Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Another Day at the Office

Yowsers ... but smoke does get in your eyes!
Time for our annual fire training today. 'Suspect I got the "trick candles" ... darn if those flames went out, then bounced right back again.

This is a handy reminder -- leaving me thankful for what I'm paid to do .....and indescribably grateful for those "real" firefighters who risk their all, everyday!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Road Rage

So, yesterday afternoon we’re winding down the road (literally!) from Sedona …I’m thankful Hubby’s taken the wheel. Unlike me, he has no qualms navigating the mountain grades, traveling in the “big boy” lane at 80 mph. Riding shotgun, I was practically lulled into oblivion as a result of a gluttonous lunch in Jerome (think, the Hamburger that ate Cleveland!).

Then, a horn. (A.Big.Horn.) Glancing to my right, I’m treated to a jerking, protruding finger…. a face contorted by rage, clearly enunciating obscenities our direction. Nope, it’s no testosterone-laden youth in a muscle car; rather a elderly “gentleman” wearing a ridiculous “Gilligan’s” hat…. staying abreast, then maneuvering his circa-80’s Cadillac as if to intimidate, before barreling on ahead, in and out of traffic. ‘Twas a matter of seconds, probably. I could only gape stupidly. By the time, DH figured out what had happened, my outrage had surfaced; decidedly UNChristian-like notions bubbled to the surface.

Sure enough. Nearing the city limits, traffic backed to a standstill and I spotted our “friend”, similarly stalled. What to do? Smile, blow an air kiss? Reason prevailed. As we passed, I forced my gaze straight ahead. Still, I’d sure like to know... had he felt better, more empowered for his hystrionics?


Friday, September 25, 2009

Word of Mouth ... World of Mouth

Those of you “young-uns” may already know these facts. For the rest of us “baby boomers” I found them very interesting ... and slightly intimidating!

Is Social Media a fad?
… or is it the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution?

By 2010 Generation Y will have out-numbered baby boomers.
…..96% of them have joined a social network.

Years to reach 50 million users:
· Radio … 38 years
· TV – 13 years
· Internet – 4 years
· i-Pod – 3 years

i-Pod application downloads hit 1 billion in only 9 months!

FaceBook added 100 million users in less than 9 months.
· If FaceBook were a country, it would be the world’s 4th largest.
· The fastest growing segment on FaceBook is 55-65 year-old females.
· More than 1.5 million pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog spots, notes, photos, etc. are shared on FaceBook daily!

Ashton Kutcher and Ellen DeGeneres have more Twitter followers than the entire population of Ireland, Norway and Panama. 80% of Twitter usage is on mobile devices; people update anywhere, anytime.
…………..Imagine what that means for bad customer experiences?!

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world.

Wikipedia has over 13 million articles. Studies show it is more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica! If you were paid $1 for every time an article was posted on Wikipedia, you would earn $156.23 .....per hour!

There are over 200,000,000 blogs. 54% of bloggers post content or Tweet daily.

78% of consumers trust peer recommendations. Only 14% trust advertisements.

Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé.
70% of 18-34 year-olds have watched TV on the web ..
Only 33% have ever viewed a show on DVR/TiVo.
25% of Americans in the past month said they watched a short video on their phone.

35% of book sales on Amazon are for the Kindle.
24 of the 25 largest newspaper are experiencing record declines in circulation.

We no longer search for the news….. the news finds us.
In the near future, we’ll no longer search for products and services….. they will find us via Social Media.

Social Media isn’t a fad; it has become a fundamental shift in the way we communicate!

Like that old line from the TV show (Hill Street Blues was it?) .....
.... Be careful out there!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Say whaaaat?

89% of people say rudeness is a serious problem.

79% say it’s gotten worse in the past 10 years.

99% of people say they aren’t rude.

Source: US News & World Report
Exerpt from J. Littman’s “I Hate People!”

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Touched by an Angel

I love the idea of angels! Yet, I used to resist the concept of angels just a little bit -- wanting to make sure I wasn’t worshipping something separate from God….rather, a clear expression of God. I love the image that angels are a protecting presence enfolding us, and the fact that when I think about angels my thoughts sort of lift up.

Now some people say. “Aren’t angels just good people who have died?” I don’t know! I think perhaps, they are divine ideas put in human form. It’s not too unusual that we would behold the presence of angels this way. We tend to see what we understand, and I think it is sort of natural for us to put good ideas with skin on them …so that we can feel a kind of connection, even humanness to it. It seems more benevolent, somehow to imagine God’s grace in flowing robes and lovely smiles, than to think of it just as a blinding light --though that, too, can be interpreted as an angel by some people.

In the Bible stories, angels keep cropping up, bringing messages that upset people and challenge people and change people and comfort people – sometimes all at once! But the one message they always share is, “Don’t be afraid.” Then, when we read the description, Heavenly hosts -- we’re given to understand this isn’t just a bunch of guys in white robes with harps. This was a massive display of soldiers in full and shining gear with armor and weapons ….all that would be required to fight some divine battle! Remember when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane? He said, my Father can summon 12 legions of angels. Now, if He was going to summon legions of angels they must be pretty tough. They weren’t exactly the lovely diaphanous creatures that we like to think of. Instead, they are a little like say, the great NFL linebacker, Lawrence Taylor. If you want an angel to go before you, don’t you want somebody like that?!

I think it’s sad, in this post-modern culture where we’re so attuned to getting all the facts, that some people just dismiss what they can’t see, or touch or hear. Maybe children see angels better than we do, because they expect them. In the middle of play they might suddenly look off, just to the side where there was seemingly nothing… and smile. Did you ever see a baby do that? Of course, there’s that old saying, "They’re smiling at angels." I’m not so sure it’s just a saying.

Do you see the angels? They re all around us!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

I'd honestly forgotten the (dubious) significance of September 16 this morning. Walking in my office building shortly after 6, I held the door for a departing guest .....and was amused to see our Night Auditor grinning in my direction, holding up 7 fingers. What? In the time-honored tradition of some youth, I guessed she was giving me a signal he'd rated a "7" on her personal "hunkster" scale? (Yes, I turned around to take a second look!)

No, she was congratulating me on 7 years employment. Whoa, that's rather nice!

'Permitted myself a brief flash-back to that day ....when no-one knew exactly what to "do" with me. (I'd arrived 'midst budgets and my poor GM honestly didn't have a spare hour show me the ropes; hence, I spent the first four weeks assisting in H.R.)

Anyway, I wanted to show ya'all what our Front Desk crew had waiting for me on my desk.... a handmade tissue-paper and gold-foil greeting, signed all along the margins. In all honesty, that means the moon and stars!
Check the little magnet that reads, "Instant Human: Just add Coffee"! Do they know me or whaaat?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Life Is a Theater

Again, I'm borrowing from a collection of old favorites. I don't know who wrote this, but sure wish I'd taken his/her words to heart a long time ago!

Invite Your Audience Carefully!

Not everyone is healthy enough to have a front row seat in our lives.
There are some people in your life that need to be loved from a DISTANCE.

It's amazing what you can accomplish when you let go of, or at least minimize your time with, draining, negative, incompatible, not-going-anywhere relationships/friendships.

Observe the relationships around you. Pay attention. Which ones lift and which ones lean? Which ones encourage and which ones discourage? Which ones are on a path of growth uphill and which ones are going downhill?

When you leave certain people do you feel better or feel worse? Which ones always have drama or don't really understand, know or appreciate you?

The more you seek quality, respect, growth, peace of mind, love and truth around you...the easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of Your Life.

"If you cannot change the people around you,
CHANGE the people you are around."

Remember that the people we hang with will have an impact on both our lives and our income.
And so we must be careful to choose the people we hang out with, as well as the information with which we feed our minds. We should not share our dreams with negative people, nor feed our dreams with negative thoughts.

It's your choice and your life..... It's up to you who and what you let in it......

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I want to wish a Happy Grandparents Day to all ~ whether you are a biological grandparent, or who simply stand as a loving, guiding example for our youth.
….. To my own “grands” and great-grands ~ no longer on this earthly plane, but whose presence lingers ~ particularly on those lazy afternoons when I heed the “itch” to go trolling through the family cedar chest….

Beatitudes of a Family Genealogist

Blessed are the great-grandfathers who saved embarkation and citizenship papers for these tell WHEN they came …

Blessed are the great-grandmothers who hoarded newspaper clippings and old letters for they tell the STORY of time

Blessed are the grandfathers who filed every legal document for these provided PROOF

Blessed are the grandmothers who preserved family Bibles and diaries for these are our HERITAGE …

Blessed are the fathers who elect officials who answer letters of inquiry … for some, the only LINK to the past ..

Blessed are the mothers who related family TRADITIONS and LEGENDS to the family … for one of her children will surely remember ..

Blessed are relatives who fill in family sheets with extra details for to them, we owe FAMILY HISTORY ..

Blessed is any family whose members strive for the PRESERVATION OF RECORDS, for this is a labor of love.

-- Wilma Mauk

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Where were you when the world stopped turning?

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Do you like grits?

Yes, I've heard tell it's an "acquired taste." Nonetheless, I've been a fan for years; and have finally wooed DH into eating 'em ~ on purpose ~ of course, with promises of real butter and brown sugar.

I received this "tutorial" a while back ~ It just cracked me up, and wanted to share:

What are Grits?

Nobody really knows. Some folks believe grits are grown on bushes and are harvested by midgets by shaking the bushes after spreading sheets around them.

Many people feel that grits are made from ground up bits of white corn. These are obviously lies spread by communists and terrorists. Nothing as good as Grits can be made from corn.

The most recent research suggests that the mysterious manna that God rained down upon the Israelites during their time in the Sinai Desert was most likely Grits. Critics disagree, stating that there is no record of biscuits, butter, salt, and red eye gravy raining down from the sky, and that God would not punish his people by forcing them to eat Grits without these key ingredients.

Grits are formed deep underground under intense heat and pressure. It takes over 1,000 years to form a single Grit. Most of the world's grit mines are in South Carolina , and are guarded day and night by armed guards and pit bull dogs. Harvesting the Grit is a dangerous occupation, and many Grit miners lose their lives each year so that Grits can continue to be served morning after morning for breakfast (not that having Grits for lunch and dinner is out of the question).

Yankees have attempted to create synthetic Grits. They call it Cream of Wheat. As far as we can tell, the key ingredients of Cream of Wheat are Elmer's Glue and shredded styrofoam. These synthetic grits have also been shown to cause nausea.

As we mentioned earlier, the first known mention of Grits was by the Ancient Israelites in the Sinai Desert . After that, Grits were not heard from for another 1000 years. Experts feel that Grits were used during this time only during secret religious ceremonies, and were kept from the public due to their rarity. The next mention of Grits was found amidst the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii in a woman's personal diary. The woman's name was Herculaneum Jemimaneus (Aunt Jemima to her friends.)

The 10 Commandments of Grits

I. Thou shalt not put syrup on thy Grits.
II. Thou shalt not eat thy Grits with a spoon or knife.
III. Thou shalt not eat Cream of Wheat and call it Grits, for this is blasphemy.
IV. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's Grits.
V. Thou shalt use only salt, butter, and red-eye gravy as toppings for thy Grits.
VI Thou shalt not eat Instant Grits.
VII. Thou shalt not put ketchup on thy Grits.
VIII. Thou shalt not put margarine on thy Grits.
IX. Thou shalt not eat toast with thy Grits, only biscuits made from scratch.
X. Thou shalt eat grits on the Sabbath for this is manna from heaven.

How to Cook Grits

For one serving of Grits? Boil 1.5 cups of water with salt and a little butter. [Use milk and they are creamier!) Add 5 TBsp of Grits. Reduce to a simmer and allow the Grits to soak up all the water. When a pencil stuck into the grits stands alone, it is done. That's all there is to cooking grits.

How to make red eye gravy.
Fry salt cured country ham in cast iron pan. Remove the ham when done and add coffee to the gravy and simmer for several minutes. Great on grits and biscuits. How to Eat Grits Immediately after removing your grits from the stove top, add a generous portion of butter or red eye gravy. (WARNING: Do NOT use low-fat butter.) The butter should cause the Grits to turn a wondrous shade of yellow. (Hold a banana or a yellow rain slicker next to your Grits; if the colors match, you have the correct amount of butter.) In lieu of butter, pour a generous helping of red eye gravy on your grits. Be sure to pour enough to have some left for sopping up with your biscuits.

Never, ever substitute canned or store bought biscuits for the real thing because they cause cancer, rotten teeth ---- Next, add salt. (NOTICE: The correct ration of Grit to Salt is 10:1 Therefore for every 10 grits, you should have 1 grain of salt.)

Now begin eating your grits. Always use a fork, never a spoon, to eat Grits. Your grits should be thick enough so they do not run through the tines of the fork.

The correct beverage to serve with Grits is black coffee. DO NOT use cream or, heaven forbid, Skim Milk.) Your grits should never be eaten in a bowl because Yankees will think its Cream of Wheat.

Ways to Eat Leftover Grits (Leftover grits are extremely rare.)
Spread them in the bottom of a casserole dish, Cover and place them in the refrigerator overnight. The Grits will congeal into a gelatinous mass. Next morning, slice the Grits into squares and fry them in 1/2" of cooking oil and butter until they turn a golden brown.

Many people are tempted to pour syrup onto Grits served this way. This is, of course, unacceptable. (Note: Slices can also be dipped into beaten egg and fried.)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

In a matter of days, our Nation marks an ugly anniversary – one that has forever changed our lives. Too, I think most folks were freshly outraged upon hearing the news that Scotland released the Lockerbie bomber on “compassionate grounds.”

The Lord’s Prayer asks Him to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” Whew! How can we possibly forgive those perpetrators for their heinous acts?

Well, one essayist has dared to address this difficult dilemma in an on-line issue of St. Anthony Messenger Magazine. In part, he has written .....

Our first reaction to the question of forgiveness is probably refusal. Forgiving them would seem to be disloyal to those who died on that day; it might say that their deaths were not important, or that we need not remember their suffering and violent demise. But on the other hand, we know that forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian message. So what are we to do?

First of all, it is God who forgives sin and wrongdoing. Only God has sufficient perspective to grasp the extent of damage that sin and wrongdoing create in our lives and in the lives of those against whom we sin.

Forgiveness is something that comes from God – it is a gift of God to us. If we listen closely to Jesus’ words, we will discover that, in Luke’s gospel, Jesus’ first words on the cross are about forgiveness. “Father, forgive them they know not what they do.” We often read this as Jesus forgiving his executioners. But in actual fact, Jesus is calling on God, his Father, to forgive them. Jesus is still in the midst of his suffering. He cannot forgive his executioners for something they have not yet completed. But he can call on his Father to forgive.

This act of Jesus can be a great source of comfort to us when we struggle to forgive but cannot. We can call upon God, who sees all things, to forgive. And that is a prayer that we, too, someday may be able to forgive. The advice to “forgive and forget” means that we should not hold on to resentment after we have forgiven someone. Do we have to forget when we forgive?

Actually, we neither have to, nor should. That injunction is nowhere in the Bible. Our repulsion at forgetting is a correct human reaction. Forgetting would diminish our humanity and trivialize the suffering of those days.

The issue is not forgetting, but rather, how we remember. Put another way. When we forgive, we do not forget – we remember in a different way. Forgiveness means that the wrongful deed of the past no longer controls our lives. By remembering in a different way, we do not forget what happened, but it is no longer allowed to poison the present and the future.

But even to achieve that, we will need God’s help.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Random Thoughts

I received these observations via e-mail the other day... and can't take credit. But, I sure identify with most of 'em!

* Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you’re going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But, instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch, or phone, or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you’re crazy by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.

* How many times is it appropriate to say, “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear what they said?

* Every time I have to spell a word over the phone “as in” examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete idiot. Today I had to spell my boss’ last name to an attorney and said, “Yes, that’s G as in … (10 second lapse) … ummm … Goonies.”

* MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

* Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like, I know my name, I know where I’m from, this shouldn’t be a problem …

* I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my 10 page report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

* I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

* Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey. But I’d bet-cha everyone can find and push the “Snooze” button from 3 feet away , in about 1.6 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time.

* I wonder if policemen every get annoyed at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.

* I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent one inconsiderate driver from cutting in at the front. Stay strong!!!

and finally …

* I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Remember Whensday

RMS Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary

Sally at The (Mis)Adventures of Karl and Sally has begun a meme where old family photos and stories take center stage one more time. Won’t you join us? Just click, and allow yourself to go back, back ……

Being a “meme newbie” I must confess that clear-cut memories of my family’s first real vacation are haphazard … like witnessing random snapshots shown at lightning speed on some giant screen. I’ve chosen these 1957 excursions not just for the warm fuzzies that still linger ~ but because I credit those sailings as the germ which grew into a life-long infatuation with cruising.

By all accounts, I was a happy ~ tho’ reckless ~ 7 year old. Oblivious to potential hazards, I loved exploring the ships' nooks and crannies. In those days parents weren't inclined to worry; they'd reason, "We're on a ship; how far could she possibly go?" (An age of innocence, yes!)

A couple of virtual snapshots remain focused:

We 3 Willers lined up, awaiting Sunday morning religious services. I'd slipped aside, beneath a purple velvet-like barrier to join what I can only guess seemed a more interesting group of folks. Then, like a rocket, my mom’s arm shot out, grabbed mine: “No!, You mustn’t go there … that’s First Class.”

Our return voyage aboard the Queen Mary, took an unfortunate route across the North Atlantic’s stormy seas. This, before stabilizers became commonplace. More than half the passengers – mother included – took to their berths. Public areas and dining rooms were virtually deserted. An ex-Navy seaman, my dad seemed immune. I didn’t know any better. Together, we’d brave the elements out on deck, careful to use the thick ropes strung up by crewmen to ensure no one was injured. Ah, how the Queen rose high, higher … then plummeted carelessly, crookedly down again. Up and down, side to side! I was thrilled -- and to this day, I enjoy being on a ship in crazy weather.

There being more than few children aboard both the QE and QM, the staff would host little tea parties and such to keep us entertained. That's me on the far right, no doubt challenging the kid to (my) right, "What are you laughing at?" Mom was so proud of my "french" braids ... now, I'm thinking they look painful!

Here I’m wearing a concoction my dad assembled – in full pout, totally humiliated because “people are looking at me; they’re laughing.” (How I feared being looked at too closely!) It’s rumored, a full meltdown ensued. Poor daddy!

A couple of years ago DH and I were near Long Beach and thought it fun to go visit the old Queen Mary. Wow, it had been 50 years! I was eager but anxious all the same. Would I remember? Now, the tour is very interesting if one remembers its history of service in WWII, or is a naval enthusiast. (I am neither.) So, while DH thoroughly enjoyed that side of things, I kept my subconscious on high alert, waiting for the light bulbs in my brain to fire.

Unfortunately, there were but a couple of nuances... like a dream, here one instant, gone the next. Disappointed! I’d tried so hard … but don’t suppose that sort of thing can be forced.