Sunday, September 28, 2008

I will give you a topic

1.)  Paul Newman died.  How sad is that?!  He got his start after James Dean was killed, and never looked back.  He was Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy, Reg Dunlop, The Battler.  He colored money, developed bombs, and won the Piston Cup – 3 times!  He worked with everyone in Hollywood and managed to stay classy.  He was the original McDreamy.  Not only that, but he started a food business that donates all of its profits to various charitable needs including education.

2.)  Have not yet watched the debates.  I DVRed them due to HC so tonight I have a hot date with two men that are way too mature for me.

3.)  Can we just talk about what it says about us when the top two stories on are these… "The U.S. economic crisis continues” and “Gas shortage leads to fights, threatens football”.  There was also this one, “Police say teen plotted to kill mom for breast implants”.

4.)  Hey…did you know Clay Aiken is gay?!  Shocking…I know.  Is there really an economic crisis going on?

5.)  I did a post everyday this week!  I have come so far.  Do not expect it to continue.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Looming deadline

As you see off to the left, the deadline to register to vote is October 6th. That is right around the corner folks! To do my part to make it easier for you, I have included a number of sites. Pick the one that relates to you and make sure you register. If you have moved in recent months...or may need to update your address. You are probably registered to vote where you used to live. You will need to fill out a new form. The address on your ID (typically your driver's lisence) is usually where you are registered to vote. You may need to update the lisence too. By the way, it is illegal not to update that within a certain time of moving. Do not worry. I won't tell anyone.

Everyone can go to Rock the Vote to register.

You will need to print out the form and mail it in.

Just because it is where I am, If you are in Texas, you can go here to figure out if you are registered, where to vote, etc.

Those that will be away from home on November 4th, you can go to Long Distance Voter and follow the three simple steps to vote absentee. (This means all you college kids!)

The overseas Americans can get ballots and make sure they are registered here. I does not matter if you are military, ex-pat, vacationing, or studying abroad. They cover it all!

Hope this helps yall. I promise, this is not going to turn into a political blog. I know people do not share the love for it. Sad!

Friday, September 26, 2008

It was bound to happen

While there are a lot of things to adjust to at the new job, today it became exhausting. The people I work for need a lot of guidance from time to time. They all mean well, and simply do not want to mess up, but really, sometimes it is okay to slip. It is how you learn. But I guess that is the hardest lesson to learn in the moment. No one wants to fail, and when you are struggling it is very often difficult to remember that this will be beneficial in the long run. This is also a lesson that eases with age.

I am struggling to reassure people that they are successful. I am questioning whether I am doing enough. I know that I have not done a great job this year...shoot, I feel like I have not even done a good job, but their reactions are not helping any of us. There are a lot of adjustments, and it became overwhelming this week.

Hopefully, this weekend I will refocus, catch up, and improve next week.
P.S. -- HC '08 was great. Everyone looked happy and healthy, and Mrs. Cooper is doing a great job! I was glad to see each and every one of you and wish you all nothing but the best.

The Presidents/Buds                           My Corps Boys                 

My Girls                                     Crazy Marc

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Shout out to those "left behind"

Why does this man still have a job?! The Dallas school district is in a financial debacle right now. I know, given the current state of the nation's economy, this seems like an obvious statement. However, the district thought they were $24 million in debt, but it turns out they were $64 million in the hole. Back in June! Since then, they have managed to spend $19.5 million more bringing the total to almost $84 million. WHAT?! How does that happen? Oh, wait, I know, you are a ridiculously large school system.

For years I have chuckled when people discuss major companies, such as Enron, that have "cooked the books". I giggle because I feel like if people really want to see tweaking numbers to say what you want them to say, go to some public schools! Please do not get me wrong...there are a lot of great school districts in this country. Districts where the students are the priority, teachers are genuinely appreciated, and community is key. Hell, I am a product of one of these places. The vast number of “struggling” districts are in their situations because there are too many problems and not enough time. It is hard to reinvent the wheel and create change (there is your Obama salute, Eb) when the ENTIRE community is not on board. It is hard for everyone to catch the train when they are simply too busy to buy the ticket. I sympathize with these districts.

I "fought the good fight" in a classroom for years. I struggled to engage kids who worked nights to help pay rent. I bought baby gifts for teenagers that were pregnant too soon. I attended concerts, sporting events, graduations, plays, baptisms, and even a wedding to share in kids' joys with laughter and a high five. I went because so many of their parents could not go. I mediated between teachers/coaches/administrators and kids, fielded phone calls when they did not get into college, listened to countless family issues, attended a parents' funeral, and even gingerly hugged one who was in an abusive relationship before involving the police. I did it so they would know that someone, anyone, cared for them and how they turned out. I ate at gross restaurants and shopped at random, out of the way stores just so they would see a familiar face smiling back at them during their shift. I am not unusual. Teachers all over the country do this everyday. They do not do it to be recognized. They do not do it for a promotion, and they do not do it for the pay. They do it because they love children and what they will become in the future. They should be commended. They should not be fearful that their job will be cut tomorrow.

While teaching, I watched administrators come in late, leave early, mill about in hallways, and get promoted the next year. I witnessed questionable work ethics collect bonuses from high test scores because of the hard work of teachers. I listened to students, parents, and teachers wonder, "where is the [fill in the blank administrative title]". I heard upsetting, blanket statements come out of high-level personnel mouths about not only classroom teachers, but the kids too. Again, do not get me wrong...I heard great compliments about the students hard work both in and out of the classroom from some. I witnessed long hours of work from administrators that wanted nothing but the best for "their kids". There are good and bad administrators just as there are good and bad teachers, kids, and parents. My question is why do questionable people continue to collect six figure incomes?

Maybe Dallas could "restructure" for a year or two. What if all the administrators took pay cuts and made a standard teacher salary of roughly $47,000? Hmmm? Would they have to get a second job to pay their mortgage, make the dues for their own kid's little league this season, or fill up their car with gas? Oh, kind of like a lot of teachers. Hmmm?

It will be interested to see how they fix this issue. Like so many other problems in education, this one does not have a simple solution. One of the many reasons why this even happened is because districts set their budgets based on projected enrollment for the following year. This year, there were 23,000 kids that were not enrolled as of the first day of school. The superintendent, as well as the mayor, went door to door to get kids and send them to class. This really should not be necessary given the new grading policy in D town. That is a completely different issue.

I could honestly stand on this soapbox for hours. (Especially given the fact that I discovered that Miami schools are $88 million in debt) I just really want to salute those I left behind when I quit. In honor of the political atmosphere, I ask you American...Have you thanked a teacher today?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Get excited

40 more days and counting!!  As mentioned before...I LOVE ELECTION SEASON!  In honor of the upcoming festivities, the blog template has changed.  I actually had a hard time finding a nonpartisan one.  I am not completely happy with this (the blues look purple, and it is more an ad for Converse--which I also love--than voting), but it will do until the next elections in the spring.  I am also working on new widgets for the parties, but for some "odd" (read: annoying) reason, the Republican one is HUGE.
1st debate is FRIDAY :)

2 more days and counting!!  Also mentioned before...I have a gross love affair with the Texas State Fair.  Here is a pic of my boyfriend for one month every year.  I spend way more time with him than anyone really should - without a pay check from the fair itself.  If you are ever in the market for a great day of people watching, the fair is your place.  Simply, greatness!
The 1st presidential debate is also Friday...did I already tell you?!
HC '08 is also this weekend, and I am pumped!
This weekend will be busy.  ACL, too.

5/6 months and counting!!  The Texas Rangers will try again for a spot in the playoffs starting with the home opener on April 6, 2009 and spring training in March.  Today was, sadly, the last home game.  At least we went out with a win.  Do not fret boys, there is always next season.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Things I Miss...

...while camping
1.  My family.  Updates on B, commiserating with Sis, movement on Bro's place
2.  My dog!
3.  Check in chats with Julie, C, Johnnie 5 (miss you), and Robyn
4.  Patio buddies Maureen, Wilson, and Jason (in a small dose)
5.  Politics
6.  The people I work for.
7.  The people I work with and our lunch conversation
8.  My family
9.  My routine.  Nightly rituals, morning order, etc.
10.  POLITICS!!  I can not tell you how much this drove me crazy to have no TV, radio, newspaper, etc. for a whole week.
11.  My dog
12.  Dance party
13.  Quiet
14.  Dr. Pepper and BW3s (with Johnnie 5)
15.  Family, dog, and politics.  But I guess I already mentioned those.

And of course, the basics.  My big girl bed, shower, hair dryer, razor, walking around barefoot, perfume instead of bug spray, my family, my dog, my daily Wall Street Journal, and the news.  So glad to be back!!

...about camping
1.  Being outside
2.  Hiking
3.  Living on the river
4.  Ice cream sandwiches
5.  The challenges
6.  Casual clothes
7.  The smell of campfires
8.  Ping pong, Pictionary, BS, Markers, and Mafia
9.  The sun...I feel guilty in it here.  I have a doc appt next month :(
10.  Being physically tired instead of mentally or emotionally

Given # 1, 2, 5, 10, and I guess 9, I have decided to recommit myself to my new year's resolution.  Is October too late to start?  As some of you may remember, my goal was to complete a marathon.  Pretty sure May was too late to start that goal, so I am going to complete 2 5k runs by Christmas.  Totally doable...right?!

Monday, September 22, 2008

We are Something Awesome!

As! Our group was marked by the hot pink (Screaming pink according to Katie) zebra bandanas. On the first day they tied on their do-rags and decided that they wanted to come up with a group name. One of them made the comment, "It has to be cool. It should be something awesome." I laughed and said, "That sounds good...something awesome." It stuck. As some of you know, I work with VIP and for security reasons, I can not put pics of them on here, but I can give you a glimpse into the week.

An hour into the bus ride and I am still staring at the moon.

The hill hike view. I climbed this hill 4 times a day, thus the wicked painful shin splints the first night, but I got over it by day 2.

Team building -- They had to put themselves in birth order without talking or stepping off the log.Leading them into a maze blindfolded. They were then turned lose to find their own way without sight. Pretty entertaining to watch. Not going to lie.

480 foot tandem zip line. Pretty stressful considering 4 were scared of heights. This was day two, so some of the fears were settled on the previous day's adventures.

"Climb on with your bad self." What the employee of the camp said, not me! One of mine was literally scared still. She clung to the pole for quite a while before climbing down. That left me to fill her spot. Thanks a lot. I just climbed as fast as my skinny little arms would let me.
The pole -- climb it, stand on top of it, jump and grab the trapeze 6 feet away. Oh. Okay. Right. All of these are me.
1. I need a cooler helmet.

2. I could have done this more gracefully.

3. Pretty sure I am about to throw up.

4. No, I did not catch it, but DANG IT!! I want to try again!

View 50 yards from the cabin. Gorgeous!

Rock climbing -- This is the same little one that was scared still earlier. What a difference a day makes. Thanks to a zoom lens, she is a mere 4 feet from the top! So proud of her!

Me rock climbing...can you see me?

Our campsite was just off the river.

Wienie roast. They thought that was pretty funny.

Making fire. They actually did it! Without matches.

Canoeing. I am pretty sure those signs say "keep out", ladies.

Yep, yep. They sure do.

I kicked my feet up on the ride home and watched the sunset.

Walking into my house. Sunburned and tired, but feeling accomplished and immensely proud of my group.

After throwing my entire suitcase into the washer, I am ready for a shower and sleepy time. The dryer had to wait until the morning. Julie...the following pics are for you. My super sweet $8 watch. Which started to peel apart by the way. Yes, I live on military time. A product of college.

My even sweeter fake crocs. Hell, another $8 and they were worth it.

This is the LONGEST. POST. EVER. Like I said, there were over 200 pictures and with the videos, it was close to 300. So, I hope my edit suits yall.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Camp post with no pics

Camping was simply amazing!  Now, it bothers me when people overuse this word, but truly, there is no other way to describe our week.  I regret to inform you that I have no pictures as of yet because of the stupid Mac.  (long story short, I am regretting this purchase)  Tomorrow I will be going to buy a new cord to get the pics off my camera and onto the Mactop.  
Warning : there are 250!  

The trip started off EARLY!!  We postponed the departure because of Ike from 11:00 a.m. to the next day at 5:00 a.m.  No worries, everyone was there except two that were sick.  Do not worry about that either, they caught a flight the next day and met us at the Ranch.  We arrived to the most beautiful campsite you could image in the Texas Hill Country.  Located on the banks of the Guadalupe River's North Fork, we were surrounded by rolling hills, steep, rocky "mountain" sides, and breathtaking views.  The first day was filled with ropes course activities, team building activities, and a mean game of ping pong.  Camp is known for a few things...the adult ping pong games are one of these things.  Now, I have not played ping pong since I was probably 8.  Except that one time I played with Robyn, a D1 collegiate tennis player, for an Amazing Race application video.  The guys were so patient in teaching me, and I actually played for hours and had a great time.  Robyn...bring it on!

I will spare you the play by play details of the week and just say that it was incredible.  The girls impressed me each and every day with their encouragement, strength, and perseverance.  Their fearlessness even pushed me to climb some of the stuff.  I can admit it now...I was completely nauseous and committed to the if-you-just-go-fast-it-will-all-be-over-soon theory.  I am sad to say that the camp out under the stars was cut short by a thunder storm at 3:30 in the morning.  Nothing wakes you up in the middle of the night like a mile and a half hike back to a cabin!

I want to also say that it was a joy to get to know some of my coworkers better as well as finally learn the girls' names.  It is so nice to be in a place where everyone enjoys the joys of what they do for a living.  I am sure you are tired of hearing that, but it is really so true.  Thanks for accepting me as the newbie and teaching me the ropes...literally and figuratively.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

An open letter

Dear Ike~

Hi! Let me begin by telling you how much I respect all you did as an Army general and as the president. You helped organize the invasions of France and Germany during WWII and not only helped create, but led NATO. Thanks! It was with your aid that Korea remained right where it started, we still have social security, and nuclear power has and will continue to gain popularity. You helped put a man on the moon. (Even if that is often debated.) As president you supported Brown v. Board and your brilliant military mind created the interstate highway system. This has come in handy over the past decade as the world becomes more chaotic. Because of your invention, we can turn any highway into a landing strip for planes in a time of war. Let’s just hope we never need that little gift. Another reason your interstate highway system is so ingenious is because it aids in evacuations. This is particularly important for my next point.

As a hurricane, YOU SUCK!! After deciding to sit and spin on Cuba for A WHOLE DAY, you have turned your sights on Texas. I know you just want to come home, but please rethink your visit. We have really been looking forward to our camping trip next week. So much so that I have a new sleeping bag, new batteries in the flashlight, snacks ready to go, and the laundry is done. And here you come. Raining on my parade. JERK! Please, stay away from the campsite. Thank you.

Yours truly,

For reference, I am supposed to be where the black dot is by 4 PM Sunday.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mama deserves something pretty

This summer’s theme = “How to piss away money”.
Why stop only because it is post Labor Day?

Having never been a big shopper, all the talk about rising prices means little to me. The only way I really know that things are getting more expensive is the fact that my hotdogs are now 2 for $2.49 instead of 2 for $2.00. I know it is sad. No comments from the peanut gallery. Despite my usual lack of shopping, I have managed to master it this summer. So, to cap it off, I treated myself to a few little gifts. With caveats.

1.) I finally bit the bullet and bought the Mactop. It has only been out of the box for the photo shoot, so hold off on asking if I like it. Maybe tomorrow I will have an answer. People rave about Apple products, and so far I am no different. After all, it comes bearing gifts! With the purchase, I got a free wireless printer (first time I have had a printer since 1999). This is very important for work stuff. It also came with a free iTouch. Not the new one that came out today, but who cares…it was free! Oh, and it was all 15% off because of my job. So far I am a fan.
CAVEAT – I had to get a new laptop because the screen on mine came detached from the keyboard. Literally, it was held together by exposed wires. And a girl can not pass up a deal like the one above.

2.) I did a little shopping at Tiffany. As a huge fan of Elsa Peretti designs, I have been eyeing this necklace called the bean for 2 years. On the way home from work one day I decided to stop by and try it on; along with two rings that I have fallen in love with as well. Once it was on my neck it was sold. It is small and simple, but really, so am I.
CAVEAT – I had a gift card that expired at the end of September. It covered a good chunk of the purchase. I also got two other Peretti rings cleaned while I was shopping.

So, this is it. No more spending on myself until after Christmas. I have some credit cards to pay off! Oh wait, I need to buy some contacts tomorrow.
CAVEAT – I washed one out of my eye and down the drain this morning in the shower. I really need contacts before leaving town next week.

Simple, busy weekend

Admittedly, there was a little pit in my stomach as I drove home from work on Friday afternoon. For the first time since 3rd or 4th grade I did not have a high school football game to attend. It is so sad for me. This will be the biggest adjustment of the new job. I opted out of the happy hour (aka Algonquin Roundtable) with work simply because of a pure desire to take a long, rush-free walk with Coop. The weather was great, and frankly, she deserved it. After hanging out with myself, my dog, a cleaned house, and no work, I was ready. A few friends and I hit a local bar patio for some beer and great conversation.

Saturday came pretty quickly as I woke up before dawn to head north for Bea’s first ever soccer game. (More on that later) The whole fam was there minus dad and it was great to share in Saturday games as adults. That afternoon I was exposed to field hockey for the first time. While I have no idea what I am watching, it seems to be something I will warm up to over time. After the field hockey festival was a winning Aggie game. Barely, but I do not care. I will take it!

One of the best parts of the weekend was THE RANGER GAME!! I have never in all my life had a job where perks are given. I do not play golf with “clients”, have paid for happy hours, or eat catered lunches. I just simply do not have one of those jobs. It is cool. There are far better perks from my profession. However, one of the people I work for brought me 4 tickets to the Rangers/Bo Sox game. Behind homeplate. With parking. A-W-E!! So, that night I donned my Young jersey and took in a winning run complete with homers and fielding you would not believe. There ended up being six of us that went and two had never been to a Ranger game. I was thrilled to be part of their experience. Never mind the fact that 33,000 of the 36,000 people there were cheering for Boston. Obnoxious! After the game we met up with some folks for drinks and a little game of people watching. My town is better than the airport for this sport!
Sunday was the normal breakfast and Sunday paper followed by work and a little pool time. I also met a boy and went for drinks with him Sunday night. Again, more on that later. Just know that he is fun, nice, can talk about anything, and shares one of my biggest passions in life. I ended the weekend watching bad TV with Jonnie 5.

I have realized that over the past months, my life has really changed. Once I quit my horrible job, the attitude shifted, things started to fall into place, and life seems right. My friends have even noticed it. Who would have thought that a year ago I would be here? Thanks yall for standing by me, supporting my decisions, and encouraging me to keep going. Even from thousands of miles away, your friendship means the world.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hey! Did you know...

...McCain was a prisoner of war?
...Palin is a hockey mom of 5?
...Oh, and her 17 year old is preggers?!
...I am one of McCain’s "friends"? Do not worry. You are too!
...Obama is half black?
...Clinton likes pant suits?

Well, now that we know the answer to all of those burning questions, do we know what any of the four candidates are actually going to DO in office? Not just their policy stance, but the actions they will commit, the current bills they will support, the foreign dignitaries with which they will work, the cabinet members they will appoint? Alright, that is what I thought. Hopefully in the next two months we will move past POWs and pregnancy and get to policy. Get your blood pressure medicine ready, remember to breath, and just tell yourself it will all be over soon.

I know most people hate this time of year, but the truth is ... I LOVE IT!! It is hard for me to wipe the smile off my face!