Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Must be nice..."

I'm pretty certain that there is NEVER a time or place for "Must be Nice"....I'm racking my brain here. Maybe...when you think of ridiculous money....like Paris Hilton or some other silly trust fund baby, that just shops and does nothing substantial with her life....whilst you are working your tail off? Maybe then. And EVEN then? You should be aware, that that poor little soul is most likely not going to heaven...simply for how she lives and I've yet to hear her claim that Jesus has her heart. SO...it MAY be nice to have oodles of money...but it's gonna be niceR when we're in HEAVEN eternally.

Now listen...all of this said. Honestly...when was the last time you said the phrase "must be nice...". Can you truly truly say that it wasn't laced with bitterness? Or jealousy? I mean did you really say it out of true LOVE!? Answer? No. It's always said with a jab of the knife to the side. We don't get to be jealous...and we're called to love. I know that we are human.....but boy oh boy do we need to rise above, and edify. Encourage. As hard as that may be....it's back to the green grass situation. I travel for a living. I have the best job in the world. I LOVE what I do. My Christmas card is RIDICULOUS! (And includes a picture of Keifer Sutherland and I on it.) AND...and and and...I love Jesus. I am secure in my position in heaven, He has forgiven my sins...and has sent His son to die for me. I, have it all, in a sense. BUT...I don't. I'm not married...I don't have babies....I don't have a house....I'm nobody's last call, there are LOTS of things that make your grass greener than mine...lots of things that make me want to say..."must be nice"...but in the end...they edify nobody, and really...it IS nice to be me!

I get that we say it in jest...but I challenge you to love what you have jealousy of....and encourage that which you are jealous of, and more importantly to somehow, in love, impart on that person that says "must be nice", that in fact...it is nice, or at least it WAS nice, until they ruined it. We shouldn't feel guilty for having things others don't....we should share, we should feel blessed, and we should be sure that WE are not being jealous of things that OTHERS have that we don't. We are all ALL blessed in different ways. I preach "love anyway"....I mean it. I preach the part where GREEN GRASS...still has to be mowed! So now, I challenge you to take the phrase..."must be nice", and change it into real excitement, and happiness and say "AWESOME! I am SO JEALOUS of that right now!" And more so-I challenge you to mean it!!!!!

No more "must be nice". I won't be offended if I hear it, but I will challenge you to lace it in love! Love more, speak less, judge not.

Happy New Year friends! I'll be in LA "working" and going to the Rose Parade...and yes...it WILL be nice!

:-)

PS...inspired by a dear friend that I love completely. This blog is based on the conversation that we had, and she said "must be nice" to me as I left. We laughed at it, and it may have been...the only appropriate time, for the phrase to be used! Ha...there, found ONE! So my dear friend...please know....I like your green grass...though it isn't green at all when it comes to some things. And I am more than blessed to have you in my life, and will forever be praying for you and yours. I also promise to never say, nor think, "must be nice" in your general direction! Love you dearly! And may loving those that think that it really "must be nice"...just come easy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!

Ah yes....tis the season. The season of giving, spending too much, being crabby in traffic, eye-rolling at shoppers, and WRAPPING...oh wrapping. I like to wrap. One present. Now put those two sentences together....I like to wrap one present. HA! Seriously. Lots of rad ribbon, awesome bows, and perhaps a spring of pine. However, then I'm tapped. Of course, we're not that family that buys one present for each other, I literally just wrapped like 20 presents for my mother....(1. by "I"...I mean Schmols. Thank you. And 2. Perhaps I didn't HAVE to wrap them all individually. Oh...and 3. Thanks also to the fact that my mom doesn't read my blog.) Anyway, wrapping isn't my thing, I mean maybe it would be if I did nothing for a living, because I think that's when I'll start cooking too. Dear working mothers...how DO YOU DO IT! Anyway, since Christmas Cards are starting to go out, I thought I'd take the time to wish you all a very Merry Christmas....the time of year when we should be impacted by the BIRTH of Jesus. He came so that we might have life....more abundantly. From a cliche' standpoint....He is the reason for the season....cliche'? Yes. True....YES! May you know Him, may you have His peace this holiday season. As an added bonus to the blog....know that I like the "idea" of santa...but we never believed in him. He didn't bring us presents....my parents and loved ones spent good money on presents for us...they got the credit! Not some man in a suit. We still left him cookies....but our parents were sure to have us believe that Jesus was the true reason...and he is. So, the bonus, includes a picture of me, and Santa....when I was about 3....not a big fan...of the big man! lol MERRY CHRISTMAS FRIENDS!!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

We count....you don't.

When I title this "We count....you don't.", I mean it, but CHILL first. I am not saying you aren't important. I'm saying that when we are counting people....like 1, 2, 3, and so on? YOU DO NOT! You don't say 14, 37, 9, it's ANNOYING, aggravating, there's one (sometimes two) of you on every tour, and honestly? IT WASTES TIME!!!!!! Now, there is the occasional old man who can't help himself, he's just trying to get your attention, well intended perhaps, annoying still? YEP!

We GET that it's the "thing" to do. I find that even I want to do it sometimes, but the difference? I DON'T!!! Seriously, we have limited time, chances are you were late on the bus anyway, having been given 2 hours for lunch, yet having to go to the bathroom upon meet time. REALLY? (Side blog...when you get free time? It's yours, but be smart and listen to your OWN BLADDER! GO, in the time given. We don't set "meet time", and then the "after meet time" for "bathroom time", we quit doing that once you were over the age of 7.)

So I try to count fast and so we can go, making up for the lateness, and when you jack my counts? It takes longer. Duh. ALSO? It JACKS MY COUNTS! And that's when we leave people, or wait LONGER for people that aren't coming!

So, bottom line, when you hear counting, resist the 12 year old boy in you and do NOT throw out meaningless numbers. Don't do it. We'll instantly like you better.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

ATH-LHR-EWR-BED

Well, my trip home is ALWAYS an adventure!

When I was standing at the base of the Acropolis....there was a wind....a movie moment of silence, and that was the exact moment when the cold hit me. I was standing there listening to Daniel and his guide....zoning....and it hit me....from there, my nose ran continuously until I could start to really mix meds. THANKFULLY...I keep all sorts of drugs, just short of the "good stuff" in my "Mary Poppins" bag. We rock out Greek Night, well, my dancing left a little to be desired, but we had a good time, and I loved my group-every last one of them.

Anyway, so then of course we get to the hotel, I finish up the address list after a dose or two of Nyquil...and woozy is my middle name...I'm not sure how I took a shower, or if in fact I did use hand lotion as shampoo. 3am rolled around too quick, I got up, gave myself a pep talk, had 3 cups of coffee, and made my way downstairs to drop off the Florida crew. Check in actually worked out well, our driver, Babbis, didn't speak a lick of English, but he also didn't smile either, so I obviously had a task ahead of me. Not smiling is not an option. I head back to the hotel, jam with Daniel, pack a little, have more coffee, set 3 more alarms, and fall into bed for another 1.5 hours. Up, again, more coffee, some more drugs, downstairs, to drop off the remaining bits of my fabulous group. Airport, all is well, of course it's so sad to say goodbye, but I like knowing that all the rest of my peeps are together at least for the big leg of their trip home-warms my heart. And they are all smiling. I hop back on the coach, and head back to the hotel.

BREAKFAST! Fresh OJ-yum...and? MORE COFFEE!? In a normal world? I'd be WIRED-pinging-and highly entertaining...though in the sick, on drugs, not enough sleep world...I'm barely functioning. So I head back up....must...pack...for...real....now. (Sidenote...I can't remember if I've blogged about it yet or not, but the word EXPLOSION is very common in the tour guide world. We get to a hotel room, and it's literally like a bomb goes off...it's how we appear to be put together, but it's also why we don't let people see behind closed doors...we can't explain how THAT got THERE either!) Anyway, packing, and of course going down to say farewell to sweet Daniel. Au Revoir. I'm standing there at the front desk, and Babbis comes in, and so I pretend to fall asleep at the counter, a simple snore out loud, and the man giggles. He. Giggled. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!! HA!! Daniel comes running over, and says...HOW DID YOU DO THAT!? "I've been trying to make him laugh since 2am!" He says! lol He had the same mind set, only he tried walking like a zombie, the "snore" was apparently the way to Babbis' heart. We then proceeded to "have a conversation" about how I was headed home to see Momma, and we were bff's from then on. I think he hugged me somewhere in there. Cracked him. :-) It's the little things people.

Daniel goes on his way, I'm the sole survivor at the hotel, I have 45 minutes till nice looking Greek man takes me to the airport. I pack. My bag weighs like 65lbs at least. Hmmm....I'll deal with that later. I get to the airport....cute Greek never lets me tip him-he's another blog....he's sweet, adorable, and told me to calm down once because I was fretting about something needlessly-total strangers know that I need to chill. lol. At the airport...reunited with Daniel, and I "babysit" his bag, translation, HIDE it from silly Alitalia and their silly little "policies". See prior blog-I've nothing nice to say about Alitalia. He meets up with me at my counter when I'm deep in funny distracting conversation about the weight of my bag, I mean I was comparing his ticket machine to old movie reels....it was a good time, I had to take out about 4lbs, but in the end, I checked a 59lb bag with a smile, and a genuine smile. And he specifically said, "normally it's only 50lbs, but for you, since you are so nice...." :-) Ahhh.

Daniel then treated me to lunch at McDonalds....oooh! YUM! And he was walking away to catch his flight home, turned to say "I'll miss you"....and? Guess what? THAT is when the cold hit him!!! UGH!!! Poor guy.

My flight, I am saving my very last Nyquil for the London leg, but I've got some Sudafed for this leg. I sleep the whole time, well, as much as I can, as I am an aisle seater-another blog-but my middle seater had her elbows full on out, like IN my side. She's lucky I was sick, but getting tossed between her and the carts going by, it's a good thing I was also heavily drugged. London-played fair. Shocking I know. I even had time for a stop at the "Giraffe" in Terminal 5. Over priced place to sit, which has now become a joke with my brother and I, as he'd never noticed it, and for a while and he was flying to Deathrow monthly? Well, he didn't notice it because he was in the "lounge". Turn your noses up people. I, am not lounge worthy, so I go to the Giraffe. So when I send him the picture of where I am, he asks me if I'm slumming it. Yes, yes I am. I'm also having some sort of smoothie, pretending it's $8 is worth it because it's got some magic healing property to it. It doesn't/didn't, but don't tell me that.

I head to my flight, board, sit down, next to Greek woman, who, before I sit? Asks me if I'll help her with her customs form. Really? I put my stuff up, sit down, and she asks again, in great English. I say yes? But I don't trust this because I only really know mine, not visa's/visitors/aliens/etc. And she says "Do you know how to read?"? I should have said no. I say yes, she says good, because I can't. I don't know what this means. Like you can't read English? Or you can't read. At all. Okay, well, I say yes anyway, as she picks up an English newspaper and proceeds to read...hmmm...suspect. In the mean time, lanky feminine boy with bad boots gets on in a fret and late, and I help him find room for his bag, move mine for his, and he plops down, turns to me, and gives me the "most considerate neighbor award!" AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! YAYA!!!!!!!!! I'm a WINNER!! lol It made me laugh, and smile (later he gives me a cookie-true story)

I pop my precious Nyquil, break out my neck pillow, insert ear plugs, and eye mask, I'm gone. I wake for dinner, eat a little, and she's already asked the flight attendant for help on her customs form....I go back to bed....to be woken by the flight attendant over me...helping her. AT LEAST an hour she spent on the form that takes 3 minutes. She filled out every form, and then when I did pull up my eye mask, she saw, and made me look at her forms. LOL! And the best part is she didn't know what "livestock" was. So I say "animals". She looks more confused. I say, "This question asks if you have been around animals"....NO! I HAVE NOT NOT NOT been around animals!!! As though I was accusing her. Oh boy. And so for the next 15 minutes, we go over it, I repeat the question, she gets defensive about the answer, and I say I'm just repeating the question, she calms down till the next translation. I can imagine she makes her daughter roll her eyes often! Anyway, back to the eye mask. We land, in SLUSH! WHAT THE HECK!? And we SAT on the run way for a solid 2 hours, waiting for our gate, since the plane that was there was de-icing. Seriously, get me a staircase, and get me to my mother....the drug medley I'd fashioned is fading, and I've just taken my last Sudafed. Finally, the fasten seat belt sign goes off, Greek mama BOLTS OVER ME, to get her bags and stand there, awkwardly, so that I can't do anything, but wait. I get off the plane, surely I'm in slow motion, the drug fog, tired fog, sleepy fog. Greek mama is lost in passport control land, I'm okay with not being near her for that-I can only imagine. I make it through, pay $5 for a cart, if for no other reason, than to keep me upright. I wait one hour for my luggage, I mean, there is slush on the ground after all. HELLO, it's NEW JERSEY! It snows all the time! Whatever. I grab my luggage-heave it onto the overpriced cart and roll out. Roll out to Momma Bear. It's snowing out. That's right...SNOWING! And I have to drive home. I'm not sure that was safe or legal, but it was the right decision, my poor mother, waiting for me for WAY too long.

We get home, I fell asleep on the porch. Ha-no, I made it into my bed somehow, and forced myself to keep sleeping. Skipped church. Got up, had some cereal-told my mom I was disappointed in the breakfast that this establishment had, and where was the coffee.

She didn't slap me.

She should have.

Then, after having been up for 2 hours, I needed a nap. I had to be at work by 7pm. I work at Bath & Body Works part time when I'm home, and like a goofball, I said I'd do the Christmas Floor Set. Well, I had new drugs that I'd tapped, so I'm feeling okay, but I'd still rather be sleeping, and this floor set is a hot mess. At 3:50am I was done, and drove home, and fell into bed. Now, I didn't fall into bed and then SLEEP!? I LAID THERE! Till 7:30am. Then slept for an HOUR!!!! Then, LAID THERE! And was USELESS! Until 3pm when I got up, finally showered, put mascara on, donned my Halloween colors and decided I'd be awake to the world and rocked out the "rainstick" craft at the "Harvest Party". And now, here I am, I got up at 7:30 this morning...and I've sort of been productive, I've put off paperwork all day, I did some shopping, I got coffee, and I took a conference call. I've also not taken a nap-I'm proud of that. And? I wrote this giant run on paragraph, in response to the email sent my way by some of my fabulous pax. Intended as a response, turned into a blog. HA! But? I LOVE THE QUOTE! I'm sharing it here. Isn't that the truth!? Especially coming from our "Footsteps of Paul" tour through Greece, and a drop of Turkey.

"Trying to follow in the footsteps of the masters, but it's a lot harder than it looks because even though they had the same size feet as us, they weren't looking down the whole time while they walked to make sure they were doing it right."

My amendment to that of course is...."OR FALLING"! They had it good, things weren't RUINED when they lived there, just when we visit...how is that!?

I miss you friends. Thank you again, for a great great trip. And --------------->

is my "Halloween" outfit. Own orange? Wear it. DONE! And of course....Darian...the nerd....DariaNerd. NerDarian.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

MOMENTS!

You know that quote that life is not measured by the breaths that we take but by the moments that take our breath away!? Well, granted, I firmly believe that our life is measure by our relationship with Christ, but I do believe that we are BLESSED with moments. I-for one-am blessed all the time….and these past two nights, were no exception.

I left San Francisco, after a solid 7 hour hang out time in the airport…..boooring, but a little productive, counting out my meager bills (Seriously, all excellents, but a ten spot for 8 days is NOT really okay….), and FINALLY we boarded for Deathrow. I do mean Deathrow. Some of you out there may call it Heathrow, but you clearly have never transferred there if you still refer to it by it’s given name. The airport is new, organized, and HUGE! Oh, along with ridiculous. So I have an hour and five minutes to make my connection! HA! And my flight from San Fran left 30 minutes late. The little desk agent, assured me I’d make it, even came over to me, to assure me that it would be no problem, there were tail winds, I’d not have immigration, OR security! HAHAHAH! The Flight Attendant said the SAME THING! I don’t know why I listen-the gate agent had clearly never been to Deathrow, or never had to connect, and the flight attendant has her own line for everything. Now, if I didn’t make that flight, my next option was just 9 hours later, I’m certain that Deathrow makes these ridiculous schedules on purpose, marketing and humor. So, we land, I crawl over people with my 30lb backpack, and RUN! There is an agent waiting with a sign for “ATHENS”-that’s me I say, she hands me my boarding pass, and tells me to RUN! Mind you, very little signs telling me where to go for Gate A, so praise God she was there! All that running made useless as I have to wait for a tram. Tram stops, running continues, and UP escalators (ALWAYS take the elevator by the way). Then we get to immigration, and I’m THAT person in line, sighing, looking impatient, then I say the excuse me’s, sorry, as I pass people on the next escalators, and I ask 3 different security mongrels if I can cut because my flight closes in 5 minutes, hmmm? No. So then the last one opens up a new line and I’m in the BACK of another, I say HELLO! Can I go over here!? He says…”Lemme see your boarding pass” In my head I was wondering if he had meant to say AGAIN!?? Tool. So, he lets me in, then I ask the whole line if I can cut, that my flight closes in 5 minutes, they look at me like, NO WAY WILL YOU MAKE THAT! And they all let me, with shouts of “You’d better run!” Kind of laughing, as they’ve done the same route. So I finally get out of security…..and RUN….again! Running into the gate agent that handed me my boarding pass and I was a little relieved to see her….except that SHE was running! HAHAHAH! So…we round the corner…? And there is a line of people waiting to board…..PHEW!!!! We both sigh and laugh….Ahhhhh….made it! God is good-all the time.

I slept the whole way, and awoke upon the double landing-again. Maybe it’s Greece!? Maybe there is a speed bump? And I grab my luggage, a treat, and a taxi! To the Intercontinental I say-knowing I’m spending way too much money on a taxi vs. the metro, but I’ve been up for too long, San Fran to a marathon on Deathrow to Athens. I’m ready for my 2 nights by myself! I’d booked the hotel on priceline, I got a decent deal, but the hotel isn’t altogether THAT expensive anyway. I arrive, it’s HUGE, and I get to the desk, and he checks me in, and I ask, any acropolis view rooms? He says yes, for a fee….I say how much? He tells me, I deem it WORTH IT! So then, for a bit more, I can upgrade to CLUB. Club? I’m not a club kid, because I’m cheap. BUT….CLUB is free breakfast, snacks in the afternoon, and at night, plus any drink I could imagine (hindsight, I never asked for a Frappe-what’s the matter with me?), oh and free wifi? What? Free food, free wifi, WITH acropolis view? THAT. Friends, is the DEFINITION of AcropoBLISS! So I say YES! NE! (Greek for YES!)

I get to my room, and it’s true, there is some sort of gingham going on, but I don’t care, because there she is, the Acropolis-and she’s all lit up, and I’m smiling. I then hit up the “Club Lounge”, to make snack time, dinner time. The next morning? SLEPT IN! Until it was time for breakfast-so for a brief moment, I left the view of the Acropolis-and arrived at breakfast, which was AWESOME, and sat down to continue my view of the Acropolis….AcropoBLISS!

Of course the bliss goes on and on, and I did take an afternoon “tour” of Cape Sounion-which I fell in love with wanting to see back in 2007 when it was an excursion on MSC. The “tour” was terrible. An hour ride out where she blurbed for a total of 5 minutes, I was all ready to take notes. BOO! We get to the site, she gives us 3 minutes of information, WIKI would have been embarrassed, and let us go. The pictures are stunning of course, despite her. The ride home of course was quiet, but stunning along the sparkling Aegean. Stunning. Arrival back at the hotel, and I tip her and the driver, more than the lady and her husband, from Georgia tipped me for the entire last week. C’est la vie. Back at the hotel, it’s time for “snacks”…aka…AcropoBLISS dinner….ahhhhh….

The rest of the story gets a little muddled with waking up too early and not being able to fall asleep, then of course falling asleep an hour before it’s AcropoBLISS breakfast time, and knowing I’d have to really say goodbye to my view, and head out and pay WAY too much for a car to take me 2 miles to my next hotel, since it was STRIKE day…..BUT….for those two days….AcropoBLISS….look for it in a dictionary near you! OR? Make it in YOURS! Book your ticket, and pay the upgrade! I mean maybe wait till things chill over here, but bucket list for sure. Ah-Maze-ing. Love me some Greece, Love me some AcropoBLISS!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

From Seattle to San Francisco...

As a "Tour Manager"...I freak out on a daily basis. You wouldn't notice per say...but I am. Why? Because I don't know every single thing. Seem silly? It is. But saying "I don't know" to something is this crushing blow to my self-esteem and I see it as over all incompetence for the tour. Harsh? PERHAPS!? Thankfully I have an inflated ego so that I'm able to deal with these common blows, thankfully I know some good jokes that I deflect with, thankfully my God protects me from a lot of them, and thankfully I'm a pretty good judge of people and know when I should duck around the corner or "make a phone call"! I adore my job, don't get me wrong, but every day is different....every tour is different, and from an adult tour perspective, I don't do the same route, every week, the entire year! HA! Sometimes I think that'd be nice, but MORE times I love the every day is NEW of my job! If I did the same thing? I'd know more things, I'd be able to rock out California's History, and the Missions, and say why we didn't see whales, and exactly what kind of tree that was, and how deep the Columbia River is, and what there is to do in Coos Bay...if anything! But...I don't do the same thing....and tomorrow I leave for Athens, not Georgia, to do another "Footsteps of Paul" tour, and may the freaking out begin again!

BUT I LOVE IT! I'm just setting the stage for you to tell you this. Every passenger is different, and that's how you deal with them. Some love you because they love everybody, some love you after you've proven yourself, some love you after you love them, some will NEVER love you, and some, you THINK don't love you, but then they blindside you and tell you they do! THAT is what this blog is about....because it warmed my heart.

I'm on a "Pacific Northwest & California" this tour, I have a group, they are travelers through and through, but from a smaller town. There are 40 of them...and I really like them....I'm really enjoying the tour. We've had some blah weather, like fog on our day to view Mt. St. Helens, and SNOW on our day to see Mt. Hood! There was also rumored to be an earthquake the night we were in Coos Bay! Finally there was sun on the coast, my driver is great, my passengers love her, I'm feeling "okay" about the tour, but I don't think I'm talking enough, granted, enough would be all the time, and nobody wants that. (Realize, if your tour manager is worth their salt, and it's quiet? They are wondering if they should talk! Or maybe that's just me....but that's what's happening in my brain, up front, and y'all are sleeping or looking out the window!) So....it's night 5, we're in Eureka, and my passengers want to do Alcatraz in San Francisco. I'm bitter at Alcatraz for this. It's ALWAYS booked too early, and people ALWAYS want to do it! It puts me in the position to help them, but if something goes wrong, and it's government run-so something ALWAYS goes wrong, well, then it's my fault. So, I'm in the lobby, on my computer, trying to book tickets. Tickets go WAY fast, and I have to book them 2 at a time, with their credit cards,( I've learned looooong ago to not put things like that on my card, though, I question myself every time, as it would be easier to buy 14 tickets at once vs. separately....) And it's quiet, I've got 10 people huddled around me....and my passenger that I was worried about the most, says "I've got something to say, and I'm just gonna say it...". I about die. He, is younger than the majority, very adventurous and he knows his stuff, and I have been feeling like I had to be more than at the top of my game so that he would get something out of this tour. He's smarter than me, and the only advantage I've felt like I've had with him is the fact that I know where the restaurant is in the hotel. I like him, but I'm a little intimidated. And so we are all ears. He says (please read with a southern drawl) "I just want you to know......that you are the most knowledgeable tour guide I have ever had. You know a lot of things about all of these places that we are visiting. Now I know a LOT of things, but you have taught me so many new things, and I think you are very good at what you do." My mouth drops a little, my tears start to well, I stop booking tickets, and I look at him, and I say thank you. Thank you very much, that means a LOT to me. And in my head I add "especially coming from you". He then says "And I mean it. I don't give out compliments, so it means something when I say it.". And I knew that to be true. And it warmed my heart. Everybody murmured in agreement, and I continued to book tickets, but I was filled, my cup runneth over! Awesome. Very great compliment. I'm not sure that the time spent stopping ticket booking was the right thing to do, as I was only able to book 12 of the 14 tickets as Alcatraz ran out....and guess who didn't get to go? HIM! ARGH!!!!! I was so mad. I tried all night, I called all my secret numbers for Alcatraz....I checked Craigslist, eBay, called my SF friends, looked at a bunch of other ticket sites, called the next day, continued to check, made friends with the girl at the Alcatraz office who talked to her manager who could still do NOTHING! In the end....they were more than fine with it, and I over worried, but still, it's what I do. There is no moral to this story, because I'm certain that another passenger still doesn't like me, doesn't think I'm doing enough, and his wife had the audacity to mark "good" not "excellent" for "Created a fun and enjoyable environment". ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? If nothing else that is ALL I know how to rock out! lol. Please, I bought the birthday girl a sash to wear around all day with glitter....she's 80. I'm fun. Like me. But, whatever, it's part of the job, and my heart was warmed by what my other passenger said, and meant. Oh if he only knew...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Once you go Mac...

I miss Steve Jobs like the rest of us. I heart Apple...and have since my grandpa first let me play with whatever "draw a picture" program they had back in like 1983! And I got my first mac as an adult....and love every drop of it. Thank you Steve Jobs for being more than a CEO! I hope you knew Jesus....and I hope you are in heaven! In honor...I love this picture that I stole from Autumn! AND? This article that I found from a year ago is kind of a riot! And since I laugh in sad tense situations....why change now!

ENJOY!

Thank you Stephanie Weehawk!

Apple to turn NY’s Central Park into giant walled garden

New York, NY — How much does the Big Apple love Apple? Apparently, enough to turn over the reins to Central Park.

Enamored with Apple’s ability to create a happy environment by exerting totalitarian control — dubbed a “walled garden” by some — NY mayor Michael Bloomberg has enlisted the tech giant to turn Central Park into a real-world walled garden.

The new park, dubbed Apple Gardens, will open on January 1, 2011.

Keeping out the riff-raff will be a 6.2-mile, 16-foot glass wall that runs along the park’s perimeter. Visitors will be welcomed through the main gate by gleeful Apple employees — once they’ve paid the $99 annual subscription fee. (Family Pack: $149.)

“New Yorkers are going to fall in love with Apple Gardens,” said a jubilant Mayor Bloomberg, “as long as they follow the rules.”

Imagine: even the Strawberry Fields memorial in Central Park will become part of Apple Gardens

In Apple style, the rules will be plentiful. There will be a dress code, language code, behavior code and picnicking code. Footpaths and lawns that fail to meet Apple standards will be off-limits to visitors. And, of course, Apple reserves the right to eject any visitors it finds annoying.

“We’ll do everything we can to make sure people have an enjoyable day, whether they like it or not,” said an Apple spokesperson.

Developers are invited to create fee-based attractions and concessions for the park, providing that they can first endure a torturous inquisition. Apple will reward surviving developers by taking a 30% cut of their fees.

Apple Gardens will also feature a 200-foot-long Genius Bar where visitors can receive free advice, maps and basic treatment for corns and blisters, up to one year from their first park visit. An extended three-year GardenCare plan is available covering a range of podiatry issues.

Needless to say, Google will not sit idly by and watch Apple revolutionize our public parks. Negotiations are already underway to turn Golden Gate Park into Google Gate Park. In direct contrast to Apple’s walled-garden approach, Google’s park will extend a warm welcome to all — including muggers, pickpockets, drug dealers and rapists.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

BIttaly. (And it's only day one.)

My day started out on September 7...like any other travel day. Running around, trying to get the last minute things done, barely remembering the brand new strawberries in my car (no longer brand new as I'd already forgotten them for 2 days-whoops), and hoping I'd packed everything. Jump in the car because my Momma Bear is the best. She drops me off at the train station and I'm on my way...wondering what I've forgotten. At the Asbury Park station this, hmmmm, SNAKE? Gets on the train. And I don't mean creepy person, nor do I mean a real boa, I simply mean this wooden snake. Too windy for a walking stick, I have NO idea what it was!

Moving along. I get to the airport, pretty late as there are still some residual flooding issues affecting the tracks. I book it, get to the Alitalia counter, and mean Jasmine informs me that the flight is running 15 to 20 to well actually an hour late. So is it 15 or is it 20 or is it an hour? It's an hour. She pauses. At least. GREAT! But she assures me I'll make my connection in Roma-no problem. I almost asked her if she'd ever been to Roma. I refrained. Too infuriated at having to take out 14kg from my suitcase. I'd read somewhere that morning that 32kg was acceptable, turns out it's 23kg. I didn't flip my numbers, but I did read the wrong thing. Thankfully they made me feel stupid about it, which is always a bonus. (Moral of the blog here is to never fly Alitalia if you want to skip the rest!) I took the 14kg out and made it into a second carry on. For those of you doing the math? That's a 30lb carry on, that's IN ADDITION to my already 22lb back pack. Yay. So, I go down to my gate, surprisingly TSA wasn't too much of an issue, he did swab my bag, but as usual, paid no mind to my liquids-none of which are in their appropriate "baggies". I found a sushi place, I had time to kill, I ducked in. Awesome. Yum. And then? Stephen Walker waltzed right into where I was having my sushi. WHAT?! Friends in the airport?! I tell you, it's a small world all the time. I say, are you going to Roma!?? He says YES! Are you!? I have a friend for sushi, for waiting, and for ROMA! Granted, I go on to Milan-but whatever! Who is Stephen Walker?! Well, he's another guide, and I met him in France when we were both doing a tour COLD (having never done it before) and we were a two bus move, and we had some adventures for sure...one included a late lost night in Avignon. Oh good times! Last time I saw him was for dinner in Paris with another awesome guide Molly, and some friends Christy and Karyn that I was traveling with. So I've never seen this cat in the country, and I certainly hadn't seen him in 2.5 years. It was awesome. So then...we board, we aren't near each other, and the plane is full. Boo, but I'm sure we both got more sleep because of it! Though, the plane had static music pumped loud enough through it, mainly opera, the whole time, and my seat slid back whenever it wanted to. More plugs on why never to fly Alitalia. We arrive in Roma, I'd said my goodbyes to Stephen on my last run to the bathroom as I'd have to sprint if I had any hope of making my flight.

I bolt. Bolting, as it turns out, doesn't work for cattle getting onto a car or into a pasture, and really, that's the best example I can give you for what security looks like in Roma. If you aren't bold or brazen, they'll mow you down. It's a fierce, evil game, and I was late for a flight, that I was making. I was kind, I prayed, I prayed a LOT! God's got this I told myself, vs. doing the heavy sighing that the lady behind me/trying to cut me was doing. Was I prepared to throw down and defend my spot!? Yes. Was I literally breathing down the neck of the kid in front of me!? You bet I was. So, I make it through, and I still have to get through customs. Bonus to Italy is that signs mean close to nothing so regardless of what countries passport I had, I picked the shortest line, and she stamped it, and I ran. (Let's clarify. I was not running. I do not run holding 55lbs of bags. I barely run with less!) So, walk quickly, pray, and mow down the Italian that thinks it's A-OK to stop in the middle of the walk way. Seriously people. I MADE IT! All grace of God. I boarded at 9:07, my flight was to leave at 9:10, too close for comfort, and I did not smell delicious. Didn't care. Made the flight. Did we leave at 9:10? Nope. We left about 45 minutes later. What was the hold up? FRATERNIZING WORKERS OF ALITALIA! Are you feeling me people!? Seriously? We had some non-revs on board, and one by one they'd come on, greet every one of them, try and find room for their luggage, and then try and find a seat. Seriously. Landing in Milano was so nice, we did it twice. The second bump/landing is what woke me up, a la "throwing me out of my seat". Arrival. Milano. To luggage? NOPE! NO WAY! NO LUGGAGE! So I go to the counter for lost luggage...this photo is an accurate description of what happened when it was my turn up. Oh, you don't see anybody either!? She eventually saunters in, as the other 4 people at the other end of the counter were apparently for a "different" sort of lost luggage!? It was on the next flight, that was landing in 15 minutes, but by the time we were done with paperwork, 5 minutes later? The story changed to it was on the ground. I still waited another hour. FINALLY! I leave the airport, head for my hotel, and I NAP! Never nap, you should never nap on day 1...but, well, I napped. Granted, I was woken up when a strange man simply used his card to open my door. NO BIG DEAL!? Um? WHAT!? I get up, I do paperwork, and then I am determined to not let my BIttaly get the Best of me. BIttaly. My new word for Bitter at Italy equals Bittaly. Since I am, or tend to be. Outside is a gorgeous sky, and as I go to take a picture of it, I see that my camera screen is broken. Yes, the brand new one, apparently it's cracked somewhere between American and Italy. You know who I blame. There's nothing I can do about it, and it's not worth my tears. It still takes pictures, I just can't see them, or any of the settings or whatever. Kinda old school, yet still new school prices! UGH! I proceed to dinner, I walk down dark roads that my mother would question were safe or not (except I know well, as this isn't Alitalia's first punch at me, striking on departure day forcing me to find food/shelter/transportation for 40+ people!) and I found this gem of a restaurant, Samarcanda. Sweet from the outside, where I dined in perfect weather, and fun and pubby on the inside where I steered clear of. I had a prosciutto and mushroom pizza of perfection, and an entire liter of ungassed water. Bliss. Also, affordable at under 11 Euros. Pizza...making Italy bearable for centuries. The Italians should look into that slogan... I leave you with this life lesson. Avoid Alitalia at ALL costs. Give your self 6-8 hours of transfer time within this country. Pray-a Lot, since you still have to maintain that whole LOVE thing! CHILL cuz they don't care. And when all that fails? Have a nap and some pizza!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

CUPCAKES!


Since I travel so much, people ask me all the time...."What is your favorite cupcake?"

Wait...nobody has ever asked me that. People ask me things like "What's your favorite city"? And well, that's all. Which, by the way? Is a TERRIBLE question, making me pick? NOT FAIR! So, branch out people, think of new questions to ask when feigning interest!!!!

ANYWAY, IF anybody did ask me what my favorite cupcake was? I'd have to answer Georgetown Cupcakes....Vanilla Birthday Cake, with Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting. I'm no cupcake expert, I've not tried them all, but I've had a fair share.

It's true, I'm not the biggest fan of cream cheese frosting, so I'm very partial to my butter cream, but I've had the illustrious "Sprinkles" cupcake? And the only word I have to say is D-R-Y!! And granted, I only tried 2 kinds, but MOIST wasn't involved!

Georgetown cupcakes, are seriously just MOIST! I don't care if you hate that word, it's what they are! So add fabulous frosting, and all of a sudden waiting in ANY line for them, is alright by me!

As a side note? "Cakes by Melissa" in NYC are AWESOME! Yet, totally in a different category! They are fabulously bite size, which is awesome, I mean seriously, most cupcakes are too huge to enjoy! SO! Cakes by Melissa is a great runner up, but #1 in it's own category of goodness!



Sunday, August 21, 2011

BUBBLE NET FEEDING!


Alaska...was the most amazing thing...and I can't possibly do it justice in a blog...so just go GO VISIT! There were so many fabulous things, I couldn't ever pick a favorite, but being able to witness whales, "bubble net feeding"....you just couldn't imagine such a thing! We took this sightseeing cruise put on by the Kenai Fjords National Park...and we were expecting to see marine wildlife....well....we did. And we saw a whale! Off our boat...and here is that picture. It's pretty cool right? Oooh. A whale! So we saw many like this. Which, is really awesome. We also saw puffins, sea stars, gulls, sea lion, an otter (see prior blog), and loads of other animals. THEN....then came the bubble net feeding whales. A site to behold, and the pictures will never do it justice, but I will post them anyway!!







According to wiki....this sort of feeding is their inventive technique! A group of whales swims in a shrinking circle blowing bubbles below a school of prey. The shrinking ring of bubbles encircles the school and confines it in an ever-smaller cylinder. This ring can begin close to a 100ft in diameter and involve the cooperation of a dozen animals. Some whales blow the bubbles, some dive deeper to drive fish toward the surface, and others herd prey into the net by vocalizing. The whales then suddenly swim upward through the 'net', mouths agape, swallowing thousands of fish in one gulp. Plated grooves in the whale's mouth allow the creature to easily drain all the water that was initially taken in. It's truly awesome...have I said that already! I feel uber blessed to have been able to see such a thing, however, seeing a singular whale off the boat was officially common place! Go to Alaska. You may not see what I saw, but it doesn't matter, it's all pretty spectacular!!!!
See? He's waving at you!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

You otter know by now....

Seriously....I'm very uber smitten with these animals...and I wonder if they like to cuddle. I'm a real person....and I took a real trip to Alaska....and my camera is nothing special...and I'm not really all that great with my not so special camera...so THIS. THESE pictures...happened....in real life. This little guy was just lurking by himself....near the Aialik Glacier...which was AMAZING in and of itself...but worthy of another blog!

Here he is....alone, happy in his freezing cold water, loving his gorgeous surroundings. Does he look far away? Let's get closer then shall we?

Ah...he's so adorable. Here's the "didjaknow" part...Otters can eat up to 25% of their body weight each day-for you and I? That's like eating about 100 hamburgers! To eat, clean, and lounge....is to be...an otter.





So seriously cute! I'm pretty sure he was calling out to me! And to watch them fluff their fur, all part of their keeping warm process. Adorable!

So....as am I at this hour....so was he! I leave you with this yawn...from both him and I!






Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Seattle....and around!

A little montage from last September on why Seattle makes me smile....or the Seattle AREA....I should say....as some things, I stepped outside the city limits for. (That's a small lesson for all you people that live in Wisconsin, but tell unsuspecting people that you are from Chicago....no, you are not.) This list is not all inclusive....but I smiled....a lot...and these were the reasons...


video

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A post for April!?

What do I write! I've got 52 minutes left to post...I'm SO TIRED....AND? I have a shot at being in bed before 11:30....I'm taking it. I was sent a "Flat Stanley" this month....and I was so worried that I'd let this girl down, as I did the last "Flat People", though....we redeemed ourselves....and by "WE"? I mean Momma Bear did! And then....LOST them in some church in Austria!? At least they are to a good home....we hope! So, I color copied him, laminated him, and have taken more than a hundred pictures of him! So....he's had some adventures...and no lie...I might miss him. Did I go overboard on pictures? Did I make him into a story book because she deserves the world? Yes...yes I did! Will I do that again? Doubt it....so moms...dads...don't get any ideas...unless you think I really love you. Which, I probably do, but how about...lower the expectations, as I've set my own bar too high!

Love to all! Extra to Julia for giving me her Flat Stanley!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

True Story...

Turns out...I over use the phrase..."True Story"....also turns out...I don't care....I like it. So...here's a TRUE STORY for you....my mom is the best. She's Momma Bear to me....sometimes "Gayle"...."Gayley" to others, "Whence" to Fitzy, "Jefita" to Schmols....and when all is said and done...she's my mom, she's Curt's mom (and I, am still the favorite!) Today, was/is her birthday, and I'm away working, and my brother and his wife don't live in the same state, AND? My rad cupcake flowers that I ordered for her? Couldn't be delivered for whatever reason! BOO! And I ordered very much on time, so I'm a little mad! All that to say...she wasn't showered with birthday today, nor was she last year, I am SO SORRY ABOUT THAT!!! I hope that we make up for it by sending you to Cali to see "Dancing with the Stars!"

Since it's about my mum, I have to say that she's awesome for loads of reasons, and she spoils me rotten. Like COUNTLESS way too early or way too late rides to the airport...though, crabby as I sometimes am, so early, I always love the time spent. She's crazy patient with me, and she takes too good of care of me....what would I do without her? I don't rightly know. Sure, I'd manage, but it wouldn't be pretty. She's patient, she's kind, she's damn funny....and if you know her, you know she doesn't curse, would hate that I did, but somehow, the "d-word" when done right, evokes a smile. She's a hoot....seriously...if you've read any of my other posts of stories....and she keeps me updated on current events, and they are ALWAYS relevant! Like the other night, when the moon was so bright in DC? I just thought full moon. There were TONS of people with tri-pods out at the WWII memorial...way more than normal....at that point? I got a random text from my mom that said "The moon is the closest to earth than it has been in 18 years". BRILLIANT! Any important deaths, she lets me know. Bronx Cobra found!? TEXT! (Mind you, she didn't let me know it was missing because she knows I NEVER GO THERE! Turns out...that week....we did! LOL)

Anyway, my mom is awesome, and she is amazing, and she is FILLED with love, and she loves Jesus, and I know she prays for me, and I could only hope and pray to be such a woman as she, let alone a mom that she's been! Happy Birthday Mom!! I love you Momma Bear! MORE!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Shuttle Launch....3.2.1

The launch of the shuttle "Discovery". Can I really blog about it? Can I really put it into words!? Answer. No. HOWEVER!? For you, my 3 readers...I'll try. (Photo....structure just left of what looks like a mountain...Discovery...and all her shuttle glory!) I'm 12 miles away...so gimme a break! :-)

Who? What? Why? Where? When? How? Is the best format I can come up with, lest I get all my wordy self and lose you!

WHO!?

ME! Yes, I went by myself, but what else was I supposed to do!? NOT go because I didn't have a crony to go with? NO! I mean, rarely do I have cronies to do things with, so, yes, I went with just me. That said? I did stay with some ROCKIN' peeps in St. Augustine! The Blacks were more than kind in opening there home, and SWEET Murphy bed to me! PLUS...hang time with Ella and Kate...whom I like very much, and I'm quite picky about my babies! I also was able to be a total tourist in St. Augustine, and while riding the trolley around town, I realized that I am a total tour nerd...and I'm okay with that. I also got to re-connect with a friend I went to high school with, and meet his wife, and his new baby! Now, that, in and of itself was cool, but cooler? My small world connection. His wife, and the Blacks were in the same pre-natal yoga! And then? His mom, teaches at the same day care that Ella goes to! CRAZY RIGHT!? So...I may have been alone for the launch, but that was all! (And by alone...I mean with hundreds of my closest friends....that picture is my walkway to my chair...right up front!)

What?
The shuttle launch. I've always wanted to see one....would secretly like to go up IN one...love the idea of space, it just seems cool. So, I figured "someday" I'd see one...well, the end to the space program was enough of a kick in the pants to GO see one! So, the "Discovery" launched into space...at 4:50pm and 27 seconds...on February 24, 2011

Why?
I wanted to. I could. I'd always wanted to. NASA gave me an ultimatum. I don't have a husband, or babies, so doing what I want, when I want, because I can? Is my green grass.

Where?
The ultimate question. I didn't know where was best, where had parking, where trees were in the way, where it would be too small....yaddey yaddey yada! SO, my friend Karl-Dad Scherm did a little recon (when I was down visiting, and finally meeting baby Petra, keeping my face in Lars and Stina's brain as favorite Aunt Carrie, AND bringing down the "Cars" cake pan for birthday number 3 in April!) And he came up confirming what I'd read about Titusville, FL. So, I watched the launch from "Spaceview Park"...12 miles away, so, my eyebrows weren't singed, and I didn't fall over from the noise, but I was moved to tears...true story. (A GIANT thank you to my friends that gave suggestions, sent pictures, and tidbits of how to make it great, how to avoid traffic, and to remember my SPF 50!! Mr. Westervelt, so great at sending me info and pictures....THANK YOU! )

When?
Well, I left the house in St. Augustine at like 7:30...I arrived in the 9:15 family...and honestly...any later? Who knows! I scored a great parking spot near the exit of the lot, easy out, and managed to squeak in a good sitting spot too. Any earlier...may not have mattered...as the first two rows...came the night before...chained their chairs down, and slept in their cars...so I couldn't have beat them! I had to be strategic about where I put my stuff...knowing that when push came to shove, I had to stake out a safe place where I wouldn't be pushed into oblivion and see nothing! So, I found a sweet spot, and? The lady next to me had an awning on her chair...so I hid from the sun in that! GLORIOUS SUN! I've been in SNOW, and COLD for too long. I THAWED! GLORIOUS! So...when push came to shove, I was all set with my tri-pod. 4:50pm 27 seconds.....lift-off.

How?
I flew into Jacksonville...sweet Apryl and her ROCKIN' mini scooped me up....which, she let me borrow to drive to the launch. HELLO! Launch AND a convertible mini!? BEST EVER!! Spoiled Rotten I am! Then I drove down in the morning, and drove home in the evening, somehow escaping the atrocious traffic that I've heard about. Ah. Maze. Ing!

Overview?
I've said BEST THING EVER...over and over again...but I mean it. You can't prepare for the COOL factor...in my opinion! It was overwhelming. I mean...I'm trying to film it, my camera on my tripod, but I couldn't zoom it out in time...and I'm trying to capture it with my big camera, but I also want to SEE it with my eyeballs, and FEEL it (40 seconds later when the sound hits us)....it was all so so overwhelming...and really..."out of this world", and then? In the end? I'm CRYING!!! I'm not a big cryer...but I couldn't help it. It's totally AWEsome...in the truest sense of the world. And seriously....it was an emotion I couldn't help. And this...I'm sure is to no scale of what it will be like in heaven....but I couldn't help but think about that too. I mean, when I was little, I was worried that I wouldn't fall to my knees, would I remember, would I be distracted, etc....and of course you'll fall to your knees to worship Him, and really, the shuttle was like this minute reminder that when things truly AWE you, you have no control...I'm grateful for that. I wish I could describe to you the glow of that fire, but there are no words for that...and it was launched, up, and GONE! Out of sight...only remaining was this cloud of smoke following it! And that, friends, is life. We are here for just a time, a "vapor" the bible says. I mean I was overwhelmed with 2 cameras, and trying to experience it, in the 2 minutes I got to see it...that, is our life, so it's what we do in those 2 minutes that matter. So...really...boiling down the shuttle launch...what am I doing with those 2 minutes...?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Shuttle Launch. Best. Thing. Ever.


It was....the best thing ever. Top 10? Try TOP 5! Or top 1 right now! I'm too tired for the whole saga right now...but the short version is that if you "youtube" shuttle launch videos? The crowd acts all "oooh....ahhh..." and REALLY WOWWED!? And you think....why do you act like a 4 year old with sparkly things...is it really THAT cool? Well friends....yes. YES IT IS. Perhaps the those that have seen it on a daily basis (my exaggerated way of saying "once before") think it's "neat"...but it took my breath away, I mean, I'm snapping pictures one minute, and CRYING THE NEXT! Maybe I didn't know I was that excited to have seen it? Ah. MAZE. ing. Seriously...lived up to every drop....and SURPASSED! It was too busy...too short of a span! I didn't have time to watch, film, take pictures, AND absorb the sound! Just...WOW! Here is a video...until it lifts off the screen...but alas...
video

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sweat the Small Things!

In life...sometimes it IS the small things! You know that book/cult...."Don't sweat the small stuff...and it's all small stuff"? I get it...pick your battles, and CHILLAX! BUT, sometimes it's the "small stuff" that makes your day! AND LET IT! I walked into the Sheraton on my last tour, into my bedroom, and there it was...a MINI SPONGE! I don't travel with mesh sponges....I don't know people that do...and I might be inclined to make fun if I did! (That said-there may be excusable circumstances....) I also don't use them at home, because they idea of it sitting in the shower, never fully drying...? Is not appealing to me! BUT...if I could have one NEW every day? I'd be in! So, this little guy? PERFECT! 3 nights with me, and then he's trash! It was a treat to use a sponge, and more of a treat to use one on a TOUR! Dear Sheraton....THANK YOU! (And the rest of the stay was also enjoyable, minus the little rug rats from the Mt. Laurel Hockey team, whose parents thought it best to have them run up and down the hallways screaming whilst they talked loudly in their rooms with the doors open...that is, IF they weren't at the bar. IS THE ART OF PARENTING DEAD!? YOU ARE CREATING MONSTERS!!!!!! That, is a prime example of "not sweating the small stuff" I think!) I say, revel in the small stuff, if it's a mini mesh sponge in your hotel room!

Clay High School 2011

A great trip to DC!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

6 degrees of our small world!

There IS just ONE moon, and just ONE golden SUN! And a smile DOES bring friendship to EVERYONE! Though the mountains divide-And the oceans are wide-It's a small small world!!!

It's a song for a reason! Wow. I seriously can't get over it! Just today, on the precious world of Facebook...a friend that has been in my life since I was born-and I love her dearly, she's been my mom's besty since they were 11! ELEVEN! Well, we have a mutual friend, that we never knew about! NOR WOULD WE HAVE! Thank you FB! When I did my two week training for one of the companies I work for....I met this fabulous lady...and we don't work full time with the company we trained with anymore, and our paths NEVER cross, and I haven't seen her since that one time meeting of 2 weeks in a row...but FB has kept us in touch?! Well, turns out SHE met my mom's childhood friend back in the 80's they were neighbors then....in Missouri, and then AGAIN in the 90's in Hawaii! Already they shared a small world...and then? ENTER ME! Well, I'd been entered I guess....but it's really incredible. God keeps us small huh!? Granted, what I do for a living, makes my world smaller...I mean I run into people in the strangest of places because of what I do...but this...wow!

And for fun!? Well, last fall, I ran into a friend at the Eiffel Tower that I'd met in San Diego 2008, then I ran into him in NYC last April, WITH....another girl I didn't know he knew, that I'd met in LA in November of 2007....amazing, but that's touring. That...friends...is the norm!!

What's not NOT normal? In 2006? I think?! I went to Budapest...read prior blog, I mentioned it in there I think. Anyway, not really a planned trip, then we randomly decided to head to Slovenija with my friend Jana, we spent 2 nights...got in late, spent the night, TOURED for one day, spent the night, then I headed back up to Budapest? In that ONE day of touring? We were productive...and went out the Postojna Caves? We did other things too...and ended our day with a visit to her mum in the country side, and dinner in Bled! Amazing, by the way, amazing. ANYWAY, we're at these caves, and waiting for our tour, so we hop into the gift shop, and I hear English...but American English, and it's weird to hear familiar, when in foreign...more so in some places than others. I mean Slovenija isn't this huge country, and certainly this little place isn't riddled with American tourists...I look up, and low and behold? I KNOW THE GIRL! She's Lisa, from my gym! (Yes, when I HAD a gym, and when I would actually go, duh, this is so not now! lol) Anyway, small SMALL world...and I do NOT believe in coincidence! She was just finishing the tour we were waiting on! Amazing!!!

And most recently? I was in Paris this October, and it's departure day...I'm taking my gaggle to the airport, and we are leaving the hotel....or TRYING! And this van is parked and blocking us....my driver is NOT happy about this! So, we finally escape, to be cut off by a taxi, and then? The local bus headed to the airport is parked crooked so that we don't fit to pass....my driver is now LESS happy! And then? He taps me...and points...and people are FRANTICALLY WAVING AT US!! And well!? It's friends from a trip that I did in June to LA! AMAZING! They were on vacay, staying at a hotel in the neighborhood of mine! And were just headed out for the day, and he saw the bus, and saw ME! And since we were stuck we had the time to recognize, open the door, hug, and say TEXT ME! Amazing amazing amazing!!!

It's encouraging to see love on the road! To see people that you've met, in parts of your life, and to see them and you, out of your normal element! Unexpected bursts of happiness is what that is!!!!! That said....be nice to people...especially strangers! YOU NEVER KNOW WHERE YOUR PATHS WILL CROSS! Once, I had a customer come into the store, we had a conversation, he was memorable....low and behold, the next day, he's on my flight to Miami! I was headed off to Peru...him to visit his folks, I think...anyway, he was sitting 2 rows in front of me! And, I saw him a year later at a Thai restaurant-that's another story. lol. But that KICKER of him, is that he's not from around here...he lives in WYOMING! So....be nice to strangers, love on God's people. And from the lesson side of things? If you ever get annoyed with that other driver? Be assured they'll park next to you, or go to your church. Or if you are in an airport? Guaranteed they will be sitting next to you!

Love on all...that's your lesson! And Love on our small world! God is so big, and so orchestrating the small things!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Grammy's Re-cap

Grammy's. Meh. Sure....I love music...but I may love the WRONG music. I mean I watched more OTHER things last night, WHILST watching the Grammy's! Sure....the 5 "divas" singing was impressive...though...Yolanda...bores me. And I did feel bad when Christina fell, though, I'm always just surprised more don't. Gaga did her weird thing....that's fine...and then? Martina Lambert came on, put people to sleep, Bob Dylan was a hot mess....or maybe technical jacked it all. It was error after error I felt. Yes, of course I'm perfect, how else could I comment like this?! Then angry Eminem, which is always a good time because of Momma Bear's M&M comment...hahaha. And Dr. Dre. Special place in my heart because my brother and I met him, WAY back in the day...like 1991. He was sitting in front of us at a Knicks game at the Garden. My brother knew who they were...I, did not. Ed Lover & Dr. Dre...apparently they had a show on MTV then? I don't know....but anyway, I remember it, my brother barely did, and I'm very sure Dr. Dre does not. Back to the Grammy's....as I'd flipped away....and the Kris Kristofferson was a train wreck, back up-so was P. Diddy (or is it just Diddy), oh, yeah. so was Jamie Foxx. BUT....Barbara Streisand. UGH. I don't like her anyway, but I thought I'd give her a chance. YAWNER! Back to "Criminal Minds" I went. Better a repeat of THAT than listening to Barbara. So then...this ATROCIOUS band comes on...Arcade Fire? AND THEN THEY WIN RECORD OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!!!! To which, I rolled my eyes and went back to "The Holiday"...where things made more sense. Am I getting old? What's going on? I like hip music....I mean I'm not THAT old! Pshhh. Whatever. Kudos out there to Lady Antebellum....I like them, hint of normalcy...and am secretly glad Beiber didn't win a Grammy, but I do wish Usher would take care of his velcro he's passing off as "hair". Thank you....and good night.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Not so Imperial March...

I'd changed my ringtone to the "Imperial March"...in honor of Mini-Darth-Cutie....but as it turns out...it scares the LIFE out of me whenever it rings. So...I've changed it back to Super Mario Brothers...that said? I still love you Mini-Darth-Cutie!




Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dear Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, GO AWAY!

I'm not real big on bugs....I mean, I can't STAND them in house. Outside? Well, meh...fine. This year....however, those STINKIN' BUGS!!! I mean that LITERALLY!!!! STINK BUGS! I've yet to be offended by the odor, and now having said that, I will be, but I just killed one in the bathroom....which is where I kill them the most....but I've certainly killed my fair share in other rooms of the house too. Banner night was when I took out the air conditioner in the extra bedroom....ELEVEN! And while it may be my favorite number? I didn't like counting ELEVEN dead little bodies! It's hard for them to "tell their friends" when I kill them, as they are then dead.....so do I wound one to send a message or what!?? They are SLOW as all get out...which makes me feel better, at least I can catch them to kill them....but I'm still convinced they've crawled in my mouth during the night. YUK-O! Anyway, thanks Pennsylvania....we appreciate them....thanks so much. On a positive note? It's not a bed bug, yet. So for now, I'll be thankfully annoyed! ;-) And yes, another ode to NONUMENTAL!

Below is some info about the bug....you've probably seen tons this year...if you are around these here parts. BOO! Happy hunting!!

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Halyomorpha halys

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), an insect not previously seen on our continent, was apparently accidentally introduced into eastern Pennsylvania. It was first collected in September of 1998 in Allentown, but probably arrived several years earlier. As of September 2010, Halyomorpha halys has been recorded from the following 37 counties, although it is probable that they are in all counties:

Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Butler, Cambria, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Mercer, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Snyder, Washington, Westmoreland and York

It is also recorded from many other states such as:

California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia

This true bug in the insect family Pentatomidae is known as an agricultural pest in its native range of China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Recently, the BMSB has become a serious pests of fruit, vegetables and farm crops in the Mid-Atlantic region and it is probable that it will become a pest of these commodities in other areas in the United States.

BMSB becomes a nuisance pest both indoors and out when it is attracted to the outside of houses on warm fall days in search of protected, overwintering sites. BMSB occasionally reappears during warmer sunny periods throughout the winter, and again as it emerges in the spring.

Description

Adults are approximately 17 mm long (25 mm = one inch) and are shades of brown on both the upper and lower body surfaces (Fig. 1). They are the typical “shield” shape of other stink bugs, almost as wide as they are long. To distinguish them from other stink bugs, look for lighter bands on the antennae and darker bands on the membranous, overlapping part at the rear of the front pair of wings. They have patches of coppery or bluish-metallic colored puntures (small rounded depressions) on the head and pronotum. The name “stink bug” refers to the scent glands located on the dorsal surface of the abdomen and the underside of the thorax.

The eggs are elliptical (1.6 x 1.3 mm), light yellow to yellow-red with minute spines forming fine lines. They are attached, side-by-side, to the underside of leaves in masses of 20 to 30 eggs.

There are five nymphal instars (immature stages). They range in size from the first instar at 2.4 mm to the fifth instar that is 12 mm in length. The eyes are a deep red. The abdomen is a yellowish red in the first instar and progresses to off-white with reddish spots in the fifth instar. Protuberances are found before each of the abdominal scent glands on the dorsal surface. The legs, head and thorax are black. Spines are located on the femur, before each eye, and several on the lateral margins of the thorax (Fig. 2).

Brown marmorated stink bug (adult)

Figure 1. Adult brown marmorated stink bug.

BMSB on Trumpet Creeper

Figure 2. BMSB nymphs on Trumpet Creeper

Life History

This species probably has a single generation per year in Pennsylvania depending on the temperatures. Warm spring and summer conditions could permit the development of two or three generations. However, in parts of sub-tropical China, records indicate from four to possibly six generations per year. Adults will emerge sometime in the spring of the year (late April to mid-May), and mate and deposit eggs from May through August. The eggs hatch into small black and red nymphs that go through five molts. Adults begin to search for overwintering sites starting in September through the first half of October.

Damage

In its native range, it feeds on a wide variety of host plants. Fruits attacked include apples, peaches, figs, mulberries, citrus fruits and persimmons. This true bug has also been reported on many ornamental plants, weeds, soybeans and beans for human consumption. Feeding on tree fruits such as apple results in a characteristic distortion referred to as “cat facing,” that renders the fruit unmarketable as a fresh product.

Stink Bug Apple Damage

Apple Damage

This insect is becoming an important agricultural pest in Pennsylvania. In 2010, it produced severe losses in some apple and peach orchards by damaging peaches and apples. It also has been found feeding on blackberry, sweet corn, field corn and soybeans. In neighboring states it has been observed damaging tomatoes, lima beans and green peppers.

Stink Bug Damage

Peach and Sweet Corn Damage

These insects are not known to cause harm to humans, although homeowners become alarmed when the bugs enter their homes and noisily fly about. The stink bug will not reproduce inside structures or cause damages. If many of them are squashed or pulled into a vacuum cleaner, their smell can be quite apparent.

Management For BMSB In Homes

Before Bugs Enter a Building

Mechanical exclusion is the best method to keep stink bugs from entering homes and buildings. Cracks around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes, behind chimneys, and underneath the wood fascia and other openings should be sealed with good quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk. Damaged screens on doors and windows should be repaired or replaced.

Exterior applications of insecticides may offer some minor relief from infestations where the task of completely sealing the exterior is difficult or impossible. Applications should consist of a synthetic pyrethroid (i.e. deltamethrin, cyfluthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, cypermethrin, sumithrin or tralomethrin) and should be applied by a licensed pest control operator in the fall just prior to bug congregation. Unfortunately, because insecticides are broken down by sunlight, the residual effect of the material will be greatly decreased and may not kill the insects much beyond several days or a week.

After Stink Bugs Have Entered the Structure

If numerous bugs are entering the living areas of the home, attempt to locate the openings where the insects gain access. Typically, stink bugs will emerge from cracks under or behind baseboards, around window and door trim, and around exhaust fans or lights in ceilings. Seal these openings with caulk or other suitable materials to prevent the insects from crawling out. Both live and dead stink bugs can be removed from interior areas with the aid of a vacuum cleaner - however, the vacuum may acquire the smell of stink bugs for a period of time.

It is not advisable to use an insecticide inside after the insects have gained access to the wall voids or attic areas. Although insecticidal dust treatments to these voids may kill hundreds of bugs, there is the possibility that carpet beetles will feed on the dead stink bugs and subsequently attack woolens, stored dry goods or other natural products in the home. Although aerosol-type pyrethrum foggers will kill stink bugs that have amassed on ceilings and walls in living areas, it will not prevent more of the insects from emerging shortly after the room is aerated. For this reason use of these materials is not considered a good solution to long-term management of the problem. Spray insecticides, directed into cracks and crevices, will not prevent the bugs from emerging and is not a viable or recommended treatment.

Warning

Pesticides are poisonous. Read and follow directions and safety precautions on labels. Handle carefully and store in original labeled containers out of the reach of children, pets, and livestock. Dispose of empty containers right away, in a safe manner and place. Do not contaminate forage, streams, or ponds.

Authored by: Steve Jacobs, Sr. Extension Associate

(Thank you Steve Jacobs for letting me use this article...even though I don't think you knew you did....THANK YOU!!!)