Friday, September 29, 2006

International Idol

My obsession today was trying to watch this video from AOL. Some folks think it's cute, others find it freaky. What do you think? It's from Bollywood and this dude is gettin' his groove on to a remake of Madonna's "Holiday."

Watching him reminded me of a man I met during my trip to Kabul this past March. Along with members of the Taliban, government cabinet members and NGO executives, we met a celebrity of an Afghanistan soap opera - at least that's what we understood from the translation. We didn't get his name but he was soooo adorable. He's pictured here with one of our drivers, Daud.

Good Hair Days Are Here Again!

I'll keep this brief. It's been a long, draining, strange week. 4:45 p.m. could not have come soon enough today. This week, I finally felt the stress of all the projects at work compounded by the "female monthly" emotions. These two things don't mix well and when they collide, I feel like everything in my life is out of control: I feel as though I'm going crazy, can't concentrate on anything, can't comprehend the simplest of tasks and just can't deal with anything (or anyone).

The saving grace of the week (besides today's 4:45) was that the humidity here in Florida finally broke. Which means, Yes! Tame locks resulting in a manageable mane. And we all know, life is good when it's a good hair day.

This also means, cooler temperatures are here for a while and I can get outside and moving again. Need to lose these extra pounds I've accumulated over the summer, especially before my trip to Texas in December. Need to look halfway decent in denim.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Oh! Memories of High School

I love interactive websites. This one reminded me of high school - hitting a fellow students car while trying to park the monster Suburban. I was so scared as to how much trouble I would be in. My Mom was in Florida, my Dad was coaching a football game and I was suppose to pick my brother up (I think it was homecoming weekend). I barely did damage to the "cruck," it was a Suburban, but really did a number on the Toyota Corolla.

But, I've come a long way, only having one accident since high school (alright, I realize NO accidents would be better). It took my four tries to get this one right, enjoy!

"You Should Visit..." Yes, More Shameless Self-Promotion

Switching gears from yesterday's post, I'm focusing on something I'm good at. Writing.

The recent AC promotion is to write travel articles about "Why You Should Visit..." Having until Saturday, I've only completed TWO pieces. Since I like money, I hope to crank out three more by the deadline.

In the meantime, if you're looking for places to visit in Florida, consider either Sarasota, for the bicycling Amish or Homestead, to slurp a tart key lime shake at Robert is Here. You'll have to read the stories for the other reasons to visit :)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Finding a Good Man

Earlier this summer on my modest Tallahassee blog, I had posted about the film production company called Double Vision and the film they were shooting in the area. Well, here you can see a trailer of the flick called "Finding a Good Man." My friend Brenda plays the mother, asking Tony if he's a gang-banger (towards the end).

Ironically, this was sent to me after coming to terms that a good man is myth. As women, we're told not to lower our standards and the "one" is waiting. We believe that somewhere out there, someone will appreciate and love us for who we are. But I wonder, how long do we keep searching and waiting before giving up? We keep hoping, but at what stage do we see the reality and realize there isn't a Mr. Right for us? Or, not even a Mr. Wrong? Our society teaches us that love is a right. But maybe it's a privilege.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Images of Salem, Mass.

Enjoy these images of Salem, Mass. from my trip to Boston last week. That's me with a statue of Samantha from "Bewitched" (if you've been reading along, you know I've wanted to be a witch for a long time); the dude is my friend Rob. We used to travel together, a lot, in my other job. The stickers are self explanatory (aren't they?) then some treasures at a little antique shop.





Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Welcome to: Placid Pachyderm

Yesterday I talked about my friend Val. I'd like you to welcome her as she enters the blogging world with her blog called, "Placid Pachyderm" Check her out; read her, love her. Share the love!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Memories With Val


My college friend Val is asking friends to share their favorite/memorable moment with her. Well, here's mine:

We met freshmen year of college. She grew up in a town near mine, so one cold, snowy Friday, I caught a ride home with her. The road was dark, a little icy and somewhere in our hour trek with our dirty laundry in the back seat, an oncoming car wouldn't turn his brights off. So Val flicked hers, a little too hard, and she ended up handing me the "wand." (What is that thing called? That controls the lights?). Oops! The headlights were gone. It was dark. What are two college gals to do? Luckily, we were near a gas station and some nice man easily repaired the problem.

There are many, many, MANY other memories with Val. Like the time she, Gina and I had dreams of becoming famous performers; something like growing our armpit hair long enough to braid it to tie tiny bells, causing a "jingling" sound. OK, you had to be there.

Or, there's the time with Dan and Andy. Well, many times with Dan and Andy (aka: Dandy). My favorite was our trip to Canada: having them sit in the middle of the Niagara River on a picnic table posing for a photo; dancing in the clubs; and of course, can't forget the Beer Store.

Val sparked my political bone. Yes, we ran for dorm officer positions sophomore year. But, the smart gals (that would be us) lost to the pretty girls (the sluts). No bitterness. No. None at all.

But the memories didn't end after college. We went our separate ways, got married, moved to different states. But thankfully, what goes around, comes around. We're again sassy, single gals and have reconnected a lot over the past couple of years.

The above photo is Val in Boston. All I'll say is, some things just seem like a good idea at 1 a.m.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Avast, Mateys! Don't Let Me Down This Tuesday

Have you been good landlubbers and been brushing up on your pirate-speak? Remember, Tuesday, Sept. 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Arrr!!!

It's Already Tomorrow Across the Globe

I'd like to introduce you to Matt and his blog: Waiguoren Critic of South China. Now, this Matt is not to be confused with Matt-O, whom I went to Japan with, or Matt-A, the husband of Kathy, whom I also went to Japan with. No, this is a new Matt, someone who contributes to a site I do. He's in Japan teaching English, along with writing - not teaching writing, although if you're teaching English, you're probably teaching reading and writing. But writing for a living, too.

I'm looking forward to keeping up on his experiences in China, it's someplace I'd like to visit. Since it will be the next super power. I wonder if the Chinese culture is as confusing as the Japanese Culture.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Dancing Queens

I opened up my speech this week with, "whenever I have a microphone and audience, I have the urge to break out in song." Well, check out this video, courtesy of my friend Matt-O.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Making My Way Home

First, let me follow up to my speech earlier in the week. It went really well. Only about 500 people and spoke in the middle of the room, which felt really odd. But they laughed when they were suppose to, "awed" when I wanted them to and had Partners saying, "thank you," at the end.

Whenever I prepare speeches, I always remember my Dad preparing me for the fourth-grade speaking contest. Not everyone got to speak and I earned my spot. Our speeches were actually demonstrating how well we could rehearse a poem. While my friends presented poems by great authors like Emily Dickinson and Shel Silverstein, I found some random poem called, "Pigs." [Yes, my quirkiness began early.] He coached me in the living room, encouraging me to use drama by belting out the first word of the poem, "PIGS," then throw up my arms and lunge toward the audience. I don't remember much after that or if I even presented it that way. But yes, that memory still lingers. [And let's not talk about the 8th grade speaking contest].

Getting home last night is another story. When I left you last, I was sitting in the Atlanta airport, hoping to get on a flight. Well, I did get on a flight, at around 9:10, and we sat and sat and sat. I was in the very last row, thankful for a seat. Around 10 p.m., one of the pilots came on announcing he was trying to have 1,700 pounds of fuel removed from the plane because it was overweight. He proceeded to inform us that safety is Delta's main priority and he is fighting to have the fuel reduced vs. taking off passengers. He said the company didn't want him to remove the fuel because in Florida, they charge a high tax due to vacationers. Ok, too much information, I'm thinking.

He proceeded with, "I understand there is concern about our safety. We are both combat pilots and love our families." Saying something like, we will get you there safely. He ended with, "If you want to get off, you can." He then stood in the doorway and no one moved.

Ten minutes later, "We need 10 passengers to get off the plane. Not 8, not 9, but 10." Apparently, there were no trucks available to de-fuel the plane, there are only two trucks (mind you, Atlanta is a major hub for Delta and the busiest airport in the U.S.), one was full and the other broken. After the 10 volunteers scurried off, "We have enough fuel to fly to Tallahassee and back."

"But we only want to go once," was what a passenger said to me.

$200 Delta dollars were given to each passenger who got off for the next flight (which arrived 10 minutes after ours). To my clique in the back I asked, "so, they'll spend 200 in Delta dollars, which is $2,000, how much will they save in [fuel] taxes [by not refueling in Florida]? The wise-ass quickly quipped, "well, has anyone been able to actually use Delta dollars?" Good point.

We were given an 8 ounce bottle of water. Which means, give people water, they're gonna have to get up and pee. There was a very large woman on the flight, who drank her 8 oz. As soon as we were about to take off, she decided she had to go. The flight attendant told her to sit back down but she didn't listen and locked herself in the bathroom. The attendant alerted the pilot and so wheels didn't lift until the woman had peed. 10:55 p.m., my 7:41 p.m. flight was in the air for the 36-minute trip.

You know that "rule" that FAA has about traveling on the same flight as your luggage? It's just a rumor. Because one of my bags was on my flight and the other on the later flight. The great thing about the evening (and would have been more exciting if I wasn't on an expense report) is that the Tallahassee airport waived all parking fees for the evening.

Just another day in the life of a road warrior.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bad Travel Ju-Ju

I boarded a plane at 10:30 this morning, expecting I'd be home in the late afternoon. It's 7:45 p.m., still not there. Apparently, a runway is closed for the next 60-days for resurfacing. The Delta gate agent in Cincinnati (don't ask why I was on a flight from Boston to Atlanta via Cincy), "avoid flying through Atlanta in the next couple of months. It's a mess." But you get anywhere from Tallahassee without going through Atlanta. At least I wrote about these handy tips to maximize my time in the airport.

In addition, I've spent a lot of time getting my CNN fix, I can always look and listen to Anderson Cooper. He's been in Afghanistan and reporting live throughout the week. Why couldn't my trip to Afghanistan coordinate with his?

What have I learned today? Well, from Delta's in-flight magazine Sky, that pets can transmit diseases to their human owners. In fact, there is a possibility that they can carry some sort of worm that when the pets lick their human, it can lodge in the human's brain or liver and eggs can be laid and tons of worms hatch in the human's body! Ewww!

That the American military has standards and a code of ethics (I'll have to do some more research about this). Apparently, a large gro up of Taliban militants (dozens) in Afghanistan could have been taken out by an unmanned spy plane, but we didn't do it. Nope. We follow the "rules of engagement" and we don't bomb cemeteries - the Taliban insurgents were apparently attending a funeral. I'm unfamiliar with the "rules of engagement," do these rules allow us to bomb civilian homes and rape and kill civilians?

It's just strange to me that war has rules. I mean, if we follow the rules, then why is there war? Rules just remind me of the British soldiers during the Revolutionary War, standing in perfect lines, waiting to be picked off. Perhaps, someone should review the rules for the 21st century.

Then I caught some silliness about the U.S. military not being able to test out some new weapons in Iraq until they are tested on U.S. civilians. What??? This weapon apparently stuns vs. kills and some guy name Wynne wants to make sure it works properly. Anyone willing to volunteer?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Bloated and Butterflies

I just returned from an incredible tour of the North End of Boston, Little Italy. It was with a tour guide, and we ate our way through America's oldest neighborhood, stopping at specialty shops. An Italian dinner topped off the evening. I'll write more another time, because I'm suppose to give a speech to 900 people tomorrow, and now I'm nervous. My speech was prepared, but then one of the tablemates at dinner tonight is a high-end, professional speech coach and gave me some pointers. For the last hour, I've reworked my little 2 minutes and trying to memorize the important points. Send me positive thoughts!

There Must Be a Reason

In just a few hours, it will officially be the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11. No year is needed, that date will forever be synonymous with 2001. Ironically, on September 11, 2001, I was in the Boston area. Today I am in Boston. Despite all the time which has past, I still get upset about this day, meaning, I'm filled with sadness and cry. I didn't lose anyone, but it was the first time I had actually felt alone in the world. Perhaps it's because I had a feeling of losing my security. Five years later, are we any safer? Do we feel more secure? I don't. In fact, I'm still nervous when I fly. But that's how terrorism works - keeping us on our edge with anticipation that something may happen. I had no idea how much that horrible day would not only impact me then (I needed to find a way to get home to Florida), or down the road, five years later. I've tried multiple times to cohesively write my thoughts and feelings of Sept. 11, but I can never get them to meld into something that makes sense. Maybe next year.

Today (yesterday), I met an incredible young man named Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children. He's 23 now, but at the age of 12, he was so moved by reading a story about a 12-year-old Pakistani killed for telling the world about child slavery, he convinced his parents to take 2 months of from school and backpack through Asia. He formed Free the Children to simply help other children in developing countries. This guy was amazing. For being 23, he's an incredibly dynamic speaker. He's traveled the globe, returning from Kenya last week. He's a three-time Nobel peace prize nominee and author of a few books. Why couldn't I have met him when I was 12? I was so touched by his presentation, feeling his passion, I had to speak with him. I thanked him and shared my Afghanistan experience. It gave me a little bit more justification about my trip.

Despite my frustrations and problems, I live really well. Each day, I think about the poor living conditions in Afghanistan - lack of electricity, drinkable water, clean clothing, food. All the children I met in orphanages who will probably never be adopted nor have family to share life accomplishments. But I remind myself of the hope over there. The people are free. Not a definition of free by U.S. standards, but they are free. And the people of Afghanistan can thank the U.S. government for their freedom. Without Sept. 11, the Taliban would still be in full control of the country. They remember it, we can't allow ourselves to forget.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Burger Freakin' King: Okay, MySpacers, Who's With Me?

That's it. The King has gone too far. Burger King, that is. If you've been reading my blog a while or know me, you're aware that the freaky, King of plastic just spooks me. Is he an example of botox gone bad? Read my December 2005 and February 2006 posts to get up to date.

MySpacers probably know the King has his own MySpace page and at last count, his royal scariness had more than 19,700 freaky subjects. Can this go on? See my blog post on MySpace and let me know if you're with me.

BTW - a fellow writer friend will be pimpin' my page to her readers soon. MySpacers, if you have time, drop by my little place on MySpace and drop me a line.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Some Uplifting News

I returned home today to an unexpected package from Italy: a beautiful black and white photo from Saverio, the only man on the trip to Kabul. The photo is beautiful and I'm touched. Be sure to visit his site and see his perceptions of the trip.

I also made my first post on the pay-to-blog site I had previously mentioned. The blog is www.TravGuides.com. Right now, the article (about Afghanistan - I know, you're all probably tired about my trip to Afghanistan!) is on the front page and I imagine it will be moved to the Afghanistan tab this week. So, stay tuned and I'll post updates (of course I will!) when I've contributed a new story.

Unlike the AC site I contribute to, my pay is known (which I like) and not based on page viewer history (Let me clarify, the wage I'm offered for a new article is based on how many page views I had on my LAST article and visitors to my home page. That's why I'm constantly emailing you all with my stories). A real positive is that I won't be writing with key word density for the blog- which I feel, makes me sound like an idiot. I'm a writer, a creative mind - I want a vast array of words vs. repeating the same word or phrase over and over again. But, I do still plan to contribute to AC, it's a decent site, but most of my travel (I hope) will end up on www.TravGuides.com.

As always, thanks for your support!

When's the Last Time You Really Said "Thank You?"

I posted last week about saying thanks to our troops. Today, I'm wondering how often we say "thank you" to those who come into our lives and stir something in us. Those people who inspire, frustrate, push us to our limits yet make us laugh and enjoy life. I know I don't say it enough and usually think of saying it when it's too late.

Today, I learned a friend lost his battle with cancer. Gary took me under his wing while in Death Valley and taught me the basics of corporate sales. I remember my first week working in the sales department and how everything seemed upside down. Shep and Nan, the two sales managers in the office, were also very helpful. But Gary was the "boss of us all," at least on the organizational chart :)

He taught me how to write kick-ass letters and I always loved how he signed his faxes, "enjoy your day." I hijacked that little phrase from him and have been using it in many of my emails since then. He taught me how to infuse laughter into the workplace - he had a wicked sense of humor. He always told me the Feds were after him and that's how he ended up in Death Valley. Well one day, the Feds DID show up. They were a little obvious, it was summer in Death Valley (dry heat or not, it's damn hot!) and they were dressed in dark suites and shades. But they weren't looking for him, they were after a dozen or so illegal immigrants working in housekeeping and the kitchen.

And, I want my current and previous employer to know that Gary is the one who taught me how to "organize" my work area. His office was ALWAYS stacked with piles of paper. It was rare to see the top of his desk. Each time I went into his office with more "papers," I would look around, unsure where to place them. He would see my anguish and looking around with me, he'd sigh. The sigh indicate, "yeah, I know. But what can I do?" In all my annalness, the desktop is where I relax and revel in clutter.

Gary, you're missed already. Your influence played a bit in forming the person I am today.

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Non-Post

So how am I spending this Labor Day? Before I get started, I really think there should be a movement to relocate Labor Day to the first Friday of September. My reason? Well, if this is a holiday for laborers, one cannot properly party on a Monday night and be expected to be productive in the office on a Tuesday morning. Having Friday off would make much more sense, the entire weekend would be there to recuperate.

Am I partying tonight? No. I'm writing, well, procrastinating is more like it. I've decided I'd rather see money come IN vs. going OUT.

Speaking of which, scored $2.49 gas today! Yippee! The last time I filled up, it was $2.99. That fifty-cents per gallon really makes a difference. If I could, I'd fill up containers and store them - like my hurricane water supply. I heard [crazy] talk that gas would be about $2 per gallon by November. Is that because it's close to election day?

I am sad about the untimely death of Steve Irwin. No, I never met him, but I know he did do some filming in the Everglades shortly after I left. Since I had once lived among crocodiles and alligators, I feel a bit of a connection.

Later will be work-work (ugh!) and maybe fixing a fine dinner. And how are you spending this day?