Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It Is That Time of Year Again

51 degrees. When I switch from nylon stockings to tights, take out the little gloves and consider the real coat. When I defy the Green Gods of Energy and drive with the windows down and the heater on. Because I like it.

This morning as I left for work, I found the coat. But it was all crumpled on a chair in the hallway. How long had it been there?

In the pocket were a lip balm, those cheap lightweight gloves, some loose change and a receipt for lunch on April 8, 2008. Dominick's Cafe. I had a cup of soup, a bag of chips and a small drink.

I obviously forgot to take it to be cleaned last spring.

I took the little gloves and wore a fleece.

Monday, September 29, 2008

It is Our Own Fault

MSN Money has an article today called 7 Tips: Surviving a Financial Panic. Besides the usual “don’t mess with your 401(k)” and “build an emergency fund” advice, there was a section on “Keeping historical perspective”. I require perspective. Can someone please draw me a “how bad is it” chart comparing now with 2002 and the Great Depression? Anyway, I liked this bit:

“Want to know whom to blame? Well, it wasn't just the greed-is-good Wall Street moguls and deregulation-happy politicians who led us to the precipice, according to Guillen, the Wharton professor. He thinks we all have lived beyond our means. We have spent more than we've saved. We've wanted to own homes at any cost. Investors haven't been satisfied with fair returns on their money. They've wanted to make killings.

"Wall Street is to blame, but don't forget that everyone was very happy to take part in the big party," Guillen explains. "We are all responsible for what happened."

Let's keep all this in perspective. To be sure, the Great Depression was far worse than today's situation. Then, unemployment ranged as high as 40%, compared with 6% now. Interest rates are still low today. The economy is experiencing weak growth but not the full-blown contraction witnessed during the Depression.”

Here’s how I feel: my 401(k) has taken a beating, but I still have a good job and my mortgage is manageable and I do not otherwise carry debt. We lived through the Great Chicago Floods of 2007 and 2008. I am counting my blessings.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Foster Birds

Manu, the Foster Amazon, is pending adoption! His new family is scheduled to come pick him up on Sunday the 12th. I talked to his new mom, and she asked a million really good questions. She works at home, so he will be out of the cage all day long. And he will be an only bird, which I know he will appreciate. I am happy to say I believe this is a great home for him.

I mentioned that the Refuge was pretty badly flooded, so I decided to bring another bird home. Cobalt, who I believe is called a peach-faced love bird, came to the us with Precious the blue crowned conure (I really don't know if I have these species right).

I brought Cobalt home because he came in a little cage that is smaller than my TV. So I didn't help with the space problem, but I can give him his anti-biotics twice a day, which is a big pain. And it is one less cage to clean onsite. Now that I think about it, it gives the Refuge some counter space back.

This is new for me because I don't know a thing about little birds. I managed to get him out for a bit, so here are the pictures.

Cobalt is not even up on the website - but I just sent my pics to the Webmaster!

Friday, September 26, 2008

At the Office - Quit Griping

This is an older article on MSN Careers that I loved when I first read it. “Get Rid of These Work Bad Habits” came back to the main page today and I wonder if it doesn’t mean that between the economy and the election and whatever else, that we might be getting on each other’s nerves. Here is my favorite point:

Bad Habit: Being negative.
What you think: “Everybody complains.”
What it really says: You’re the person to avoid.
What to do: It’s natural to grumble about work once in awhile. If you gripe and moan when you’re asked to do anything, however, people will not only get annoyed, they’ll wonder why you don’t just quit. Keep in mind that work isn’t always fun; keep the complaints to a minimum.

This is not just about co-workers, either. How often do we find ourselves complaining about work when we get home? Meeting friends on the weekend? I complain about my job, and I love my job.

Resolved: Let us all be quiet and give thanks for the fact that we are employed. Otherwise, let us be quiet and go find another job. Right now.

I am a Hater


I don't normally go for these pictures, but I really hate Crocs. My mother (who wears them - in black, navy and aquamarine) sent me this. I should put them on her dog.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

At the Refuge - Finding Room

I mentioned that we had a pretty bad flood at the Refuge a couple of weeks ago. Space has been crazy tight and last night I brought in two more birds: a little lovebird and a – what’s it called? A blue crowned conure?

Because we are off summer hours at work, I arrived at the Refuge early and went back to my old habit of pulling out all of the water dishes to run a load in the dishwasher. This gives be the opportunity to look in on all of the birds at the beginning of the evening. I brought out a new cockatoo, another Fred (that we think is a girl), who happily sat on the kitchen perch eating her nutriberries.

By then, the rest of the Wednesday crew is arriving and I work in the front room. Cleaning cages, giving fresh food and water and attention. When I was finished, I looked at the medicine chart. Most medicines are given in the morning and Rich, our director, takes care of those, but there are a few in the evening. On the chart were two names I didn’t recognize. So I called Rich.

There were two new birds in quarantine, but their tests just came back fine so I could bring them in and find them some space.

Right.

The new conure was great. Took her medicine straight from the syringe with no fuss at all. Wasn’t intimidated by the big cockatoo that came out to play. With big cockatoo noise. I found a place for the conure, and the lovebird came in something that would work for the time being.

And by then? I was totally exhausted. We don’t have pictures of the new birds yet. But I am working on it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Uncivilized Anonymity

I’m sure this is news to no one, but I am glad to have the opportunity to discuss it again:

MSNBC had an article about how the anonymity of the Internet (and telephone and car) facilitate anti-social behavior is otherwise perfectly nice people. Here is a piece:

“The environment affects how you behave,” she says. “Any time you go to places where you’re not known — even if it’s a hotel in another city — you might be more aggressive. So when you construct an environment like the Internet or long-distance call centers with a help desk worker in Bangalore, you’re creating an environment that facilitates uncharacteristic behavior. You’re not getting those nonverbal cues that calibrate your behavior and give you feedback if you’re going off track. Those people who do customer service for Comcast probably need double doses of Zoloft.”

Have you ever read the discussion boards on newspaper websites? The ones in the Tribune can make me ashamed of my own city. Ignoring the abuse of the English language for a minute, people are just mean.

I was reading a thing last night, it might have been USA Today, about a study on how people feel about their doctors. The results are that we generally think they don’t show enough empathy. Personally, that is not my feeling about my doctor, so I clicked in to get a feeling of how many people agreed.

Bad idea.

A couple of very brave doctors posted about how many patients they have to see in a day just to meet their overhead. And how angry patients are to be kept waiting when the doctor spends an extra couple of minutes with someone. One dared to add the cost of malpractice insurance and the monthly cost of his student loans ($2000!). The two doctors I read seemed apologetic, and I believe they were trying to say they wished they could spend more time with us but the system is broken. One even mentioned the relatively new phenomenon of concierge doctors.

They were reamed.

I realize this is a hottish topic, (I could do a post of my own on the health care system) but it was just uncivilized.

I’m not saying that we should all go out and hug a stranger today, but please. Might we respectfully agree to disagree?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I Didn't Need to See This

In doing some online research, I found this website, Book Sale Finder.

I really did not need to know that there are six big book sales going on within an hour of my house this weekend. I already buy way. More. Books. Than I actually read.

Now I have to figure out how to post there for the Library.

Week Four

I am in Week 4 of my third course at BU. Project Management. I was going to post the textbook in the “What I am Reading” piece in my sidebar, but I can’t seem to get through Miller.

The professor is really good in that he participates a lot, instead of recording the lectures and letting the teaching facilitators do the rest. I also like that he argues with the textbook and finds different examples to make his point.

The way BU structures the online program, there is the assigned reading, online lectures, posted classroom discussions and written assignments each week. The lectures are part text and part recorded. In the past, I have seen the professors record computer program lectures, perhaps with voiceover. And use outside videos for case studies.

For most of his lectures, my current professor actually records himself in front of a white board. I love it. Except that I can’t interrupt him to ask a question. I am that girl in class.

The facilitator, assigned to the group at the last minute, is trying very hard to keep up with grading and feedback requests.

Mostly, I am enjoying this course. Except for one irony: I am finding it very hard to estimate the amount of time I will spend on my homework.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Now I Have Seen Everything



I went to pick up the roast for Sunday Dinner. I am walking down the back aisle and in a refridgerated case, I see this a bunch of oversized cans of whipped cream. Except they aren't whipped cream. They are pancake batter. Batter Blaster, it was called. I went to the web site to steal a picture and found a demo video:




Now. Ask me where I was when I found this.

Whole Foods.

What is Food in a Can doing at Whole Foods? It is organic. They were selling it for $5.69 a can - I passed.

Puppy Mill Awareness Day


September 20 is "Puppy Mill Awareness Day", so to do my part, following is the text of a flyer that Best Friends Animal Society produced for the occassion:

How can I be sure my next puppy isn’t from a puppy mill?

Puppy mills sell millions of dogs each year; don’t be their next customer! Millions of people buy dogs from puppy mills each year, and most believe they are getting a dog from a “responsible” breeder. Puppy mill owners count on people falling in love with their puppies, either in the pet store or through adorable photos on the Internet. Here is how you can be sure you don’t support
this cruel industry:Puppy mills sell millions of dogs each year; don’t be their next customer! Millions of people buy dogs from puppy mills each year, and most believe they are getting a dog from a “responsible” breeder. Puppy mill owners count on people falling in love with their puppies, either in the pet store or through adorable photos on the Internet. Here is how you can be sure you don’t support
this cruel industry:

Websites:

Puppy mill breeders have great-looking websites to help them sell puppies direct to the public. Beware of any site that sells dogs, especially if they offer to ship puppies to you. No matter how convincing the site is, the reality could be tens or hundreds of dogs warehoused for breeding. They will even say they are not puppy mills right on the site. Remember: anyone can host a website, post photos, etc. There is no guarantee that the information is factual. Unless you see where your puppy is coming from first-hand, trusting a website is far too risky, since it’s the perfect place for consumer fraud to occur. Never, ever buy a puppy online.

Pet Stores:

Stores sell puppies as though they are merchandise, or products. The system is the same as any other product in a store: puppies are raised with low-cost production methods where corners are cut to maximize profits, sold to a broker or “middle man,” and delivered to retail stores to be bought by the end customer. Oftentimes, a puppy’s breeder will sell a puppy to a broker for as little as $75 per puppy, while the end customer often pays well over $1,000 in a retail pet store.

Classified Ads:

For decades, the newspaper classifieds have been the first places that puppy buyers look for a new pet. Commercial breeders tap into this market easily by placing ads. Beware of any ad that lists several breeds for sale, as well as if the breeder offers to meet you anywhere other than where the place where the dogs and puppies are raised.For decades, the newspaper classifieds have been the first places that puppy buyers look for a new pet. Commercial breeders tap into this market easily by placing ads. Beware of any ad that lists several breeds for sale, as well as if the breeder offers to meet you anywhere other than where the place where the dogs and puppies are raised.

Alternatives:

With millions of animals entering shelters and rescues every year, anyone can find their perfect rescued puppy or dog if they simply take the time to look. It’s a sure way not to support puppy mills. Start by visiting your local shelter, where 25-30% of surrendered animals are purebred. If you don’t find the right pet there, go online to search for pets at other shelters, as well as rescue groups.

http://www.petfinder.com/
http://www.1-800-save-a-pet.com/
http://www.pets911.com/

You can also contact local breed rescue organizations by searching http://www.google.com/ , entering a city or state, the breed you are looking for, and the word “rescue.”

**A note of caution: Breeders have caught on that more people are choosing to adopt instead of buy. If a person is “adopting out” several litters of purebred puppies, has “more on the way,” and doesn’t seem to have adult animals in need as well, then proceed with caution. This may be a breeder rather than a rescue. Every pet adopted is a life saved!

Friday, September 19, 2008

What I Did on My Last Summer Day Off

Trip to the allergist. Getting my weekly shot today means I can avoid the children tomorrow.

Went to the grand opening of the
new Half Price Books in Highland Park. Apparently they were giving away free gift cards to the first 100 customers. I arrived at 9:30 and was not close to the first 100. I would find this promising except for the ladies standing around gossiping in front of the Clearance bookcases.

Headed south to stop in at William Sonoma and found
the Yankee Pot Roast Braising Sauce. I was looking for something involving minimal effort to do for dinner on Sunday, when my grandfather may or may not be coming out to Glenview for the Heifer International event at Wagner Farm. You throw the sauce with some beef and vegetables into the slow cooker. Two people in the store said it was the best thing ever.

Came home and my box from
Drs. Foster and Smith was here. This is what we call Time to Make the Bird Food. Two different types of pellets. Two different kinds of cereal. Tri-color pasta. And nutriberries.

Unloaded the dishwasher.

I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Don't get excited, it was just the refridgerated dough. Then, because the oven was already on, I found a box of mix for pumpkin bread. It was time.
In between, I did five loads of laundry.

Then my mother got home and it was time to drop off my car for an oil change. When we came back, she told me that the roof is leaking into her bedroom closet
. So I went to Angie's List and found a highly rated company for her to call next week.

Then I sat down to finish the week's reading for school and spent a bit of time tooling around MS Project. As that is the tool I am to use for my final Project. In Project Management.

I had some dinner and tried the pumpkin bread out on the birds. Manu the Foster Amazon loved it. Kiwi the Grey tossed the plate to the dog. The dog was most appreciative.

While I was doing these things, my mother was working on his Christmas cards. The dog's.
I am not joking:



That's ok because I left her a sinkful of dishes. And now I am going to watch some more of Season One of House, which it turns out I didn't even need to buy because it is on USA all the damn time now that I have cable in my room!

I have 11 days of vacation to kill before the end of the year. I would very much like if one of them involved lying in bed, reading books and eating bon bons. Or Laffy Taffy. Whatever.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

At the Library - Don's Books

I was sorting through books at the Library tonight and found several books of history. The dust covers were covered in the protective plastic like the libraries use. But they weren’t ex-library books. Someone loved these books. Someone took the trouble to buy the covers-for-dust-covers and used them in his own library.

I use that stuff. I thought I might want to marry this person.

Then I opened the third book. It seems his name is Don and his wife bought him a book for Father’s Day in 1992.

Then I started to worry about him. Why did Don donate these perfectly lovely books? I am hoping that he just ran out of room in his library. But perhaps he died and his family donated his books.

I was reminded that every book is a story and every book has a story.

Sometimes I find a plane ticket inside. Or a store receipt. Or a weird bookmark.

And sometimes I find books that were loved. So thanks, Don. You made my night.

The Storm Defender on Does it Really Work?

I hadn’t seen the Does it Really Work? Blog on MSN until they reviewed a doggy cape called The Storm Defender that was developed to calm dogs during thunderstorms.

Shadow, our 11-year old, 60 pound mixed breed dog, has grown increasingly anxious during storms, so I checked out the article. The idea seems to be that someone on staff tries the product, the experts are consulted and then it is open to comments from readers. The reviewer was pretty satisfied. Here is what the experts said:

“It does work sometimes; it does not work all the time,” explained Bonnie Beaver, executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

Whether the Storm Defender succeeds seems to depend on the level of static electricity that builds up in the coats of some medium- and long-haired dogs before and during a storm.

“The static electricity starts to tingle and they begin to dread that feeling when a storm is coming,” she said. “It’s a learned behavior.”The cape cuts the static, Beaver explained. It may also simulate the comfort of a hug, she said.

I sent the link to my mother, who thinks that for the price, it is certainly worth a shot. She happened to be taking Shadow to the vet for his annual exam that day. The vet wanted the link, too. Here is a link to the actual product website.

I’ll let you know how it goes. After I am done checking out the rest of that MSN blog.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

At the Refuge - Peter


I walked into the Refuge tonight and knew something was wrong. What the heck was Jasper doing in here? And Peachie?

The answer is that the rain from Ike Weekend, that flooded out most of Chicago (and you wouldn't believe it in NW Indiana), flooded the basement of the Refuge. All of the birds had to come upstairs. Already crowded because of the construction of the addition.

The good news was that I got to spend a bit of time with Peter, a relatively new bird that hasn't been around much. Because at her intake appointment at the vet, it was determined that she was getting ready to lay an egg. The egg was stuck and there was an egg behind that and long story short, she had a birdie hysterectomy.

She looks great now. I didn't try to touch her, but she approached me very gently to take a treat and was talking all night. I understand she can also sing - I only heard her chirping.

Peter the Girl Amazon is up for adoption and
you can read more about her here.

Killing Time for a Good Cause


Have you all heard of FreeRice.com? It is an online vocabulary game, and for every correct answer, they donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Programme. It appears to be the real deal. The advertisers pay for the donations.


My friend Eve introduced me to this several months ago and I just looked it up again. It is addictive.

Career Advice: Don't Do This

One of the career blogs on Comcast.net was doing interview horror stories. I couldn't believe this one:

I was interviewing a candidate for a mortgage sales position. She was dressed very professionally and had about a year and a half of experience. The interview was going very well for about 20 minutes when her cellphone started ringing. Instead of shutting it off, she answered it and began to talk (to her boyfriend) for approximately one minute. I was astonished and told her that the interview was over. She didn't know why I canceled the interview. All the better!

You can find the piece in its entirety here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Physical Therapy

Last week at my annual physical exam, I mentioned to my doctor that my back had been bothering me on and off all summer. He recommended physical therapy. I was all skeptical, thinking of electrode-stuff and twice a week foraboutever. Then he said, “I think you will get some educational value out of it.”

That got my attention. So I went. Here is what I learned:

1. There are about a million different kinds of pain that I haven’t even dreamed of yet.
2. My muscles are “weak” where I didn’t even know I had muscles.
3. I am “too flexible”.

“Too flexible?” I asked. “How can you be too flexible?”

“You know,“ physical therapist said. “Like Gumby.”

“Gumby didn’t have bones!”

As best as I could put together, “too flexible” is relative to the strength of the muscles that support the joints.

So it seems I have some exercising to do. And then PT says that she can feel a really tight spot in my lower back. She wants to do Ultrasound Therapy. And I let her.

Six hours later, I thought I was going to die. I dragged myself into the bathroom like Quasimodo trying to find my Advil. I feel somewhat better now.

Exercise, good. Not touching OtherTherapy again.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Austin

My friend Austin was in town this weekend from San Francisco. We went to high school together and he was here for his grandmother's birthday.

Austin recently did battle with Cancer. Kicked its butt, if I can find something to knock on. I kept up with his struggle on his blog, and I was so proud of the way he owned the illness, as opposed to the illness owning him.

This was the first time I had seen him since chemo and he looked great. Except for the ridiculous beard, I mean. And as soon as I got into the car, he was thanking me again for everything I did while I was sick.

"Dude," I said. "I sent you a few cards. It was the very,very least I could do."

I remember I sent him things to make him laugh. I remember that I cheered for him when he shaved his head. I think I sent him some popcorn once. I don't remember because I struggled with what he might want to eat while feeling all sick from chemo. Mrs. Field's cookies? Malnati's Pizza? Hell, I don't know.

I am not the Hold Your Hand and Cry on My Shoulder Friend. Which is ok because it is hard to be that friend from across the country. I am the Here Are All of the Reasons Why We Are Not Going to Panic Friend. It is also hard to be that friend from across the country. So I settled for genuinely keeping up with him and sending him a card once in a while. Who knew that was going to be important?

As Austin was telling me the whole story today, he had a theme. "I'm not dead yet," was what he said over and over again. What he needed from his friends was reinforcement of that idea.

Moral of the story: However little we can do is still worth doing.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Saving Horses

The summer that Barbaro, The Kentucky Derby winner, went down, the Arlington Racecourse in suburban Chicago had something like 23 horses break down on the track. So I followed Barbaro's progress pretty closely, hoping that veterinary medicine was getting better fast enough. Unfortunately, he didn't make it.

So this story means something to me. See these pictures? They are from Best Friends Animal Society. And that? Is a horse with an artifical leg. Here is what they have to say:



"It's a practice so common in the horse world that it's become a given: If a horse breaks his leg, or develops a severe infection in it, there’s nothing to be done other than put him down.
That conventional wisdom, however, is being challenged by Riley, a female buckskin quarter horse living at Horse Haven at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Instead of euthanizing Riley for a severe leg infection, Best Friends gave her a second lease on life by having her leg amputated and fitted with an artificial limb. She is one of about 80 horses in the U.S. now happily living out the remainder of their lives thanks to this advance in equine medicine."

It has only been a few months since the surgery, but so far, so good for this horse. Thanks to Best Friends for taking this huge step forward. You can read the whole story here.

At the Refuge - Angel


Angel the Umbrella Cockatoo is an excellent example of why these are often called "velcro birds". She wants to be held all the time. I took her out the other night and placed her on the kitchen playstand with a treat. She isn't a flight risk, so I went to back to the front room to do some cleaning.

Angel climbed down and walked across the floor to me. I placed her up on the staircase railing. She climbed down and walked over to me.

No screaming. No biting. But very insistent. And no treats would make her change her mind.

Angel's feathers are pretty scraggly, but I am hopeful that she will leave them alone when she starts to get more comfortable in her new life. This picture doesn't do her justice - she is going to be a beauty.

Angel is available for adoption and you can read more about her here.

At the Library - Technical Difficulties

When I arrived at the Library, I found a note from our director saying that the laptop was broken. She left me hers so that I could list books on our Amazon site. I wouldn’t leave my laptop with my own grandmother.

Actually, when I wrote my Marketing Plan last semester for the Used Book Store, I put the crashing of the laptop down as one of the Threats. As in Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and.

We are a small budget operation using a donated computer (which I do believe also belonged to our director). If the laptop crashed and died, I could just bring in my own. But the rest of the volunteers might not have the luxury. And I can’t tell you how much better sales and inventory control have gotten since we have more people reviewing the donations. So the old laptop is being repaired.

In other Library News, the ground breaking ceremony for the new building is set for November 1. That is actually moved up a week from the last I heard. And the Holiday Book Sale is set for December 6-7. Which reminds me that I have to update the web site.

And make some more labels for the shelves. There really is always something to do.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Whole New World

I have been with my doctor since high school. He and a partner started a practice a few doors down from my parents’ store when I was 16. A few years later, they built their own space further down the street and grew to a five doctor practice.

Because I administer employee benefits, Dr. E and I would often talk about health insurance. I understood that it isn’t easy for five doctors to negotiate rates with BlueCross BlueShield. So when I heard through a co-worker that my doctors had sold their practice to one of the big hospital networks, I figured they were simply tired of the battle.

The first thing that I realized was that the hospital, which I will just go ahead and tell you is ENH, is all online. So I got on the web and registered. And found my records, including my prescriptions and get this – my lab results from last year. All online. I loved it.

I went in for my annual exam . There was a computer in the room, and the nurse logged right in, taking notes for my history and recording my blood pressure and stuff. She logged out and left.

The doctor came in, sat down and logged in. When I asked if he had just tired of arm- wrestling with BCBS, he said that was a part of it, but also that ENH upgraded all of the systems. He wanted the technology and ENH was offering to pay for it. I was all excited with him when he said, “This is the best part. Do you need refills of any of your medications?”

I said, “Um. Yeah. Allegra D.”

He said, “Shall I order it now or would you like to take a script with you?”

I said, “Now is fine.”

He confirmed my pharmacy, already in the system, pushed three buttons and said, “Done.”

“Are you even carrying a prescription pad right now?”

He was not.

So we did the exam and he took some more electronic notes and left. When the nurse came in to draw blood, she handed me a two page summary of the appointment. With codes. Codes! (These are handy when you are arguing with an insurance company).

I know the arguments about privacy, but I am just going to trust that ENH knows what it is doing. And the consultation with my doctor was no less personable than in the past. In fact, the computer looked like it belonged there to me.

I loved the whole experience.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Talking Politics is a Bad Idea

(deep breath)

I'm undecided, ok?

I will delete and ignore any comments that trash me for it. I am outing myself as undecided because I have a point to make.

I like both candidates. I voted for John McCain in the primary in 2000. I was convinced that he was the guy to save the soul of the Republican Party. I'm still hoping. And while I missed Barack Obama's acceptance speech, I read it online and it made me all teary and proud of Chicago for finding him. Just reading it! I like their wives, even. I don't believe that McCain would be Bush III and I don't believe that Obama is all rhetoric.

I am a moderate. If I were to label myself, I would say "Cook County Republican" - which anyone from Illinois could tell you is an oxymoron. I like my Executives conservative, my Justices liberal and my Legislature to be a mixed bag. So I have my issues with the politics of both parties.

I said it in January and I will say it again: All other things being equal (meaning no one really makes me mad between now and then), I will be perfectly happy with either candidate as President. Here is my point:

I can't stand the way these two sides talk to each other. And by "sides" I do not mean the candidates or even their entourages. I mean their supporters. It seems we all think that anyone not voting the way we are voting is just an idiot. Not just an idiot, but a xlkjsd% MORON!

My mother hates the Cleveland Browns because their fans are so obnoxious. I always thought that was terribly unfair of her. But I am starting to see it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

NFL Week 1 - 2008

Do you know what this is?


The answer is The Great Peyton Manning Surrounded by the Chicago Bears Doing the Safety Dance.

For those of you that aren't into football: a Safety is when your guy is tackled in your own end zone. Only 2 points, but extremely embarrassing. And it doesn't happen very often. The Bears sacked Manning deep in his own territory and then got to the running back in the end zone on the next play. It. Was. Beautiful.

Not many people expected the Bears to win this game, and this was the play that made everyone sit up and pay attention. And it was on Prime Time.

I could talk all night about this game, but the Pack is taking on those damn Vikings.

I love football season.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Publicity for the Refuge

ABC's Harry Porterfield visited the Refuge on Labor Day. Here is the report he did:




video

Friday, September 5, 2008

Public Service Announcement - Hotel Etiquette

My camera batteries died in Texas, so you will all have to wait until January for pictures of the Alamo. I am sure you are terribly disappointed. And now I must pontificate on a subject that my real life and LJ friends have heard a couple of times before:

When I returned to my hotel room Thursday night, there was a note on my desk. It was from the housekeeper, thanking me for leaving her a tip that morning. It ended with "God Bless You!" This makes me worry that many people are not tipping housekeeping, which is terrible. These people work very hard for very little and if you think they don't deserve something extra for cleaning up after you, then you must be a much neater person than I. That never requires fresh towels.

So in the interest of serving the industry, here is how I tip housekeeping:
  1. Housekeeping cannot take your money unless it is very clear that it was meant for them. So scribble some kind of "thank you" on some kind of paper and leave the money on it. There is usually a memo pad by the phone.
  2. Tip each day. Leaving a cumulative tip at the end might reward a person that never set foot in your room before and miss the person that cleaned your bathroom four days in a row.
  3. Rule #2 requires that you remember to carry small bills. I left two singles and a dollar in change this morning and felt badly about it. Just seems lame to leave coins.
  4. My formula is $2 per day, with an extra dollar on Sundays, check out days and any day I am particularly messy. This is when I travel alone - I do more when there are more people. My mother thinks I am cheap, but this was deemed acceptable by my Accounting Director, who travels more than I.
  5. If a hotel says that "housekeeping gratuity" is built into your "resort fee" (the extra $10 a night some places charge for the use of the fitness and spa facilities), please ask for details. When I asked, for a meeting I planned at work, I found that the "gratuity" was 75 cents per room per day. Very weak.

Now. A couple of weeks ago, I left $2 each day, with a note that said "Thank you" by the phone. For three days, it was not picked up. So I ended up leaving a cumulative tip at the end. That made me think about my colleague Gale, who always left her housekeeping tips with a note on the bed. I don't do that because I leave a tip out the night before so that I don't forget. But that made me wonder. What if the housekeeper couldn't read English, and thus couldn't confirm that the money on the desk was meant for her/him? And now I am really thinking too much about this.

If you were taught something different, or have other ideas about tipping hotel housekeeping, I'd like to hear about it. Now that my mother thinks I am cheap, I feel all insecure again.

Tricia's Update

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Michael Gargiulo, the guy arrested in California that was linked to Tricia Pacaccio's murder, has now been charged for two murders in California. The Trib has a quote from Tricia's mother:

"All I want is to make sure he never gets out of jail. My main hope is that Cook County will get on this now, because they've been ignoring it," said Pacaccio, who said she was waiting to talk with a detective regarding her daughter's case.

So it seems she, at least, is convinced.

You can read the full text of the article here. And this article has his mug shot, which is pretty scary, if you ask me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

San Antonio

I'm leaving tomorrow for San Antonio. After this, I am hoping to minimize the travel schedule for the duration of my Project Management class. The course opened online this afternoon and it is a good thing I started my reading already. The good news is that I think I can used the library Used Book Store as my final project. Again!

In other news, our steering committee at the bookstore met today. We are still struggling with how to grow our sales inside of the old library space..until the new library is built. Groundbreaking is scheduled for November.

I will see if I can't remember to take my camera with me. I remember a sign at the Alamo that explains to people about "being respectful". I loved it.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Too Much TV Again

There are some movies that we shouldn't bother to pick up on DVD because they are always on cable. Some of these are movies that we simply cannot turn off, regardless of how many, many times we have seen them before. Tonight's example is Last of the Mohicans.


My mother's is Independence Day. I have literally caught her watching it during the Super Bowl. Twice since I've had cable in my bedroom, I stayed up too late watching Speed, which is much more charming than its trailer. There were about two years when one or the other of The Addams Family films was on some channel, somewhere. And let's not mention Harry Potter.

Lesser "must watch it to the end" films in my house are Twister, and The Replacements, which was a Keanu Reeves football comedy. Be quiet, Gene Hackman was in it. These are not the films we love the most. Not even really good shows in many cases. Just the stuff we can't turn off.

On this Labor Day weekend, there was always something on. Makes the Staycation much more bearable, I think. And now Beetlejuice is on Chiller. I love that channel!


Manu's Potential New Family

After dropping the nephew off at home (more on the first sleep over later), I went to the Refuge to help out the short-staffed crew and pick up Manu from meeting his potential adopters. He was out on the kitchen perch and I walked over to him. He stepped up without much drama at all. Then Rich, our director, came in and Manu got all fluffed up and angry with me for being alive.

Manu's potential Dad was still there and witnessed the scene. Which I think might have made him like Manu more. I was introduced and spent some time talking with them. Nice people and more experienced with Amazons than I am. They asked about his routine and his diet. They told me he would be the only pet in the home, which I think he will like. They asked if I was going to have a hard time letting him go. I told them the truth:

I will miss Manu, but I am not the best home for him. It is also good for me see the "foster" experience all the way through. So we know that I won't get all attached to every animal and become Crazy Cat Lady.

I realize I am repeating myself, but I need the mantra.

As I cleaned and fed the birds in the front room, Manu sat in the kitchen getting progressively more impatient. By the time I went to get him, he stepped right up and went right into the carrier. If you can believe that.

The potential adopters are going to sleep on it, but Manu was the clear favorite of the bunch they met. If they decide to adopt, they will still have to order a cage and it probably be a couple of weeks before they can take him home.

I feel pretty good about it today. Check in again if he goes home with these people.

Shoe Shopping with Alex

Because of a bad nerve in my foot, since treated, I haven't been able to wear heels in over a year. So I decided I am entitled to new black pumps. And since Famous Footwear is doing their Buy One Get One 1/2 OFF, I took my nephew, Alex (age 3 1/2), with me.

Alex had been complaining that his church shoes hurt. So I was told to get something brown around a size 8. Alex was wearing his crocs. Don't get me started on that. So I had to introduce him to the concept of the ped. We called them the Silly Socks and he was totally fascinated. The shoes he liked best, a fancy looking brown laceless high top, were a half size too big. I got them for him, anyway.

Then I told him that I wanted to go look at shoes, too. Thought I was going to lose him. But he was all into it. I put three pairs in front of him:

Option #1: The More Professional Shoe (this double-banded Mary Jane seems to be the thing this year)


Option #2: The Suede, more interesting to look at shoe
Option #3: The Most Comfortable Shoe
He picked #2. Said he liked the "stripes". Pretty sure they were the most expensive of the three, but I bought them, anyway. I'm glad he talked me out of that last pair, because they were totally off mission. But the soles were like Keds! And I'm too old to pick "professional" over "interesting", anyway.