Summer 2012

Summer 2012
BibeauArt of Santa Rosa

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bad Karma Day

Last week was a heavy week - work, packing, new boss, meetings, kid events, camps, appointments, sick friends, you name it -it happened last week (or two now that I think about it).  I trudged along keeping my head up and dragging my corpse to bed as the energy light that read 'EMPTY' started blinking very fast.  And although I hate my cell phone with a passion, having it water damaged has added MORE stress with unlistened to phone calls, trying to pick up a call and hearing dead space, only getting text messages.

I kept saying to myself, "You know, next week is gonna SOOO ROCK!"  Well, here is 'next week' and there's even more on my plate - when am I gonna get to the dessert???  The light, fluffy, fun part?   There was some good news, good networking and fun with the kids already and it's only Tuesday. 

But have you ever had one of those get out of bed and you shock yourself accidentally dragging your feet on the carpet?  Dropping things?  Forgetting things?  Drivers that decide TODAY is the day they are gonna try and race you or brake, brake, brake in front of you for 'fun'?  When you put on your watch, it's not working?  You order coffees for pals and notice they charged you for one additional drink and 'didn't know'?  Try to call your hubby who has been calling and texting you all day and he is so busy that you're gonna have to try again later? You go to wash your car window because people in the Summertime LOVE to wash their windows in traffic and spray water all over your windshield at the gas station and someone has taken all of the cleaners away just as you get there?  You go to park in the normal parking space in an empty parking lot under a lovely tree for shade and the FED EX dude 'steals' your spot so fast that he nearly tips over his truck (I mean, REALLY dude?)?

Yes, all in one day.  So, I take a deep breath, hold it for a few counts, and breath out through my mouth to calm down and stay focused on the next task.  I finally get to my office, nice and air conditioned, new, clean and - I open the door to note that it's being used for storage???   So I laughed out loud and got some water from the kitchen. 

I remember a Kenyan lady in the first professional building I worked in as a young chick in my 20's who would go to the restroom for her break like the rest of us in the building and splash her face with water a few times, shake the water off with her hands, close her eyes, dry off a bit and leave.  Finally, after seeing her do this every day, I asked her if it was a ritual.  It certainly looked like one - she wasn't cleaning off her face - and her face was NOT oily or in need of being washed several times a day.  She explained to me with her deep accent that in her culture when things went wrong or you felt 'off' you would find some clean, cool water and splash your face with it in order to 'clean' your karma.  Well, that was the gist of it.

Shrugging my shoulders after she finished explaining how it works, I tried it while she smiled at me.  I wore more makeup that day than she ever will in her whole life, but I did it anyways.  I was having a horrible day and would try anything.


She gestured for me to flick my hands at the sink to get rid of the water with the 'bad energy' and blot dry.

"There!  How was that?"

"Um, cool and wet?"

"No, no, I meant, how WAS it?  Do you feel free?"

I didn't feel any different but noticed my mascara was running on my left eye.  As I leaned over to fix it, the woman waved me off with her hand and made a 'tsk-tsk' sound and left.

The rest of the day felt like a new slate - fresh.  Maybe there's something to it, maybe not, but right now, I'm gonna march over to the bathroom and find out if it works for me today.

Flick!  Flick, bad karma water!  Flick, flick!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The 'Life is Crap' badge is now mine

...and I worked very hard for it yesterday.  Here's the background on it.  The 'Life is Crap' badge is actually a magnet that each one of us get whenever we do the following:  drop our cell phone or blackberry in the toilet, drop it in the pool, run over it with our cars, have it stolen or maybe we have an energy glitch in our bodies that just kills everything electronic that we touch (yes, we know a person like this.)

The 'badge of honor' is in response to the 'life is good' bumper stickers and the like that we see all over Sonoma County.  They are cute and all that, but not when your cell phone dies a horrible death.  So, this badge/magnet for our cubies or desks or fridges at home says "Life is Crap" and features a toilet view with a cell phone swimming in the middle (see above.)

There are many other variations - and funny ones too, but this is our badge of honor we give to those many employees who ruin their cell phones in interesting ways. 

I have always been quite proud of myself for always keeping my phone water and damage free.  I do lose my phone - all the time and in weird places - but eventually, it's found and I get screamed at by the 25 people who needed me yesterday, the day before that and, well, you get the picture.

So, last night, after running around like a chicken with my head totally cut off at work and doing errand after errand after workie poo, I was out of gas.  Literally.  Done.  Of course, my son was ready to go to the pool with his friends and they all like ME to go with them due to the huge cooler on wheels that I bring with ice that's always action packed with drinks, snacks and fruits.  I couldn't do it.  Just couldn't last night.  I flopped on the couch and stared out the window for a few minutes trying to think of nothing in particular.  I still had my work clothes on and managed to flip my 3 inch heels off my feet and heard them 'clunk clunk' on the floor.

As I stared out the window I noticed that my new tomato garden of heirloom and different sized red tomatoes were being attacked by snails or something - there were round bite marks in the lush, velvety leaves.  Noticing that made me get off the couch and get outside so that I could attend to my precious produce.  I hate snails unless they are baked in salt, oil and butter.  Hey, I'm French, go figure.

After attending to the needs of my beautiful garden, I looked down and noticed that my pristine creme stretch jeans that I so stylishly wore today to work were full of DIRT!  Not just any kind of dirt, but REAL dirt - the organic mix dirt that's BLACK and has worms in it, etc.  OMG!  I ran into the house, tore them off (don't worry, I didn't traumatize anyone - I was alone) and put them in the wash - on the SOAK cycle.

Finally got 're dressed' for the couch in my yoga pants and matching top and flopped on the couch again.

Twenty minutes later my hubby shows up saying "HEY, I've been calling you - we're late!"

"Huh?  Calling me?  No you haven't - my phone hasn't even beeped at me."

"Look, I've called you."  As he showed me his phone log, I realized what I did with my phone.  I had left it in my pocket when I tossed my jeans into the wash - OMG, THE WASH!

I darted over to the washing machine, which was all sudsy and waiting for the RINSE cycle.  Where is my PHONE???  I practically was in the machine when I found it, at the bottom of the blades, soaken and full of suds.

"Life is Crap" I immediately said as I showed my hubby the phone with water dripping from it and suds all over me, the phone and the floor.

My, my, how the mighty have fallen!  Now I was a part of the "Life is Crap" club at work.  Never thought this day would happen.  Then I sprang into action - okay, where's the bag of rice to put it in and did the water get to my SIM card? 

Well, after that fiasco last night, I went out for a drink across the way at the local golf bar and restaurant.  A few other patrons understood what I went through and even the waitress shared her story of running over her phone backing into her parking space (she just had a baby, so that was the reason - baby brain!) and gave me a free dessert for my induction into the special phone losers club.

Thankfully for me, the SIM card may work due to it not being too wet and it's a company phone, so they are sending me a new one that I'll get tomorrow.

In the meantime, my hubby is finding me some contraption that glues the phone to my person at all times so this doesn't happen again and that losing my phone isn't a weekly issue.  I must say, it's nice NOT to hear the ringing of the phone every 5 minutes...but this mini vacation will only last so long.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Annual Finding of the Gown, Year Two

To a guy, this isn't an important issue.  To us chicky poos, it's very serious - it can be the difference between a 'GREAT' evening out and an 'OKAY' evening.  We don't want an 'OKAY' evening when it comes to formals.  This is my second year earnestly seeking out a ball GOWN, not just a cocktail dress for the Christmas parties each year.

Once a year we are invited to the Army's 579th Engineering Ball - and there's no way you're showing up with some cocktail dress or something more mundane like 'work attire'.  The invitation cites formal attire for civilians and of course, the military personnel must wear their dress uniforms which I'm sure isn't their favorite thing, but they all look great.  I did find out that the female military chicks can wear gowns.  Thank God!  I mean, can you imagine standing next to some stunning Barbie doll of a chick while you are in the equivalent of a blue suit that is paired with a long, long, long skirt.  No bling either, just your Army bling.

Not my idea of 'formal'.  My husband always wears his dress blues - the nice uniform that they all wear to the Ball - so to him, it's another day at the office.  

So, just like finding a wedding gown, the search for a formal ball gown or dress that would work for such an event is not only based on how many stores you search in or how many gowns you try on, but it's all about that special unspoken connection with the gown.  I'm not kidding.  It's either there or it's not.  Kinda like falling in love - it either happens or not.  Period.

I did try to look on line for gowns, but it's not the same.  I need to meet them in person and try them on, walk in them, sit in them and figure out how to move in them and, if needed, how much time I have to trim off those last five pounds or so before the event.  I guess this is also why would never work for me.  On line is not the way to go with a decision this important!!!

This year it wasn't happening for me at any store with any gown.  I did find some very pretty gowns or semi formals that would have worked at many boutiques and salons in my area, but none of them was 'the one'.  A lot of them were the color black, and I'm so trying to get away from that for a while - I think it was my only color in my closet and for every single formal I attended in high school.   Boring.

I promised myself color again this year and thought a nice strapless blue-red would fit the bill.  The problem I found was that each 'red' dress I tried on was a nice color but the cut and fit were not for me.  One dress was so not me that I had to try it on for a good laugh.  I wish I had my cell phone on me (lost it again that whole day) for funny pictures so you could see what horrors some of these designs looked like on me.  

Pageant dresses, gowns, blinged out gowns, cut out gowns, fluffy gowns that would put Cinderella to shame - I tried them all on and laughed out loud part of the time and cursed the designer the other half of the time.  

"A zipper HERE?  I may lose a body part if it goes all the way up!"

"Okay, I got it ON, now how does it come OFF?"

"I cannot breathe and what is this dress doing to my boobs?!"

"I look like a pinata in this multicolored blimp.  Ugh!"

As I talked to myself in the dressing room, unable to send text photos to some of my fashion consultant chicky poos, the young lady who worked that dressing room area (to fetch sizes and to ask you every five minutes if you were 'OKAY') finally cut in.

"Um, I don't mean to interrupt, but can I help you?"

I was in the midst of undoing myself from yet another way too tight gown when I opened the door.  "Yeah, get me OUT of this thing!!!"  We both laughed.  She helped me out and we didn't damage the gown, but sometimes these things need two people to put on and off.  We discussed that for a while while a huge group of ladies of all sizes and ages descended upon us in the dressing room area.  The attendant freaked out - there were like 10 of them with at least 5 dresses per ARM - ready to try them all on!!!

I wished her luck and hung up the gown that I was freed from - and that took me like 5 minutes, at least.  I'm telling you, it's a whole day out doing this sort of searching.

The ladies that were joining us were all from the same family, so I heard.  They also doubled up in the dressing rooms 'for fun' and when a dress didn't work, they gave it to another gal in another room.  It was chaos!

Occasionally I'd leave my dressing room with a gown on me to see it in the three way mirror with platform and move around, see how it worked and if I liked it.  Occasionally, the matriarch of that family of women would say "hey, what size is that?"

Soon, I was passing around dresses that didn't work on me to someone who it would work on.  Still, I had no dress of my own.  All around me, shrieks of "OH MY GOD, THIS IS IT!" or just shrieks would fill the dressing room area.  

The last dress I tried on that day was spectacular looking.  Amazing.  Glorious.  Perfect.  A size 4??? Why did I pick this one up when CLEARLY it was not my size?  Sigh.  

It is a thick satin material of an olive green light coloring that just shimmers in the light.  The cut is strapless and shapely - but the best thing about the dress is the tasteful lariat of crystals and thick lace design that sweeps from the middle of my back to the front across my chest area in front.  Perfect for a 39 year old, not too prom-y - not trying to be younger - just perfect for me, my shape and my skin color.  I was in love.  I wanted this gown!

I glanced over at the rack of my leftover reject gowns and back at the most perfect gown ever - and decided to try it on for the heck of it.  No, I couldn't zip it up and no, it didn't fit me (this isn't a Disney blog, you know!) but I wished there was a larger size that I would fit in.  I realized that I really, really liked this gown.  My heart sunk into my stomach.

Getting re-dressed in my normal life clothes, I took all the gowns on hangers that weren't taken by the other women from my room and brought them out to the attendant.  I asked if there was a larger size, maybe, hiding somewhere.  "No, no, these are all we have - everything is out on the floor."

The rack where I found the gown originally was being picked over and over by other women who apparently have some ball or event to go to soon as well.  I even checked the other dressing room across the way, to no avail.  I was just about to give up when I saw the same color as the gown I had liked near the register, on a rolling rack of gowns to go back, I assumed.

I asked the cashier if these gowns were on hold or if it was okay for me to check it out.  She didn't seem to mind and said she didn't have time to sort them out at the moment.  Grabbing the only gown I wanted, to my joy, it was the same dress and it didn't look like a tiny size either - it was - a size 12?  What?  Running to the dressing room again, I tried it on - and it fit - although it's a little loose in some areas, but that can be fixed.  I was so happy that I jumped up and down!  My dress!!!  I spent more than a few minutes twirling around in it, showing the other ladies in the dressing room what I had found - they were as happy as I was.  We were all glittery, beautiful women very happy in our princess attire!  It was so cool!

The attendant helped fit the dress for me and it's now undergoing the alterations needed for it to be MY dress - my PERFECT gown for this year.  I was thrilled!  All that work being tangled up in other gowns, being literally stuck in some gowns actually paid off that day.  And the good news is that it's not an actual size 12, per the cashier, she claims it was not sized correctly.  I like her, she's so nice to me!  LOL!  I really don't care what size the dress is, wrong or not, I know that I don't have to lose any weight for it, I can breathe in it and I look like a million bucks when I put it on.  

Waiting to pick it up and try it on again at the alterations area at the store is now the hardest thing to do.  Sigh.  I love shopping!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The BP Oil Spill Hearings today

If you'd like to learn how to be a CEO or president of a company and be made of teflon, watch the BP hearings going on right now on C-Span.  The BP CEO cannot answer any questions, of course, due to legal this and that.  Whatever he says can be used against BP in a court of law, so, of course, he's mute on everything.

"I wasn't privy to that" or "Not sure about that" is all he can say.  He also has this smug look about him and a smirk on his face.  You're kidding, Mr. BP, right?  You're hurting the environment for you, your family, their children and all of ours and this is the best we can get outta you?

I'm no screaming environmentalist or activist by any stretch of the imagination, but really?  This is horrible.  Legal stuff be damned, we need this situation fixed.  Forget these pointless hearings, just sue the hell outta them and clean up that oil spill NOW.  Close off the leak permanently.  Profits and BP be damned.  Clean up the coastline, try (in vain) to fix the environmental damage they have done and move on with life.

Hurricane season is upon us and we are a mess over there.  I don't want to think of what a hurricane season will do to stir up the oil and mess we already have.

All I can do personally is fret.  Pray.  Wonder.  And be amazed at the horrific mess of a job BP has done to everyone on this planet.  I also feel horrible for the folks that live around that affected area.  Haven't they been through enough?

Lord have mercy on us all.  We are making a mess of the world.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Allergies are so 'not glam'


This is glam:

This is not glam: 

This is the fifth allergy season I've endured this Spring.  Seriously.  When Spring hits, I know that the long eyelashes, the dark lipstick and the makeup in general are pretty much 'out the door.'  Allergies mean that you can't always be 'glam' during the Spring when you're way too busy trying to breathe and see anything.  When the rains stop, the winds kick in and lordy, lordy, it's 'game on' with allergy meds, rinses, sprays, ice packs, and a lot of trips to the doctor and the pharmacy. 

What's that you say - 'over the counter stuff' - don't make me laugh (or sneeze) that stuff is for amateurs!

I find that the thing that may work besides not breathing or being alive during this season is to wear one of those face masks all the time.  Unless you're Lady Gaga and people expect you to look like a freak, I don't advise it.  It's really not 'glam' and people will say "Oh, doing the Michael Jackson thing again today, eh?"

Maybe if we bling a mask out and add a pretty ribbon to tie it with in back it won't be 'as bad' and I maybe I can just say I'm a religious follower of Lady Gaga?  Hey, it could work, but forget the makeup underneath.  It would get all smear-o-riffic in a second.  You'd look like the Joker from Batman - and I mean all the Batman films and all the versions of the Joker combined.  Of course, you wouldn't have to take your inhalers, which means less steroids in your body, so you wouldn't ACT like the Joker, which is a good thing.

Forget waterproof makeup when you're suffering with allergies - it runs.  And forget all hopes of wearing mascara to make yourself look like you're awake and to fluff up those lashes because there is nothing more unglam then watery raccoon eyes.  Nothing. 

Then there's foundation and blush.  Are you kidding?  You're already red and puffy, why draw attention to that?  For those that put their hopes in waterproof foundation or concealer - it's just not gonna keep you afloat - just jump ship and don't bother with the makeup during this season.

Lipstick and lip gloss are pointless when the rest of you is looking like a bloated mess from the neck up.  The only hope you have for your mouth at this point is Blistex or something that has a minty smell like Vicks Vapo Rub.  It MAY help open those nasal passages. 

I even hesitate to put on sunscreen during this time of year although, at my age, it's vital that I keep that ritual up no matter what the state of my allergies.  Wrinkles, you know.  But even sunscreen with all the best ingredients can be a little tricky.  With all of the allergic reactions happening during the day, some of that sunscreen is bound to get in your eyes.  When that happens, you really, truly cannot see and the pain is quite horrible. 

Ready for your closeup now?  I think not.  Just grab me a paper bag so I can function at my desk for the rest of the day.  Don't worry, I know the keyboard by heart, so that won't be a problem, but you will need to read my emails to me and allow me to drive 'by braille'.

There are days when you wake up and your eyes are not glued shut with allergy gross-ness, and your nose is open on both sides (amazing!) and your mouth is not dryer that the Sahara and your throat doesn't ache from breathing opened mouth all night long.  Those days you THINK that it's OKAY to venture into your vanity area of the bathroom and crack open some makeup, but think again  -OR just bring some makeup remover and some cotton balls to work 'cause you're gonna need them.

Ice and ice packs are incredibly helpful.  If you can find a walk in freezer or fridge, even better. 

What's that you say, again?  Over the counter stuff works, this is good, that works, etc?  Honey, I've been around this pharmacy aisle so many times that it's high time someone give me my pharmacy technician certificate.  Stat.  All that stuff does is either burn the hell outta your nasal membranes or put you to sleep.  Oh and I almost forgot, that stuff also can make you a crappy driver.  Sometimes, you don't even know how you got home or what day it is.  Just skip all of it and get the nasal rinse, neti pots - it's your only hope, Druggie Kenobi.

There ARE a few nasal sprays that honestly work and that will get you through your life a little bit - or at least through your shift at work or long day, but, of course, they are prescription only and cost an arm and a leg.  The only working stuff is the stuff that either isn't covered by your insurance or that costs close to $100 per bottle, 15 usages.  The spray that IS covered isn't worth the cardboard it's packaged in. 

Someone recently told me that their mother swears by drinking hot water with bee pollen.  Straight, no Sudafed chaser here.  I'm considering trying this method, but I know that the makeup will still be on vacation since all the natural methods insist that you must do this type of stuff three times a day for a year, etc.

I'm not that organized in my personal life and in the meantime, I'll keep doing the nasal rinse that is so intrusive that I can only perform it at night.  However, it's the only thing that 'works' besides the $100 nasal spray, so I guess that's my only option for now.

So, while I'm in a drug infested cloud of 'what day/year is it' during allergy season at night, hiding away in my room with the portable cleaned out A/C running, I'm reading lovely magazines showing me all sorts of GREAT Spring looks, makeup, fake eyelashes with feathers, teal eyeliners and the like.  Yeah, like that's ever going to happen for me - hey, can you pass the ice pack to me again, I don't think my left eye is opening properly due to being swollen shut.

The next time you see me during this season and I happen to be outside (baseball game, fundraiser, trying to breathe, etc.) with my nose and mouth covered with a mask, blanket, towel, part of my sweatshirt jacket, etc., you'll know why.  Allergies?  Yes, but more importantly, it's due to the lack of 'glam' and the return of Spring.

I always think of this quote about hot weather and apply it to allergies:  "What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance," by Jane Austen.  Change out the 'hot weather' and put in 'Spring allergies' and we're good.

Quote of the day - a very powerful quote.

Here is a good quote swiped from my grade school friend, Angie's facebook status for today - great words, great saint:

"First do what is necessary. Then do what is possible. And before you know it, you will be doing the impossible." St. Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Election Day in California - VOTE or shut up!

Vote or shut up.  That's what we keep hearing around election day.  IF you can't get off your lazy American butt to fill out some forms and turn them in, then when things go wrong for you in politics, you have no right to fuss or complain.  Yes, we must read through the pros and cons and YES, it's a pain to do, and Y E S, sometimes is makes no sense at all, but we do our best.

YES, I understand that the primaries are not major voting days and YES, I understand that the lobbyists and the big fat cats are pushing things for us to vote or not vote for, but it's our duty anyways.

Shut up and vote already.

I like to do the absentee ballots - that way I can take my sweet old time going over things and fill stuff out.  I don't send it in.  In fact, I like to hand deliver to the polls down the street with my son.  He sees how it goes, gets a sticker and asks questions.  He loves putting the ballot in the box too.  I used to like to go to the polls with my mother who had to bring us due to having 5 kids, but there was something cool about it - and there were no stickers for the kids.

We just understood that this was a pretty important event that effected everyone, even us as kids.  My parents were not overly political, so I didn't grow up with some political slant in my brain.  I ended up being very conservative in my early voting years, but found out that I'm actually a pretty liberal Democrat.  Who knew?  Thank God for facebook tests that tell you who you 'really are.'  LOL!

This morning on the way to work the SF station 'Alice' had Mayor Gavin Newsom on.  He's not my mayor, I'm in Santa Rosa, but I do like him.  He's out there, doing his mayor thing, knows when he's being stupid and knows that he's flawed.  He's also optimistic and an idealist.  I like that.  Yes, he's a politician, but he's a good one I think.  He's also brave.  Brave enough to come out and say that he's for marriage between two PEOPLE who love each other.  He took a beating for it early on, but he's weathered the storm pretty well and held on to what he believes in.

I respect that in a person. 

Anyways, he was on air this morning just encouraging everyone - on his political side of the fence or not, to just get out there and V O T E!  He says that these elections are historically not popular and the turnout is very low - especially with Democrats.  So, the presidential vote isn't on here this time.  So what?  There's a lot of other things on here that MAY pertain to you.

Get out there and vote!  Show your kids how it goes.  Not registered?  Make TODAY your day to register.  It's not hard and I hear you can do it on line too. 

You may be like me and not very political, but you know when you read something if it's for you or not.  Voting is not rocket science.  It's easy.  Even if you don't read the New York Times or the SF Chron each day and have no idea what's been going on in the world or your own backyard, there's something you want to have a say in each election.

It's difficult to find good candidates or sometimes any candidate that you like for a certain seat, but TRY.  Go to their website and read for a little while.  Is it a good fit for you and your values?  Do you not like something?  Why?  Take your lunch break or dinner hour and figure it out. 

The polls close at 8pm, so you have a lot of time to do this.  Cram a bit today and find out how little it takes to vote and make a difference.  For all the freedoms we enjoy, it's a tiny bit of homework for us - and it might show up in your daily life sooner than later.

Do it.'s your job.

Monday, June 07, 2010

One class they truly need to add to High School and College Schedules...

Communication 101 - a course that one must take each year while in High School and College/University years.  Each year the student will learn how to look others in the face while speaking, how to speak instead of mumble, how to make a proper phone call (personal and business), and how to use the English language in full sentences in order to be understood.  Failure of this class will render you jobless, clueless, lame and not very successful in life.  Required.

*** *** *** ***

There are times in one's life where it's very, very important to know how to communicate properly.  As in, always.  It's not a difficult skill to obtain, but it becomes vital as one gets older and notices that it starts to impede on your life a bit.  Or a lot.  Depending on what type of moron you are.

Yes, this is my rant of the week.  Month.  Life...and yes, I'm one of those English sticklers who notices lack of communication and is tired of trying to teach them how.  From now on, you are on your own, morons.

I do get upset when these morons decide not to care so much that it starts to ruin my day. 

Case in point number one - Communication at Workie Poo:  When at work, no matter what you do or don't do, please use your NAME when meeting, greeting or answering the bloody phone.  There is nothing as annoying as having to ask for your name or having someone answer a work phone with "Yeah."  The proper way to answer a phone at work is something like this: "ABC Industries, Jane speaking, how may I help you," or "ABC Industries, Jane speaking," is fine too.  "Yeah," "What," and mumbling the company name is totally wrong and not acceptable at work.  "Huh?" is not acceptable either, if you were wondering.

When using emails or faxes at work - READ them and put in your information properly, and so others can read it.  If you write like a first grader, use a stamp with your company's info so I know who you are.  If you are a doctor, always use a stamp or the computer for your replies since nobody can read YOUR writing.  Yes, we all know.

Case in point number two - Communication on the Cell Phone:  Don't assume I know it's YOU on the other end of a call I just picked up and say "Hey!" because I don't know who you are.  I get tons of calls a day, so if you're calling from another number or your girlfriend's phone or from Mom's house, I still don't know it's YOU. 

Timing:  "Is this a good time to talk" is a GREAT question.  My hubby uses this all the time when calling folks on the phone. 

Answering:  I'm really bad at answering my phone because I have like a million offices and am all over the place AND probably ON the phone, but a friend of ours ALWAYS answer the phone, even to say "Hey, I'm busy, can I call you back?"  Brilliant.  But don't forget to call them back.

Voice mail:  Rule number 1:  DON'T MUMBLE when leaving voice mails.  Rule number 2:  Always say who you are at the beginning of the call, with your NUMBER.  Audibly.  Slowly.  I hate getting calls with a bunch of blabbing and I have no idea who they are or why they called or how to find them.  I especially hate it when it's from a PRIVATE number.  Really?  How am I to call you back, genius???  Leaving novellas on my cell phone is BAD.  I only have so much voice mail time and it's not for you to complain about your ingrown toenail.  At least buy me a drink somewhere before telling me your 3 hour story.

Case in point number three:  When meeting or seeing someone in person - look at them, not the floor.  I know our new floors at work are nice, but I'm up here at eye level.  Use full words, not IM words or the new slang you just learned at the club.  Don't use words that don't exist and please don't try to impress me with fifty-cent words (meaning large fancy words) because you'll sound silly when they are used in the wrong context. 

Case in point number four:  Back to the phone.  When you leave a message wanting to meet someone for work or whatever - don't assume that I got the message five seconds ago and call back demanding things.  Just don't do this.  Ever.  Especially if you need something FROM me.  It will go bad.  Fast. 

Also, don't call me numerous times in a day unless we're really working on something and I said "CALL ME BACK" - stalking me isn't a good way to get on my good side and the hang ups suck.  I have caller ID, morons.

Don't make phone calls from the bathroom.  Loo.  Whatever you call it.  It's gross and the person in the stall next to you is horrified.  Yes, the phone is like a microphone and can pick up on your farting on the toilet.  I don't care if it's "only my husband" on the other line.  UNACCEPTABLE.  There was a family member of someone in the stall next to me going over all of their health issues (which were horrible to begin with) while taking care of business.  This is not cool and nobody likes it.

Case in point number five:  Faxes at work or anywhere...unless you have a photo of yourself on your letterhead or are using letterhead to return a fax query, don't assume I know who you are.  Always use letterhead or at the very least, write your name, company and a number where I can reach you at.  Sending a fax to me with "no" or "yes" scribbled on a form does nothing for you or me.  Don't waste my time by being THIS lazy. 

Case in point number six:  Emails at work.  Read them before you reply or speak to the person in question about something.  There is nothing more annoying than getting a question via email, replying to it and then two weeks later, being asked about the reply.  It's obvious you didn't bother reading my reply and now you're wasting my time.  At work this is the number one reason why I'm annoyed with you.  Read then speak.  Thank you.

Rant over, for now.  It's a Manic Monday for sure.  And, no, please don't cue up that song unless you want me to become violent.

Thank you.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Programming for boys in 2010/updated

Months ago I read an article regarding how the major networks and the cable networks were baffled about programming for boys.  Literally, boys in the 9-14 age group.  Cannot find the article, but I believe it was either in the New York Times or on The Huffington Post that I love to check out each week for fun.

So, I was interested because I have a 9 year old boy, and I did notice that he was getting tired of the shows that showed girls in the lead all the time and if it wasn't that, it was the boys in the show were lame.  Stupid.  The butt of jokes.  Not that I'm complaining, that meant that my son didn't want to watch as much television.  But it still bothered me on some level.  It bothered him too, but sometimes when sick and on the couch, he'd plow through a show complaining how 'lame' it was.

It's nice that we've shown girls how to kick ass and take names, but it's become part of the American Culture almost.  Men and boys are silly, stupid and lame and their only salvation is the smart, witty women and girls in their lives who seem like they really REALLY don't even LIKE these males in their lives.  Now, I'm not saying we should go back to "Leave it to Beaver" type programming, but even a child picks up on the 'stupid boy' programming and gets tired of it.

So, back to the article I read months ago on the new 'boy programming' issue.  I read it with interest and waited to see what the new shows were going to be or what improvements were to come.  These new shows on Disney XD and a few other cartoon/kid programmed channels were actually studying what BOYS wanted in/on their shows.  They were so out of touch with what boys wanted to see on television that they had to do these extensive studies on boys and their interests nowadays.

I didn't hear about any results for a while, but I did notice there were some new shows popping up on Disney XD lately that were focused on boys, so I sat down with my son and watched a few shows to see what they came up with.  Not being a huge fan of Disney programming to begin with (note that with every movie a parent is either dead, dying or the child star is an orphan of some type), I didn't expect too much.  Also note that 'Hannah Montana' and shows like 'Zoey 101' on another channel make me violent.   I can almost deal with 'iCarly' but it's getting old as she ages.  She needs to move on with her music and land a movie deal already.  

The verdict is mixed.  Funny, but mixed.  

Worth your time:  "Zeke and Luther" was up first.  This show commands 758,000 children in it's second season which crowns it the number one program for Disney XD in the all kid centered shows.  This hit show was one of the target shows labeled 'for boys' and for improvements towards our sons last year.

Now, this show has been around for two seasons, and according to my son, he used to say it was 'dumb'.  Watching the second season with him, I find that I actually liked the show and found us both laughing at the same jokes.  The show wasn't that bad.  My son found the references to being a boy and the sarcasm really interesting.  He loved it and I found myself really liking it.

If you go on Disney's website and look up this show and it's talented young actors, you find the tag line that sums up the whole show:  "Skate.  Eat.  Sleep.  Repeat."  That's pretty much what it was all about.  Why I would watch this show without my son is beyond me, but if I had to, it would be worth my time and I would laugh.  A lot.

Tape it if you must.  But you don't need to.:  "I'm in the Band" also on Disney XD was next.  It was weird.  I guess if you were a musician and Disney put you and some writers in a room with a bunch of beer and instruments, this is what you'd come up with.

Girl Warning!  There is a girl in the show - someones girlfriend, was a ditz.  Clueless.  Dumb.  But, in the show's defense, so were the boys and the men in the show too.  Kinda like "Spinal Tap" junior style with no drugs or beer.

What bothered me is why these older musicians were living with a child.  My son watched the two hour premiere with a neighbor for fun and still can't explain it to me.  I'm not sure why the kid is hanging out with this 'band' or why the adult band members like hanging out with a kid, alone, but it's a weird show that I didn't find funny at all.  

My son thought it was 'cool' because they had nice guitars and loud music that would arise just as the dribble that they call a 'script' fell flat.  He still can't tell me what the show is about to this day, but that doesn't seem to matter.  If there's nothing on, he'll watch it.  If it was me, I'd change the channel to the CSpan and compare the boring levels of mind numbing insanity.

IF your kid likes James Bond and you're up for a whole show:  "Aaron Stone" on Disney XD is a more serious live action show for boys that includes a teen boy that is actually a secret CIA type spy with some of his classmates (note, another girl here, but she doesn't save him a lot and isn't AS stupid as most of her Disney counterparts).  

It bores me to tears, but my son likes it occasionally for the special effects and the things that blow up.  I think it's a bit too much drama for a 9 year old, but can see a 14 year old watching it once in a while.  You could call it 'If James Bond had a Son, This is What Would Happen" but there's no romance or scoring around the world for this Bond.  It's Disney for God's sake.  They flirt, but that's about all you see.  The boys fast forward any girl liking boy or boy falling for girl dialogue or ANY kissing, so we never see it.

Cartoon Assault on your brain:  Tired of "The Fairly Odd Parents" or another freaking "Batman Returns" or "Spiderman" cartoon?  This is a fresh cartoon that's cute and more for a 9 year old although I see older kids, including me, really getting into it.  The Disney XD cartoon called "Kick Buttowski - Suburban Daredevil" is a clever little show that's really cute, fast and funny.

There's a small, round cranky boy that thinks he's a daredevil and dresses like one.  All the time.  He's got some type of sidekick/best friend who acts like his conscience and runs interference for him a lot.  It's not bad, but my son reports that the best parts of the show are as follows: the music (more guitars) the flames, fire and special effects - and the theme song which is loud, guitar-y and annoyingly LOUD.  

Hey, it's better than the seizure inducing "Naruto, Shippunden" that I heavily dislike - and am happy that my son is outgrowing the whole "Pokemon," "Bakugan" phase of life.  I am also happy that this cartoon on Disney XD has no tie in products that we know of to purchase.  Save us from crappy tie-ins, please.

The Standard Classic:  Today's standard Classic Cartoon on Disney XD is one of my favorites.  "Phineas and Ferb" - delightful.  Two brothers who invent way cool things that boys would imagine in their minds in real life followed by an annoying older sister who unsuccessfully tries to 'bust' them by squealing to the way too busy for anyone or anything mother.  The gist of this cartoon is that the older sister not only doesn't get her brothers into trouble, but gets herself totally tangled up in problems of her own trying to be such a busy body.

This season, the older sister has a boyfriend and it runs like a crush in the seventh grade where they like each other, but nothing happens.  Ever.  Just as my son starts to zone out with the 'romance' in this cartoon, it switches back to the brothers and some out of this world invention that they are creating and how they save the city, town, friend, etc.

It works for him and I rather like it too.  It's been running for a while on Disney now, and I hope it stays on board for a while.  It's light and frothy and you can truly zone out while laughing with your kid.

The "I'll never see that half hour again" show:  What a waste of production time and money.  "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" - and you know what I'm talking about as you groan along with me.  Those two twin boys, one a bit chubbier than the other with bowl haircuts and a bit ditzy, stuck on a cruise ship with kids about as clueless as they are.

This amazing nightmare of a show started in 2005 and raked in 4 million viewers - and I bet they were all GIRLS!  I say this with an air of authority being with some pre teen girls who scream and go nuts when these boys show up on ANYTHING.  Don't ask me how it was nominated a few times for an Emmy, but I hate this show.  HATE.  LOATHE.  If you want to torture me, put me in front of THIS SHOW on full blast and I'll do or sign anything for you to make it STOP.

Twins Dylan and Cole Sprouse are the annoying blonde children who run all over the Tipton Hotel and in later episodes, a Cruise Ship - and their poor single mother works in the nightclub as a singer and is NEVER around.   That's not a comedy, that's just sad parenting to me.

The hotel is commanded by a manager who is almost afraid of kids yet snaps at them while kissing the adults' rears most of the show.  The Tipton family has a "Paris Hilton" named "London" who is the only thing with some talent on the show.  She's not just your typical bimbo on the show, but she is allotted a lot of comebacks and zingers that are interesting for the first three times she does them on each show and then it gets old, fast.

I see that these boys are now in their own commercials for kids desserts on the same channel, and that they are becoming young men now, so I'm eagerly awaiting the death of this show and hearing the neighborhood girls scream about a concert movie coming up featuring these bobblehead blonde boys.

My son's opinion?  "Eh."  That's it.  "Eh."  He says the girls are stupid and dress too old and the boys are losers.  He doesn't like it that the mother isn't around stating: "Who is there for them?  This isn't cool."

So, it's a mixed bag - shows tailored to boys interests which mostly are loud guitar riffs, bodily noises, food fights, lame girls, winning contests, clueless parents or non-existent parents and outwitting any adult or teachers with schemes, plots and disastrous plans.

That's what Disney found out that boys like in this age group.  Well, I did my own research and this is what I found:  going outside and playing.

Yeah, so, I came up with my own programming for my riding outside.  No drama, no loud guitars, no schemes, just real kids having fun under the sun, laughing and learning social skills...and sometimes we add a water gun for good measure.

There!  And it didn't take a panel at Disney to figure it out either.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Another one of my 'boys'

Today was the last day of the art show in our building.  Knowing that I had a few items on display and that my fellow co workers did too, I eagerly got downstairs to the lobby floor where the art was lovingly arranged on the normally stark white walls.  Well, it is a hospital, so we cannot expect color, save for the once a year art showing.

Armed with my Starbucks latte in one hand and my camera/video camera in the other, I fluttered to one painting, then to another sketch, then noticed a name of a friend, click, click, click.  They would appreciate that I came down here and took photos of their work.  While I took photos, I took time to admire the pieces for the last time, in this particularly good grouping of art.

This year's crop of artists and their wares was something to behold.  As I sauntered up and down the corridor, suddenly a dark figure starts towards me yelling "HEY!"  I hear fast footsteps coming towards me on the freshly waxed bright white tile floor.

I casually finish taking my photo of Mary's photos of a serene landscape in Sonoma County and turn towards the figure.  As the person gets towards me I turn off my camera, tuck it back into my purse and sip on my coffee.  "Can I help you?" I casually say in his direction.

The figure, as it gets closer to me, turns into a security guard.  A very young security guard.  A boy?

"Hey!  You cannot take photos in here!  It's a hospital policy!"  He finally reaches me where I'm standing and it is a very young man, hazel eyes, light brown hair with a spray of freckles over the bridge of his nose.  As he speaks about policy and photos in the hospital, I notice that his hair is very, very short.

Not really hearing what he is explaining to me, I notice his build and his less developed legs.  A runner's body, a soldier's body.  "Are you in the military?"  I ask, interrupting him in the midst of his policy run-down.

He stops talking, blinks a few times and says "Yes, yes I am."

"Oh, and I know of the policy.  It's no taking photos of PATIENTS in the hospital without their written consent.  I don't see any patients, just my co worker's art on the walls."  My arm sweeps over towards the wall with the beautiful charcoal sketches, photos and paintings.

"Patients?  Um, yeah, I guess you're right.  So, what are you taking photos of?"

"The art.  Some of it's mine and most of it was done by my co workers.   They do this once a year.  What do you think?"

His eyes move thoughtfully from one photo to a print in a colorful frame.  "Um, I'm not really into art, but it's nice."  He focuses back on me.  "Who are you anyways?"

Pulling my badge with my name and my photo printed in color from my collar, I show him.  "I work here, off site, and here on campus.  Don't worry, I'm not from the newspaper or something."

A soft smile dances across his face.  "Okay, okay, sorry about that.  How did you know I was military?"

"I can tell.  My husband is military and a lot of his friends are.  Some are about your age."  The boy softened his stance a bit and his face lightened up.   Immediately, we were of the same larger military family, laughing and exchanging information about what units our families were with, who we knew, how long each of us had been associated with the Army.

He spoke of his plans to finish medical school, buy his first house in a few years possibly and save up for a new car.  As he talked of his future and his plans, I thought of his age and my age.  He could be my son quite easily - and I have a 9 year old son who he reminded me of a lot.

"Yeah, but you know, I'm looking forward to going to Iraq again - it will be my third trip out to the Sandbox." He said this as if he was talking about going to the grocery store for bread and milk - as if it was a normal thing for him.  My heart sunk a little bit knowing that this young kid was heading out there - again!

"Again?  Wow.  How do you feel about going again?" I asked with a hint of concern in my voice.

"Oh, it's cool.  I'm a medic and it's not that bad, really.  This is probably the last time we'll have the opportunity to go out there."  He shuffled his feet a bit and looked down at the ground.

In a split second I wondered what he had seen.  What he had done over there and if he was alright.  I tried to think of what to ask him without getting into his life too much in the hospital hallway, but didn't know if it was any of my business to begin with.  He must have sensed my concern.

"Don't worry, it's cool, really.  We didn't lose anyone in our unit and it was really cool."  Offering a smile to console me a bit, his hazel eyes sparkled and I could see the older, more mature man within.  He was a good soldier, a strong boy, and I knew his brothers in the unit depended on him.

"Keep in touch with us here at the hospital or something, okay?  We'd like to see you back again you know."

"No problem, Ma'am.  I'll be back."

And I pray he will keep his word.  Thanks to boys like this, America is what it is today.  Proud of them and their service.  To me, they are all my 'boys'.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - yes, I just skipped to it.

Being lazy after the faboo Memorial Day weekend and events, I'm skipping to Wordless Wednesday this week. More of my rants on Thursday.