites.

On that Sunday evening, after asking 5 or 6 people for recommendations, I made my way down Poplar Avenue in Germantown (a suburb of Memphis where I was both staying and working), to a place called Corky's. It was well after dark when I set out, but I was able to find it rather easily. Finding a parking place, however, proved a challenge. I negotiated a series of completely illegal U-turns up and down the wide, non-median'd street while I waited for a spot to open up. After a few minutes I was able to pull in and park, only to enter the small establishment to see a large group of people standing and sitting, waiting to be seated.

Not really in the mood to wait 45 minutes for dinner, I decided to try their drive through, which was poorly lit, but efficiently run, with an affable young man helming the window. Shame on me for forgetting to snap a picture of their menu board! I paused at the board, looking for a 'most popular' or 'tourist's best choice' type of listing when I saw "BBQ Sausage and Cheese Plate, A Memphis Tradition". Well, I sure as heck was going to get that! A Memphis tradition? Of course I had to try it. So I placed my order for that as well as the pork plate. Too much food for one person, but what the heck...the hotel room had a refrigerator for storing leftovers.

The sausage part of the 'Memphis Tradition' was wonderfully tasty--tender with that wonderful bbq sweet/spicy/smoky flavor. The rest of the plate, however, was less than stellar, prompting a quick once over to sample the simple cheeses and pickle spears (which I normally adore), with a subsequent banishment to the trash can. I should have known better than to get such a plate at a bbq joint.

On to the pork plate! The pork meat was delectably tender and moist, smoked to perfection, and topped with Corky's own bbq sauce with cole slaw, bbq baked beans and a wonderfully fresh sourdough roll. The dishes make for a very earth-toney meal, but then again, aren't all the best foods brown?

The slice of pecan pie came with the pork plate. And let's just set the record straight by clarifying the pronunciation of pecan. It is puh-CONN, with the emphasis on the second syllable, not PEE-can or PEE-conn. If you're not pronouncing it puh-CONN then you're just flat out wrong. This slice of pie was a little slice of heaven, but heaven only knows what a maraschino cherry was doing defiling the perfection of it. I quickly exiled it from my sight. My mother makes a killer pecan pie, but this one took the cake, or the pie, rather. The crust was simple yet up to the task of holding the dense pie load of goodness. The pie was neither too sweet nor too sticky. It was, in a word, yumiliciousness personified. Wait, does that count as two words?

So, if you're heading to Memphis and want to make your taste buds dance a little jig, check out Corky's at one of their three locations around town. I'm told it's a 'touristy' kind of place, but that the locals also frequent there. It's worth it, just for the pie.

Next time, on Jenny's blog...our favorite girl-about-town visits the Germantown Commissary for some ribs! Stay tuned.

Friday, November 23, 2007

bbq update coming later, promise

But now I must away to the grocery store.

And it snowed here yesterday....nothing stuck, but it did snow....in Dallas......on Thanksgiving.....and it sleeted a bit and rained. Wintry mix.

and the bbq update will contain pictures, so be ready!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Enjoy the day, my friends. I'll be posting a review of the delicious Memphis barbecue I had while there this week.

I have to go and quickly get ready and drive to Ft. Worth.

Bye, have a great day!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Walkin' in Memphis

I'm heading out for Memphis as soon as I shower and pack and load my car. I am going to train a new GM.

See ya on or after Thanksgiving. Have a Happy one!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Finally! Vacation Part II

Blogger finally let me upload my photos.
Sunset on the last day at Indian Rocks Beach.
Our 3-foot high sand pyramid complete with etched bricks and shortened versions of our names.
One of the nearby public access points to the beach.
The house we rented. Look at that fiery sunset ablazing in the window reflection.
Amy stands outside my car as traffic is stopped for half an hour on I-10 due to an SUV running off the road and emergency equipment needing access to the area.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sans Tuna, Dinner is Oatmeal

I can pretty much guarantee you that no one has ever had THAT as their blog post title.

I was looking forward to a quick and easy dinner of Tuna Helper (yes, I like that stuff). I had already put the water+milk+butter in a pot and had it boiling on the stove when I went to grab that can of tuna that I had placed on that shelf right th......

Yep, that happened. The can of tuna I thought I had was not actually present. Hmmm, quickly switch to backup plan. Actually, quickly create backup plan before roiling boiling milk concoction overflows the pot. I grabbed the quick cooking oats (for which Charles will surely shun me), and dumped in a bunch. Several minutes later...voila'. Not a very exciting dinner, but I wasn't all that hungry, anyway.
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Tomorrow I'm running a job fair at another store. I really don't like job fairs, quite honestly. Some of the people who show up for these things are such an inappropriate fit for the position to such an extreme that it's almost sad. On the up side, I do get a lot of good 'material' for the next time my peers and I are sitting around and shooting the breeze. Unfortunately, I cannot share any details here, but you'll have to trust me that I've had some entertainingly awful interviews at these things.

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This Saturday I leave for Memphis, to train a new GM Sunday-Wednesday of next week. It's not good for me to be out of my store the week of Thanksgiving, but this person is brand new, and their DM has asked me to go, so I'm happy to oblige. You know I don't like to fly, so fortunately it is not a very long drive. And I'll get to have some real Memphis bbq again! WooHoo!

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That's all for now.

Monday, November 05, 2007

More Vacation Pics

drat, blogger won't upload them
I'll try again tomorrow

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Little Sis's Job Woes

I must start off by saying that I do not have the highest regard for my sister's career choices in the past. Instead of buckling down and finding a job that paid enough to live on and repay student loans, for many years she piddled around, getting deeper in debt, and blaming everyone and everything but herself.

My sister, Jamie, turned 30 last month, and she's had what I would consider her first 'real' job since last February. Before that she worked in a bar, worked IT for some guy who paid her a pittance but did pay for her truck and second college computer degree; she also worked sound design, scene design, lighting design, and other theatre and live show work.

Her first college degree was in theatre arts, and she wanted to do all the 'design' stuff I listed above. I'd say she had decent talent, but that business is difficult to earn a living in, jumping from job to job, show to show, theatre to theatre. I'm all for people following their dreams, but I think a good dose of financial-responsibility-sense should always be part of the mix.

Currently she is working in IT for some insurance company and really cannot stand it any more. Today she shared with my family some of the reasons why, and I have to say I almost laughed in her face. The things she sees as injustices against her are normal business practices and not underhanded in any way. She keeps saying she isn't getting paid enough, but I wonder how much she thinks she should be getting paid for just having earned her IT-related degree a year ago and not having reputable experience before then.

Her comments and behaviors remind me of when I interview recent college graduates. Many of them believe that they should be making $60k, $80k, $100k, right out of the gate just because they have a diploma, or because that's the amount they've decided they want to earn. Hey, knock yourself out, go for those high paying jobs when you're 22. Why not? And if you get one at that age, more power to you.

They also don't understand exactly how important 'experience' is. Taking a class on management, computer programming, acccounting, etc. may provide you with the basics, but what have you done with it? Tell me about your customers. What specificially did you do with your team to drive these results? Talk to me about issues you've had with coworkers and supervisors. How did you handle the issue? Give me examples.

So today when Jamie was talking about a few points she had issue with, my older sister, Dad, and I weighed in on our opinions and experiences. After a few minutes, Dad and older sis got up and left the table, and I was left to listen and try to explain to Jamie how, while she may disagree with the handling of the events, it sounded to me like her company was handling them correctly and fairly.

Of course she didn't want to hear any of it, but that doesn't stop it from being true.

I think she's finally getting her introduction into the world of business, where things such as pro-rated merit increases, additional responsibilities for salaried employees, and re-alignments/restructuring of personnel occur frequently.

Unfortunately, I don't know if she'll ever see it that way. She's never been very constant in her practices, and I think she's going to be a person who job hops for her entire adult life, always looking for the next best thing, just as she tries to do in her personal life. On the up side, she'll have a lot of new experiences. On the down side, she'll never give herself the chance to be at peace and really enjoy whatever it is she is currently doing, because she'll only focus on the parts she dislikes about it, rather than focusing on the larger parts that she does like.

To each her own, but I think that's a rather tiring and defeating way to go about one's life.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lance Bass at my store

It's true. Lance Bass, formerly of NSYNC, did a booksigning at my store this evening. All the teenage girls screamed for him. Hell, all the adults screamed for him. It was very cute.

There were people who had driven from Kansas, Oklahoma, and there was a mother and her 5 teenage daughters who drove up from Houston. There was one adult woman who had Lance sign her back in black sharpie, because she was going straight to a tattoo parlor to have them tattoo over the signature. I saw her back as she was leaving the store, and she had the names of the New Kids on the Block boys, Backsteet Boys, and NSYNC boys tattooed on it. Good grief.

I only had 2 serious complaints from people. One was complete balderdash, but the other one really sounded like one of my peeps messed up. It happens. But the other several hundred people had a grand time.

I'll post some pics of the event as soon as people send me some. I wasn't near the signing table, and I left my camera attached to this computer, so I didn't take any pics.

Also, Lance Bass sat in my office chair during the signing. I was pretending to hyperventilage when I found this out. I'm thinking of typing up a "Lance Bass Sat Here" sign and taping it to the back of the chair. That would give my staff a chuckle during those times when I'm working at my computer and they come into my office.

I have to go back and open in the morning, so that's all for now.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Indian Rocks Beach, Part I


Blogger is being cooperative today and let me upload the above photo.

As I did on my trip to Glacier last year, I took along a tiny composition notebook and kept a short journal of my travels. I tend to be more of a fact-writer, and not so glorious at conveying the joy and beauty of things, so you'll have to use your imagination as well as click on the blog title to go to the flickr page with some trip photos.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 8:54pm CDT

We are in Florida! It was a long, hard day of driving in nasty weather...over 700 miles of rain, some of it so severe I could hardly navigate by the center stripes' reflecting my headlights. I got up at 5:15am and made my way to N's house by 6:40 where I picked up N, AD, and M. It took us over an hour (and one stop at Chick-Fil-A) to get out of Dallas.

We headed east on I-20 toward Shreveport. From Shreveport we turned south towards Alexandria and Lafayette then turned east to Baton Rouge and on through Gulfport, MS, Mobile, AL, and finally stopping at about 8pm just shy of Pensacola, FL. We entertained ourselves today by working crossword puzzles in the car, snacking on the good foods N brought, and buying a lottery ticket somewhere in LA. N and AD sat in the back seat and slept or rested quite a bit, and M acted as my navigator.

M unconciously made remark after remark about all the bridges we were crossing, "Look, we're going off into space!," and "Boy, I sure hope this bridge holds up. Wouldn't it be terrible if it collapsed?!" AD is claustrophobic and has difficulty with bridges, so the entire time I was counteracting M's remarks with, "The bridge looks extremely well made," and "I think the water here is only 3 or 4 feet deep." N and I are sharing a hotel room tonight and are still laughing about it right now.

More tomorrow, after we arrive at the beach!
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Thursday 5:12pm

I'm at the beach! I already went down to the water with N, M, and AD. The sand felt so amazingly wonderful on the soles of my feet! AD and I found the pool, too. I'm off to take a shower, then we're going to dinner and grocery shopping!

12:40am on Friday the 19th

I'm about ready to go to bed. We all just finished playing a game of SuperScrabble, where N got a 2nd wind and took the lead to win it in the last 3 rounds. I had a strong second showing followed by AD then M.

We went to a place called Guppy's for dinner tonight. I had the Caribbean jerk swordfish. It was so very tasty. They had a 100+ gallon marine aquarium at the restaurant. There were fish, tiny hermit crabs, starfish, and some sort of eel or seasnake, live coral, and other creatures. It was fascinating to look at.

Then we drove to the grocery store to buy all the food and wine we would be drinking...will be drinking. I'm exhausted and now going to sleep. AD and I have made sand castle building plans for the morning, or some time tomorrow. I did get some pictures of the sunset tonight. I hope they turn out well.

Note: Though I didn't write it in the journal, we also suffered very terrible weather in the last stretch of the drive from Pensacola to Indian Rocks beach on that Thursday. Later that evening our party received 2 concerned calls from family members inquiring about our safety, as they knew we had stayed in Pensacola the night before. It turns out a tornado had hit the city, and we were unawares other than the fact that it was another terrible day for driving.
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That's all I can type for now.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm back!

Too tired to post anything lengthy or interesting right now, so I'll just put up a few pictures instead.

Cancel that. Blogger isn't letting me upload pics.

I'll try it again tomorrow on my ancient VAIO.

Right now I'm going to finish laundry and go to bed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Onward to the Beach!

I leave early tomorrow morning for Indian Rocks Beach, Florida. The time has Finally come!

I'll be back late on the 27th, and must work on the 28th because Lance Bass, formerly of NSYNC, is doing a booksigning at my store that Sunday evening.

I'm almost all packed and prepared...just a couple of final things to pick up from the store and to top off the gas tank.

I'll do my best to find seashells for everyone, but so many people have asked me that I wonder if I'll be able to gather enough.

I plan on taking lots of pictures and will most likely post them again and again and again upon my return.

Wish me a safe and fun journey!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Music Machine

Click on the blog title to be taken to a website.

My sister and I would listen to the album "Music Machine" for hours when we were little. We didn't realize at the time that it was a Christian kids album; we just liked the music.

I had to do a fair bit of googling to find more info on it.

Did you ever listen to this as a kid?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Birthdays and Cookouts

My little sister's birthday was the 5th. She turned 30. Such an important day! I, being the bad person I am, forgot it was the 5th until I was spending an evening with friends. I realized around 10:30pm that I hadn't called her, and when I went to do so, I realized that I don't have her current phone number. I also don't know her email address; and I have no idea where she lives. By then it was too late to call my parents or other sister to get J's phone number, so I'll just have to apologize today when I see her and get her current number.

My Dad's 65th birthday is in 2 days. We've always celebrated the two birthdays together, but I had forgotten about Dad's birthday as well. Forunately I remembered them both in time last night to get two lovely birthday cards from work. Over the years I've gotten Dad some boring presents and some great presents, the boring usually being nice clothes of some kind; the great being the time I got him the Red Ryder bb-gun with genuine leather strap and a whole box of bb pellets---just like the gun little Ralphie desperately wants in the film "A Christmas Story". Dad had wanted one of those bb-guns for ever and ever, and about 10 years ago I got one for him.

This year since I was negligent in my birthday shopping duties, I decided to donate some animals in his name through heifer.org. The link is on the right side of this blog. I got Chicks, a share of a water buffalo, a share of a rabbit trio, a share of a llama, and a share of a sheep. Then I wrote a nice note in the card saying as much. We are not a family of sentiment of any kind, but I think he'll really see the humor in the thought that a share of an animal was contrubuted in his honor.

We are going to grill kabobs with all kinds of meat and veggies on them at noon. I'm bringing a salad, the recipe for which is below. We'll have cake and perhaps ice cream. I'm looking forward to it and need to get ready to leave here shortly.

But first, the recipe. This comes to me by way of my friend Nancy, by way of her Aunt Truda, by way of her friend Margaret Jansen.

Oriental Salad

1 Napa cabbage (about 1 pound)
3/4 bunch of green onions
(Slice both fine and place in large plastic bag)

Combine 1 package Ramen Noodles (break into small pieces, discard seasoning packet), 1/2 cup sliced almonds, 1 Tbsp sesame seeds. In a small frying pan, melt 3 Tbsp butter, add mixture, stir and toast until lightly browned. Cool and store in ziplock small bag.

Dressing
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce (low salt)
Combine in sauce pan and boil 1 minute. Cool and store in refridgerator--makes enough dressing for 2 salads. Keeps well.

Prepare all and store separately a day ahead in refridgerator. Mix just before serving.

Wacky, Part 2

"This book cover reminds me of the cover photo of my project when I was at Columbia. I missed P.E. because I was on a farm in Pennsylvania with my back to the camera. And my hair was braided and long. My P.E. coach wanted to fail me for missing class, but he couldn't. He just couldn't. He passed me with flying colors. You know, I had a 4.0 at Columbia."

"Do you have any New York Times authors? Nononononononononono, not New York Times bestsellers. New York Times authors, like Thomas Friedman. Where's his new book?"

"I want some books on marathons. I'm training for a marathon. Oh no, not these. I really want something on breathing...breathing and stretching. Stretching. No, I saw those. Those are like yoga. I really want a book on breathing while running. Breathing."

"And I don't want any rewards. This is like getting a bad manicure over and over again."---

As spoken to me by a colorful character tonight at work. She complained about our service, asked for authors who don't exist, then had my staff running around to find things for her until I told them to stop because she wasn't going to buy them anyway. I was right. She only bought a magazine...the only item she actually picked up by herself. And she attempted insults the entire time.

I had to make a decision between keeping her calm and getting her out of the store as fast as possible, or insisting she leave immediately and risking her blowing up and creating a huge scene. I opted for the former, and I think it was the right choice. I think she was wanting me to push her buttons. I didn't give her the satisfaction.

I thoroughly laughed when she had gone.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

He Said What?

I had a great day. You won't believe it after you read all the crazy and crappy things that occurred, but it's true; I had a great day.

I had a dentist appointment this morning. It rained thoroughly last night and on into today, so it took me much longer than the time I alloted to make the drive from Dallas to Ft. Worth. Traffic around downtown D was bad bad bad, but I was only a few minutes late, and it all worked out because they weren't quite ready for me. I was complimented on the care I give my teeth, and we talked about options for whitening them (how many caffeinated drinks to I consume each day? 89? 154? Not really that many, but I would like a bit brighter smile. I certainly don't want them to glow. I think there is a good balance to be found. I'll do that procedure in the near future.

I made it back to Dallas after the appointment, and the rain had stopped. I still had a couple of hours before I needed to head to work, so I put "The Others" in the DVD player. I had seen it in the theatres when it first came out, but couldn't remember much of it, and it spooked me so badly when I tried to watch it last night, that I had to turn it off and sleep with the light on. I'm such a scaredy cat sometimes. I finished the film and headed to work.

I was walking from the parking garage, along the side of the store to the front, when some man yelled "Fat Bitch", and a bunch of other unintelligible things, from a car that was going down the street. I didn't turn to look, and there is a slight possibility he wasn't yelling at me. But I didn't see anyone else near me at that time. What possesses people to yell things out their car windows?

I was feeling really good about the work day, getting a lot accomplished and really trying to give positive feedback and reinforcement and public recognition to people. I had asked for some feedback from folks earlier this week, and several people said they felt they weren't receiving enough positive feedback. And people are doing great things all the time, so this is something I'm working on.

Then a little before 9pm, I had a guy who made the guy who yelled 'FUCK' at the top of his lungs, the guy who dropped his crack pipe on the floor, and the guy who threw ice water all over a table of books, look sane by comparison.

This guy did something, then apologized for it, then wanted to shake my hand, then folded his middle finger down to 'flip me off' during the handshake. Remember doing this in the 4nd grade as a joke with your friends? Then when I called him on it, he began yelling at me, telling me he was disabled, and tried to convince me that his pinky finger on his right hand is folded over and that's what I felt. I couldn't get the guy to leave, and he made a big ruckus at the front doors until a friend? of his came through the front doors and dragged him out by the arm. The whole time this guy was yelling "I'm disabled. I'm disabled. She won't apologize!". Um, yeah. There's more to it than this, but suffice it to say that I certainly didn't want my customers or my staff to have to see that crap going on, and his behavior was absolutely unacceptable. One of the customers said, "Freak show!"

Good grief. He must have been drunk or high or 'distressed' as he put it.

I also skinned a big chuck off the knuckle of my right thumb while helping my cafe seller unscrew the top of one of our whipped cream devices, which happened while I was helping mop up a huge cold brewed coffee leak in the cafe kitchen. So I was mopping and bleeding, mopping and bleeding.

It was still a great day. I am loathe to go to bed because then the day will be over. But it is almost 2am, and I must away to dreamland soon.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My City Is So Damn Corrupt

Click the blog title for a quick article on the indictment of multiple Dallas City Council members and other civic 'leaders'.

And don't even get me started on the DISD (Dallas Independent School District) issues.

Good gawd.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Days Gone By

Hmmm, blogger wont let me upload images today. Perhaps it is taking a day of photo-rest.

Yesterday at work I ran into a guy who was in marching band with me during college. His name is Greg, and I cannot remember his last name, though I'm sure it will come to me. We spoke for a little while. He's doing well, just got engaged last month, and was shopping with his delightful mother whom I also met.

Greg mentioned that there is going to be a marching band reunion during homecoming weekend in October. It turns out that I will be on the road back from Florida during all the festivities. But man, oh man, would I like to have attended! Perhaps next year.
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And here is where I was going to post the article naming my store as the best bookstore in Dallas. Yes, that's right, my store was named the BEST bookstore in Dallas. Go me and my team.
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And here is where I was going to post a picture of an albino squirrel that is living on the campus of my old alma mater. Imagine a white squirrel with pink eyes, and you pretty much have it.

I guess that is all. The no-photos stole my thunder.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Do-Nothing Day



I occasionally need these 'do-nothing days'. They are days that I don't step one pinky toe outside my apartment. I sleep until I can't sleep any more, read a lot, maybe watch some DVDs, make myself a nice dinner, and putt around on the computer a bit throughout the day.

Since I work retail, I don't have Saturday/Sunday off like the rest of the world. My days off are usually Sunday/Thursday, but that can change depending on a number of factors. I worked too long on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week, and got precious little rest, so I slept until almost 1pm today.

But I feel I've been productive with doing laundry, cleaning, ironing, and all that mind-numbing stuff.

I'm making my way through the Little House books again, as I do every couple of years. I'm almost at the end of The Long Winter right now. I also need to read a couple of books for an informal online book club hosted by Joe Mallozzi at www.josephmallozzi.blogspot.com.

Tomorrow night I'll have dinner with friends. It's a standing engagement we have each week. And on Saturday evening I'll be going to another friend's birthday party.

On October 21st (I think) my parents will be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. My older sister made reservations at the Reata in downtown Ft. Worth for us to take them to dinner to celebrate. I don't think it's been a very happy 40 years for them, but that is their fault, and they own it. The dinner wil be at an earlier date because I will be in Florida during that part of October.

What? Did someone say Florida? Why yes, exactly four weeks from today I will be enjoying that beach house my friends and I rented in Indian Rocks Beach, FL. Ohhhhhhh, I cannot wait.

On the work front, one of my managers got promoted to a bigger volume store, which means I got to promote a Supervisor to fill his Manager position, and I'm going to promote one of my other employees to the Supervisor position. It makes me very happy to be able to promote people. Some people have had questions in the past when I say 'my Manager'. The store structure from top down goes: General Manager, Manager, Supervisor, multiple floor staff positions. So when I say 'my Manager', I mean one of the Managers who report to me. I hope that clears up any questions.

Todays' picture is of a hot, stinking sulphur spring in Yellowstone National Park. It has beautiful color to it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Check This Out

Click on the Blog Entry Title to go to play.blogger.com where a non-stop streaming slideshow of 'images just uploaded to blogger' will appear.

If you watch for a few minutes, it's like looking at 'A Day in the Life of the Human Race". It is beautiful in its own way.

Check it out.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Punk Bastard Kid

My Mother is a Secretary at a high school in Ft. Worth. Today I learned that some kid had brought a bomb to school. I called and spoke with my mother this evening, and she said the entire school was evacuated down the block to the football field, and then they were all released to go home. No one was injured, thankfully. The kid needs to go to jail.

Click on the title of this post to be taken to the short article.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I Have to Know

Who is it in Irving that reads my blog every day? Do I know you? C'mon, fess up!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Cats


This is my sweet Gracie's paw prints as done after her death by the place that cremated her.

This is Casper, who belongs to my friend Nancy.

This is Gizmo, who also belongs to Nancy.

And this is Casper again, a very big boy, after sticking his paw in my cup o' tea.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Camp Fire Girl



I was in Camp Fire from Kindergarten through Middle School.

The entire time I was driven, absolutely driven, to acquire as many beads and patches as I possibly could. I sold candy, went to Day Camp, was First Aid certified, learned Indian symbols, and climbed Mt. Everest, all before the age of 12. Above is the front and back of my vest when I was at the "Adventure" level in Camp Fire. At that time the levels were Bluebirds, Adventure, Discovery, and Horizon. My mom still has my adorable bluebird red and blue outfit. I have the sash (with patches, of course) somewhere around here in a box or tub.

Being the best, earning the patches, making it big...these were passions of mine from a very young age. They still are, all except the need to earn patches.

The vest is so tiny...was I ever really that small?

Why do I have that drive, that passion? Why is it not enough just to be ok, average, good? And why do people think there is something wrong with those of us who strive to be more than mediocre? After all, how can a person grow if they never try to do something they currently cannot?

Too many questions...no answers to be found.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Too Much

There's too much going on right now to just fine one or two items and write about them.

Just know that I am well and things are going swimmingly.

Until later...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Some Writer

I fancied myself a writer in my younger years. Even then I knew that one day I would want to look back at the class assignments and personal creative writing projects I had composed...no doubt to praise myself for how genius I was at the tender age of 13. Below are pictures from an 8th grade English class assignment dated December 3, 1986 called "A Collection of Poems". We each had to write and illustrate a particular number of poems in particular styles. I remember my English teacher that year...Ms. Sewell...and how she encouraged me and humored me. Well, Ms. Sewell, I did not become a writer, I haven't the patience for it, but I did become successful in my own way.

Below each picture are descriptions.

I apparently was very into Nature when I was writing the Haikus.


Meh, boring.


Huh?


Late last night I was cocky.
Late last night I was vain.
Late last night...


Cool


I LOVE to parody poems and stories and plays and...


What is it with teenagers and death/destruction/terror?

They're not completely horrid, but they are good for a laugh and fond memories of sitting at the typewriter, painstakingly hitting each key to get a clean, error-free page.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

SPF 70

It's less than 2 months until I head off to Florida and my rental house on Indian Rocks Beach. I wanted to pick up a few things now so that I'm not having to hustle at the last minute to acquire necessary items.

Last week I went to one of those 'dollar stores' and found several cheapo floatie rafts on sale. You remember the neon orange and pink and green ones from 20 years ago? They're still around and are perfect for straddling and bobbing up and down in the ocean.

Today I went to Walgreen's and found some plastic beach toys. I'm going to try my hand at building a sandBorders. We'll see how it goes. I also picked up some sun block...Neutrogena SPF 70. I mean, really....70? Is that possible? When I was younger I used to get so tan in the summer I looked like I were a member of a different race. These days I'm rather fair and don't want to get a nasty burn by being outside for 14 hours a day for 5 days.

...that is all

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

4:30am -- 3 Minutes 10 Seconds

4:30am

We had our physical inventory this past Sunday night. It happens once a year and involves an outside inventory service scanning every piece of merchandise in the entire store. The process is annoying and leaves the store extremely messy (imagine some strangers coming into your home and touching and moving every single thing), but is usually completed by about 2am. This time the crew was very sllllooow in their pace, so we didn't get out of there until 4:30am. Holy crackers. I got my 2 hours of sleep and then went back to work to open Monday morning. Then I put myself to bed at 8:30pm last night.
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3 Minutes 10 Seconds

That was my commute this morning.

Nothing else really exciting.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My Nephew Evan


Evan and his parents took a road trip to and through New Mexico. I'll see them tomorrow (Sunday) for the first time since their return. Here is a picture of Evan wearing a Coyote hat somewhere near Santa Fe. Isn't he the cutest 6-year old kid?

Florida Rental House

This is the rental house I booked for my trip to the Florida Gulf Coast in October:

http://www.vrbo.com/94202

There are now just 4 of us going, but we're all of us girls, so we can still have lots of fun without worrying about what girls worry about when boys are present in the same house. The people I'm vacationing with are all GMs for my company at different stores, and they are the best group of people. I really enjoy their company. We are just completely excited to be going.

And then, when that part of the trip is over, we hop over the bay and get to stay in a bayfront hotel in Tampa for another couple of nights during the conference/meeting.

When I was younger, we didn't have much money for traveling, so I only dreamed about getting to go places and see things that some of the other kids did. We certainly weren't deprived, and we did take some close-to-home vacations, but my parents didn't see the wisdom in getting into credit card debt just to finance a trip to Disney World, NYC, or DC. I have very smart parents.

I love to go on road trips around the country. I have been to Florida two times before, but I've never rented a house ON THE BEACH, with it's own hot tub, pool, deck, grill, and did I say it's ON THE BEACH! Yes, indeed, it's ON THE BEACH! I want to see dolphins, collect shells, go bobbing up and down on a cheap raft in the Gulf, make sandcastles on the sugar white sand, grill steaks, drink margaritas, talk with my friends, watch the sunsets, take pretty pictures, and just thoroughly enjoy myself.

Life is indeed good.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

3 Minutes, 50 Seconds

With a stop at the dumpster to put my trash inside.

Martha, if I moved across town, it would take me 60-90 minutes to get to work, which is why I have such a difficult time deciding whether or not to buy a house. One of the reasons, anyway.

Monday, August 13, 2007

4 minutes, 28 seconds

This pertains to something that occurred today. Can you guess what it is?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Four-Hour Work Week

from a book called The Four-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss:

"Facing certain burnout, I decided to see how Pareto's 19th-century concept applied to my company by pinpointing the sources of most of my sales - and my problems - so I could spend my time more efficiently. I quickly realized that of more than 120 wholesale customers, a mere five were bringing in 95 percent of the revenue.

In the next 24 hours, I made several simple but emotionally difficult decisions that changed my life forever. First, I decided to stop pursuing most of my customers so I could profile and duplicate the most profitable ones. I was spending most of my time working on small accounts, when the big five already ordered regularly, without any follow-up.

I put the customers in the unproductive majority on passive mode. All my complaints came from them. If they ordered, great -- let them fax in the order. If not, I would do absolutely no chasing: no phone calls, no e-mail, nothing.

Jenny's words:

When Mr. Ferriss writes that all his complaints came from the lesser 5% of his customers, I must completely agree with him. In my business I spend more time handling complaints from non-customers (people who don't buy anything but want to complain about it anyway), performance managing the 5% of non-performers, and removing the less than 5% smelly dirty people from my store. That takes time away from my being able to focus on my high performers...those who can be GMs one day in the near future. And it takes time away from my loyal customers.

Now on more personal terms...

Think of all the friends and relatives you have....that huge vast number. Now think of the one or two (or three or four) people who emotionally drain you, take up your time and energy, and leave you depleted when you go to spend time with your uplifting and enjoyable friends. Do you have people in your life like that? If you do, what are you doing about it? I have no friends like that, because I shed them long ago. I have a few relatives that try to pull that with me, but I tell them I'm having none of it, and they need to change their behavior because they are not going to act that way to me.

All my years of managing people has made those very direct conversations much easier. When casual talking about the 'issue' won't work, a directive now does. But I do recognize I have it 'easy'. I don't have a husband or in-laws or a kid to take into consideration. So at home the 5% of people who drain me is actually closer to 1% or 0%. I get to base all my decisions on what I want, and not worry about taking into account the wishes of others.

Anyway, I really like what Timothy Ferriss said in this article (it was somewhere online at AOL, I think), so I believe I'll be checking out the book very soon. He also had some ideas on efficiency and personal productivity that I liked.

And that is your first installment of "Arm Chair Psych Girl". Have a pleasant evening.

Friday, August 10, 2007

This Week

I guess I was sick earlier this week, though I didn't realize it until I was mostly better. Funny how that works. I remember feeling sore and beat up on Sunday, having a bit of a queasy stomach, but with no real problems on Monday, and being incredibly hot Monday-Wednesday. I chalked this up to the warmer weather we're having (the daily rainstorms having subdued for the time being). Then I noticed on Thursday that I felt pretty good, which is what prompted me to remember that I hadn't been feeling well.

Funny how that works. Clueless person am I. However, I am a person who doesn't believe herself sick unless actively puking, which is probably why I didn't really notice.
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I was off yesterday and today. Yesterday I lounged around and read "Twilight" by Stephanie Meyer. It is the first of 3 books (so far) in a Young Adult series that has become quickly popular. It was a good read, though mostly geared to the girls. I also looked online at more vacation rental properties in Florida, and received some emails back from a couple stating they can definitely do nightly rates. Yessss. This trip is 2 1/2 months away, and I'm already at excitement level 8 out of 10. I think I need to tone it down.
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Today I worked up the non-laziness-factor-ish-ness to do laundry (which I actually don't mind doing), clean the kitchen, sweep and mop floors, and clean the bathrooms. Yes, Emma, I have TWO bathrooms. I actually don't need the second one now that Graice is gone...it was her bathroom...so that I wouldn't have litter and peepee all over mine. I'm also gathering garbage and will make a big trash run later when I leave to meet a couple of friends for dinner.
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I also started reading Scott Lynch's "The Lies of Locke Lamora", because Joe Mallozzi www.josephmallozzi.blogspot.com recommended it. I'm not very far into it, but it is not holding my interest, so if it doesn't hurry and pick up the pace, I'm going to stop reading it. Joe says he gives books about 100 pages to catch him. I am less forgiving. If I'm not entralled by page 40 or 50, I'm out...and that's about where I am now. We'll see.
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Tomorrow (Saturday) I had scheduled myself to close, like I normally do. One of the gentlemen who works for me was given a concert ticket for tonight (his friend's band is opening for Berlin at House of Blues), so I swapped shifts with him so he could attend the concert and not worry about being at work at 7am the following morning. I almost always close on Saturday, so I won't know what to do with myself when I get off work at 4pm. Maybe more house hunting?
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That's enough for now. I need to call my friends to see what time we're meeting. Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

OMG, Schell, I Have HIS Phone Number

...you know who I mean.

Note: This post also relates to the 'name-dropping' post.

Discuss

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I Need Your Googling Abilities

Howdy, all of my blog readers!

I have a work conference coming up in late October in Tampa, Florida. I am going to turn the trip into a vacation following the meeting. I need your help in tracking down a suitable abode while there. Here are the parameters:

Needs to sleep 6-8 people
Needs to be a house, not a condo or apartment or a hotel
Needs to be within an hour's drive of Tampa
Needs to be on the GULF side, not on the bay side or river or 'waterfront'
Needs to be on the beach, or within a few hundred feet of it
Needs to accept a nightly rate, as we won't be there for a full week and will be overlapping the normal Sat-Sat week (will most likely be a Thurs-Monday stay)
The entire stay needs to be under $2,000.

I've done some searching and think the Clearwater to Gulfport peninsula looks good.

I'd appreciate any links you can send.

Superthanks!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Name Dropping, Part II

Wentworth Miller was in my store again this evening. I suppose all the people associated with Prison Break have been back from hiatus for a few weeks now. He came in while I was getting ready to take my dinner break. I procured a savory herb and cream cheese pretzel and a bottled orange soda from my cafe for dinner and took it up to my office, where WM was walking about the second floor. So, I thought you'd want to know that I had dinner with Wentworth Miller. If you don't think this is funny, then read the post a couple of posts down.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Yes, I Was Brilliant

Did you expect anything less? My staff and my store were also brilliant.

The visit schedule changed multiple times due to bad weather and flight delays, but hey, we're adaptable. We get big head cheese visits at least once a year, and the regional/zone office is less than a mile from my store, so I have people popping in all the time. Still, it's nice to make a good impression with big head cheeses that are new to the company and don't yet know the brand that is Jenny.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Big Executive Visit in about 11 hours

...wish me luck

I've been looking over my numbers and have most everything memorized, but I've created a one-sheet just in case. Wanna know my Travel % to sales, big guy? No problem. Wanna know my G&S comp? Got it right here.

And I want to make my boss and her boss look good, too, so the store is ready.

Go team.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Name Dropping

This blog post was inspired by Charles, a person whom I adore while having never met. I guess I should also say that he inspired it with something he mentioned in his most recent blog post (see the link to the right to check it out), but I in no way am attempting to ridicule or poke fun at him. Stop laughing.
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I know a man. This man is about 10 years older than I am and has had a lot of intense and spectacular life experiences. He also is a first class name-dropper. And no, I'm not going to mention his name.

This man was in a position where he met authors, celebrities, sports stars, and political figures on a regular basis...and he told us this constantly. Conversation with this person was always peppered with Deepak Chopra this, and Price Albert that. The funny part is that this man actually had met or was firm acquaintances with all the people he mentioned. One could even say he was a friend of a couple of them.

But none of this diluted the effect his name-dropping had on me and my peers. One day Mr. X told me he had eaten dinner with Dr. Phil. Big whoop. I've hosted Dr. Phil at 2 different book signings in two different stores. But I learned later that he had eaten dinner in the same restaurant at the same time as Dr. Phil, and thusly a running joke was born.

Then the unfortunate behind-the-back comments began. When Prince Rainier of Monaco passed away, we began to joke amongst ourselves that Mr. X could possibly be called upon to be a pallbearer. After all, Mr. X had Prince Albert's cell phone number programmed into his own cell...he showed me!

I could go on and on and on...and on. But the interesting thing is I really like Mr. X. He's smart and funny, and I also like his fiance. I'm always very happy to see them both. If name-dropping is the worst thing to be said about a person, I suppose he's doing well in the grand karmic scheme. And he did get me a free signed and personalized Peter Max print a few years ago.

Still...I think it's really really funny.

Some day I'll post my name-drop list.
Who is on your list?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Goldfish-a-rama



I've posted this pic before. Here you can see Salieri fishy and Rimsky-Korsakov fishy swimming in front of a Worf action figure. I don't remember how I got ahold of Worf, but I enjoy the unique contribution he makes to the tank at work.

Today I picked up the remains of my Gracie kitty. I thought I was done with crying over her, but I guess not. Her ashes are enclosed in a plastic bag which is placed inside a small cedar box. Her name is engraved on a nameplate on the lid. I also was given a round clay pawprint of her feetsies, which I am baking in the oven right now to harden it.

I should have cleaned house today, but I'm afraid my slothishness won over cleanliness.

That is all.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Smatterings



I like this picture of an elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. Apparently when I fiddle with photos on my computer, they are saved in a different folder called 'modified', and I didn't notice until recently that this was happening. Anyway, the sepia tone works nicely with the scene.

I finished HP7 last night. I've been discussing it at work with a couple of people on my staff who have also finished it. I like being able to do that. I'm still extremely exhausted from the weekend, but will be able to sleep in Wednesday. Excellent.

After work today (and today was my 7th anniversary with Borders) I went to the local big petstore to pet the kitties up for adoption. There was a beautiful DMH tabby kitty with green eyes and a bright pink tongue. Her name card said Cissy, but she looked like a Chloe to me. And then there was a ginger tabby kitty named Lonnie, but he looked more like an Oliver. He really wanted some lovin', so I scritched him for a long time. I'm not ready to get a kitty again, but it was nice to visit some.

The 10th season of Stargate SG-1 came out today, so I bought my copy and have watched a few episodes. I'll go back and watch the eps with commentary next, as that is always a hoot.

I am very tired, so off to bed go I.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

More Harry Potter Pictures







Well, I got a full 90 minutes of sleep early Saturday morning before returning to work. We continued to sell books so quickly that we had to hustle to fill up the table. The energy was great, and people were very excited to get their copy. I've been trying to read my copy, but am making slow headway, as I am physically exhausted, though I actually feel great, all things considered.

I'm still so wired over all the excitement and jazzed at how well the entire weekend has progressed. My staff was fabulous, and I count myself lucky to work with each of them.

Above are pictures of various costumed customers, some of my cafe staff, and others.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter Grand Hallows Ball







It is 3am Saturday morning, and I've just returned home from my store to catch a nap before going back to work in a couple of hours. The Harry Potter 7 book release was a GINORMOUS success, with 1,000+ happy people, and only one inappropriately behaving, disgruntled person. I figure a 99.9% happy rate is pretty darn tootin' good.

Two trolleys were running as the Hogwarts Express, and we had an absolutely huge assortment of activities, games, etc., occurring all evening.

I am so proud of my staff that I cannot adequately express it in written words. I've posted a few pics, as you can see. The first one being part of my staff that was still in the store at 2am.

I received so many compliments from customers about how we ran the entire evening. The customers were ready and willing to help make the event a success, and so I give them a big shout out!

We have plenty of books left, so I am looking forward to making even more people happy tomorrow and throughout the weekend.

I'm a bit exhausted, as I went to work at 8am Friday morning, and I will probably be at work until mid-afternoon Saturday, but it's all worth it. I was a part of making history tonight. It's not every day that a person can say that.

Go books!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Goodnight, Gracie, and Goodbye





My precious Gracie kitty passed away this morning. She died in my arms. I loved Gracie dearly...I still do and will forever.

It had been a terrible past 10 days for her. She had a host of compounding health issues during this time with a very grim prognosis and a painful future. So, while I am grieved beyond anything I can truly relate, I also am choosing to actively remember all the gifts she gave me in the 7 years I called her mine.

Gracie taught me love and patience.
Gracie listened to me when I talked, and talked to me in return.
Gracie reminded me that keeping the apartment clean is important (especially the litter box).
Gracie showed me the excitement of a great catnip toy, the pleasure of a good belly rub, and the bliss of a kitty brushing.
Gracie knew that a comfy place to nap is a top priority, and that ice cream is a delicious treat.
Gracie was a sweet, pretty, good girl, and I will miss her.

I love you, Gracie.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Glacier National Park---One Year Gone




It has been one year since I visited Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. The beauty I saw was overwhelming, and I remember it to this day.

I've posted the first picture above many times. It is still my favorite of any photo I've taken. The second picture is evidence of what the power of a mac can produce in conjunction with the iPhoto program. I've placed a piece of white paper to cover the my name and my friend's name, though you know 2/3 of my name already. And the 3rd pic displays the high quality of the photo reproduction. In essence, it is a photograph of a book of photographs. Enjoy. And if you don't have a mac, you're missing out on great things.