Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar Results and the Schizophrenic Scales

OSCAR RESULTS: I got 13 out of the 25 categories correct this year, matching my personal best AND tying with my ex-husband who lives and breathes films and lives in SoCal. So much for Hollywood knowledge!

On another note ... I think my gym is trying to mess with my head. Each week I try to weigh myself on the scales in the women's changing room and each week I seem to have gained or lost a terrific amount of weight. One week I'm 145lbs, another week I'm 136lbs. While I'd like to believe the latter, I'm not sure either is correct. I think it could be a conspiracy to keep me coming back to the gym. One week I'm completely motivated by my huge weight-loss and the next I'm hitting the treadmill with renewed gusto because I put on 10lbs. While this seems like a pretty harmless tactic for someone like me who's at the point in my life where I'm done obsessing about how much I weigh, there are plenty of seriously weight-obsessed people out there, to whom this see-saw of gain and loss could result in a psychological injury. So, I shall await the lawsuit from the mother of the bulemic daughter who offed herself as a result of the schizophrenic scales...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Going out on a limb for Oscar

Okay, so I'm going to risk public humiliation by posting my Oscar predictions right here on my blog. This year I managed to see quite a few of the nominated movies but still not enough to make personally informed choices. So I deployed the tactic of my ex-husband - internet research. Go to the websites for all the big professional associations and see who they gave their awards to this year. Unfortunately, this didn't yield any information for the "shorts" categories and finding info for some of the below-the-line nominations was hard, so I'm least confident about those obscure things like makeup, sound-editing, live short and animated short.

Good or bad, here they are... I'll post my results tomorrow.

Forest Whitaker – THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND (I still need to see this film - this prediction is based 100% upon Oscar buzz and the SAG award)
Eddie Murphy – DREAMGIRLS
Helen Mirren – THE QUEEN (although I wish Judy Dench would get it for Notes on a Scandal - it was such a departure for her and she was fabulous)
Jennifer Hudson – DREAMGIRLS

ORIGINAL SCORE (if Philip Glass gets this for Notes on a Scandal, I'll scream - that man's music could drive me to suicide!)
DOCUMENTARY SHORT (had no idea about this one)
THE DEPARTED (although Notes on a Scandal gets my personal vote)
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (this is my shot in the dark, I'm hearing Babel will get it, but I think Little Miss Sunshine should get something)
SHORT FILM -- LIVE ACTION (had no idea about this one)
BEST PICTURE (although I liked Blood Diamond better)
SHORT FILM -- ANIMATED (had no idea about this one)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Around the world with Lyon

Friday was Lyon's Annual Awards Luncheon at the Sacramento Convention Center. Every year we celebrate the success of our top producing agents by throwing a big party, usually with a fun theme. This year was AROUND THE WORLD WITH LYON. Joe (event God) was the organizer and, as usual, he did a fantastic job. Man, that guy is talented and has a great imagination!

Each sales office was designated a country and they were encouraged to dress up as if they were from that country. Meanwhile all the employees were asked to come as tourists. The foyer was decorated like an airport, with airline staff (HR and Office Support Depts) and a TSA agents (Marketing) directing the agents into the event.

HR at check-in (above)

Marketing making sure that nobody overlooks those security rules (below)

Everyone entered the ballroom, designated as the "Departure Gate" for Lyon air and once inside...

The blue seats were for First Class passengers (the top, top producers).

The event was bittersweet for me as it is my last as a Lyon employee, although as an employee of Trendgraphix I will still get to attend.... although it won't be the same.

As I greeted agents coming into the event, I was reminded - as I always am at these things - that there are a lot of really nice people in this company.; not all agents are pains in the ass and I will miss being in the thick of it as the Marketing Director for all 900+ of them.

How far will the pendulum swing?

As many of you probably know by now if you keep "up" on world events, England is trying to tackle islamic fundamentalists who want to take over the country and impose Sharia laws on everyone. In that context, my dad forwarded this email to me yesterday...

If you are ready for the adventure of a lifetime, TRY THIS:
Enter Pakistan , Afghanistan or Iraq illegally. Never mind immigration quotas, visas, international law, or any of that nonsense.

Once there, demand that the local government provide free medical care for you and your entire family. Demand bilingual nurses and doctors. Demand free bilingual local government forms, bulletins, etc.

Procreate abundantly. Deflect any criticism of this allegedly irresponsible reproductive behaviour with, "It is a cultural thing; you wouldn't understand."

Keep your British identity strong. Fly your national flag from your rooftop, or proudly display it in your front window, or on your car bumper.

Speak only English at home and in public, and insist that your children do likewise. Demand classes on English culture in the Muslim school System.

Demand a local country driver license. This will afford other legal rights and will go far to legitimise your unauthorised, illegal, presence in Pakistan , Afghanistan or Iraq .

Drive around with no liability insurance and ignore local traffic laws .Insist that local country law enforcement teaches English to all its Officers.

Organise protest marches against your host country, inciting violence against non-Brits, non-Christians, and the government that let you in.

Good luck! You'll soon be dead.

Because it will never happen in Pakistan , Afghanistan or Iraq or any other country in the world except right here in the UK. For we are run by soft, politically correct politicians, that are too scared to "offend" anyone.

I'm no more anti-Muslim than I am pro-Christian and I have to say that it's all the UK's own fault. Patriotism and national pride have been frowned upon in my country for too long in the name of tolerance and multi-culturalism. And the British people (black, white, asian or otherwise) have just stood back and watched it happen. Officially, British people disengaged from the issue with polite fatalism, while secretly bitching and moaning to one-another about the "state of the country today". (It's a cultural phenomenon that the Brits will complain to anyone that will listen but when asked by someone who can do something about it, will politely say nothing's wrong). Then, people were too scared to say anything, for fear of being branded "racist".

Now, of course, the anger and frustration is beginning to build and emails like this are going out all over the net. Additionally, people are joining a far-right political party called The British National Front, which, in the eyes of many, seemed to go from right-wing-looney-bin to reasonable political alternative overnight.

And in this, there is a danger that the pendulum will swing too far in the opposite direction, polarizing the country entirely. The National Front, while seemingly harmless on the surface, self-proclaims its policies as based upon Racial Nationalism, which sounds scarily like Naziism to me. They define this as being for: concepts of personal liberty, social justice, national independence and racial integrity. Which, in short, means throw out everyone who's not white. And no, I'm not exaggerating. In the FAQs on their website it says this:


And further that..."Blacks, as well as other races have a right to enjoy, maintain and protect their own races and cultures - in their own countries."

OUCH. And previously main-stream politicians are joining organizations like, and associated with, this.

Of course, the National Front is far from mobilizing the British population in any significant or impactful way. Ultimately, I'm sure, Blair's government will be ousted in the next national election and someone more conservative will slowly begin to turn the tide with incremental change. I HOPE. If not, let's hope my Brits find a typically polite and tolerant way to get themselves off this horrible path.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Support the ex!

My ex-husband you may or may not know is an independent film-maker and screenwriter. He has been working on his own, self-financed short feature for a year or two now (his second) and he just submitted it for consideration on a reality TV show that Fox has picked up called “On the Lot”.

Here is the link to the trailer for his film (the actual short is still in the final stages of post-production). If you have time, please log-in and vote (all 5 stars!) for his film. It may help him to get featured on the show.

I know it’s a strange request, but we’re still good friends so I appreciate your help. Feel free to forward to friends!

Things that make you go hmmmm

"Everybody in politics lies, but they (the Clintons) do it with such ease, it's troubling. Not since the Vietnam War has there been this level of disappointment in the behavior of America throughout the world, and I don't think another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is -- and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton? -- can bring the country together."

That's the direct quote from Geffen that kicked-off the Hillary/Obama fight.

I read it and re-read it a couple of times because part of the comment really just didn't sit well with me. "..God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton?" You mean like Barack Obama, or John Edwards, or Rudy Guilliani, or John McCain... or anybody else running for President? Isn't that just about as ambitious as you can get: running for President of the world's most influential nation? So why is Hillary different from all those other, obviously and equally, ambitious politicians?

Could it be that she's a woman? Does anyone else sense that what Geffen is really saying here, or what he's not saying, is that her ambitions outstretch the limitations of her gender? I honestly can't think what else he could mean. Regardless of whether you like or dislike her, she's equally as qualified as the others in the race.

It's sad that, after all that has been accomplished in the fight for gender equality, things like this are still an issue. Honestly, I'm not usually one to be sensitive to these things - despite being very independent, I'm not a raging feminist. I do think there are differences in the strengths (intellectual and physical) of men and women and I think we should accept them and stop trying to shore-up our weaknesses in an attempt to reach 100% "equality" (I like my men with some testosterone and a electric drill in their hand and I'm not throwing my bra or make-up away anytime soon). HOWEVER, I see absolutely NO REASON why I woman can't make a fantastic President. Women have been ruling other nations for decades and proved that for sure.

So why then is Hillary Clinton so much more ambitious than her fellow Presidential contenders, and why then are there signs like this popping up in our communities...?

Where, I can't help asking, is the sign that says: BUSH SPECIAL "One small, gutless weiner, bent to the right?" Of course there isn't one because men are not objectified in the same way that strong, ambitious women are. Even just putting the two words "woman" and "ambitious" together conjures up a whole bunch of negative adjectives (even for me, who I consider to be both) - bitch, aggressive, stubborn, unfeeling, calculating (add your own). Meanwhile, say "ambitious man" and those adjectives turn suddenly positive.

It's sexist, it's still around and it's why Hillary will not be the next President of the United States.

This morning's commentary brought to you from the eliptical

Well, the honeymoon was short-lived. The leading Democratic presidential contenders are already trading insults and accusations. I mean, really, what took them so long to start the in-fighting???

For those of you not following the latest dem news with baited breath (which could be any of you out there with a life), music and film producer David Geffen recently signed-on to the Obama campaign with a big fat contribution and promptly turned around to call the Clintons scary-good liars. Hillary's aids, aghast, called for Obama to apologize (um, huh?) and return the money Geffen donated, which he refused to do, taking the check with a wink and a smile. He promptly followed-up with a statement that called the Clintons hypocrites, since Geffen was a one-time contributer to Bill's campaign and aparently stayed in the Lincoln bedroom during the Clinton's stint in the Whitehouse. Hot on the heels of this debacle, Governer Bill Richardson ambulance-chased the issue and also called for Obama to apologize for Geffen's remarks.

Anyone with a brain knows that Obama isn't going to, nor should he, apologize for somebody else's remarks; unless, of course, Geffen says that "Barack told me to say it," which is unlikely to happen anytime soon. So, what Hillary's camp is up to is anyone's guess.

Here's what I think (the fact that I have an opinion should come as no shock to you). Of course, Hillary and Bill have lied (find me a human-being who hasn't, especially one in power) and I'm sure that Geffen knows a little something or other, or can make a decent guess. If Hillary's camp go back to Geffen to ask for an apology, the context would need to be 'Apologize, or prove it!' Which, presuming I'm right, would dare him to reveal whatever he supposedly knows. However, Hillary can't just IGNORE the remarks - someone calls you a liar, you gotta respond or admit, through silence, that they're telling the truth. So they ask Barack to apologize, which he won't and shouldn't, thus shifting the focus off of Geffen and onto Barack.

Where does this leave our favorite dems, then? Let's examine. Hillary looks uncharitable in asking Barack to apologize and give up the dough and Barack is now closely associated with those "Hollywood Liberals". With a bit of luck for the rednecks, the chick and the black man will engage in a cat-fight and cancel each other out. Meanwhile let's not forget that Edwards has already done that to himself by saying that he'll raise taxes. All of which may leave the field clear for a nice, safe, white man to come from behind. Maybe we should be looking at who Geffen hasn't given money to, rather than who he has! Richardson or Biden for President, anyone?

All this and we're still months away from the PRIMARIES! The Republican contenders have so far been pretty low-profile, suspiciously so. Perhaps they know that if they run-out all their headline-grabbing stunts now, they'll have nothing left to keep them in the press later, when it really matters.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

America: Global Patriarch

Last night Joss and I were watching "The Unit". For those of you who are in the UK and/or who have not seen this show, it's about a team of Rangers - kind of like the U.S. Army's version of the Navy Seals; 'the best of the best', America's elite killing machines. It's not my favorite show on tv - too much "hoo haaa" testosterone - but, if you can suspend belief for 60 minutes, it's not bad entertainment (plus Scott Foley and Max Martini are hotties). Last night, all hot-bods aside, it was pretty hard to sit through.

To cut a long story short, the U.S. team were in Germany for their annual world "games" (kind of like the Olympics for special ops forces) along with similar teams from other countries across the globe. The goal was to run around Berlin on a "fake" terrorist busting operation. One team (unknown to the rest) were designated as "terrorists" with the goal of executing two operations - 1)hijack a U-Bahn train for 60 minutes and 2) kidnap a "fake" banker with a prize in his briefcase- and the rest of the teams were responsible for detecting which team was the terrorists and then fouling their attacks. All of this, of course, while remaining undetected by the general public. (We'll skip the obvious gaping holes in plausability here to save time). Germany had aparently beat the U.S. for two years in a row now, so our boys were ready and raring to whoop some Gerry ass.

Unfortunately, the whole thing goes horribly wrong when a "real" terrorist infultrates the games, spying on the fake terrorist team (the U.S.) and using their wily strategies to try and execute the attacks for real. Which is where we move into the annoying phase.

Cut to the strategy meeting. The U.S. leader, Jonas, is leading the meeting (because who else could possibly be capable?), describing the imminent threat to all the other country's teams. Oh dear, the terrorist now knows how to hijack a train by taking a subway central control post hostage!

"Ok," says one hapless foreign solider "So, they know how to stop a train for 60 minutes. If that's all the damage they can do, what are we worried about?"

"Well," says Jonas in his all-knowing tone of superiority (and I paraphrase). "Once they're inside the control area, they have access to the controls for all the trains in the network and they can wreak havoc on the system."

Are you freakin' kidding me? The world's best special ops forces all in one room and the only person who could make that giant leap of logic was the head of the U.S. unit?

And so it went on. The hapless foreigners asked dumb questions and the U.S. soldiers set them straight with their superior training and intelligence. All the forces went out to stop the terrorist's evil plot but only the Americans were able to handle the situation. And finally, the big reveal? The terrorist was actually one of their own - a jealous Turkish soldier, bitter because his team hadn't been considered well-trained enough to participate in the games this year. Of course the fact that Turkey is a muslim nation had absolutely no bearing on this plot twist. Ahem.

There is nothing more irritating to me than the American media's narrowly focused storylines (both real and imagined) that position America as the global patriarch to a world of bungling, inept (or just plain irrelevant) foreigners. It happens all the time in movies - world catastrophies that start or only seem to strike in the U.S., American heroes that are the only ones capable or brave enough to save "the world" - and its a common feature of news reporting to assume that the only stories worth reporting on are those happening in our country or to someone from our country. When I go home to England and watch the BBC news it's like I rediscover a whole other world - there are, believe it or not, pivotal events going on in other countries in the world and people in those countries that are smart, intelligent and doing important things.

For instance, just today:

  • A cyclone is about to hit Mozambique with 175km/h winds

  • Rogues in the Philippines army are killing its country's politicians, unchecked

  • The Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, may be forced to resign after losing a vote on his foreign policy in Afghanistan

  • India and Pakistan signed a nuclear pact to reduce the threat of a nuclear conflict in the region

  • German researches have concluded that a natural birth control method, symptothermal, is as effective as the pill

And so concludes your educational session for today.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Out of alignment

No, not my back, me. Well, I suppose my back is part of me, so technically it is out of alignment too, but jeez, you know what I mean.

A comment I posted on a friend's blog the other day, made me think about "who I am". This sounds a lot deeper than it really was. Basically, I looked back on who I thought I would be before the world of work and bills consumed my sense of idealism and adventure, and then examined my current reality to see how "in alignment" I was with what makes me happy, what fulfills me, what I'm good at, and what my dreams/goals are in life. (Again, I like to think of myself as fairly self-aware, so this didn't take too long.)

What I discovered, was this:

I'm a writer who doesn't write and an artist who doesn't do anything artistic. The third leg to my stool, being a foreign traveler extraordinaire, was the only thing I guess is somewhat in alignment.

I can't remember a time in my life where I didn't want to be a writer. I used to use up so much paper when I was a kid that my dad had to "steal" it from work in reams. I got my first electronic typewriter when I was 8 years old and, at school, I would beg and plead with my teachers to allow me to skip math so I could write a story. When I was 7, I wrote a poem about a rabbit caught in a trap and my teacher, Mrs. Beavan, told me that for the rest of her life she would look in book stores to see my name on the shelves. I developed an unquestioning faith that I was a great and talented writer and that I would be able to make this my vocation, no problem.

So, what changed? Well, first University. Writing all those essays and being "schooled" in how to form one's boundless thoughts into a pre-designated structure. Also, my degree in media and cultural studies, forced me to be a critical thinker - in both senses of the word. I got so used to analyzing media, questioning different people's interpretations of reality, that I sort of lost the ability to suspend disbelief long enough to let my own creative juices flow. My mind, once a rushing river of stories, plots and characters, channeled all my creative thoughts through a filter that analyzed and criticized them, even before the words reached the page. Then, there was work. The two jobs I've had that have required me to "write" somewhat creatively, have each moulded my writing to appeal to either someone else's idea of prose, or the limiting style that appeals to my "customers" (bullets, simple sentences).

In the process, I feel like I have lost my voice. And, when your entire sense of who you are and who you would be, was once formed entirely on a strong sense of your own voice and its "worth", I feel like I have also lost a sense of who I am as well.

Maybe there are some writers out there who can spend all day being edited, editing themselves for "commercial" purposes and then returning home to be creative genius extraordinaire... but it aint me. I guess it's like move directors. How many Oscar winning movie directors once directed commercials? There may be some, but I'm sure they're few and far between.

So, from the "poor me" to the "so what are you going to do about it"?

First of all, I'm trying to get over my fear of writing by rambling on in this blog. In a lot of ways, I think that's why I started this thing - to again realize the freedom of writing something without having others edit it or without editing it myself. It may be gramatically sloppy, creatively dry and really not all that interesting but it's mine, it's raw and it's not controlled by anyone else.

Secondly, I'm researching a creative writing class; probably one online since Sacramento isn't exactly the hot-bed of the literary community. I'd love to have an MFA in Creative Writing, but that's like thousands of dollars and a big time commitment... one step at a time.

Speaking of which, I'll address the "artist" part of my misalignment another day. This post is already too long.

There I go, editing myself again! :)

Friday, February 16, 2007

For the over 30 crowd

My best friend, Heidi, sent this to me. It seemed to fit in so well with one of the themes of my blog (facing the grand ole 30s) that I had to post it here. Enjoy!

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were when they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning ... uphill BOTH ways .. yadda, yadda, yadda And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!

But now that I'm over the ripe old age of thirty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today. You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia! And I hate to say it but you kids today you don't know how good you've got it!

I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have The Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!!

There was no email! ! We had to actually write somebody a letter .. with a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox and it would take like a week to get there!

There were no MP3's or Napsters! You wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the damn record store and shoplift it yourself!

Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio and the DJ'd usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up!

And talk of about hardship? You couldn't just download porn! You had to steal it from your brother or bribe some homeless dude to buy you a copy of "Hustler" at the 7-11! Those were your options!

We didn't have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called they got a busy signal, that's it! And we didn't have fancy Caller ID Boxes either! When the hone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your mom, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, a collections agent, you just didn't know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

We didn't have any fancy Sony Playstation video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like "Space Invaders" and "asteroids" and the graphics sucked ass! Your guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! . Just like LIFE!

When you went to the movie theater there no such thing as stadium seating! All the seats were the same height! If a tall guy or some old broad with a hat sat in front of you and you couldn't see, you were just screwed!

Sure, we had cable television, but back then that was only like 15 channels and there was no onscreen menu and no remote control! You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on!

You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel and there was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I'm saying!?! We had to wait ALL WEEK for
cartoons, you spoiled little rat-bastards!

And we didn't have microwaves, if we wanted to heat something up . we had to use the stove or go build a frigging fire ... imagine that! If we wanted popcorn, we had to use that stupid JiffyPop
thing and shake it over the stove forever like an idiot.

That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled.

You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1980!

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Heidi (this is me and Heidi on my wedding night, sharing a drunken moment of girlfriendly love)

Making friends in the online community

What a wonderful thing the internet and blogging thing is.

As a result of reading my random rants, my friend, Julianne (who recently moved to Australia) just connected me to the blog of an Australian friend of hers living right here in Sacramento. It seems that CAW (that's her online pseudonym) and I were karmic twins separated at birth. Among other things, we share our loathing of RBS (aka: Fox News, see prev. post).

Visit her blog at I'm also going to put her in my links over there to the right.

Super cool... my virtual friends are growing!

Change is like vertigo

I've always been pretty good at weathering change. When I look back at the big changes or events in my life, the thing I recognize that always got me through was a disinclination to look back. I'm not one to ruminate on the past; I rationalize, categorize and file experiences in the back of my brain for future reference. I don't usually sit and think about how things were before, or if I do it's from a place of detatched curiosity - How did we get from there to here? Honestly, it's usually that simple with me. I'm not so complicated of a gal.

So, it was this I was thinking about today as I was trying to figure out why the heck I'm having such a tough time transitioning out of my job at Lyon. I'm the change QUEEN people! I'm always looking to change something; I truly believe in the old adage "A change is as good as a rest."

The answer of course is not all that simple just as life isn't all that simple as you get older. The complexity of your emotions and reactions are shaped by breadth and depth of your experiences. The more experiences you have, it follows that the more complex your emotions on any given subject will be. We all know that, typically, the older you get the harder change becomes for you. Letting go, allowing things to just "be", get's harder because of the fear of what might happen, which is fed by the knowledge of what has happened in the past.

So, it occurs to be that change is like vertigo. Here you are trying to climb this mountain and your fear, of course, is falling. So, what do they tell you to do? Don't look down.

To get over a fear of falling, don't look down. To get over a fear of change, don't look back.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More notes from the treadmill on pansy journalism

Fox News is hilarious. Have you ever watched it? It should be named RBS - Republican Broadcasting System. This morning on the treadmill, I watched with much amusement as Geraldo Rivera stood before a group of stoic looking marines and talked about how great everything was going in Baghdad since the start of the new US/Iraqi joint offensive "Operation Law and Order". His measuring stick for this breaking news was the fact that no US military personnel had been killed in a whole three days in Baghdad. A whole three days - WOW. Well, I guess it must be working then.

GERALDO: "And so the news from Iraq is that the new offensive will succeed in stamping out sectarian violence - the politicians in Washington just need to give it a chance."

Gee, thanks Geraldo for that fair and balanced report. What would we do without quality journalists like you?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Why did random rants move?

The short answer is that the name is more appropriate. Thats all folks!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I should be a reporter, and other Tuesday ramblings

What the heck is up with the standard of tv-journalism these days? It seems to me that most broadcast reporters exist only to provide platforms for those in public office to spout their carefully-rehearsed stump speeches.

This morning, for instance, I was watching MSNBC while running on the treadmill. The subject of discussion was the congress' non-binding resolution on Iraq, due to be deliberated today. The morning anchorman was interviewing one of the few congressional Republicans left supporting Dubya's troop surge and, predictably, the congressman was criticizing his opponents as being in contradiction with themselves: "How can you say you support our troops but at the same time say you don't support their mission?"

It looked like things were going to get interesting when the anchorman interrupted him to quote the latest public opinion polls on the Iraq war. "56% of the American people no longer support the Iraq war, congressman. Are you and your colleagues out of touch with the tide of public opinion?" But then, typically, he allowed the politician to pretend he heard an entirely different question and respond to that instead. "Well, Bill," (I don't know if this was his name) "What I do know is that the American people overwhelming support our troops. This poll doesn't show that."

Ok, so it's contradictory for Democratic politicians to say they support the troops but not the troop surge, but when the American people do it, it makes complete sense? I waited for the anchorman to join the dots and call the congressman out on his fuzzy logic, but nothing.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. It never ceases to amaze me how politicians are allowed to side-step and dodge every question thrown at them, contradict themselves within the same breath... and yet our press just nod and move on to the next question.

In other news...

BA launches new baggage charges
Passengers will be limited to a single 23kg bag - unless they travel to the US or other countries whose rules are based on pieces of luggage, not weight. Travellers with an extra bag will pay £240 return for long-haul, £120 for European and £60 for domestic flights. The rules will not be fully enforced until 30 September - and those who find a single bag too unwieldy are exempt.

Let's hope this doesn't become an industry norm or I'm in serious trouble!

A message from Mum

I tried to post this to your blog, I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but I'll keep trying...

Hi Shelly

I enjoy reading all the updates, thought it about time I added a little something.

I hope Mala and Kim are ready for the wonderful roller coaster ride that children take you on. For me after wanting a child for so long, you were a gift which I thank god for every day.

Everyone that knows us is aware that we are very best friends, but not everyone can appreciate as I do just how deep your feelings go for your friends and family. Whilst you do not wear your heart on your sleeve, no one should have any doubt that you care passionately, and would always be there without reservation for us all.

Dad and I watched the wedding Video which was fab, so good in fact dad said he would like to do it all again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We both agree that the wedding was made by the wonderful guests, who were the nicest group of people you could ever wish to spend time with. I know I feel so lucky that your friends have in turn become my friends and I know why you find them so special, because I do to.

I enjoy your company, appreciate your concerns when it appears I may be loosing my marbles and thank you from the bottom of my heart for keeping dad and I so involved in your life.

My unwavering aim is to join you in the US, but what everyone over there should be worried about (Is the US ready for this mad Brit!!!)

This is my Mum and me...

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Lunch at my mother-in-law, Rosie's, house today up in Foresthill. Got to see my 5-month old niece, Adah (also known to us as Potatah or Tatah). I'm very lucky since I love Joss' family. They're honest, smart and good company. My sister-in-law, Farrah, and her husband Alex are pictured above along with Rosie and their dog Ajah (said Asia) on a brief walk down the street.
Ate way too much for the second day in a row - this time spaghetti and hand-made meatballs, plus Italian sausage... then a belated birthday cake. Sigh... so much for the diet.

Oh Baby!

Yesterday (Saturday) was Kim's baby-shower. Kim has been my manager at Lyon for four years now and will continue to be in my new role, which I'm really excited about. I'm also really fortunate to consider Kim a good friend.

Anyone who knows Kim knows she has heaps of energy, can talk for hours (I say this as a good thing because she's also v. interesting) is wickedly smart, tirelessly giving of herself and, for the longest time, expressed little interest in having children. Of course her friends (knowing what they do about her), always felt like she was doing a disservice for child-kind. Yet Kim and her husband, Pete's, life was so full already it was hard to see how a baby Prior would fit in the busy career, full social life, and their animals; they have 3 dogs and 2 or 3 cats (I can't remember, it's probably 4 by now).

So, it was actually quite a surprise (a pleasant one albeit) when Kim announced she was expecting, earlier last year. It certainly has been fun sharing the past several months with her. The contrast between how Mala (who had planned her pregnancy for some time) and Kim (who had not) went through their pregnancy, has been fun and interesting and only further highlights to me (oh childless one) that no two pregnancies are alike.

Both physically and emotionally, both Mala and Kim have had a very different nine months. Early on, Mala had it rough with morning sickness and headaches, while Kim for the most part seemed to sail through the physical stuff. On the other hand, Mala seems to have taken the prospect of looming motherhood in her stride, while Kim has spent more time adjusting to the changes that will occur (are occuring) in her life. It's been a priviledge to have been a part of both of their journeys.

So, back to the babyshower... sorry, I'm a sucker for the back-story.

I HAVE to tell you about the food, or I'd have done this post a serious injustice. Paulette Bruce-Miller was the host of the shower. Paulette used to be Lyon's P.R. guru, but long since has become a very close friend of Kim's. Paulette also happens to be a Culinary God - she teaches cooking classes 2x per month in Sacramento (I'll post a link to her website on the right) and is also one of Sacramento Magazine's "Dining Divas" (restaurant critics). So, the shower itself was much anticipated -- the location, a period house in Land Park and the food cooked by a master chef.

Paulette had cooked for 4 days (despite battling the flu) for this event, and it showed. Little finger foods (made from scratch - no ez-bake packets or Safeway food trays here) greeted you everywhere when you arrived, including some absolutely amazing scones (that's a great compliment coming from an English chick).

The highlight of the day, however, was the "brunch" main-course. Kim had described this dish to me the other day at breakfast as the best meal she had ever had, so I was interested to try it. Basically (which is kind of an oxymoron in this case), it was a square of polenta with home-made corned beef hash on top - think big chunky bits of tender meat that melted in your mouth and soft, buttery potato pieces - then with marinara sauce poured on top. I have to say I was a bit weary of the marinara sauce on a breakfast item, but the whole thing was out of this world! I've never seen a room of women devour a plate of high-fat, high-calorie food with such complete and unashamed gusto.

Needless to say, this was the best advertisement Paulette could have done for her cooking classes. Her classes only hold 10 and I think we have an entire class of women now trying to coordinate schedules to attend one very soon - me included.

So, it was a great party and it was wonderful to watch Kim forced into a role of being looked after and pampered, when normally she is the one playing host. It was also a house full of wondeful women. Kim attracts the nicest people, all so different yet all strong, intelligent, fun and engaging in their own way. I admire and learn from each of them every time I have the opportunity to see them. Hudson West (that's their baby's name) is sure going to be one lucky, pampered little boy!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Hard to say goodbye

Today a new Marketing Director was hired to replace me. Rob (that's his name) will be onboard on Monday, 2/12. After 4 years leading Lyon's Marketing Department, I'm moving into a sales director position for a sister company called Trendgraphix (more another time).

I accepted the position shortly before Christmas, but haven't had the opportunity to transition out of my existing role yet because somebody (well actually 2 people) needed to be hired to replace me. So, it's been an odd couple of months. While the decision was made to move on, I was still doing the same job. In addition, the lady I was co-directing the department with for 18 months, left suddenly in January - so I was back to managing the department alone (which I've kind of been enjoying a selfish sort of way). Not much time to think or worry about a new job that seemed so far off.

Now, of course, I have to face the moment of letting go and change. I gotta tell ya, it's bittersweet. I love my existing job and doing something else WILL be fun, but the process of transition from me to Rob is something I'm dreading. Not because its going to be difficult, not because of Rob (I haven't met him but am sure he's a great, talented guy) but because this department has been my baby for four years. That sounds a little ego-centric but in my heart that's how I feel. I am immensely proud of what I've done for the company in the past four years, feel like I have grown more than I could possibly have imagined, and have been blessed with making many new friends along the way. Watching someone else take my projects and tasks and manage my staff (ok, I know I don't own them, but I am very fond of them) is going to be really hard.

Part of me is also a little scared that Rob (who I'm told has many talents and much experience) will take all the things I have done and do them a lot better than I ever could, making my challenges look silly, my accomplishments small and maybe even acquiring the respect and admiration I never truly felt I got from a lot of people in the company in the process. I know I say I don't really care what others think of me (and for the most part, others' opinions do just roll off my back), but I do have insecurities. While I don't NEED to be liked, admired and constantly patted on my back to do my job, I'm not immune to wishing and hoping that it happens anyway.

I'm sure I'm going to like Rob, but I'm also sure it would be easier if I didn't. Part of me wants him to fail (because don't we all want to feel that we're irreplaceable) but - because I care - part of me wants him to take what I built and make it even better - shore-up the things I never could and take care of my wonderful team, leading the department to new heights.

Of course, I'm a big girl and not only will I push all this into the back of my mind on Monday and be gracious in my exit, I will do everything I can to ensure his success. But that doesn't stop the sense of sudden loss that I am feeling. Loss of the known, the comfort-level I have in my current job, loss of the relationships I've built, even loss of my little orange-bedecked cubicle.

My new job will offer me many opportunities to shine as an individual contributer, rather than a team leader - and I know I will enjoy that - but in the past four years I have learned the very different sense of achievement gained from helping others achieve their goals, from working in a team or leading a team toward an awesome accomplishment. I will miss that. My proudest achievements in this job have not been the things I have done alone, but the positive impacts I have had on and with others around me. I have also learned so much from the times I have failed (myself and others) and while I'm not one to over-analyze, I know I am forever changed by these experiences.

So, tomorrow, I will begin moving my orange photo frames (some of pictures of me with team members past and present), my orange spotlight, my orange mat and my yellow lava-lamp (!), out of the corner Director's cube and into another little cube which I will call home for the interim. And although I complained constantly about living in a cube-farm without natural light, I will take a moment to look back and I will smile (or possibly even cry at this point).

It sure will be hard to let go.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Had to change my template

I just had to change my template. It was hard to read and cluttered. I like this one much better - much cleaner, don't you think? I wish there were more choices, though. If anyone knows how to get better templates, let me know!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Are YOU bovvered?

OK, I'm totally into this whole Utube posting on my blog thing. I'm such a geek. Anyway, I HAD TO post this, one of my favorite UK comedy sketches. Yes, I grew up with morons exactly LIKE THIS!

New I.T. Procedures

I.T. Department came up with the following new procedures for dealing with those maddening printer problems. I think you too could benefit from this information -- I know I certainly have wanted to try this before!

Thumbs up for idealism

Yesterday, Democratic Presidential hopeful, John Edwards announced that, if elected to President, he would provide healthcare for all and that he would pay for this by ... wait for it ... raising taxes.

If you're in the U.S., and this is the first time you're reading this, I will give you a moment to compose yourself.

Those of you in the UK reading this, if you heard a collective intake of breath from across the pond yesterday... this was why. While the Blair government seems to add another revenue stream, unchecked, every other day, American society, government and politics operate on entirely the other end of the political spectrum. In the U.S., even those politicians on the left back away from the phrase "raising taxes" like it's a Bernard Matthews Turkey (click here, if this means no sense to you) and generally speaking, saying those very words are indeed the political kiss of death. You see, many Americans either want it all but don't want to pay for it, or don't think that its the government's repsonsibility to provide it period (which essentially amounts to the same thing - don't make me pay for it). Either way "taxes" and "raise" are two words you very rarely hear in the same sentence from a politician - at least those with high ambitions.

So, Edwards' statement sounds pretty "radical" right? Wrong! The completely non-radical thing about this announcement by Edwards is that: (a) What he is proposing is not actually a net tax increase, it's a repeal of Bush's tax breaks and that (b) he's not the only one wanting to repeal these tax breaks out of the Democratic Presidential hopefulls - he's just the only one brave enough to call it a tax increase.

Now, I've got to tell you that, while I always thought that Edwards should have been top of the ticket in the last race for the White House, my allegiences have most definitely been swinging between Hillary and Barack for the Democratic nomination. And while I admire Hillary's political savvy and Barack's charismatic, empassioned speeches, I'm also tired of hearing politicians play verbal gymnastics with words in order to avoid telling it like it is - both Hillary and Barack are adept at this in their own way.

There is nothing more frustrating than knowing that a politician shares your political ideals in principle, but when under questioning, will stop short of drawing their idealogical line in the sand, for fear of alienating this voter or that voter, or losing support from this side of their party or that side of their party. The result is that nothing of any substance ever gets said, real intentions are hidden behind clever rhetoric and ideas are put forth with fudged numbers to hide how it will be paid for. What's crazy is that it always comes around to bite you in the butt - political pundits and your opposition analyze your numbers, read your small print, and then accuse you of the very thing you've tried to pretend you're not doing. Now, instead of leading your issue, you're playing defense and are seen as just another politician lying to the electorate. It just doesn't make sense to me. All because you were too afraid to piss off some redneck in the middle of the country. (Sorry, but look at a map, it's true!)

So, there was something incredibly refreshing in hearing Edwards' health-care stump speech. He said it like it is, created a practical plan based on something he believed in (crunch the numbers if you have the time, but at least he presented a plan that included a way to pay for it). If nothing else, it definitely grabbed the headlines and (at least temporarily) "stole" the issue from under Hillary's nose.

I guess that's just "politics" and of course I'm not so naive as to forget that the goal is to win - of course, if your guy doesn't get the votes, he doesn't win and none of your political ideals become reality - but we could definitely use a little more of this straight-up politiking.

Maybe, at the end of the day, it will alienate too many voters to result in a win, but on the other hand, Edwards could be on to something here.

Pretty much everyone you talk to is tired of the old-guard politics and politicians, tired of the fancy rhetoric, the lies and the half-truths. The appeal of "W" himself is based upon the perception that he is "plain spoken" and talks on a level to the "regular guy". So, maybe it's not so crazy after all to think that people might actually vote for someone who not only isn't afraid to speak up for what he believes in, but isn't afraid to tell us the truth about how he's going to get it done. Maybe, in the end, that's what people will vote on.

Truth over policy? I live in hope!

Cartoon of the day

From Peter Brookes of The Times.

More consequences of global warming...

...who knew?

Monday, February 05, 2007

How to overcome your fear of flying

Stop it!

The president of the company I work for encourages us managers to create a "Stop Doing List". The goal being to stop doing unecessary "tasks" and start creating time to strategize at a higher level or focus on the things that bring maximum impact to the company. Yet, after something Joss said to me yesterday, it occurred to me that I need a personal Stop Doing list. A list that reminds me to stop sweating the small stuff and focus my time and energy on things that really matter.

So, for Joss, here's my first STOP DOING item:

  • Stop criticizing my husband about stupid little things that don't matter.

...and because I'm a positive kind of person, I think every Stop Doing item should have a corresponding instead do more of...

  • Instead, give him more back rubs, kisses and hugs.

Of course, he's going to be mortified that I put this on my blog (thankfully one of us is concerned about what others think of us - unfortunately its not me! Sorry, babe) but something isn't "real" to me until it's written down.

I don't know when I became such a picky, intolerant person, but it certainly wasn' t me 10 years ago and I don't like it. Henceforth, I shall STOP IT! (Or as my Dad would say "Pack it in!")

I would like to thank...

Joy. For her dedication to posting comments to my blog and making me feel as though I'm actually talking to someone other than myself on this thing.

Thanks Joy!

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Yesterday (Saturday) was my good friend Mala's Baby Shower. Mala used to work in the Marketing Department with me as our graphic designer but left in December to work for another company. I really miss seeing her every day. It's hard trying to be friends with someone while you're working with them, but Mala and I really bonded through both being born and brought up in another county (there's no better way to have fun than to gripe about Americans with another expat - sorry folks, but it's true!)

Mala's baby, Evani (isn't that a beautiful name?) is due on March 3, and Joy (another good friend of mine who works with me) organized a surprise baby shower at Mala's best-friend, Sanhita Bandyopadhyay's house. I just had to put Sanhita's last name in there - it's a fantastic tongue twister.

As you can see, Mala was suitably surprised. Her husband, Shomeek (behind her in the picture) was the one who had to load her in the car and get her to Sanhita's house for a casual "just because" lunch - something for which it sounds like he deserves a medal! Having been the victim of a surprise Bachelorette party last year, I can sympathize. There's a point in the proceedings, right as you're heading to the "fake" event, that the logic of the thing starts to unravel and suddenly you start to ask questions to which your "minder" has no answer. Why are you dressing up for this? Why aren't you dressing up? Why are we having lunch at 11:30? Why are we driving so fast? Why are we having lunch today again?

The event was also a great opportunity to catch up with employees of marketing teams past (not all of them - probably couldn't fit them in a single house).

First Photo - L to R - Megan (old Marketing Coordinator), Joy and her gorgeous daughter Noelle, Linh (old Marketing Assistant), Annette (old Marketing Assistant and other various jobs!)

Second Photo - Joe (Event Planning God - see previous posts) and Kim, my manager. Kim is also pregnant. See note below. She's going to kill me for posting this photo on the web but I think she's beautiful.

I can't wait to meet little Evani in just several short weeks!

Next week... Kim's baby-shower. Kim is due on 3/23 (although the date is the source of much debate).

Friday, February 02, 2007

I work in a cool place

The company I work for, Lyon Real Estate, is a great place to work. It has its ups and downs, and its proverbial "bag of poo" as do all companies, but it's full of hard-working, dedicated, and generally fun people. Every 1st Friday of the month, everyone in the corporate office gets together to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. Our Event Director, Joe (who also was the coordinator God at my wedding), puts on some kind of fun activity that encourages team spirit and purchases a cake to ensure that we're all suitably jazzed up on sugar.

The above is a photo from this month's Fun Friday, where we got to learn the ancient art of... balloon twisting!
Below is me and Barbara Bryant (our VP of Finance) attempting to make a yellow and purple "dog". Next to my mum, Barbara is about the most fun accountant I have ever met. Like me, she enjoys traveling, and she has my crazy sense of humor!

Going soft in my old age

There are two things that are guaranteed to make me reminisce - smells and songs. Recently, my gym has taken to playing 80s pop hits (very enjoyable but definitely "dating" when people see you know every word to "You Spin Me Right Round"). This morning, as I was lying on a mat trying to stretch out my bum hip, I was taken aback by a flood of childhood memories that randomly reappeared as a result of hearing Sheena Easton's "9 to 5".

I would have been about six years old when this record was released in 1981. (Yes, math wizzes, that makes me 32). And it wasn't big events or momentous occasions that I remembered, it was small things, little pieces of a puzzle that made up my childhood. The smooth pinkiness of my mum's hands when she took mine; the smell of her on cardigans (sweaters in US) that I used to wrap around my pillow at night; the taste of an orange lolly (ice popsicle in the U.S.) bought for me by my dad on Sundays in summer after we drove back from the dump (landfill); Sundays with my nan and mum dancing with me in the living room as we listened to the national charts on the radio; my dad wrestling with me until I screamed "peanuts!". Then, laying there on a mat in California Fitness, I was hit but a sudden but very palpable sense of loss. The thought that I would never again do those things with those people, that the joy and security I felt as a child was gone, that I was missing so many moments now with my parents being so far away. I actually almost (I said almost) cried. I was happy and sad all at once. I had such a wonderful childhood and I had (have) fantastic parents who I adore.

It's funny how much things can change without you ever really taking a moment to process it. There are some days when I'm driving to work when I'm actually almost amazed that I am driving- when did it happen that I passed my driving test and started going places on my own, on my own schedule? Then I realize I own the car (alright, well strictly speaking its owned by Travis Federal Credit Union), I have a good job, I own my own house and - even more inexplicably - I live in a completely different country to where I grew up.

There are moments in my life where I live these changes anew - as if they just happened. It's almost as if I stepped out of my life for a while and, when I came back, all these things had happened while I was gone. It's so ODD!

Getting older (and I recognize I'm not exactly ancient - don't take me literally) is just interesting and frustating and fascinating and unexpected and challenging. It's nothing like I ever thought it would be when I was younger.

But what I did remember in my odd moment at the gym IS that it's the little things that make a life, a happy life. It's the moments that, at the time, pass you by as normal and insignificant. It's today. So, I resolve to be happy today, because you never know what you'll remember 20 years from now when you're lying on a mat in the gym...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Are they CRAZY?

Ok, so I HAD to check it out. How are all these new paper-crazed people organizing themselves?

I visited one of the links included in the article - for Here is a list of things they suggest you purchase in order to satisfy your need for a retro-planner (my name, not theirs):

  • A planner, as mentioned above, unless you want a Hipster PDA. Then all you need is a $0.15 binder clip.
  • Paper of the right type. That means the correct size and stock. For stock, if you're using a Hipster PDA, I'd recommend 90-110 lb card stock; if you're using anything else, I'd suggest bright white (94 and higher) 24 lb stock.
  • A guillotine (a.k.a, "paper trimmer"). Only needed if you need to chop paper yourself. Can be found for about $20 USD, but a little investment goes a long way towards ease of use and the quality of the cut.
  • A hole punch, if you're using anything besides a Hipster PDA.
  • A pen. Some people use expensive fountain pens and other extravagant writing utensils. I use a Pilot G2 0.5. Writes smooth and flawlessly, and only costs $1.50 USD. (I can still lust after Fisher Space Pens, though.)
  • Access to a computer and printer. Any semi-modern (read: less than about 8 years old) Windows, Mac or Linux machine will do, as long as it can run Adobe Acrobat Reader.

A guillotine and a hole punch? You mean, these people are actually cutting the paper TO SIZE and then hole punching it manually? Sure enough, see their demo online at the bottom of this page.

So, how exactly does this save me time? I have to download their templates, customize them on my computer (isn't it a bit disingenuous to renounce technology as merely getting in the way of your life, but then use a PC to facilitate it?), print them out (whoever has owned a printer knows it aint that simple), cut them to size, hole-punch them, put them in my planner thing and then (and only then) can I use my pen (!) to start writing.

I am completely FLOORED. I was so expecting a wide variety of cool, custom, planners with pre-printed, pick-and-choose pages for $99.99 each. I was almost ready to say phooey to the SmartPhone. But seriously, they have to be kidding. This isn't cool, this is crafts. The only thing cutting edge about it is the guillotine.

I may have lost some of my edge, but I'm pleased to learn that I haven't lost my common sense!

Further proof that I am no longer "cutting edge"

Most of you already know by now that I have accepted a new job in sales for a company called Trendgraphix (if you didn't, well you know now). Part of this exciting transition is getting a SmartPhone, something which really gets my inner-geek going. So, of course, I read in the paper this morning that the new cutting-edge mobile orgnizer is...

... a NOTEBOOK. Click here to read the article from today's Sacramento Bee.

Of course, the fact that this "trend setting" article is in the Sacramento Bee already tells me something... New York and L.A. have already been there and done this and have now moved on to some other widget.

Cutting edge? I'm more like a blunt butter knife.

Other items of interest in the news today...

French government considers mandating naps to improve productivity.

PARIS (AP) - The French already enjoy a 35-hour work week and generous vacation. Now the health minister wants to look into whether workers should be allowed to sleep on the job.

France launched plans this week to spend $9 million this year to improve public awareness about sleeping troubles. About one in three French people suffer from them, the ministry says. Fifty-six percent of French complain that a poor night's sleep has affected their job performance, according to the ministry.

"Why not a nap at work? It can't be a taboo subject," Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said Monday. He called for further studies and said he would promote on-the-job naps if they prove useful.

France's state-run health insurance provider will send letters explaining the importance of good sleep. The Health Ministry's Web site offers tips on how best to get a good night's rest. The ministry's online "Passport to Sleep" recommends cutting down on coffee, tea, colas, and athletic activity after 8 p.m., shunning TV time or working late in the evening, and listening better to the body's own sleep signals, such as yawning. Bertrand said sleepiness causes 20 percent to 30 percent of highway accidents across France each year.

Ok, so let's get this straight - they get large EU farming subsidies, ridiculous amounts of vacation, two-hour lunches, good wine, great cuisine, a coastline on the Med AND work-naps? WHAT ON EARTH ARE WE ALL DOING IN THE U.S.??????
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