Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Excuse Me While I Rant About Customer Service

I am a sucker for good customer service.  You treat me right and I will come back to your store, leave you a great tip, buy more than I need.  I can overlook many things, like what others might consider lack of ambiance, if the customer service is superb.  I do like nice places but have been to many "nice places" that didn't treated me so well. Make me comfortable and happy and make me believe that you really care about that. It's simple stuff. Top off my water glass before the ice is clinking around the bottom. I’m talking napkins in my bag at the drive-thru. I mean a “hello” or a “thank you” as I make my grocery purchase. The little things make the difference.

I have found a business that deals in great customer service. It's a place here in town but not a posh restaurant in a swank downtown locale. It is not a spa where I was pampered unmercifully ‘til I could take no more. Unexpectedly, I was treated like royalty by the fine employees of Jiffy Lube on Route 40.

How can a simple, quick stop auto maintenance errand be more than just what it is: a mundane chore? It’s because of Them - those chivalrous knights in canvas jump suits, those auto jedis, the employees and management of Route 40’s Jiffy Lube. They did for me what no other oil change enterprise has ever done. Or what any other service provider has done in a long, long time. No, not that kind of personal service! Simply, they were courteous, efficient, professional, knowledgeable, thoughtful, and thorough. These things sounds obvious and expected, but I find these qualities less and less often in service settings.

Here's how it went. I pull up to the bay and hear the music playing...Alice in Chains? Mudvayne? Five Finger Death Punch? Okay, wouldn't be my pick but it's festive in a self-loathing sort of way (this is something I may be overlooking later.)

Then I am greeted immediately, before I even geared my car down into P, personally at my car window by a Generation Y guy. He’s dressed in standard Jiffy Lube issue, his hair is shorn militantly short and he has a few tattoos and piercings. If I went on appearances alone, expectations for superior customer service could be slim (another thing I might be overlooking later).

But the cordials that fell out of his mouth wiped away all preconceived ideas of what a typical Gen Y member is capable. Specifically,

He wasn’t texting while he greeted me (yes, this has happened to me on other occasions).

He wasn’t apathetic or bitter about his job; or if he was, he hid it well. (I have been waited on by a customer service rep who was simultaneously complaining to her coworker about how much she hates customers...)

And he was friendly.

As were all the other 3-5 employees plus one member of management that became enthusiastically, if not obsessively, involved in my measly oil change.

This team worked as one well-oiled machine, if you will, to get me out of their shop as quickly and as satisfied as possible. And it worked. Again, it’s the little things that make the difference.

Now you might think I have gone overboard about an oil change and what seems like standard service. You might think that I don't get out enough. You might think I was driving my husband's truck that day. You might think that I am a 40-something woman who has an affinity for younger men. Did you just call me a COUGAR?! (That's REALLY funny!)

But you would be wrong about all those things. I'll say it again, I'm a sucker for great customer treat me right and I will do business with you. And I'll be back to Jiffy Lube in 2,993 miles from now.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Rural Ain't A Bad Thing Afterall

I live in a rural county.  Where else can you see signs like this?

Or carnival rides and mounted horses in the same frame?

Or chickens that are actually beautiful birds?

Or a newly-shorn sheep wearing a onesy?

Or a WTFisthis?

But I didn't realize something about a rural county until I drove my husband's truck.

This is what I normally drive.

What I learned from driving my husband's truck is that I received way more
honks, waves, hoots, come-ons, hey-babies, winks, whistles, stares, ogles, leers, suggestive hand gestures,
and other male attention 
driving a big ole truck for one day
than I have in all the years driving my minivan.

Apparently, country girls got it going on.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

No Phone Zone

Okay, I admit it...I talk on the cell phone while driving. I do it because I am busy. I do it because I think whatever it is can't wait until I get home. I do it because I think multi-tasking is the only way things get done and driving to and fro is not accomplishing enough. I do it because I have become accustomed to doing, getting, having whatever pops into my mind moments after I have the thought. I do it because "why wait?" I do it because I am bored. I do it.

I get annoyed with the people and their bumper stickers who tell me to "hang up and drive". I have been one of those that thought if I can drive and carry on a conversation with a person sitting in the seat next to me, what's the difference in carrying on a conversation with a person on the other end of a cell phone? And further, how could a cell phone conversation be more distracting than passing sippy cups into the rear of the van while refereeing the "he's on my side" backseat battle. Admittedly, both are equally distracting to the driving task which should be garnering most of my attention. But, hey I'm a busy mom, right?

Right. I am not too busy at this moment to think about what life would be like for my family or someone else's family if something unfortunate and preventable happened due to distraction on the road. Really, I don't want to think about that, but I watched Oprah today and her show has forced me think about it. The Oprah show today was all about the ills of "distracted driving". Mainly the focus was on texting while driving, but there were some compelling arguments against any cell phone use while driving.

Did you know that while you are chatting away behind the wheel your driving focus is impaired to the same level as if you had 0.8 blood-alcohol level? That quadruples your risk for an accident. If you're texting, your risk is 8 times greater. You can read more about these stats and the horrible impact these behaviors can have on families here. I can admit that I do not text while driving but again, talking is only a little less unsound.

Oprah framed the use of cell phones while driving as an addiction. She's right. When I first heard that and thought of not using my phone whenever the heck I felt like it, my palms involuntarily began sweating and I immediately started mentally rationalizing my cell phone use. That's what addicts do...rationalize their behavior. So, I am a cell phone addict. And the reason I am writing this post is so I can be held accountable. If I didn't post this and say it out loud, I'd be making calls with abandon next time I was on the road. So, I'll say it now:

I am not going to use my cell phone while driving anymore.

Nothing I have going on is that important that I can't pull over or wait for that call. Actually, there are several things that are so extremely important that I should without question keep to this proclamation...They're my husband, my sons, my parents, my brothers, my in-laws, my nieces, my extended family, my friends and you.

I was moved to make a change today by Oprah. She does that to you. If you are moved by this post or further by Oprah's show, post a comment and let me know you are on board with me on this. Just don't expect a phone call until I get back home.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sensible & Sweet Saturday Surprises

I've used my weekly quota of "esses" in that title. Sheesh! Ooops, now I'm over quota...

Anyway, I talk about my kids a lot but I don't talk about my husband too much. He deserves a mention every now and then, don't you think? I do. What's got me thinking of him today is the sweet little gesture that he has made on the past several Saturdays. And this small act is enjoyed all week long. He has brought me flowers from the grocery store three Saturdays in a row. He runs out to pick up decongestant, eggs or whatever ingredient that I absolutely must have to make our Saturday pancakes and brings home a grocery store bouquet. So sweet and they look great all week until the next Saturday rolls around.

Now I am not one who particularly likes to receive flowers. Maybe for a really big occasion, but generally I think my husband buying me high-priced, florist bouquets is a waste of money. This must come from the one, very small, deeply seated part of my brain dedicated to practicality. But he can bring me grocery store bouquets anytime he wants to. Thanks Baby! I love you!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Our Teachers Aren't Paid Enough or I Am Working on My Acceptance Speech for Classroom Volunteer of the Year

I volunteer weekly in my 1st grade son's classroom. The job requires the ability to follow directions that have been quickly written on a bright post-it notes in 1st grade teacher code, the desire to be hugged by children repeatedly as they pass by on their way to and from the bathroom, quick reflexes for doling out hand sanitizer before accepting said hugs, and good cutting skills. I meet the requirements for the most part, except the following directions; I have messed up a few tasks due to not being able to crack the 1st grade teacher code. But I covered my tracks and left the job for the afternoon volunteer. She likes those jobs anyway.

The mornings I spend at the school are pretty predictable in a controlled chaotic 1st grade sort of way. But this day, yesterday, being St. Patrick's Day and the Exceptional Teacher's birthday with a 70 degree sunny forecast, an unusual level of excitement crackled in the air. The 1st-grader-just-happy-to-be-alive mood-o-meter was swinging way passed "ecstatic" to "euphoric". All was going great. Kids were happy. Exceptional Teacher was smiling. It seemed the luck of the Irish was being enjoyed by all.

Then the luck turned. Right in the middle of small reading groups, Exceptional Teacher noticed it. It was unmistakable. The bearer of the bad omen wasn't yet known, but it was clear that one of the students was a carrier. The nose does not lie. "I smell dog poo," Exceptional Teacher said. Those words weren't fully formed before every kid was doing the sole search dance. You say "dog poo" and all within ear shot immediately start high-stepping and looking at the bottoms of their shoes. That move is an innate response. It's like a sneeze. So Exceptional Teacher and I start checking the kids' shoes and sure enough, one of them has carried in an aromatic dog biscuit with them. And I was the one lucky enough to find it.

"Got it!" I yell. I felt like I had located an IED.

"Get back!" I yell. I carefully remove the loaded shoe, sweat beads forming on my forehead, just like Tom Cruise in MI (the first one, the good one).

Exceptional Teacher then says, "Are you sure?" I am pretty sure. Everyone knows what this looks like, right? But to be certain, I...I am ashamed and embarrassed to admit it...I smell it! What was I thinking? Did I really need to do that? "Yep, I'm sure." And I take the shoe outside to remove the stinking stowaway.

I was hoping it would be as easy as scraping the shoe bottom five or six times across the grass but this was not to be done with such ease. Have you ever looked at the bottom of a (clean) Skecher shoe? There are more nooks and crannies there than in whole package of Thomas' English Muffins. The wiping on the grass trick wasn't enough. So I end up in the janitorial closet with hot water and a putty knife. Detailed work such as this is only done by skilled artisans. But that shoe was as clean as the day it was made when I was done.

I returned the shoe to the poor, embarrassed student who only wanted his shoe back and this day to end. Exceptional Teacher said, "Thank you for taking care of that. I would have done it. I usually do." This apparently happens a lot. Which brings me to the first part of title of this post: Our teachers aren't paid enough. And not because of the countless hours they spend outside of the classroom preparing to mold our children's minds. And not because school budgets are so constrained that they have spend their own money to buy tools to help them do their jobs effectively. It's because every so often one of our kids comes in with a stinking dog treat stuck to their shoe and before anyone can focus on the lessons at hand, somebody has to remove the stink and its source! And that somebody is usually your kid's teacher.

Luckily for Exceptional Teacher I was there and really didn't understand what was happening to me. Thus, I took care of it this day. Afterall, who wants to be scraping away dog poo on their birthday? I'll just think of it as my little birthday gift to her. Which brings me to the second part of the title to this post. There really isn't such an award at our school, but if there were, I'm clearly a shoe-in for it this year.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

15 Minutes of Fame, Right Here, Right Now!

Have I mentioned lately how awesome my kids are? They are. I know, yours are too. But that's not what we're talking about right now. You can talk later. Back to the point. Why are my kids so great? They make me laugh. They make me scream and cry and throw things too. But the good part is, they make me laugh.

Both boys have great wits. But Son #2, you might know him as Helios, has a quick wit that is far more mature than his little body professes. He says so many things that take us by surprise. I can't remember them all (I know you're surprised about that) so I carry a little notebook in my purse and I write many of them down.

When Helios was 4 and already a Star Wars expert, he asked, "Mom, do you know how many Obi Kenobis there are?" Of course, I didn't know so he told me, "Obi One Kenboi, Obi Two Kenobi, Obi Three Kenobi..." Ingenius! Limitless! If George Lucas had thought of it that way, he could have had many more prequels and sequels and made bajillions more dollars than he did his limited Star Wars saga.

Around the same age, Helios was becoming aware of and interested in his body. He approached me in the kitchen one day, shirtless (him not me), and with both fingers pointing to the opposite sides of his chest, he said, "These are my nickles!"

And later that day, he clarified to Daddy that the brown spots on your chest are "nickles" not "muckles"...for muckles as we all should know are the joints in your fingers.

Another time Helios snuck up from behind and startled me. I was a bit shaken with surprise. To soften the moment he said, "I come in peace...well actually I don't." I don't know what his unpeaceful intentions were, but I sent him back outside to make war with Leonardo.

Recently, at the dinner table we were discussing the meaning of Andy Warhol's 1968 prediction that "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." To which Helios asked, "Have we had ours yet?" To which we answered, "No." To which he answered, "Okay, just let me know when it happens."

I believe his time has yet to come and when it does I predict it be at least a half hour.

Monday, March 15, 2010

How To Get Your Kids To Eat Green Veggies

The dilemma of our to get your kids to eat green veggies. Well, I have the trick. I've never posted a recipe before but this one is a tried and true in our house. I made up the recipe when Son #1 was a wee babe when it was near impossible to get anything green down his throat. It is so good. Everyone in the house loves it. So we named it Favorite Pasta.

1 lb. pasta (farfelle, campanelle or penne)
5 oz. fresh spinach
5 oz. fresh kale, stemmed
olive oil
dried Italian seasoning
garlic powder
grated Parmesan

Prepare pasta al dente. Meanwhile, clean, rinse and pat greens with a paper towel. Then place greens into food processor and process until unrecognizable. Seriously, I run the processor until the greens are shredded into the tiniest pieces. They should go from looking like this

To looking like this

as they are sauteed in olive oil (about 2 TBS.) until soft.

Once pasta is ready and drained, and greens are sauteed, return pasta to pot and add greens.  Stir in olive oil (really to taste and desired consistency, but probably about 1/3 cup), Italian seasoning, garlic and parmesan cheese.  All of these items are added to taste. As I said, I made this recipe up. Precision is not my strong suit.

When you are done,it should look like this.

You can jazz the recipe up with some chicken if you like.

I have made this recipe for what seems like once a week for about 10 years. We all still like it. It still lives up to its name. And we get a green veggie. And no one other than me really has to know.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sticky Chicken on How to Make Maple Syrup

Please enjoy this post by Guest Blogger, Sticky Chicken.

Today was an educational adventure for me. I went to the Maple Syrup Festival at Cunningham Falls State Park. The only food processing I was familiar with up to this point is that which is practiced by the likes of Purdue and Tyson. And thankfully, my knowledge of that is strictly hearsay. But after today, I have quite a bit of knowledge of how to make maple syrup. Although it was a terribly rainy day and I had to spend much of our time outside stuffed into the front pocket of my mom's anorak, I still was able to hear most of the demonstration lecture, albeit a tad muffled.

I learned today that the tapping of maple trees for their sugary sap is known to have been done first by the native people of the northeastern part of North America long before Europeans arrived in the region. Once the Europeans arrived, the generous natives showed their new neighbors which trees to tap and how to tap them, then how to collect the sap and boil it down first to a syrup and then boil down longer to a sugar. I wonder how long it was before the European colonists had over-tapped the trees and the natives regretted sharing this information. All that colonization stuff sounds a lot like giving the fox full run of the chicken coop, if you ask me.

But anywho, there was a full demonstration of the traditional syrup making process today. There are no pictures of the tapped trees with the sap harvesting buckets hanging on them because it was raining so hard while we were there. My mom was not about to get her camera wet or walk up a slippery hill just to look at a tree. But take my word for it, they had the trees tapped old-style.

But we did stand under the nice covered pavilion to see the boiling vat.

And here's the guy making the taps or spiles as they are called in the syrup circles.

That's a whittled sumac twig he's spearing with a hot poker to hollow out the center.

Once whittled and hollowed out, these spiles are inserted into a bored hole from which thick sap drips out to ultimately become the breakfast garnish of choice.

A bird's brain has only so much capacity for history. And we were sick of standing in the rain. So we crossed the road for the real reason we endured the rain anyway...Pancakes with real, honest to goodness maple syrup.  None of that Aunt Jemima, high fructose corn syrup, fake business. This is the real deal. And Cluck! Is it good!

After I ate, I was invited to sit in with the band. So cool! Slim Harrison of Sunnyland Music fame was playing and I got to join in on his really awesome, pimped out washboard!

This was way better than even meeting an astronaut!

Another thing I learned today is that it takes about 40 gallons of sap boiled over an open fire to produce about 1 gallon of syrup. A single maple tree produces enough sap in the 4-6 week harvesting season to make 1 gallon of syrup. Not a lot of syrup per tree. This explains why the pint bottle of syrup my mom bought cost $10.00! But again, Cluck! The stuff is GOOOOOD!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Flashback Friday: The Dichotomy That Is My Sons

It's not very often that I participate in the blogger games, but today I am taking part in Flashback Friday. I am sure someone is doing this somewhere, so let's just say I'm doing it with/because of them. I chose to flashback to exactly one year ago today to see what I was doing and if anything had changed.  I'll tell you at the end what I found out.  Here we were March 12, 2009:

The Dichotomy That Is My Sons

My sons are polar opposites to one another.  Their personalities are so different. These differences don't necessarily pop out at you during the normal course of the day. They share similar interests:  Legos, riding bikes, playing anything StarWars, Nintendo and the like.  But when things get tough (or even a little bit out of the ordinary), their true selves are more exposed.  Take yesterday for example.  My husband has been working longer hours lately and many mornings is out of the house before the guys wake up.  After several days of this, the first words out of Son 1's mouth was "Is Dad still here?"  Upon hearing the disappointing answer, he begins his morning of woe.  Moaning, pouting, the "headache" and the "I don't want to go to school" mantra begin, etc.  This child likes his people around him, not where he can't see them and know they are safe.  Son 2 basically paid no attention to anyone in (or out of) the house and set to rebuilding his Lego from the night before.

After breakfast and the other morning preparations, Son 1 was still distraught about Dad's absence. So we talked. We talked about being supportive and strong during this time at Dad's work.  We talked about how it is okay to miss our loved ones when they are not around, but we still must function.  They want us to. We talked about many things.  So Son 1, pulls it together, decides all is well, and that he will go to school, but he will take with him a "squeezy, stress ball" to assist if needed.  Life can proceed as normal now.

Son 2, hearing this, decides to take some stress relievers with him as well.  His pockets are then crammed to capacity with random Legos and other objects within his arm's reach.  As he stuffs a rock in his pocket, he pats his thigh and proclaims, "Good, I've got my rock in case anybody dies today." Now, I am not sure how the rock would be used in response to an unexpected death, but my five-year-old clearly had a purpose in mind.

As if in slow motion, I look from Son 2 to Son 1 and see Son 1's face change from a calm face of resolve to a strickened look of mortal fear.  I could almost read his thoughts:  "I'm going to need more than my squeezy, stress ball today."  So again, we talked. And, we got back to our happy place.

On the way to school in an effort to keep us in the happy place, I started a challenge to name all the good things in our lives. In order of their delivery, here's the short list of how things in the boys' lives shake out:

Son 1: Coming home from school
Son 2: Going to school
Son 1: Being home
Son 2: Being at school

You get the idea. At drop-off, both boys exited the car, in different degrees of contentment:  one knowing that he only had 6.5 hours of torture to endure and the other knowing he had 6.5 hours of rapture to enjoy.  And I drove away to live my 6.5 hours of both.

Okay, how does this compare to the present.

Same: Dad is out of town today & nobody likes it. Different: But nobody's crying.

Same: Son #2's pockets are crammed with Legos, rocks and other detritus. Different: Don't think he is trying to ward off anything with it.

Same: Son #1 still needs have his people around him. Different: No squeezy ball needed to cope!

Same: One son doesn't want to go to school. Different: It's not Son #1.

Same: All three of us are about to enjoy another rapturous, torturous day. But ain't they all that way?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How We Would Celebrate Today

Happy Birthday Mom! I really wish we could spend this day together. If I were there or you were here, maybe it would be something like this...

We would start with coffee somewhere and sit and chat. Then we would hit a few antique shops and browse away the morning. You would buy a cup and saucer for your collection. And I would buy a bud vase for my bathroom. After, we would stop by a really good book store and see what's new. By noon, we'd be famished so we'd lunch on a sunny patio. A really fresh salad, something else warm and filling chased with really good sweet tea. With our energy replenished, we'd go to a nursery and buy flats and flats of pansies and snapdragons and maybe even a new bird feeder. Then we'd go home and plant and talk. We'd discuss the progress of the fall bulbs and when we thought the hostas would start peaking out of the ground. We'd clear away the old mulch and lightly toss the beds. And we'd talk. We would notice the vinca vine taking over the columbine so we'd cut it back a bit. And we'd laugh. And you would teach something I didn't know about irises and I would tell you what's going on with my photography work. After the planting was done and our hands were clean, we have iced tea on porch. And we'd talk until the sun and the moon changed shifts. And later while we slept, the memory of a wonderful day would be cemented in our minds.

Have a wonderful day Mom! I love you!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Who Am I and How Did I Get Here? And More Importantly, Why are They Trusting Me with These Children?

I am losing my mind. Not in the going crazy, losing your marbles sort of way. But as in, I can't remember anything sort of way. And I am rapidly losing my recall ability. My kids tell everyone they meet that I have short-term memory loss. Let me cite a few examples to see if you agree.

A typical weekday morning will involve the minivan being driven out and back in the driveway two or three times before it actually gets out on the open road. This happens because I forget my phone, my gym bag, my grocery list, the bank deposit, or some very important thing that I have to remember to take care of that day. It has become a comedy. The garage door opens, the van backs out, the garage door closes, the van stops, the garage door opens, the van pulls back in the drive, I hop out and run back in the house, I hop back in the van, the van backs out, the garage door closes, the van stops, and the process starts again. My max is three full repetitions before we are cleared for take off. Nice. I think the day I make it to four times, I should probably just stay in the house that last time.

Another shining moment for me lives in infamy in our house. Again, getting ready for school one morning and the last thing for the boys to do is brush their teeth. So what do I say to prompt them? You'll love this one.  I say in all seriousness, "Hey guys, buckle your seat belts."  ...I'll pause here so you can take that in...Yeah, where that came from I have no idea. It took a few minutes of my kids laughter to inform me that my auto-pilot control may have a malfunction.

And lastly, I am losing my recall abilities. Thankfully, my mind has a few go-to words that it falls back on in times of stress, confusion, exhaustion, basically just about any moment of the day, when the actual word I need seems to be MIA. My family has become very good at translating and usually they know exactly what I am talking about. So, the other day we were doing a little housecleaning and picking up the clutter. I say in all seriousness again, with no hand gestures or pointing involved, "Put the thingy in the whatchamacallit next to the thingamajig, what-ever-your-name-is." Brilliantly, Son #2 put his Nintendo games in the toy cabinet next to his Nintendo DS. See, he knows my special language.

Well, I'm off for now.  I've got to go to a place and do a thing. Since I just ate, I better buckle my seat belt before I go. Wouldn't want have bad breath when I go to the place and talk to what-ever-his-name-is's teacher.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spring Break Chicken

I am posting this on behalf of Sticky Chicken today. He wanted to write his own post. So here he is...

Guess where I've been! Here's a little hint. Does that hand look familiar?

Let's step back a bit and see if you know now...

Oh yeah...I hooked up with my home boy Mickey M down in FLA!

He was right there, standing just like that, waving those four big white fingers at me when I came out of the terminal at Orlando International Airport. It was great! Out of all of the passengers arriving that day, I was the only one he picked up and gave a photo op right from his glove. Everybody else had to stand on their own feet around him to get their pictures taken. I felt really special, grade A.

One thing I did notice about Mickey this time was that he was doing the Michael Jackson one glove thing. It's hard to tell in the picture, but his other hand was not gloved. It was a nice tribute to Michael.

I asked Mickey to join us for dinner but he said he had to stay there at the airport. Something about being a statue and inanimate. I don't know. Anyway, we left and I was glad because flying is hard on chickens and all I wanted to do was... on my vitamin D stores.

And after all that cluckin' snow shoveling last month, I just needed to sit, relax in the sunshine and work on my tan!
I was sure to use a 50 SPF (sun poultry factor) 'cause I didn't want to end up on the KFC menu, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, after sitting around the pool for a few days, I wanted to see some of the sights of Florida so off to Kennedy Space Center we went. My favorite part was lying on the pavement right under a Space Shuttle. Those things are huge! And the pavement was really warm and toasty! Like the warming lights back at Tyson but I didn't feel all caged in.

And then the last part of our visit, I met an astronaut! How cool is that? We talked about space and orbits and how an egg sort of looks like the early space capsules. Really awesome stuff! I don't think there's ever been a chicken in space. I know dogs and monkeys have gone, but no poultry. I was just about to ask my new astronaut friend what I would need to do to become the FFIS (First Fowl in Space) when he grabbed my neck! What the cluck!
Thank goodness, my new adoptive mom grabbed me before he started swinging me around. Who knows what would have happened! There was a bit of confusion and he said something about not realizing where his fingers were in those big space gloves of his. Right! I think he was threatened by my ambition for the space program. They are going to have to make HUGE job cuts once the Shuttle program ends. Anyway, we left shortly after that. Later that night, I heard my adoptive parents talking about my close call at Kennedy. It was scary and but it did NOT make me rethink my goal of becoming the FFIS.

All in all, in was a great spring break! I'm thinking Cabo next year!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Post In Which I Delve Deeper into #75 of The 100 Things About Me

In a recent post, I stated "I am thankful for the conveniences of our times but I wish we lived simply like Half-Pint and Pa Ingalls." I realize building your own two room lean-to out of timber that you have harvested from the land which you farm in between shoeing your mules, smoking your pork after slaughtering said pig, making your own candles from said pig's fat, washing your dress (your one dress) on a rock in the river in which you bathe, all the while trying to serpentine through the moral turpitude that is Nellie Olsen is not a cake walk. We have it easy by that comparison.

But lately, many of the benefits of our time are truly overwhelming to me. 300+ television channels. The infinite possibilities of how I can order my coffee. Sudoku. And most recently, the ability to almost simultaneously read email, post on Facebook, listen to a podcast, check the weather in Soddy Daisy and constantly triangulate with satellites hovering miles above our planet is almost more than my brain can process. I got a Droid and my life will never be the same. I thought I multitasked before! Now I simultitask. You won't find that one in your dictionary. I checked my Free Dictionary app (on my Droid right now as I typed this) and it doesn't exist. Until now. I'll define it for you. Multitasking is to execute two or more processes concurrently. I know that concurrently means simultaneous. Simulitask just takes it to the next are reeaeaalllly completing many things at the same time, not just working on them at once. The closest Half-Pint got to simultitasking was making eyes at Almanzo when she should have been making sure Baby Carrie didn't fall down the well.

Anyway, back to me being overwhelmed. Out of prudence and shear limitation of cash inflow, upon obtaining our Droids (hubby got one too) we decided to pare down the amenities on our land line phone service. We don't need all those bells and whistles now that we have a communications Cadillac positioned on our hip. So I told the nice people of Verizon to give me the basic,local, no-frills service package. That equates to incoming calls that ring and the ability to dial out locally only. Okay. Fine with me. I can do so much more with my little rectangular psychic friend that I don't need their fancy service bundle.

Half-Pint and Pa didn't have a phone even though they were to have lived around the time Mr. Bell's tinny voice first traveled across space to Watson so I am still way ahead of them, limited land line abilities and all. But in giving up my land line extras, I actually stepped back in time. I didn't realize that along with cutting off my automated voicemail, my long distance carrier and call waiting, my caller_id habit was cutoff completely. I didn't know I had a caller_id habit until now. When my home phone rings now the little display says, "no data". I have no idea who is calling me! It is downright scary! Think about it. It could be anyone on the other end of the line! And now I just have to answer it without the foreknowledge of who it is or what they might want. It could be the school, a solicitor, the lottery commission, a friend, that person I don't want to talk to that I would normally let roll right into voicemail. In a world where everyone has telephonic clairvoyance, I am disabled. It's akin to losing one of your senses. Or worse, it's like living in the 70's all over again.

Now I know I am mixing my prime time TV references, but I think Andy Taylor actually had a more advanced phone system than I have in my home right now. When Andy picked up the phone and said, "Sarah, give me Aunt Bee", that was just caller_id in reverse. Everybody in Mayberry knew when their phone rang, it was Sarah calling to patch in somebody they knew to their line. Shoot, Sarah would probably have even screened your calls for you if you'd asked.

I just don't know how we did it before caller_id. I guess you just answered your phone and dealt with the consequences. But that's no way to live. So, let me amend my earlier statement to correctly reflect my thoughts on the matter: I am thankful for the conveniences of our times but wish we lived simply like Half-Pint and Pa Ingalls and I will be calling Verizon tomorrow to reinstate my caller_id.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I Wanna Go Back...

Did you think I would just stop after 100 posts, ne'er to blog again? Of course not! I was just away on a brief vacation to sunny Florida and it has taken a few extra days for me to get back into the swing of things. I have been mired in the post-vacation drill of catching up on laundry, resupplying the house with groceries, working out a hefty amount of denial that vacation is over and I can still see snow on the ground, etc. But I can set those things aside briefly to share some moments from our the trip.

We saw lots of Florida wildlife, complete with intracoastal trash.

I tried my hand at digital impressionism.

We saw huge rockets.

We stood underneath behemoth engines.

We made friends with an astronaut.

And this was our view in the evenings.

Aaaaah...makes me think...I wanna go back to my little grass shack in Kealakekua Hawaii...

Oh and by the way, Sticky Chicken was on this trip too. He's working up his report. It just takes him a little longer to navigate the keyboard. They haven't developed a feather-friendly mouse just yet but he manages just fine. Come back to see his take on the Sunshine State!