Monday, March 31, 2008

Compare and Contrast

Back in the day, these were the easiest essays I was assigned in English class. Compare and Contrast..... and a topic was given. I rocked at those. I was always good at seeing the similarities between two givens. I could find all sorts of similarities between, say, Jay Gatsby and Randall Patrick McMurphy.

Maybe it was all those C&C essays I did for Mr. O'Brien in 11th and 12th grade that trained my brain to automatically go to compare and contrast when looking at situations. Maybe I did well in Mr. O'Brien's class because that's the way I naturally think. It's a chicken and egg thing, I suppose.

I found myself doing the C&C thing today. I've been watching two different entities struggle with where they are and where they want to be in the future as of late. Both have clearly defined where they want to be in the future.... it's the getting there that has them vexed.

But I am finding it interesting to watch how they differ in their approach. One is insisting on short term gain in the hopes it will result in long term gain as well. The other is willing to sacrifice the short term in the hope it will result in long term gain.

I have more faith in the latter.

Short term gain keeps the wheels turning. It keeps the cash flowing and the masses motivated. We are, after all, an instant gratification culture. Unfortunately, when we expend all you have in the 'right now', you are left with no energy for later. Marathon runners know they cannot start out at a sprint. They must pace themselves. Start out slower in the beginning and have enough to sprint at the end.

But short term losses can throttle the cash flow and is demoralizing to the masses. It's difficult to keep on keeping on when it seems that nothing is working. In many ways, it takes more energy to keep trudging through during the down times. It would be like me trying to run a marathon. I'd be expending a lot of energy just to go slowly but eventually I know I would get to the finish line.

It is very very difficult to take the latter path. You face hostile faces instead of happy enthusiastic faces. It takes clearly defined leadership. It takes leadership with a thick skin to suffer the slings and arrows that comes with the short term losses. It also takes leadership who is willing to say "we are sacrificing today for a successful tomorrow". When the "team" (whoever and however that is defined) knows that the hard work that is being done now without reward will eventually result in the job being easier and with greater reward, they are more likely to suck it up and deal. They aren't going to be looking to bail out at the first opportunity. They aren't as grumbly and discontented.

Thus, the difference in the two entities. One has leadership and the other is simply stumbling through and throwing everything out there to see what works. Leadership appears to be done both with no regard to how this will affect the 'team' in the long term and by opinion poll. Whoops, everyone thinks this is a bad idea....nevermind. "Oh. You built a strategy around our idea? Too bad for you. Moving on...... "

It seems so very obvious, but leaders lead. They aren't leaders simply because they showed up that day first. They are chosen because they have the skills it takes TO lead. Not everyone can. Not everyone should. And that's ok. Leaders need people to follow them.

Both entities are facing some tough times right now. Morale is low. They are struggling. But clearly one has a plan, a clearly defined plan, for the future. The other is just hoping something will work.

I just find it interesting to observe.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


We knew we were on borrowed time. Many of our neighbors long ago gave up and just replaced the stoves that came with our houses. Seems Whirlpool had a bum batch of stoves back in the day.

Last year we fixed it.

This year we decided we'd just skip the multiple repairs thing and get a new one.

We found out that the oven had given up the ghost on Wednesday night. Emma had to make a "French meal" for French class. She chose quiche. Emma, being heat phobic, was tortured at the thought of putting the quiche into the oven. If she could have swathed herself in asbestos, she would have. VERY carefully and with as much distance as she could possibly muster, she set the quiche on the very edge of the pulled out oven rack. I told her to put it into the middle. She was horror stricken. It's HOT!!!

Fed up I went to do the task for her and show her it was FINE.

Well... yea.... she wasn't gonna get burned from that oven, that was for sure. Stone cold.

We pressed the fancy schmancy toaster oven into service and baked the quiches one at a time (there were two).

I declared the oven broken.

The Mr. futzed with screwdrivers, matches and much turning on of the gas. After which he very confidently declared that "something is wrong".

Thank God I have him around. I would have come to that conclusion without trying to blow up the house. This, apparently, is a critical step.

New stove/oven has been ordered.

Easter morning's baked eggs? Didn't have 'em. Easter dinner's ham? Still in the fridge. Although Jean did say we could go down to the shop and cook it there (where we bought the new stove). Instead we kluged the baked eggs together in a single dish that would fit into the toaster oven and had that for dinner. Our first new stove meal will be the ham. Which is fine... cause it still feels too early for Easter.

Which is why it never occurred to me to look for hot cross buns at the store. Which means I missed them completely this year.

Oh well. My patookus doesn't need anything else to work off at the gym.

New stove.... five burners, double oven from Valley Oak Home Appliance Center. It's all good..... inconvenient, but good.


I auditioned.

...and like everyone else was told they would "call next week".

It went ok. Not great. Not horrible. I suppose it really depends on how great and how horrible the others were......

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Blogger Annoyance

Yea... I know... it looks wrong.

I had to upgrade. Which means I had to revert to a stock layout. Why? Because I upgraded to be able to customize my blog.

Yea...makes no sense to me either.

I gotta find my photo again.


Doubtful it will happen today.....

Friday, March 07, 2008


Or is that just "nerve"????

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

That's really not a lot of words.

I can remember them all.... right?

In the right order.....right?

WITH the right notes.... IN the right places..... right?

What WAS I thinking when I signed up to audition to sing at a River Cats game???

Two weeks..... I have two weeks to get my nerves and my voice into shape......

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


So about a decade ago, I was surfing the internets looking for other consultants from That Scrapbooking Company and came upon The Site That Was. I logged in and posted and maybe a year-ish later this FREAK of a woman started posting as well. She was very clearly a freak because she was a Jr. High math teacher (first clue) and also worked with kids in theater. WAY too much contact with Other People's Children in my book.

Oh. And she LIKED it.

Clearly, not my kind of people.

But something clicked anyway. She lived on the other side of the country doing her freaky math and kid stuff. So all was cool. Not like she was gonna ask me to volunteer or join her in any of that.

In 2001, That Scrapbooking Company had their annual conference in Reno. *I* can go to Reno! No airfare for THAT. We had to be out of our house for a week so the builder could (try to) fix the problem with the flooring. The Mr. and children stayed with the Mother-in-Law while I went to the conference. Elaine... who I wasn't calling "that freaky woman" anymore.... was scheduled to go to the first round of the conference. She stayed a couple extra days so she could meet up with a bunch of us from The Site That Was. She said she really wanted to meet me & Marfy. The Mr. came to dinner with us, so she got to meet him too.

Time passes and we become better friends. More time passes and events happen that pull us and others together as a team. The Site That Was evaporates (cause I'm gonna be nice about it in this post) and the Mr. and I get to know Elaine and HER Mr. better.

We find ourselves spending Saturday nights in Instant Message conferences....all four of us. We would be sitting in one living room or another if we lived in the same town. But we don't. We live on opposite sides of the country. So.... Instant Message it is. Through the miracle of technology we CAN all see each other.... but it doesn't always work right and is more of a pain in the patookus, so we generally don't even bother. Although we haven't tried that since we've all been Mac enabled.... hmmm.....

Anyway..... I spent last week in Alabama with Elaine and Jerry. My 'scandalous' version of this story is that I flew across the country to a city I've never been to, to be met at the airport by a man I have never met. Which is only true in the "never met face to face" sense. I think we know each other pretty well..... and he wasn't carrying an axe, so I was fairly confident he wasn't an axe murderer. ;) So I went ahead and got in the car with him.

It's always dicey.... meeting someone you only know from a message board. You really don't REALLY know them. Since Reno, I have spent time with Elaine... in Texas. I drove all over central Texas sitting next to her in a big white van and it is STILL FUNNY, nearly four years later. I've talked on the phone with Jer.... innumerable lines of Instant Messages between us. We have laughed, commiserated, disagreed over the years. But a week in their house is a test. Pretty much doesn't matter HOW you know someone.... a week is a TEST.

I am so very glad I went. I hope they can visit us now. They have smaller children who are far less self sufficient than we do. So it may be several years before that happens. Although Helen DID say she was going to visit me when she is "six or maybe sixteen". Since six is this summer, I'm guessing sixteen is more likely.

But we are pretty much firm in our plan to send Emma to Miss Elaine's Math Camp Intensive this summer. In exchange for Emma playing with (and thus keeping them out of Mommy's hair) and babysitting (in the evenings so grown up time away from the house can be had) the Young Children, Miss Elaine is going to undo the damage done by this year's Algebra (supposed) teacher. Emma will also get to draw and play dress up with Miss Helen who has the same flair for fashion as Emma does. heh.... Emma will tutor Helen!

Fate is funny. A random spot on the internet, a chance connection.... Two families who would never have met otherwise have become very good friends. All four of us. It is rare that no matter what combination of the four, we can all comfortably get along, talk, hang out.... We have forged individual friendships. The men aren't friends just because they are the husbands and well, they might as well get along. Jerry and I spent two hours in the car talking and laughing as much as Elaine and I did on the return trip. I am sure Elaine and Normy could do the same.... I think they chat nearly every morning since Normy is up before God and it's later in the day where Elaine is and she's online. No one is weird about it. Nothing uncomfortable or awkward -()-....

It's cool. Very very cool.

.....and now.... I think I need to go jam. And that, for the record, is all Jerry's fault.