Sunday, December 28

Sister look-a-likes - part II

In my very first blog, I recounted a story where my (brown-eyed brunette) friend and I were thought to be sisters. Well, it happened again – with a different brunette friend – blue-eyed, this time, though. Yesterday I went to lunch with a friend of mine – we haven’t seen each other in over 10 years (shocking, I know). We went to a yummy little Thai restaurant. It was great seeing her again, and we had a nice time catching up. Anyway, as we were paying, the cute Thai (I’m assuming Thai) waitress asked if we were sisters, because, she said, we looked exactly alike. I’m tempted to take my sister in with me next time she’s in town to see what happens.

Christmas (mis)Adventures

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas (Happy Holiday, etc.). I had a very nice Christmas week. Over a three-day span, I was able to spend time with three of my brothers and their families (well, partial families, in some cases).

On Christmas Eve, my mom and I were preparing our traditional Christmas treats – peanut clusters, Rice Krispies Treats®, and Chex® Party Mix. We ran into some problems, which ended up providing us with much humor.

Due to my last minute, two-week trip to London, I wasn’t quite prepared for Christmas, so I was shopping on Christmas Eve – the lines in the stores were crazy, by the way. My mom called and said she had run into a problem with the peanut clusters, and needed some help. So, after a fruitless shopping experience (I ended up buying stuff on-line and printing out a picture of the item to be unwrapped. Lame, I know, but what are you going to do?), I returned home to see what she needed. My mom has been using the same recipe for peanut clusters for, oh, about as long as we’ve had a microwave, so what, 20-some-odd years (maybe 30)? For some reason, this time, as she melted the butterscotch and chocolate chips, the butterscotch chips caramelized instead of melted. I really think she had a bad batch of butterscotch chips – because the next batch came out OK. However, my mom kept the messed up batch because, in her words, it was sweet so someone might eat it. OK…

Rice Krispies Treats® are my FAVORITE holiday treat. My mom has doctored up the usual recipe a little bit (including adding more marshmallows AND a tsp. of vanilla). Anyway, I got out a bag of marshmallows – they felt a little old, but they weren’t TOO hard, and since we were melting them anyway, I figured we’d be OK. Well, we weren’t OK. As the marshmallows started “melting” (and I use the term loosely), I quickly realized that this batch just wasn’t going to work. This mishap following so closely after the Peanut Cluster debacle, caused my mom and me to double over with laughter – we were laughing so hard we were crying. My mom had the genius idea to mix the caramelized chocolate/butterscotch mixture in with the clumping marshmallows– again, using the reasoning “they’re both sweet.” Needless to say, it was a mess and ended up in the garbage. Luckily we had some newer marshmallows on hand, so Rice Krispies Treats® were to be had.

All in all, we had a very nice, white Christmas (the snow has been crazy) – we were able to spend time with family, eat good food, watch Christmas shows (we watched A Christmas Story, finally), and celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Monday, December 22

On the last day in London...

I wasn’t able to leave the office as early as I had hoped on Friday night (my last night in London), so I just made a quick stop at Trafalgar Square, took a few pictures (see below), then went back to my hotel room to pack. I enjoyed my time in London – the people at ReCharge (the publication I was working for) were nice, fun, thoughtful and generous. At the Christmas luncheon on Friday, they presented me with a gift – a nice big bottle of champagne – to thank me for my time and effort (and patience). I graciously (I hope I was gracious) accepted the gift and, later that evening, gave it to Howard, the Norwegian IT guy working with me on the project.



2 things that surprised me about this visit to the UK:

1. The inordinate number of Starbucks. I’m telling you, they were everywhere.
2. Krispy Kremes in London. I was shocked. If I see them next time I’m in Paris, though, it’s all over.

Thursday, December 18

Fun in London

Last night I went to dinner with some friends from work – one guy from the Utah office, two guys from the UK office. We had a lovely time. We found a fantastic little dim sum, Asian mix restaurant (called dim t, in case you’re ever in London and are looking for a good place to eat). The menu described the dim sum as “three items per basket.” So Gavin ordered the three different varieties of dim sum that he wanted in his one 3-piece basket. Ken then ordered the three kinds he wanted in his single basket of three. I had an inkling that this wasn’t correct, as I’ve ordered dim sum before, but I was the foreigner here – maybe things are done differently in London. So I ordered the three kinds that I wanted. This is what arrived at our table (and these were just our appetizers – our main courses were still to come):


In case you failed to count, that’s NINE baskets of dim sum, each containing three dumplings. Ah, we laughed hard and long…

Shouldn’t the waiter have noticed the oddity of our order and thus explained how the dim sum worked? Or should we have just known? It makes a great story, though. ☺ And I am quite impressed with how much we actually ate. Ken and Gavin even finished their main courses as well. Jon was the odd one out and ordered 3 skewers of chicken satay as his appetizer… and guess what? He only got three skewers. When the table next to us ordered a measly 3 baskets of dim sum, Jon and Gavin looked at each other and whispered “wimps!”

Tonight I left work early – the other company on the same floor as the one I’m working for (same parent company) was having their Christmas party – there was music, food and alcohol to be had by all (starting at 1:00 p.m.) – they kindly invited those of us from my office to join in. An example of the different work culture: I had to train a couple of gents at 2:00 p.m. As I was starting class, Chris, the Editor-In-Chief, brought all three of us a glass of champagne “to help the training along.” I graciously thanked him, and then gave my glass to Julian (after Chris had left the room, of course). But I digress - at 5 p.m the other company wanted to turn out the lights so they could dance. Since working in the dark can be difficult, we were excused. Since I left earlier than the usual 6:30 or so, I decided to go by Big Ben and the London Eye and try to take some nice night photos – this is what I came up with. Not quite as nice as I’d like, but…




Sunday, December 14

Weekend in (Old) England

Even though I didn’t make it to Bath as planned, I still had a great weekend.

I left the hotel yesterday afternoon intent on seeing a movie. However, after exiting the tube station, I looked around to get my bearings and find the movie theater (yeah, right, like looking around would help – I was just going to pick a direction and hope for the best), I was standing right next to a theater showing Twelfth Night (one of my favorite Shakespearean comedies) AND the cast included Derek Jacobi (who I found especially creepy in Dead Again). It looked like they were just seating for the Saturday matinee, and as I asked an employee if there were still tickets available, a gentleman said he would sell me one of his for less than face value. SCORE for me! So, I watched Twelfth Night and loved it. After Twelfth Night, since it was now darker, still raining and only 6:00, I still went to a movie – Inkheart (which doesn’t come out in the States until January). Prior to the movie, thank goodness, since I was a little peckish, I had time for fish and chips (I took a bite before I thought to take a picture – sorry).


Sunday wasn’t raining, but it was still freezing. I played tourist in the morning and walked around for a few hours – had to buy a hat because it was so cold. I ended up walking with some girls from Holland, and we helped take each other's pictures (it’s very hard to take close-up self-portraits that I like when my face is so chubby). Worked out nicely. Then I met up with my friends John and Ellen to do some shopping, although I didn't buy anything.

Saint Paul's Cathedral

The Globe Theater

Holiday Decor

Tower Bridge

Like my pink hat?

Tower of London in the background

While John, Ellen and I were shopping, we stopped at a little chocolate shop, and they had little shoes made of chocolate – yes, this is a shoe made of chocolate. But at £17, I opted against buying one... today, anyway.

Saturday, December 13

Best laid plans

Isn’t it frustrating when plans don’t work out?

Plan A
As I’ve mentioned, I am a big Doctor Who fan – and I love, Love, LOVE David Tennant – he’s brilliant. Anywho, I had heard that he was playing a limited engagement of Hamlet in London from December to January. Fabulous – I could go see him while here for work. Of course, all shows were sold out, but the theater’s website said to call each day to see if any tickets were returned. OK, I could do that. Monday, no dice. Tuesday, no dice. Then came Wednesday. I called the theatre from the office, expecting the usual response, “sorry, no returns,” spoken in a polite English accent. Much to my utter glee, I was told that they did have tickets available for that evening. I seriously almost clapped my hands with joy and jumped up and down. However, the woman on the phone immediately followed “yes, we have tickets available” with “but David Tennant won’t be performing again until after Christmas.” Well, that idea went out the window. Evidently the poor guy hurt his back and has had to have surgery. I wish him well, but darn it, I would have LOVED to have seen him live.

Plan B
I also mentioned my plan to visit Bath over the weekend (today, in fact). I woke up to rain. So, I’d get a little wet, I didn’t care – there was no way rain was going to stop me from visiting Bath. Oh, how wrong I was. After finally figuring out how to get to the correct train station, I noticed that several trains were cancelled due to flooding. Not my train, certainly. But, sadly, yes, all trains (at least until 4 p.m.) from London to Bath had been cancelled. There’s always tomorrow, right? Well, no. I’ve already made plans for tomorrow – a friend of mine along with his wife are taking the train into London to see me and hang out for the day. So, no visiting Bath. And with the rain, since I don’t want to get soaking wet (which I did just getting to the train station this morning), there’s not much sight seeing I want to do even in London. I think I’ll go see a movie or something. I’ve checked the weather, and tomorrow should be a good sightseeing day.

There is a bright side, though. I have wanted to see Wicked (the musical) for years now. I purchased the soundtrack in ’05. How do I know that, you ask? I can see the purchase date in iTunes. I digress. Each time I’ve been to New York, I’ve tried to get tickets – but it’s been sold out. When they announced it was coming to Utah, some girls from work and I tried to get tickets – sold out. So, when Hamlet didn’t work out, there really wasn’t another choice for what show I wanted to see. I just hoped I could get tickets. And, I did. FINALLY. So, last night (after barely making it to the theater in time), I saw Wicked. It was absolutely fabulous! I am still just stunned. I enjoyed it much more than the book… the book was a chore to get through. But the musical was, as I’ve said, fabulous.

Wednesday, December 10

Mind the gap

Things to remember while in England:

1. Look the opposite way that instinct tells me to look when crossing the street
2. Keep to the left - when walking up stairs, entering buildings, etc.
3. One wears trousers, not pants (well, you wear pants, too, but don’t mention that in polite company)
4. The first floor isn't always the ground floor

I am on day… what day am I on? Day 4 in London. I haven’t been able to do much sightseeing since I’ve been working until late. I can't wait for the weekend! I plan on visiting Bath on Saturday, and doing some shopping and sightseeing on Sunday with friends. However, what I have been able to do so far is have dinner at fabulous restaurants – a great Indian restaurant on Sunday, a delicious Italian restaurant with my friend Jon and his daughter on Monday, a hummus restaurant on Tuesday (you heard me, a restaurant dedicated to hummus!), and a little Oriental/Thai place tonight.

I’m staying at a dingy hotel with the most uncomfortable bed in the world. The room is really small, but hey, it has a wall-mounted television (there wouldn’t be anywhere else to put it). Yup, I’m watching Doctor Who right now. Welcome to the UK.

I'm taking the picture from the doorway, believe it or not. Don't mind my grocery bags on the bed. When I mentioned the uncomfortable bed to the hotel staff, they said they had a different room with a smaller bed - right, smaller?

Sunday, November 30

Attitude of Gratitude Challenge - the end? or just the beginning?

I am truly amazed that I made it through the month.

Today, the final day of November 2008, I am grateful for:

1. This Attitude of Gratitude Challenge. Some days were easier than others, but each day has been a blessing. I echo my good friend's wish – that I will continue to look for the blessings that surround me, even though I’m not recording them here on my blog.
2. Text messaging. I know it’s not a face-to-face conversation, but I love that I was able to have a very nice conversation with my nephew throughout the day today – a conversation in which I didn’t offend him with my playful teasing (I forget that he can be sensitive sometimes).
3. Experiences – good and bad, we are a sum of not only our experiences but also how we react to said experiences. As much as I hate trials and hardships when I’m going through them, they have made me who I am today (whether that’s good or bad is open to debate ☺). I hope that I can continue to grow from whatever life throws at me and that I can keep a positive outlook on life.

In September 2005, The Profound Power of Gratitude, President Thomas S. Monson quoted this newspaper story from several years ago:

The District of Columbia police auctioned off about 100 unclaimed bicycles Friday. “One dollar,” said an 11-year-old boy as the bidding opened on the first bike. The bidding, however, went much higher. “One dollar,” the boy repeated hopefully each time another bike came up.
The auctioneer, who had been auctioning stolen or lost bikes for 43 years, noticed that the boy’s hopes seemed to soar higher whenever a racer-type bicycle was put up.
Then there was just one racer left. The bidding went to eight dollars. “Sold to that boy over there for nine dollars!” said the auctioneer. He took eight dollars from his own pocket and asked the boy for his dollar. The youngster turned it over in pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters—took his bike, and started to leave. But he went only a few feet. Carefully parking his new possession, he went back, gratefully threw his arms around the auctioneer’s neck, and cried.
When was the last time we felt gratitude as deeply as did this boy? The deeds others perform in our behalf might not be as poignant, but certainly there are kind acts that warrant our expressions of gratitude.

Saturday, November 29

Only 2 days left

Today I am grateful for:

1. A friend that I haven’t seen since high school who took time out of her day to help me move.
2. A friend of my brother’s who took time out of his day to help me move.
3. My two brothers who took time out of their day to help me move.

It’s so easy in life for us to receive blessings, many of them almost uncounted, and have things happen in our lives that can help change our lives, improve our lives, and bring the Spirit into our lives. But we sometimes take them for granted. How grateful we should be for the blessings that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings into our hearts and souls. I would remind all of you that if we’re ever going to show gratitude properly to our Heavenly Father, we should do it with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength—because it was He who gave us life and breath.
--David B. Haight, Were There Not Ten Cleansed?

Let the thanksgiving continue

1. Playing games with the family – Tonight my brother and his family met at my mom’s for Thanksgiving, part II. After dinner – if you read my blog yesterday you’ll know it wasn’t made up of leftovers – several of us played Phase 10. We had the normal cheating, competitiveness, and gloating – that is normal, right?
2. Time to relax – haven’t had much of that lately, but it’s so nice to have a few minutes to sit, think, breath and just try to recuperate.
3. My Savior, Jesus Christ. I love Him. I am so grateful for His perfect example, for His love, and for His atonement.

Let us give thanks for what we are and for the circumstances God has given us for our personal journey through mortality.
--Dallin H. Oakes, Give Thanks in All Things

Thursday, November 27

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good night

I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday.
There are so many things to be grateful for, and today should be the mother lode, but I’m going to keep it short (and thanks to Miss L for the comic).


Today I am grateful for:

1. Unconditional Love
2. Marriott’s Thanksgiving buffet – this was a first for us, this year. I must say, today was probably the most relaxing Thanksgiving we’ve had. It was nice to be able to calmly eat and converse without the worry of prep work or clean up.
3. Central Air – heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. No matter what the weather is outside, I can maintain an even temperature inside. Perfect!

[Gratitude] is a quality I have found in every happy person I know. It is a quality that instantly makes a person more likable and more at peace. Where there is an abundance of [gratitude], there is happiness. Where there is an absence of [gratitude], there is often sadness, resentment, and futility… Those who live in thanksgiving daily, however, are usually among the world’s happiest people. And they make others happy as well.
--Joseph B. Wirthlin, Live in Thanksgiving Daily

Wednesday, November 26

Short and Sweet

1. I'm grateful that I was able to fill my car with gas for less than $20.
2. I'm grateful for Flour Girls & Dough Boys Artisan Bakery & Cafe. This new discovery is how I can survive not having a Panera nearby. Their Asiago Bread and Mint Brownies are to die for.
3. I am grateful for snugly blankets.

This is a wonderful time to be living here on earth. Our opportunities are limitless. While there are some things wrong in the world today, there are many things right, such as teachers who teach, ministers who minister, marriages that make it, parents who sacrifice, and friends who help.
We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues.
--Thomas S. Monson, An Attitude of Gratitude

Tuesday, November 25

On the 25th day of Gratitude

My online subscription to LDS Living came today with an interesting story on “The Power of Thank You.” ‘tis the season, I guess.

1. Holiday Weekends – I know I’ve already expressed my gratitude for weekends, but Holiday Weekends are a horse of a different color. Since my company gives us Thanksgiving off as well as the day after Thanksgiving, that’s four (count them 4) whole days off, hopefully giving me time to rejuvenate for the following week. Of course, that isn’t going to happen, right?
2. Web sites that facilitate searching and travel – Again, I know I’ve already expressed gratitude for the Internet (thanks Al Gore, right?), but this is more specific. I’ve just been given a spur-of-the-moment international assignment for the weeks of December 8th and 15th. However, the hotel where co-workers have stayed is unavailable for the time period I’m going to be there. I know the general area in which I want to stay, so I was able to use Google, Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, you name it, to try and find an inexpensive yet acceptable hotel for two weeks. I guess I’ll find out when I get there if it truly is acceptable.
3. Leftovers – I made a really yummy hamburger and macaroni dinner the other night. Since I’m cooking for one, of course I had leftovers. So, I get home tonight after another crazy busy day, and I’m not in the mood to cook, and I’m trying to be frugal so I don’t want to get take-out, and voila! Leftover yummy hamburger and macaroni! Love it.

“Gratitude works because, as a way of perceiving and interpreting life, it recruits other positive emotions—like joy, contentment, and hope—that have direct physical benefits... We have also found that when people experience gratitude, they feel more loving, more forgiving, and closer to God.”
--Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis

Monday, November 24

How did it get to be the 24th already?

1. I am grateful to be able to volunteer for Make-A-Wish. What a great organization! Each time I read the volunteer newsletter, or read an email about a child’s wish being fulfilled, I am overwhelmed by the generosity of all those who make it happen.
2. Smiles – it’s amazing how much an attitude can change when someone smiles.
3. Sunshine – two definitions: the shining of the sun; direct light of the sun, or brightness or radiance; cheerfulness or happiness.

"In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich."
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sunday, November 23

Many thanks

1. Hymns of Praise – I love the calm feeling listening to such music provides.
2. Gold Bond Foot Cream – quite the salvation for dry, cracked heels. I’ve tried several products, but this has worked the best for me.
3. I am grateful for my knowledge that I am a daughter of God – a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves me and who wants my happiness and joy.

Psalms 100
1 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
2 Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Saturday, November 22

This, the 22nd day of Gratitude

1. Individuality for women – I’m reading a book (A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray) – it’s a great book so far. It takes place in old-world England where the only reason girls were educated was to make them better wives. I found the following interchange enlightening – it takes place between two students after an impromptu conversation with a teacher: “I found it all very interesting,” says Felicity. “My future husband won’t,” Cecily grouses. “He’ll want to know that I can draw something pleasant to impress our guests.” I’m so glad that I can find things interesting outside of what my husband would find interesting. I know, I know, I don’t have a husband – but if I did, I could.
2. Laurenda’s quote from yesterday’s blog: “Difficulties are opportunities to better things; they are stepping stones to greater experience. Perhaps someday you will be thankful for some temporary failure in a particular direction. When one door closes, another always opens.” --Author Unknown
3. Fantastic Sam’s. Hair stylists who actually listen to what I want done with my hair? Now there's a novel thought.

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.
--G. K. Chesterton

Friday, November 21

Edward is hot

Today I am grateful for:

1. Entertainment - It may be shallow, but I appreciate being entertained by good, quality television shows and movies. Of course, "good" and "quality" are subjective terms and what I find to be quality entertainment can be different from someone else. This came to mind today because Amanda and I watched Twilight. LOVED IT!
2. Patience - meaning, people with patience because I sure don't have any. I'm working on that, though, and some days are better than others.
3. I couldn't sleep this morning, so I decided to run errands - it was fairly early. As I was out and about I witnessed a beautiful sunrise. Had I not be driving, I would have taken a picture. I'm sure the other drivers on the road are grateful for the fact that I didn't try to take a picture and drive at the same time. Oh, so I'm grateful for beautiful sunrises.

“The deepest hunger in human beings is the desire to be appreciated.”
--William James

Thursday, November 20

The 20th, really?

1. Good memories – Tonight I made a stir fry for dinner. I know you’re asking what that has to do with memories. Well, I made it from one of my mom’s recipes…a recipe we used to make all the time when I was in high school. As I was chopping the carrots (yes, it’s true, I actually ate carrots this evening of my own free will), celery, onions, etc. I remembered many of our family dinners. So, not only did I have a delicious meal, but I also had great memories to go along with it.
2. Lip balm – I live in such a dry climate, my lips would shrivel up and fall off (wouldn’t that be a sight?) if I didn’t have a constant supply of lip balm. C.O. Bigelow® is my current favorite.
3. Fun co-workers. A friend/co-worker sent me the following saying: “my work friends are the reason why I love my job.” I couldn’t have said it better.

"The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life. Pride destroys our gratitude and sets up selfishness in its place. How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man!"
--President Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939]

Wednesday, November 19

Yes, I'm a nerd

Having just spent 13 hours at work, my first items of gratitude are techie software things that helped keep the 13 hours from becoming many, many more:

1. notepad ++ – a free source code editor. This little application let me look at all of the invisible characters in a text file I was working with until I found that annoying character that was causing my problem. Without this app, I’d still be at work banging my head against a brick wall.
2. Text Translation Preview – a little feature in one of my company’s applications that allowed me to easily preview my progress rather than use the 20-step process it would have taken without this feature. Twenty might be an exaggeration, but not much.
3. Totally not work related, but I’m thankful for my mom’s home teacher. He and his wife are so good about visiting my mom each month. Not only does he visit her, but he takes a genuine interest in making sure she’s OK. Scot is awesome – I know my mom appreciates him, and thus, I appreciate him.

"We are so often caught up in our destination that we forget to appreciate the journey, especially the goodness of the people we meet on the way. Appreciation is a wonderful feeling, don't overlook it."
--Author Unknown

Tuesday, November 18

18

I got an email this morning from LDS Living Magazine that had an article entitled "Gratitude First." Well, of course I was interested, so I read it. What a lovely story. You should read it!

1. Water – I don’t have to fetch water in a bucket. I don't have to fetch water from a well, outdoor pump, or (egad!) a river. My water isn’t the color of rust. I am so happy to be able to turn on a faucet and get as much water as I can drink. Just writing about this is making me thirsty.
2. The First Presidency of the LDS church – President Monson, President Eyring and President Uchtdorf. I love, admire and respect these men. I love listening to and then re-reading their talks. I know they are men of God.
3. Fluffy pillows – pretty self-explanatory

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
--Frederick Keonig

Monday, November 17

Day 17 and counting

Today I am grateful for:

1. Snow-capped mountains – need I say more?
2. Daylight Savings Time – What? We’re not on Daylight Savings Time, you say? Exactly my point. I miss it.
3. Coupons – I’m trying to budget better and spend less. It was a great feeling watching the grocery total go down little by little as the cashier scanned my coupons.

I remember hearing in a talk that the more we express our gratitude to God for our blessings, the more he will bring to our mind other blessings. The more we are aware of to be grateful for, the happier we become.
--President Ezra Taft Benson

Sunday, November 16

I can't believe I've been doing this for 16 days

Some of the things I've been grateful for this month have been shallow and materialistic, but you know what? It doesn't matter. I'm grateful for them, so why not list them? Life is made up of important, significant things as well as smaller things that help simplify this crazy life we have to live. Why not be grateful for them all?

1. I’m grateful to be able to attend church. This is the first Sunday in November that I haven't been on an airplane, so I was finally able to attend my church meetings. Granted, I had to leave early due to a headache/migraine (see item #2), but I’m grateful for the meetings I did attend.
2. Aspirin (Tylenol, Advil, insert your favorite aches-and-pains medicine here) – I woke up at around 4 or 5 a.m. with a splitting headache, and I knew right then it was going to be a whopper of a day. But I was able to take a couple of Tylenol and go back to sleep for a few more hours. I love that we have medicines to alleviate pain.
3. Laundry detergent – I love the smell of freshly washed laundry. Hopping into a bed with just washed sheets? Awesome.

"Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted--a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul."
--Rabbi Harold Kushner

Saturday, November 15

But wait, there's more

1. I’m not sure if this is a fair thing to list, but in honor of the new James Bond movie, this weekend I am thankful for Daniel Craig (yes, Kris, I stole this picture from your friend's blog). He is about the hottest James Bond EVER! Hey, I don’t have a husband to be grateful for, so cut me some slack. ☺


2. Weekends – What a relief to have two days off of work (as long as I’m not traveling over the weekend for work) to relax, catch up on stuff, attend church, and take a breather. Weekends rock!
3. I have been very remiss in mentioning my gratitude for The Book of Mormon. I am always better able to cope with life when I read The Book of Mormon daily. As Kris mentioned, it really is a source of peace and answers that I need so desperately during these crazy times.

Instead of a quote, I’m going to share an email my niece forwarded yesterday – I find it very fitting for the theme:

I dreamed that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around. We walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels. My angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, "This is the Receiving Section. Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received."
I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world.

Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section. The angel then said to me, "This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, the graces and blessings the people asked for are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them."
I noticed again how busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.

Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. "This is the Acknowledgment Section," my angel friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed
"How is it that there is no work going on here?" I asked.
"So sad," the angel sighed. "After people receive the blessings that they asked for, very few send back acknowledgments."
"How does one acknowledge God's blessings?" I asked.

"Simple," the angel answered. Just say, "Thank you, Lord."

Friday, November 14

14 days and counting

1. Food Network channel – I love this channel – good shows, good hosts (Alton Brown is my favorite), good recipes. This morning I had breakfast at a place profiled by Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives called The Dor-Stop Restaurant. Raspberry French Toast to die for.
2. Cell phones – My flight from Pittsburgh to Atlanta was delayed, which meant that I wouldn’t be able to make my connection out of Atlanta. I was able to use my cell phone to quickly find a nearby hotel, call for reservations (and a shuttle), and verify my flight schedule for tomorrow morning. Ain’t technology grand?
3. Family – siblings, in-laws, nieces/nephews, in-laws, great-nieces and great-nephews (gulp!). We’re all crazy, and I love it! My youngest nephew got his mission call today (Zurich, Switzerland) and I was able to participate in the conference call as he opened and read his call for the first time. What a great experience to be able to share that with him!

There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.
--Ralph H. Blum

Thursday, November 13

Thankful Thursday

I had to visit my blog today to see what I have already listed – it’s quite a list. Again I have to say that I really enjoy doing this. Thanks to Laurenda for passing along the idea. And thanks to Amanda's fam for taking up the challenge. I love reading your daily lists!! Those two “thanks” were just freebies – here’s today’s list:

1. Modern Transportation – cars, airplanes, light rail, metros, you name it, anything that can get me to my destination quickly. Of course, this isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy transporting myself the old fashioned way by walking, riding my bike, etc.
2. Rain – As long as I don’t have the expectation of people letting me in their house (think mission), I love walking out in the rain. It rained like crazy in Pittsburgh this morning, and I loved it.
3. Health (thanks for the idea, Deanna) – I can walk, run (I CAN run, that’s not to say I do a lot of running), think, speak (sometimes before thinking), hear, see, hike, swim, etc. There are people who can’t, so I count this as a great blessing.

Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you'll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you'll find that you have more of it.
-- Ralph Marston

Wednesday, November 12

Day 12

1. Restaurant Delivery – it’s so nice to be able to relax (read be lazy) at the hotel and have someone bring food to my door.
2. Humor – my friend Kris mentioned this yesterday in her blog (which I didn’t read until today), but I thought of this today all on my own. The guys I work with in Pittsburgh are so funny…even grumpy Bob. And, as Kris says, laughter and humor are contagious – so spread the humor!!
3. My dad – he passed away in 1992, but I think about him and miss him every day. He was (is) a great example of love, tolerance, faith, compassion, dedication, work, courage, service, and the list goes on. I’m totally bawling so I better leave it at that.

"This is a wonderful time to be living here on earth. Our opportunities are limitless. While there are some things wrong in the world today, there are many things right, such as teachers who teach, ministers who minister, marriages that make it, parents who sacrifice, and friends who help.
"We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues"
--Thomas S. Monson, "An Attitude of Gratitude," Ensign, May 1992, 54

Tuesday, November 11

November 11th

I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for 11 days – it really has been an eye-opening experience. It's quite touching to spend my day looking for my three things. Sadly, like my friend Laurenda, I think of things throughout the day, but when it comes time to blog, I completely forget. And I know they were good things, too. Anywho, what am I thankful for today?

1. My friend’s mom accepted the Attitude of Gratitude challenge, and she mentioned something we should all be thankful for (especially today – Veteran’s Day). I am grateful for all of the men and women who have ever served this country – WWI, WWII, Vietnam, and today. I thank you.
2. My job. I may get frustrated with it at times, but I’m glad to have it. I enjoy the people I work with AND I’ve had the chance of meeting fantastic people from all over the world.
3. Windows (windows as in “an opening in the wall of a building, the side of a vehicle, etc., for the admission of air or light, or both”, not computer Windows – come on, I’m a Mac girl). Sounds dumb, I know, but when I’m working in my office, I don’t have any windows remotely near my office. However, today, I had to “share” an office with a gentleman in Pittsburgh. His office has nice big windows. As I looked out the windows that opened so beautifully on the… building next to ours (I did seem some tree tops and some fall leaves), I was grateful that I wasn’t surrounded by four solid walls.

Thanks to our Father we will bring,
For he gives us everything.
--Robert Louis Stevenson (Children’s Songbook, pg. 20)

Monday, November 10

Obrigado, Спасибо, Ευχαριστίες

That's Portuguese, Russian and Greek, in case you wanted to know.

My friend Kris has started her Gratitude challenge, and she has inspired me to go a little deeper in what I'm grateful for:

1. Good friends. As I look back on my life, I have always been blessed with great friends. Friends who make it easier for me to be the person I want to be. Friends who love me no matter what. Several of my friends have been my friends for YEARS!
2. The world – I know that sounds kind of all encompassing, but let me explain. In the past four days, I’ve been in three different states. I’ve seen the beautiful, majestic mountains of Utah; enjoyed the warm weather in Texas (can I iterate again the awesomeness of wearing capri pants in November and NOT being cold?); and stood by the three merging rivers of Pittsburgh. There is SO much beauty to enjoy in the world – how can I express how much I love seeing it all?
3. People who are willing to pay a compliment to a total stranger. I need to be more like that.

"Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude.
Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness.
Thankfulness may consist merely of words.
Gratitude is shown in acts."
--David O. McKay

Sunday, November 9

Danke, Grazie, Merci

I wish I could say that this Gratitude challenge has rid me of all tendencies to be easily annoyed, but alas, I can’t. Maybe by the end of the month? OR, more likely, this will be a work in progress for a while. But I am working on it.

1. Clothes that don’t require ironing!!
2. Panera Bread
3. Awesome hotel staff. When I checked into the hotel in Pittsburgh, I asked if I could be in a room on the “quiet” side of the hotel. There’s a bar on one side of the hotel and rooms on that side tend to be noisy. The only room on the quieter side of the hotel (although, with the Steelers game tonight, I’m not sure if any room will be quiet) was a more expensive room…with a jacuzzi. Well, the nice gentleman at the front desk upgraded me to this room at no extra charge – at least that’s what he told me. So, not only do I get a room on the “quiet” side of the hotel, but I also get a room with a jacuzzi. What a nice young man!

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
--Melody Beattie

Saturday, November 8

Day 8 list

1. Chocolate Mint Brownies. I know I already said I was thankful for chocolate, but these are in a class all to themselves. Yum!!
2. Tivo/DVR/whatever you want to call it. I LOVE that I can (easily) record my favorite television shows and watch the on my schedule. Not home on Wednesday night for Pushing Daisies? Not a problem - it’s recorded. LOVE IT!!
3. Running water. Nothing happened (thank goodness) to make this stand out today more than any other day, I just realized how much I would have hated bathing out of a bucket.

Of all the "attitudes" we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life-changing.
--Zig Ziglar

Friday, November 7

Day 7's giving of thanks

I’ve set a precedent now – if I skip a day, I’ll feel guilty. So, whether you like it or not, I’m going to continue with my daily giving of thanks.

1. Christmas music. I know what you’re saying – I said it myself: isn’t it too early for Christmas music? As it turns out, no, it isn’t. I was driving home from the airport this morning, scanning through the local radio stations when I ran across a Christmas song – actually, several stations are playing Christmas music now, but I digress. After my initial “it’s-too-early-for-this” reaction, I started singing along (notice how I didn’t CHANGE the station?). Immediately (and I mean immediately) the annoyance I felt toward the driver of the truck and trailer who just cut me off disappeared. It was awesome. So, I sang Christmas music all the way home.
2. To go along with the Christmas music, I am grateful for my hearing. What did you just say?
3. I drove my mom to her local library tonight so that she could get her library card. I had mentioned the Gratitude Challenge to her earlier. As we were getting out of the car, she stopped in the parking lot, looked over at the sunset and said, “you should be thankful for that,” pointing to the gorgeous sunset. She’s right – I am thankful. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera. But wait, fortunately I did have my iPhone, so enjoy!


“Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.”
--Margaret Cousins

Thursday, November 6

What I'm thankful for, November 6th

1. Different cultures (and food). This week I've eaten Vietnamese, Chinese Dim Sum, and Turkish food (really yummy)!

2. I love that people of differing opinions (sometimes VERY differing opinions) can still be friends.

3. e-mail. It's so nice to have almost instantaneous communication with people all over the world.

Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy -- because we will always want to have something else or something more.

--Brother David Steindl-Rast

Wednesday, November 5

Thanks, Day 5

Can it really be the 5th of November, already? Although finding things to be grateful for today was difficult, it was equally rewarding. What a difference it made in my attitude when I consciously looked for things to be thankful for. This in contrast to my attitude when I wasn't consciously looking.

Day 5 list:

1. (since it snowed in Utah today) The 4 extra days of capri pants, short sleeves and flip-flops.
2. Getting in touch with old friends. Thanks to one of those networking websites, I have recently re-connected with friends from high school, my mission, work, etc. It's crazy, I haven’t been in touch with some of these people since the 80’s or 90’s. It has been so much fun!!
3. Comfortable shoes. Standing in front of a class all day (on a cement floor) tends to get uncomfortable after awhile.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
--William Arthur Ward

Tuesday, November 4

I'm not stupid... really!

I like to think that I’m a relatively smart person. While working at the Houston Chronicle, I park my car in a parking garage. Yesterday, as I was returning to my car after a long (not really so long) day of work, I got to the elevator of the parking garage and all I saw were two red buttons, neither one looked something I should push.


I sat (well, stood) looking around, perplexed, for at least a full 2-3 minutes trying to figure out where the call button was for the elevator, until, finally, another person arrived to push that small, almost invisible button UNDERNEATH the two red buttons. I laughed all the way up to the 5th floor. I had to get a picture of it today.

Gratitude, Day 4

Yesterday I was thankful for things because of their absence at the time (i.e. a comfortable bed and good, clean books). Today I decided to be thankful for things that ARE. Here’s what I came up with.

1. People who go out of their way to help perfect strangers – I’m teaching classes in Houston and one of my students (who happens to be the food critic at the Houston Chronicle) took several minutes out of her day to make a list of restaurants that I had to visit – “you HAVE to have a good time while you’re here.” My friend/co-worker Lee and I went to a Vietnamese recommendation this evening. YUMMY!!
2. Decreasing gas prices. I drove by a gas station this evening where gas was $2.09/gallon. I leapt for joy (on the inside, of course, as I was driving at the time).
3. That I live in a country where every citizen, regardless of gender, race, religion, etc. can exercise the right to vote (or NOT to vote, if they so desire). Even if, sometimes, people vote the wrong way. ☺

“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend … when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.”
--Sarah Ban Breathnach, in John Cook, comp., The Book of Positive Quotations, 2nd ed. (2007), as quoted by Thomas S. Monson

Attitude of Gratitude, Day 3

I must thank my friend Laurenda, again, for this great opportunity!

1. A comfortable bed to sleep in (which I don't have at this hotel right now)
2. Chocolate
3. Good, clean books - I've had to throw away two in the last two days because of bad language. Why is it so hard for some authors to write books without sexual references and f-words?

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
--John F. Kennedy

Monday, November 3

Attitude of Gratitude, Day 2

I'm not sure if I'll blog about my three gratitude items every day, but today I'm thinking "why not?" Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

I flew to Houston yesterday. Now, I fly all the time, but yesterday, as I looked out the window, I was really struck by the beauty of the sky - probably because of this challenge. So, for day 2 of my Attitude of Gratitude challenge, I am grateful for:

1. Beautiful cumulus cloud formations
2. Blue Sky
3. LDS General Conference Ensign editions

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.

--Cicero

Saturday, November 1

Attitude of Gratitude Challenge

My friend posted this on her blog, and since it seemed like such a good idea, I have shamelessly plagiarized it (my friend shamelessly copied it from an email sent to her, so it's a challenge several times removed). Anyway, here we go:

Announcing the November Attitude of Gratitude Challenge
Participation is voluntary.


How it works
:
Each day during the month of November, send me an email (but feel free to include other people, not just me, if you want).

Each email should include three things for which you are grateful.

The term "things" is used here to encompass a myriad of stuff including, but not limited to: a certain set of circumstances, an event, an inanimate object distinguished from a living being, possessions or effects, a deed or act, a product of work or activity, an idea or notion, a piece of news or information, a person, a memory, anything that makes you smile.


It will be fun, but challenging to come up with three original things each day. Try not to repeat entries.

* The email should be sent by midnight each night. If you miss a day or two, no biggie, but you have to make it up, no skipping!


Quote
:
"Gracias, danke, merci—whatever language is spoken, "thank you" frequently expressed will cheer your spirit, broaden your friendships, and lift your lives to a higher pathway as you journey toward perfection. There is a simplicity—even a sincerity—when "thank you" is spoken." --
Thomas S. Monson, "The Profound Power of Gratitude," Ensign, Sep 2005

My Three Things for November 1st:


1. I'm thankful for Costco - is that dumb?
2. I'm thankful for the Internet
3. I'm thankful for my mom

Friday, October 31

One for my sis!

Yo, Karen. I did it!
Readers, if you miss the Rocky reference, too bad for you.

Based on the queue this morning, I wonder how many people will be left to vote on the actual "election day."

Saturday, October 25

Things you don't expect to hear from a flight attendant

As I was taking my seat on my crack-of-dawn flight this morning, I overheard the flight attendant say, "I'm expecting a shipment of guinea pigs. Please let me know when they are loaded."
Maybe because it was the crack of dawn, but I found this funny.

Friday, October 24

Random oddness

I’ve been working in Eugene, Oregon for the last two weeks, and I really enjoy it up here. Today I went to lunch with my friend Ian (who works at the local newspaper). As we were driving to Café Yumm! (one of my favorite places), a street sign caught my eye. On our way back from lunch I just HAD to stop for a photo. How much would I LOVE my address if I lived on this street?

Sunday, October 12

Just one of my pet peeves

As I mentioned earlier, I spent this last week working in Salt Lake City, which was quite fun. I think I also mentioned the fact that I carpooled with my friend Matt. While providing interesting conversation, Matt also provided me with a passenger, which meant we were allowed in the carpool lane. Excellent, right? Sadly, no. We soon discovered (and re-discovered each and every day) that there are many drivers (at least many Utah drivers) who don’t understand the purpose of a carpool lane. Just because you have the required number of people in your car does not mean you MUST drive in the carpool lane – especially if you insist on driving slower than the rest of traffic. The purpose of an HOV lane is to encourage people to carpool so that they can travel at faster speeds than the rest of the traffic-jammed, single-rider vehicles. I’m not talking about exceeding the speed limit here. There were times when I would have loved to have reached the speed limit. What I’m talking about is the fact that if the vehicles in the far left lane (a.k.a. “the slow lane”) are moving faster than you are, you should get the heck out of the HOV lane. I'm just saying.

Monday, October 6

It’s a headrest, for crying out loud

This week I’m lucky enough to be on-site for work… in Salt Lake City. Well, lucky in that I get to sleep in my own bed at night, unlucky in that I get to drive an hour each way to work. Anyway, that’s not the point of this story.

My friend/co-worker, Matt, is carpooling with me, which is important to know because when Matt’s up there alone, he usually rents a car and he gets nominated to drive to lunch. Since I had the car today, I drove to lunch (we went to a YUMMY little Greek place off 3rd South and 4th East, I think – but I digress). Anywho, one of the guys who came to lunch with us is 6’5” – on the way to lunch he sat in the back seat of my really small Nissan Sentra. Since that seemed uncomfortable for him, one of the smaller guys sat in the back on the return trip. It was then that Brady noticed that the headrest was folded horizontally instead of vertically – poking him right in the head.

All four of us knew that the headrest should “bend” back to the vertical position, but none of us could get it to do it. I was a little annoyed that my new car – that gets awesome gas mileage, I might add – had such a defect.

So, at the end of the day, after I dropped Matt off at his house, I decided to drive to the Nissan dealership and ask them why I had a defective headrest. With headrest in hand, I asked the first sales guy I saw why it was like that. He said he knew it could be put back in its vertical position, but he couldn’t remember how to do it (see, we’re not so dumb). So he asked another sales guy for help. This sales guy couldn’t remember either, so he suggested we go see if another Sentra had instructions in it (excuse me? Instructions on how to return a headrest to the vertical position?). On the way to find these awesome instructions, he figured it out. There’s no button or lever or anything that resets the headrest – you have to push down even further on the headrest in order to get it vertical. Of course. My car has some techie things, but I didn’t think one of them would be the headrest.

Wednesday, October 1

Be your own kind of super hero

It seems like you can't turn on the T.V. or radio without hearing about the state of the economy. Well, it totally stresses me out, and I try to avoid it at all costs. But, at the same time, I have to deal with it. So, that said, I'm turning into Budgeting-girl. Nananananananananananananananana Budgeting-girl. (a la Batman theme song).

The other day I Google-ed "cooking on a budget" and came across several awesome resources, but my favorite was on allrecipes.com (yes, Miss L, it's true, allrecipes really does ROCK). I especially liked the information on The Perfect Pantry. And the fact that they provide actual recipes that use the suggested items? Icing on the cake. Oh, cake sounds good right now...

Friday, September 12

There’s no place like “Home”

I flew to Erie, PA this week to do a training evaluation. Well, I didn’t fly to Erie; I flew to Cleveland and then drove 2 hours to Erie. Because I would be doing so much driving (and because the Enterprise guy lowered the price from $9.99/day to $6.00/day), I added a GPS to my car rental. It really came in handy as I drove around for four days.

One of the nice features about GPS systems is the “home” setting – designed to get you back where you started. Funny thing (not funny “ha, ha”), but the “Home” setting on this particular GPS didn’t get me back to where I started – it took me to some car dealership several miles north of the airport (north? west? I’m not sure, which is why I need a GPS).

I eventually found the Car Rental Return, and when the guy asked me if everything went well with the car I mentioned that it would have been nice if the “Home” setting had actually returned me to the right place. “Oh, you’re the 2nd person to mention that today.” Moscow Rule #10: Technology will always let you down. OK, I made up the number, but it really is a Moscow Rule.

Tuesday, September 9

Make-A-Wish

Several months ago, my friend Sara did a walk to raise money for her local Make-A-Wish in Atlanta. Because I really like what Make-A-Wish does, I decided to volunteer for the Utah chapter (or whatever it’s called). Last Saturday I finally had my orientation and training session.

When I walked into the orientation room I noticed that there were several young girls in the room – high school girls. Evidently they have to do X amount of service hours in order to graduate from High School. How cool is that? Anyway, they invited me to sit at their table, which I thought was very nice of them. During the orientation, we did several group activities as a table. I was having delusions of coolness and hip-ness as I was joking around with these young girls – then, I realized, to my horror (I like that word, horror), that I was old enough to be their mother. YIKES!!

It was quite the emotional morning. They showed news coverage of different wishes that had been granted for Utah kids. I was totally crying. There are so many amazing, generous people in the world – it’s awesome. Click here to read about one of the young kids who got his wish. What a great organization. I can’t wait to get started.

Sunday, August 31

Horror at the Hairdressers

I’ve wanted to cut my hair for the last several weeks. After seeing Amanda’s cute haircut, I finally made an appointment. At the same time I wanted some highlights.

So, yesterday, with much anticipation, I went to a hair salon (which shall remain nameless) that I had been to before, and had liked the results. However, the girl who did my hair last time no longer worked there. Anyway, I digress. As the hairdresser was doing my hair, I was concerned with the color – and I mentioned it to her a few times – she brushed me off.

Later, the girl rinsing my hair said, “oh, did you mean to go so brown?” YIKES!!

Even after all that, I decided to “give it time” before giving in to sheer panic.

Time was up when Amanda came over and was shocked at how dark my hair was. So I called the same salon to make an appointment to get it fixed, free of charge, of course. They couldn’t see me until Tuesday. Oh, well, I’d just have to hide my head in shame until then – maybe buy a hat. Then, luckily, the salon called back and asked me to come in right then.

The hairdresser spent the whole time trying to convince me that there was nothing wrong with my hair:
“I did your hair exactly like it was done last time.”
If that were the case, I wouldn’t be sitting there getting my hair fixed.
“I’m used to dealing with clients who think they are blond.”
Let me interject here – yes, I get highlights, but I don’t THINK I’m blond, I AM blond.
“I think we mentioned the word ‘brown’ and you just freaked out.”
Nobody has ever mentioned the word “brown” in reference to my hair, so of course I freaked out.

Now, I’m not an expert at customer service, but I would think that even if she were right on all counts (please note that she was wrong on all counts), customer service means making the customer happy, right?

Needless to say, I’m now in search of a new hairdresser, someone to fix the disaster that is currently my hair – maybe I should go to Fantastic Sam’s like Amanda?

Sunday, August 24

Louis Armstrong had it right

Crater Lake was absolutely stunning. Due to poor planning on my part (or total lack of planning), I didn't spend as much as I would have liked - I barely made it to a gas station afterward as it is.
The view was totally worth the almost 6-hour round-trip drive from Eugene. Lindsey, you and Blake should definitely make the trip!

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see 'em bloom, for me and for you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue, clouds of white
Bright blessed days, dark sacred nights
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

The colors of a rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by

I see friends shaking hands sayin' how do you do
They're really sayin' I love you.







Friday, August 22

Ummmm... What?

I'm working in Eugene, OR this week and next, and I opted to stay the weekend. Tomorrow (Saturday) I'm going to drive to Crater Lake (hopefully I'll take some great pics for posting), and I was planning on driving to the coast on Sunday. However, somebody at the newspaper mentioned that the Oregon State Fair started today, and that going to the fair might be a fun Sunday activity. So I went online to get some information. Have I mentioned that I LOVE the internet?
I digress.
So, as I said, I went online to get some information. In spite of the gigantic corn dog that appeared when I first got to the state fair website, I checked the Daily Calendar for Sunday to see what was going on.

It might be worth going just to see who enters. However, I think I'll be heading for the coast. I can balance my own potato on my head - and I'll win.

Friday, August 15

Better Ingredients, Better Pizza, Better Delivery?

Amanda came over tonight to hang out and plan our upcoming Awesome European Adventure. I was going to make shredded beef sandwiches for dinner, but, not being experienced as to the ways of meat (or at least to the ways of "how long meat lasts in the refrigerator"), I had to throw out a 3 lb. roast this morning.

As a result, we were forced to order pizza and drinks from Papa John's. After waiting a ridiculous 50+ minutes for our delivery, the delivery boy arrived without our drinks.

"We're out of Coke and Diet Coke. I can go back to the store and get you something else."
"Well, I paid for drinks, right? We'll take 2 Sprites."
And he started to leave - with my pizza still in his hands.
"Um, didn't you want to leave the pizza?"

OK, first of all, if they knew they were out of the drinks I ordered and PAID for, why not call me to ask what drinks I would like as a replacement instead of coming to my house, going back to the store, then coming back to my house?

Then, Amanda, in her excitement at finally having a drink, rapidly opened her Sprite only to have it spray all over her lap. It looked like she had an accident. Maybe she did?

Tuesday, August 5

Breaking Dawn

Friday night, August 1st, Amanda, Karen and I joined the throngs of teenagers waiting for the midnight release of Breaking Dawn. Amanda and I had pre-ordered our books from the Barnes and Noble in Orem, and she had gone to B&N earlier that day (I was still in Pittsburgh and Karen was still in Missouri) to get a wristband to mark our place in line. By the time she got to B&N – which was noon, still plenty early, we were assigned to group J. When we arrived at 11:30 p.m., it was already pandemonium. Well, pandemonium might be an exaggeration, but holy crap. It was worse than the release party for Eclipse (the 3rd book in the Stephenie Meyer series). There were kids in prom dresses (from the book), in homemade T-shirts that said things like “Team Edward,” “I ‘heart’ Edward,” “Wolves are hot,” etc. in puffy paint. After a few minutes (and a few pictures, thanks to Amanda) we determined that it might be faster if we drove down the hill to WalMart. I’m so proud of Karen, who overcame her “I-never-go-to-WalMart” attitude in order to save precious time.





Even at WalMart, we were behind about 200 people in line, but we had our books and were out of the store by 12:25 a.m. Amanda drove us by B&N just to see what was going on, and the line was still incredible. Newspapers reported that the B&N in Orem had more reservations than any other B&N nationwide.

Karen was worried about being so much older than any other person waiting in line, so I kept looking for “old people” so she wouldn’t feel so bad. There were quite a few.

I was quite disgusted when I went back to B&N Saturday morning to get a different book and I saw all the trash surrounding the store. Ugh, people are gross. I mean, seriously, have people never heard of picking up your trash? Yuck!


So, taking a little longer than Amanda, I finished the book Sunday morning. Although I really enjoyed most of it, I do have two problems with it:
1. The ending left WAY too much unresolved. From a book that was written to be “The End,” I still have a lot of unanswered questions. Although after a discussion with Laurenda, I do feel a little better about the ending.
AND probably the biggest problem
2. Way too much sexual content for the target audience. If I had a 13-year-old daughter, I wouldn’t want her reading this book. I read that Stephenie Meyer wanted to put a warning label on this book, but the publisher (or somebody) didn’t feel the need. Um, totally needed one. Although there was nothing explicit, there was plenty implied. Way too much heat and passion for kids with already raging hormones to read.

Also, the tone of this 4th book seemed soooo much different than the other three; it was almost like it was by a different author.

For the past several years (since 1999, probably), I’ve always had “the-next-book” to look forward to - Harry Potter, Twilight. Now that they’re both through, I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Any good series you can suggest? And no, Amanda, I’m not going to read Black Belt Patriotism : How to Reawaken America.

Tuesday, July 29

What can one do in Pittsburgh?

I’m in Pittsburgh this week for the 3rd time. No, not my third trip, but my third group of trips. I first came out to Pittsburgh several times in 2003-2004. Then again in 2006 (several times). Now the newspaper is upgrading their computer system, and they requested (I think) that I come back. Which is good because there are several people I love at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Bobs, for example. The IT department at the newspaper includes 3 gentlemen named Bob – Old Bob (younger than my sister, I’m sorry to say – not really, I find it quite funny), Grumpy Bob (who is hilarious), and Young Bob (who is, I’m HAPPY to say, older than I am). In addition, contrary to what my preconceived images were, the city is quite beautiful – especially where the three rivers converge (the Monongahela River from the south, the Allegheny River from the north join the Ohio going West).

Anywho – in all the time I’ve spent in Pittsburgh, I’ve never been to a sporting event, which is sad, really, since there are three professional teams that play in Pittsburgh. The Pirates – baseball, the Steelers – football, and the Penguins – hockey. Since my hotel is right across the street from PNC Park, home of the Pirates, I decided to go to a game this week. The Pirates played the Colorado Rockies last night, and I was there. The Pirates beat the Colorado Rockies 8-4, and I was there.



Amanda says I’m a “height-ist” and maybe I am, but I was amazed at how tall the Rockies were (the players, not the mountains). Almost every player for the Rockies was at least 6’1” or 6’2” (one was 6’4”, and he was kind of a hottie). The starting players for the Pirates were 5’11”, or maybe 6’. Yes, 5’11” is almost 6’, but remember, “height-ist.”

Again, I digress. The game was a lot of fun (especially since the Pirates won). I, of course, had a hot dog and a pretzel. I refrained from having beer (joke), although all the freakishly young looking people sitting around me had enough for everyone. Crap, now I talk like an old person. Digressing. I really liked the pierogi race between innings (pierogi: eastern European – a small dough envelope filled with mashed potato, meat, cheese or vegetables, crimped to seal the edge and then boiled or fried, typically served with sour cream or onions – VERY popular in Pittsburgh).

pierogi race

I’ve never been to a professional baseball game in my life, and now I’ve been to 2 in the same month. Take me out to the ballgame. One of these times I’ll have to buy some Cracker Jacks (as I don’t like peanuts).

Friday, July 25

Sap

sap1 [sap] –noun
Slang. a fool; dupe; Katie

Sunday, July 20

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

OK, as many of you know, I am a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly - all creations of Joss Whedon. What a creative mind. Anyway, as I was browsing through the iTunes music store, I came across Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, written by Joss Whedon. It's a musical (one of the most clever BtVS episodes was the musical) AND it stars Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), Nathan Fillion (Firefly, BtVS) and Felicia Day (BtVS). It is HILARIOUS! I totally loved it.

It's in three parts, each one less than 15 minutes.

You can view it for free at http://www.drhorrible.com/. I'm not sure when the free preview ends, but I highly recommend watching it while you can.

Monday, July 14

What a difference an “S” makes

I flew to Houston, TX today, and like all good travelers, I printed out driving directions from the airport to my hotel. I was feeling quite proud of myself as I found the exit for N. Main Street off of the 601. However, pride quickly turned to apprehension as I drove down N. Main Street. It really didn’t look like the kind of neighborhood for a Marriott hotel and it REALLY didn’t look like a neighborhood I should be in. Then, after reaching the street number I was looking for and NOT seeing a Residence Inn, something had to be done. Pulling over to call for directions was out of the question, so I called Marriott’s 1-800 number as I drove around looking for an interstate. After speaking with a very nice Marriott representative, I discovered that the hotel was on 7710 S. Main Street, not 7710 N. Main Street (I’m not quite sure where I got the “N.” from – I went back and checked my email and it was correct). Anywho, I tried to use my awesome phone to get driving directions from my Current location to the corrected address – but it couldn’t calculate my current location. The horror. After driving for a few more minutes, I found a nicer looking area (more populated, at least) and pulled over – trying to give my phone a stationary location to pinpoint. Finally, success! I LOVE my phone.

I am now sitting safely in my 2-story hotel room (yes, my hotel room has a loft – why don’t I get hotel rooms like this when I’m staying for a week or more instead of only two days?).

What do they say? Pride cometh before the fall?