Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Allergic to My Watch

I have suddenly and inexplicably developed an allergic reaction to my stainless steel Fossil watch.  I know, it is ridiculous sounding, isn't it?  In fact, it's the stupidest allergy I've ever heard of.  

When I went to the doctor on Saturday (after being sick since the first week of November), I also showed her the bright red patches on my wrist under my watch.  Contact dermatitis, she said...I'm allergic to my watch.  

I like my watch.  I have to have a watch.  At work I monitor things in 10 minute increments and hour increments.  I must have a watch.  And what kind of a person becomes allergic to stainless steel?  Is that even possible?  

When the rash first started to appear a month ago, I thought I had gotten something on the watch, so I scrubbed it and cleaned it and put it in hydrogen peroxide and later bleached it and thoroughly cleaned it.  It didn't work.

So along with a host of other drugs that have me feeling much better (I can breathe and sleep and am not sneezing every 2 minutes and am getting over an infected head), I also have some cream stuff that I apply twice a day.  It seems to be helping, but I still wear my watch...I wrap my wrist in rolled gauze first, of course.  

So I'll need to buy a new watch, one that does not have stainless steel on it.

Any ideas?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

In Loving Memory of Jimmy the Turtle

Yesterday I learned that Jimmy the Turtle died on Christmas Day.  

You may recall I turtle-sat Jimmy over Thanksgiving weekend while his Mom was visiting relatives out of town.  I have to admit I shed some tears when I found out because I know what it's like to lose a loved pet.  Jimmy's Mom was also still very upset when she told me.  I told her I had taken some pictures of Jimmy when he stayed with me, and I have just returned home from Walgreen's where I had this one and another made into 8x10s and a few smaller pics as well.   I think I'll find a nice frame for this one tomorrow and give them all to her on Monday.  Jimmy's Mom has a little boy of 2 1/2 who was surely devastated upon hearing the news.

Rest in Peace, Jimmy.  You were a good turtle boy.

Friday, December 26, 2008

My Christmas

I woke up too early yesterday, fully congested as usual, so I got up and tried to remedy that.  Sleep evaded me for a while, but I was finally able to fall to slumber again, thankfully.  At 10:45 I had to get up, shower, and make ready for driving to my parents' house.  

I thought I might not make it down the stairs with my bag, two bags of gifts, a vegetable tray, and my horn, but I did.  My legs and knees and feet are so sore from these past few weeks of running around the store that I did not want to have to climb up to the third floor again.

Traffic wasn't too bad, and I didn't see any cops, so I was able to drive swiftly.  We ate lunch at 1pm, and I realized I wasn't hungry.  I haven't really been hungry for a while, which is very unusual for me...too busy, I suppose.  I had some ham and a couple rolls and bypassed all the veggies and cranberry sauce and the cold mashed potatoes.  

I noticed my mother had gotten her hair highlighted, but didn't say anything, because that would detract from her melodramatic performance later in the meal about how no one notices her and how we all pick on her.  Hmmm, we each of us have our roles to play, I suppose.  When she started talking...again...about how she was so mistreated as a kid and how she's still scarred by it (no kidding), she completely does not see that she did the same to my sisters and me.  No, of course she doesn't.  So I pointed out her behavior and told her to stop it...again.

After the food was put away and the china washed, we all met in the living room to open presents.  There were 10 of us total.  Eight of us had decided last year that we would draw one name and only have to buy a gift for that one person plus my nephew.  The arbitrary spending limit was $50.  I had picked up some neat puzzles and games at my store when they went to $1 earlier this year, so his gifts were $5, and I made some of my Umm-Art for my sister, so all of Christmas cost me about $35.

After the gifts were open, my younger sister, who was sitting next to me, announced that she and her Um-er Allan got engaged the prior evening, on Chrismas Eve.  Awww, how sweet.  I must be an evil person because my first thought was, dear god, don't ask me to be a bridesmaid.  And it just now occurs to me that Charles' premonitory dream was right...through 2 degrees of separation, he knows someone who got engaged on Christmas Eve.  I've decided one thing.  I'm not wearing a dress.  Screw that.

I showed my family my bugle, and my two sisters played on it a bit.  Older sis played flute in band, and younger sis played flute then switched to horn after I made her.  I also held the horn so Nephew could try to play it.  He actually buzzed out a few notes and thought it was mighty keen.  Maybe he'll be interested in band some day.  He needs an activity like that to keep him focused and give him goals to work toward.

I gave the Pets with Tourette's to my younger sister, and it got passed around to everyone.  All but my Aunt thought it was hysterical.  I'd never seen my older sister laugh so much or my parents turn so red in the face!

I ran around the back yard with my nephew, and then we all decided to go home.

It was a nice day, all in all.  Today I work and need to go now to get ready for it.  Have a good day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two More Days

Yes, just two more days until Christmas, and I am glad for it.  The entire world decided to wait until Sunday to start their shopping, which means that sometimes my store is so crowded it's difficult to maneuver from place to place.  

My M.O. this time of year is to be friendly but quick.  I don't have the time to hear you talk about the 4 possible morning shows where you think you saw/heard/learned of a book that might have been written by a man or a woman on the topic of history.  You gotta give me something to go on.

There are 15 other people behind you that want help, too, and they might have come prepared, so don't make the world wait for you.  If you want a recommendation and ask for it, then take it graciously when I recommend it.  After all, you had no idea what to buy Aunt Sally anyway, and I just gave you a perfectly appropriate recommendation, so you're already better off than you were.  Just take it and wrap it and give it to her and be thankful I helped you out of a predicament.

And while you're at it, don't even think of giving my staff a hard time.  If I sense one bit of trouble coming out of you, we're going to have a chat, and you're not going to like the result.  There really is only so fast a person can ring on a register, there really are only so many phone calls a staff can field while also taking care of online reserves, not to mention all the people that are physically in the store.  Don't give my staff the evil eye when you see them walking to the bathrooms or the office area to take a break.  My store is over 30,000 square feet.  I'd like to see you run around that all day and not get tired.

And now...

Thank you if you were courteous and patient.  Thank you if you came prepared with a list.  Thank you for not getting mad when told we're sold out of something that all bookstores on earth are out of, and the publisher is out of as well.  Thank you for appreciating when I make a thoughtful and appropriate recommendation.  Thank you for donating a new book to the book drive for the children's home.  Thank you for trying to pick up after your kids, spouse, parents, friends.  Thank you for wiping off the toilet seat and the sink counter.  Thank you for complimenting my staff.  Thank you for shopping at my store and helping support the local economy.

Merry Christmas.   

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Did Not Do

Christmas cards this year.  I'm tired and I haven't felt right/good/healthy since October, so I didn't do them.

Sorry.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Bought Me a Bugle

A pretty one.  When it arrives I'll post pics.  It's used, but a new one costs $1010, which is more than I'm willing to pay right now.

Hooray for me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pets with Tourette's

I found THIS book in my humor section on Saturday.  It has a parental advisory on it, so of course I opened it to see what the deal was.  I took a look and started laughing so hard that I brought all the copies to a table at the front of the store...I sold them all in 30 minutes.

It's so vile and inappropriate and dirty...and it's awesome!  Who can resist laughing at a photo of a cute bunny with a quotation bubble above his head housing naughty phrases?

Apparently, this is the American version of the book.  The authors are British, and there is the original British version with different naughty words and phrases in it...search the title on youtube for a short snippet on it.

Too damn funny, really.

Monday, December 15, 2008

All About It

I'm just about half dead from fatigue...perhaps I'm 3/5 dead...that's almost half, right?  So, this will either be incoherent, sleepily pleasant to read, or unfathomably insightful.  Let's try for something in the middle, eh?

I had trouble getting to sleep Friday night because I was so excited about going to drum corps rehearsal Saturday morning.  I finally got about 5 hours of sleep, then got up and ready (I even ate breakfast, holy cow!) and drove to UTA to try to find the Fine Arts building.  As luck would have it, multiple graduation ceremonies were going on that day, and it took me 15 minutes to find a parking spot, by which time I had no idea where the Fine Arts building was.  So I just started walking in my best-guess direction and came across a lady who pointed me in a more refined direction.  Then I saw a kid in a high school band jacket and knew I was getting close.  The kid directed me into a set of doors, and then I found my way.  

I registered and met Sarah, the mellophone section leader, with whom I had exchanged a couple emails.  She was bright and friendly and welcoming.  Then I learned that rehearsal was delayed a bit because of the parking situation and because the equipment truck wasn't there.  After piddling around and doing nothing useful for a while, they decided to get going.  We had a brief introductory meeting in the recital hall, then we all moved to the band hall for stretching and conditioning.  The stretching was good.  The conditioning was strenuous for me, but it didn't completely kick my ass, so this is a good thing.  I need to get on a cardio routine asap!  

I made it a point during stretching/conditioning to stay on the side of the room with the color guard.  A corps can be so cliquey, with very distinct groups of guard, percussion, and brass (and of course sub-groups within that), and I don't want to be cliquey.  No one knew me yet, or knew who/what I was, so it was a good opportunity to hang near the people I won't get as much time with later.  

If I could give some feedback to the caption heads and knew it would be well received (I don't know them yet, so I can't tell that yet) I would advise them to be more inclusive of new people.  Certainly no one was mean or rude, but neither were they exceptionally welcoming, aside from section leader Sarah.  Perhaps because I'm in the service industry, my perspective is different than it would be had I stayed in the music/marching realm.  Regardless, if a corps is trying to build a full hornline, they need to make newbies feel special.  And so, I'm going to make a point of being very welcoming and inquisitive and show interest in new people at future rehearsals.

After a short break, the guard left to do their thing, and brass and percussion worked on marching basics.  Oh my how I had forgotten how fundamentals kill the calves and feet.  It is MUCH more strenuous to stay standing in one place at full attention than it is walking around my store all day long.  My body is very different from when I last marched, and my balance is way off.  My brain remembers what it needs to do, for the most part...even 14 years later...but getting my muscles to execute that is a challenge.  I did fairly well when we were breaking down the forward march, but I'm going to need to practice the backwards march a whole heckuva lot. 

It's funny how familiar all this feels.  I can't say it's all comfortable...that only comes with hours and hours of practice.  I can say that the first time we hit the 'set' position, my brain and body recognized it as something familiar.  

Getting back into the practice of executing very specific instructions, such as "we're going 16 counts, vocalizing in 8s, each line leaving 8 counts after the prior line, remember to vocalize the push off and the close, and subdivide as well" while still trying to have good posture and march correctly...well, that was a blast from the past.

It was all those little things coming back into my mind again.  I had a lot of 'oh yeah, I remember that thing' moments.  It was very nostalgic for me.  My calves and feet still hurt, by the way!

We broke for lunch, and finally the instruments came.  There was a problem with the vehicle that was sent to tow the equipment truck, so several people had to go take their personal vehicles to fetch the equipment.  I had brought my white gloves and my melli mouthpiece, and I got to play a mellophone bugle for the first time in almost 19 years.  I can't believe it has been half a lifetime since I marched drum corps, and slightly less than that since I've played any instrument or marched at all.  Wow.

We practiced breathing, horns up, and played a few warm up exercises.  Then I had to leave to go to work.  I couldn't take the horn with me, and I missed their working on the ballad for the show, but I'll get all that on January 10th when I'm able to stay for the entire day.

It felt good, playing again, though I was just a few steps above total-suckage.  The horn felt good and right in my hands, and the whole experience made me smile.  I hated to leave.  

I've even found a horn on ebay and placed a bid.  Hopefully, I'll win it and can have my own horn to practice on before next camp.  I think if I practice even an hour a day, I'll be up to a decent level by January 10th.

Well, I think that's all for now.  I have to get to bed.   

Friday, December 12, 2008

Saturday--First Drum Corps Rehearsal

The rehearsal is set from 9-7, but since I work from 3-after midnight, I'll only be able to attend part of it.  

It's going to make for a really long day for me, but I'm super-excited.  

I told my staff today that I was going to march drum corps again, and they were very interested in it and what it involves and where they could see me perform.  

I found my old mellophone mouthpiece, polished all the tarnish off of it, and have been buzzing away for a few days on it.  I wonder how long it will take me to get my embouchure back in fighting form...weeks?  months?

As far as the physical part of marching...well, I'm anticipating a world of pain tomorrow.  I'm so out of shape, cardio-wise, that I'm going to be hating life for a while.

The advantage of marching this type of corps is that we're almost all adults, and the instructors will not be yelling at us like they did when I marched a DCI corps at the age of 19.  Yelling doesn't yield results in this case.

Well, I need to get to bed.

Wish me luck, and I'll write a post of how it went after I get home from work late late tomorrow night.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's a Me Me Me Me World

Today at work some poor lady had a seizure and collapsed in my store.  We called 911 and an employee of mine and I stayed with the lady on the floor as we awaited the paramedics' arrival.  It turns out that this employee is a former field medic and EMT, which I did not know, and I have dealt with people having seizures in my various stores before, so we had the situation under control.  

And so this lady is on the floor, breathing but unresponsive, and this employee and I are on the ground with her, and a couple of looky-lous pass by and stare.  I don't really have a problem with that...people will stare at the unexpected.  But then this young lady, maybe late teens/early 20s, stops and says, "Are you helping someone feel better?", to which I responded, "Yes".  

But then...yes, then...

This young lady says to us, "Are those bookcases the only cooking books you have?  Because I'm looking for a book called the Vegan Lunch Box, and I couldn't find the Vegan Lunch Box, so can you help me find the Vegan Lunch Box?"  Oh, yes she did.  She did indeed basically ask us to get up off the floor, leave the seizing woman all alone, and help her find her book.  Yup.  She did.

I directed this young lady to the information desk, but then one of my sellers noticed what was happening and offered to help this young lady.  

We were shocked.  We were appalled.   But really, we were not surprised.  

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Blast From My Past

I've been thinking about it for a long time, and I think the time is right.

I've decided to do THIS.

Yup.

My chops are gone, I'm way out of shape, and it's gonna kick my ass, but I love it and I miss it.  So, I'm going to do it.

Go check out the website and let me know if you have any questions.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Some Day I'll...

Finish my "Hell at Sea" story.

Complete my adventures to the TX State Fair in October.

Be able to explain adequately why I really like Christmas carols.

Look at the word 'accommodation' and think it looks right.

Be happy with what I have rather than unhappy with what I don't.

and other stuff.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Friends

Last night one of my friends (a newly promoted GM) took me to dinner to ask me advice about a couple people on her staff.  She has just taken over the store I left 6 months ago, after the guy I 'swapped stores' with left the company (thank god for that).  We talked shop, had a nice Tex-Mex meal, and made fun of the OVERLY LOUD AND RACOUS guy sitting with a large birthday party.  Damn, he was loud.  It was freezing cold last night...easily -7876546 degrees, but the food and our lively conversation kept us warm (not to mention the enclosed patio with the heater right by our table).

Today in a bit I am going to another friend's house from where we will go see the movie Twilight.  This will be my once-a-year outing to a movie theatre.  Hopefully, since the kids are all in school, there won't be any annoying chatter or cell phone usage, and few people at all in the theatre.  Then we plan on making dinner...possibly pizza.  Other folks will hopefully join us for the dinner portion of the day, and we always have a good time.  

And off topic, I bought the cutest-ever unmentionables the other day.  If you don't know what unmentionables are, then you'll just have to figure it out.  It's a phrase I learned from one of my college roommates, and it just tickles me to use it.  One of my favorite stores what having a Thanksgiving weekend of BOGO on practically everything in the store, which was perfect timing, because I was down to a perilously low one item of unmentionables for the top part.  The items I bought are cute, cute, cute!  I have never been so excited about unmentionables before.  It's so silly, the things that excite me.

I must go now to get ready for my day.  I hope yours is groovy, too.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Beedle Bard & Other Thoughts

We stayed open past midnight tonight to sell Beedle Bard.  It's now 1:36am, and I have to be back at work at 7am.  We have a home office visitor at 9am.  

Regarding the Guy:

You're totally right about the "He's Just Not That Into You".  I read that book when it first came out, and so many people poo-poo'd it, but I thought it made some good obvious points.  Basically, if a Guy is really into you, nothing will stand in his way.  I can't really blame someone for not wanting to make 'big changes' to see me, but since I have a car and could just as easily drive to him, I think in the end it probably has less to do with that and more to do with he doesn't like me as much as he thought he did at first.  

Still, it's kinda crappy knowing that someone thinks I'm not worth the effort.

But I still have my family, my friends, and all you wonderful people who are so good to me.  Thanks be to all of you.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Jimmy the Turtle

Here's Jimmy the Turtle.  Isn't he adorable?  He's lounging on my chair at home in this picture.
And here he is checking out the floor in my office at work.  What a cutie pie.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sail on Silver Bird

Well Black Friday is over, and it still doesn't feel like 'the holidays'...probably because the weather has yet to turn really cold, something for which I'm actually thankful.

Jimmy the turtle doesn't seem to be eating much, but then again I don't know how much a turtle eats.  He ate some cabbage the other day, but he won't eat lettuce, and he doesn't seem to be eating the turtle/reptile food I was given to feed him.  I suppose he'll eat when he gets hungry enough.

A big thunderstorm rolled in around 3am last night and woke me up, this just after I finally got back to sleep following my awakening at 1am by drunken neighbors shouting and singing in Spanish.  I tell ya, if there's a language to shout and sing in while drunk, Spanish is it...much more mournful than if it were in English.

We have these Twilight wall banners at the store, and I told one of my employees I'd buy them a beverage from the cafe if he wore it for an hour.  Well, he draped it around his back, and we spent the next hour calling him Captain Twilight.  I also told my staff that I would wear banners front and back plus reindeer antlers if they reached a particular book drive goal by 3pm.  I taunted, I teased, they reached the goal, and I donned two banners and the antlers and proceeded to prance about the store.  Then my boss arrived, and we gave them another goal which they reached, and I made my boss wear a banner and the antlers for a few minutes.  I specifically made her walk up to the cashwrap and show all my cashiers her outfit.  The customers thought it was hysterical, and one lady told me 'good job for delegating up!'.  

I need some more ideas of things I can do to keep the staff happy and engaged and motivated.  Obviously, I am not above personal humiliation, so give me all your best ideas.  I mostly need ideas that don't cost any money and are fairly simple to execute.

And in other news...nah, I really don't have other news.  I'm tired and going to sleep a really long time now.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Enjoyable Thanksgiving

I thoroughly enjoyed myself today at my parents' house for Thanksgiving.

We had 17 people, including 3 people I had not met before.  Two of the new ones are brothers of my younger sister's boyfriend, and the other one is the former roommate of my sister's boyfriend.
All 3 of these guys were fun and intelligent and appeared to be quite comfortable among so many strangers.

After we had all eaten (I was at the kids table, woohoo!, where the average age was probably 40) I suggested a game of Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit.  Trivial Pursuit won, and 6 of us broke into 3 teams to play the 20th century edition.  

At first I was a team of one, as I was waiting for my older sister and her husband to join the game, but they took too long playing another game in the dining room, so Eric from another team offered to join me, for which I am enormously grateful.  At one point, the 2 other teams had gotten pie pieces already, so I grabbed our pie and put a brown wedge piece in it.  I don't remember exactly what was going on, but other than Eric, no one ever noticed that I had done that.  Eric and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves laughing over it, and the others couldn't figure out why.

The game lasted 3 hours, and near the end, my sister and her boyfriend gave up, so I asked them for their half-ish full pie (ok, I took it), added our 2 pieces, then we only lacked one piece.  I thought it was hilarous.  Then Eric and I rallied and WON the game, off of stolen and confiscated pie pieces.  It was during the confiscation that we finally told the other players what I had done TWO hours prior!

Too funny indeed.

I also enjoyed it because in such situations, I'm not expected to have all the answers for everything and to be able to solve any problem.  I am expected to know such and do such all the time at work, and it is very refreshing to just be ok with not knowing the answer to some random baseball question and such.  And I got to spend hours talking and interacting with people who have absolutely nothing to do with my work.  I loved it.  Boy, I really need to get more friends outside my work, don't I?

Well, I'm exhausted, so I am going to take care of Jimmy the Turtle then head off to bed...gotta get up early tomorrow, though not too early.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turtle Sitting

I am taking care of Jimmy, a pet turtle belonging to one of my Cafe Sellers who is out of town for several days.  He'll mostly be staying at the store, but tonight I brought him home because we're closed tomorrow...thank goodness!

I let Jimmy crawl around my office this evening before we left, and I let him crawl around my living room earlier.  He ate some cabbage from the salad I made for Thanksgiving, and he's now back in his temporary big-tub home, hopefully settling down for the night with some of his pet store turtle food in there, too.

I'll take some pics and post them tomorrow.  He's a big boy, probably 10 inches long, or so.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nutty Jenny

We're having a bookdrive at work, all our stores are.  We are in the lead in the district overall, but a couple other stores beat us on Sunday and Monday, so we needed to turn up the heat on the effort today.  

At 4pm we were only 1/3 of our way to the daily goal I had set, and the staff was getting frustrated.  So, I decided to change things up a bit.  That hour I had a cashier at every register, half of them being new people who just started work yesterday and are doing wonderfully well.

I told the team that if they got a certain number of book drives items in one hour, from 4-5pm, I would sing a song to them...any song they wanted...on the salesfloor, right then.

By golly if they weren't keeping me updated every time they sold another book for the book drive (which is benefiting kids at a local foster care and family care facility, almost like an orphanage, though we don't have those in Texas).  We have walkie talkies that are incredibly useful, and I kept taunting them over the walkie that they'd better hurry up and meet their goal or they'd get no song from me!

But they rallied and they worked and they got the good people of Dallas to donate enough books that hour to meet their goal!  They told me they wanted me to sing Over the Rainbow with bookstore lyrics, so I quickly wrote some lyrics about the cashwrap and working as a cashier and such.  Everyone in the store wanted to see/hear me perform this song, my lyrics chicken scratched on the back of a piece of paper I was going to recycle.

Of course I couldn't have the entire store in one place at one time, so I waited for the right moment of few customers in the area and sang my song to the cashiers.  I then sang it again over the walkies.  Customers were giving me strange looks, but the staff loved it, and I received applause.  Yay!  I signed my lyric sheet and 2 staff members were discussing which of them should get it.

But wait!  The team was bound and determined to make me sing again!  They met the goal again that next hour, so I regaled them with a tune about Chaucer the holiday bear set to the tune of Climb Ev'ry Mountain and sung like Il Divo (the 4 classical crossover singers who wayyyy overuse vibrato--they have a new CD out and we're playing it overhead because it's selling really well).  I really got some strange looks with that one, because it's difficult to sing like Il Divo and be quiet about it.  I gave that signed lyrics sheet to a cafe seller.

The next hour they almost doubled the goal, but I told them I was through for the day.

Whew!  Nutty Jenny.  Now we'd better be back in first place.  I just worked really hard to get us there.

(And I think the part that tickles me most is that they wanted my signed lyrics sheet...so cute!)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Food, Actually

I went to the grocery store after work this evening to pick up what I need to bring to Thanksgiving.  It cost me way too much to get all the ingredients to make my Asian Salad and also to buy 4 kinds of cheese to cube and crackers to go with my tortas.  I'll be bringing tupperware-ish containers and ziplock baggies to bring home leftovers.  

Last night I popped Love, Actually into the DVD player and enjoyed it immensely, again.  I really need to buy the soundtrack.   I simply adore that movie.

I have a friend whose birthday is Friday, and another whose birthday is Sunday, and I don't have any bright ideas of what to get/do for them.  Any ideas?

Also, I keep coveting the heavenly fleece line of clothing at Land's End.  Me want.
 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I DID IT, plus COOKIES!

How's that for a blog title, my friends?

I got my hair cut today.  But before that I went to my old store and spent some time working with their Cafe Supervisor, their GM, and my DM on par worksheets, ordering, and the need for an auto-populated-restocking-report-fed order sheet.  My boss called our home office and left a message for our man-of-all-things-operational to see about getting this created.  It's all in who you know, isn't it?  Did any of that make sense?  

Anyway, after we went to ludinner, or dunch, hey it was 4pm so it was lunch + dinner...sushi and bento boxes and hot tea, yum...I went to the hair cutting establishment.  "I need a haircut," said I, as I was greeted by the friendly young lady who called me sweetheart.  I don't mind being called sweetheart...we're in Texas, and it's not uncommon.  It is, however, a bit odd when someone younger than I says it, and when this younger person is a lady.  But I just chalk that up to friendliness and go with the flow.  

The sweetheart-saying girl matched me up with Drew, a cutie pie young man who spent a fair amount of time feeling my hair and talking to me about what he could do to add texture and volume and style.  He was adorable, and I didn't mind one bit that he was touching my head.  It didn't feel freakish at all.  I even asked about getting highlights, and he talked to me about those options, too.  In the end I just got it cut.  Drew did a wonderful job.  He created many layers and took a fair amount of time to cut it from the inside out, in all dimensions, and from all angles.  He had interesting conversation to share as well.  I really like the result.  

And so, I did it...I got my hair cut.

And now on to cookies!

I bought 3 magazines with cookie recipes in them and have been thoroughly enjoying myself reading them.  My mother has a 1978 Southern Living Holiday Cookie recipe magazine, and it's the best I've ever seen in 30 years for cookie recipes, but these 3 magazines are fun as well.  One is a Land O' Lakes special issue, another is a Better Homes & Gardens special issue, and the third is a Martha Stewart Living special issue.  It is too early to say if I'll actually spent the time and money making holiday cookies, but I sure am having a good time perusing the magazines.

The wind is blowing a cold front in, and it's supposed to be 36 degrees tonight.  I'm looking forward to it.

I can't believe Thanksgiving is one week from today!  I'm responsible for making and bringing the Asian salad, cheese tortas, crackers and such, and something else I have written down somewhere.  Maybe I'll bring some wine for those of us who would like a glass.

What wines go well with Thanksgiving dinner and are not too expensive?

Haircut?

I admit it...I don't like getting my hair cut.  

It's not that I don't like neatly cut hair, it's that I find it freakish for a stranger to touch my head.  I've never liked it.  

But I think my squished eyeball is telling me that it's time to get my hair cut again, seeing as how the last time I cut it was in late Feb or early March.  I'm also toying with the idea of getting some highlights, but then I know I'd have to go get them retouched frequently which would require more money and more touching of my head.  

I don't see how guys do it...get their hair cut all the time.  Ick.

I get so hot at work that I usually pull my hair back, anyway.  

I'm off tomorrow, though I'm spending the day helping out at my old store (wait, so that means I'm not really off, right?), and there is a nice hair place across the drive, so maybe I'll go get it cut.

Then again, maybe I won't.  

O squished eyeball, what shall I do?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I squished my eyeball

I slept so hard that at some point last night I squished my left eyeball.  I can't see correctly out of it, though it was better than it was early early this morning.

I have no idea what I could have done.  This is not the first time I've squished my eyeball.

I need to go google 'squished eyeballs' and see what there is to do.

I'm such an idiot.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Four Pesties in My Kitchen

I returned home from work this evening about 8:30 or so with my sushi and a salad from Central Market in a paper grocery bag.  Several times today I had though about how lovely it is that my apartment was being nuked today.  

Still, I hesitantly entered my apartment, put down my things, then found the kitchen light.  Whew!  So far, so good...no obvious buggies in sight.

The I turned and noticed one perching on my Black & Decker electronic pest control device that is plugged into one of the outlets on the bar, near the sink.  There he stood, taunting me like several of his brethren had done recently...all of them perched on that worthless device (don't waste your money on these things).  So, I grabbed my yellow can of Raid and kilt him dead.  

Not a minute or two later, one of his friends comes scurrying out from behind that device, and I kilt him dead, too.  I am thinking there is some gap between the bar sides and the topper that is a harborage for these lil' devils.  I guess these bastards were seeking a 'safe' place since their former abode was sprayed.  

I had an apartment in Sherman, TX, for a few months when I got my first store.  I had a pest problem there, and after a few weeks I found that they were coming up and out a gap where the bar walls and the top met.  I remember one night I sprayed Raid or Bengal or something and dozens and dozens of small buggies came racing out.  It was thoroughly disgusting.

Anyway...I went to the dishwasher to get a clean glass out, and I found 2 buggies right inside the door.  They surely had scrambled once they smelled the killah spray.  I kilt them dead, too.

I just did some research online, and it takes a few days for the spray to kill them all, so I will not-so-patiently wait for this to occur.  

It can't happen too soon.  This morning, I smartly inspected the TP before I used it, which was a good call, because there was a lil' devil on the dangling end of the TP.  I kilt him dead.  I'll kill them all dead.

All my under-counter cabinets in the kitchen were open when I got home, so it seems like the exterminator probably sprayed them quite well...I hope.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Buggies

Apparently enough people in my apartment building have complained enough times that the entire building is going to be exterminated tomorrow.  Thank goodness!

There was an almost non-existent roach problem until the Skanks and Nasties moved in below me.  I've been here over 4 years now, but it wasn't until a few months after the S&Ns moved in that the problem began.  They were also the ones to leave trashbags on their balcony for days before finally taking them to the dumpster.  And I think they skipped out on their lease a couple of weeks ago, or perhaps they were evicted.  I kept seeing notices for unpaid water bills on their doorknob.

Regardless of where the problem started, I'm sick of it and am glad to have the entire building nuked tomorrow.  I hope they spray the fuck out of the place.  Then I'm going to have the apartment guys come and caulk around all the plumping fixtures and holes in walls...anything where a buggie could come through.

Oh, and I made chili tonight for dinner.  I'm about to go have some.
Toodles.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Superstars

The store visit with my boss and my boss' boss went very well on Friday.  Once again, my boss believed we were the best looking store.  Last time, they believed we were the best looking store, and that was when I was at my former store, so I guess you could say I'm consistent, wherever I go.

It is very important that double boss maintains his high opinion of me, as he would be the one to promote me to DM at some point in the future.  

My team worked smart, hard, fast, and long, and the results are spectacular.  One of the employees who has been in the store since it opened (12 years ago) said this is the best he's ever seen the store look....ever.  My boss said the same thing, and I think so, too.  Our service scores are excellent, our merchandising is impeccable, I have my team in place, and we are set for the holidays.  

The advances we have made in the not-quite-six-months that I've been in this store are astounding.  I have a team of Superstars.

Next challenge, please.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Moldy Cheese--Unable to Return

See below for my email complaint to Tom Thumb (Safeway).  Unfortunately, their website gives me an error message when I try to submit it, so I'm just going to post it here, then try to submit it again tomorrow.  I tried to be professional and not too nasty, but I am thoroughly irked.

Here it is:




Sunday, November 09, 2008

Zicam is Bliss; Comfort Inns is Bust; Bigger Boss Visit

A few months ago I found this wonderful OTC item that works amazingly well for congested sinuses.  It is called Zicam Extreme Congestion.  It's a nasal spray.  This is what has made it able for me to function this week.  I love it!

And on an unrelated note...I have nothing good at all to say about the Comfort Inn where we stayed and held our training session this week.  This particular one is on Natural Bridge Rd in St. Louis, by the airport.  Hideous on almost all fronts, repeatedly, over 4 days, even after our giving them feedback on what to correct.  I will now personally do my best not to stay at any Comfort Inn hotels in the future.

We have another Big Boss visit on Friday.  This is my boss's boss, the one who could promote me at some point in the future.  It's a big deal.  We'll be great.  We're always great.  Anything less just simply won't happen.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I Am Come Home

I forget where I heard someone say this phrase...probably some Jane Austen movie adaptation.

I have returned from St. Louis, wielding a mighty sinus infection (my 3rd in the last 7 months, a lot for a person who 'never' gets sick), and being extremely tired.  

The training session went well, and my contributions were adequate, though I did not think I was stellar this time.  The participants were very engaged, and I certainly delivered all the key learning points through the facilitation, but I had to refer too much to my notes on the second day.  

Being sick really affected me.  I was my usual exuberant personality in front of the room, but I was so tired and feeling so poorly after hours that I had trouble focusing and therefore couldn't do my usual 3 or 4 quick run-thrus of my sessions the night before.

There's a point in my last session, which also happens to be the last session of the entire she-bang, when I got a little out of synch with the powerpoint because several of the slides look very similar.  It turned out ok, though, as I got it all sorted out while the participants were engaged in small group activities.

I really get a kick out of facilitating.  It's challenging, and I like challenges.  It's very different from presenting.  Doing a presentation usually involves a person speaking about a particular subject, usually with supporting powerpoint slides.  Perhaps there is a Q&A at the end.  It certainly requires skill, but it is a lot more straightforward in format and such.

Facilitation requires coordination of the entire group to reach particular points at particular times.  The ppt slides do contain vital information, but most of the learning happens through the guidance of the facilitator as they ask questions of the group.  The challenge is in knowing what point you need to hit, when you need to hit it, what information the group needs to have leading up to that point, if there is a particular workbook page or activity that builds upon it once you get there, and which questions to ask to make it the most effective.  

Because the group is offering answers, you have to manage that aspect while also being mindful of pace, available time left, the physicality of the situation, etc.  I plan out my main questions ahead of time...the ones that will help lead the group to the learning point, but there are always opportunities to dig deeper into the participants' answers, and that makes you have to be quite adaptable.  Fortunately, I am great at thinking on my feet.

I'm convinced that part of the reason I'm really really good at facilitating is because I was in marching band for all those years.  I have to be able to make my way around the physical space, moving and talking at the same time sometimes, and not step in front of the ppt projector beam, not trip on the extension cords, not turn my back on the participants, not run into the table where the laptop sits, etc., while still ensuring that when I'm ready to move on, that I am close enough to the laptop to hit the right key, that I am close enough to a flip chart with a marker in hand when I need to be, and that I can get to my notes quickly if I need to.  And then there's the part about actually listening to the answers of the questions I ask!

It's like performing really, but in an environment where the players and the spoken words change.  I love it...I absolutely love it.  Unfortunately, I don't do it often enough to get amazingly, spectacularly, unerringly fabulous at it.

So, I am come home, and I am done rambling for now.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Meet me in St. Louis, Louis

I am off to St. Louis to train a group of managers.

I ended up working 5 hours at my store yesterday, then 3 hours at another store moving fixtures.  My knees and legs hurt!  I got 3 1/2 hours of sleep before going back to work this morning.  

I am tired, so I'm going to drive until I'm ready to stop for the night, then...I'll stop.  I only have to be in St. Louis by noon tomorrow, so there's no great rush.  The whole drive is just 10 hours total, and I can easily do half of that today before dark, if I get going.

Have fun while I'm gone.  I'll be back Friday!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Such a Range

This past week was all over the place.

On Sunday I returned from camping.  Monday I voted.  Tuesday I returned to work to learn of a situation that exploded while I was gone camping.  I trained a new GM Wed-Fri while trying to handle the explosion plus another issue.  We had a biggish-wig visit on Thursday morning.  I spent hours and hours preparing for my upcoming training session in St. Louis next week, I learned I get to reprise my trainer role again for next year, and we had a massive sale rung in on Friday.  

So I worked 7am to 11pm all those days, got little sleep, and am still alive.  I logged 85 hours of training time in October, and that is above and beyond the time it takes me to run my store, which can be anywhere from 45-80 hours a week, depending on time of year and situation.  Just running a store is too easy and too boring, so I love that I have the trainer piece to supplement that.  

Today I am off, but I have to go in for a few hours to finish up my training prep and show a couple people a few things, and have some more conversations, then I have to go to another store tonight and help them move fixtures around.  That pisses me off, but I do it anyway.

Tomorrow I work until noon, then drive to St. Louis.

How was your week?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pretty Pumpkin Pictures

These photos were taken at the Texas State Fair.  Aren't they spectacular?  I'll try this type of pumpkin carving some day.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Vote

I early voted today.  I'm going to be out of town, training a group of managers in St. Louis, on election day, so I returned from camping a day early so that I could vote today.  

There was a line, but the whole thing only took me 25 minutes (after I found a parking spot).  If the voting place had more volunteers, it would have gone even faster, as there were plenty of empty voting 'booths'.  

We use a touch screen system here in Texas, and it was quite well-done, I think.  There was a lady sitting at the exit door, asking people what the flashing red light at the end of the process meant.  I guess that's their way of checking to make sure people actually submitted their vote.  (The flashing red light says 'VOTE', and you're supposed to press it after you've reviewed your choices and are ready to submit them.)  I just bypassed that lady and walked on.  I guess it's a good thing she's there to check, because people may actually miss that BIG  FLASHING RED LIGHT with the word VOTE on it.  I suppose the older generations may find the whole touch screen/computerized process quite foreign, so I'm sure it was helpful to some, though I didn't see anyone gasp and run back to their voting booth.

Have you voted yet?

More Camping Photos

Above:  My Element tent is wrinkly from being packed away for a long while.  I need to go camping more often.  The back seats fold flat, then up against the sides of the vehicle, making room for a nice twin size air mattress and all the bedding that a cold cold night requires.
Above:  My trusty Coleman tent that I've had for 7 or 8 years.  The friend that I went camping with is the same person I went to Maine with.  She's a dear lady, but she drives me nuts at times.  She's not a creative person or a problem-solver, so I had to show her step-by-step how to put up the tent (there are instructions on the tent bag), how to light the Coleman stove, how to set up the air mattress, how to heat water to use for cleaning the dishes after a meal, etc.  It's like I had to train her in the entire experience of camping.  We're not talking about starting a fire using a piece of bubble gum and a paper clip, we're talking about simpler things.  She obsessed...really, truly, obsessed with exactly how much and what kind of clothing and bedclothes she was going to put on the air mattress in the tent (and in what order).  I had told her to pack very warm clothes and plenty of blankets or quilts, because the night temps were going to be in the 40s.  She must have told me 20 times the day we got to the campsite what she was going to do and another 15 times the following day as to step by step how warm or cold she was at various times throughout the night and what she did with each blanket or quilt as a result.  I shouldn't be surprised.  She also is terribly obsessed with the price of gas, always has been.  And now I'll have to delete this rant very soon because it's really mean of me to type all this.
Above:  Our nice covered picnic table, partically set up.
Above:  Our own pile of firewood and charcoal.  Word of advice, do not buy the Safeway/Tom Thumb brand of charcoal.  It may be the cheapest, but it took forever to get the coals to the cooking stage.  I usually buy the individual small bags that you just light the bag and the whole thing burns.  I should have spent the extra money and bought those again.  The firewood was also from Tom Thumb and was no better than scrap.  It didn't burn for very long.  I should have bought the better quality stuff from another store and gotten some pinion wood as well.
Above:  These are the arms/paws/claws that were right next to the entrails.  So, raccoon or possum?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tasty Tasty Camping Pictures

Above:  You are most likely wondering what this is.  I do know that it is animal innards and what could possibly be a baby of some kind.  I found this on a trek down to the lake.  It was still squishy, so was most likely killed the night before.  I also found blood in several places on the rocks in the surrounding areas, and two partially eaten arms with paws/claws intact.  My two guesses would be possum (which I saw plenty of at night) or raccoon (which I never did see, but heard trying to rummage through things at night).  Anyone know what this is?
Above:  Do you have any idea how impossibly difficult it is to take an in focus photo of a glowing pumping in almost pitch-black conditions?  Very difficult, apparently.  This was the best I could do without a tripod and in extreme low light.  I brought two pumpkins, and my friend and I both carved one.  My friend chose a ghost design on the packaging of the carving instruments.  I opted to create my own design.  I also toasted the pumpkin seeds when we were done scraping them out.  They were ok, but not my favorite.  When it got dark, we placed the pumpkins at the end of the drive to our campsite and set them aglow.  They looked incredible, and I'm rather proud that I was reasonably able to capture the shape of Texas.  It is very difficult to get it to the right proportions.
This is what my pumpkin looked like this morning.  We left them at the campsite for others to enjoy (or throw at each other).
Above:  This is an inlet at Lake Whitney.
Above:  And this was sunset on the first day.  Gorgeous.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A-Camping I Will Go

Hi ho the derry-o, a-camping I will go.

You simply cannot conceive how much stuff is packed in my car so that I might enjoy my camping experience to the extreme.

The weather is absolutely, positively, could not ask for more, PERFECT camping weather!

A cold front rolled in yesterday afternoon, and today is a big crisp, with the temps dropping to the 40s tonight.  I packed plenty of fleecy and blankety things to keep me warm at night.  

I'll try to remember to take plenty of pics of my campground setup.  I love love love to set up camp, don't ask me why.

And now, I must away...I'm meeting a friend at the grocery store where we're going to buy the gargantuan amount of food we plan on cooking and eating while camping.  Yummy!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Going Camping

This is Lake Whitney State Park.  I took these pictures about a year and a half ago, after the area had received flood level rains.  




The campsites are all by the lake, which should be at an appropriate level now, unlike these pictures.

I'm looking forward to renting a canoe or kayak (depends on how many friends decide to join me), or even a jet ski, from one of the outfitters on the lake.  I also love to cook over an open fire, or better yet, make a complex meal that requires the use of a wood fire, a charcoal grill, and my small Coleman stove.

I also can't wait to lie in my hammock for hours and read or take long naps, go hiking, swimming, looking for deer, heck, maybe even fishing!  I've not gone fishing in a really long time.  And there is a fish cleaning station/house on the campgrounds.  I'll have to go and see how much a basic set of fishing 'stuff' would be.  Then I need to learn how to clean a fish!  

This is all becoming very exciting.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Color Purple--Part I

My going to see The Color Purple on Thursday was a journey in every sense of the word.  I hope you enjoy the retelling of it.

I purchased my ticket online, as I always do, but having decided to go see the musical less than a week ahead of time, I thought it best to just pick up the ticket at Will Call.  This was my first of many mistakes.  

I left home about 90 minutes before showtime (my first of many smart things) and swung by the bank to get some cash for parking (my second smart thing).  Parking was going to be $10, and I wanted to make sure I had some extra, just in case.

When I arrived at the fairgrounds, I wanted to park where I always park when I go to see a musical, but I was informed that it was a valet parking only lot, and at $25 for this service, I thought I'd just as well find a general parking spot and walk over to the Music Hall (this was my second mistake).  I drove back around to the same parking gate I used when I went to the Fair with my friends last week, and as I was waiting to give my $10 to the nice man there, I remembered that I didn't have a ticket to get into the fair and subsequently get to the Music Hall (my third mistake).  Fair admission is included with the musical ticket, but I didn't have my ticket on me.  It was waiting for me, all comfy and air-conditioned, at the Will Call area inside the Music Hall.  

And so I asked the parking man about this, and he informed me that it would be up to the gate attendant whether or not they would let me in.  Well, poop on a stick.  And yet, I knew I had plenty of time to figure something out, so I kept following the line of cars to park.  I followed, and I followed, and I followed; then, when I thought I was done following, I followed some more.  The nearest open parking spots were in the next county, it seemed.  Thank goodness I had more than an hour till curtain.  

To get an idea of where I parked, you can click on THIS link.  The Music Hall is in the lower left corner, and I was parked in the upper right corner.  

I hopped a tram (smart thing number 3) which took us to the Pan Am gate to the fairgrounds.  I asked the lady in the ticket booth if I could go in the fair without a ticket so that I could get to the Music Hall.  You can guess what her answer was.  Instead, she told me what I was dreading she'd say; that I would have to walk all the way around the perimeter of the fair grounds to get to the Music Hall.  Now, it's been a few years since 9th grade Geometry, but I'm still pretty sure that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and seeing as how it was a fair distance to the MH from the gate by going through the grounds, I had concerns about having the necessary time to hoof it all the way around the outside.

Dejected, I walked away from the ticket booth, and then I spotted a clear path through the gates.  No one was watching the side by the train museum.  I could just dart through there, and most likely, no one would notice.  Maybe...maybe no one would notice, but my darting capabilities are severely diminished recently because I've done something to my left foot in the past couple of weeks that makes regular walking painful...quite painful, in fact.  So, after 3 seconds of seriously considering it, I decided not to be a cheater and a thief (smart thing #4).  And so, I walked on.

I still had about 45 minutes to curtain, and I didn't know if I was going to make it in time.  The day wasn't exceptionally warm, but I was wearing a black blouse and I started to heat up fiercely.  Nice, I thought, I'm going to arrive just in time to run to my seat, then sweat next to some stranger for the entire first act.  Poor stranger.

After a long period of walking, I came upon Gate 4 whereupon I was told the same thing by a ticket lady who looked remarkably similar to the prior ticket lady.  Now, I've often thought if I were cuter or prettier, then I could probably get total strangers to do a lot more of what I ask/want, but knowing that option was not available to me, I tried reason instead.  "Would it be possible," I asked, "for you to let me through this gate so that I can get to the Music Hall?  I'm going to see The Color Purple, you see," I told her in my logical yet imploring-sounding voice.  "You can clearly see that I'm going to the musical by how I'm dressed," and I punctuated this by touching my blouse in a sincere gesture.  "My musical ticket is at Will Call, but I know that fair admission is included in the ticket."

I was rebuffed again and told...again...to walk around the perimeter.  Well, freeze dried rat droppings!

My foot was really hurting; I was limping from the pain, and I was hot and sweaty.  But, by golly by damn, I was going to make it to my seat on time.  And so I walked.  And I walked.  And I limped, and I thought how smart I was to wear khaki slacks instead of black ones (smart thing #5).

And I finally rounded the corner of the fence and began the journey through construction to try to find how I would get into that bloomin' Music Hall.  There was the Music Hall.  I could see it; I was standing just on the other side of the fence from it, but I couldn't find a way to get into it.  It wasn't very long until curtain, and I was getting mad.  I was mad at myself, mostly.  I was about to go back to the nearest gate and pay the ticket admission again when I finally saw a way in that was rather hidden by multi-layered fences.  

And so I walked in with a group of people, a nice lady led me through the lobby to the Will Call booth, and I picked up my ticket.  Holy freakin' finally goodness.  I was hot hot hot so I bought a bottle of water and then walked upstairs to the first balcony where I thought my seat was.  After a quick trip to the ladies room, which was really unnecessary considering I had sweated out all liquid from my body, I joined the line to be seated and I began speaking to a couple of ladies about the music from the show.  They hadn't heard the music and were surprised when I told them there is a CD of the Broadway Cast Recording.  One of the ladies asked me where she could buy it, so you can guess what I told her...always working am I.  

Then I looked at the Aisle number on the wall and thought to look at my ticket.  Crap, I was on the wrong level (fourth mistake).  I was very careful, or so I thought, when I booked my ticket, because I refuse to sit on the sides of the Hall.  I prefer first balcony to the side Orchestra seating any day.  

It took me only a moment to excuse myself, head back downstairs, find my Aisle, and grab a Playbill.  After a quick question about my seating area, I found my seat and was happy to sit down and take a load off my foot.  And I still had 15 minutes to curtain.  Well how about that?  

The theatre was filled with older, retired folks.  All of them were probably smart enough to use the $25 Valet Parking.  But me?  No, I'm too cheap!  And so I laughed at myself as I sat in my seat, which was quite a good seat, as it turns out (smart thing # I lost count), and watched this group of 4 ladies try to find their seat for the next 13 minutes.  Really, that's how long it took.  I had to get up a few times to let people pass through, so I just stayed standing, and there was something about my black blouse and khaki slacks that make people think I worked there (though I seem to get that no matter how I'm dressed and no matter where I am), and so I kept getting asked to help people find their seats.  I helped 4 or 5 people then I finally stopped the 4-lady party and pointed them to the right place.  

They had no way of knowing I was the one who, 15 minutes prior, was on the entirely wrong level of the building.  Shhhhh, don't tell anyone, ok?

And then, shortly after 2pm, the lights lowered, the stragglers scurried, and the orchestra began the overture...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

So I Was Talking to This Man...

Last night at work I was talking with a man who was looking for the Pat Boone recording of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical State Fair. 

It was his lucky day, as I had ordered in copies of all State Fair related items a couple weeks ago in order to create a display to highlight the Fair.  He was very excited that we had the CD and told me how he was going to play some of its music on his radio show Friday night.  I never did ask him who he was or what radio show he has.

Because we were having such a nice conversation, I shared with him how I was going to see The Color Purple today, and told him about its connection with being the State Fair musical.  He then asked me if I liked Michael Buble.  Boy, do I!  I loves me some Michael Buble.  It turns out this man's wife has an extra pair of tickets to Michael Buble's concert Saturday night and is trying to sell them.  The man's wife ended up procuring a pair of 3rd row tickets, so now they have a spare pair.  It's too bad I'm working and unable to make other arrangements, because I'm certain I would love that concert, but I highly doubt they would be willing to just sell me one ticket anyway.  It would be very difficult to sell the remaining single ticket.

I know Charles goes to shows by himself, and of course I do as well, but we loner-show-goers are in the tiny minority.  I even know people that refuse to go see a movie or go out to eat by themselves...and heaven forbid they go on a trip by themselves!  That's so silly.  I say go if you want to go.  Why should you not go do something you want to just because you don't have someone else to go along with you?

And so, it was one of the nicer conversations I've had with a total stranger lately, and I thought it worth mentioning.  

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Bees Knees

My mother had knee surgery 7 days ago.  My father is keeping us updated via email.  She seems to be doing well, and he is hanging in there, too.

Though I really just want to sleep on my upcoming days off, I offered to drive to their house and stay with her if he wanted some time off from nursing her.  

Tomorrow I am going to see The Color Purple at the Music Hall.  I'm going to the matinee because I don't want to wrangle with evening Fair traffic and parking hassles.  I can't believe the price of the ticket.  I don't think I paid that much even for my Wicked ticket.  But I do have a sweet seat, so hopefully there won't be the sound problems that there were when I saw Wicked.

I go camping in about 3 weeks, and I can't wait.  I'm so exhausted, and all I want to do is cook food outdoors, eat it, and take naps in my hammock.  I might rent a canoe and paddle around the lake while I'm there, too.  I have always enjoyed canoeing, though most of my experience is on rivers rather than lakes.

When I return from camping, I train a new GM, then I go to St. Louis to facilitate another classroom style training session.  I'd better get cracking on preparations.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Black Like Me?

I was called a n***er yestserday several times by a very unpleasant man in my store.  Of course, as soon as he saw he had an audience, he proceeded to repeat that several times, continue on to call me a fat bitch, use the f-word multiple times, and generally behave in a completely inappropriate manner.

My response to these folks is always the same.  I tell them their behavior is inappropriate and they must leave.  Then I take a step towards them and they take a step back.  They shout some more, call me more names, then I repeat what I said and take another step, and so on and so forth until they are out the vestibule doors.  They usually don't even realize what I'm doing while I step forward and make them step back.  

This guy caught on after about 3 steps, and he planted himself and dared me to make him leave.  By this time, four of my male employees had run up to the front to help me out.  Bless their hearts, I love those guys--in a totally work-appropriate and non-harassing way--for coming to my rescue.  I walked away and let my gentlemen handle it.  The guy soon left, but was shortly thereafter seen trying to make cars stop on the 6-lane road in front of the store so that he could cross to the other side in the middle of the block.

And the punchline for this non-joke is that the mean nasty man was African-American, and I'm not.  So I ask you, dear readers, am I supposed to be offended by his calling me the n-word, or shall I just continue to laugh at him inside my head for his obvious oversight of my whiteness?

Please advise.

Also, I'll post more State Fair stuff soon.




Wednesday, October 01, 2008

State Fair---The Food, Part I

Today I went to the Texas State Fair.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  The weather ranged from sunny and warm, to sunnier and hot, though it was never terribly hot.  I preparedly had put on sun screen and wore sunglasses and a straw cowboy hat, all of which helped save the day.  

I had started planning for this excursion with the intention of sampling all eight 2008 Big Tex Choice Awards Finalists in the food category.  Last night I printed a map of the fairgrounds with big red dots and numbers where those foods are located.

I met my friends in the parking garage of my old store, then drove us all the 2.7 miles to the fairgrounds.  After a quick entry to the parking area and a short wait in line at security, we were in!  All the fair was before us, and it wasn't even 10:30 in the morning yet.  

Most of the food vendors weren't open, but we all were very hungry, arriving at the fair knowing we would want to eat a lot.  I bought $40 worth of coupons, telling myself that I was going to eat until I burst.  We checked out Big Tex (more on him tomorrow), and walked around a bit until we found a Fletcher's Corny Dog stand.  See my beautiful, smokin' hot corny dog and Dr. Pepper below.

We sat for a short while and finished our corny dogs.  Then one of my friends had a conference call to be on, so my other friend and I moseyed around the Cotton Bowl (picture tomorrow) in search of the food item I was most excited about....CHICKEN FRIED BACON!!!  We found the stand and waited in line for about 5 minutes to get some which we then brought back to our other friend.  See below for my catch.
I have to say that I was bitterly disappointed in the chicken fried bacon.  All that hype with nothing to substantiate it.  It really didn't have any kind of taste.  A healthy dose of cracked black pepper and some salt on the bacon before frying it would have worked wonders.  Oh well.  For a short while the breeze gently blew bitter disappointment at me.
After visiting some of the buildings and exhibits (again, more on that later), I found the Fire & Ice stand.  I'm all for deep fried pineapple ice cream, but as you can see above, there wasn't any ice cream to be found.  Instead the 'dish' consisted of battered and fried pineapple chunks covered with strawberry sauce, whipped cream, and powdered sugar.  I had a couple, shared with my friends, then promptly threw it all in an obliging garbage can.  

Curses!  The State Fair food gods are conspiring against me.  How can it be that 2 out of 3 dishes thus far were sub-par?  Is it possible that I am too picky?  Have I too much of a refined palate?  Read on, o excitedly drooling one, read on... 

Up next is a delicious little creation known as Fernie's All-American Fried Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  We waited in another longish line, though not too long.  Forget the tomato soup dip (yuck!), just sprinkle a bit o salt on these tasty sandwich bits, and you've found grilled cheese mecca.  This was, by far, my favorite food item of the fair.
Now, if you pair that with a traditional funnel cake (after all, who doesn't like fried batter topped with powdered sugar?), and what we have here is a complete fair meal that covers the two main fair foodgroups:  fried and sugary.  Boy howdy, we finished off all of the sandwich and all of the funnel cake, youbetcha.

And that brings Food--Part I to a close, my dear readers.  Stay tuned for tomorrow's installment of Food--Part II whereupon I go in search of Fried Chocolate Truffles and Jelly Bellys and run screaming from the creepiness that is Big Tex.

Until then, remember to get yer friendly on.
Good hair to you.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Would You Have Your Mommy Call?

I simply must write this, because it so greatly bothers me when it happens:

I receive phone calls every day from people who are inquiring about available positions.  In itself, this is not a problem and is very common.  

What is a problem is when I learn that someone is calling on behalf of their child.  Seriously, folks.  Do you see the issue here?  Do you really expect me to interview someone whose Mommy had to call us?  I can't think of one good reason why this should be happening.  

Can you? 

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Who Was King Tut?

And people say he has no large-scale leadership experience.

The King Tutankhamun exhibit is coming to the Dallas Museum of Art in October, so I ordered in a slew of King Tut, Egypt, Mummies, Pyramids, Hieroglyphs, etc. books and we created a table.  "Who Was King Tut?" was one of the kids titles I ordered.  

...and don't tell me you can't see it...you know you can.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Have You Ever Been There?

Have you ever been there?  Right there?  Standing right there, next to someone when they get the news that a loved one has died?  What did you do?  What can you do?  Nothing, really...nothing that really helps, anyway.

Tonight at closing, as we were all walking to the front to get ready to set the alarm and leave the store, one of my employees was on her cell phone.  She stopped me and told me she wouldn't be able to come to work for a few days because she just learned that her mother had died.  Just then.  Right that very moment she had just learned.  She stood in shock for another moment or two, then collapsed on the floor, crying hysterically.  Of course...of course...what else is there to do?  This is exactly the right time for hysterical crying.   

I got on the floor with her and held her shoulders while she cried, the person on the other end of the cell phone call just waiting, I guess.

There are no words of comfort in that situation, so I said nothing, or maybe I said something unimportant, I don't remember exactly.  It doesn't matter.

This is not the first time I was right there, and it won't be the last, I'm sure.  But at least I was there.  I can only hope it is better that someone be there at that time than no one at all.  Maybe?  I don't know, maybe not.

Have you ever been there?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

State Fair of Texas

I can't wait for the State Fair to start.  It opens on Friday, and I'm getting together a group of friends to go next Wednesday.  The State Fair runs for 24 days and is a huge huge deal.  It draws millions of visitors and is such fun, though it can be expensive.  

It is held, surprisingly enough, at Fair Park, which is also where the Cotton Bowl is located (ever heard of Texas/OU weekend?), the Museum of Science and History, various other buildings, and of course my beloved Music Hall where many of the touring musicals perform.  The State Fair musical this year is The Color Purple.  I've been listening to the cast recording, and it is beautiful and powerful.  I need to quickly pick a day to go see it and and buy my ticket asap.

I live 2 1/2 miles from Fair Park.  It is literally down the street.  Well, down a very trafficky street that makes it unsafe to walk there.  But still, it makes for relatively easy access.  I've been perusing the Fair website and looking at the map to see where the chicken fried bacon will be sold.  It looks to be sold at just one stand north of the Cotton Bowl.  I'll have to make sure I go there at least once that day, maybe more!

I love funnel cakes, corny dogs, hot dogs, pretzels, sodas, nachos, turkey legs, deep fried (insert food item here), ice cream, sno cones, cotton candy, and all manner of fair food, and I plan on stuffing myself when I get there.  My friends will have to roll me back to my car at the end of the day!

Oh, man, I can't wait!  Just one more week.  Next Wednesday I'll be in hog heaven eating all that fine fried food, looking at all the new cars, watching the livestock shows, and looking at all the contest entries in the myriad categories.  Howsabout that?  I got my friendly on towards this State Fair!

Iffen you ask me real nice like, I might even be persuaded to take my camera and snap some pics to post upon my return!

Look at this:  Chicken Fried Bacon – Thick and peppery Farm Pac® bacon is seasoned, double-dipped in a special batter and breading and deep-fried. Served with a creamy side of ranch or honey mustard sauce.   Served at  N30 located on Nimitz at MLK. Winner of Best Taste in the Big Tex Choice Awards competition.

MMMMMMMMmmmmmm  

Sunday, September 21, 2008

For Emma




Emma has expressed an interest in going to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, so I have re-posted some photos here.  Some of you may remember that I went on this trip in 2006 when my car was but an infant.  You may also remember that my precious baby car was pummeled in a hailstorm in East Glacier, Montana and received several thousand dollars worth of damage.  Poor baby.  Anyway, Emma here are some pictures to whet your appetite for these two wonderful National Parks:
Above is a beautiful yet stinky hot pool at Yellowstone.
Old Faithful.
Some lake in Glacier NP which name I've forgotten.  Maybe it was Flathead Lake?
The rehabilitated 1937 White Motor Company jammer bus.  The tours all well worth the price in these beauties.
And finally, my most favorite picture I've ever taken.  The tiny land mass in the lake is Wild Geese Island.  We were told this is the most photographed place in the park, and you can see why.  It was gorgeous.

Emma, I think I started this blog with my photos and journal of my trip to Yellowstone and Glacier, so I'm sure you can find all sorts of additional information in the old entries.  

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Maserati and Those Darn Cats




I was behind a Maserati at a light in my neighborhood a couple weeks ago...pretentious cars.  But the vanity plate amused me.  Check it out:

Below is Casper.  The Nawty fluffy kitty who wouldn't hold still for a pic.
And two pics of his brother Gizmo.