Monthly Archives: November 2013

It’s Christmas in Orlando?

christmas orland0Here I am again at 38,000 feet only this time I’ll be landing in about 3 feet of snow. And while some things change, some things stay the same so while I’m heading in another direction I’m doing it all the while listening to my old friend Brandie. Truth be told it’s not so surprising since she’s all I’ve got on iTunes. Keeps life simple and decisions easy. And you know how I like simple things. Which is why I was pretty happy to be attending a conference in Orlando because, to be frank, I anticipated that a city full of people who lust after a little mouse would be the perfect setting for the shallow blog. Surely I would find plenty to write about in a town where you can explore everything from Space to the Holy Land, replete with gift shops.

But a funny thing happened while I was there. From the get go it became clear that there was more here than meets the eye. I mean how often is it that you find yourself in a deep and engaging conversation with your Master’s prepared server at the local sports bar? And how about those taxi drivers! Each and every one of them had a story to tell and tell it they did. Like the fellow from Haiti who longed for the peace and solitude of his home in the mountains, the one where all of his buddies came to visit each afternoon and where he never had to lock his doors at night. Or yet another Haitian who, halfway through the ride realizing he had forgot to turn on the meter, suggested I could pay him, or not. Because life was about more than making money and he so enjoyed our chat. Shallow? Not so much. Which is why, left with little choice, I decided my best bet would be to fall back on my tried and true “things I learned at the conference” (now Part 1 of 2) since I did learn some things at this one too. Without further ado, and because I know you are anxious to know what I know, here they are.

Things I learned at the conference (Part 2 of 2)

  1. Disney in the rain isn’t the happiest place on earth. I know that for sure because, if it were, my hair would have stayed straight.
  2. Germans, if I may be so bold to say, don’t like American beer. Now that I think about it, even most Americans don’t like American beer.
  3. If you only put half your face on your business cards people will think you are more attractive than you really are. This, my friends, is a scientific fact having something to do with symmetry, but I won’t go into that here. Still, it makes me wonder if the same would hold true for the rest of the body.
  4. Sharing hotel swimming pools with resident ducks just doesn’t seem to me to be a “good thing”despite the fact that good things often come in small packages.
  5. Conference presenters need to stop apologizing for making bad slides. Just stop making them.
  6. It’s not all bad when the people beside you on the plane fall asleep. As a matter of fact, sometimes it’s even better.
  7. Talking to strangers in the airport just might result in an offer for a ride home. Before you accept you probably want to make sure they’re not too strange.
  8. Apparently I never get tired of listening to Ms. Carlile. But most of you knew that already.
  9. A cursory glance at the people walking the streets of Orlando leads me to conclude that it’s painfully clear many American restaurants serve portions that are way too large. Oh dear! Was that my outside voice?
  10. No matter how many decorations are put up, lights made to flash or songs played, without snow it will never really feel like Christmas in Orlando.

In case you are wondering I learned some other stuff at the conference too, most of it related to things I do during my days at work. But you’re not really interested in that, are you.

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It’s that time of year again

bus seatsI know! It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? The thing is, I’ve been a little busy lately. As a matter of fact, right now I’m writing to you from just about 38,000 feet, listening to my fave chanteuse, Ms. Brandi Carlile, on my way to yet another conference. Which, if I do say so myself is quite an accomplishment since, not so long ago the only way I would get on one of these things was with the help of my “little white pill” and you certainly wouldn’t want to be reading anything I wrote in that state, even if I would have been able to write. I’ve come a long way in more ways than you can imagine. Because, if you have been reading this blog carefully you’ll know that around this time last year both me and the President of the United States of America had quite a lot to celebrate. One year ago, give or take a few weeks, Mr. Obama was reelected and I made my way into yet another decade (you don’t really expect me to tell you which one, do you). And, if I can speak for the both of us, the year has had its ups and downs, perhaps less for me than for him. After all, most of the web stuff I’ve developed over the past year has actually worked.

But that doesn’t mean it’s been smooth sailing. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I have a problem with getting older. Quite to the contrary, I actually think it’s a “good thing” given the alternative. As a matter of fact, I’ve managed to save quite a lot of money this year by taking advantage of all the discounts that have very recently been made available to me. Let’s face it, I’ve always enjoyed a good hotel but now I get to enjoy it 10 to 15% more, most of the time. And shopping has become a bit of a treasure hunt, what with all of the potential savings to be had on Tuesdays, my new favourite day. If only the sales clerks could remember to always ask me for my identification. It’s a funny thing the cycles of life. For years I hoped no one would make me take my pic out of my wallet to prove I had reached that all-important age of majority because really, how much more mature was I going to be once I did reach 18? But now I’m quite distressed when they take my word for it that I actually meet the requirements for their “special” prices. Which brings me to the one thorn in my side, fly in the ointment, wrinkle in an otherwise well thought out plan.

You’ve heard it before. The boomer generation has redefined aging. Well why not? We’re a big group of people and that’s what big groups of people do. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we’ve managed to convince the rest of you that “60 is the new 40” whatever that might mean because I’m afraid most of us can barely remember 40. Nonetheless, I’m going to come right out and say that I’ve done a pretty good job of staying fit, at least enough that I can still do 5 long ones on the treadmill without causing any serious damage. And when people who haven’t seen me for quite some time proclaim, “you haven’t changed a bit” I try my best to believe them. Which is why I found my recent experience on the Tube (you recall it was not all that long ago I was wandering the streets of London) just a tad concerning.

As a Mother of two fine young men, I know it was incumbent upon me to ensure that my sons were aware that, finding themselves seated on any type of public transportation meant they needed, at all times, to be prepared to relinquish their seats to someone older and perhaps wiser than them. It’s the right thing to do. Period. Well other Moms, you and I may have made a mistake. You see, on my most recent travels, almost without fail, as I stood comfortably and securely holding on to the poles provided for just that purpose, some young man would politely tap me on the shoulder and say “Ma’am, please take my seat”. And while I knew his Mother would be proud I, on the other hand, was just a tad mortified. Because up until that very point in time I was happy in my illusion, content to think that I really “hadn’t changed a bit”. But that one act, that innocent and generous gesture, that simplest of requests, that one thing, in and of itself, burst my bubble and made me realize that no matter how much I want to believe otherwise, to those who don’t know me, I have changed, likely quite a lot. And in that moment, my otherwise smooth ride became just a little bumpy.

So Mr. Obama, it looks like we made it through year one and as you begin the second year of your term I wish you all the best. As we both continue on our journeys, here’s hoping the ride will be a smooth one from here on out. Although, if you don’t mind me saying, I’d like to think that my term will last a whole lot longer than yours.

Before I leave, a quick thanks to my little bro’ for the idea for the post. It helped unblock the writer in me and now you can blame him for this one.

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Things That Irritate Me (Part 2)

carandbikeI made my bed so I’ll have to lay in it. It wasn’t much of a leap really from “stuff I don’t get” to “stuff that irritates me” and clearly I have managed to close that gap. Before I go on though, I have a confession to make. In my last post I believe I may have suggested that I could be “5 foot nothing and just shy of 105 pounds”. Well that’s not exactly the truth as anyone who knows me knows. It’s easy to see that, even in my bare feet I hug 5 feet and two inches. Slightly more problematic though is that “105 pound” thing because what would have been more accurate for me to say is that I would like to be just shy of 105. Which is why I’m back in that basement of mine sweating it out on the treadmill each and every night. Now it’s not being on the treadmill in and of itself that irritates me because, to be honest, it’s not a bad place to do a little thinking. And in some people’s homes it’s also a not a bad place to do a little watching, but not in my place. You see, in my basement there still exists a 27” flat screen TV. I’m not talking LCD, or LED or even Plasma. There’s no HD or surround sound in my basement. Nope, just a 27 inch, CRT flat screen TV which I’m sure you might still recognize if you bumped into one. And when I’m trying to get through that last kilometer for the sole purpose of shedding two (ok maybe three) of my extra pounds, I find watching that TV mildly irritating.

But not as irritating as the times when I’m driving down one of our roads paying close attention to the speed limit because in my city of choice, they have a nasty habit of playing “guess how fast you can go on this block” and I just hate getting my picture taken. Almost without fail, some yahoo (that one took some thinking) in what they think is a hot car, decides I guessed wrong and takes advantage of the opening to whiz past me most often on the inside lane, likely to make sure I’m paying attention. To cement his (well it usually is) superiority, he’ll subsequently cut in front of my car with just inches to spare. Now you and I both know what’s going to happen next because as kids we all read the story about the tortoise and the hare. He’ll weave in and out of the traffic for the next four blocks or so while I carefully make my way along the blacktop, and we’ll both end up spending about a minute and a half waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel to turn green. Which, I am pleased to say, will irritate him way more than it will me.

Before I go there’s just one more “thing” to check off this list of mine and I do so at my own peril. But I’m putting my cards on the table ‘cause this one’s important, so listen up. By now you’re aware I have a deep seated belief that it’s not only important to know who you are but to be true to your convictions. Let’s face it, that’s not always the easiest thing to do but if the shallow gal can, well anyone can. I’ve said it before, and I’ll very likely say it again, I love my car but I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the horseless carriage. And because of that, I don’t mind that the road has been divvied up for those of you who prefer a non-motorized form of transport in an effort to minimize your carbon footprint. Don’t get me wrong, I reduce, reuse and recycle whenever I can. But when you hop on your ride, here’s the question you need to ask yourself. Are you a pedestrian or are you a vehicle because you simply can’t be both. You see, when you pull up beside me in the “right turn only” lane the only assumption I can make is that you, like me, are going to turn right because when you’re on the road you obey the rules of the road. When you don’t, well that’s not just irritating, it’s downright dangerous. So let’s make a pact. I’ll watch out for you if you watch out for me and we’ll both come out of this ahead. Because the alternative isn’t going to go well for either of us.

Well that’s that. The end of the “things that irritate me” series. I can’t say I’m sorry because, this whole exercise has been a little intense and the subject is, quite frankly, starting to irritate me.  Makes me think it’s time for this shallow gal to get out of that bed. Besides, to tell the truth, it’s starting to feel a little lumpy.

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