Archive for September, 2009

Metaphor for Life

I was in my car listening to the radio the other day. Every time the station dj’s starting talking, I would change to another station trying to find music. I noticed that when I did find a station with music, I would often try other stations to see if there was a different, maybe better?, song to listen to.

It got me thinking, is this a metaphor for life?  How much one is looking for something better than what already exists? Not everyone does this I am sure. I don’t even always do this. But it did make me wonder.

September 28, 2009 at 12:52 am Leave a comment

Desire is a feeling

How many of you have seen the ads on tv for the new show The Good Wife? The premise is one we are all too familiar with right now (and for decades).  A politician, married with children, has affairs and dalliances on the side. He is found out, must confess and be contrite at a press conference. His wife stands next to him, tacitly giving him forgiveness.  How many times have we seen this, or a derivation, recently – Edwards? Sanford? Ensign? I could keep naming names but why bother.

What bothers me about this situation is that what you sometimes hear after the fact is ‘it didn’t mean anything, it was just sex’. This response always interests me.  At some point, there had to be desire or the affair wouldn’t have occurred. Isn’t desire a feeling?  And if you have a feeling, doesn’t that mean it meant something, even if it was fleeting?  The affair descends into lying, deceit, betrayal, and of course, the cheating itself.  It also starts and ends with desire. Desire for another woman. Desire for enjoyment. Desire to have your cake and eat it too.  It seems to me it’s not “just” about sex.

Could you really forgive and forget? Could you really move on if that happened in your marriage? Would you stand by your man? It’s an interesting premise for a show.  Too bad there are many people out there living this very real situation.

September 22, 2009 at 8:52 am 5 comments

what makes a great gift?

I know this sounds like an odd question, but with birthday, weddings, and the holidays coming up, this question struck me.  Or maybe it was the holiday decorations up in a few places that prompted this thought.

I haven’t been big on gifts for about the last ten years or so.  I think this started when I was married. I would really think about the person, their hobbies, etc., then find something they would like.  I was often told I was a great gift giver. I can’t answer if that is true or not, but I sure tried. On the other hand, I would get things that seemed completely incongruent with who I am and wonder, why doesn’t my family know me enough to realize that I wouldn’t like a putter?  I haven’t golfed since college with any regularity nor much desire.  (By the way, this specific scenario never happened, but is reminiscent of a similar gift giving situation). This isn’t about being grateful or ungrateful – we all appreciate the gifts we receive.

To me the question is more about time and love.  Instead of gifts, why not share your time doing things you love to do together? Why not take a trip. Or see a play. Or go to a museum. Or host a party. Or go to a wine tasting. Or go to a concert. Or go to Jazz on the Green. There a ton of things you can do to show that you care and instead of giving a trinket that will be forgotten, share some time and maybe an event together. The ultimate gift: make it a celebration and create a memory.  There will still be times that a gift is more appropriate but in those times it isn’t, why not try it another way and see what happens?

September 21, 2009 at 8:06 am 1 comment

State of Disarray

This is how I felt Thursday. It’s not quite to like my thoughts of hurtling through space I had once talked about, but it felt akin to that.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I feel like I am doing a lot and I want to do even more.  I know, that sounds crazy.  But I have so many ideas, so many things I want do and try.  I worked from home Thursday and had many traditional work things to do, which was not the problem.  It was that the more I did, the more calls I got, the more emails I received, the more research I did, the more ideas that came charging at me.  I don’t consider this bad at all, at least not for me. In the past 5 years or so, I have no idea why, but ideas seem to keep coming and coming to me.  I feel like John Travolta’s character in Phenomenon (a fave movie of mine), though hopefully without the tumor. My questions to myself are more like is this happening because I am more aware? Am I more curious than ever despite always being a curious person?  Or is that I now have more ability than ever to implement some of my ideas?  Something for me to ponder.

My challenge has been how do I decide what to do next.  Or how to organize the ideas so that I can do a few instead of all of them.  That is probably the actual heart of my issue – I want to start moving forward on all of my ideas. I don’t often think of what makes sense to start based on what is currently going on my life or when ideas would be better served by waiting, etc.  Do you ever do this – just charge forth without thinking only later to think to yourself, I probably should have waited a few months to do this?

My other challenge is having that feeling like it’s all too much.  Work responsibilities, school responsiblities, and generally enjoying my life with friends and family and then all these ideas on top of it.  I want to do it all and in thinking this, I often feel scattered across too many areas, and as I thought on Thursday, feeling like I was in a state of disarray.   I am not fond of this feeling. I tend to clean when this happens as a way to think. I am not sure the role of cleaning has in my ruminating, but it works for me.  I would presume that by cleaning, I am helping to clean up  my thoughts too.  Maybe that is it because after I am done and my place is spotless, or as in Thursday’s case it was  my desk and office, I feel able to tackle just about anything.  I am curious. Do you ever get into state of disarray and what do you do to get out of it?

September 20, 2009 at 8:52 am Leave a comment

Have we lost our manners?

I have noticed lately that our humanity is a bit lacking lately. Specifically, I mean manners and courtesy.  Here are some of the things that have happened in the recent past:

  • taking a call from your cell phone while in the movie theater watching a movie. When patrons asked the guy to take his call outside, he actually snapped back at them to mind their own business.
  • people don’t seem to let other cars merge into traffic much anymore. It seems that they are in their own world or chatting away on their cell phones to notice that they might consider moving over one lane so cars could merge in.
  • when there are traffic backups, I don’t see the hand wave when someone lets another car in.  It seems like this bit of courtesy is sorely lacking. I did my own personal experiment and of the 20 times I did this in traffic jams, only once did I get the hand wave.
  • I completely understand the use of cell phones and at times, believe they have really helped people in many ways. There are also times I curse them. The aforementioned movie example is one thing (and we could all hear that he was being asked to bring home milk on his way home) but I have also noticed people talk about banal things while they are shopping. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need to know about someone’s life while I grocery shop.  And it seems that they talk quite loudly and care little that you now know about their toenail infection, or affairs, or work challenges, or all similar topics. If this was an emergency, it would seem understandable, but just chatting for chatting’s sake?
  • opening doors for one another seems to be making a resurgence.  I had noticed some time ago that is wasn’t as prevalent as it used to be, but not anymore. I see more women, including myself, open or hold doors open for others.
  • when did it become a priority for those getting on the elevator to move in first instead of letting those who need to get out, go first?  It seems that whenever I have to ride an elevator and am getting off at my floor, I get pushed out of the way by those getting in.  Wouldn’t make sense to let me out so there’s more room for those getting in?
  • there seems to be a growing consistency with folks not moving in aisles.  You are walking down the aisle of a store, for example, the person or persons see that you coming toward them but they do not move over to let you pass.  In the event they have children, it’s a 50/50 chance that they pull their children aside for you to pass.  Even after saying excuse me, many times they still don’t move. It’s very odd to me.
  • the last bit of curiosity I have is about guarantees. What is the point of a guarantee if the company makes it so hard for one to utilize it or receive what they are due?  I have recently had the experience in which I attended a workshop but it did not meet their own guidelines regarding subsequent usage. I called to let them know and then inquired about the guarantee  for greater assistance.  I was told that yes, they would further assist as stated. Then they proceeded to send me a 5-page questionnaire asking why their product didn’t work for me and how I might have not implemented it properly.  Fine, I understand their perspective and complied.  Then after that document, I received another one asking for even more detail about what I might have done wrong, how I could have executed things better, etc. So far, that one has taken about 3 hours to complete. When I shared it with them, I was told it was incomplete and didn’t provide enough information.  All I am asking for is for the company to live up to their guarantee and further assist me with their product.  I have fully regretted its purchase now and will not be any means recommend it to a single person. I will furthermore, if asked, tell people of my experience. In this post however, I will denigrate the company itself.

I still believe in the heart and soul of people. I have witnessed great humanity, caring and selfless behavior as well.  But I ask myself when I see things that are otherwise, why it has to be that way?  Have we become so isolated and insular to our own worlds that we cannot see beyond that? It’s just a curious observation and by no means believe that what I have said above is an indictment on all of society or all of its people. However, I would like to know why we can’t all get along better than we do sometimes. And lest you believe it’s just my perception, the messages I have gotten on Twitter, emails from a prior post, and the status messages I have seen on Facebook and other sites, tells me that this is something everyone has experienced a bit as well.  What has your experience been?

September 19, 2009 at 9:55 am 1 comment

Food Inc. – a review

I saw the movie Food Inc. at least a month ago.  It was a great movie at the same time it as disturbing to see. It reminded me of the time I learned of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle in college.  I couldn’t finish reading it. My boyfriend did and he gave me an overview of it. I didn’t have to read it for a class, so this approach worked well enough for me. I know, cowardly. In both instances, both have stayed with me. A month later, the movie still resonates. I can’t drive by a farm and not smile when I see cows eating grass. It’s a great sight to see.

I admit, when it comes to animals, any animal, I have a really hard time with cruelty.  If I learn of any animal experiencing pain, neglect, or abuse, I cannot handle it and personally feel it.

In Food Inc., the movie talks about factory farming and how things have changed due to big business and consumer demand.  Chickens have been bred to be much larger than their legs can handle. Chicken farmers show footage how chickens can only take a step or two and then they plop down because their legs cannot handle their weight. It was sad to see. Many die under their own weight and their inability to get to the food to stay alive. They showed one farmer constantly going through to clear out the dead chickens. So very sad.  What was also amazing was the pressure by big business on the farmers, demanding changes in their chicken houses. The latest is that the houses must be completely dark – no light coming in at all.  One farmer refused to change her chicken house and because of it, her contract was terminated as was her source of income. Other farmers wouldn’t let cameras into their chicken houses to see what it was like for chickens to never see the light of day. They were warned not to; I guess their contracts were in jeopardy as well.

They showed the footage of the downed cows from California.  I still hate seeing that.  Doesn’t the risk of mad cow disease enter their minds? They also talk about cows being fed corn now instead of allowing them to graze in pastures,  to save space and to breed more cows. Cows are meant to eat grass not corn. So farmers have to manipulate their stomachs to reduce E.coli in their stomachs. They actually showed a farmer with his arm up to his elbow in the cows stomach. Really, this is what we have to do to raise cattle? I was impressed when they interviewed one farmer, Joel Salatin, who still has all of his animals doing what animals are supposed to. His cows graze in the pastures and explains how that is how it is meant to be and yes, then slaughtered for the world’s tables.  They showed him killing chickens and I had to turn away despite how humane he was being and how much more clean his process is compared to factory processing of chickens.

There were related topics in the movie, such as poor worker conditions and treatment, genetic engineering of seeds and how Monsanto has dominated this area of farming, and foodborne illnesses.

All in all, despite its many disturbing aspects, it is still very worthy of seeing. They premise that you will never look at food the same way again is very true. I rarely eat meat and haven’t in many years. But now I notice so much more about the food I eat and what I choose to buy. I have explored other means instead of Saturday morning farmers markets. I have researched what foods are actually in season so I don’t buy ones that have been genetically produced so we have them year round.  This is how much this movie affected the way I see food.

The movie will touch you differently as it did with my friends that I saw the movie with based on our discussions afterword.  That I think is the greatest benefit of all – that each of us looks at our relationship to food and determines what changes we want (or don’t) want to make. I hope you will see it, if you have the opportunity.

ADDENDUM – a note from HSUS today 09/17/09:

Denny’s does it. Burger King does, too. Wendy’s got on board earlier this year. All these major restaurant chains buy some (my note: wish it were ALL and not some) of their eggs from cage-free farms that don’t cruelly confine hens in barren battery cages.

But the restaurant chain most known for its breakfasts refuses to take this modest step. When IHOP serves its pancakes and eggs, you can be sure the eggs come from hens crammed into wire cages so small the animals can barely move for their entire lives.

IHOP’s refusal took on new urgency this week with the release of this undercover video that reveals shocking abuses at IHOP’s primary egg supplier. As you can see, the footage reveals filthy conditions, sick and injured hens, and birds forced to live in cages with the decomposing corpses of dead birds.

You can help to move IHOP away from this cruelty. Please urge IHOP to follow its competitors’ lead and start switching away from battery cage eggs. Here’s how:

Please make a brief, polite phone call to Argonne, a company that owns hundreds of IHOP restaurants, at 404-364-2984 (if voicemail picks up, press ‘1’ for Argonne President Michael Klump). You can say something like this:

“Hello, my name is [your name] and I am calling to ask IHOP to start using eggs that don’t come from hens crammed into cages. I just watched the undercover video of your egg supplier, and the images of animal cruelty are appalling. Please start switching to cage-free eggs. Thank you.”

I called. Will you?

September 17, 2009 at 8:04 am Leave a comment

What is your theme?

I have received a few emails lately from readers asking in different ways what my specific blog theme is and where I get my ideas for topics. I thought they were both interesting questions and got me thinking.

What is my specific blog theme? Do I have one? I read quite a few blogs and am an active subscriber to at least 30 or more.  I love to read their posts via Google Reader over breakfast. Some I get via email.  Some folks have very specific themes, like productivity, marketing, saving money, home organization, workplace issues, leadership, etc. All of their posts are specific and refer back to their main blog theme in a very consistent way. It is in large part while I subscribe; I like hearing their perspectives on certain themes or issues.

It’s interesting, I do have a blog for my company that is specific to leadership coaching and related topics. So, I understand the questions I received.

But my personal blog is more about life in general. I tend to write about things that have happened to me or things I have observed. From my perspective, I just want to have the opportunity to share my dorky view of the world based on my own experiences or just things about myself in general.  This really comes in any form and is not predetermined by a specific topic or issue that every post revolves. What do you think – is that distracting to you as a reader that my posts can range from talking about the greatness of the holidays, or books, or movies, or school supplies, or life and whatnot? Feel free to share your comments or email me!

NOTE 9/19/09:

Read a post via email today from Write to Done talking about blog theme’s in which his lead into his post stated “Blogging and writing shouldn’t be just about talking about what you did today, or rambling about things in general — at least, not in my mind, not if it’s done well”.  I found this interesting but it is a sentiment I don’t agree.  I think the point of blogging is based on the writer. If you are like Leo Babauta, his desire with his blog is enlighten but what seems even more prevalent to me over the past few months, is his overwhelming desire to sell things especially his books and ebooks.  That is his prerogative and I don’t dislike him for it. It has however changed my personal desire to read his blog and have done so with much less frequency due to this feeling like I am being sold to.

What you choose to do with your blog and its content are entirely up to you.  Do what you want and be happy with what you do.

September 16, 2009 at 8:23 pm Leave a comment

The email quandary

I have read many bloggers talking about email lately.  Zen Habits discussed the elimination of email all together and has since reduced his email usage quite significantly, but not all together. Productivity 501 shares best practices for email usage. Today, I received an email (!!) from the Thin Pink Line discussing this very same addiction, as they referred to it.

There are some tried and true email rules that are frequently shared in some of these blogger’s posts. Or in articles or magazines. Some of them are: don’t check email when you first get up or get into the office.  Only check email once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  Turn off the new email chime as well as the little envelope that appears in your lower right status bar so that you are not a slave to new mail arriving.

It is interesting that you notice those things that you are actually wondering about within yourself.  I noticed one day in the recent past that I was basically in my work email all day long. I was constantly refreshing and just basically being less than productive because I was allowing myself to become a slave to the emails that I thought might come in, or actually did.  I noticed I did this for most of the day up through dinner. As I was sitting and having dinner, I thought about what I needed to do the next day and realized that I had wasted the day being less than productive on other work I wanted to accomplish. All because I either checked my email constantly or worked from my email all day long.

This is highly inefficient and definitely not the best use of my time.  The following weekend, I promptly turned off my computer and turned off my cell phone. I enjoyed a weekend filled with time, meeting up with friends and luxuriously enjoying their company, and being outside without a care in the world.  I felt like I was on vacation.  My brain didn’t feel taxed and I didn’t feel twitchy because my email was dinging away at me.  It was by far the least technically attached I have been in a while. I highly recommend it.  Maybe you don’t turn off your cell like I did if that is your only telephonic source, but instead you turn off the beeps or vibrations of your email and text.  All I can say is, it was a relief to not be so connected.  Have you changed your email habits lately?

September 14, 2009 at 6:30 pm Leave a comment

The state of affairs in customer service

As someone who believes she has worked in customer service her whole life, it disappoints me when folks get it wrong. This is the easiest thing someone can do and the cheapest.  Yes, sometimes my title was customer service, sometimes not. But my belief is, if you have customers, internal or external, then you should be customer service focused.

I said should be. The sad fact is, many people are not. I have been having a variety of experiences lately and for the most part, I have just been an observer of them. I have been patient and forgiving, but sometimes that just doesn’t work.  My TomTom gps thingie does not work. It hasn’t now for a few months. It was a gift from my dad and despite my very frequent desire to throw it out the window, I know that would not be nice to him.  Plus, whenever he would come to visit, he would ask where it was when we were driving around in my car.  I hate that thing, really.  And the fact that it can’t ever retrieve the GPS signal renders it useless, only makes me hate it more.  My gosh, I don’t mind checking Google maps when I need to go someplace new.  And in fact, I am back to this all over again. I digress.

I tried to contact Office Depot, where my dad purchased it and an extended warranty. They told me that the warranty doesn’t kick in until the manufacturer’s warranty ends.  They sounded like they didn’t care and I could here her flipping pages as she read a script (ack, that just irks me – personalize and engage). Then she transferred me to TomTom, didn’t stay on the line and dumped me off.  I guess it was the wrong place because after holding for 5 minutes, i was disconnected.  I tried their IT chat online and was told I had to pay $9 for the service. Really? My dad already paid $249 for a paperweight and if I want troubleshooting support, I have to pay more?  Nope.  I found the number to call online.  I was on hold for another 10 minutes then told that all the lines were busy and promptly disconnected. Really? This is how they do business? They sure make it hard to do business with them or give you a reason to share anything nice about their product. Oh that’s right, I’m not.  My dad is equally frustrated with all of us this as I share the latest and wants me to send the thing back to him so he can get his money back.  I will try that but am skeptical Office Depot will do this for a paperweight he bought in February.  Yes, that is it’s only function lately.

This is just one example in a string I could share. I won’t even get started on the lack of service and actually the harassment I have been feeling at the hands of school. I actually feel hassled and harassed by them lately instead of feeling like a valued member of the student community. I won’t tell you how much I spend per credit hour but I guess they do not value me as student or customer.  It may be another factor in why I am taking a leave of absence from the program for the remainder of this year.

My dad and I visited Olive Garden recently, lunch before his flight home to San Diego.  We ate in the bar area and truly had a fantastic waiter.  He was always there at the right time, anticipated needs, and brought good cheer to the interactions.  It was a wonderful thing.  Even though we only ordered soup and salad, he made it seem like we were the only one’s in the restaurant. It was a great experience.

Customer service, or service of any kind, is just so easy. So inexpensive. And provides such a bounty of riches in terms of customer loyalty, customer testimonials, and subsequently, profit. I just don’t get it.  Why don’t companies do a better job of this?  Why don’t they realize that this could be the missing ingredient to their success and the reason for their decline in revenues? If you lose your most diehard customers, don’t have repeat business of any kind, and have little new business, how do you expect to stay in business?  Word of mouth is a real killer to the bottom line.  Southwest gets it, why don’t the other airlines? SAS gets it, why don’t other companies?

September 12, 2009 at 11:42 am 1 comment

Remembering 9/11

Today is the anniversary of the horrific and tragic events that occurred eight years. Can you believe it has been that long?  To others, it may feel like it was yesterday. I can still remember where I was when I heard the news and how it unfolded that day. I don’t think I moved from my seat at work the entire day.  They brought a tv over to the area in which I sat and soon, we were surrounded by folks watching the events and learning as the world learned what happened.

I am still shocked that such a situation could have even occurred and the many lives this tragedy affected.  My love and prayers go to every single person that was personally touched by this, but also to the entire country that watched and lived this as well.  We came together as a country and united as one. I hope we can regain that feeling once again, but not based on circumstances like that.

Today, I say a special prayer in honor of 9/11. A day we should not remember just annually, but always.

September 11, 2009 at 7:56 am Leave a comment

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