Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas cards

I just finished about 30 Christmas cards. No, I'm not looking for a pat on the back. If I really had my act together, they would have been done two weeks ago. But at least they won't be New Years cards.

I had planned to send the family Christmas letter via email this year, but today I decided I really wanted to send old-fashioned snailmail cards. That's odd for me, because I usually find Christmas cards to be a chore. This year, though, I approached it differently. At each step - looking through my address book, addressing envelopes, writing notes in the cards, and even putting stamps on - I thought about each person, picturing them, remembering stuff we used to do together. Yeah, I know - cheesy, huh? But it was nice to remember and to feel connected to each person for those few minutes. I guess I'm missing those connections since moving to SoCal. So if you get a card from me, please know that while I was preparing it, I was thinking of you and probably remembering something funny and/or stupid we did together years ago. Yeah, that thought ought to brighten your holidays. You can thank me later.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Morbid sense of humor

So we're driving around San Dimas last Saturday, running errands, when we pull up behind this SUV at a traffic light:

Funniest license plate ever

Check out the license plate. In case you can't tell from the blurry cameraphone photo, it's a personalized plate that reads, "TOETAGN." But that's not all! The license plate frame reads...



wait for it...



"Hug a mortician... while you still can."

Yes. Really. I laughed for the rest of the day. Let's hope this witty undertaker parked in back of the funeral home, as I'm not sure grieving relatives would find it as funny as I did.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Preserve us from errant golf balls!

In case anyone ever wondered whether California's reputation as The Nanny State is justified, I give you the following paragraph from the Statewide Buyer and Seller Advisory, part of our home-buying paperwork:

18. ERRANT GOLF BALLS: Buyer and Seller are advised that if theProperty is located adjacent to or near a golf course there is apossibility that golf balls may damage the Property or injure personsor pets on it. Additionally, persons playing golf may enter theProperty to retrieve errant golf balls or for other purposes. Brokerrecommends that Buyer investigate the possibility during Buyer'sInspection contingency period. Brokers do not have expertise in this area.

Fortunately, our soon-to-be home is nowhere near a golf course, so we should be safe from errant golf balls and their equally errant pursuers.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Father's Day Scene

Long time no post. I have a good excuse--relocating to another state and starting a new job--but I'll explain that in some future post. Right now I want to share something I witnessed this morning that reminded me of what it means to be a parent.

I was leaving the library at City of Hope (that's the new job I mentioned) this morning to go to lunch. There's a small pedestrian-only street running past the library. Sitting on the curb were a father and son, the boy maybe 6 or 7 years old. The father could have been AnyDad, sitting next to his son as they raced a remote-controlled car up and down the street on a lovely Southern California day. As the little boy watched the car zooming around, his eyes sparkled with delight, despite the nearly bald head and face mask that marked him as a cancer patient.

Of course I pitied the child. It's bad enough to get sick when you're an adult, when you've lived a bit and can have some perspective on what's happening to you. But, as a parent, my heart broke for the father. I cannot imagine the pain and terror that man has endured, fearing for his child's life and watching him suffer through treatment. But as I walked past them, playing there on the curb, I felt privileged to see what must have been a stolen moment of normality in the shadow of a high-tech cancer hospital.

To me, that little scene captured the essence of fatherhood more than all the Father's Day cards Hallmark can print.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Johnny B Goode covers

Yesterday the husband and I were listening to Chuck Berry's classic, "Johnny B Goode" courtesy of Taco Del Mar and wishing it could be re-recorded with today's sound quality and maybe with crunchier guitars. Then one of my Facebook friends (hi, Kevin!) posted a couple of cover versions, so I decided to visit that fine cultural repository known as YouTube to see what other versions I could dig up. Probably everyone has heard Elvis's version and the one from Back to the Future, but did you know that there are several reggae versions? And Tom Jones once covered this song? I'll spare you both of those, but here are a few that I thought were particularly good, capturing the energy and spirit of the original but a little heavier and rougher.

The best version I've ever heard, though, was courtesy of a bar band at a frat party when I was about 18. It may have been the mood and the venue, but it was just perfect.

Green Day:


AC/DC (with Bon Scott) and Cheap Trick:


A couple of guys from Switchfoot:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Headline of the week: 10 Things Corporations Can Learn from Pro Wrestling

Sam Ford at Fast Company wrote a gem of a piece: 10 Things Corporations Can Learn from Pro Wrestling. The headline is nearly as attention-grabbing as the oversized mouthpieces of the WWE, but the content actually has some substance. I'm trying to work in a wrestling analogy, like seeing The Rock on Saturday Night Live and discovering that there's a little more to him than just what he's cookin', but I'm too sleepy to come up with anything good.

Anyway, back to the article: There's lots of sound advice here for businesses, nonprofits (yes, including libraries), and even individuals attempting to market themselves in a competitive economy. My favorite quote:


Brands who have active audiences online have probably learned the hard way how often passionate customers will tell everyone around them, and the brand, what they think. The key is to understand that this feedback is crucial and, if anything, should be encouraged, if your goal is to develop a long-term and transparent relationship with your target audiences.


In other words, don't be afraid of feedback - even negative feedback. I work with a Vendor-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named whose staff usually become very defensive (and sometimes downright unpleasant) when anyone suggests their products are less than perfect. I wish they could understand that candid feedback is a gift. Someone is taking time out of his or her overscheduled life to tell you how to make or do something better. Whether you're selling a product or just trying to do your job better, the appropriate response is a heartfelt "thank you." Then analyze that feedback and try to make use of it. If someone is unhappy, they're going to tell someone; if you're lucky, it'll be you. Usually they just tell 20 of their closest friends or post a negative review of your product.

There's lots more good advice in the article. Definitely worth a read.

Friday, August 21, 2009

How to Pack for a Beach Trip in the Pacific Northwest

Tomorrow I leave for four lazy, relaxing days in Seaside, so tonight I'm packing. Well, at the moment I'm procrastinating writing, but I'll be packing shortly. Because I prefer wasting time writing to packing, I'll explain to my California friends--and anyone else who lives where beaches are warm and sunny as God intended--how a Northwesterner packs for a trip to the coast. Here's what most of the world packs when going to the beach:

  • shorts
  • tank tops
  • sunglasses
  • swimwear
  • flip-flops
  • sunscreen
  • a light jacket for chilly evenings
  • boogie board or other fun thing to use in the water

Now, here's what we Northwesterners take:

  • jeans
  • long-sleeved t-shirts
  • sweatshirts
  • rain gear
  • hiking boots
  • movies, books, or other indoor activities to keep us busy till the rain lets up and the wind drops below 60 mph

The fact that I'm taking sunglasses, a swimsuit, sunscreen, and flip-flops can only be explained by one (or both) of the following:

  • Old habits die hard (I'm a native Californian)
  • The triumph of hope over experience


See y'all next week.