Thursday, December 18, 2008

Helping Out With a Dream

In September, our dear friend Lisa invited Dave and I to attend the annual 'I Have a Dream' luncheon. Well, she invited us and our checkbook. Lisa will read that and probably gasp a bit because it may come across as we were invited for our checkbook. In reality, I believe she invited us because we like to support our friends and their passions and because we have expressed a genuine interest in learning more about I Have a Dream.

I Have a Dream is a national non-profit that adopts entire classes of low-income 2nd grade students and supports them through their primary and secondary education years. Each student who successfully graduates from high school has the opportunity to further their education through vocational training, college, or university. The Boulder Chapter has grown from humble part-time beginnings 12 years ago to a fully staffed operation that recently celebrated the Grand Opening of a new Community Center.

The luncheon was a moving experience as Dreamers shared real life stories of the difference the program makes for them and their families everyday. Board members, donors and volunteers shared the rewards of contributing to the life of a child as they overcome challenges to reach the goal of an education and make the dream of a career a reality.

We chose then and there to support this life changing program and look forward to becoming more involved in the coming year. There is sure to be another post down the road, but if you want to learn more today, check out the Boulder County I Have a Dream website here.

"Dreamers are taught at an early age that college is possible for them. As they mature, they receive extensive career and college preparation guidance, visit campuses, and are assisted through the application process." - excerpt from "About Us" on the Boulder County I Have a Dream website

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Choice of a Car

I grew up in an American car family. My Dad was raised in rural Virginia where the American car is king. We come from a long line of coal miners and back in the day the dream car was a Lincoln Continental. My Mamaw wanted one in the worst way. Funny since she did not drive. She road instead in a short bed Chevy pickup, with a side step.

Even when we lived in Germany, it was an American car that tooled us around the country as we explored places my Daddy had been stationed on earlier tours and discovered new places for us all. I couldn't tell you the model, but the car was a white hatchback and most certainly a GM product.

In later years when we became a two car family, it was two GM vehicles that filled our driveway. My Dad would buy a new ride every three years. Sometimes a Chevy, sometimes an Olds, sometimes a Pontiac. But, always a GM. Well, there was that short time that we had a Ford Courier pickup, but that is another story.

The first car I called my very own was a GM too. It was Pontiac Sunbird held together with duct tape. It had no air conditioning (we lived in Florida) and broke down at the most inconvenient times, but it had a great radio and it was mine. There was one other used Chevy Ciatation that periodically stopped in intersections. Not stalled, but died all together. That created some interesting moments for a nineteen year old girl. Then, I had a steady job with good pay and my very first new car was about to become a reality. Dad and I looked in the car lots on Thanksgiving day and decided on a beautiful Blue Pontiac Grand Am. It had it awesome sound system, power windows, and it was stylin'.

It could have been a long love affair between my first new car and I, but just shy of the warranty expiration my mechanic friend tells me that I better find a shop I like doing business with because this car has trouble coming.

Then, I bailed. I walked away from family tradition. I bought a Mazda. Dad was not happy and jokingly told me that my car was not welcome in his driveway. But that Mazda, I had it for 10 years. And, it never let me down. Ever.

And, my Dad stayed true to GM. To him the General Motors cars stood for something. The pride America once had in making a product that was the best. That met the market needs. That created an image and a lifestyle that he was proud to be a part of.

Just last year Mom traded in the last car he bought her before his passing. I think she would have liked to buy American, but she needed a reliable, high gas mileage car that would last for more than Dad's three year cycle. In her garage is a Honda Civic. She loves it. And it will be on the road for years.

The American car companies are in trouble. There are many reasons this is the case. In my view it is largely because they are not meeting market needs, they are not setting trends, and they are not making cars that will last on the road for ten years with little effort. They have forgotten that we consumers do have a choice about what we buy, even if we do not have a choice about who we bailout.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Changing The Name

Earlier this year I kicked off my blog and have experienced the on again, off again posting phenomenon that other 'non-professional' bloggers comment on.

Blogging, Twittering, and Facebooking have little to do with my current place in the professional world. I participate in the Social Media world as a way to educate myself on these trends. After all, who knows when there might be a use in my workaday world for what I learn. There is also an interest to have awareness of what is developing in our Boulder Tech Community and the industry at large. And, if I am completely honest, it is just plain fun to be have access to the vastly different views that I am not exposed to in my day to day life. There are also those moments I learn something new, or expand my knowledge on a topic that I care about.

At some point, I'd like to contribute to this knowledge share. I figure the first step is to begin to post regularly those things that hold my attention, use my brain power, or my heart power. It may be only me that reads these posts. That's fine. Probably preferred. That way I can cultivate what this blog will be without an audience to impress.

That brings me to the name change. Just yesterday, as I am thinking about this, I pop out to my blog. Except I don't type it just right and I end up on a pretty explicit porn site.

Ack! was my first response. Then, holy shi*!*!*. What if my Mom makes the same mistake when visiting my blog. What if my friends do. What if someone I know professionally stumbles upon the site. So, there ya have it. The reason for the move to the new blog name that is a little less imaginative than the norm. It is after all, just my name. But, hey, no matter how my life, experiences, profession, or person evolve, it will always apply. And, I think it is a pretty safe site url to keep those I care about from making an unexpected visit to a porn site.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Freedom of Faith

I am not an expert on Creationism.  Having said that, I guess I am a bit surprised by the movement to teach Creationism in the public school system.

It is not that I don't believe there is a Creator.  I do.  In my childhood years as a Southern Baptist this Creator was the traditional Christian view.  My view has shifted over the years and what I now call the Creator / Spirit / Universe has a different meaning for me.  It is a fair bet that my view and sense of a Creator will continue to evolve while I walk this earth and have more experiences with each passing day.

My view is that, just mine.  I am pretty fortunate that I have people in my life with views that are both differing and similar to mine.  Often it is those differing views that prompt reflection and a check in on my position.  Lively conversation can entail and my view of the world inevitably expands.

Our country is a melting pot that brings a blend of people along with each of their views - cultural, political, religious / faith based.  One of the gifts of being a US citizen is that each individual is able to choose what we each believe and what faith we observe within our homes, with our family, and with our children.  

As I do not have children, my connection to the public school system is not an active one.  My interest is purely as the collective whole and understanding that the children are indeed our future.  Children in our public school system come from homes with differing views and faiths. It is a 'good' thing that they are exposed to new learnings via school curriculum, but to suppose that each child should be taught the Christian view of Creationism flies in the face of honoring and respecting their family's right to the religious freedom and practice of faith supported by the First Amendment.  

Make Creationism available to those that choose to learn it, just as my high school Theologies class was available by choice.  Or make it a choice to teach it in the home.  But, make it just that, a choice.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Reminders for a Better Life

It has been some time since my last blog.  It is not that I don't think about blogging.  I do.  Almost every day.  

I think about blogging about the music events we have been to recently, the cool up and coming new technology companies in Boulder, the experiences we have living on open space, and those people that have been a positive force in my life.  

I've considered blogging about Randy Pausch and what an inspiration he continues to be as his Last Lecture reaches more and more people everyday.  About Where the Hell is Matt and  how his simple act of joining people through dance warms the heart.  About Eric Lowen of Lowen and Navarro and how he is living his life to the fullest while ALS changes his life a little more with each passing day.

I have thought about it, but the words have not made it onto the page.  

And then, this week I received an email that touched me.  You know the kind - an email that makes the circuit.  As we each read it, we think "wow, that makes sense" and then we pass it along to our friends.  I did pass this one on.  And, then I read it again.  Then I printed it to keep close by as a little reminder to take care of myself, make the time for what is important, and to be kind to those I love as well as random people I meet in my day to day life.  

Now, I am breaking my blogging fast and am sharing it with you.  Perhaps it will "make sense" and you'll pass it along.  Perhaps it will be your little reminder, too.  Or, perhaps the words will sit with you quietly and come back to you just when you need the wisdom they share.

(I am sorry to say I do not know from where the list originated and a Google search brought only others that were sharing the words just as I.  To the unknown author  - thank you.)

25 Tips for a Better Life
  1. Take a 10 - 30 minute walk every day.  And while you walk, smile.  It is the ultimate anti-depressant.
  2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.  Buy a lock if you have to.
  3. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, "My purpose is to _________ today."
  4. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
  5. Drink green tea and plenty of water.  Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds and walnuts.
  6. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
  7. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control.  Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
  8. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out credit card.
  9. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
  10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  11. Don't take yourself so seriously.  No one else does.
  12. You don't have to win every argument.  Agree to disagree.
  13. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
  14. Don't compare your life to others'.  You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  16. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"
  17. Forgive everyone for everything.
  18. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  19. God heals almost everything.
  20. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  21. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick.  Your friends will.  Stay in touch.
  22. Envy is a waste of time.  You already have all you need.
  23. Each night before you got to bed complete the following statements: "I am thankful for _______ .  Today I accomplished _______ ."
  24. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.
  25. Forward this to everyone you care about.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

That Was Then, This Is Now

My dad was career Army. So, I was raised as a military kid and moved quite a bit. The long duty tours were three years, others were shorter. I learned to appreciate new environments, seeing things I had never seen, and meeting new people. This is the foundation of my thirst for adventure, change and moving house more than the average bear.

One of the things that my childhood did not hold was friendships that lasted for more than a duty tour. Sure, we'd stay in touch for a while and write a few letters. But, then you are off to your new life and so are your old friends. You might hold your memories close and pull them out (along with photos) from time to time, but the connections fade.

While the internet has made it easier to find those long lost friends, I have learned that many of those delinquent friends (yep, we were a handful for our parents) just aren't connected via technology. I'll leave the entertaining details out about some of the folks I have tracked down. Just trust me when I say it is the stuff of grocery store rags. You know the kind, The National Enquirer and the Star.

There are a handful of us that have not only survived, but are doing pretty darn well. I am lucky to count myself in that group and was very excited to reconnect with another such soul last week.

Becky and I became quick friends when I arrived to Hephzibah, GA (perhaps the armpit of Georgia) in1979. She was the kind person that reached out to the new kid and brought her into a very tight neighborhood group of kids. Becky was the calm force in the chaos of those early teenage years. The years of first broken hearts, climbing out of windows, rock music, walking everywhere, and figuring out who we were going to become.

Becky has not only become a wonderful person, but also an accomplished career army warrant officer. She has taught soldiers celestial navigation skills, delivered soldiers to R&R areas via her boat in times of conflict, and has found her place in history being the first female CW4 to skipper a boat in the US Army.

Our evening together was full of forgotten memories that came back to life like they happened just yesterday, laughter, and a new friendship that is developing based on who we are today.

Beckola - here's to who you were then, who you are now, and to creating more memories together!

Monday, April 7, 2008

In Search of the Perfect Communication Lifeline

Life without a cell phone is pretty much impossible, as I learned upon our return from "The Best Trip Ever". My cell phone loved Mexico so much, it decided to stay there permanently. The good news is that Verizon makes it way easy to kill the service and will even pause service until you decide on the next communication lifeline you want to share your life with.

I'd been living my life with a Krzr which worked pretty well for a phone, text messager, and camera. I really liked it, but knew it was time to make the leap to a smartphone. I had avoided it as I am just not willing to give up good voice quality for the other stuff, especially as I catch up on calls with family while out and about. Yep, usually from my car. But not to worry as I always go handsfree with my cool and groovy Jawbone. And, of course, I have the red one.

So, what to do? Like I said, voice calls matter to me and Verizon just has the best coverage, period. But, they also have the lousiest device selection of all the carriers. After reading the reviews and visiting the store, I decide on the Blackberry 8830 in red (of course). I am not in love, but I do get addicted to the track ball and full keyboard pretty quickly.

And then...I have dinner with my girlfriend Vibeke who shares how much she loves her iPhone. And then, Holly comes for dinner and brings her iPhone. She and Dave find the house easily with the cool map feature. I get my hands on it and I am in love , or at least lust. I think I can throw caution to the wind and pay Verizon whatever they want to get out of my contract.

And AT&T service at our place. Now, folks, we don't live in the boonies. We actually live in the burbs. And while I can justify a few dropped calls when I am out and about, no way can I justify no coverage at home base.

And then...I really do want a camera on my communication lifeline and the 8830 does not have one as business users apparently have no need for one. Because, of course, I only use my phone for business and don't have a personal life. And what is up with the text messaging issues? Is this all BB models, or I am just lucky?

And then...At CTIA last week, Verizon announces the Curve will be available in May. While this is not the perfect solution (it is not an iPhone and Verizon will not offer it in red), I'll have a camera with my communication lifeline. So, the 8830 will be going back to Verizon and I'll get a cheap phone and text messaging device until I can get my hands on the Curve next month.

And then...I'll be waiting with bated breath like the rest of us Verizon subscribers for the iPhone or the Blackberry 9000. All the while wondering why the carrier with the best service can't, or won't, offer the most desirable communication lifelines AND why the carrier with the most desirable lifelines can't, or won't, offer wider service coverage.

Is it really that hard to offer their customers the best of both worlds?

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Best Trip Ever! The Beach Chapter

In the last chapter our travelers were reveling in Dave's big win in the dart competition. Our best laid plans to shower before we headed off to our new home base were cast aside as we discovered not only was there no HOT water. There was NO WATER! Ah, the little reminders that we aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto. We are in Mexico where sometimes things like water and power work flawlessly and sometimes they just don't. And, quite oddly, that is part of the charm.

A whirlwind of packing and we are in Antonio's Suburban heading off to a little resort just outside of Sayulita, a funky surf town full of ex-pats, good restaurants and dogs in the streets.

After 3 busy days of exploring PV and the Sierra Madres, arriving at what was to be our home away from home for the next 5 days was truly an injection of relaxation. We entered the gates thinking we would follow what has been our normal routine of a beach day followed by an exploration day. Those plans of exploring Sayulita, San Pancho, and San Blas were displaced with day after day of relaxation. Not the pretend kind where you are still secretly thinking about your life back in the "real world", but the kind where your conversations and thoughts start with:

"Which book shall I read?"
"Is it time to turn over to sun the other side?"
"How many sand crabs have we seen today?"
"What do you want for lunch - homemade guac or shrimp tacos?"
"What time is my massage?"
"Is that whale waving to us with his tail?"
"Tonight's sunset is even more spectacular that last night's sunset, isn't it?"
"Want a margarita?"
"Shall we go for a dip in the pool?"
"Do you think I'll need earplugs tonight with the surf being so close?"
"How did that kitty get into our room in the middle of the night?"
"When do you wanna come back next year?"

We've been back to reality for 3 weeks or so and find ourselves pulling out special memories to reflect upon and relive. Each time almost smelling the salt air and talking about how this trip is right up there with our 2005 trip to Alaska as the best trip ever. So - it is really "one of" the best trips ever! Certainly my cell phone thought so as it opted to stay in Mexico and party (more on that one later).

And, the trip did its job...breaking up the winter and keeping this girl sane until Spring arrived in Boulder. Now it's back to real life and living for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June!

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Best Trip Ever! The PV Chapter

Each Spring Dave and I take our annual "Toes In Sand" trip. This is usually to a sunny coastline somewhere in Mexico. It really is a sanity trip. Come about January the only thing that keeps me sane through the short daylight hours and snow is the promise of sand, surf and margaritas.

This year we made our trip in early March and were once again amazed how easy Frontier Airlines makes getting to PV from DIA. A direct flight just long enough to enjoy a movie from your "must see" list (Juno for me, Bee Movie for Dave) and you have just enough time to fill out the immigration forms before landing. The travel gods were definitely smiling upon us, as this leg of our trip was uneventful.

Our trip kicked off with 3 days in our favorite city in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta. We love it for the European feel of the town and its appeal to native Mexican vacationers in addition to us vacationers from the north.

Our home base was the Buenaventura. From the website, I was expecting one of those over done, music blaring my the pool places, but was pleasantly surprised. While the hotel is created for Touristas, it is located in Centro and within walking distance to just about everything - including our favorite place to have margs and enjoy the sunset- El Nido at Chez Elena.

We skipped the all-inclusive, grazing cattle plan at the resort and took our meals in town. We tried lots of great spots, our favorite being a small Tapas place a short walk from Chez Elena. Octavio runs the place and is a gracious host with a passion for fresh foods and a gift for selecting the perfect meal. The coffee flan was AMAZING!

After a day of exploring just about every nook and cranny of Old Town and the Zona Romantica, the next day we opted to head out of town and up into the Sierra Madres to the little town of San Sebastian.

San Sebastian is ~1.5 hours out of PV via a winding road that weaves through farm lands and agave fields. The town was founded over 400 years ago and saw a large population growth due to the mining industry. It is now a quaint town of white stucco, red tiled roof buildings and a dwindling population of 800. Down a narrow cobble stone street just pas the Plaza, we found the Real y Minas, a superb Italian restaurant in the photo above. We had the pleasure of sharing time with Walter and Coco, the owners, and were treated to Walter's famous Orangeciello. The oranges are picked from the restaurant's courtyard and he bottles right on the premises.

Our last morning in PV was spent pool side soaking in the sun and cracking open our travel reading. The pool side Recreational Director pulled Dave into the dart contest, which he won hands down! Woohoo! You go baby! Then - off to pack for the beach chapter of the trip.

Stayed tuned for Chapter 2 coming soon to a blog near you.