Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Life will find a way"

This photo was taken by a friend a few blocks from his house, and he calls it "Life will find a way."

Heard from Delta

I had gotten a "how did we do?" survey from Delta for my flight down, and told them how I thought they did, relating my experience. Just got a call from George in customer complaint resolution, and I have to say that he did as good a job as he could. He just kept totally agreeing with me. Said stuff like "we dropped the ball" and that sort of thing.

At one point he said something like "we just didn't communicate with the customer" and I said to him that I have sat in countless meetings and I can imagine all the meetings that took place about this change. That it is stunning that no one placed "communicate with customers" as the #1 priority.

I did praise the Delta employees who were really doing the best they can. He did tell me that the vans were different so that no one really could tell which were Delta vans and which weren't. You'd think someone would make giant banners for the vehicles that said "get on this shuttle for Delta's Terminal C." In a case like this, I don't think you can have too much signage or too much obvious signage.

I really can picture this meeting where the self-satisfied execs said "we'll have people outside getting people into the vans and signage inside pointing the way" and that's enough.

Delta sends out a "it's time to check in" email the night before. You'd think (and George agreed) that you could have included the change in terminals in that email.

I also pointed out that Delta knew for weeks that this change was going to happen. It's not like a tornado went through LGA -- and if it had, then Delta would have done a good job. So I concluded by saying that Delta took a great positive happening -- expanding its presence at LGA and turned it into a way to piss customers off.

By the way, when I returned on Thursday to LGA, the confusion was still going on.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

There's No Place Like Home

Here I am in Tampa Airport, clicking my shoes and saying, "There's no place like home." My shoes let me down, and I was forced to get on an airplane instead.

Other than the normal indignities of travel, all was well. When I was going through security, there was a soccer Mom type who had been pulled aside and I couldn't believe my eyes. They smoothed down her entire body, including the underneath area of her boobs (with the back of the hand, as if that makes it better) and up between her legs. Honestly, I found it quite invasive, and I said something to her when it was over like "that was quite a pat down" and she cheerfully said, "After three babies, you can do anything to me." Wow, too bad you're in an airport, lady, and not in a doctor's office. I don't want to seem too rabble rousing, but I find it somewhat alarming how quickly we are willing to submit to anything.

As for me, the only incident was this old lady getting up in the row behind me. I was in half-sleep/half-awake with my head back. She pulled herself up, holding on to the back of my seat at which time she practically yanked my hair out of my head. Totally oblivious as she toddles off to the restroom.

However much I bitch, moan, complain, kvetch, etc., I do know how lucky I am. I returned to a gleaming apartment with clean sheets on the bed as well as my garden totally cleaned with the cushions on the furniture and everything ready for planting. Ana had been here today, and Ray (the handyman) came sometime during the week.

There is no place like home, and I'm glad to be here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

More flowers

Melissa says the Texas bluebells are abundant this year... check this out:

And Mary's cleaning woman, Eneida, would have been a fancy florist in another life. She creates these stupendous arrangements almost all year long from things in Mary's yard. Here's spring's first:

Wednesday and all is well

Last day at the show for me. It got hotter today -- 85 and sunny. My two events went off without a hitch. I have to say I have one of those rare moments of "all's well with the world" when I am at one of my events and it's going well and I'm admiring how well I have executed it. I like just standing/sitting at the perimeter and seeing this nice buzz, people enjoying their food, the business part of the event going off well, etc. Both today's events were well-executed and well-attended. Happy Clients.

I had to laugh at myself at the press lunch. First comes the press conference and you really don't know who or how many people will show up. Of course, it's the more the better, but you never know. So I always go through Oh my God, no one is coming... to people start to arrive one and two and three at a time and then I sit there and worry there won't be enough seats and then when it's standing room only, I think damn, I'm good.

Just checked and I'm all set for going home tomorrow. Let's hope the return trip is uneventful.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Texas Bluebells!

Compliments of Melissa

Today is a Better Day

Of course I can't be entirely cheerful so my day started out with a bad shower. I like a strong gushing fire hose type shower. Most hotels have a weak little dribbling faucet for a shower. They try to fool you with fancy shower heads as if you can change it to get pulsating, massaging etc. but they are all the same weak dribbling streams.

I am on time and get in the car, and again, I can't get it into gear. Back to the owners manual. I now have the ultimate advice. Oh, but first, this is a Nissan Altima, not Integra. I don't know where I got that word. If you ever rent one, have the key fob thing anywhere with you inside the car. I have to say that must be a hard habit to break as I always leave my hotel room with the car keys in my hand.

Ok, so you're in the car, with the key fob thing. You put your foot on the brake and press down as you push the start button. It's just an easy push of a button -- you can't miss it. I talked to a bunch of folks today who have had the same problem I had. I don't know why the rental car people don't put some sort of explanation in the car.

My day went well. My one client picked me up in a golf cart from a parking lot and brought me to the building I needed to be in, and then picked me up again and brought me back to my car. We had pre-arranged this until I got my parking pass, but when he asked if I wanted him to do it for me tomorrow, I fought the impulse to say no, trying to be low maintenance, but instead I said Yes! Thank you! Saw a bunch of people, had four meetings and got hired to do an event in Oshkosh that I've done before but I saw the guy and asked him straight out if he wanted me to do it again this coming year and he said of course. So that was good.

Tomorrow I have two big events I'm handling -- a press lunch and a customer reception. I try not to be overly confident because I don't want the universe to smack me down for taking things for granted, but I should be in good shape.

I have to say the weather today was picture perfect -- high 70s, low 80s, sunny, breezy and my four meetings were all in this screened in porch area and there's nothing like a screened in porch in this weather.

Thank you for all of your very kind sympathetic thoughts. Oh, I saw something I've never seen this morning. About two blocks from my hotel, on the other side of this two lane on each side road with grass in the middle there were all these cop cars and I didn't see an accident or anything, but in the middle of the road was a body with a canvas tarp over it. I guess a pedestrian got hit. Very sad. And then I heard about the JetBlue captain who lost it during a flight and went hollering down the cabin and had to be restrained by passengers. That's sad as well, but at least I wasn't on that flight.

My Horrible Journey to Florida

I was trying to be cheerful, and my trip started well. The car showed up on time to take me to the airport. My flight was 2:35, and I had the car come at 1:00. My plan was to get to LGA at 1:15, check in, go through security, have lunch, go to the bathroom and leisurely get to the gate.  That plan stopped upon arrival at 1:15. I used curbside check in and all was well. Then the guy showed me my boarding pass and explained how my gate was not in this terminal, but in a different terminal that Delta has just opened.

What? Of course, Delta has my email, my phone, and my cellphone so you think they might have told me. I would have gone to that terminal. This is the second day of the new terminal. They had "shuttles" to take people except there were so many people and so few vans and no one really knew what they were doing. Have you ever been in a situation where employees were trying to be helpful but they couldn't really do anything? So as I'm waiting, a series of Delta workers would come up to me breathlessly asking if I needed help and then I'd tell them I am supposed to go to the other terminal and they'd tell me to stand where I was and they'd go buzzing off to the next person.

My mistake was that I should have just gotten in a cab -- it would have been five bucks and there were dozens of cabs dropping people off and I could have just grabbed one. But no.

So finally they tell us that it's easier to make the trip "inside" -- no, really, it's way better than the van/shuttle.

Mistake #2: Believing that.

I go inside, realize I'm supposed to go through security where in my line they are training -- ok, so we're no longer supposed to use derogatory terms, but I'll say -- "a rather slow TSA employee" on how to look at the x-ray machine. The line was stopped while Bozo TSA guy got schooled. "And what's that?" as he points to the screen... la, la, la, la... all the time in the effing world to train this guy. Really? At a busy time at effing La Guardia is the best time to train him?

So I follow the cheerful signs until I get to this area where there are what I call the hamster lines -- you know as you go through the maze of roped off lines... get in line, fuming, pissed off... And they'd let about 15 people at a time through this outside door... and finally, I got outside and we're on the equivalent of the second floor -- it couldn't have been something as simple as a flight of stairs... no, these were ramps but because we're the second floor, it must have been six back and forth ramps... finally get to the bottom and wait again... and by now I'm getting nervous.

The shuttle shows up -- and we're literally out in the area by the gates where the airplanes park -- and I'm the only one sitting in the bus and they don't want to leave... so I speak up, saying I'm afraid I'm going to miss my flight and so the guy reluctantly leaves... and I'm dreading the six ramps up on the other side, but the other side -- in Delta's other terminal -- has an elevator. Wow, thank god for small mercies.

Of course my gate is the farthest away, and when I get there, they are already boarding. No lunch. No bathroom. So I get on and then we sit. It's so windy that there is one runway open for landing and takeoff at LGA. There are 24 airplanes in front of us to take off. Yeah, you might say we sat there for a while.

Finally, in the air and I get my first food of the day at 4:30 pm -- a bag of sun chips. I am not happy.

We arrive, and now we're the second furthest gate away so conditions are improving, but by now I really have to go to the toilet, and I see there's a "family/disabled" restroom and I head for that, justifying the use by saying I'm temporarily disabled as I'm about to wet my pants. I open the door and this woman follows me in. It's an open restroom --like in a gas station --  no stalls and I just look at her like "what the f are you doing?" and she starts stammering that she thought it was a "multiple" -- that's what she called it.

Then it's off to baggage claim, and yes, my bag was the last out -- just as I was about to give up... it comes out on the belt on its own. Just me and my bag.

I am sweating and tired and hungry and I went to sit down just to gather my strength and I tell myself (wrongly) that from now on I'm in control. I'll get my rental car, go get something to eat, check into the hotel and things will look up from here.

Not really.

At Tampa, you go outside of baggage claim, then across the street for the rental cars and I don't see Dollar. I will no longer do "off airport" rental cars no matter how cheap -- so I enter the rental car terminal looking for Dollar.Oh, there it is, at the opposite end of the building that I'm at. What a long haul.

But at least I found it.

I then make a mistake of asking the guy to put in my Dollar club number and he doesn't know how. At this point I tell him to just forget it... I just want to get out of there... but no, he was determined... called the manager who eventually came out who said you have to cancel the order, put the number in and start over... I said NO, NO, NO it's Ok... but too late. So she is pecking away I swear for 10 minutes. I'm standing there starving, sweating (in a coat), exhausted... finally I get the cheerful "turn left, turn right, go to the garage to the Dollar Kiosk"


Plod, plod, plod... finally make it to the Dollar Kiosk in the garage... and I'm in space 118. I'm standing by space 90. She hands me the keys and I ask her how far away space 118 is because as a savvy traveler, I know that the spaces might not actually go 90, 91, 92 up to 118. She points to the row and says vaguely "it's in the middle."

It wasn't in the middle, it was at the end... but hey, I tell myself, I'm in my rental car... my suitcase is in and I'm gonna get dinner, take off my coat, turn on the air conditioner, find some music...

Oh wait, I forgot the detail -- the guy asked me if I wanted a Taurus or an Integra... I told him to decide and he said he likes the Integra. I knew from Mary that this was like her car where you just have to have the key fob in the car, no turning the key in the ignition. So I felt ahead of the game.

I press the button, no noise just like Mary's car -- everything lights up in a good way -- and I put my foot on the brake while simultaneously putting the gear shift into Reverse.

Hmmm... the car doesn't move. I do it again, and again. I check the emergency brake. I try gingerly to put it into Drive, to see if I can go forward but I don't want to press too hard on the accelerator for fear I'll ram into the three parked cars I'm facing.

Oh, I forgot to mention I also struggled with the seat belt. I pulled it out as far as it could go and it reached the center of my chest. No, this is impossible... couldn't be this short. I end up tugging it and retracting, tugging and retracting and all of a sudden about a yard of seatbelt comes out so I'm strapped in and ready.

If I could only back out of this effing parking space. I'm feeling stupid and old and incompetent and I don't want to be the doddering old lady who doesn't know how these new fangled things work. I decide to read the owner's manual, but when I lean forward, the seatbelt stops me so after all that effort, I have to undo my seatbelt, I get the owner's manual but still can't figure out what I'm doing wrong.

No one in sight to help me. About 15 minutes have passed. I'm also afraid that if Dollar sees I can't drive this car, they will take it away from me.

I decide to just take a deep breath and start over. I turn the car off. I sit there a minute. I turn the car on, following the owner's manual, detail by detail, which then tells me to step on the brake first. There is a note that if you don't step on the brake first, the car won't really go into gear. So I step on the brake. Then I step on the brake again and put it in reverse and step on the accelerator and hallelujah, the car moves backward. No stopping me now.

From then on, all was OK. Only thing open was a 24 hour McDonalds -- when I ordered my food at the drive thru, she asked me if I wanted to try McDonald's chocolate chip cookies.

Why yes, in fact, I do!

Then, because the cookies were new, she couldn't figure out how to key it in, but then she did... she was about 20 years old and kept calling me Sweetheart. Her closing words as I drove away were "Enjoy them cookies" -- it made me laugh, but she was right. I did enjoy them cookies.

Tomorrow will be a better day.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Staples Responded to my Tweet

I try to respond to good customer service as much as I complain about bad. I liked Tweeting my Staples experience rather than navigating some huge Staples site and getting annoyed filling out one of those dreadful "feedback forms" or whatever.

Here's the response from this morning:

Staples Staples US

@PLuebke Thank you! We love making it easy! ^JD

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Procrastination Made a Fool Outa Me

My printer broke last week and so I had to bring handwritten pages to my tax appointment. The printer was crappy, even as new. All I wanted was an inkjet printer, and at the time, the all in one phone, fax, scanner, whatever was in vogue. This printer was probably 10 years old and limped along and if I worked it gingerly and only tried to print one sheet, let in settle, go to the next page, let it settle, it would work. I never replaced it as I print out so little. But it gave up the ghost.

So now with E-filing, I got my tax return via email along with a bunch of stuff, like my estimated tax forms, my invoice, etc. that has to be printed out. I also have to sign the permission form or whatever for E-filing. I could have let that slip a bit until I returned, but I also had to print out a "media credentials" authorization form so I could park at this air show in a better place.

Ok, I turned going to Staples to get this printed into an event that would take hours. I hate my local Staples -- so much so that I looked into local Kinko's and the reviews of two locations near me were so horrible -- all caps DO NOT GO HERE. TRUST ME. Those kind of reviews. When you call and ask a question, one person wrote, you're put on hold only to have another person pick up the phone as if you are calling for the first time and then the pattern repeats itself. I took their word for it.

So I dragged my feet and came up with every possible excuse not to go -- including (I add embarassingly) that I could just show the parking lot guy the authorization letter on my computer. Yes, I was that desperate to not go to Staples.

I put on my big girl panties and put one foot in front of the other. As I was going in the door at Staples, there was a sign that said "We repair computers" and it made me grateful that my computer didn't need fixing. When I got to the copy center, there was one person who was being helped, one person in front of me, and me. The young woman finished with the first guy, asked me what I wanted, told me "Go stand over there with your flash drive" and went to help the other guy. I had to laugh. I do not mind being bossed around like that for the sake of efficiency. Within another minute, she was there and printing. One of the files is 72 pages long and I could not believe how fast that printed. My girl Jewel is a jewel. Fast, pleasant, efficient. So unlike my usual experience at Staples. In all, the bill was $11 which was well worth it.

Elapsed time was under five minutes and I had to laugh at myself and another case of wishing I could take back all that energy I expended procrastinating. I did send a Twitter out about Jewel including @Staples so they'd see it so maybe she'll get a gold star in her permanent file or something. She was terrific.

Rental Car Charges

Just got a confirmation for a rental car for next week wherein all the charges are outlined. These extras are a full one-third of the total price of the rental car. I get state taxes, but all these others just annoys me. What's the difference between state tax and "Florida surcharge"? So I have three days at approximately $30 a day and then this -- as if the state is making enough on tourists already. And I know, NYC is no better with its hotel taxes -- they got so bad that finally big groups were canceling conventions until they were rolled back a bit.





STATE TAX : $9.00


Friday, March 23, 2012

Scott and Gwenyth on Friday Night at Aunt Mary's

Celebrity Tweeting

Some of you know I've been playing at Twitter for a few months. I think I have 29 followers, some people I know, some I don't. Followers means people who have signed up to receive my Twitter messages. Part of the Twitter culture is that you can "direct Tweet" someone -- which is the same thing as sending them an email, except it's via Twitter.

Ok, that's preface for my exciting experience. I have probably "direct Tweeted" someone a half dozen times, a few of which were to celebrities. Today I got a celebrity response.

Well, if you're a bleeding heart liberal and consider Michael Moore a celebrity. I follow him on Twitter and a few days ago he Tweeted something about how he was going for a walk and who wanted to join him -- just a silly thing -- but for some reason it caught on so people were Tweeting how they took the walk with him, and they'd Tweet what music they listened to and where they walked -- and it was just a nice thing.

He announced a time for his daily walk each day -- I think today is the fourth day. Soon enough the right wing takes note of this and goes nuts about what's the big deal about Michael Moore just taking a walk blah blah.

So Michael tweets:

The haters, as you may have noticed, are baffled by this and, um, hating that I am walking. My favorite hater tweet follows this one...

and he posted this nasty tweet. So I direct Tweeted Michael Moore and wrote:

@MMFlint They want you to be their radical cartoon character and it must bug the heck out of them that you're doing something so normal.

and now, the point of this story, is that he personally Tweeted me back. He wrote:

Yeah, I think that's it.

My first celebrity Tweet back!

Short Interview

The typical person I interview is probably over 50, sometimes way over, and as such has a long history. Today I interviewed someone for a profile who graduated from college in 2010 and started her first job a month later. She's had one job, her current one. I had to laugh because I was finished so quickly -- I'm so used to "And then in 1984, the company was sold and I moved to..."

The other thing that was sweet about her is how much she loves her job and at one point when she was telling me about her job duties, I commented editorially, "You are really getting good experience that you can take to whatever your next job is." She replied a bit ... oh, I can't say "testily" but I will say "adamantly" -- she said, "I'm never leaving this job!" Like I was nuts to even suggest it. Oh to be young again!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mani Pedi Gossip

Had my mani/pedi/waxing in advance of my trip to Florida, and this is what I learned. My manicurist has insurance coverage that she pays $580 a year for in case she is sued by a client. I was trying to think how much damage a manicurist could do that a styptic pencil couldn't solve and finally asked her what she would be sued over, and the answer in ascending order of badness is cuts, followed by fungus, followed by hepatitis. A client could only get hepatitis if the manicurist cut someone who had hepatitis, didn't sterilize the tool, then cut the next client so the hep-blood got in the non-hep person. She has never been sued, and doesn't know any nail technician who has been sued. 

To be licensed takes about 200 hours of study. When she works an event or at a hotel, they require that she fax her license.

I asked her if she has seen any difference in women's feet since women have been wearing such high heels. I cringe sometimes when I look at some of these women's feet and they are clearly damaging them. It's painful to even look at. She says she can always tell if a woman wears high heels because there is a callous pad on the middle of the ball of the foot.

I think you know what a Brazilian is when it comes to waxing, but there is also a Brazilian method of manicuring which neither of us like... and that is that the manicurist just sloppily puts on the polish, all over the nail, all over the cuticle and then you use nail polish remover to clean off the excess. For a while, the Korean places in NY were doing in that way, and I never liked it. As Marianella, my manicurist, says, "If you're good, you don't have to do it that way." But she said, some women prefer the Brazilian method.

She also told me this horrible story about a friend who was trained in a low-rent mani-pedi place where they re-used everthing, including paper towels. When a client removed the twirled paper towel that they put between your toes to separate them, this place would re-use the little twirly towels. That is really revolting. I stopped going to one place when I was there near closing and smelled bleach. I turned around and one of the workers was hand washing the towels in the pedicure basin. It really made me sick, and I'm not that squeamish. One of the reasons I so trust Marienella is that all the tools come in a little individual plastic packet like you see at the dentist and she has her own autoclave (sterilizer) so hopefully I will never get a fungus.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Small Complaint for Thursday

Yes, I have something new to bitch about. For some reason, I had bought like a year's supply of deoderant/anti-perspirant so I hadn't bought any in really a long time. Today my helper was here and one of her errands was to the drug store. She brings me every receipt and just out of curiosity I was looking at the receipts-- actually I wanted to see how many bonus points I had at the drug store as you get a $5 coupon when you reach a certain number of points and I knew I was close and you only have a week or something to use it.

I have to say I was stunned at the price of deoderant -- I had her buy two. Each were $5 and some change -- closer to $6. It makes me wonder what people on really limited budgets do -- buy the generic kind and use it sparingly?

I thought I'd already mentally updated in my mind how much things cost, but this was one I missed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Loose Ends

Tax Prep has led to Tax Do, and I had an appointment with my CPA today. I knew I had been going to him for a long time -- the photos on his desk of his kids have gone from babies to the typical Disney photo with Goofy to (oh dear me) a wedding photo. I asked him if he knew how long I'd been coming to him, and he looked it up and it was 1984. We've grown old together.

He worked for another firm and then later opened his own firm as a principal. The owner of the original firm died this past year.

After we did all the input of all the data, he was then going to tell me how much I owed and he's umming and ohhing and checking and computing -- it seemed endless -- and finally I said that I feel like the prisoner who is waiting for the jury to announce the verdict. "Give me a lethal injection," I pleaded with him. Then I said I would sit there and think about what I wanted for my last meal. Cheeseburger perhaps? Lobster Roll perhaps?

So it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and I'm glad it's over for now.

Next topic: Encyclopedias. Brittanica announced it has published its last print version. RIP to the venerable encyclopedia. We were a Brittanica family -- am not sure how my parents picked that brand. I remember thinking it was the best encyclopedia and looked down my nose on those who had World Book and other (ahem) lesser brands.

I have told this story before, but hey, now that I'm an old lady, I'm allowed to tell repetitive boring stories! But in fifth grade, the bad kid in the class, a fellow named Bobby Pelican, who died young I hear, actually cut a picture of a drum set out of the classroom encyclopedia. In those days, the encyclopedia was on par with the Bible in terms of its being a holy book. We were stunned that Bobby Pelican (for some reason, he was always referred to by both first and last names) would do something so horrid. I can still picture my fifth grade teacher, Ethel Byrnes, holding the D volume of the encycloepedia up in front of the class with the cut out section of the page missing.

Today Bobby Pelican would have his own assistant, be on prescription drugs, and have all sorts of special services. Now in my day (I intone as an old lady), he was just the dumb, bad kid in the class. Every class had one.

Just thinking that throughout grade school we were always divided into the "higher" (smart kids) and "lower" (dumb kids) reading groups. Of course, I was in the "higher" and sort of looked with pity on the kids in the lower reading group. I remember thinking that if they just practiced a bit more and put forth some effort, they could be better readers. It also bothered me that it didn't seem to bother them that they were in the lower reading group. I think of myself back then as this sweet little girl, but I did have a bit of insufferable prig in me. And still do, no doubt.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tax Prep -- YUK

Just finally finished my tax prep and I was fantasizing how wonderful it would be to have a husband to do all this for me... that's not going to happen... so I challenged myself by saying "would you give... [sexual favors] to an un-named, un-seen accountant if you could have turned all this over today?" And, of course, I didn't have to hesitate for a second. "oh yeah" -- didn't even have to contemplate that one. I would overlook an accountant with a greasy comb over and fish belly white skin and greet him lustily as I shoved a folder of papers at him. Hiya Big Boy!

Also confronted a worn out belief of mine. For years, well, for all my adult years, I have had a bank savings account and a bank checking account. And I would put my liquidy day to day money in my savings account and transfer to checking as needed. That got less and less of a habit, but old habits die hard and these past few years I've put "extra" liquidy money in the bank savings account. Really based on nothing more than what I considered "too much" to have in checking.

This year, and I am not kidding, my earned interest in my bank savings account was 25 cents. I am not making a joke. That is the real number.

So now I'm asking myself why even have a bank savings account? It's so 20th century -- so mid 20th century. I also have an Ing savings account that started out at 5 percent, then went to 4 and now it's 2 or 3, but at least I made $50 or thereabouts in Ing in interest this past year. Better than 25 cents from Citibank.
I watched "Inside Job" last night which made me really angry. It's a documentary about the whole Wall St meltdown and now I understand way more than I did -- which means I understand about 30% of it. I would definitely recommend it. They are all crooks. They really are. I got the film from Netflix.

I don't know if it impacts your credit score to close a savings account -- and of course I could just let it be dormant, but now it seems like clutter to me -- financial clutter --so does anyone have a reason to keep a savings account at a bank?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

It's not just NY and DC where spring is here -- TEXAS too!

Melissa says: For those who think we only have spring and summer in Texas… spring has sprung here too!   This photo is a miniature weeping redbud tree… .a new garden variety that was all the rage last year.  And just to keep in the Texas spirit… I have this tiny cactus planter in my yard….  Look at this interesting cactus blooming flowers in a perfect circle around its middle.  Isn’t it cute J.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Emotional Attachment/Emotional Detachment

This past week, I was the recipient of a snippy (or so I thought) business email scolding me (or so I thought) which I forwarded to my colleague whom we shall call A for confidentiality. "A" said that the buck stopped with her and she'd answer it. I wanted to reply in a sophisticatedly snippy way. I really did. I am not a good receiver of scolding. "A" answered the email in an extremely gracious way, far more gracious that I would have or could have been or should have been, but I couldn't have written what she did unless I really, really, really had to.

As I read A's email, I sort of snorted air through my nostrils. Even while totally acknowledging that A's email was the way to go, I still didn't want to read it. I realized, however, that A did not have the emotional involvement I've had with the scolder and it *is* easier without that component. I've been on A's side of things too.

Another situation occurred today when my friend B recycled a book to me. When B saw it didn't fit in my purse, she offered me her little tote bag. We went back and forth with my saying I didn't want to take her tote bag and B saying she didn't really care about the tote bag. Finally B said that the tote bag is from her company and she wasn't feeling all that positive about her company so she truly didn't want the bag.

Aha. That I could understand.

So I was admiring my new little orange tote bag (and the book -- Swamplandia, very well reviewed) and feel as if I came out ahead -- although now I'm thinking that if my friend B doesn't like the company then I shouldn't either -- so if I give any of you something in a little orange tote bag, just take it and recycle it to the next person.

And yes, their names really do begin A and B, not a coincidence.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Moment of Panic

My worst moment today was the minute after my cleaning woman left. I have an antique wooden letter holder with five little areas/rungs, and I very purposely put nothing but checks to be deposited in the bottom area/rung. I have a fear of misplacing a check so it's something I'm very careful about -- I have trained myself to not put a check on a table, even temporarily.

Over the past few weeks, I'd been thinking of this spot since it is on the wall, but sits precariously over my paper recycling box and I have this fear that a check or checks could accidentally fall in the box. I know. As I write this, I'm sounding like a worry wart, but I am a bit of one.

So today, after Ana left, I knew I had two checks, and I noticed the rung was empty and the paper recycling box was empty as well. That's when the panic set in. No checks anywhere. Trying to remember who sent me the two checks, then wondering if I were imagining I had two checks, maybe I didn't have two checks... Ana just left so I could go out to the garbage and get my paper recycling back and look for the checks...but then I spotted them in a safer place.

My heart was literally pounding and I was breathing through my mouth. Ok, Ok, I said, calm down. So I think I need a new solution to where I store checks until I deposit them. It has got to be one place, and I've got to make it a habit to put them there.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Home Again

I was actually home last night, but I lost my mobile WiFi stick since I take it out of my computer so it doesn't bend or break. I know I had it in my apartment as I was going to take it downstairs to my bedroom because I had to send out some news releases.

Well, I realized I didn't have it with me -- went back upstairs and searched and searched with nothing. I ended up going on line and sending these releases via dial up... which was Ok and at least workable. Limped along today on dial up and didn't have the energy to keep looking for this stick. Finally as I was thinking about maybe having to buy a new one, I launched the search again. Oh yes, I also prayed to St. Anthony.

Emptied my purse, emptied my suitcase, shook out every piece of clothing. Shook out every piece of dry cleaning. I knew I hadn't been in the kitchen or bathroom, but I looked there anyway. I was 100% that the stick had been in my apartment. Took off all the sofa cushions, pushed the sofa around... nothing. Moved the sideboard away from the wall. Nothing,.

Out of desperation of nowhere else to look, I moved my big upholstered chair -- I had been nowhere near that chair because I knew when I arrived home last night that if I sat in that chair, I'd never get up- - not physically but just not enough energy since it's so comfy so I avoided it. And there the stick sat, under the chair... my only explanation is that I must have put it on the coffee table, then knocked it off, then kicked it under the chair. Or else I have a little gremlin in my apartment.

I finally feel as if I'm back to normal. We are all so dependent on our Internet connections. Now my big decision is this. I have to be in Florida in two weeks, from Monday through and including Thursday. I have to be in Washington DC that following Monday to Friday. I was toying with the idea of driving from Florida to DC -- it's 13 hours, so it's an easy 2-day drive... and the deciding point would be a drop off fee. For some reason, Enterprise doesn't have one, so I booked an Enterprise car for $200 which is a week's rental -- the rest of the companies were like $800. I went ahead and booked it, just to get that price. If I change my mind, I can always cancel it. Maybe they need cars moved or something, but I know I'd be pissed off at myself if I went back in a few days and that price was gone.

So anyway, as always, it's good to be home.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Almost Time to Go Home

I'm ready to head East. Just checked my gate number because DFW Airport is so spread out, in a circular way, that there is no "main gate" for American Airlines flights -- various entry points so you need to know your gate when you arrive, unless of course, you want to hike a  mile or two. I'm set and a dozen hours or so before the flight it's on time.

I did get to interview a rescue swimmer -- she was very soft-spoken, very modest and very impressive. She made a joke that she got her rescue swimmer training early at the hands of her older brother who would continually dunk her and try to hold her head underwater. The training has a 70 percent attrition rate. Of 300 Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers, four are women. When we were finished, we shook hands and I told her that I hope to never meet her professionally.

And I learned the motto of the Coast Guard is Semper Paratus -- Always Ready.

We spent time with this other young woman who we've known for five years -- since she was a college student, we've seen her once a year, and she came into the press room just absolutely glowing... because she had her dream come true and gotten hired by an airline. Amy and I call her our pretend, adopted daughter. Her name is Leah, and Amy has a daughter Leah as well. We are so proud of her and happy for her. She wrote an article for our Daily about getting hired, and I told her that normally I would have deleted most of the exclamation marks (like after every sentence), but I knew she really meant them so I left them all in.

I'll be thinking about her when we land at LGA tomorrow because she wrote, "My best moment so far was one of my first trips flying into LaGuardia Airport: for a brief moment, I glanced at the gorgeous New York skyline at daybreak and had one of those breathtaking realizations that I was flying a jet -- I had finally made it!"

I believe there's some Yiddish word that means weepy with happiness, and that's how I feel about Leah. I've just checked on line and I believe I mean:

Kvell — Extremely proud. Really set aside for parental pride when a child does something amazing.

I'm kvellling.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Thursday in Dallas

Anonymously speaking, a colleague joined me for room service dinner so we could put our feet up and talk about everyone and not have to be polite and she ordered the Waldorf Burger and liked it. I went with the grilled cheese.

Tomorrow, I may have an opportunity to interview someone interesting -- a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. I think these rescue swimmers are so amazing -- jumping out of a helicopter into the stormy ocean with 20 foot waves to save someone. Wow. While talking to some Coast Guard women today, I asked if there were any female rescue swimmers and there are and they are going to see if they can send one my way. I don't know what I want to ask her -- are you afraid of anything? If jumping from a helicopter into a 20 foot wave during a hurricane doesn't scare you, what the hell could?

I interviewed three Coast Guard flight crew today, and they are so lovely and strong -- wearing their flight suits with their hair pulled back into buns, no make up -- someone called them "fierce" in a good way and they are. Looking at them, I wonder how I would have been different if I had role models like these women as a young girl. I think I was stuck with Florence Nightengale, Sacajewea and Madame Curie -- no one actually living -- but I'm certain these women were fierce in their time as well. And at least I had someone.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wednesday in Dallas

Had a good day working offsite; gave a presentation to my client's board of directors about my activities and I got a round of applause at the end and then later a board member told me that my report (on my activities on their behalf) was "very well received." So that was nice.

Ok, so on to important things. On the room service menu, there is a Waldorf Burger. It's a burger with apple, walnuts and blue cheese. What do you think? I like the Waldorf component, and I like burgers, but I don't think I'd like the two together. Went with the standby plain burger.

Now I am watching American Idol and planning my work for tomorrow. It's been cloudy, a bit rainy and windy in Dallas.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Just to Clarify

I left out the worst overriding part of yesterday. For about a week, I've been having internet connectivity problems -- out of the blue -- I have Sprint Mobile WiFi and it's bad from time to time, but mostly I don't have any problems. I was certain some "event" had transpired which affected connectivity to the point that I had no bars, although I could still get on line, it would take about 30 seconds to open an email. Web sites weren't worth going to unless absolutely necessary due to timing out typically and I would get booted about every 15 minutes.

I called on Thursday -- the guy had me change one setting and then said something to the effect of Manhattan is so busy that there will always be connectivity problems but they're "working on it" -- I mentioned that some event must have happened. Hey, what do I know?

Second call on Monday and was first told "take the device to a Sprint store and if there's something wrong with it, they'll replace it." When I told her flat out there's nothing wrong with the device, she said she'd give me to the "situation escalation department" -- something absurd like that.

And you always start from scratch -- HellothisisdaisycanIhaveyour10digitaccountnumber?" I do not know why that data can't travel with you as you get transferred.

So the escalation dept woman runs all these tests and then announces that a Sprint tower went down on February 27 and that's the problem. I knew it. Well, I didn't know that a tower went down, but I knew that there had been a change. She had called the four Sprint stores in my area, all of which said customers are complaining.

I said, "Maybe you should have alerted us?" She says, "Oh we don't do that." No, you'll bombard my mailbox with useless sales trash and seem to find me every month to send me a bill, but alert a customer that their service is impacted? No, we dont' do that.

She tells me that normally they don't issue a credit until the situation is fixed, and this tower will be fixed on March 8th, but she gives me 1/2 month credit off my invoice. Why couldn't they have done that in advance?

It reminds me of once when I rented a car, got there and there was no car and I said "why didn't you call me?" Oh we don't do that. Yeah, and try renting a car without giving them your phone number. These days you have to give two phone numbers.

I'm in Dallas, where the cell towers are working very nicely, thank you. I had actually a pleasant flight, on time departure, early arrival, bag was waiting at baggage claim, nice cab driver to hotel, nicre hotel room so my world is a little brighter and more cheerful today.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Today is almost over, thank God.

Today was not a good day, a continuation of crap from last week, and brand-new stuff to boot. Including someone who I had interviewed and written a profile of who decided out of the blue and informed me via email this morning (due date Wednesday) that he doesn't want his profile printed. Drama, drama.

I'm leaving for a trip tomorrow, am about 90% packed, the lost phone charger has been found and it's probably good I'm leaving.

Just now, I had flushed the toilet and walked away from it only to hear a weird disturbing gurgling sound. Oh no. Everything is ok, but all I need is an overflowing toilet or a mouse spotting to make this day complete. I'd prefer the mouse sighting because at least I could ignore that.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Is Winter Over?

Mary says it's supposed to be 69 degrees in DC on Thursday. I'm flying on Tuesday and I had visions of that being the day the giant blizzard "finally" comes. I could easily imagine the news reports and it would have been just my luck.

But no. It's sunny and mid-40s on Tuesday. I'm grateful.

Also, doesn't it just seem like a few weeks ago when I was posting these "spring has sprung" photos? I am an old lady asking Where the f does the time go?

So here are two photos from DC where spring seems to have sprung: