Friday, December 19, 2008

Tips for Holiday Eating

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards. To be perfectly honest, the only fruitcake you should even consider eating is the one...where the fruit sits & ferments for a month before baked in the cakes or cup cakes & topped with home made cream cheese frosting! Just talking about it I gain 5 lbs.........yep...I have the recipe!

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

100 Item Meme

Congratulations, Ms Virginia Girl, it's a meme!

It’s 100 questions about things you have or have not done (found it here). Read through and bold the answers you have done. I italicized those that I came close to (because I'm alarmed at the lack of bolding!) I’ll tag EVERYBODY!


1. Started your own blog. You're reading it!

2. Slept under the stars.

3. Played in a band. Sang in choir to the band...does that count?

4. Visited Hawaii. Sisters and I sent our parents there for their 30th wedding anniversary, and I came close to going once.

5. Watched a meteor shower. It was more like a drizzle.

6. Given more than you can afford to charity.

7. Been to Disneyland.

8. Climbed a mountain. Been to the top of the Zugspitze in the Alps...via cable car.

9. Held a praying mantis.

10. Sang a solo.

11. Bungee jumped.

12. Visited Paris.

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.

15. Adopted a child.

16. Had food poisoning. Oh my yes. A week after my sister's wedding (no connection, I'm sure). Stayed home from school for three days and saw things come out of me that I swear never went in.

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

18. Grown your own vegetables.

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.

20. Slept on an overnight train. From Frankfurt, West Germany to West Berlin, East Germany in the mid-70's.

21. Had a pillow fight.

22. Hitch hiked.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.

24. Built a snow fort.

25. Held a lamb.

26. Gone skinny dipping. Does my bathtub count?

27. Run a Marathon.

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.

29. Seen a total eclipse.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.

31. Hit a home run.

32. Been on a cruise.

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. I was in an airplane, flying from Buffalo to Toronto. We seemed to be following a river and I noticed some whitecaps. Interesting, I thought, must be near a waterfall. Oh, look, there it is...looks kinda familiar...Hey, that's Niagara!

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. At least one of them. My great-grandfather was born on Kilbowie Road, Clydebank, Scotland. I was there and I have the pictures to prove it!

35. Seen an Amish community.

36. Taught yourself a new language. Taught myself, no. Been taught, ja.

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. Once...a long time ago.

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.

39. Gone rock (wall) climbing.

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David.

41. Sung karaoke. Heard karaoke at a bowling alley and a wedding (yes, a wedding). Turned me off ever going somewhere with karaoke ever again.

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.

44. Visited Africa.

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.

46. Been transported in an ambulance.

47. Had your portrait painted drawn.

48. Gone deep sea fishing.

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.

52. Kissed in the rain. Who, you ask? I never kiss and tell.

53. Played in the mud.

54. Gone to a drive-in theater.

55. Been in a movie.

56. Visited the Great Wall of China.

57. Started a business. And failed.

58. Taken a martial arts class.

59. Visited Russia.

60. Served at a soup kitchen.

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies.

62. Gone whale watching.

63. Got flowers for no reason.

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma. I donated blood many times, just not voluntarily.

65. Gone sky diving.

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.

67. Bounced a check.

68. Flown in a helicopter. Been in one that was on the ground.

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.

71. Eaten Caviar.

72. Pieced a quilt.

73. Stood in Times Square.

74. Toured the Everglades.

75. Been fired from a job. I've never been able to tell him, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London.

77. Broken a bone.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. I was about a year and a half old and don't remember it, but have the pictures to prove it.

80. Published a book. Working on it!

81. Visited the Vatican.

82. Bought a brand new car.

83. Walked in Jerusalem.

84. Had your picture in the newspaper.

85. Read the entire Bible. I’ve read a lot of it, but not the entire thing.

86. Visited the White House.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.

88. Had chickenpox. I was twenty-two. Yes, twenty-two. I was exposed to it in a hospital emergency room.

89. Saved someone’s life. Learned CPR, never used it.

90. Sat on a jury. Twice!

91. Met someone famous. I won't mention who, but he's a famous writer.

92. Joined a book club.

93. Lost a loved one. Grandparents, parent, sister.

94. Had a baby.

95. Seen the Alamo in person. Pictures, etc.

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.

97. Been involved in a law suit.

98. Owned a cell phone.

99. Been stung by a bee. And now I know I'm mildly allergic.

100. Read an entire book in one day. Many times.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Busy, busy...

Last day for NaNo and I'm trying to hit 60K before 9:00 p.m. tonight. Found this while on break.

26.5 miles per gallon

Created by The Car Connection



Back to writing!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mom was up, maybe not quite as early as she wanted, but early enough and got the turkey going. In the end I helped a bit, mainly because that bird was too heavy for her to lift into the oven! A bit later she made some of the side dishes and we ate around 3:30 next door at my sister's, who also made too much food. All in all, a great day.

Hope you and your family had a great day!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sorry I Haven't Written...

but I've been saving the bulk of my writing for NaNo.

How am I doing, you ask? Well, cast your eyes to the right and look at that pretty number! As of right now, 33,916! That's a good two days ahead of the average, which is 30,006.

It helps that work has been a bit slow these past couple days, so to look busy, I've been writing. No one's called me on it yet, so I'm just going to keep going. I may--not only achieve 50,000 words--but I may also finish my story! Oh, this would be so awesome. Last year I hit 50,000 words, but didn't finish the story. It was pretty lousy anyway so I was glad to abandon it once I hit the goal. This year, I'm just gonna keep going until I finish, even if it take me half-way into December. I am going to finish my story!

Wish me luck, my many legions of fans!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 5

My muse was kicking today! My inner editor is firmly muzzled, straight-jacketed and chained up in the basement. Ignore the counter on the right...hopefully it'll update soon. I've written 10,133 words total as of today! Man, this feels great. I was beginning to despair of my muse getting her cute tush in gear and giving me some good stuff to write. I guess she was still enjoying the beach at Myrtle but now she's home and we are cooking!

Bam.

Borrowed/stole this from Rachel Lucas who found it at Ace of Spades:

No clue who actually wrote this but I found it at Ace of Spades:

Like they always do, hardcore liberal voters have placed all their hopes and dreams into one, terribly flawed, terribly human basket. And without doubt they will be terribly disappointed, especially when they learn they’ve still got to pay their own mortgage and buy their own gas.

Their Messiah, ain’t one, which will become painfully apparent to them soon enough.

Meanwhile, here on the right, we have low expectations of human nature and even lower expectations of government. It’s hard to disappoint us.

And unlike the liberals, all of our hopes and dreams are in exactly the same place they were yesterday, in our family, our friends, our local community, in our work, in our religious faith, and in our country. Those are the great constants, always there for us even when we suffer the greatest of setbacks.

Yep, tough times are ahead, and we’re going to have to fight like somsabitches to keep Obama and the Congress from screwing things up too much in the next two years. But, we’ve been there before, and we’ve prevailed before.

…Don’t give [those] on the left the satisfaction of seeing you all act like a bunch of hysterical schoolgirls. They’re the ones who can’t take defeat. We can take our lumps, get up, and keep fighting. We should be Happy Warriors. whose proper response to this is mockery, good humor, and hard work. We lost an election, but we’re still right, and they’re still wrong.

Anyway, it’s time to cowboy up, and get ready for the next go round.


Bam.


Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Did-ya?

Did-ya did-ya did-ya??? I did!

Vote, that is. I went to my polling place about 7:25 (it opened at 6:00) and waited in line for 25 minutes or so, then another couple before I could actually cast my vote. I was back in my car and on my way to work by 8:05.

I've heard some stories of problems at other polling places, and other than the fact that they couldn't distribute the alphabet properly (75+ people in one line, 10 in one, and 15 in the other and of course, guess which line yours truly was in?), it was well organized with no problems.

So who did I vote for, you ask? If you ask, then you must not have read my blog these past couple months. Go ahead, look at my previous posts...I dare you.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sigh...so much for those plans

I was GOING to be writing at midnight, but Mr. Sleepy had other plans. I fell asleep in my chair around 11:45, woke up at 2:00 and crawled into bed. I then spent all day putting off writing by finding "other things" to do, like laundry, pulling weeds in the back yard, reorganizing my dresser, loading music onto my PC, doing my nails, counting the coins in my coin jar, finish a crossword puzzle, you get the idea. By the end of the day, I was really beginning to hate myself. I want to do this so much, and yet, I spent the entire day putting it off.

There is good news, however. Thanks to the time change, I messed up my clock and woke up an hour early, so I spent most of that hour writing. I got about 1000 words down and it felt great to finally break the ice!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm behind by 2334 words and need to get to work!

Friday, October 31, 2008

5 hours...

and counting!

Getting together with a group of my fellow WriMo's at IHOP later tonight. We're going to sit around and chat for a while, and when the clock strikes 12, we're going to start writing our stories. Laptops, notebooks, pens and lots and lots of coffee (for those who can tolerate the stuff). After an hour or so, some of us will head home and the die-hards will keep writing away. I'll probably head home after the hour is up...that is, if I make it to midnight! I might have to be there in spirit, but I WILL BE WRITING AT MIDNIGHT!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Day 3

Put a fork in me, I'm done!

That was probably the most intense two and a half days of instruction I've ever gone through, but it was sooo worth it! Some workshops were a waste of time--in some cases it was because the "faculty member" didn't do a good job and in other it was because I ws in the wrong class. But all in all, it was worth it and you aspire to a career as a writer, whether it's fiction, non-fiction or poety, I highly HIGHLY recommend going to a writer's conference.

Be smart about it, talk to others who have attended a particular conference and see if it's right for you before you go. I didn't but got lucky because it worked out so well for me. From what I understand, there are other conferences that aren't quite so good, so be careful. I just kinda figured any conference that could get Michael Connely, James O. Born, Derek Nikitas and Irene Goodman, among others, must be pretty good.

I'm definitely going back again next year.

Oh, oh, and the best thing I think happened this morning. At breakfast, my critiquer sat down at my table with me and a couple others. I was mostly talking with Donna, another attendee I had met, and Beth was talking with the other two guys at the table. Before she left she made a point to tell me how much she enjoyed meeting me, a compliment I of course returned. I told her I had already taken out the "B" word as she suggested and she was glad. She then told me to keep in touch, that she'd like to hear from me, and left. Donna was pretty impressed, and truthfully, it embarrassed me a little bit. She asked her critiquer if she could resubmit with the changes her critiquer had suggested, and she had agreed. Beth's offer was completely spontaneous. I'll be cool about it...I'm not going to inundate her with questions. I'll probably just send her a Christmas note and let her know how I've been doing and maybe once or twice more. I don't want to make a pest of myself...I'm still grinning over that.

Well, I'm half-way home now, staying at a hotel, and I'll head for home tomorrow. I'll time it so I hit Charlottesville around lunch time and do a little research there (since that's the setting for my book) and be in Winchester by about 3 p.m. It'll be good to get home.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Day 2

and I'm exhausted.

Four sessions today, two of which were good, one was a waste of time and one was an interesting discussion, but I didn't learn anything. One thing about this conference is that if you don't like what's being taught in your session, you can leave (quietly, please) and join another session. Everyone signed up for sessions when they registered, but--as I now know--that was primarly to see how much interest there was in different sessions. Unfortunately, the session that was a waste of time, I got to late and took a seat in the very back of the class, so leaving quietly was next to impossible. So I toughed it out.

One thing I can say, they certainly feed us well at the Hilton. Large breakfast buffet, snacks--bundt cakes mostly--between morning sessions, full lunch with dessert, coookies between afternoon sessions and full dinners with desserts. I've never eaten so much in such a short amount of time. I almost skipped dinner tonight but since I wanted to hear the keynote speaker, Michael Connelly, I went. Unfortunately, the gist of what he had to say I had heard in an earlier session with James O. Born! Ah well.

And my critique went fabulously! Now, I never told my critiquer, Beth Webb Hart, that I had written my first three chapters through a writing course and that my instructor was a published author, so I actually already had a professional critique. But this was someone who had held my hand through the creative process and I was following her direction, so of course she would like it. I wanted to hear what someone else had to say. And she liked it! She had a few specific points, which I had actually heard from a friend who had read my work, so during the break between the last session and dinner, I edited those parts out. She also had some other points to keep in mind while I did a little bit of editing and as I progress. So I'm feeling really good, like I'm on the right track and I'm doing well!

So now I have two more sessions tomorrow, one of which deals with editing (spinning dross into gold, if you will), and my open session. I may attend a slush-fest, where others have already sent in their work and will have it openly critiqued for everyone attending to hear. All anonymously, of course. From what I've heard from other attendees of slush-fests, they're brutal, and there's a small, sadistic part of me that wants to see the blood bath. Especially since my work won't be on the chopping block. I'll make that decision tomorrow.

So now I'll just clean up, get ready for bed, watch the rest of the Bourne Supremacy on TNT (like I haven't seen it a dozen times already--cripes, I can quote dialog!) and go to bed.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm here...

and I haven't lost my mind yet!

This writer's conference has been a great experience so far. I've had two classes and learned lots about how to construct plot and characters, and how to create conflict between those characters. We also had a poetry reading after dinner by Pamela Smith. I'm not much for poetry, but her work was excellent. Unfortunately, it's rainy with about 30 mph winds, so no night walk on the beach, or morning walk either as it's supposed to rain all day.

My critique is tomorrow, and it's going to be interesting. I don't know if I told you anything about my plot, but I had started with one with a hole in it big enough to drive a semi through. I changed it, but I was never very happy with it. That's the plot I sent in. Then, later that day, my mom and I were driving to Pennsylvania to visit my sister. We were listening to a book on CD and listening to that story, I suddenly figured out how to fill that gaping plot hole! So now I'm going to have a critique on a story that's already been changed. I'm still going through with it, however, because the first ten pages that she has won't change much if at all.

Still trying to settle on my NaNo plot...plus, trying to decided if I'm going to a midnight write-in on Halloween. My local group is having one, but not sure yet if I'm going. It's a bit late for me, but it may be fun.

It's late and I need to get to sleep. One problem with these conferences is that every minute is tightly scheduled and jam-packed, so I can't sleep in. Too bad, because the bed is very comfortable.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Latest & Greatest

Haven't updated in a little while, so I figured I'd better stop by...

NaNoWriMo starts in 12 days and I don't know what I'm going to write yet. I have two plots running through my mind and they won't settle down and let me choose one. They're both good--one's a 40-year old mystery involving the Viet Nam war, the other is a post-apoc story involving the Hadron Collider. I suppose it would help if I spent a little time and outlined my plots, to see which one has more meat and will give me the 50,000 words in 30 days, but who has the time? Between work, monitoring the election coverage and getting ready for my writer's conference, I just haven't had the time. I need to find it, though.

The South Carolina Writer's Workshop starts this Friday. I'm heading to Myrtle Beach on Wednesday, I'll hang out on Thursday and head over to the resort bright and early Friday morning. I'm excited, because I'll be meeting new people and learning how to hone my craft, but I'm also a little nervous because I've never done one of these things before. Sure, I've been to conferences before but none like this. I guess what I'm really nervous about is my critique. A professional author is reading my work and will tell me what she thinks. It's the first ten pages of the story I was working on in my writing class.

Here's the thing...I had one plot in mind when I started that class, and as it progressed, I found the motivation for my protagonist wasn't good enough, and I couldn't think of a way to strenthen it. So I abandoned that plot and came up with another, which was good, but a bit cliche. I kept going with it, even as I had some doubts. Well, I sent off the manuscript for the critique and literally that afternoon, I came up with a much better plot that was closer in line to my original plot! Aargh! Now what do I do??? If she says anything about my plot being weak or cliche, I'll just tell her that I want to change it, but it was too late because I had already sent it in. Yeah, in other words, I'll wing it.

Gotta get ready for work. The Redskins won yesterday (yay!) and Papa John's gives discounts on pizza when they win. At work, when someone has a birthday, we cater lunch that day. I decided that we would do Papa John's if the Redskins won and George's Pizza if they lost. My choice, because it's my birthday.

Happy Birthday Me!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Take the Test!

Do you know who you're going to vote for? Still not sure which candidate best fits your personal views or philosophies? Then I have the test for you!

Click here to take the ABC News test.

If you read my previous posts, you already know which way I'm going. This just kind of solidifies it.


So what have YOU been up to?

Seems these days I'm only posting links or pictures. I don't really have much to blog about lately. I've been focusing on getting ready for my writing conference--still need to watch L.A. Confidential--but I did do something a little crazy...I signed up for a critique.

I didn't want to in the beginning. I figured this is my first conference and I don't know how things are done, so I'll go and observe certain...things...and next year I'll do more. But for the past few weeks, say from the first of September, I began to wonder if maybe I should have signed up for one. The opinion of another professional (not just my instructor, who is a published author) can only bolster my confidence, right? Or, yeah, tear it down, I know, I know. I'm trying to think positive here. So I thought about it for a while, and finally decided that I would bring a couple extra copies of my work and see if I could sign up for one at the conference. See, if they say no, then I can say "I wasn't able to get an appointment" rather than "I was too chicken to sign up sooner." Weak, yeah, but it worked for me.

Anyway, on Sep 30, I get this e-mail saying "There are still open slots available...sign up now with the following critiquers!" And of course, I read through the list. And of course, there's one--only one--person on the list who is in my genre. I agonized for about ten minutes "Should I? Why shouldn't I? Why should I?" etc, etc...you get the picture.

One of my co-workers walks by as he's leaving and asks what's wrong. I tell him I'm trying to make a decision. "Easy," he said. "Don't do it."

"That's the wrong answer," I told him.

"Then that's your answer," he said. "You want to do it, so do it."

And he was right. I picked up my phone, called and booked the appointment. By the end of the week, I sent out my synopsis and first ten pages of my story. I've taken the next step on my road to becoming an author.

So what did YOU do this week?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

How unique are you?


HowManyOfMe.com
LogoThere is
1
person with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?



I'm not posting my real name here, but my first name is well known - I share it with a very popular former first lady, bu my last name, while not uncommon, has an unusual spelling. Put them together and you get...ME!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Decision Made!

The Presidental Debate between McCain and Obama is only 50 minutes old and Obama has made up my mind for me...




Obama just doesn't seem to get it...You cannot be the leader of America and be popular with the world! It's going to take someone who is willing to be unpopular. Power brings out the worst in people, but if the powerful person shows he is willing to fight, and backs up what he ways with serious action, you will be taken seriously. Obama doesn't have the...nerve...to be unpopular.

McCain gets it...and he gets my vote.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

This just creeps me out!



stolen from FoxNews.com
"Bill Clinton Says He Understands Palin's Appeal"

NEW YORK — Former President Bill Clinton said Monday he understands why Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is popular in the American heartland: because people relate to her.

“I come from Arkansas, I get why she’s hot out there, why she’s doing well,” said Clinton, who supports the Democratic ticket headed by Barack Obama.

Speaking to reporters before his Clinton Global Initiative meeting, the former president described Palin’s appeal by adding, “People look at her, and they say, ‘All those kids. Something that happens in everybody’s family. I’m glad she loves her daughter and she’s not ashamed of her. Glad that girl’s going around with her boyfriend. Glad they’re going to get married.”‘

Clinton said voters would think, “I like that little Down syndrome kid. One of them lives down the street. They’re wonderful children. They’re wonderful people. And I like the idea that this guy does those long-distance races. Stayed in the race for 500 miles with a broken arm. My kind of guy.”

Palin, the governor of Alaska, became an overnight star when Republican presidential candidate John McCain tapped her for his running mate. Her family, including her Down syndrome baby, Trig, her pregnant 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, and her husband, Todd, four-time winner of the 2,000-mile Iron Dog snowmobile race, have garnered intense media interest.

“I get this,” Clinton said. “My view is … why say, ever, anything bad about a person? Why don’t we like them and celebrate them and be happy for her elevation to the ticket? And just say that she was a good choice for him and we disagree with them?”


Nice little speech by Clinton, though I don't trust much that comes out of Slick Willie's mouth...but given his background, couldn't he have consulted his thesaurus ahd come up with a better adjective than "hot"???

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Number One

Do you know what song was Number One the day you were born?

Click here to find out.

Mine? ">To Sir With Love by Lulu.

When I think of this song, I remember a dance routine I saw on television once...it was, I believe, the farewell tour of champion Ballroom dancers Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin dancing the most beautiful, most sensual rumba I've ever seen.

What's yours?


Found it here.

New Ticker

I found one of these on another blog and had resisted adding it to mine, but doggoneit, I'm actually losing weight and I want to chart it. I'm not following any special diet right now. I've just eliminated sweets as much as possible and I'm leaving those last few bites on my plate. That's all, and I've lost eight pounds in four weeks. I want to get out and start walking, but it's still too warm here and I'm not going to risk my health. I still can't believe it's working! My initial goal had been to lose 20 pounds before I go to my writer's convention at the end of October and if I keep on this pace, I'll pass that goal with no problem. Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Drainage Fail

I found this on Failblog.org and just had to link it...this one had me gasping. There's no sound, so don't adjust your volume.




That poor guy!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Prayer for the World

This was initially part of the previous post, then I decided it needed its own entry.

These last couple weeks, my pastor has been preaching on Matthew 24 and what Jesus has to say about His return. If you haven't read that chapter, read it. Then read it again. And again. And again. Sound familiar? These things are happening to us now, today.

False Christs are multiplying like rats. Nations (Russia) rising against nations (Georgia). Famine and earthquakes are all around. Jesus tells us not to be alarmed about these things, that these things must happen before He is to return. When I look around at the world and what I see happening, I can only believe that He will be coming again soon. No one knows the day or the hour, only our Father in Heaven knows that. We can only prepare ourselves, to warn others that it's not too late to accept Jesus, to pray for those who need prayer.

Lord, I pray for anyone and everyone who reads this, that their eyes may be open, that their curiousity will peak, that they will read Your Word and come to know the Truth, that You are the Way and the Light and that You are coming again soon. I pray that they will come to know You before it is too late.

I pray for my friends Bob and Colleen. I don't know what trials they're going through right now, but You do, and I know that their faith in You will keep them strong, will keep them going, until they come through victorious in the end. And they will be victorious because they belong to You.

I pray for my pastor's mother, that her health will strengthen, that she will be healthy and can leave the hospital. I know she is struggling with the loss of her husband, but I also know that she and the rest of the family take comfort in knowing he is home with You.

I pray for Steve. He hasn't said exactly what, but I know he's going through something very difficult, and I know he is turing to You for strength. Please give him the strength and love he needs to overcome this difficulty and see him through to the end of this. Strengthen his faith and guide him in what he should do.

I pray for Pastor Joe and his wife, that they will safely conclude their travels (if they haven't already). His words touched my heart last Sunday and when he prayed over me, he prayed over the core of my need. I thank You for him and all the wonderful work he is doing in Africa. I pray that he will continue his mission here on Earth and bring many, many more people into Your kingdom, until his work here is done.

Finally, I pray for myself. I pray that my faith will continue to grow day by day, that I will continue to draw closer to You, so on that glorious day, I will be taken up with other believers to the safety of Your throne. Until that day comes, I pray for the strength to endure the trials I am going through and the ones to come. You have never failed to give me what I need when I need, and I know You will continue to care for me until the end.

In the precious name of Your beloved son, Jesus, I pray these things. Amen.

What is going on????

I realize that having a politician finally admit what we all know is newsworthy, but is it more important than the ethnic cleansing going on in Georgia? BTW, Edwards, denying the child before DNA results come in is not a good move, because when you have to have another press conference to admit it's yours, you're going to look even more ridiculous. Also, claiming that it's a private matter when the entire world had to hear about your wife's breast cancer? Where exactly is that line drawn?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Another item off my checklist!

Because I'm living with my mother right now, I don't have room for all my stuff in the house (it's a small house), so I have one of those off-site storage units. I've been wanting to go through the boxes and sort things out, throw away the trash, put aside things for Goodwill, and repack some of the boxes because they're starting to collapse. It took two Saturdays, but I finished today! Another item off the list!

I still have three boxes to go through. They're all personal files--old utility bills, bank statements, etc--and when I have a free weekend, I'll bring those home and sort them out. Old stuff will be shredded, I'll repack the keeper items, add new stuff and take them back to the unit. That'll be another time.

Another item on the list I'm working on is scrapbooking my photos. I have, oh, I don't know how many pictures...not even worth counting. But I'm determined to get them caught up. I finally finished my overseas trip and now I'm working on my nephew's wedding. If all goes well, I'll have them finished by the end of this month (just a couple days away!). Then I'll jump right in to my Milford trip, then I'll start all my South Carolina pictures. Then I'll hop into the Wayback machine and do all the older pictures.

But here's the sad thing. A few years ago, I used to sell Creative Memories scrapbooking/memorykeeping supplies. I quit about two years ago, mainly because I was in South Carolina and battling depression. I kept buying supplies to make my minimum quota sales, but did nothing with them. I packed them up and moved them to my Winchester storage unit and forgot about them.

I had a few things here at the house and finally decided to get rid of them by selling them on eBay. I sold a few items, then took that money and bought some CM-specific pages in white off of eBay so I could finish my nephew's wedding album. Today (back to the "sad thing"), as I was working in the storage unit, I came across a box half-full of CM-specific white pages! Here I went and spent money on something I already had! I'm still steamed over that. But because I'm the optimistic type and try to see the good in the bad, I can balance that discovery with the fact that I need page protectors as well, and found a whole stack of them before I went and bid on some.

This is why I was going through my storage unit, to see what I had. So now I know, and I'll be auctioning off a lot more stuff on eBay in the coming weeks. And yes, that's another item on the list! Not checked off yet, but hey, I'm working on it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Another Item off the To-Do List, pt 2

Just thought to add this...

For the past two months, I've been debating with myself about going to a writer's conference. It's in Myrtle Beach, so not too far a trek from Winchester, and it's at the end of October, which is a really nice time in MB--still warm enough to go to the beach, but far enough out of tourist season so the beaches will be empty. The cost is maybe a smidge high, but no so high as to be unreasonable, so I've really been debating it.

I've talked to several people about it, and they all said the same thing, which was "Go! Do it! You'll love it! You'll learn so much! You'll meet so many people!" etc, etc. Not a negative comment in the bunch. I did get differing opinions as to whether or not I should sign up for an agent/editor critique. I feel my work isn't really ready and some agreed that I should wait until I am, while others said an agent/editor would be able to give me guidance as to which way to go with my work. That, I guess, was the reason I was delaying making a choice. Deep down, I feel I'm right in not going for a critique yet, but I understood the other point of view as well. So, back and forth, should I? shouldn't I?

Yesterday, I finally said "Enough procrastinating! Isn't that why you've pushed yourself to finish the Belfast/Glasgow scrapbook? So stop putting off registering for the conference. Do it now before the seminars you want are sold out!" So I logged onto the site (here if you're interested), filled out the form and it's done! I'm going to my first writer's conference in October!

I have three good story ideas and I'm going to bring synopses/outlines of each, just so when someone asks what I'm working on, I can answer them intelligently. And I have some pre-work for one of my seminars, so I need to get going on that. So right now, not much to do to prepare, but some work to do.

So...my wonderful but silent fans...have any of you been to a writer's convention? Any ideas/tips of what I should/shouldn't do? Come on, you know you want to share!

Another Item off the To-Do List

Three years ago this week, my mother and I set out on a journey overseas, to spend eleven days in Belfast, Northern Ireland and Glasgow, Scotland. Part adventure, part work, we went to do a little genealogy research and, heck, just to see these two great cities.

My mom’s grandfather was from Northern Ireland and he we know he was a school teacher in the village of Ballindrum (which no longer exists, but we know where it was). They left Ballindrum for Belfast and her father was born in Belfast. They then moved to Glasgow when he was about ten years old. His father joined the ship-building trade and I imagine my grandfather did as well before emigrating to the United States.

While we were there, I took—no joke—just over 700 pictures. I figured I may never go back (though I’d love to go back to Belfast), so I might as well take as many pictures as I can.

Why am I telling you this? Because, after three long years, I finally, FINALLY, finished my scrapbook of this trip!

Oh, relax, I’m not going to start preaching about the wonders and pleasures of scrapbooking. I might start preaching about the pleasures of getting over the procrastination bug and finishing a project, though. It gave me such a feeling of satisfaction, knowing that something I’d been thinking about and worrying about and fretting about for three years is finally done and I don’t have to think about it any more! Do you know what that’s like? It’s bliss, I tell you, bliss.

But here’s the funny part. I pushed myself to work on it every evening this week. Monday evening I gathered together everything I needed. Tuesday, I journaled the Belfast portion of the trip, Wednesday I journaled the Glasgow portion of the trip (adding a few embellishments to the pages each night), Thursday I put each page into page protector sleeves and Friday night I bound all the pages into two books, then put everything away. I was done around 10:15-10:30 each night, but Friday I was done around 8:30, tired, satisfied, and yet strangely, at loose ends. I wanted to keep working! I was glad I was done but I wanted to do more. But I forced myself to relax and just enjoy the evening…because Saturday I start a new project!

The pictures of my nephew’s wedding came in on Thursday, and I want to get those into an album as quickly as possible. Far fewer pictures—about 200—so it shouldn’t take me three years…hopefully only three weekends. I want these done because I still have all my South Carolina pictures (Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head), plus my trip to Chicago, not to mention all the pictures of my nieces and nephew that have been crowding numerous picture boxes for numerous years…

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Let's get all caught up, shall we?

Hello all my lovely fans! So sorry I’ve been away for so long. I’d like to say I had a good reason, and in some ways I do, but the truth is, I’ve been both busy and lazy.

So here’s what’s been going on:

I had to finish my final writing assignment and it was a blast! I had to write a query letter, a cover letter, fill out a publisher’s choice form, and write the synopsis of my entire story. The letters I wrote pretty quickly, and the form was easy, so I figured the synopsis would be the hardest part. Wrong! The words just flowed from my brain to my fingertips and it practically wrote itself. I did most of it at work because there was nothing going on there for about a week or so, and I had to look busy, so that’s what I worked on. There were several scenes that I hadn’t worked out yet but as I worked on synopsizing the scenes I had already planned, ideas came for the missing scenes and it all fit together perfectly. I really was stunned at how easily it all came together. I’m so glad that’s done, but now the hard part comes. I have to write the rest of my novel!

My nephew MR and his wife SR flew in from Montana to attend his brother’s wedding. They flew out a week and a half before the wedding day and all I could think of was “why so early?” SR had never been to the east coast before, so MR wanted to show her around the area, and they saw quite a bit. She was in awe of our fair city of Winchester, and he took her into DC. They also went to Luray Caverns and Six Flags in Maryland. She really enjoyed herself and MR enjoyed showing her around. But a week and a half before the wedding? I didn’t understand why they needed to be here that early…until I found out that MR wanted to be here for the bachelor party, which was to be held in Atlantic City, NJ. MR is a poker player and has been to Las Vegas a couple times to play, so he was eager to play in Atlantic City. Unfortunately, the casinos they went to don’t have poker tables. There was blackjack, and video poker and slots, but that’s not MR’s game. He wants Texas Hold’em, Five Card, etc. To say he was disappointed is an understatement.

Oh, and the best news of all…while they were here, SR discovered that she’s pregnant! I’m going to be a great aunt! No offense to my step-niece, but this baby is going to be of my blood, therefore, it’s my first! I’m so excited for them! Of course, they had said from the beginning that they didn’t want to have children, and they hadn’t changed their minds. God changed their minds for them. MR said it was his fault, and Mom/Grandma/Future Great-Grandma said “Um, yeah, of course it’s your fault!” hahahaha But she talked to them both, helped them see the bright side of the situation, and they were both calmer about the news once she was done talking to them. My mom’s good at that.

I’m going to tell you a secret…This all happened on Thursday, and after the “announcement,” they went to spend the day at Six Flags in Maryland. Mom and I went out to dinner, and she told me then. I had to keep it quiet…not allowed to tell anyone until they themselves decided to announce it. I didn’t have to keep it secret for long. At the wedding rehearsal dinner, MR made the announcement and everyone was so excited for them.

Oh, and the wedding was wonderful! GR & BR (my new niece-in-law) make such a beautiful couple and it was a perfect outdoor wedding. Well, it was a bit humid, but at least it didn’t rain. Wait…take that back, it did rain, but not until we were all safely partying at the hotel. BR made such a lovely bride and they couldn’t stop smiling at each other throughout the ceremony. You could just see the love there between them. And I took tons of pictures, which I have already put into an album and it’s waiting for them to return from their honeymoon so I can present it to them. They’re going to love it. I just wish his mother and grandfather (my dad) could have been there to see it. Well, I believe they were there…in spirit. Just wish they could have been there in the flesh.

Let’s see…what else…Oh, I’m participating in JulNoWriMo—that’s July Novel Writing Month, just like the NaNoWriMo I did last November. The difference is that it’s promoted by a different organization…and it’s a different month. The story I’m writing may not be long enough. I don’t know if I’m going to reach 50,000 words with this story, but I’m going to try. And if I run out of words before I run out of month, oh well. It’s putting me in the right frame of mind to just crank out the words. I’m a bit behind in my word count. I should be at 8065 words and I’m actually around 5925 words with two chapters written. I hope to have chapter three finished by tomorrow. I may post the story here when it’s done so my three loyal readers can review it and tell me what they think. I haven’t decided yet.

I think that’s all for now. You’re all caught up. And I promise, I won’t wait so long to make my next post. (Yeah yeah, I’ve made that promise before, I know. You’ll just have to wait and see.)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'm so proud of myself...

If my arm was long enough, I'd pat myself on the back !!

I haven't posted lately because, frankly, I've been too busy doing nothing.

Doesn't make sense, you say? Oh, but it does, and I'm betting each and every one of my readers (all three of you) would agree.

My list of things to do--personal projects, you might say--seems to grow by the day. As a result, I have so much to do, that I don't know where to start, so I usually wind up playing computer games all evening until it's time for bed.

But I'm working to change all that. For example, I love to read, but I've been so busy, I haven't had the time. It used to be a day couldn't end until I read something. Now an entire week can go by without me reading a word (I'm talking books and magazines, of course, not blogs and anything else I read on the computer). I've finished two books this month and am working on my third. I won't finish that third before the end of the month, but hey, I finished two!

That's not why I'm proud of myself, though. Let me tell you why I am (and end the nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat tension). I teach Sunday school, and every quarter when we are given our new lessons, I tell myself to spend an hour or two one day and pull all the applicable worksheets for the new quarter. I have these great workbooks that go along with certain Bible verses and I like to give them to the kids when the planned lesson runs out and I need to fill in that last ten minutes. So even though I tell myself to pull the worksheets, I don't, and I usually wind up Saturday evening--or even Sunday morning--frantically searching to see if I have a worksheet that works with that week's lesson.

I received the new quarter's lessons TWO SUNDAYS AGO. TWO. The first lesson of the new quarter starts this coming Sunday. And when did I pull the worksheets? That's right, TODAY! That's why I'm so proud of myself. I'll take them into work tomorrow so I can make photocopies and I'll place them all in a folder and keep that folder with my workbook so no more last minute scrambling for worksheets.

This isn't the first time, you see, that I told myself not to wait until the last minute to pull the worksheets and, next thing I know, it's that last minute mad-dash frantic scrambling. But not this quarter!

Man, that feels good!

Tomorrow, when I have a break at work, I'll check my to-do list and see if I can't mark something else off tomorrow night, and what I can accomplish this weekend. Let's hope this new me lasts longer than a couple days!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm Back!

Okay, okay...so it's been a little bit more than two weeks since I got back, but at least I'm here again...and I have pictures!

But first, a little update...

I finished Assignment 7 and sent it off. I had to edit the first chapter and it really needed it. There was always a little something I didn't like about the first scene and I finally realized what it was. The structure was off, my protagonist's emotions were all over the place and it just didn't "feel" right, so I rewrote it. It's so much better now. I'm just waiting to hear what my instructor has to say.

Just one assignment left and I'm on my own. Unfortunately, finishing this story may not be so easy...while Mom and I were driving to Connecticut, we began to discuss a little mystery that recently cropped up in my family. As we talked about it, we started constructing this great plot and Mom said, "You're the writer. You need to write this!" So while I write the scenes I already planned for one story, I'm researching another. I'll probably end up writing both at the same time. It'll be interesting to see which gets finished first.

As for my aunt, she's actually doing okay. Unfortunately, the Parkinson's is destroying her brain and there's no going back, but she's not doing as bad as everyone made it seem. This was going to be Mom's last trip while Alice is still alive, but she's decided that she does want to go again, and will likely be going next month. I'm not surprised...Mom and her sister are really close and since we have no way of knowing when Alice will die, Mom will want to see her as often as she can.

It's funny...I used to go to my aunt's house in Milford pretty regularly but it was always directly to her house and back out again. What little I ever saw of Milford was just one or two streets with a few old shops, old houses, an elementary school and its ball field. Never gave me much of an impression of the town I was born in. When my grandmother died in 1990, it was the first time I actually got to see a lot more of the town. And about eight years ago that I realized just how close my aunt lived to the beach. Just a block or so down the road, and I never knew. And it was only with those last few visits that I realized just how pretty the town really is.



Here's a picture of the Old Stone Tower. It's located at the Stone Bridge at the end of the Milford Green.



The bridge spans the Wapawaug River...



Which runs behind the Town Hall...(this is the front view)




Here's the river behind the Town Hall

This pic is my favorite. You can practically hear the water as it runs over that little waterfall.


There are more pictures, but these are the best of the bunch. I may post more later, we'll see.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Going away for a few days

Like you'd notice...Mom and I are heading for Connecticut to visit family, in CT & NY. Her sister is in a nursing home and Mom's not so confident about the level of care she's receiving. Either the staff is completely incompetent, or my uncle is getting his stories confused. Mom wants to be sure, so off we go.

Assignment 7 is almost done in my writing class. My instructor was kind enough to say I could take an extra week or two if I needed it. Considering it was due last Friday and I'm not quite 100% happy with it, you could say I need it. I hope to get my final edits in this weekend and send it off on Monday.

I'm also considering going to a writers conference in late October in Myrtle Beach. I've never been to one, and I know my story won't be done by then, but going would be a good learning experience, kind of like auditing a college course. Registration doesn't open for another month, so I still have time to consider it.

Mom said "Be ready in 5 minutes," so I'd better finish up. Happy trails to us...until we meet again!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Venting again

It's my blo-og and I'll rant if I want to
Rant if I want to, rant if I want to
You would rant too if it happened to you!


Literacy is a serious problem in our country, but what disturbs me more than the inability to read the writing on the wall is the inability to SEE the writing.

Case in point: A little history first...Our office "TPICC" moved locations last August. The former tenant at this location was a rental office for a large real estate firm in this area "CCRO". They moved Stephens City the earlier part of last year (or maybe earlier than that...I'm not exactly sure). Their parent company owns the building we now occupy and since they have a small satellite office still in the building, their name remains on the outside of the building. When we moved in, I removed the "We've Moved" sign from the door that announced where the rental office had moved to. I held on to it just in case it was ever needed.

In an effort to help establish our identity at this new office, we had two window decals made up, one on one window in the foyer area and the other on the door into our office. It states our name in simple, classic letters. When you step into the foyer, you have a door to your left and a door to your right. The door to your left has no writing. The door to your right has our name. If you don't want us, you must want the office next door, right? Process of elimination. We also have a large outdoor sign to the right of the doorway with our logo. Pretty hard to miss red letters on a white background, or so you might think.

I'm the receptionist/admin, which means I get to sit out front. Nice view out the windows...I get to watch the weather, the traffic driving by, the stray dog that wanders through the parking lot every now and then. And at least once a week, if not more often, someone comes in looking to rent an apartment or townhouse.

Now, I'm usually very polite and direct them to the office next door, which is the aforementioned satellite office. They don't do rentals out of there, but they know where to send people. This gets frustrating after a while, especially when I have to explain to people that this isn't the office they're looking for and they get that stunned "well, what do I do now?" look. But, I know it's not as if it's the same person coming in week after week. It's always someone different and I don't think Apartment Seeker #50 should bear my anger over Apartment Seeker #49, so I strive to be polite to everyone, but I have my limits, people.

Just recently, Boss decided to have another sign installed in another window, this one with larger letters so people driving up can see our name clearly. I said "okay" and placed the order, but I really didn't think a larger sign would do much good. It was installed last week and I have to admit, it does stand out quite a bit more than the other signs, but I wasn't going to hold my breath in hopes that it'll cut back on the rental traffic.

In case you're counting, that makes four signs announcing that TPICC is in this location, not CCRO.

So...now that you know all that, here's what happened yesterday...

I overheard a conversation between Boss and the guys in the satellite office and I decided to make copies of the old "We've Moved" sign to hand out to people who came in looking for rentals. It's not my job, but maybe, I figured, I can get rid of these people easier by simply handing them one of the copies.

Later in the afternoon, I saw a car pull into the parking lot and this couple in their mid-late thirties got out. I knew immediately they were looking for an apartment (trust me, after doing this for a while, I've gotten pretty good at identifiying the apartment seekers). So I grabbed the sign and went to make a copy. They walked in and, sure enough, asked about renting.

Can I call 'em or what?

I explained to them that this is not CCRO but if they would wait a moment while I make the copy, I can give them CCRO's new address.

"Oh, this isn't CCRO?"

"No, this is TPICC. Here's where you can find CCRO." I handed them the copy.

"Oh. Okay. Maybe you all should have a sign up or something."

Believe me, it was all I could do not to scream.

I did, however, say "There are several signs up, including one on the door." Yeah, you know, the door you just walked through, you dummies! Of course, that part wasn't said out loud. They left, and I saw through the window as the husband turned back to look at the building. That's when he saw the sign we had recently installed, the one with the larger letters. I had also noticed the wife pointing out the sign on the door as they walked out.

See, this was a well-dressed and obviously educated couple, not someone who just recently emigrated to this country and can barely speak a few words of English, never mind being able to read it. This couple walked right by several signs that said TPICC not CCRO and just breezed right in.

"Maybe you all should have a sign up."

Maybe you all should open your eyes!

I know me, and I know I tend to be a little bit more observant than most people. I recall once, when I worked in the D.C. suburbs, some co-workers and I were going to lunch at a popular restaurant. We saw this really good-looking well-dressed guy standing at the corner of the building. My friends assumed he was waiting for someone but I said no, that it was probably a Secret Service Agent and there was probably a senator or something dining inside. When they asked me how I knew that, I said it was because the first guy was standing at the corner of the building, not the entrance, there was another well-dressed man at the other corner, and they both had a wire coil stretching from their ear into the suit collars. I saw what they didn't see.

When I walk into an office building for the first time, I look for signs to tell me I'm in the right place and that I'm heading in the right direction. If I'm a little confused, I'll say "I'm looking for CCRO." I don't just automatically assume I'm in the right place.

Just now, a salesman came into our office--he works for a tool and hardware supplier that we occasionaly buy from--and I saw him look at the sign before coming in! He came to see us specifically, but at least he looked at the sign to make sure he was where he wanted to be!

It's little things like that that brighten my day.

Spring has Sprung

Yes, I know, it was a couple days ago. I just got back a couple days ago from a little trip down to Myrtle Beach. I'd post pictures...but guess who forgot her camera?

In lieu of that, I offer this link:

Click Here

You'll be presented with a black screen. Click anywhere and watch what happens. Even better, click and drag your mouse all over the screen.

Thanks to the Cook Shack.

Monday, March 10, 2008

It's Official...

I hate the airline industry.

I’m not a frequent flyer. In fact, the last flight I took was in July 2005 (which is a story worthy of a separate post). But my boss travels pretty regularly and I usually make his reservations for him, so I’m familiar with the way the airlines work.

Last week, I made a reservation for Boss to fly to Huntsville, AL. He wanted to leave Monday afternoon (today) and return Thursday afternoon. If I couldn’t find a good flight Thursday, then he’d fly back Friday morning. I found one that worked for him so I bought the tickets through Expedia.

He left this afternoon in what he thought was enough time (to get through security, etc) to make his 4:45 flight, but I guess the time change kinda messed with the clock in his head and he left later than he wanted. Still, we figured he should arrive about 45 minutes to an hour before his flight, which should have been okay.

He arrived at the airport and 4:00 and called me…his flight took off ten minutes earlier.

“What?” I said. “That flight’s not supposed to leave for another 45 minutes!”

“I know,” he said. “Nevertheless, it’s gone. I need another flight.”

And that’s when the drama began.

The airline he was booked with, United, didn’t have any more flights this afternoon, so he was going to have to change airlines. I called Delta real quick and made a reservation. And of course, the time that Expedia was displaying for the Delta flight (5:35) was different than the one the ticket agent gave me on the phone (5:05). While I was doing that, Boss made his way to the Delta counter. I called him back and gave him the info, hoping that would be the end of it.

Of course, you know, it wasn’t.

He called again about 10 minutes later. Seems making that kind of flight change at the last minute highlights you to the TSA, which means extra security on you, which could mean delaying or missing the flight. So he wanted the info on the later flight (8:00 per Expedia, but who knows for sure?) and he said he would take care of everything from there. As of right now, I have no idea where he is. He could be in the air, eating dinner at the airport waiting for the later flight, or he could be driving home and will catch the 6:01 am flight tomorrow.

But the fun’s not over yet, folks.

Since he’s not using his original outbound ticket, the inbound one was going to be cancelled, unless I called United and reserved that portion of his flight (according to the agent at Expedia who, by the way, was surprised to hear about the early flight departure). We couldn’t make the changes then because, according to her computer, we were within one hour of the flight time (wrong—flight’s already gone!) I’d have to make the changes directly with United. Fine. So she connected me to United. I went through their little computerized menu, got to where I was holding for an agent…and got disconnected (show of hands for all who knew that would happen). I called again, went through the menu again, and this time hooked up with “Whatshername” ticket agent in “notanAmericancity”. Her accent was pretty strong, but she spoke slowly and clearly, so I understood her okay. To summarize our conversation, she said “well, your original reservation was made through a travel agency so you’ll have to make your changes through them.”

“No,” I said. “They said they couldn’t because we’re within one hour of the originally scheduled departure time so I have to deal with you directly.”

“Oh, okay, well, there’s nothing we can do then until after the trip is completed (note: meaning Friday) and you can then call and get a refund.”

“But what about the return portion of the ticket I already purchased? He’d like to take that flight home. How do we make sure that portion of the ticket stays active so he can use it?” Keep in mind, this is what the agent at Expedia told me to do.

“No, that portion cannot be used if the first portion goes unused. You have to buy a new return ticket and get a refund for the original ticket.”

Okay, I’m done. I hate it when two separate professionals in the same trade give you two different answers. I supposed the United agent was the one I should believe more because it’s her company, but I was done trying to talk to her.

“Let me speak to your supervisor.”

“Ma’am, she can’t make the return portion of your ticket active if you don’t use the first portion.”

“I want to speak to your supervisor.” Supervisors can do a lot more than the line agents, which is why I wanted to talk to someone above the agent. So she put me on hold points for her for not arguing too much. Ten minutes she comes back on the line.

“Ma’am, I spoke to my supervisor and there’s nothing we can do at this time. You’ll need to make a new return reservation and call on Friday for a refund.”

Well, say goodbye to those points you earned by NOT connecting me to your supervisor as I requested.

“Fine. Thank you. Good bye,” and I hung up. I was done dealing with her.

But the fun doesn’t end there, folks!

I get back online so I can make a brand new reservation for Boss’s return flight. And guess what I found? Anybody? Yes, you, there in the corner…you got it! Extra points to you! The flight at that time is no longer listed! He wanted to leave Huntsville around 3:30—which is what I had originally reserved—but that flight no longer exists. The latest direct flight leaves Huntsville at 1:35. There is one that leaves at 3:30, but it goes through Dallas and doesn’t get into Dulles until 11:55 at night! And it's an hour drive from the airport to here. I wouldn’t book my own worst enemy on that kind of flight.

So I gave up at that point and I went home. I’ll call Boss in the morning and leave him a message on his voice mail letting him know that the fun isn’t over yet. He’ll probably wind up staying Thursday night and leaving Huntsville on Friday morning.

What really ticks me off about this whole thing is the way United changed the flight times. I would think these kinds of changes aren’t made on a whim. They have to be planned out and scheduled carefully so as to be competitive and at the same time considerate of other airlines. If they knew these changes were going to be implemented, why couldn’t I have reserved the new times when I was booking the flight last Friday instead of times that weren’t going to be any good?

Like I said way back at the beginning, I’m not a frequent flyer, so I don’t have the answers to my frustration. You, there, in the corner…any ideas? What? Well, say goodbye to your points.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Still new to this "blogging" thing

Here's a big clue as to how new I still am to blogging...

The son of one of my cousins, Nick, attends Northeastern University in Boston. Earlier this week, a story appeared in the Boston news that Nick had disappeared...

And I'm blogging about it now, rather than when I first heard about it!

Nick disappeared after a Super Bowl party. Nothing was missing from his apartment except his laptop computer, cell phone and charger. He hadn't been heard from in weeks.

Link to article

But the story has a happy ending. Today, the papers report that he's been found...in Paris, France.

Way to go, Nick! If you're gonna screw up and drive everyone crazy, do it right!

Link to article


From what relatives tell me, there's always been a bit of a clash between Nick and his dad because their personalities are so alike. Nick's older brother dropped out of school to go to work, so I guess Nick had to one-up him by dropping out, not telling Mom and Dad that he dropped out, and running off to Paris! From what I hear, he actually was working over there and all I can say to that is, "Nick, if you want to take a year off from school to work in Paris, that sounds lovely...but tell your Mom and Dad! Don't just drop out and disappear and not tell anybody!"

Anyway, he's safe and he finally got in touch with his family. He'll be coming home within the next day or so. But stay tuned...just because he's coming home doesn't mean he's going to stay home.

Can't wait to see what Nick's younger brother does to one-up Nick...on second thought, yeah, I can wait.

Family...gotta love 'em!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Too, Too Funny

From Comics Curmudgeon

"We all had a good laugh at Garfield without his thoughts; but are you ready for Garfield minus Garfield? When will the nonstop abuse of poor Arbuckle end?"

Check it out...it's hilarious!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Scattergories MEME

Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following...they have to be real places, names, things...nothing made up!

WHAT IS YOUR NAME: Jacki
4 LETTER WORD: Jack (as in a car jack)
TV SHOW: Jack and Jill
CITY: Jacksonville
GIRL NAME: Jacki
DRINK: Jack Daniels
BOY NAME: Jack (I'm starting to sense a theme to this meme)
SOMETHING YOU WEAR: Jackboot
OCCUPATION: Jackhammer Operator
CELEBRITY: Jack Nicholson
FOOD: Jack Cheese (okay, Monterrey Jack)
SOMETHING FOUND IN A BATHROOM: Jacki's prescriptions
REASON FOR BEING LATE: Jacked up
CARTOON CHARACTER: Samurai Jack
SOMETHING YOU SHOUT: Jackpot!


Okay, let's try this again, without all the Jacks...

WHAT IS YOUR NAME: Jacki (sorry, but that is my name)
4 LETTER WORD: Jape (look it up)
TV SHOW: Jeopardy
CITY: Jessup (Maryland)
GIRL NAME: Joanna
DRINK: Jericho Julep
BOY NAME: James
SOMETHING YOU WEAR: Jeans
OCCUPATION: Jailer
CELEBRITY: John Stamos
FOOD: Jambalaya
SOMETHING FOUND IN A BATHROOM: John
REASON FOR BEING LATE: Just 'cause
CARTOON CHARACTER: Jiminy Cricket
SOMETHING YOU SHOUT: Jerk!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Brain Scan




Haven't posted in a long while because I've been working on my writing. I finally finished Chapter 3 today--mainly because my boss decided to close the office today due to weather. Hopefully now I'll be able to get some reading and crafts in, and of course, blogging.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I'm Back!

What a pain these last few weeks have been! My old PC finally had enough of all my blogs and games and gave up the ghost. I'd been having warning signs for a couple weeks...I'd been hearing this strange, tinny pinging when I started up Old Faithful in the morning which disappeared after a few minutes. So I didn't think much of it, but I knew it wasn't a good sign. Then one morning, it didn't stop pinging. That evening, I played it safe and spent about four hours backing up all my data onto thumb drives and CDs. The next day, it wouldn't start. The CPU fan had finally given up. Wonderful.

Part of the problem is the fact that the case sat on the floor. In case I ever failed to mention, there are four cats in my house. I think you all know where this is heading. I gave it a good cleaning out six months ago when I replaced the power supply (which had burned out from too much cat hair in the system) and a quick clean once a month or so after that, but apparently dust and hair had been building up under the fan and it finally burned out.

So now I was faced with a dilemma. Either spend $25 or so on a new CPU fan and keep the 6+ year old Faithful going or spend some of my tax refund and buy a new computer. That's part of the reason I haven't been on for a while...I was trying to decide what to do! And every techie I talked to basically said the same thing: Buying a new fan would fix the problem, but I'll be faced with buying a new PC within the next 18-24 months. And, of course, being techies, and being given a choice, they'd all go with a new system.

My decision was sealed when I went to the local Circuit City "just to see what they had." I wasn't looking for my dream computer--that's an $1800.00 Dell Laptop--but something that would let me read my blogs, play my games, e-mail and word processing. Usual home PC stuff. I'm not a heavy gamer, so I don't need a mega-graphics card, but I'm enough of a techie that I can tell when a system is not a good one and don't skimp on the RAM. And I found it. It's an HP Slimline with a 500G hard drive, 2G RAM, AMD Athlon 64 x2 Processor. The Slimline case means it's about 1/3 smaller than a standard CPU, which means it would fit beautifully on my desktop. Which means less cat hair clogging up the vents!

I was ready to buy right there and then, but--you guessed it--it wasn't in stock, wasn't in the local warehouse and wasn't available in any Circuit City in a 50 mile radius. I went home and, using my mother's PC, checked it out on line. Not only was it not available for 'order online/pick up at store' within 50 miles of home, but it wasn't available within 50 miles of my church (which is an hour away from where I live--long story). Being the savvy computer shopper, I logged onto Best Buy. We don't have one local, but there's one near my church...but they didn't have it in stock either.

The Computer Geek Gods were smiling on me, though. I could get it at the Frederick, MD store, an hour north of where I live. I didn't buy it right away. I debated for another day or so, then went ahead and made the purchase. Old Faithful would work fine with a new fan, but I really, really wanted a new PC. I picked it up on Saturday and I have been loading it up ever since. I love it...except for one thing...it's a Vista. I'm slowly getting used to it.


So now I'm back, AD has a new chapter of Star of Life on his blog (great, great story so far, AD...keep 'em coming!), I'm working hard to finish my writing assignment (Chapter 3, due Feb 22), and, well, I'll try posting a bit more often.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Revelation

I've come to a bit of a revelation this weekend.

I teach Sunday School at my church and this is something that I love to do. I'm good at it and I always feel confident when I'm teaching. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I'm teaching and working with my kids.

"So become a teacher," you say. To which I say, "I don't think so." You see, it's not the teaching that I enjoy, it's getting into the Word of God that I enjoy and sharing that knowledge with others.

I made a New Year's Decision--I don't make Resolutions because they're too easily broken. When I make a decision, I stick with it. And my decision was to spend every day in prayer. Even if it's only for a minute or two before I go to bed or before I get up in the morning, or if I spend half an hour or more talking with God, I do it every day. I pray for co-workers, for friends, for family, for people I've met on-line who need prayer. I may not pray for the exact same people every day, but I pray. And I pray for myself.

I've never asked God for guidance regarding my work, but I've prayed about work and co-workers. I don't blog about my work because I'm very aware of the fact that what goes on the internet can be seen by the world, and I wouldn't want to blog anything about my job that could come back to haunt me. Anyway, I think God is starting to finally guide me where He wants me to go. What I mean by that is not that God is finally guiding me, it's that I'm finally opening myself up fully to Him and listening to Him. I think God wants me to go into ministry.

Wow...when I type that I'm not sure what to think. I don't know if He wants me to be a pastor. That's not the feeling I get. It's more like He wants me to study the Word deeply, to become enmeshed in the Bible and find work that follows Him, that honors Him.

Where I am right now in my life, that isn't possible. I have to work to pay the mortgage on a house that, admittedly, I no longer want. With the market the way it is though, selling is a difficult proposition. I'm still working on my writing course, even though I haven't blogged much about it lately--I should get my latest assignment back any day now and I have to start writing Chapter 3. I'd love to make a living as a writer, but that's very difficult. Most new writers have "day jobs" to pay the bills. That's what I have to do.

I don't know where this revelation is going to lead me. Right now, it feels like Step One in a Thousand Step journey and there's a huge fog bank in my way so I can't see where the path goes. And it may only be one step, but for the first time in a very, very long time, it feels like the right step.

I guess there's only one thing I can do right now...well, two. One, see if there are any theology programs in nearby or on-line colleges that I can get into, and two, pray.

Maybe I'll pray first.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ha Ha Ha Ha

Another Family In Need

My heart just breaks when I read of situations like these. Take a look here to read a story of injustice to children. Chris and Melody Byrne are in a vicious custody battle with her ex--a man so concerned with winning, he doesn't care about the cost, and I'm not talking financial.

I've never been in their situation, but I've sent a little help their way, and they're on my prayer list. See if you can help a little too.

Latest on Sophie

I can't believe I forgot to post this update...How could I forget to let my loyal readers--all two of you--know the latest on Sophie?

Monday, Dec 24, Sheynah went to the hospital to feed Sophie and she did so much better holding down breast milk. About an hour after Sheynah went home, the hospital called her. "We're getting ready to release your daughter...come and get her."

Sheynah was so flustered, she didn't know what to do! She called Mike and he was like, "Um, honey, go get her?" So of course she did, and little Sophie was home on Christmas Eve!

I would have been thrilled for Sheynah if she had been able to hold Sophie by Christmas...I never would have guessed she would be home by Christmas.

My sister and her husband (Oma and Grandpa--my sister is now Oma since she's Sheyna's step-mom) flew down to see her this past weekend and all Oma could talk about was how tiny Sophie is...of course, Oma's three children were all over 8lbs, so naturally a 5-pounder looks tiny.

So if anyone doubts the power of prayer, have them come talk to me. So many prayers went up through various prayer groups I'm connected with, God just had to let this precious child go home to her family in time for His own Son's birthday.

Had I posted this when it happened, I'd close by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, so now I can only wish you a happy January!