Thursday, August 31, 2006

When's the Last Time You Said, "Thanks"

Whether you're for the war [in Iraq] or not, our soldiers are serving our country. Thousands have sacrificed their lives to protect our freedoms, while those who have lived, and are living, are sacrificing time they will never get back.

On June 26, 2006, Xerox Corporation launched the website www.LetsSayThanks.com to allow the American community to send free postcards, with messages, to our troops serving overseas. The postcards are placed in care packages compiled by www.Give2theTroops.org.

I always wondered whether care packages and notes of encouragement were appreciated. I hope it does - it makes me feel like I've done something, because I don't know what else I can do to show support.

Monday, August 28, 2006

T'is the Season


Growing up, friends always teased me when my father was in the media - either in the newspaper or on the local TV news. Although, I have to admit it was pretty cool when the high school football team he coached was ranked #1 in New York State by USA Today in 1988 (was it 1988???). Anyway, even though he's retired, football still seems to run through his veins and he's coaching the game again. Enjoy this image from The Buffalo News.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Say Hello to a Couple of Near-Gypsies

Not only do my journeys give me great stories, but they provide me with terrific friendships. I'd like to introduce you to Paula and Keith (and their three-legged dog, Zoe) and their new blog, A “Can-Am” couple’s adventurous travel stories.

I met them in Key West about three (?) years ago. Paula and I attended a Frommer's travel writing workshop and Keith tagged along. I found it interesting that the couple had lived in Bishop, CA - which is just outside Death Valley, where I had once lived.

Along with a couple of other writing participants, I kept in touch with Paula and followed her and Keith on their trips, some taking them around the world. At one point, they had "settled down" (maybe for 6 months) and adopted some of Key West's gypsy chickens! But alas, the wandering lifestyle called them back and they are now in the Las Vegas area. (I have been assured that they did not eat the chickens but gave them to another family).

Hope you enjoy the tales of this Can-Am couple.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What Do I Actually Do?

Wonder what I actually do when I attend a conference? A trade show? Wonder what the tourism industry is like? Well, this article I wrote probably won't unlock all the secrets of my career, but will give you a little bit. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Boston - I Really Love This City

I'm so glad I'll be back in Boston very soon. I LOVE this city! It's so easy to get around (granted, I didn't drive this time - I figured out the subway and train). Although it's the cradle of our liberty, it's youthful and vibrant. Historical nuggets are preserved throughout Beantown, in tourist attractions and in everyday life.

I was lucky, Mother Nature was on my side and the only rain was during the conference and late one night. Took in the many tastes of the city: finding an intimate sushi bar; lured by the aroma of garlic in Little Italy; blended with the locals at Dunkin' Donuts and savored fresh seafood. Yes, I live in Florida with access to fish, but in Boston I had cold-water fish like haddock and cod. Yummo!

An organic food market was right across my hotel the first night. I browsed the tent-covered stalls of fresh, vibrant veggies, teas, baked goods, crisp fruits and stunning wild flowers. Of course, a visit to Boston is incomplete without a visit to the original Cheers Bar, formerly the Bull and Finch Pub.


Enjoy these images of Boston!

She Pees Standing Up!

Fans of classic 80's movies certainly know the title of this post is a line from the Tom Hanks movie, Bachelor Party. My college pal Val joined me in Boston over the weekend and one late night was spent at Jacque's Cabaret, the best place in Boston to hold a bachelorette party. Jacque's is a transgender bar featuring performances by mostly talented drag queens.

Performances were primarily PG-rated, the four "girls" danced and lip-synch for a 90-minute show. Visiting during the week, the bar is sprinkled with pool-playing locals. But on Friday and Saturday nights, the place is packed with bridal parties.

It was hard to believe that a couple of the performers were actually men. Why the title of the post? I noticed the "girls" patronized the women's restroom - and the seats were wet. Which leads me to believe...

This is a shot of Destiny.

Arrr, Sept 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Ahoy, me hearties! People who take initiative inspire me. Take John Baur and Mark Summers from Oregon. Back in 1995, they were goofing around on the racquet ball court of the local YMCA, shouting out encouragements in pirate talk. As a result, they decided EVERYONE should have one day a year when they should talk like a pirate. Read the (my) complete story here.

Why did I write a story about International Talk Like a Pirate Day? I was doing research for an office project, looking for a few pirate terms, and was pleasantly surprised to see there was an entire day dedicated to this salty art-form.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Day Full of Oddities

Some days are stranger than others. Today leaned closer towards the side of strange:

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is: "thank-you-ma'am." Noun. Noun?!?!? Definition: "a bump or depression in a road; especially : a ridge or hollow made across a road on a hillside to cause water to run off." Oddly, the word's country of origin was not included; you know, words are commonly derived from Latin, French or German words. I imagine this one originated somewhere in the backwoods of the Southern United States. And how do I use this is a sentence? "Watch out for the thank-you-ma'am in the road up ahead." Will this word be popping up in the next spelling bee? How come we don't see yellow and black highway signs stating, "Thank-you-ma'am Ahead" when we have signs for "Bump Ahead?" Anyone interested in petitioning their local department of transportation on this one?

Running errands at lunch, I left a store and thought things looked a little hazy. It was because a truck was on fire. And rather than cars moving along and getting out of the way, they sat there watching the truck burn, until the police and fire department appeared. For the first time since I've had my camera, the battery was dead! So I can honestly say I was not one of the rubber-neckers holding up traffic.

A dog fell from the sky onto the company's warehouse. I didn't get to see this, but our mail person told us about it. He showed up at the warehouse this morning finding the police and fire department around the building. Apparently, someone saw this small, black dog jump out of the back of a pick-up truck, off the overpass bridge and land on the roof of the warehouse. The pup was alright, apparently being cushioned by the new roof recently put in place. He didn't have any ID on him and he was taken to the pound.

I love the lead in this story: "...adolescent male bottlenose dolphin is back to living nude...after making a potentially fatal wardrobe choice early this summer." Taken from a story written by William Mullen in today's Chicago Tribune, this tale tells how a dolphin in Sarasota Bay somehow got entangled and lived for about a month with a black Speedo brief. Let's face it, Speedo briefs don't belong on ANY mammal.

Early this summer, I heard about the cult-movie hit, Snakes on a Plane. Ironically, the movie doesn't play in theatres until tomorrow, yet, it's popularity has been growing. In fact, once word got out about it, Samuel L. Jackson went back to re-shoot some scenes. But a movie called Snakes on a Plane??? Yeah, with a hokey name like that, I'm real curious about it. Aren't you? In today's edition of BudgetTravelOnline.com, they feature an interview with a spokesperson with Frontier Airlines on what to do if you encounter snakes on your next flight.

I fly tomorrow. Let's hope it's a "normal" day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Staying the Course

I was one of those kids who loved to write. I loved writing thank you notes and wrote thank you notes in response to thank you notes. I loved having pen pals. I dreamt of writing the 20th century version of the "Little House on the Prairie" series. All through childhood, writing was one of my escapisms. Writing letters, short stories, song lyrics and even mock news stories.

I recall a writing task in elementary school. Can't remember the exact assignment, but I ended up writing about the green, rubber hotdogs served in the school cafeteria and how they bounced when they rolled off the cafeteria tray. My teacher liked the story and posted it outside the classroom. It became quite the discussion with the cafeteria ladies which led to my fear of them! Luckily, my Mom was a brown-bag type of mom so I didn't have to face them often.

In 8th grade, my English teacher was so tickled by one of my stories, she read it to the class. While flattered, I was embarrassed. It was something about how I wanted to be Samantha from Bewitched when I was growing up (admitantly, I would still like to be a witch...). I wasn't embarrassed about the content but that something so personal was being exposed to the entire class.

Writing is still my escapism but it's also my way of communicating, of expressing myself when I can't any other way. Because of this, it's very personal and to this day, I'm still leary about sharing my craft. I know (do I really?) I'm a strong writer and want to do more. I want writing to be my life - professional and personal.

Ironically, a big part of being a successful writer is being a successful marketer. Proof is in what's out there these days. Three years ago I decided to pursue travel writing because of some of the crap out there. In my job, I would assist travel writers who would then send me the final product and I was embarrassed by what they wrote. "They actually got paid for this?" I questioned.

Amazingly, some writers don't know the difference between "weather" or "whether" or "there" and "their." I decided I needed a five-year plan to become a full-time writer. Three down, two to go.

I entered college as a communications major. I wanted to be a journalist, but was lured away by the adventure of geology, biology and saving the world. But the world (or God) works in obvious ways. When we deviate off our chosen path, somehow, we end up back on it and continue to move forward. It may take a while to get there, but we eventually make it. If I had stayed the course, who knows where I'd be today.

Opportunities lurk for me to deviate off the path, again. Faced with taking two steps back, I know I should stay the course.

I'm in the profession of marketing. And to be a successful marketer, one has to believe in the product. I need to work on believing in myself so others will buy my product, too.

Which leads me to this week. It began as one of those weeks where the whole world was against me: dealing with annoying twits; having a Cheerios explosion in the kitchen; and a blind date with the next man of my dreams canceling (at least for an evening and he had teeth!), nothing seemed to go right.

Until I received notice that I've been accepted to write (for dineros!) for a Food/Culinary blog and Travel blog. Yippee!! No, it's not the blog I "auditioned" for and told a few of you about (Actually, I haven't heard from them and I'd appreciate a nice "sorry, but no thanks." After all, the interview consumed cell phone minutes, I submitted a story I have rights to and the co-owner is, coincidently, someone who I crossed paths with in my previous life.). But things are good.

As soon as I start posting, the links will be posted here so you can read more of my travels and eats. I'm heading to Boston this weekend, which I'm sure will lead to tales. Not only is it Boston's Restaurant Week (YUMMY!), but I'll get to see my friend Val from college, have tickets to the Mariah Carey concert and will have the opportunity to fly under the new TSA security measures. (And for those of you in the office reading this, yes, I will be working hard, too). And guess what? Sept. 7 I return to Boston for another conference. Can't wait!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

High Tech Angels

Yesterday I wrote a post about my friend Kathleen Ronald's upcoming seminar on how to tap the most out of your angels. Today, I heard about Identity Angel, a program which trolls the Internet finding ways that people can steal your identity. This program does not steal your identity, it actually notifies you whether people can search the Internet and find the information they need to steal your identity. Needed information includes name, address, birthdate and social security number. An email is sent to the individual with tips on how they can make their identity more secure and to prevent identity theft.

The representative said that since Monday, about 5,000 email notifications have been sent to individuals. She said the most common source for this information is from resumes, such as on job posting boards or speaker's resumes for conferences.

If an angel drops you an email, don't assume it's spam or fraud. Just remember there is someone in cyber-space looking out for your well-being.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Do You Believe in Angels?

I'm not sure what I believe in anymore. Many believe fate, hope, luck, karma or angels guide the path towards positive life experiences.

A few years ago I met an incredible woman, Kathleen Ronald with a company called Speaktacular! She's a life coach and corporate trainer. Her road to success wasn't an easy one but listening to Kathleen's positive outlook, one would never know the adversity she's faced in her life. She believes angels are responsible in guiding her through the dark into success. This Saturday, August 12, 2006, Kathleen is holding a teleseminar to teach people how to tap into their angels to achieve what they need.

If we can't believe, what do we have?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Quote of the Day in Northern Georgia

I heard this today in an air conditioned building in the north Georgia mountains:
"It's so cold in here you'd think it was hog killin' season."

So, when is hog killin' season????

Secrets of the Southern Belles

Being surrounded by Southern women all week has me wondering: where do they find the men who can afford the big bling? I need to keep my sunglasses on when looking at their caret-sized engagement diamonds and diamond-encrusted wedding bands, usually set in platinum. I wonder how their dainty, little fingers can still function under the weight.

Suppose it's one of those mysteries of the South - Southern men buy Southern gals bling. But do Southern men buy Yankees the same? Or, is this their way out of not having to fork over the dough and maybe invest it in real estate?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

At Least It Was a Good Hair Day

Ever since last week's check-cashing incident, I've been in a foul mood. It's just not that which has me feeling this way, I suppose it's been a snowball of things. Sunday morning - I was once again stopped and molested by TSA peeps. "You didn't do anything wrong, it's that you're the first passenger through."

BULL! I appreciate keeping the skies safe and understand safety measures, but EVERY MONTH I travel through Tallahassee Regional Airport, I'm selected to be patted down and show that I'm not hiding explosive devices on the bottom of my bare feet. It's also not random. Random would mean equal selection of males and females. Since only a female checker was available, only females were being selected. One time when I passed through I was again selected, but since a female checker wasn't available, I was let through. How does that make sense? Is securing our airports and planes just a numbers game? And I understand no racial profiling, but am I intentionally being profiled and picked out of the line because I'm a white female? Or, is Big Brother truly monitoring my activity.

My annoyance level jumped but was leveled off upon being upgraded to first class for the less than an hour flight. A bloody mary would have been excellent but I was picking up a car. Which leads to another big annoyance...

"Would you like the optional insurance?" Car rental clerk.

"No, thank you," me, the customer.

And so it began. The clerk would not take "NO" as answer. He continued using scare tactics until I finally said "yes" to the insurance. Knowing full well I would not be reimbursed for it. Trying to keep my cool, I wanted him to write on the contract that he used bullying techniques but wrote something lame and generic. Upon getting my car, I went to the on-site rental counter and told them I was not comfortable with the rental and asked them to take off the optional insurance because "no means no" and it's called "optional" for a reason. I then learned he wrote lies about our conversation on my account!!!! Yes, the annoyance escalated. But, I got the insurance taken off (crossing my fingers I DON'T have my first rental car accident) and went on my merry way to the north Georgia mountains.

*inhale*
*exhale*
*cough*cough*cough*

Smell the fresh mountain air? Yeah, for someone with allergies, summertime in the mountains is a miserable experience. I've had a constant headache since I've been here. Just like college, "adults" return from late-night partying, are inconsiderate in realizing that others are just entering their REM stage of sleep. Am I the only one annoyed with the noise? No. Others have hauled their luggage to the nearest motels and they boast about a peaceful night sleep. The bed. Well, I feel like I'm sleeping on a diaper changing table for adults. The mattress is covered in plastic and I have to climb a couple of steps. A dresser is underneath.

So this afternoon I had off. Had considered visiting Unicoi or Amicalola Falls State Parks, but decided a visit to either would shake out ghosts (I remembered we had considered living up here). After following up on work and personal matters, there was time for a quick walk downtown. It was a brief time to mellow out.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The 51st State?

I've always thought Cuba's ability to [barely] survive with the U.S. embargo (or as the Cuban people call it, a blockade) was in part due to Communist Leader Fidel Castro's (age 79) ability to adapt and survive. I thought he would live to 100.

Recent news reports speculate his health is deteriorating, causing need for surgery. He has temporarily ceded power to his younger brother Raul, age 75. (Well, people say 70 is "young.")

Our Miami-Cuban Exile friends are hopeful this is the end of Castro and that this Caribbean island is steps closer to liberation.

But then what? After chanting, "Ding. Dong. Castro's dead," the people will have to deal with Raul. In true succession, he should be ruling Cuba as a dictatorship but is there any chance he'd change the system to a democracy? Or, is he hungry for the power, like Prince Charles is patiently waiting for England's throne?

And how ready is Cuba to welcome Americans? When will Americans be able to legally visit and begin trade. Will the Cubans who immigrated to the U.S. return to Cuba and reclaim what was theirs? Or, will there be a mass exodus of Cubans to Florida's shores? And if that's the case, will the wet-feet/dry-feet policy be applicable? Importantly, how long before Cuba becomes the 51st U.S. state?

Guess I have some research to do.