Wednesday, May 23, 2007

More Ohhhhhhhhhyes

Further to my previous post, this was my favorite dance of the season for them. Sounds like the crowd agreed.

Apollo Anton Oh Oh Ohhhhhhh YES!

I love it when my favorite person wins on these tv things. Last night Olympic Speed Skating chamption Apollo Anton Ohno (he of the tight, cute ass) won Dancing With The Stars. This was the Paso Doble he and his partner did at the finale. I thought he was fabulous, cute butt or not.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ha ha!

From the sports headlines:

Shock England call for Sidebottom

Isn't that fantastic!? What exactly would a "sidebottom" look like if one in fact existed?

Only the Brits...

The gaping hole

I just realized that I have not posted one single detail about a very big event that is fast-approaching.


Ok, so it's 6-months after the wedding and I'm not usually a sucker for delayed gratification but it's better late than never. Honestly, life just got in the way these past six months, what with Christmas and New Year, a new job, and my boss being on maternity leave.

We had originally planned to spend three hectic weeks touring Italy from groin to toe, however we took a look at where we're at in our life right now (financially, professionally)and realized that now just wasn't the time to jet-off for three weeks.

I know, I know, there's never a good time, but this really is a rain-check rather than a cancellation. It wasn't an excuse, there are just other things more important to us right now. (Really, more important than travel - who ever knew such a thing existed!?)

So, instead of three weeks being romanced by Rome, Florence, and Venice, we're off to the tropical paradise of Belize for 8 days.

We'll be staying at Hamanasi Dive & Adventure Resort in a treehouse for two. (This isn't a very good photo but I'll bring back better).

We'll also be exploring a Jaguar Reserve (pray I see no snakes, for Joss' sake), get lost in the jungle at some Mayan Ruins, cruise down the river in a kayak, and go snorkeling along the northern hemisphere's second largest barrier reef (ditto the prayers for snakes when it comes to fish. Yes, really, I'm hoping to see fish FROM A DISTANCE only. Those slippery little suckers touch one hair on my body and I'm outta the water.)

We leave Saturday morning at 6:30am on a plane from Sac to Houston. We then jump on another plane from Houston to Belize City and then another plane (a 14 seater puddle-jumper) from Belize City down the coast to a small town called Dangriga. Then from there it's a bumpy 30 minute ride to the village of Hopkins.

My attack plan for this vacation is to mingle with the locals. I'm always reading travelogues and am jealous of the fabulous adventures the writers experience while mingling with the local townfolk but then often closet myself away in a nice resort where no such people can reach me (or I them). This time Joss and I purposefully chose a boutique resort close to a small town and where online reviewers talked about hanging out with the wait-staff instead of getting fabulously exotic massages on the beach. So, a little bit of both worlds. Manufactured paradise in the form of a nice, all inclusive resort, but with a little slummin' it for cultural kicks.

I can't wait!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Why do women leaders need to be perfect?

The different attitudes in the workplace toward women and men in leadership positions, is something that has personally been on my mind a lot lately. Also, however, I have been seeing parallels in the race for President.

This weekend, The Sacramento Bee published an article that discussed the difficult tightrope that women in power must walk in order to be successful. The article was titled Clinton faces historic hurdles. Here is just an excerpt:

While her gender is a strength in the Democratic primary, political observers say Clinton -- unlike male candidates -- may face a tortuous balancing act between projecting toughness and caring if she is to win in a general election.

Among some voters, she faces the nearly impossible demand of demonstrating "perfection as a woman and a leader at the same time," said Marie Wilson, president of the White House Project, a New York group that provides training and support for women seeking political office.

"She is stepping into something much larger than her race: a real transition of what we expect of women and men," Wilson said. "It is being played out in the most powerful place possible. Imperfect men run for president all the time. But into one woman, we project all that we want."

In this frustrating battle, I definitely feel a sense of cameraderie with our Hills. As a strong woman with strong opinions and fewer of the typical female "warm fuzzies", I have definitely been on the receiving end of these often unrealistic expectations.

Be strong and firm but be warm and compassionate, all leaders are told. And while I don't have a problem with this theory in essence and don't believe the two to be mutually exclusive, the challenge comes into play when what compassion means (in other words how one exhibits compassion to the outside world, the behaviors that indicate compassion) is governed by social stereotypes of women in general.

I will clearly state here and now that my external displays of compassion are not what most would consider overtly feminine, in the traditional sense. I will admit that I am not the touchy-feely, sensitive, emotional woman. This does not mean I can not be "touchy-feely", that I'm not often sensitive, nor that I don't have emotions. What it does mean is that I do not display these qualities readily or openly in my daily life and especially in the workplace - it's just not who I am and I don't apologize for it. Sometimes, quite honestly, I don't feel them in order to display them and I'll cop to the fact that I'm not always in tune with others' moods or emotions. You want me to know how you feel? You gotta tell me.

Anyway, this is not about who I am or who I'm not, so back to the point...

While there are countless women's leadership classes devoted to developing a strong, assertive leadership style while maintaining feminine wiles, there are none devoted to helping strong, assertive women develop the behaviors of their compassionate, sensitive female counterparts. I think this is telling.

Here is the list of benefits for a Women's Conference I mistakenly attended a couple of years ago. It's just one conference but search the web and these kinds of seminars and workshops are a dime a dozen:

The Women's Conference will help you:

  • Take on more leadership roles with self-assurance and confidence

  • Communicate more assertively without losing your sense of self.

  • Minimize high stress levels that leave you irritated and exhausted.

  • Manage multiple projects and priorities without losing focus or control.

  • Get the better of difficult people instead of falling victim to their tactics.

  • Stay relaxed and in control through any level of crisis or pressure.

  • Stop avoiding conflict and confrontation and learn how to use it to your advantage.

  • Find out where your time's wasted and how to regain control of your day.

  • Get what you need from anyone with negotiating strategies that assure your success.

  • Finally know exactly where you want to go and how to get there.

The bolding is mine: key words that illustrate how we as a society assume women are, naturally. Genetically, it seems, women are supposed to lack self-assurance, confidence, assertiveness, and the ability to handle conflict and confrontation. We respond to stress emotionally and let it get the better of us, letting our environment control us instead of us controling it. Since we lack all these vital leadership skills by nature, we need to learn them.

You see, it is much more socially acceptable to be an emotionally driven woman struggling to acquire control and confidence, than it is to be a strong, confident woman to whom those other skills do not come readily.

For a while yesterday, as I was contemplating the Hillary article, I started to feel a little short-changed by this. Where were the classes that taught me to be a more 'whole' female leader? And yet at the same time, I developed an increasing sense of anger. I slowly realized this anger was driven by the last sentence of the SacBee article: But into one woman, we project all that we want.

Where, I wondered, were the workshops to teach male leadersto be less aggressive and more caring? I did a Google search and I have to say, I couldn't find one. (I'm sure they're there somewhere so please don't email me a list, but the point is they're not jumping out at us.)

Why is it that, as a female leader, I am expected to be all things to all people and yet my male counterparts get by on just half of the equation? Don't get me wrong, I'm not mad that men don't have to learn to be more "touchy-feely", I'm mad that I'm viewed negatively as a woman if I'M NOT!

I can't even tell you the number of times I've been "coached" on this very subject. Be more in tune with the motivations, wants, needs, desires of your staff. Ask them how their weekend was, remember their husband/child/dog/cat names and ask after them once in a while. Don't be so 'aggressive' in your communication style, tone it down. Speak a little more quietly and a little more slowly. Ask, don't tell. Sell, don't tell. Don't assert, don't be so direct, don't dominate the conversation. I've even been told (in both personal and professional situations) that as a strong woman, I actually scare people off and/or come across as controlling and 'bossy'.

Personally, this has shown up in my life with friends who, despite knowing me for exactly who I am, for some reason expect me to respond to them in a certain way that is not in line with my personality.

One time, a friend of mine was going through a particularly emotional situation. As always do when I see someone in distress, I responded to this by trying to cheer her up and provide a balanced perspective of her situation. My response initiated a huge blow-out argument where she told me I was unsympathetic, unempathetic, and that I minimized and/or dismissed the validity of her emotions. When I asked what she expected from me in this situation, she described the behaviors of someone else entirely. Now, I'm not pointing any fingers of blame at her because she was going through a tough time, but the reality was that she expected me to behave in a more 'female' way in response to her distress.

In another instance, I've been told by people that I work with that I'm not a 'people person' (and in this meaning that I put things vs. people first) quite literally because I don't behave in a way that displays these emotions the same way other women do.

In these cases, as in others, I have felt very misrepresented because I do feel that I put people before things and I do think that I'm a good friend, and I show both in many different ways I could name. In fact, I have had this conversation with some of these people, describing things I do do that demonstrate the depth of my emotion and caring. The response was always "Yeah, but you don't do this, this, this and this. And those are the behaviors that I associate with caring."

Again, these friends and colleagues read this blog and so to them I say, I don't blame you. I'm not pointing fingers. I understand where your expectations of me come from and I'm not saying you're wrong from wanting certain things from me as your friend or colleague, but this doesn't make it any less frustrating.

More recently, a man took over my old job. One thing that I didn't expect to see, and something that has take me by surprise, is how differently people respond to him when he displays certain behaviors; behaviors that were not considered appropriate for me. Off-color remarks are considered courageous not inappropriate; skipping steps and bulldozing through the process is seen as over confindence vs. carelessness; overbearing behavior is accepted not termed as controlling; a cavalier attitude is viewed as relaxed and friendly (in that casual, buddy-buddy way) vs. unsympathetic and unprofessional. Had I of done some of the things that this new person has done, I would have been labeled with all number of derogatory female terms. Again, I'm not judging his behavior, I'm judging those who interpret it.

So, why do expect women to be all things to all people? Why are women forced to turn themselves into pretzels to negotiate positions of leadership when, at the same time, we're willing to accept that men will often not come to the same table with all those things?

I was talking to my sister-in-law about this the other day. This, I said, is exactly why we will have a black male President before we have an (any color) female President. The black male stereotype does not threaten our ideas of a leader - black men are already categorized as strong - and all a man needs to do is display the capacity for compassion and caring and that's good enough for us. For women, we need to be everything to everyone all the time. Don't be too tough because you'll be viewed as a bitch, don't be too caring because you'll be viewed as weak. Imagine walking that tightrope in the public eye.

This, in part, is why I want to want to vote for Hillary Clinton. Somehow I think that, if she can do it, if she can walk this tightrope, then she might be able to show the way for the rest of us.

Hillary Clinton's campaign has so far failed to connect with me and I'm sure this is in part due to the unpresidented challenge of positioning a woman as leader of the free world. I really hope she figures it out, however. It would give a lot of hope to strong women.


The house in which I spent my formative teenage years is up for sale.

In case you didn't know by now, my parents are planning on coming to the US to live. After twelve years of me being gone, I think they've finally come to terms with the fact that I'm probably not going to return to England to live. So, before they're forced to tearfully leave their daughter and grandchild at the airport (no, I'm not pregnant), they're downsizing 60 years of their life in preparation for a transatlantic move.

It's mind boggling to think about the choices they will need to make to decide what they bring and what they will leave behind. After 60 years there are so many things with sentimental as well as material value. I know my mother has been sorting through cupboards for what feels like years now, getting more brutal with each sweep. And I am not immune! Every now and again I will get an email that says something like "Do you still want those video tapes of you in the crowd at the Smash Hits concert?" I have to admit that I'm not a lot of help since my answer is always "Don't throw that out!"

So, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that, if I'm having trouble letting go of the odd teenage VHS tape, letting go of the house I've called "home" for almost 20 years is going to be excrutiatingly difficult.

This is especially true because the house next door was my grandparents' house all throughout my life. This street has always been 'home' in one way or another. There are just so many memories! Here is just one

My Grandad would pick me up from school and bring me back to their house where I would wait for my Mum and Dad to come home from work. I would take control of my poor Nan and Grandad's TV set and force them to watch BBC Children's TV. My Nan always ate an apple in the afternoon (an apple a day!) and she would sit in her armchair with a knife, peeling away the skin in one big loop, before chopping it up into bite-sized pieces that she would share with me. Meanwhile Grandad would bury his head in the newspaper, or stroll around the property whistling. He called me "The Pest of Hawthorn Avenue" which was the street we lived on at the time. My Nan called me "Darling" most of the time, except when we were bickering (and it's best not to repeat what she'd call me then!)

When it wasn't raining, I would head out to the front of the house to wait for my Mum, pacing back and forth in front of the front wall and making up little stories about how I was really Princess Diana. At about 5:30 I would see my Mum's bus go past the top of the street and I would start walking until I saw my Mum round the corner. As she came into view, I would start to run until I reached her. I still remember how excited I would be to see that bus go by and how she smelled when she hugged me hello. We would go inside my grandparents' house where they made her coffee and where we waited for my Dad to arrive, usually 30-45 minutes later. At the time Mum didn't drive, so Dad was our ride home. How lucky I was to end every day surrounded by all of my family in one room

I have to remind myself that it is just bricks and mortar and that time with my parents is much more valuable and in short supply but it's memories like these - and lots more besides - that will make it hard not to come 'home' to Spencer Road any more.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


(Click the image above to see more photos from our sushi outing)

Those of you who live in Sacramento probably already know the phenomenon of Mikuni restaurants. For those of you who do not, it's the Wailing Wall for local sushi-lovers. If you like sushi, you make a regular pilgrimige here to worship at the temple of founder and sushi chef, Taro, who is a local celebrity for his fishy creations.

It just so happens that I recently came-by the information (thanks Farrah!) that the Fair Oaks Mikuni was doing a special, one-day promotion - they were rolling back their prices to 1987 levels on 5 of their most popular menu items!!!

Of course, this was not an opportunity to be missed, so I forwarded the email to every sushi-lover I knew and a few more besides. While many couldn't make it at the last moment, we did manage to pull together a core group of sushi worshippers - my friends Mala and her husband Shomeek, Joy, her husband Jenson, and two year old daughter Noelle (yes, Noelle loves Mikuni too, if not for the sushi then for the Udon noodles and tofu).

While we were missing two of our sushi group - Linh and her husband Yogi -we did have the essential and notorious team of Jenson and Shomeek. These guys, I gotta tell ya, BLOW ME AWAY with how much sushi they can eat between them.

At one lunch date a couple of years ago, they ate so much that they had to ask their wives to pull the plate of rolls over to them so they could reach them with their chopsticks. They were literally too full to lean over the table themselves. And it wasn't pure laziness because minutes earlier they were practically pouncing on every roll that arrived as if it were alive and would run away if they didn't pin it to their plate immediately. I also believe that Jenson ate so much at one meal that he threw up in Joy's car on the way home.

In other words, these guys are not kidding when they eat sushi. Do not get between them and a Spider Roll (unless of course they're toward the end and are having difficulty breathing.)

I arrived at around 4:30pm and was closely followed by Shomeek. At 4:30 there was not a parking space to be found and there were at least fifty people spilling out of the front door waiting for a table. I valeted since driving around waiting for a parking spot to open up is an activity I would gladly give up in exchange for poking myself in the eye with a toothpick. IE: No thank you.

The prospect of eating in the next two hours didn't look good!

We put ourselves down on the list, and despite being kicked-down once because Joy, Jenson and Noelle were still stuck in traffic, we got sat by 5:30-ish. I was very glad of this because Mala was getting hungry and it seemed as though she would let Joy and her clan fend for themselves in exchange for a table NOW.

By the time we were sat, there was a fire truck blocking the path of the main entrances. I later found out this was a result of the local Fire Chief noticing some fire safety hazards as he was munching on a roll himself. (Yes, all the local glitterati were in attendance.)

Meanhile, the front of the restaurant had turned into an impromptu outdoor festival. Everywhere people seemed to be breaking the licensing laws by taking their beer out of the restaurant, drinking them while sitting on the grassy verges and watching their children run rampant along the sidwalk.

Yes, the sushi is THIS GOOD, and for this one night those particular rolls were almost 1/2 price, but this kind of turn-out is usually only reserved for celebrities or royalty. If it wasn't for the fact I was in Sacramento, I would have sworn someone really important was going to show up.

In fact, such a special occasion was this that Mala and Shomeek deposited their baby, Evani, with her Grandmother for the first time ever and enjoyed a baby-free meal, accompanied by a cocktail. Good for them I say, that's what Grandmothers are for!

Anyway, much food and enjoyment was, um, enjoyed and we were out of there by 7pm. Perfect for a school night.

An ode to the hubbie

(Quite "the dish" isn't he?)

Last Friday, May 11th, was our 6-month anniversary. To celebrate, Hubbie took me out to dinner at a lovely restaurant downtown called The Waterboy.

We had a wonderful meal, chowing on fancy fish-sticks, divine scalloped potatoes, heavenly chicken/lamb sausages, and a mouthwatering carmely, appley, buttery, warm desert served a la mode.

On the way home in the car, he presented me with a card and a bottle of a new perfume I had planned to put on my Christmas list. We had been walking around "Ulta" together one weekend when the bright colors of the bottle caught my eye and I stopped to spray a sample on my wrists. I was instantly in love with the tropical fruit aromas; very summer. Hubbie remembered this and went back to purchase it for me. I was so touched that he had thought to take note.

So, because I don't say these things nearly often or publicly enough, I wanted to tell you a few things about why my Hubbie is so wonderful (in no particular order):

  • He remembers the little things I point out in stores and makes sure they appear under the Christmas tree or wrapped up with care on my birthday
  • He gets mad for me when someone doesn't treat me right, or when I've had a frustrating day. He's a great listener and a great sympathizer; you never feel like he's humoring you, even after you've repeated the same thing for the tenth time
  • When I'm in one of my inexplicably bad moods for no reason, he leaves me alone and doesn't hold it against me later when I equally inexplicably decide to talk to him again. He makes it easy to say sorry for being a bitch.
  • He makes the bed most days now that I am working from home, so I don't have to stare through the office door and out into our bedroom at an unmade bed
  • He gets up in the morning and makes fresh coffee so that when I come home from the gym I have a fresh pot waiting for me
  • He pumps gas for me when we're out together in my car
  • He endures my English music and even makes himself sing along at my silly candy-pop tunes
  • He loves to barbecue and, if I don't step in, will make the whole meal including side dishes
  • He always gives me some of his fries, or basically a mouthful of whatever he is eating. He lets me pick Pepperoni off his beloved Round Table pizza
  • He debates the state of the world and our political beliefs with me. He doesn't like Bush either.
  • He asks if he can go out without me, even though he knows he doesn't have to. He's genuinely concerned that I'll be home alone and bored without him.
  • He loves his family and would do anything for them
  • He really cares about his clients
  • He's honest and has the highest integrity of almost any other person I've met
  • He's prepared to learn to love traveling abroad just because it matters so much to me, yet he's okay with me wanting to flit-off without him from time-to-time
  • He likes and is great with powertools. He can put up shelves and mend things. This makes me very happy.
  • He makes the BEST martinis and mixed drinks. He loves (or at least appears to love) playing bartender and grillmaster on weekend evenings in the summer. These are some of our best times together.
  • He cleans up the dogs poo from our back yard and takes the trash out without complaint (most days). We have a lot of poo and a lot of trash, so this is no small feat
  • When he sees me he has this wonderful smile that makes me feel like I've just come home

This list is by no means exhuastive, but I ran out of time.

HAPPY 6-MONTH ANNIVERSARY BABY! It's been a great 6-months already.

Bloggers for BBC Reporter's Release

While I may be like the umpteenth person in our little circle of bloggers to do this, I think that redundancy can sometimes be good.

BBC Reporter, Alan Johnston, has been missing since March, feared kidnapped. Stationed in the Gaza region, he is thought to be one of the last foreign reporters in the region. The BBC has started an online petition to ratchet-up the pressure on anyone who has influence in the region, to obtain his release. I signed the petition today and hope you will too.

Good journalism is hard to find these days, so let's hope Alan is found and returned safely. He risked his life to keep us informed, the least we can do is put our name on a piece of paper.

Click on the image below to sign the petition.

Alan Johnston banner

Monday, May 14, 2007

More from my weekend

So, there really was more than babies and mothers to my weekend. No, really!

This was the Lyon team for the Sacramento Race for the Cure. I'm the one in the grey hoodie and big glasses, standing to the left of middle. We raised more than $10,000 as a team. Go Lyon!

If you have not yet participated in a Race for the Cure, you really should. For those of you who hear the word "race" and immediately reach for the remote control, you need not worry. The serious runners start early and run in a pack ahead, while the majority of participants (all 9,000 of you) stroll-along behind. While it takes 90 minutes to negotiate a measly 5k at this pace, it's an opportunity to see human-kind at it's best.

From kids in strollers to 80 year old ladies, the event attracts people from almost every walk of life and in every generation. There are corporate teams combining to raise thousands and generating great team cameraderie in the process; mothers walking arm-in-arm with their teenage daughters; overweight and over-the-hill husbands clutching their wives' hands; plus literally thousands of people walking with the name of someone they knew and loved and who is now gone, stapled to their back on a pink piece of paper. Those women in pink shirts are breast cancer survivors, walking not only for themselves but for those that came before and after them but perhaps were not as lucky. In our company's team, there were at least three survivors that I knew of, plus my friend Vickie whose mother died in March of a different cancer. Vickie walked with her husband, Bill, proudly displaying a photo t-shirt of her mother (who was only 60 years old) and who, in a flurry of tears, was interviewed along the way by a local tv station. I can't imagine life without my mother and I was so proud of Vickie for holding it together to answer the reporter's questions. Of course, she and I both hugged each other and cried afterward.

Joss and I worked at these Susan G. Komen events a lot when we lived in Southern California, so this was definitely not the first time I had attended a Race for the Cure, however it was the first time I had walked vs. worked in one. Even back then, when we were a level removed from the emotionality of the event, we found it incredibly moving. But it was nothing like actually being involved.

Most importantly, I raised almost $400 (thank you to those of you who made that happen) and got to talk to some agents I wouldn't normally have had the opportunity to spend casual time with. I even found a fellow traveler amongst our team, an agent with a wunderlust just as strong as mine. I always enjoy hearing about other people's travels, especially when the person has a passion for travel itself. I find the well-traveled have a very similar outlook on life: a respect (vs. sympathy) for those less fortunate and an open-mindedness to their own reality at home that is hard to find in someone who has not made it far from their country of birth.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Adah on camera

Ok, so you have to view some of this video with your head turned to the side, but still. In my defense, I was capturing this on the spur of the moment with my camera and so engrossed that I completely forgot that I couldn't "turn" the video in post production.

No turning for this one. In this one Adah demonstrates that it's the journey rather than the destination that matters to a 7-month old, as she crawls toward her butt wipes.

Mother's Day

Mothers Day 07 018B
Originally uploaded by britvixen99.
No escaping the impossible cuteness that is my life of babies, huh?

Today my 7-month-old niece Adah.

Here she is with her mom (my sister-in-law Farrah), my mother-in-law Rosie, and moi.

We enjoyed a day up in Foresthill, hanging out with dogs and babies, bbq'ing and generally enjoying a wonderful spring day.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happiness is...?

...getting the thing you want most in the world - x4!

At least that's the case for my friend Conor and his wife Gen.

If you're ready this and not already familiar with their story, Conor and Gen gave birth to quads one year ago today, after years of health problems that prevented Gen from conceiving and many, many, failed attempts at IVF. Theirs is one of those stories usually turned into a show on TLC or the Discovery Channel: you know the ones you never intend on watching but get glued-to after the first ten minutes, a lump in your throat and tears in your eyes. Check out their blog link here on this page to learn more.

The McNulty Quads have become quite the local celebrities, being featured on local tv before they even exited the womb. Conor's blog also has quite a following, as much for his witty observations throughout Gen's pregnancy and now as a father, as for the darn-cuteness of the kids themselves. The result is a sort of Quad Fan-Club that I believe even includes people from out of state that Conor and Gen have never met, but who found encouragement and comfort in their story.

The Fan-Club was out in full force today at Ancil Hoffman Park for the first birthday of Molly, Ally, Libby, and (the one boy) Russ. Of course, despite having participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure first thing this morning, I couldn't miss the opportunity to hob-nob with four babies at once, plus I got the bonus of seeing my friend Mala's little 2-month old girl, Evani.

The Quads have nicknames. Above is Molly, "The Diva"

This, I believe is Ally, aka "Curious George"

Meet Russ, aka "Bubba"

...and I don't have a photo of just Libby, but here is one of all of them eating their birthday lunch.

Evani managed to sleep right through the celebrations, much to the joy of her momma and poppa. It didn't stop her Aunty Michelle from snapping a photo of her cute little face.

Although I couldn't stay long, I did get to kidnap Russ along with my friends Mala and Linh. Linh took some pictures of those shenanigans and I'll post those another time (ie: when she sends them to me, nudge-nudge, hint-hint Linh!) Two out of four of them are already taking steps without help, but Bubba isn't quite there yet. I had a lot of fun holding his little hands as he walked from person-to-person; he really is a little flirt. He also seemed to enjoy playing with my keys as they made lots of jangly sounds, like a rattle. (See men, there really IS a reason women have so many keys on their keyrings!).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Monday, May 07, 2007

I'm not any kind of bag

Ok, so I just couldn't resist doing more research on the "I'm not a plastic bag" bag craze.

The upshot is that it's a bag by a UK designer called Anya Hindmarch who wanted to make it "hip" not to use plastic bags for shopping she designed an un-plastic bag.

It's not all that exciting in design actually, but it's sold out in the UK. Yes, in the whole of the UK! And it sounds like they're not planning on selling any more there either. The "I'm not a plastic bag" bag, really seems not to be any sort of bag right now. The result is, of course, these completely banal bags going up on e-Bay for $250+!!!!!! That's a wopping profit! This is otherwise known in economics as the scarcity mindset! (Gosh, I'm smart. Did I just dazzle you with my big terms or wot?!)

Here is the bag:

Plain boring, isn't it?

I have, however, discovered that there will be a limited release of these same bags in the U.S. this very month. Just think what these things will sell for! I'm going to buy some for sure.

Visit the website at to learn more.

And that concludes my investment tip for today.

Tomorrow, tune-in for "Turn your doggie doo doo into dough".

What the Brits are queuing for now...

Hot off the press in London right now:

Londoners seem to have taken their love of the queue to new levels. While Brits have always been up for unquestioningly joining the end of a nice long line, the act of queuing seems to have taken on frantic proportions with thousands of people lining up for a £5 bag that's claim to fame is not being plastic. Umm....

It's interesting that I saw this article today, actually. Talking to my Mum on the way to work she said that Brits in general are much better off financially than they have been in a long time.

Proof that a left-leaning government works? Or just proof that it causes acute, obsessive-compulsive queuing disorder?

I'll let you decide.

Face Cream Frenzy on Oxford Street

Hundreds of women have turned out on Oxford street today to get their hands on an anti ageing face cream, which has been scientifically proven to work.

When it first went on sale in Boots, there was no real fuss and no big queues for the No7 Protect and Perfect beauty serum.

But then in March it featured in TV documentary Horizon, which said it really did improve the appearance of the skin. The day after the programme was shown, women (and some men) completely cleared the product from shop shelves up and down the country.

Since then 50,000 British women have signed up to a waiting list for it, with new names being added at a rate of 200 an hour. Boots says it's the company's fastest selling product ever. And labs have been working "around the clock" since March, to hit a target of 24,000 bottles a day, with the serum coming off the production line at a rate of 1,000 bottles an hour.

Today four flagship Boots stores across the country - including the one near Bond Street tube - opened 2 hours early at 7am as the cream went back on sale for the first time.

It's the latest in a long line of high profile product launches in London.

On Monday night, more than a thousand women queued down Oxford Street as Top Shop previewed its new Kate Moss's clothing line. Last week shoppers went crazy in the aisles at Sainsburys which was selling the much sought after Anya Hindmarch "I'm Not A Plastic Bag" bag. Within hours of stores opening the £5 bag was going for hundreds on eBay.

In previous weeks and months we've also seen stampededs as the new Primark store opened in Central London, 36 hour waits and overnight camping in the basement of HMV for the PS3 games console, and more queues of women outside H&M stores for Madonna's stab at designing a clothing range.

And it doesn't end with today's frenzy. Next week London's own Lilly Allen unveils her fashion line to the world at New Look.

It seems to be a case of "you name it, we'll queue for it...."

Sunday, May 06, 2007

California: It's not JUST the cheese.

Despite all my bitching and complaining about life in Sacraghetto, there are times I am reminded about the positives of this town and of life in California in general.

Today has been a perfect "spring" California day. I place 'spring' in quotations because it was 90 degrees, and where I come from 90 degrees does not constitute spring, it constitutes a heat-wave. Aaaanyway, it was 90 degress (is as I write this) with a brisk but warm breeze. Quite simply, it's lovely. It's the kind of day where the sun warms your skin but the breeze cools it down, while putting much needed extra oxygen in your lungs. One thing you may not know about Sacramento is that it also has A LOT of trees. So, a breezy day in Sacramento also means that the sound of trees rustling in the wind surrounds you just about everywhere.

It just so happens that hubbie and I chose this day to rent bikes and cycle along the American River.

The American River runs down from the Sierra Foothills (north of where Joss' mom lives and where we got married), and splits the Sacramento region in half, north and south, culminating at the Sacramento river near downtown and then (as the Sacramento river) heading down into the Delta, a series of channels that eventually lead out to the ocean through the bay area and San Francisco.

As someone who comes from a place where rivers are places for bridges and barges and entertainment, I've often been irked at the lack of commerce along the American River. It's so pretty I just can't figure out why there aren't more restaurants or boutique shopping areas with a view. I mean, all that real estate and nothing to do on it! Pffft. Today, I was reminded why.

Sacramentans love their river just as it is, and who can blame them? Cycling along the river, you feel like you're in another place entirely. Surrounded by flood-plains, piqued by parks, and hidden amongst the trees, you would never know that the American River bike trail was bang in the middle of a highly populated, metropolitan area.

I have sampled the local phenomenon of the bike trail on foot many a time. The office where I work is located right next to the northern part of the trail and at lunchtime (when it's not too hot or too cold, which can be like 2 months out of the year) I will don my sneakers and head up to the trail for a lunch-time walk. Everytime I get out there I wonder why I don't do it more often. It's so peaceful and rejuvenating. The sound of birds, squirrels running across your path, a russle in the bushes, the filtered shade of mature trees.... it's wonderful. It's definitely the best way to spend a lunch hour. It feels like a mini vacation in the middle of the day. You come back to work feeling refreshed.

So, back to the bike ride. 45 minutes each way (because the bikes were rented and the seats SO HARD I have coochie bruising and Hubbie's little, skinny ass was also worse for wear), passing fathers with sons on their bikes, mothers pulling their kids in little screened-in 2-wheel carriers, girlfriends gossiping side-by-side and passing us, many, many, serious bikers with full Lance-Armstrong garb. The wind in our hair, the sun in our face... I found myself thinking "This is why I love living in California!"

I don't spend enough time outside. The lakes up by my mother in-law's house, the river, some pretty little goldmining towns in the Sierra, Lake Tahoe in summer or winter, San Francisco on a crisp but sunny day.... whenever I take the time out to enjoy these varied places, I find myself feeling glad -and lucky - to live in California.

Hubbie and I are looking for a house in a little community just the other side of the river to where our townhouse is right now (so the South side) and we discovered today that there is a very convenient little inlet from that subdivision to the bike trail. Quite literally, within 30 seconds, we could ride out of our (potential) garage and onto the trail. How wonderful!!!

The commercial says "California: It's the cheese". I say, it's not just the cheese.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Sorry, I regress...

I was on YouTube for something completely unrelated, and found this video. It will probably mean nothing to you, but to me this was a huge punch in the gut. I grew up watching this guy on BBC Children's TV, and now he is celebrating 25 years on British TV!!!! It's a long video, so sorry, but it is a great insight into British TV and has some funny parts. Gosh, this is mindblowing. 25 years... And may I also say, I SO MISS British TV and it's casual, understated friendliness.

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