Saturday, July 30, 2005

Scene from a Restaurant

Imagine a new server at our Fridleykins. Find two women sitting in the booth, full from the dinner they just ate. One has a bit of an odd sense of humor. The server approaches the table with the bill and this conspires:

Server: Is there anything else I can get you ladies?
B: Chicken.
S: Chicken?
B: No thanks.

Then imagine the utter look of bewilderment.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Helllllooooo Officer!

Work has started to have a regular schedule and I am finding I have more energy lately. I love this! The other nice part of it is that I have time to go out with Char after work.

On Tuesday night, five of us left the bank and headed to Fridleykins for some food. It was Char, Maria, Corrie, Steve, and I. (Maria and Corrie are both other bankers at the call center. Corrie is still on the team I was a lead for and Maria has been promoted to a sales position.) Of course we had a good time talking and eating and afterwards, Char and I headed to the pool hall for a bit of free pool (ladies night).

On Wednesday, Char and I went to Subway for food and then out to the pool hall to visit with Tony and play a bit of stick.

Last night, Char and I met up with DM at The Chalet, played some darts, sang a little, and talked with Liz, Bryan, and Andrew. DM has a post soon about this night. Once we dropped DM off, Char and I ran to Fridleykins to grab some food and there was this terrible group of men yelling about military experience and how they needed to avoid the cops. There were two Fridley police officers in the building at the time. Let's just say these men were morons.

Well, one of the groups of men decided to take off without paying for food. The Fridley police went out after him, not catching him at all. When they came back, one of the officers spoke to our favorite server, Jen. Char and I got a good look at him.

And then we were giggly. He was adorable! Just cute!

I'm having a good time at work. The new bankers have started and there are challenges, but the challenges are fun and positive. This group did a wonderful job in training and I love it. They are ahead of where I expected them to be and I'm so proud of the job Steve is doing when he coaches them. I'm having fun at work. It is a lot of work and I'm busy all the time (especially with meetings. I have meetings all the time!) But our team is doing great and I think we're only going to get better.

Plans for the weekend include:
Tonight - playing pool after work with Andy and Char and then probably getting food at Fridleykins.
Saturday - picking up DM for a scrapping session (I'm getting farther on Portugal pictures!)
Sunday - DM and I will visit my dad (I need to do laundry really bad!) and then going to karaoke
Monday - DM and I will scrap during the day a bit and go out to dinner with my mom, her boyfriend, and my dad to Manny's Steakhouse. This is in regards to my grandma that passed away in May. We're having a time to remember my grandma.

I have to give an interview for a banker position today and I have a meeting with my boss (1 on 1) for an hour. The rest of my work tonight will be spending time with new bankers and trying to get through some of the quality assurance our team received. Should be fun!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Steak & Penguins

It was a feast all around tonight. My stomach was happy, happy, happy when DM and I went out to dinner and I had a good steak (and bread and an onion and good soup and a baked potato) and afterwards I was able to eat up penguins with my eyes!

DM and I went to go see March of the Penguins at the theater James works at tonight. He was extremely nice and let us in to see the show free-of-charge, although I have no problem supporting the movie and his theater. But he told me last night at karaoke that if we paid he'd kill me. I guess I didn't want to die because someone wouldn't take my $8.

March of the Penguins was amazing. It's a National Geographic film narrated by Morgan Freeman and it is all about how emperor penguins mate and raise their young. We both laughed and cried. DM may have cried a few more times than I (considering I did not cry at one of the previews that she let out a loud sob).

I had a fantastic evening and enjoyed DM's company. She'll have to write about her bus adventure and the rain, but my evening was perfect. It's good to know that my week is starting off right. The new bankers hit the floor on Sunday and I'll be hopping this week. But I do get to go back to nights (which I am looking forward to). Now, if I could convince the center manager to not hold the all manager meeting at 8:30 AM* on Wednesday and shoot for a time like, oh, I don't know, 2?, all would be great. I may be a bit tired a couple more days here.

*Read that as about the time I finally hit REM sleep. I like going to bed around 5 AM and 8:30 is an evil, evil time of day. The sun is up and everything.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Power, Electricity

I am in no way talking about excitement or the ability to command people here. No, I'm talking about actual electricity and the power company.

Yesterday, there was a storm here in Minnesota. While I slept, the winds and rain came (I think I actually slept through the tornado warning - oops). I did wake up, oblivious to the recent storm and got ready for work. Once I stepped outside, I thought, "Hey, the heat broke a little. It must have rained." The water droplets on my car helped in my theory.

When I arrived at work, I noticed a tree was down near the parking lot. That must have been a heck of a storm. The people inside told me that our call center had been evacuated to an inner hallway on the bottom floor and wild stories of lightning and sheets of rain were told. It did not rain after I got to work.

Leaving my apartment, the power was still on. Since there was no more rain or heavy winds, one would think that when I arrived home, the power would still be on. This is a fairly logical assumption. Not true, but a logical assumption.

Once I finally was able to go home from work (Andy's new team lead takes a long time to get off of supervisor calls. After a 50-hour work week, I was not looking forward to being there putting in more time waiting for her to finish a call that should have been 5 minutes long, not an hour, but I stayed) I went home, thinking I'd heat up some lasagna my mom sent home with me.

My apartment building was black and there were people hanging outside the front door, walking tenants to their apartments with a flashlight. My plans of dinner (electric stove), blogging (need power for the computer - the cable modem still worked though!), and watching a couple of movies (you guessed it, needs power) were thrown to the wayside.

Luckily, my iPod still had quite a bit of power left and I was able to have music and then I scrapbooked by candlelight. Then I read a book by candlelight. When I awoke today, the power was still out and I scrapped some more. The power has finally been regained now at 3:30 in the afternoon.

I had forgotten how quiet it is when there is no power. The air conditioner was not humming when I got home. The refrigerator was not making its rattling noises and the little sounds did not come from my computer.

At least the lights are back on and I don't have to take a shower in the dark!

I do also have to say how wonderful it is that plumbing and electricity do not work together. That's a happy, happy thing.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Effing Cool!

This is really just a test to see how this works and of course this is the clip I found. It's from New Year's Eve and it is DM. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A Strange Jumble of Odd Topics

My life right now consists of work, work, little sleep, fast food, and work. Then there is the occasional karaoke night. So, in preview of what is to come in this posts, most of these things relate to work.

At karaoke on Sunday night, DM pointed out that Andrew's hair (a new mohawk with the sides growing back in) resembles Steve's (team lead) hair. How did I manage to hire the guy and never notice that he has a semi-mohawk? Am I that oblivious to men's hair? Steve walked up today and I looked at him and said, "Oh my. You do seem to have a mohawk." What got me was his response. It was so factual. "Yeah. I tame it down for work a little." I learn more and more about my team lead daily and I'm finding that he's a pretty fun person. He's a rock star. Okay, he's a drummer in a band that hasn't hit it famous yet, but he's a rock and roller. Funky.

Another Steve story. His previous manager (who just so happens to be Keem and DM's roommate and an AWESOME person) has his annual review ready. Part of the review is a development plan. Since Steve is no longer a banker, Jeff thought it would be good for me to write up the development plan. Sounds like a good plan (that Jeff - he's brilliant!) and I believe in employee participation and empowerment so I asked Steve to think about areas where he'd like to improve to help his career. His response, "My biceps." For some odd reason, this led to a conversation trying to justify a business need for Steve to work on his biceps.

I only had to go to two meetings today. One was a teleconference (where the goofball manager managed to distract me long enough that I didn't even realize the meeting was over) and the other was the meeting I get to have with new bankers when they graduate from training. Starting Sunday, our team is doubling in size. There are six new bankers joining us from the training queue and I'm excited about all of them. This group is extremely talkative (not great for call handle times but fantastic for a learning and sales environment) and their questions are amazing. The meeting with them, which is scheduled for a normal 30 minutes to an hour (including time for them to set up their new desks), managed to last over an hour and a half (without the time for them to set up their desks). I gave each of them probably 30 pieces of paper and worried that it was too much. They loved it! I was just thrilled by the positive energy.

I'm getting to the point at work where it's not a struggle every day to get the team to perform. The bankers are learning more and retaining more each day and the hand holding is decreasing. That, plus the fact I'm almost back to nights, has me filled with more energy all the time.

On Monday, I went over to my mom's for dinner. I played with Chip, Pepper, Smoke, and Mac (which my mom loves because sometimes she doesn't know how to play with each of them. She knows how to feed them and give them attention, but flat out playing games escapes her a bit). She made lasagna for dinner and it was delicious. She is rather excited right now. Acceptance of Grandma's passing has sunk in and Mom misses her terribly, but understands it was time. Grandma's estate has been settled and Mom got a bit of change sent her way. She's paying off her mortgage, about 15 years early. This is good for Mom.

Char is on vacation from work. She and Tom left today to get Tom to Texas. She'll be back, but it may be only for a couple of weeks. She is moving to Texas with Tom for the year and I'm going to miss them both terribly. It's already hard to know that Tom is gone for a year. They have both been begged to start blogging so that DM and I can keep up with their lives.

The girl who replaced me at work as Andy's lead is having reality sink in. The old team is trying to adjust to a different personality type than me. I feel a bit good about the fact they are all still so loyal to me but I really don't want to see her struggling. The bankers on that team still approach me with their successes, looking for praise. They also still come to me if they are concerned about certain things. They want me to be the go-between for her and Andy.

I went shopping on iTunes again tonight. The highlights of what I purchased were:

  • You Had Me - Joss Stone
  • Viva Las Vegas - Elvis Presley
  • Mama Told Me Not to Come - Tom Jones & Stereophonics
  • Redneck Woman - Gretchen Wilson

Not bad for $4.

About a week ago I bought a new album off of iTunes. It's called, "The Vanity Project" by "The Vanity Project." It's actually a project by Stephen Page, one of the lead singers for BareNaked Ladies. The feel is different than a BNL album, but I do enjoy it. My mom has also become recently addicted to iTunes and I brought over 50 albums to her house to see if any of them held music she'd like. She wanted about 25 of them.

Friday night holds a bit of fun for me. One of the bankers who left our call center called me up to see if we could get together. Jay is going to join Andy and I for our Friday night pool night. A few of the other bankers may join us too. I miss Jay and I was bouncing when he called.

And, if there are any lurkers out there that have not said hello in a bit, I would welcome news of what's going on in your life. Dude, I miss you. You know who you are.

Things I Have Learned...

...Since I was promoted.

  • Tele-conferences are boring. The only way to add spice to a dry meeting talking about banking products is a goofball supervisor who likes to play with the toys in your own manager's office.
  • Letting go of old job responsibilities is difficult. Now that Steve (my team lead) is back from leave and feeling better, maybe I should stop doing his job for him. He'd probably look less bored.
  • My email Inbox will never be empty again.
  • The To Do list never gets smaller.
  • New people will get there and it takes infinite patience. Our team will struggle every time we get new people.
  • Employees will tell graphic details of their illnesses to their supervisor. No, I don't need to know the details about the intestinal blockage. Telling me that you are sick will do.
  • My desk will never be clean again.
  • Budgets do not stretch as far as one would think.
  • Since cloning is not a possibility, I will feel like I'm being pulled in 20 directions at once at all times.
  • High expectations do not stop at the banker level.
  • Respect is mutual. Give it and you will get it back, eventually.
  • It feels good to be missed by an old team.
  • People do appreciate it when you believe in them.
  • It is not worth worrying about a team lead being 5 minutes late every day. He will learn that I do notice when he walks in the door.
  • Everything I ever say is remembered. Being true to my word is more important and admitting error goes much farther than changing tune.
  • People, as much as they say they do not like micro-management, love attention. Positive attention goes a long way.
  • No matter what my opinion of a person is, it is always better to have the person believe that I believe in them.
  • Employees inherently want to please.
  • Getting up early is hard and can drain a person quite quickly.
  • Prevention and preparation goes much farther than dealing with a problem only after it happens.

The past month and a half has flown by very quickly. My new team, the bankers that started from scratch, are starting to perform marvelously and it is starting to feel more like fun than like work. My team lead has returned to work (and worked more than a week now!) and having that extra person really helps. I can delegate a bit better (I'm working on this) and doing his job for him did put a strain on me. Sleeping odd hours each night and eating irregularly did not help me kick this cold as quickly as I should have, but I see a more consistent sleeping, eating, and socializing schedule arriving soon.

Starting next week, I have more new bankers and our team will probably take a dip in performance again, but that is okay. I have proven to myself that it can be done, we can be a great team. My confidence is high and I've learned little lessons along the way.

My blogging has decreased quite a bit over the last month. I have not been commenting or reading as much as I'd like and my daily posting has fallen away. This is something that bothers me, if no one else. I write here because I want to get things out and I've been holding feelings in because I don't have the time or when I do have the time, I don't have the energy. Once my schedule returns to normal, my blogging habits should resume.

There's a million posts in my head. Half written posts line my notebook and stories are waiting to be told. They will come. If for no one else but me.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

In Which I Put Too Much Meaning Into Nothing

Long days, long week, stupid cold. There's a ton going on in my life right now and the time to blog has been sparse. Same old story.

Trying to hold onto the little bit of a social life I still claim I have, I went out after work tonight with Char to the pool hall. When we walked in, I recognized a guy that I have not seen in almost two years. He is the son of the current owner of the old pool hall I used to frequent and was someone I saw almost every day for two years in a time that seems like a lifetime ago.

It was bound to happen. By going to this other pool hall, I knew one of these days I would see someone from the old hang out that still goes there and the question would come up, "Why don't you go to Bugs anymore?" I found out tonight that the question does linger and it is sometimes answered by a few old friends there. There is a guy that used to hang out at that pool hall that I dislike to the depths of my soul and my choice is to avoid him.

This guy I ran into tonight (not the one I dislike) is a guy that I don't care one way or another for. He was a regular, but not in the "regular" sense. He was family of the owners, not a friend that liked the atmosphere. He told me that just last week people were talking at Bugs about how I don't visit anymore and that if anyone saw me, they should invite me in. It's been over four years since I was a fixture in the place and the people still remember me and still want me to come back.

And I feel like crap because I dropped a place I felt at home, I abandoned friends and my routine, all because I didn't like one person. There are times I remember why I am happy I don't go there anymore, but there are also times I miss being able to just go out and not feel like I had to drag a friend along. I do miss being a regular, I miss feeling like it was "my" place to be.

One of these days, probably when Char gets back from her trip to Texas next week (another long story), I will probably make an appearance. This has a much deeper meaning to me than anyone else and it may cause some feelings to resurface. I'm afraid to walk in those doors. I'm afraid I'll like it. I'm afraid I'll feel at home. And I'm also afraid I'll feel guilty for what I left behind.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Facts of Life

Last night, as Char and I played a couple games of pool (which is probably a reason why I am so tired but I really, really want my night schedule back! One more week. I keep telling myself that and it's getting harder and harder to get to work early. In fact, I'm thinking today is a good day to be there at 1:30. Training. That's why. Uh-huh. Yep. I believe that. Sure) we witnessed a man that has not embraced his age with dignity.

I'm talking about male pattern baldness here. At a nearby table, we saw a man who appeared to be in his early 40's whose hair (or lack of hair) was black and greasy. He had the crown (you know, where the top of his head is shiny but he still has hair on the sides and back). This man also seemed to have a small patch of hair, about the circumference of a quarter, just above the middle of his forehead. This patch of hair was long and stringy and he had maybe the worst combover I've seen on a real person. (There have been cartoons that show this.)

If he had put the patch of hair into a ponytail, it would have been as long as mine. It was slicked and starting to fall away from the glossy palette of his head and utterly gross.

In this day and age, there are solutions for going bald. Medications or hair transplants work wonders. If you're not so inclined to try those options, keeping your existing hair clean cut can be a solution. Shaving one's head, if the head is a good shape, is an option. Some men choose to wear hats. Combovers are just as bad as mullets!

Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew. It was gross. Mainly because of all the grease in his hair, but still, ew!

Saturday, July 09, 2005


After almost an entire month of procrastination, I have finally updated my links. What you will notice is that Mark (Meandering musings muster madness) has been moved up to the "IRL Friends" section. I should have done this much sooner.

I also added a few links to the "Discovered and Admired" section. There are a few more I'd like to add but I can't remember them as I've been awake for about a 1/2 hour. Let me know if I've missed you.

One of the reasons I update my links is because I just don't remember to visit any sites unless they are there. It's terrible. I want to increase my reading of other blogs and I really need to dedicate more time to it if this is something I want.

The last post I wrote was about the bombings in London. I mentioned that I do have a friend who is in London and that Andy and I were concerned about his safety. Andy emailed him and he is fine, his quote was, "I'm good, but it was a little too close for comfort." I still feel for all the friends and families of the people who were hurt or killed.

And now, it is time for completely useless drivel! That's right folks, it's time for random searches that managed to produce this site. Some frighten me, some make sense, and others are perplexing. Enjoy! [Any additional notes are in brackets like these.]

girls urin*ting standing up
how long companies keep may be recorded for quality purposes
daddy's l*ttle girl (photos) (stories) (fantasy)
how to throw a punch
now here comes the night (meaning) (piano) [Rob Thomas song]
how to deal with stupid (friend) (people) [Multiple searches]
hypothesis and validate a research study
lyrics Jenny says turn
elderly shouldn't be allowed to drive stories
cowboy boots stories - gay s*x
sheepshead anonymous
recurring themes in the godfather and apocalypse now
sheepshead movies
harleys boots
free very y*ung girls sp*nking stories
brian wilson lying in bed
when the hour is upon us [Rob Thomas song again]
daddys l*ttle girls
stories of l*ttle girls with old*r guys
taco and chip image
time to throw boys a lifeline to learning
meaning nyah
sheepshead addiction
The Dean The Shape I'm in lyrics
bottle rockets & firecrackers photo photos pic
froggy love image
Night Lights shops that want to buy from other stories
Jeronimos monster
Mosterio dos jeronimos
sp*nking young b*ys stories
high school reunion jokes
past time princess sheepshead bay
reputation proceeds me
v*brating plows
sheepshead nursing home
senior picture poses
boys getting en*mas stories
fozzy bear image
stories happy
funny clips wedding
and when the fog has finally lifted from my cold and
five year high school reunion and wha
en*ma story forced
stories I s*cked the m*lky n*pples of my cousin sister
en*ma site:
coftea ingredient
seeing people that are not there
Pool table stories
S*xy bedtime stories
Fr*nkie mun*z is hot
Hypothesis that was used to validate a research study
Cowboy mouth shower beer
Semetary stories ONLINE
Scrapbooking with lisa bearson volume 2
Stories of dad holding his en*ma
Matchbox 20 I don’t want to be lonely no more
Leech lobby touts
The only thing that remains the same is change lyrics
Portie stuffed animals
Salary for walgreen’s pharmacist intern
Big tease
I don’t want to cry no more, I don’t want to have to pay for this
What does the strange grief talks about
Cle*vage oops stories
Dye red to blonde
Art of the silent treatment kiersey
Roll of quarters "troy ny"
"b*th bro*ks" banking [* to deter future searches]
Scott plate iowa
Carrot pants
Conan obrien on location ferrari taurus
Mother lady friend en*ma boy
Stories of g*rls smelling socks
Stories about not following instructions
Tutenstein frankenstein
Copy of training test from razzoo’s
Jason was crying
Receipe for cheese won tons
Baby have some mercy please don’t make me beg on bended knees oh please – jazz lyrics
Gemini dream moody blues
Life stories of the mentally insane
Pictures of l*ttle b*ys taking en*mas
For all my teeth crowns
Mercy mercy mercy shaw lyric
x-files waterloo iowa
mix up languages
original dukes of hazards
lyrics latifah your love is like a chunk of gold you used to be so soft and sweet
mom en*ma boy
deann donovan
the drunken uncle sheepshead
karaoke stories wanted
lying in bed brian wilson
dark tower gunslinger and other ch*ld p*rn authors
j*ggly bell*es
wopatui recipe
deann donovan bureaucracy
the drunken uncle sheepshead

Makes me wonder what type of site this is.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Words are Hard to Find

We remember moments, not days. This is a proverb that I've seen credited to various people, cultures, and such. I don't know. I think we do remember events of days and the day will etch itself in our minds.

Today the world sat stunned, angry and sad and afraid, of what happened in London. After such joyful news, the Olympics of 2012, the city was paralyzed when four explosions of hatred signified that no one was safe, that terror would always be there, hiding in the background, ready to show its ugly head at any time.

Detachment. That's how I've always dealt with tragic news. On 9/11 the news came to me through a friend, this was no different. It was through reading Johnny's site that I heard of the news. My reaction was shock and anger and sadness. Mostly sadness. For those who were deprived of their lives. For those family and friends who were worried about those they love. For the rest of the world, the world that has innocent eyes and still believes in the good of others.

I make no claims to understand the reasoning behind the attacks. Understanding is something I don't want. I do not want to know why a group of people could truly believe hurting others was the right thing to do. All I know is that hatred and prejudice were the motives and they are ugly, ugly things.

Belief in a greater power is something I do have, yet I have doubts about the teachings of man. Any time a group claims to know the will of God, I question it. A group that claims God wants to kill those who do not have the identical beliefs of that group makes me feel angry.

Hatred is not something I want to carry in my heart. Hatred for a group of people is not something I accept openly. Religious types have quoted, "Hate the sin, love the sinner." It's hard to do. In no way can I love these sinners, the ones who have hurt so many and done it so blindly. But hate an entire religion because of these actions? I still cannot do it. I do hate the individuals who did this. And yet, hatred is what spawned this tragedy. I refuse to hate the people of an entire religion because of the acts of a few. But those who choose to act in this way no longer gain any respect. They lost that respect when they decided to hurt other human beings in the name of their "God."

It is strange, the reactions of the people. In going to work today, I heard a few people speaking of the news and I knew others did not know what happened. There was a group of people standing outside the front doors as I was walking in and they were discussing the events. One seemed to have all the facts, the facts I had just read on before I left for work. 33 were confirmed dead at that time. Hundreds were injured. The faces of the people around were stunned, sad. Eyes did not sparkle. I would be willing to bet that most of the Americans reacting to the news had flashes of 9/11 going through their heads.

Terrorism is a word that unfortunately has become part of our regular vocabulary. It makes me sad to know the loss of innocence in the world. It makes me want to become a cynic, a person who doubts the decency and good in humanity. There is something inside me that still holds onto my beliefs though. I guess I have to believe that humans are good, it is ideas and life events that change us. People make a choice, a choice to look for good instead of bad. A choice to react in a good way, instead of looking for revenge.

Maybe I don't know what I'm trying to say. I'm confused over the events of today. I know I am angry and sad. I know that the world suffered a blow today, a blow when change and promise were so close. People were supposed to come together to make it better. Better for the world. And then hatred reared its ugly head.

I talked with Andy today about the events. It was all the facts, no emotion vocalized. That's what I feel in a lot of the Americans I've talked to today. "What happened?" "How many dead?" "Who did this?" These are the phrases I kept hearing. I guess it was a relief not to hear phrases of hatred and I suppose those will rise, in time as the shock wears off and reality sets in. When I spoke with Andy, we discussed the fact we have a mutual friend living in London. Is he okay? The fear sets in. Our young American friend who has overcome so much in his life, is he doing okay?

I am not a religious person, as I mentioned time and time again. Rarely will I pray. Tonight I pray for the safety of a friend, for the quick recovery of those who were hurt, and I pray for swift justice and hope to return to the world.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Five Things I Miss From My Childhood

DM tagged me back in the middle of June. Times have been a busy for me, but I think procrastinating is the main reason that I have not completed this yet. Here I go.

First, the rules:

Remove blog #1 from the following list and bump everyone up one place; add your blog's name in the number five spot. You need to link to each of the blogs for much cross pollination of the other blogs.

1. Lyvvie's Limelight
2. The Cerebral Outpost
3. Meandering Musings Muster Madness
4. Green Duckies and Other Tales of Dana
5. Sheepshead and Other Stories

Next, select four new friends to add to the pollen count. (Not obligated to partake):

1. Matt (if he ever blogs again - it's been awhile)
2. Larry
3. Johnny (no obligation remember. But if you feel like it, you can do it. Don't worry if you don't.)
4. June

In no particular order, here are the top 5 things I miss from my childhood.

1. Summer vacation. Yes, it sounds childish, but then, this is a MEME about childhood. What I miss the most about summer vacation is the games that were played. It was a ritual of mine. Each day I would get up and spend the day with my cousin, Ellen, and play with Taco Bell. Each summer we would have a different favorite movie, one that was watched so many times the tape started to wear thin.

One of the summers, our pick was Summer School, a terrible 80's movie about high school students just trying to pass their big test. As we watched the movie each day, cool inside with the air conditioning to block out the humidity, we would play a card game. It was a rummy game with chips on a plastic board and I remember the game would last for hours, always continuing after we had pushed the rewind button on the VCR. Once the movie was over, it was time to put on a record or two. My parents had a substantial collection of vinyl, most of it from the early 70's. There were a few records that grabbed my attention and my cousin and I would listen to them over and over.

What band/artist grabbed so much of our attention on those lazy summer afternoons? Why, it was the Monkees. For some odd reason, I just adored songs like "Daydream Believer" and "Last Train to Clarksville".

Once our game had finished, we would break out the box full of old Barbies, some were even hand-me-downs from Ellen herself. Ellen, a large fan of soap operas, would help create stories about Barbie, her evil empire and her mischievous intentions. I've written a bit about this before, back when this blog was just starting out. You can find that post here.

Summer afternoons were also time to play with Taco Bell, the family dog that I love so much. Many afternoons were lost, just walking him in the woods, or running back and forth together in the yard. Sometimes he and I would just sit in my room, I reading a book or playing with stuffed animals. There was a set of shelves in my room, shelves my dad put up to hold all of my stuffed animals. Taco loved small spaces; we used to call him a Cave Dog. He would find a spot at the bottom of the shelves and just curl up. It didn't matter what we did, we just spent time together. I laughed and smiled more often when he was around. He was beautiful each and every day. I miss him the most.

2. Another part of my childhood that I miss is the time I spent with my dad in the program through the Y.M.C.A. I have written about this in the past as well, you can find the posts I did about these times here and here. It was a time for me to bond with my father and I always was able to have a great time in the program. The disasters, like the ice house, were even good stories to tell after the fact.

Each year, we would have a lock-in at one of the local Y.M.C.A.s. I remember getting excited about being able to play games all night long, swim in the pool for hours, and exercise in the gym. My dad always would swim under the water, pretending to be a shark, making the duh-dum noise so classic to the Jaws films. I, like the other girls in the pool, would scream with laughter, trying to out swim him. He always let the girls win.

I treasure the time I was able to spend with my dad in this program. Someday, if I ever have children and one or more happen to be female, I will want my husband to devote time to the daughter. My hopes would be to find a program like this one, one where a girl can learn those things that are not typically taught to girls (like archery or animal tracking). The memories I have of this time are cherished in my mind.

3. One constant in my childhood was the time I spent in the bowling alley. Maple Lanes was a second home to me for many years. I joined a Saturday morning youth league when I was only 10 and stayed in that league until I graduated high school. As much as school was a social event, bowling was my a place to see my circle of friends.

While other kids were getting up to watch cartoons, I was getting up and getting my parents to drop me off at the bowling alley. I remember the thrill of my first 200+ game. I remember the different teams and friends I made from different schools.

Once I had a talk with my parents about them watching me while I bowled. Some other kids would have their parents there for every game and mine would usually just drop me off and pick me up later. At one point I had wanted them there, watching each game, each shot. Then I realized that my parents were supportive. They took me to the place where I could have fun and trusted me enough to behave without their watching over me. They did appear at the events when it was appropriate for parents to be there. It made me more independent and gave me freedom to form friendships on my own.

I do miss those Saturday mornings, even if I could never get up early enough now to join a morning league.

4. Snow. Yes, it still snows every year, but for some reason it seemed like snow was much more fun as a child. The first snowfall of every year would be a time to run out and make a snow angel or snowman. When the snow would get deep in the backyard, Taco would try to run around and once we got Chip we laughed as he out ran Taco. Chip's legs were just a bit longer than Taco's and it was the only time he could out run his big brother.

Some of the snow memories I have are from the times with my dad and the program at the Y. We went sledding and skiing (oh, that was a bad experience, Beth + Skis = Bad Combo). I also remember the first snowfall when I was in middle school. It was the last year I went trick-or-treating and I've written about it before. You can find that post here.

When it would snow and our family lived in the town home neighborhood, the busstop would get plowed and the snow would be piled up. The kids at the stop always tried to play King of the Mountain. There were a few games of this where I was declared the winner. The boys would also try to "whitewash" all the girls but always backed down a bit when it came to pushing my face into the snow. I guess beating up a boy in kindergarten helped. I would then protect the girls from the boys when it snowed.

Another thing I remember and miss about the first snowfall of every year was something my mom would share with me. Grandma used to believe that if you washed your feet in the first snowfall of each year you would not get any winter colds. It's just an old wive's tale, but still something I think of when it snows.

5. Maybe the last thing I remember about childhood and miss is my mom's cooking. Sure, everyone says that their mom is the greatest cook and I'm sure we all have great cooks in our families. My mom learned from the best though. Grandma was an excellent cook and my mom has taken it too an entirely different realm.

Mom works for a food production company and part of her job is to make food. I'm not talking about making food for dinner, but more like developing new products to test on the market. She's a senior processing technologist and has been known to make butter, cheese, and caramel popcorn just because she has some extra ingredients lying around at work.

But at home. At home Mom would make the foods I now identify as comfort foods. Garlic injected turkey, sweet dill pickles, spaghetti sauce from scratch. No matter what Mom made, it was always good. I only remember one food experiment failing and that was probably more my fault than hers. We tried to make bagels once. Bagels that turned out to be runny. One of my favorite meals of my mom's would be hot beef sandwiches. She would make a roast and then we'd just put it on bread, pour gravy all over it, and eat up some mashed potatoes with it.

Now I'm hungry.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Belated 4th of July

For those American readers, I hope your holiday was safe and fun! My day was rather uneventful, even if it did include loud, colorful displays in the sky.

When I got up today, I checked email, etc., and then went to my dad's house. We tried to view a trailer on his dial-up for the penguin movie that I want to see so badly but am totally bummed out because it is not playing anywhere near me. Can you see my pouty bottom lip? It's here, behind the computer screen.

Dad and I went to lunch at Jake's, a sports bar near where we both live. Not bad. I'm not overly impressed, but it was not horrible. Then it was back to his house and we brought the old dart board in from the garage to play a few games.

I headed home, looking for a time killer before heading out to witness the sky displays. Scrapbooking was the activity that helped me through those couple of hours. (Scrapbooking update! I have the pages done about the 25th of April bridge, the Monument to the Discoveries, and the Sé cathedral from our Portugal trip. I'll take pictures of the pages and post them on my scrapbooking site soon.)

For years I have been working on the 4th of July and missed out on the fun. When I hung out at the pool hall, I usually worked on Independence Day and would meet up with the crew after the fireworks had all been lit. Three years ago, I helped DM, Keem, and Jeff move over the 4th. Last year I worked again, so fireworks have been something I've missed out on. I wanted to see the displays this year, but everyone seemed to have plans. (Or lack of plans - like DM who is sicker than sick and just miserable.) Char was working and my dad was going to bed early. I should have called Matt. I haven't heard from Matt in awhile now. I hope he and Christine and the kids had a great 4th of July. Matt - you should call me. Dang you.

I ended up driving up to Blaine to see their display. I found a road just north of the area where the fireworks were being set off and was able to park just along the road, having a perfect view between two large trees. Images have been loaded onto Flickr and I'll include a couple at the bottom of this post.

After the fireworks, I headed to work to find Char. We ended up going to the pool hall and shot a few games. Now I'm tired and ready for bed. Nothing too exciting, just a carefree, worry-free holiday.

Fireworks 070
Grand Finale

Fireworks 020

Fireworks 063
Happy 4th!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Maybe I do want kids...

Back and forth my opinion goes. Today I went to a 3rd of July party at Kelly's home. Kelly is a woman I work with and have enjoyed since she started at N.A.B.A.B.N.A. She had invited a bunch of people from our call center, I was the only to show up. So instead of creating a corner of N.A.B.A.B.N.ians (I just make up words, it's okay), I helped watch the kids.

Other than a baby sitter of the kids that showed up much later, I think I was the only adult who wasn't married or who had kids at that party. Most of the couples had at least two little ones running around and no child was over the age of 5. Kelly had a pool, sprinkler, and a slip 'n slide set up for the kids and they all ran around in their suits.

Even when a kid fell down and cried, it was fun. There was so much joy on the faces of the little ones and they all had unique ideas. Some would take water from the pool to water Kelly's plants. Some liked to wash the drive way. Some even just liked to splash around in the water.

I had an excellent time and also had a bit of fun taking pictures of the kids. Scrapbooking is one of my passions, as I've mentioned before, and I rarely get the opportunity to take those adorable pictures of kids to make the best pages.

Here are a few of the pictures I took from the day.

Kendra (4)
Stick 'em Up! This is Kendra. She was so friendly and so animated all day.

Kendra (10)
She was trying to throw the water balloon at her grandma. It wouldn't pop. She had that same balloon for over an hour!

Kendra (11)

Kendra (26)

Fireworks (6)
Kelly's husband, Aaron, was lighting legal fireworks for the kids to watch. One of the little ones said, "I hear real fireworks!" when a house down the street lit off a couple larger displays. Aaron's response? "Thanks."

Sparklers (10)
The kids watch the fireworks, all saying, "Oooh," and "Aaah," and "Do it again Uncle Aaron!"

Evan (5)
This little guy is Evan. He was having a great time with little water balloons, balls, and a push mower that made popping sounds.

Kierra (4)
Kierra is Kelly's daughter. I liked this picture because Kierra had wanted Kelly to take her ponytail out. To do this, Kierra had to hold Kelly's beer. Just amusing.

Water Balloons (3)
The water balloons were massively popular with the kids and they all hid behind the wall, waiting for Kelly at one point. The "Only people in swimsuits" rule went right out the window!

Cute, cute, cute, cute, cute, cute, cute, cute!

I HAVE to see this!

It's a movie about penguins! How perfect!!!

Taking Pictures...

Those who read this site regularly or know me in person will already know that a passion in my life is taking pictures. Even as a child, I was fascinated by cameras and pictures and this carried into my adult life. I feel absolutely lost without my camera.

I wrote a couple days ago about the fact my digital camera was stolen from my purse in a hidden location at work. This put me into a world of pissed-off that I had never believed existed.

This is the camera that was stolen:


It was a 5.0 Mega Pixel, 4x optical zoom, Carl Zeiss lens, Sony camera. I bought it in June of 2003 and it rarely left my side. That camera made it through a trip to Vegas with DM and a trip to Portugal with DM to see Johnny. I recently used it on our way to and from Tomah to meet Mark. I've taken pictures of Taco, Chip, et al on that camera. As odd as it sounds, I felt like that camera was a part of me. Maybe it's just because it was what I used to create images to help my memories. That camera gave me some of the best pictures I could have imagined taking.

Still fuming over the fact someone stole it (this is another issue in itself), I decided that I needed something to cheer me up and I wanted something to take pictures this weekend, the weekend of our countries independence. For once, I am not working on the 4th of July and can go to a party and see fireworks. I want a camera.

So I bought this yesterday:


It is a Sony, Cyber-Shot 7.2 Mega Pixel camera with 3x optical zoom and the Carl Zeiss lens. I do not have as much zoom on this one, but the mega pixels are higher and the pictures are even clearer if blown up. The two spare batteries from my old camera are still useless (this one takes AAs), but the memory cards are compatible. It still infuriates me that not only did the person get the camera, but they also took a 512 MB memory card that was inside it.

This new camera is a little bit slimmer and has more options on the actual dial, less hassle to switch to twilight photography mode. It is a little faster than the former camera, so this is a plus. I guess I just needed something to make me feel a little better about the loss.

I took a few pictures yesterday, just to try out my camera. Here's a sample of them:

Char and alien baby
Char and I figure this is what she would look like if she was pregnant with an alien baby and wearing Tom's work shirt.

Work 004
Yesterday was a beautiful day in Minnesota and here's a cloud.

Work 024
The alien baby.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Not So Subtle Ending to the Beginning of My Day*

The scariest thing I've ever witnessed had nothing to do with paranormal activity and was something one can see almost anytime commercials are shown on TV. It was almost eight years ago and I was just eighteen, barely graduated from high school. My summer job as a bank teller was turning into a career with N.A.B.A.B.N.A. and it was the first time I would help open the branch location.

Without divulging too many of the opening procedures, let me just say my co-worker was inside and I was heading from my safe car to the safe, locked doors of the bank. The riskiest part of the procedure is actually walking across the parking lot, although being inside the branch alone is rather spooky. I had seen all the training videos and had training in watching for robbery signals. All the policies were fresh in my mind and my senses were heightened.

My co-workers ensured me that our branch was low-risk for robbery and that opening was no big deal. The shops surrounding our location were all dark while I walked from my car to the door. The signs of other people were still a half hour away, for that would be the time the freshly painted blue auto parts store would open and workers would start to arrive. The pool hall I frequented so often was just a skip and a stone's throw away, empty due to repair work needing to be completed after a mishap with a violent thunderstorm and the roof crashing in on the tables. The hall was about to reopen.

Thinking about robberies, safety, getting through my day, and wanting to go play pool again, I just about jumped out of my skin when I hear the noise.


My obvious first thought was that the sound was a gunshot. My logical mind had just enough time to recognize the noise as a truck going over a big bump on the nearby highway when I saw a brand-new, bright green Chevrolet truck driving about 60 miles per hour on a frontage road/grassy lawn and then seeing that same truck crash into the freshly painted brick auto parts building next door. It was a perfect head-on impact, not dislike those safety feature commercials the car companies run so often. The difference was it was real, I witnessed it, and there was a person inside the vehicle.

I ran the rest of the way into the branch and called 9-1-1 immediately. My manager was called at home and due to security procedures, I was told to remain inside the locked bank.

Within five minutes, two squad cars, a firetruck, and an ambulance were on the scene. The employees of the auto parts store started to arrive, baffled by the site of a truck half inside the building (luckily, the truck got a boost while hitting the brick and went through a large window, only hitting the brick and then deflecting up through the glass).

The truck's front-end crumpled during the impact, the safety feature working and the driver was unscathed. The truck managed to miss the paint buckets by less than a foot during the crash.

One of the officers on the scene was a man I knew from his frequent deposits for the city at our branch. He needed a statement of what I'd seen but our branch's lobby was still closed. Unable to leave and unable to let him in, I gave my statement by talking loudly through bullet-proof glass. In retrospect, the intercom in the drive-thru may have been a much more effective means of communication.

As it turned out, the driver had been heading north on the highway when he had an epileptic seizure. His foot pressed down on the accelerator and he drifted off the road, through the ditch, between the pool hall and the bank, and directly into the auto parts store. The loud bang I heard was his running over a stop sign.

To this day, I am thankful no one was hurt and that the damage was minimal. It could have been much worse and even though it was scary, the ending is not sad (unless you really love new, green Chevy trucks or bright blue brick buildings).

*Title By Char, The Empress of Cool. It was either this or, "As Seen on TV". Or, "No Crash Test Dummies Were Injured in the Writing of This Post."

Friday, July 01, 2005

I'd Take A Picture, But...

It's nice to see some people back in the blogosphere. I know everyone has been busy, I've been there too, but that's not really the reason I haven't posted. No, I've been distant since Wednesday because I've been dealing with a violation of my privacy.

At work on Wednesday, my purse was in a hidden spot and while I was at a meeting, someone decided to steal my digital camera from it. We work in a secure location and the employees all have had background checks. Theft has never been a problem at this location.

AFTER I put up signs asking for the camera to be returned (no questions asked), I am left holding onto high hopes that someone gets a case of conscious and returns the camera. I found out that there was another recent theft, which would have been nice to know about since it may have caused more people to hide their stuff. Even our center manager just leaves his wallet out near his desk every day.

Of course, no one saw anything. That would have been too easy. There's two people on my team who didn't work on Thursday that I want to ask if they witnessed anything when I get in today. My chair had been adjusted, so the person who decided to remove the camera had probably been sitting at my desk for some reason or another.

I am absolutely furious about the whole thing. There are suspicisions now in our call center and it feels horrible to think someone you work with has stolen something of yours. It sucks to think that.

So, I'd take a picture of something, but I don't have a camera. The words I've been saying outloud are not pleasant.