Friday, September 28, 2007

Off again!

I'm off again. This time to Dallas on Monday.

This trip is 1/2 business, 1/2 pleasure. It just so happened that one my good friends is getting married in the Dallas area the weekend after my work conference. So, I'm staying on, making sales appointments, going to bachelorette parties, attending the wedding, and then flying on home.

And I JUST put the suitcase away....


Today was a sad day. Today my friend, Joy, had her goodbye lunch. The photo above is from the joint lunch we had for Joy's goodbye and another colleague's birthday at Boudin Bakery - we basically took over 1/2 the restaurant and hogged some tables for an hour, much to the irritation of the other lunch diners. Joy, incidentally, is in the front row, second from right.

I was privileged to have Joy as part of my team when I managed the marketing department. As a friend and a colleague, she has taught me so much with her open heart, and made me laugh almost daily with her quick-witted comments. I know I am not alone when saying that the department (the company) will not be the same without her in it.

But every cloud has a silver lining and this one has a couple. Firsy Joy is pregnant with her second child, due in April. If he/she is anywhere near as cute as her first child, it's going to be Aunty Shell smooches all over. (Well, ok, I'm going to smooch the new baby either way but I can't imagine him/her NOT being cute.) Second, now that we no longer are governed by the rules of office politics, we are free to embark upon a different phase of our wonderful and unexpected friendship. I can't wait.

But still, it will be sad to walk into that department and see her cubicle empty. Very sad indeed.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Backyard Wildlife

Due to some technical difficulties, this post should have happened on Wednesday but today is Sunday and I've only just managed to convince all the appropriate technological components to get my photos posted online for you.

Aaaaanyways, this happened on Wednesday, a beautiful, sunny, warm day. The sort of day that makes you forget all those awful 100+ degree temperatures in Sacramento (well, almost.) The day was made even more beautiful because I work from home and was able to spent my lunch hour hanging out with my dogs in my new, big 'ole back yard.

Although our lot is around 1/3 of an acre, the back 1/4 of the back yard is actually an easement that leads down to a creek. It's one of the reasons why we bought this house: there's a good couple hundred feet between us and the next house and they're are barely visible because of the multitude of trees inbetween. Sit on our deck and you feel like you're in the middle of a forest. We can't really do anything with the space (which is probably good because neither can our neighbors) but it's accessible to us as a little "extra bit" of yard, through a gate.

So, there I was walking along our ever-so-stylish chainlink fence (which will eventually reach a the local dump when we have enough money to replace it) and I see something walking around in my "extra" bit of yard leading down to the creek.

Yes, it's a TURKEY! Click on the picture to see more photos. There wasn't just one of them, there was a whole family. Ten or so turkeys just hanging out beyond the fence in my backyard. Pretty cool. huh?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Laughing myself off my chair

This is priceless: a test that is supposed to help you evaluate if you have a personality disorder.

Here is my score:

Disorder and Rating
Paranoid: Low
Schizoid: Low
Schizotypal: Low
Antisocial: Low
Borderline: Low
Histrionic: Low
Narcissistic: High
Avoidant: Low
Dependent: Low

Aparently, I am Narcissistic. Not just middling sort of way but in big ole wapping amounts. This is absolutely hilarious to me for some reason, probably because it's thoroughly ridiculous.

I mean, for those of you who know me, does this sound anything like me?

Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by self-centeredness. Like histrionic disorder, people with this disorder seek attention and praise. They exaggerate their achievements, expecting others to recongize them as being superior. They tend to be choosy about picking friends, since they believe that not just anyone is worthy of being their friend. Narcissists tend to make good first impressions, yet have difficulty maintaining long-lasting relationships. They are generally uninterested in the feelings of others and may take advantage of them.

Symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder:

  • Requires excessive praise and admiration
  • Takes advantage of others
  • Grandiose sense of self-importance
  • Lack of empathy
  • Lying, to self and others
  • Obsessed with fantasies of fame, power, or beauty

Being the self-aware person I am (or like to think I am, maybe I'm really all these things and so out of it I can't see it), I'll cop to sometimes having a lack of empathy. But the others... please! Goodness knows what answers led them to this.

Try it yourself and let me know if you have any new personality disorders.

Thanks to Hotel California for the day's biggest giggle.

And now for something you'll either violently agree or disagree with...

Feel free to have either reaction.

I got this from my dad in an email. I personally have to say "Right on!" Of course, whether or not it really happened is anybody's guess.

An incident occurred in a supermarket recently, when the following was witnessed:

A Muslim woman dressed in a Burkha (A black gown & face mask) was standing with her shopping in a queue at the checkout.

When it was her turn to be served, and as she reached the cashier, she made a loud remark about the English Flag lapel pin, which the female cashier was wearing on her blouse.

The cashier reached up and touched the pin and said, "Yes, I always wear it proudly. My son serves abroad with the forces and I wear it for him".

The Muslim woman then asked the cashier when she was going to stop bombing and killing her countrymen, explaining that she was Iraqi.

At that point, a Gentleman standing in the queue stepped forward, and interrupted with a calm and gentle voice, and said to the Iraqi woman: "Excuse me, but hundreds of thousands of men and women, just like this ladies son have fought and sacrificed their lives so that people just like YOU can stand here, in England , which is MY country and allow you to blatantly accuse an innocent check-out cashier of bombing YOUR countrymen".

"It is my belief that if you were allowed to be as outspoken as that in Iraq, which you claim to be YOUR country, then we wouldn't need to be fighting there today".

"However - now that you have learned how to speak out and criticise the English people who have afforded you the protection of MY country, I will gladly pay the cost of a ticket to help you pay your way back to Iraq ".

"When you get there, and if you manage to survive for being as outspoken as what you are here in England, then you should be able to help straighten out the mess which YOUR Iraqi countrymen have got you into in the first place, which appears to be the reason that you have come to MY country to avoid."

Apparently the queue cheered and applauded.

IF YOU AGREE... Pass this on to all of your proud English friends..

So, where DO we put them?

This was one of those things that I meant to blog about last week but just didn't have the time.

There's been a lot in the news in the last year or so about sex offenders being run out of neighborhoods due to Megan's Law and Jessica's Law, the latter of which requires life-long monitoring of sex offenders and places certain restrictions upon where they can live.

Now Human Rights Watch has a new report, that says these registries are inhumane and don't protect anyone from crime because the old adage, "once a sex offender, always a sex offender" isn't actually true. Plus, you can end up on these registries for offenses as mild as public urination and as prevalent as having consensual teenage sex.

This sparked an NPR on-air topic last week about the mounting issue of sex-offender rehabilitation and habitation. Do you use these registries and how do you make decisions based upon them?

Interestingly, the topic did a little 180 and started to focus on the impact these laws are having on the sex offenders: Where can they live without being run-out? What happens if they can't get a job, can't find a home, and end up the streets?

Ok, right now most of you are thinking exactly what every good citizen should think: Who the heck cares what impact these laws have on them? They shouldn't offend in the first place! Which is reasonable and appropriate. However, the knock-on effects of these laws don't always fit into our black-and-white ideals.

The question becomes, how do we track a growing contingent of homeless offenders? And how does their dire situation affect the choices they make after being convicted?

Here, for instance, is a story of this exact conundrum from an LA Times reporter: a recently released sex offender thrown-out by every landlord of every place he's tried to settle in, ending up living on a Ventura river bed, and being watched in a nearby van by a security guard from a private firm hired by the county!

In the NPR segment, one sex offender talked about how many like him get put back in jail just because there's nowhere else for them to go. Faced with the streets or jail, many fellow offenders he knows have scraped together the money to buy an entirely new identity, free from Megan and Jessica's laws. He himself has been approached by several individuals offering him a new identity and says that, if he had the money, he would seriously consider it.

Somebody tell me this isn't a problem!

So, my question is: where do we put them? "Not on my street!" is a fair but thoroughly impractical answer. "In a house for sex offenders!" sounds great but where do these places go, and who is willing to pay for them via higher taxes?

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Oh my how times have changed!

Mala and me with our "babies"

Trying to get everyone to face forward was a feat too large for one evening.

It used to be that dinner with friends consisted of a few martinis and idle conversation, complaining about work. Now, with friends rapidly breeding kids and us growing our kanine family, things are a little different.

Last night we had our first real dinner guests, Mala, Shomeek, and Evani. Evani is just six months old and a real talker; I honestly think she'll be chattering away long before she puts one foot in front of the other.

With dogs and babies vying for our rapt attention, the evening turned into a crawling-around-on-the-floor fest, snapping photos, fending off puppy-teeth, and soothing a tired baby. In the middle somewhere, I think we got to chat about grown-up stuff like... um... well...

Seriously, I exaggerate to make my point but it is funny how quickly life can change. In all honesty it was wonderful to host friends, cuddle babies, and watch the puppy play. What was even nicer was that there really was no work to complain of. Mala is now dancing and designing her way through her ideal day and I work from home, free of office stresses and politics. For all the changes that have happened, it was obvious that each one had brought us closer to where we want to be in life

That's one heck of a great way to end a Monday evening!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Top Gear in Alabama...

Seen on the plane on my way to England... almost made me fall of my seat w/ laughter. (Except of course there's hardly enough room to breathe, let alone fall.)

This program is a British institution and plays on BBC America. If you knew the back-story of this particular show, you'd find it EVEN funnier.

Anyway... ENJOY! :)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A trip down memory lane

My parents have a stall in a small market near wherw I grew up in England and they are selling a whole bunch of 45s - 5 for £1. In a moment of nostalgia, I poured through the collection (many of which were mine as a kid) and amongst other things found an original Michael Jackson, Thriller (which I nabbed back in anticipation of his passing) and this nugget from the Eurovision song contest of 1976. The Brotherhood of Man were Britain's entry and they became a firm favorite of my family throughout the rest of the decade.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

In Liverpool, England, today they buried an 11 year old schoolboy named Rhys Jones.

Rhys was shot in the neck Aug. 22 by a youth on a bicycle as he played soccer with friends in a well-heeled housing development that borders one of Liverpool's poorer neighborhoods. Police believe he was likely an innocent victim of a feud between street gangs.

With the homicide rate involving guns around 4 for every 100,000 people in the U.S., stories such as this barely register as a blip on the regional scale in America, let alone being featured in the national news. Yet today, Rhys' funeral made national news headlines in the U.K., placing his memorial ahead of news that Opera legend, Pavarotti, had died.

What's more, the impact on Rhys' community demonstrated to me that, while Britain definitely has some work to do, the UK has a long way to go before it becomes as desensitized to a daily-dose of drive-bys, as many of us are in the U.S. (even after taking into consideration the difference in population and size of the two countries.)

More than 2,500 Liverpudlians showed up to mourn this 11-year old boy, clapping to honor his life and the strength of his family as his coffin passed by - through city streets and all the way up to the altar in the city's cathederal.

The comment from Britain's unelected PM, Mr. Brown was: "Guns in America are accepted but we don't want that for Britain. We want to get guns out of every community."

So, while my parents bemoan the state of my home country and claim Britain is not a safe place to be, it's times like these that I get a little jolt of relative reality. Because while the U.S. constitution ensures that you'd have to pry guns from the average American's "cold dead hands" (to quote the late and not-so-great Mr. Heston), the shooting of one schoolboy is still making national news in England- and thank GOD for that.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Oh! A Happy p.s.

... we rented the townhouse and to someone who LOVES the color of the walls. So poo on Karen.

Our new renters have already moved in, so keen were they to leave behind the soulless apartment cream of their previous abode.

And so our quest for World Slumlord Domination begins...

British Rants is on vacation

In, of all places, Britain!

I will post as often as I can but I will be in Sweden for a few days and probably without internet connection.

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