Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bird's Nest

There is a perfectly formed bird's nest in the tree next to my deck. My dog is going crazy with it constantly trying to get to the tree, either through the railing or from the ground. She stands on the deck pointing to the nest. Wonder what she'll do when the eggs hatch.

We were sitting out on the deck and mama bird was missing for a long time. After cooking on the grill, the bird still hadn't come back so I was afraid we scared her off. But when I went out to put the grill cover back on, she was sitting on the nest. Of course, my putting on the grill cover scared her off again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Atlanta Update

We had over 17,000 people at the conference which ended this afternoon. Forgot to mention that our entertainment Sunday night was the Georgia Aquarium. We took it over Sunday night and hosted a party for 5,000 of the attendees. Unfortunately, we weren't able to accommodate everyone, but there are always enough parties to go around during our conferences. Vendors set up numerous dinners and other events for their customers, actual and prospective.

Tuesday's night concert was John Mayer. John is a much more accomplished guitarist than I had thought. He failed to interact with the audience who was down in the aisles dancing and cheering for him. He had to little to say other than, "Are you having a good time?" He said that about three times. He did mention that he used to live in Atlanta and loved the city. His band members did not interact very much with each other either. One of the vendors had given out glow necklaces to the attendees. During the concert, people in the stands connected their necklaces so that there was a long glow rope twisting throughout the entire Phillips Arena. It even draped down from the higher level seats down to the lower level seats and looped around the entire stadium. John didn't mention this until during his encore when he said it showed we were a symbiotic corporation. I don't think he got the purpose of the event/conference.

Because I'm one of the volunteer leaders, I was able to get floor seats for my group. We had a good time, but it wasn't one of the better concerts I've gone to. I heard a lot of people, however, raving about how good the concert was. And one of my group chairs was in heaven because she is such a JM fan.

Now, I've got to get back to work and then head home Thursday afternoon.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Taking Over Atlanta

Arrived in Atlanta Saturday afternoon for our Spring Conference. Over 15,000 people are here. We've taken all the hotel rooms near the convention center and some of us have to stay over in the Buckhead area. I think I have walked over 50 miles since Saturday. I thought my feet hurt at SXSW - boy, was I wrong!!

Weather is beautiful. The conference is going well. Usual complaints about the walking within the convention center and having too many sessions to choose from. We've changed how we do meals and it seems to be causing some problems. In the past, we've had sit down buffet-style lunches. Now they are grab and go so the lines are very long. As I stood in line, I heard many complaints from people.

Like Jerry Lewis, we are already planning for our next conference even before this one ends. The next conference, smaller and more hands-on, will be in San Francisco in Sept. We won't have more than 2,000 at that conference since we'll be focusing on Supply Chain and Manufacturing, Product Lifecyle, and Plant Maintenance (renamed Enterprise Asset Mgmt).

Entertainment for tomorrow night is a John Mayer concert. We're angling for backstage passes, but it probably won't happen. Instead, we'll go for front row seats!

I have never seen so many beggers in my life as I have experienced in Atlanta in the blocks around the convention center. Even not making eye contact doesn't help - they still ask for money. They've even come into the convention center and pan-handled the conference attendees. They go through the trash pulling things out for later re-use. They comb through the cigarette butts in the ashtrays and pull the longer butts out to smoke later.

For every begger, however, there is an Atlanta ambassador. Someone from the visitors' center dressed in a bright uniform walking the sidewalks and manning the information booths offering help and assistance. Also, an equal number of police officers strolling the streets in a constant manner.

I'll come back home Thursday afternoon. It will be nice to be home.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Who Do We Notice?

The killings at Virginia Tech have captured the world's attention. People throughout the US mourn for people they've never met. South Korea is expressing a sense of national guilt. Other nations follow the news in sympathy and sometimes in judgement.

Thirty-two people were killed in VA on Monday and the 24-hour news channels have not stopped reporting on the incident. I have cried as I watched the news and as I hear parents talk about their child who is no longer here. I have a daughter entering college in the Fall and as we've had a school shooting and other incidents nearby, the possibility is near to home. It could have been a different college. It could have been a different building. It could have been a different day and the people who died would have been different people. There was no logic, it seems, for most of their deaths.

Not to take anything away from that tragic incident, but over 170 people died today in Baghdad. It didn't get much attention in the news:

The Interior Ministry said the dead and injured included:
• 122 dead, 150 wounded in Sadriya market in central Baghdad;
• 28 dead, 44 wounded in an attack near an Iraqi Army checkpoint at one of the entrances to Sadr City, the official said;
• 11 civilians were killed and 13 others wounded when a parked car bomb detonated in central Baghdad's Karrada district. The car was parked near a hospital and a market;
• Four police officers were killed and 6 civilians wounded when a suicide car bomber exploded at an Iraqi police checkpoint in southern Baghdad;
• Four people were killed and eight were wounded by a bomber targeting a police patrol near a checkpoint in Saidiya, in southwestern Baghdad. Two of those killed were police and the other two were civilians;
• Two civilians were killed and 9 others wounded when a roadside bomb detonated at a busy intersection in central Baghdad.

Do we only notice the deaths in Iraq when they are our people?

Since 2003, over 400,000 people have been killed in Darfur and over two million people are homeless. And, we do nothing. The violence is spreading to Chad and the Central African Republic. We watch and do nothing; sometimes we don't even watch. We ignore the situation.

At the end of 2005, over 24.5 million people were living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Two million people died of AIDS that year leaving over 12 million children as orphans.

In research on trafficking of Togolese girls into domestic and market work, Human Rights Watch interviewed forty-one girls trafficked when they were between the ages of three and seventeen. Thirteen had been trafficked internally, while the rest were trafficked across borders to Benin, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, and Niger. All of the girls Human Rights Watch interviewed were from poor agricultural backgrounds with little or no formal schooling whose parents handed them over to known or unknown intermediaries, sometimes for a price, with the understanding they would be receiving formal education, professional training or paid work. Instead, the girls’ descriptions of being recruited, transported, received and exploited revealed a pattern of abuse resembling child slavery. Almost none received any remuneration for her work.

Human Rights Watch:

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech, In Our Prayers

The true way to mourn the dead is
to take care of the living who belong to them.
-- Edmund Burke

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Don't Ya Wish Your Boyfriend Was Hot Like Me?

To compliment Rachel's photo of her and Arabella having a small snack...

Friday, April 13, 2007


Hard to believe it is April, the middle of April, and we are still talking about snowstorms! Windchills are low here in PA and Sunday, we are expecting a Nor'eastern. My town will probably only get extremely heavy rains, but some places could get some serious snow.

I commute 80 miles each way to work and Thursday's commute was extremely rough. Heavy rain made it very hard to see. At one point, I was driving under a bridge and so much water was pouring off the bridge, I could not see anything for about 5 seconds. Was driving next to a tractor trailer so it was a little nerve-wracking for my passengers. I'm in a carpool so we share the driving.

I cut the grass last weekend and this weekend, I wanted to work on my flowerbeds. Don't think that will be happening!

Some concerts to look forward to in July - Ian McLagan will be playing in NYC at BB Kings on July 6. If you haven't seen Ian and the Bump Band, you have to go! And, then July 7, the LiveEarth concert will be held in NJ. I've already told ColleenM to expect a houseguest that weekend!

Are you totally sick of the Imus story yet? I think what he said was horrible, but I don't think he should have been fired over it. I really don't care for Sharpton and find it very hypocritical that he would call for anyone's firing based on a negative slur when he has repeatedly slandered numerous people and never apologised for his words. On the news today, the minister for the team's coach compared the Rutgers basketball team to the Duke lacrosse players saying that the basketball team had been victims and were judged negatively while the lacrosse players also victims were held up as noble and honorable. How can you compare a group of talented, intelligent and gifted young women who were referenced in a passing comment (sexist and racist, as it definitely was) by a shock jock to innocent people who were convicted in the press, spent thousands of dollars in legal fees, had to leave school for a year, and had their faces and names splashed over every local and national news station for months? If those Duke students had not been able to afford the best legal defense, they would most likely have been convicted. I'm convinced that there are many innocent people in our jails.

Hopefully this weekend will be last touch of winter! I'm ready for Spring.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Changing Times

Good Friday used to be my most favorite church service of the year. At least at the church I've been attending for the last 15 years. (I can't believe I've been there for 15 years now, actually.) The youth of the church do a Tenebrae service where they "re-enact" the crucifixion. It was the most moving service of the year for me and sometimes I would even cry by the end of the service.

I say, past tense, because a few years ago, in the absence of having a Youth Director, I was asked to help the Youth do the Tenebrae service, the Easter Sunrise service and a third service. Ever since I began leading the youth with the Tenebrae service, the service itself has lost its meaning to me. Now, I worry about the right kid doing the right thing at the right time. I worry about the candles being in the right position, the script being ready for everyone, the cloths and the cross being found and made available, and I worry about how the slinky Jesus looks. Yes, I said, slinky Jesus. Sometime, years ago, decades ago, someone made a man-like figure out of wire that we use as our Jesus that we put on the cross as part of the service. I think they coiled wire around an actual person and the slinky Jesus used to look somewhat realistic. But, this year, he's looking a little compressed. I think we're going to have to explore different options next year.

We have new Youth Directors for our church now but since they are new, they have been asking me a lot of questions and asking me to help out at these services. Last night, I went to church at 4 so I could help the youth rehearse and walk through the service with them and the directors. Actually, they didn't need me. The kids know what needs to be done better than me since it is their service and they've done it for years. Of course, they did a great job. But again, the service did not hit me emotionally as it did before I got involved. I wonder if it ever will again.

I should say that our new Youth Directors, a husband and wife team, are awesome people. They are doing a great job with our youth and hopefully, they will be able to regenerate what used to be a very active and large youth program. The wife is going to seminary school and asked me last night to be on her seminarian-in-care committee which means I have to help her evaluate her sermons and other interactions with the congregation.

Saturday morning, my son, his friend and I went to our monthly homeless breakfast. Our church serves breakfast the first Sat of the month. This month, there were so many volunteers, I ended up mostly socializing before leaving.

After we left the breakfast, we went to the Verizon store where I bought my 11-year old son his first cell phone. I never expected to get either of my children a phone that early. But, my son is not very good at letting me know where he is. He has lots of friends in the neighborhood and they are very fluid about what house they are at. They will start out at one friend's house and move on to another's, but forget to call home to say where they will be. So because he is irresponsible rather than responsible, I've bought him a cell phone so I can call him and find out where he is. I put the chaperone functionality on it as well so I can track him if need be. Not because I think he will wander far on his own, but in today's world, it seemed reasonable in case he would be abducted or some other natural disaster would occur. My 17-year old daughter has a cell phone and I've told her I want her to keep it with her at school. We've had school shootings locally and her school has had four bomb threats in the last few weeks. The bomb threats are hoaxes because the kids have learned that they can get out of school if they write a note on the bathroom wall, but we never know these days what can happen. If school would be evacuated due to a tornado or storm, or a real bomb threat, whatever, I would like to be able to reach her or have her reach me.

I hope everyone has a blessed Easter season, regardless of their religious affiliation. Spring is a time of rebirth and regeneration for all of us. I think our Sunrise service tomorrow will have to be held inside since as I look out the window, it is snowing again here in PA. Hard to believe it is April, my grass needs mowing badly, and it is snowing....

Monday, April 02, 2007

My Son Hates Me

My son is mad at me because I have to work tomorrow. I work away from home four days a week, but generally his sister is here when he first gets up. I leave for work very early and she won't be home tomorrow to wake him up later. So, it's my fault. I'm a horrible mother and he hates me. But tomorrow, he'll love me again.

According to this internet quiz, I'm actually a pretty cool mom.

You Will Be a Cool Parent

You seem to naturally know a lot about parenting, and you know what kids need.
You can tell when it's time to let kids off the hook, and when it's time to lay down the law.
While your parenting is modern and hip, it's not over the top.
You know that there's nothing cool about a parent who acts like a teenager... or a drill sergeant!