Friday, August 29, 2008

Energized, humbled, hopeful

Last night, like many of you I'm sure, I watched a little piece of American history,

How long has it been since we saw a stadium full of the fever-pitch excitement of 85,000 ordinary people, cheering on someone other than a music or sports celebrity? And how exciting is it that the person they were cheering for was talking about health care, education, green energy and restoring America's respect around the world? How COOL is it, that this excitement was for, who I believe will be, the next President of the United States?

Black, white, yellow, brown... despite the historic moment for black Americans, it wasn't so much the color of his skin that made your eyes tear up, it was the resonance of his words and the sense that here was someone who you could believe in, who might just make a difference to our country. The ability of Obama to energize a crowd, an electorate, is truly awe-inspiring and humbling. You couldn't help but smile as you saw Michelle Obama watch her husband on stage, greeted like a rock-star - how proud she must be of her husband and the father of her children.

What connected with me the most in Obama's 44 minute speech was the handshake he made betwen personal and collective responsibility. All too often us Dems are branded as supporters of lazy people on welfare, big government that wants to solve all our problems, and indiscriminate tax hikes. It's a convenient stereotype, rarely true, yet used by Republicans as a way of dismissing the ideas of the left and polarizing the electorate. Yet Obama went beyond the political to explain that, while we do believe that there was a role for government in each of these arenas, it didn't mean that Democrats dismissed the value of hard work and personal responsibility to grasp your own piece of the American Dream. HOORAY, I say to that.

He also delved into those issues that divide us most - abortion, gun ownership, same-sex marriage, and immigration - and challenged us all to see that there is common ground to be found in each one. Just like his now infamous tagline, throughout this speech he sought to tap into the best of each of us and asked us all to believe not just in him, but in ourselves. So that every time the Republicans or political cynics dismiss his policies of change as hopeless, we can all say from somewhere within us "yes we can".

There is a lesson to be learned for all of us in Obama's speech but for me I took away two things that I intend to think more about in this election year: the nature of true leadership and my responsibilities as a citizen of this country, both of which wouldn't hurt from a gut check.

I venture to say that he restored dignity to politics, and what it means to be a Democrat.

I may have been a Hillary supporter (and still am) but I was energized and humbled by Obama's speech. And yes, although the word has been somewhat tired out during the course of his campaign, left feeling hopeful for America.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bitch away Brits!

Thanks, again, sis-in-law for the forward of this marvelous article from

There's nothing more us Brits like to do than have a good bitching session and the 2012 Olympics is already shaping up to be #1 on the bitching list of all-time prime targets. Put on the kettle and stock up on the Rich Tea biscuits because we're looking at 4 years of this stuff!

My parents were APPALLED at Britain's presentation at the closing ceremony. I have to say I was a bit confused by Led Zeppelin's part. Although English rock was really popular in the U.S., it wasn't anywhere near as widely loved in the U.K. We're much more pop than rock as a country overall. For the most part, I think us Brits would have identified better with Paul McCartney than that dude from LZ... honestly, if they hadn't told me who he was, I wouldn't have known. My parents said he was Deep Floyd, which gives you some idea of their overall cluelessness in this genre.

Then there's the countless articles bemoaning (already) the daily rising costs of putting on the games, how they're going to have to cut back on things like the athlete's village to keep costs down, and how ultimately the benefit won't be worth it in incoming revenue anyway.

Yep, that's ole Blighty alright. God I miss it!



Bring on the Bitchy Brits
Looking forward to the 2012 London Olympics.

By Anne ApplebaumPosted Monday, Aug. 25, 2008, at 3:13 PM ET

"Closing ceremony of Beijing Olympics draws world attention, praise." That was how Xinhua, the Chinese press agency, described Sunday's final Olympic celebration, and for once they weren't exaggerating. Just before moving rapidly on to the next mass TV event in Denver, American headline writers did indeed pause to heap attention and praise on China's Olympics. "As Games Close With Pageantry, U.S. and Chinese Teams Can Smile Over Successes," declared the Washington Post. These were "Truly Exceptional Games," trumpeted NBC's Olympics Web site, not exactly unexpectedly. The Los Angeles Times kept it simple: "Beijing's Olympic Triumph." But Americans were not unique: Xinhua quotes Mongolians, South Koreans, Pakistanis, and Iraqis, all saying more or less the same thing.

The only truly sour notes appeared in Britain, where, by contrast, every single member of the media, from the sleaziest tabloid hack to the snootiest highbrow columnist, is gearing up to criticize every conceivable aspect of the London Olympics, due to take place in 2012. This time, the Daily Telegraph was first out of the starting gate, declaring the eight-minute handover ceremony—involving a red London bus, umbrellas, and soccer star David Beckham—a "British fiasco." In particular, their correspondent objected to the "raddled, sweat-drenched face of Led Zeppelin lead guitarist Jimmy Page" whose music resembled "a badly tuned transistor radio in a tin bucket."

And when I read that sentence, I sighed with relief. Thank you, Britain, for giving the world the gift of nasty, negative, snarky journalism, along with the culture of free speech that sustains it. In fact, there isn't the slightest chance that the London Olympics will resemble the Beijing Olympics: not in choreography, not in pyrotechnics, not in quantities of identically dressed, supercoordinated dancers—and not in suppression of political dissidents, either.

For the truth is that the Beijing Olympics truly were—as was widely predicted—an international triumph for Chinese authoritarianism, which is precisely what they were intended to be. When treated uncritically, propaganda works. What you saw on the screen was the triumph, the glory, Michael Phelps, and the fireworks. What you did not see, and what the Chinese public did not see, were the arrests, detentions, and jail sentences—not to mention the threats and intimidation—that the Chinese government thought necessary to make the Games run smoothly, though these were no secret.

In fact, Amnesty International has produced an excellent catalog of the "continued deterioration" in the treatment of human rights advocates, journalists, and lawyers in the run up to the Games. Human Rights Watch went even further, calling the Olympics a "catalyst for human rights abuses," and declaring that the 2008 Games "have put an end—once and for all—to the notion that these Olympics are a 'force for good' " Multiple media accounts have documented the massive forced evictions as well as the destruction, often without proper compensation, of houses and livelihoods in Beijing to make way for stadiums and other Olympic construction.

But although some human rights organizations and journalists did their jobs, most of the hundreds of politicians, statesmen, and celebrities in attendance said nothing about any of that. Although the U.S. Embassy in Beijing did issue an irritable statement or two following the arrest of eight Americans who tried to protest Chinese treatment of Tibet, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, the White House's representative at the closing ceremony, used the embassy's Web site to declare the Olympics a "unique opportunity for the Chinese people to demonstrate the progress they have made and their sincere desire to engage with the world at every level." Thus did she help reinforce the Chinese regime's legitimacy among its own people, cover up its bad record, and buffer its image around the world—which was precisely what the Chinese regime had hoped people like her would do.

To his credit, the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, looked ill at ease during that eight-minute handover ceremony. But he cheered up afterward, giving a stirring speech touching on the origins of Ping-Pong ("invented on the dining tables of England"), and thus inspiring the crowd not to stand solemnly, in awe of the political significance of the coming national endeavor, but to laugh. And here's a prediction: In the run-up to the 2012 Olympics, Londoners will complain about the traffic; politicians will carp about the cost; critics will call the ceremonies tasteless; no one will use the phrase Olympic triumph. But there won't be arrests or police intimidation; there won't be forced expropriation of property; there won't be stony-faced acrobats marching in formation—and in the end, the whole thing will be a lot less sinister, a lot less damaging, and a lot more fun.

Anne Applebaum is a Washington Post and Slate columnist. Her most recent book is Gulag: A History.
One final note - a shout-out to the GB Olympic team who came home with a booty of Olympic medals not seen by Britain in more than 100 years. Woot woot!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Your knee bone's connected to your thigh bone. Your thigh bone's connected to your hip bone. Your hip bone's connected to your... rib bone?

I went to see my massage therapist today, frustrated that my leg and hip seem to have got worse in the last couple of weeks. What used to be one small sore spot and a tight hip flexor, seems to have developed into an entire-side-of-leg spot and other related issues. Just touching the outside of my thigh, its sore.

Differently from my Physical Therapist, my massage therapist attacks my problems with a number of different manual therapy techniques. Everything from orthopedic massage to sports massage, trigger point therapy, and holistic approaches. She has a very special knack of finding the point of pain or tension without sending you into a face-cringing fit, backing off just a tad and then playing with that 'edge' to release the muscle or tendon in question. The result is a much less excrutiating experience. Instead of being kneaded for an hour like a piece of bread ready for the oven, the switching-up of techniques results in a gradual release from a cooperative body.

Of course, she reinforced what I already knew to some extent. My IT band and TFL is being made worse by a tight psoas and tight adductors which in turn are being pulled on by my piriformis and tight glutes. Just treating the IT band wasn't going to do any good. In fact, she didn't even touch my IT band today - it was too sore and, she thought, unlikely to cooperate because of all the other forces working against it.

What was surprising, however, was when she touched my lower two right ribs. You would have thought I'd just got out of a rear-end car crash. OUCH!

"Aha!" she said. "Just as I thought." Aparently my entire right side is being crunched up, with the hip joint being the lever. Think of it like this: there's a hand in my hip joint, clasping a piece of fabric (the top of the fabric being my torso and the bottom being my leg), and the more fabric it grasps and pulls into it's fist, the tighter and tighter the two ends of the fabric get. My ribs, my back, my leg, my feet, my shoulders... everything is affected by this issue, even if I don't overtly suffer from pain in these places.

So, yes, in short, I'm pretty "screwed up" in there - pardon the pun.

Today's appointment was a budget sucking one hour, so let's hope that this helps somewhat.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why I miss British politics

Saw this news story on the BBC feed this morning and HAD TO blog it. This is what I miss about Britain, British politics and culture: we just don't take ourselves too seriously.

For those of you who have no idea who Mr. Clarkson is, tune into BBC America and watch Top Gear. Top Gear has been a British institution for more than 20 years (I've watched it for what feels like all my life) and Jeremy Clarkson has been the star host for the majority of that time. The show is absolutely hilarious - the best of British - and if you ever have the chance to watch it you absolutely should. I hear it already has quite a cult following out here in the U.S.

No 10's Clarkson video a 'joke'

Downing Street has been accused of wasting taxpayers' money after making a jokey video in response to a petition for Jeremy Clarkson to be made PM.

The 55-second clip, on Number 10's You Tube site, was created after nearly 50,000 people backed a call for the Top Gear presenter to be prime minister.

No 10 said the clip had been created by a member of staff who had a "spare half hour" and had not cost any extra cash.

But the Tories said it showed the government had lost touch with reality.

The clip thanks everyone who signed the online petition and says officials have "thought long and hard" about it.

The camera then pans up the famous Downing Street stairs, showing photographs of former prime ministers, before focusing on an image of Mr Clarkson. The final message reads: "But on second thoughts... maybe not."

A Conservative Party spokesman said: "While the British public is having to tighten its belts, the government is spending taxpayers' money on a completely frivolous project."

"This shows how detached the Labour Party has become from the concerns of the British people."

But a Downing Street spokesman stressed the film was a joke, and had not cost any extra money to make. "It was a pretty light-hearted petition, so we gave it a light-hearted answer.

"A member of staff put it together in a spare half-hour."

The Number 10 petition site has generated much controversy since its launch in November 2006 - with 1.8 million e-mails calling for road pricing to be scrapped.

There have also been several jokey petitions, including one calling for Spandau Ballet's Gold to be the new national anthem.

The Jeremy Clarkson for PM petition is now closed but more than 100,000 people have joined Facebook group calling for the outspoken presenter to be installed in Downing Street.

Mr Clarkson - whose views on motoring and the environment have earned him a cult following - recently confessed he would be a "rubbish" prime minister, adding that the government should be in charge of "building park benches and nothing else".

A new Downing Street petition urging the government not to bestow a knighthood on Mr Clarkson "until he has done something truly worthwhile and of benefit to the UK" has received so far 34 signatures.

Downing Street last week relaunched its main website to boost the amount of video content.
But the revamp was hit by a series of glitches - including the accidental publication of a "test" message accusing former No 10 aide Benjamin Wegg Prosser of being a "prat".

The bizarre message, dated Friday, 4 May 2007 says: "PM backs Benjy in 'prat' row. The prime minister has backed his special adviser, saying he's 'a prat, but not the prat'.

It is thought to refer to press reports at the time in which a government minister is reported to have called the person who created the Downing Street petition site a "prat".

The link to "BWP Home" from the test page brought up an image of actor Daniel Radcliffe playing Harry Potter - widely held to resemble Mr Wegg Prosser.

A No 10 spokesman said the pages had been removed as soon as the mistake was spotted.
"These are test pages that were created several years ago and were carried over to the new Downing Street website in error and have now been removed," he added.



Here is the offending video clip... a bit of a storm in a teacup if you ask me.

Here, also, is some Top Gear hilarity, in case you are not familiar. Enjoy. There are a ton more on YouTube if you're interested.

Monday, August 18, 2008

It's a ploy perpetrated by an American to bring a Brit down...


Let's start with the seeming obsession with (of all random sports) volleyball. I swear to God, every time I tune in each night, some form of volleyball is on - I am NOT exaggerating. It's become the running joke in this house. There are 296 events and 28 sports in the average Olympics, yet volleyball is considered by NBC to be the #1 crowd-puller? I just don't see it.

Then there is the timing. Although there is a 15 hour time lag between the west coast and Beijing, for some reason NBC still manages to schedule the headliner events at such a ridiculously late hour, only shift workers or insomniacs would catch them. Case-in-point, I have missed virtually every Michael Phelps swim because I just can't keep my eyes open past 10:30 at night. Why are they scheduling the golden boy for 11pm? The ladies all-around gymnastics was the same story. The only reason I got to see Nastia Luken and Shawn Johnson snag Gold/Silver was because I couldn't sleep and sat up in bed until 1am to see the results. What about all those 7 year olds who are dreaming of being an Olympic swimmer or gymnast? I can't imagine their parents allowing them to stay up until the wee hours of the morning to watch this stuff. Of course, they do repeat the "highlights" the next day but by then you'd have to be deaf, dumb, and blind to have missed the results or one of the 26 millions replays, interviews, and recaps they use as time "fillers" instead of actually covering other competitions. Who wants to watch a competition when they already know the winner? Aparently, it's much more important to dig down into the inner psyche of Michael Phelps, stroke by stroke, on each of his races, than it is to see perhaps another one of those 296 events.

Then there is the complete lack of coverage for anything where Americans do not have a chance to medal. The British are 3rd in the Gold Medal Count as of the last time I checked but you know how many of those competitions I've actually seen aired on NBC? ZERO. And the same is to be said for virtually every other nation. I mention Britain because I have an obvious personal interest but the reality is that I'm interested in seeing the Olympics, not just the American athletes at the Olympics. Just because our gal drops out of the kayaking competition in the qualifier, doesn't mean I don't want to see who actually wins it. It's just ridiculously nationalistically narcissistic (I don't know if that's a word or gramatically correct but it gets my point across.)

Not that I'm not proud of all the achievements of the U.S. I am! I am! Seriously, I grew up in a country that's known for not winning very much of anything usually, so I'm revelling in being on the winning team for a change. But let's put the achievement in perspective.

POPULATION: 300 million
MEDALS AS A PROPORTION OF THE POPULATION: 1 for every 4 million people

POPULATION: 59 million
MEDALS AS A PROPORTION OF THE POPULATION: 1 for every 2 million people

Better still, here's a shout-out to our Ozzie friends...

POPULATION: 20 million
MEDALS AS A PROPORTION OF THE POPULATION: 1 for every 606,000 people

So, basically what I'm saying is that the one channel, 8pm to 1am coverage for the world's biggest sporting event, in the age of 300 channels and digital media just doesn't cut it. Especially when every other channel is chock-a-block with repeats, you'd think that NBC would cut a better deal to their advantage.

Ok, so they don't want to air 10 hours of Olympic coverage each day but how about they take the primo events, air those at prime-time and then sell off the other stuff to cable channels like TNT or TBS or even ESPN or something, so those of us who do want to watch the other 290 events, can do so? I would even go so far as to say I'd be willing to purchase an "Olympic Pack" from DirectTV or something, just like they set-up for the NFL season, just so I could have a wider variety of choices for my Olympic Coverage. Or what about video Podcasts?

I just don't get it. The nation that has figured out a way to squeeze the last dime out of just about every other thing, still manages to churn-out the same-old Olympic coverage they were doing in 1980, when there were probably only 3 big network channels.

We have to do better than this.

Not that I care for London 2012. I'm going to be there in person, of course.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Friday was my first Physical Therapy appointment after my doctor's official diagnosis of the mysterious "sore spot". As per doctor's orders, it consisted mostly of deep-tissue massage along the outside of my thigh and, as it turns out, back into the exterior portion of my thigh - the bicep femoris. The only thing I have to say is that it was a good 30 minutes of excrutiating pain followed by now 2 days of ridiculous soreness that makes it almost impossible to touch the outside of my thigh.

Yesterday morning when I woke up, it was so bad that I had to ice it, even though icing isn't always the right option for a tight muscle. It was just so frickin' sore, especially close down by my knee. Now, of course, the sore "spot" is no longer a "spot" but more like the entire side of my leg.

What also followed yesterday were twinges in my piriformis and sciatic nerve from the active stretches we did for my psoas, meaning that putting my foot on the floor was occasionally a cause for yelping like a puppy whose paw had just been stepped on.

My PT says that he thinks we could get further with the TFL and IT band if we could limber up the hip more. I still have some stiffness and pinching in my joint when bringing my leg across the center of my body, which is exactly the movement I need to do in order to stretch the exterior of my thigh. So, one problem is preventing the other from being resolved. I have some new stretches to focus on there, so we'll see what we can do.

He also wants me back on the foam roller, which is basically a long tube of foam which you lay on in one way or another to 'self massage' certain parts of your body by rolling back and forth on it. Doing this on the outside of my thigh has been so painful I just haven't been able to do it to myself and so I have been avoiding it. But going to PT 2x per month isn't getting my TFL and IT band the attention they need, so I need to buck-up and get back on the roller. He told me to set a timer to five minutes (which seems like forever) and just push through. It was way too sore to even attempt this yesterday but I might brave it today.

Right now it seems like 1 step forward and 2 steps back. After the last massage session the spot felt much better for several days, even to the point of barely feeling it at all. This time it is significantly worse.

But I was heartened a little bit yesterday by watching one of the Olympic volleyball stars on tv. She had a ton of kinisthetic (sp?) tape on her shoulder after an operation on her shoulder last November. The commentators talked about all the issues she's had recouping because of the scar tissue and the fact that she has been in pain almost constantly since her op. Given that this is an athlete in tip-top shape, someone who probably had one of the top surgeons in the country, the best doctors, and the most skilled physical therapists at her disposal, and still she's battling post-surgery issues, I started to feel just a little better.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Know-Nothing Politics

One of the many reasons why I love Hubby's family is that they're true-blue dems, just like moi. So, I have my sister-in-law, Farrah, to thank for sending me this awesome NYT op-ed column by Paul Krugman.

Enjoy...and might I say, "Hear! Hear!"

New York Times August 8, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Know-Nothing Politics

So the G.O.P. has found its issue for the 2008 election. For the next three months the party plans to keep chanting: “Drill here! Drill now! Drill here! Drill now! Four legs good, two legs bad!” O.K., I added that last part.

And the debate on energy policy has helped me find the words for something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Republicans, once hailed as the “party of ideas,” have become the party of stupid.

Now, I don’t mean that G.O.P. politicians are, on average, any dumber than their Democratic counterparts. And I certainly don’t mean to question the often frightening smarts of Republican political operatives.

What I mean, instead, is that know-nothingism — the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise — has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party’s de facto slogan has become: “Real men don’t think things through.”

In the case of oil, this takes the form of pretending that more drilling would produce fast relief at the gas pump. In fact, earlier this week Republicans in Congress actually claimed credit for the recent fall in oil prices: “The market is responding to the fact that we are here talking,” said Representative John Shadegg.

What about the experts at the Department of Energy who say that it would take years before offshore drilling would yield any oil at all, and that even then the effect on prices at the pump would be “insignificant”? Presumably they’re just a bunch of wimps, probably Democrats. And the Democrats, as Representative Michele Bachmann assures us, “want Americans to move to the urban core, live in tenements, take light rail to their government jobs.”

Is this political pitch too dumb to succeed? Don’t count on it. Remember how the Iraq war was sold. The stuff about aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds was just window dressing. The main political argument was, “They attacked us, and we’re going to strike back” — and anyone who tried to point out that Saddam and Osama weren’t the same person was an effete snob who hated America, and probably looked French.

Let’s also not forget that for years President Bush was the center of a cult of personality that lionized him as a real-world Forrest Gump, a simple man who prevails through his gut instincts and moral superiority. “Mr. Bush is the triumph of the seemingly average American man,” declared Peggy Noonan, writing in The Wall Street Journal in 2004. “He’s not an intellectual. Intellectuals start all the trouble in the world.”

It wasn’t until Hurricane Katrina — when the heckuva job done by the man of whom Ms. Noonan said, “if there’s a fire on the block, he’ll run out and help” revealed the true costs of obliviousness — that the cult began to fade.

What’s more, the politics of stupidity didn’t just appeal to the poorly informed. Bear in mind that members of the political and media elites were more pro-war than the public at large in the fall of 2002, even though the flimsiness of the case for invading Iraq should have been even more obvious to those paying close attention to the issue than it was to the average voter.

Why were the elite so hawkish? Well, I heard a number of people express privately the argument that some influential commentators made publicly — that the war was a good idea, not because Iraq posed a real threat, but because beating up someone in the Middle East, never mind who, would show Muslims that we mean business. In other words, even alleged wise men bought into the idea of macho posturing as policy.

All this is in the past. But the state of the energy debate shows that Republicans, despite Mr. Bush’s plunge into record unpopularity and their defeat in 2006, still think that know-nothing politics works. And they may be right.

Sad to say, the current drill-and-burn campaign is getting some political traction. According to one recent poll, 69 percent of Americans now favor expanded offshore drilling — and 51 percent of them believe that removing restrictions on drilling would reduce gas prices within a year.
The headway Republicans are making on this issue won’t prevent Democrats from expanding their majority in Congress, but it might limit their gains — and could conceivably swing the presidential election, where the polls show a much closer race.

In any case, remember this the next time someone calls for an end to partisanship, for working together to solve the country’s problems. It’s not going to happen — not as long as one of America’s two great parties believes that when it comes to politics, stupidity is the best policy.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

How days working from home can get derailed...


Turkeys0808 008

Yes. Turkeys. Twelve of them at one point. In our back yard. Not beyond the fence, not across the street on the neighbor's front lawn, actually strolling around within the confines of our back yard.

It's not the turkeys that derailed my morning - turkeys generally are pretty silent and non-intrusive, especially when they're on the other side of a wall. It was the feverish frenzy they whipped both my dogs into that forced me to get up from my desk and deal with the situation.

First, like any good blogger, I grabbed my camera and headed up to our master bedroom balcony for a birds-eye view. You can see the pics from my turkey-shoot here. Then, after fifteen minutes of continual yapping and barking and no sign that the turkeys were going to make their move across the fence and into the greenbelt, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands.

Much to the acute alarm of both my dogs, I went outside without them, completely unarmed, and started clapping at the turkeys, trying to get them to freak-out and fly off. The clapping didn't work, so I got closer and started throwing stones in their direction (not at them, that would be cruel, just toward them so they would get spooked enough to move.) Still, it took a good five minutes for them all to figure out how to flap their wings and make it onto and over the fence. Five minutes where both my dogs sounded like they were being murdered - a combination of whining, crying, and frantic, high-pitched barking. Of course, the neighborhood dogs (of which there are at least 2 in every residence on our street) decided it was a great time to join in.

When the last one was gone, I turned around and walked inside. The dogs instantly stopped barking and started wagging their tails. Yeah, momma took care of it.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Hubby is a MASTER!

Today Hubby learned that his production for this year qualifies him for the Sacramento Association of Realtors' Masters Club!

Yay for Hubby!

He's been working so hard this year (not that he hasn't in years past but this year even more so) and I'm so proud of him. He's so good at what he does and is a pro-active, professional advocate for his clients.

P.S. I wouldn't be doing my job as his wife and his greatest fan if I didn't say....

If you're thinking about buying or selling, or if you know of anyone else who is, please give Hubby a call. I promise you you'll receive the best quality and most responsive service and the best market information available to you from anyone, anywhere.

This, incidentally, includes moves outside of Sacramento - Sac doesn't even need to be a part of the equation. Through his brokerage, Hubby is connected to The Leading Real Estate Companies of the World's literally thousands of brokerages in the U.S. and worldwide. So, he can help you move to-or-from anywhere.


Thus ends my promotional plug. Thanks for considering Hubby in your real estate investment plans.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Are you freakin' kidding me?

Snagged this Washington Post article from Urban Koda's blog.

Can you seriously tell me that someone is not going to vote for Barack Obama because he's fit and healthy? Why is being fit and healthy 'elitist'?

This country is a social mess.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The 6 degrees of TravelVixen???

Aparently it's not just Kevin Bacon that can be connected to just about anyone in 6 steps. Microsoft has been researching the theory that, in this hyper-connected world, pretty much any two people can be connected in 6 steps.

(Why they're doing this instead of trying to figure out why Windows and IE keeps crashing on me, I don't know. Maybe they have something against Mr. Bacon and want to prove that he is not so special after all.)

It turns out that the most people can now be connected in an average of 6.6 'hops'. This from Good Morning America...


Study Confirms Folklore Legend
Microsoft: Instant Messengers Connected by Less Than Seven People

Aug. 4, 2008 —

What are the odds you are connected to an Argentinean folk singer? Or a Turkish Web designer? They're probably better than you think.

According to a new study by Microsoft, not only are the odds pretty good, but you can probably be linked to anyone else by fewer than seven acquaintances.

The findings throw more science behind the old "small world" theory that all strangers are connected through people they know, popularized by a trivia game about the interconnectedness between the rest of the world and actor Kevin Bacon.

"What's the distance between you and any random person on the planet? That's the kind of result we were seeking," Microsoft researcher Eric Horvitz told "Good Morning America."

Horvitz and fellow Microsoft researcher Jure Leskovec looked at over 30 billion conversations over Microsoft Messenger in June 2006. The conversations represented about 180 million people around the world, according to a report by the Washington Post.

They found that on, average, any two random people were connected by 6.6 people.

"To me, it was pretty shocking," Horvitz told the Washington Post. "What we're seeing suggests there may be a social connectivity constant for humanity. People have had this suspicion that we are really close. But we are showing on a very large scale that this idea goes beyond folklore."

For years now, the "small world" theory found practicality in a trivia game called the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, in which competitors would attempt to connect the actor with other actors using as few links as possible.

The University of Virginia Computer Science department took the game to a higher level, creating a computer program called "The Oracle of Bacon" that automatically maps the links between Kevin Bacon and any other actor or actress through information at the Internet Movie Database.

For example, linking Clive Owen, star of "Inside Man" and "Shoot 'Em Up," is relatively easy using the program. Owen was in "The Follow" with Forest Whitaker, who was in "The Air I Breathe" with Bacon.

With Microsoft's new information, however, it seems that anyone, not just movie stars, is much closer to Kevin Bacon than previously believed.

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Things our dogs could teach us... if we would only listen

If a dog were your teacher, you'd learn stuff like:

  • When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
  • Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
  • Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
  • When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.
  • Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
  • Take naps.
  • Stretch before rising.
  • Run, romp, and play daily.
  • Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
  • Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
  • On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
  • On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
  • When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
  • No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout.... run right back and make friends.
  • Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
  • Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.
  • Stop when you have had enough.
  • Be loyal.
  • Never pretend to be something you're not.
  • If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
  • When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
  • And finally, never trust anyone until you sniff their butt.

Thanks to Mum for the words of wisdom and to my puppies, Frankie and Maggie, for the daily reminder to enjoy the simple things in life.

M&D May 08 020


M&D May 08 017


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Why I'm NOT changing doctors

On Thursday I had two medical appointments. One in the morning with my surgeon and one in the afternoon with my primary care physician (hereafter known as PCP to save me some typing - it is, after all, Saturday.)

The purpose of both appointments was to address the mysterious sore spot on my leg. Yes, I know, me and the PT guy think we've got it licked already, but it has come back slightly since the massage and medically I still wanted to make sure that we were on-track. My PT is great but he's not a physician who has been through 4+ years of med school.

First, the Surgeon. I told him that the massage had made it better and he was happy with this (you and me both, dude) because this indicated to him that this was probably scar tissue from when I bled internally after the op. He layed me on my side and poked and prodded again some more, this time announcing that he did, indeed, feel a difference in the soft tissue around where I said it hurted. (Um, this is only like 4 appointments later... you think he could have paid a bit more attention before.) So, I thought, mystery solved. More excrutiating massage was all I needed.

Second, my PCP. In addition to dealing with my leg issue, I wanted to talk to her about why I have been so disappointed in the Mercy Medical Group's level of care and referral choices, and why I was seriously considering switching back to my old medical group, Hill Physicians.

For those of you who have not read previous posts, I should reiterate here that I LOVE my PCP - she has a very caring bedside manner, a wicked sense of humor (a must for me - I can't be serious about anything), she listens without hurrying you, never leaves you waiting in the patient room, knows her way around the system and advocates for you, and best of all, is the kind of person I think I would actually be good friends with if I had met her outside of our patient-doctor relationship.

My plan was to let her know that, if she saw me disappear off the books one day, that it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with the system she works in. I know she can't really do anything about this directly or immediately but I honestly believe that if every patient took the time to be this honest with their doctor, some things would change. Maybe not much but, as a service provider, I think that feedback is helpful when she looks at her practice at the end of the year and assesses whether she is in the right spot for her and her patients - she has a choice too! At the very least, as a professional, she would know that she had not done anything to offend or upset me and, if I were her, I would like to know that.

So, I laid it out for her. I told her that she was awesome but the options for referrals were underwhelming in comparison to what I had been used to at my previous group; that the cattle-market system for tests and labs was unappealing and inconvenient; that I was frustrated that I couldn't find a skilled surgeon for my surgery and had to resort to the surgeon from my previous group scrubbing in to 'teach' the Mercy surgeon how to do my procedure; that the physical therapy I received from the system was less and less quality for my post-surgery hip than I had received for a cricked neck in the previous system; and that I was shelling out $300 a month to get myself back in shape because services at the Mercy system didn't cut it.

I wasn't angry or indignant, I was sad and disappointed. I didn't want to switch doctors again but I had to be an advocate for my own health.

She listened and nodded and apologized. "Well, you know, you're going to do the right thing for you and I respect that," she said. "But, before you go through switching systems, the wait period, and having to get a whole new set of doctors up-to-speed on your conditions, let me at least see if we can't take care of whatever is going on with that sore spot on your leg."

Sounded reasonable to me, so I jumped up on the table for her examination.

I KID YOU NOT, she pushed and prodded that damn 'mystery' sore spot for less than 10 seconds before she announced "Oh yeah! I feel that. Your tensor fasciae is all ropey." Then she proceded to follow the pain up the side of my thigh without direction, following it as it got less and less. "Yeah, that thing is like a rod."

Less than two minutes in the room and I had a diagnosis. It wasn't a nerve, it wasn't a soft tissue issue, and it wasn't scar tissue. It was my flippin' IT band! (The TFL (tensor fasciae latae) is connected to your IT band). It made total sense because I had problems with it before the surgery, it probably got pissed-off during traction, and almost everyone I've seen has identified that my IT band is indeed tight. It's just that nobody has linked the sore spot with it. Quite honestly, it's mind blowing to me that five months and God knows how many poking, prodding appointments later, my PCP made that connection in a nanosecond. It's also the reason I get knee pain occasionally. Everything started coming together.

Fortunately, the treatment is the same. Stretching (which, seriously, I can't do any more of unless I make it my day job) and manual therapy.

She also took a look at my psoas, which we've been guessing has been causing the tightness in my groin, and said that my PT really needs to work more on that. She suggested resistance stretching instead of plain-ole stretching and showed me one simple exercise my PT could do on me that, in just three 3-5 second bursts, increased my flexibility by about 5-6 inches!

Wow! This was the most productive appointment I'd had with a doctor in more than five months.

So, this is the reason that, for now at least, I have decided to stay put. Also, there was just one last thing that my PCP said to me - a 'bone' if you will - that made me stop and think. "You know," she said, "it won't be like this forever."

Of course, she could have been referring to the fact that she expects a Democrat to get into the WhiteHouse this year and shake up the system (God, please, God) but I like to think she was indicating that there was a smidgin' of hope that she would, eventually, leave the Mercy system and start an independent practice of her own. Which, in turn, would enable her to become part of Hill Physicians (which is the largest network of independent practitioners and specialists in Northern California.)

I guess we'll see but, for now, I'm giving the system a second chance. They don't know how lucky they are to have doctors like her.

Friday, August 01, 2008

My name is John McCain and I will be ignored by the media and hated by the rest of the world.

Thanks to the Gurly Life for this nugget of fantastic satire from the wonderful John Stewart.

It's so sad. What happened to the STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS? What a "cry baby" ad! Booo hooo! Obama gets more tv and support than me, which is EXACTLY WHY he shouldn't be President. (?) Heck, don't you know that Presidents should be ignored by the media and hated by the rest of the world? My name is John McCain and I can be ignored by the media and hated by the rest of the world.

A quote I love... from a SALES e-book?

For my job, I subscribe to a great blog called Selling to BIG Companies. The author, Jill Konrath not only provides short and easily digestible snippets of sales insight, but posts a litany of free and pay-for-play resources to help sales professionals.

One of the resources she posted for July, was an intriguingly titled free e-book called "Tell the Whole Truth". As a certified fan of truth over lies (my mother always said she would rather have the ugly truth than a pretty lie) I was compelled to download it. Also, in facing a pretty aggressive competitor in our business, I'm often faced with the decision of whether to sugar-coat our company's weaknesses or, somehow, deliver the truth in such a way that it wins me points. Obviously, the latter is where I would rather be, so this particular post pushed a current hot-button of mine.

I haven't read the entire e-book yet (much of it so far seems written for the person who needs convincing that the truth needs to be told - not me!) but I did skim and see a quote that I instantly wanted to write down:

"...the next time you lie to “save another’s feelings” do not confuse this with being kind.
It is selfish. It is avoiding the time and effort to search for the whole truth. It is saving you from discomfort. Skillful sharing of your true feelings and beliefs shows the kindness upon which longterm relationships grow."

Now, I admit readily that the "skillful sharing" of my true feelings has not always been my forte. True, I have got better over the years but, by nature, I'm still pretty raw in my delivery - truth from TravelVixen is often not for the feint of heart! And, I also admit, that I have been resistent to coaching or advice, primarily because I have believed (sometimes without true cause) that any attempt to 'work-on' delivery was merely a thinly veiled attempt at avoidance or a personal act of cowardice.

Yet, this quote just hit it on the head for me and serves up, in a nicely succinct way, exactly why I am a big proponent of being honest with people and why I get so frustrated with people who hold in what they're really feeling in a relationship (any relationship - personal or professional) in order to 'save someone's feelings'. Of course, there are times for discretion and appropriateness, and life has certainly taught me this.

Life has also taught me through experience (my own and in watching others I care about) that being honest is an act of bravery and selflessnes, in caring more about doing the right thing for the other person and/or the relationship, than your own vulnerability or the discomfort of a confrontation. Conversely, those people who avoid telling the truth and claim to be doing so for someone else, are most often doing so from a place of fear and selfishness. (I'm not saying you are selfish if this describes you, but that the act is selfish - we all perform different kinds of selfish acts from time-to-time. Heck, we're human and its part of the survival instinct.)

As Hubby was leaving the house this morning I read him the quote and told him that I think it epitomized one of the wonderful things about our relationship. Since meeting me, Hubby (often one for 'saving another's feelings') has definitely become more adept at checking his reasons for holding back and has become more cognizant of the benefits of, instead, telling 'the truth', even if it isn't always the most comfortable place for him. Yet, he has also taught me a lot about how to deliver the truth with compassion and without blame or finger-pointing. Just one of the many reasons we're the perfect match.

So, there you have it: a great quote on truth and a validation on marriage, from a SALES e-book!
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