Saturday, January 26, 2008

Some Time in New Brunswick

Had to spend the week in New Brunswick attending a management training course. The class was good even though it was a lot of topics I've had training on before - you know, we all have different personality styles and we need to manage and interact accordingly and not negatively judge someone who has a different style than yourself. But the best part of these classes is that you get to meet other managers from sister companies all over the country and exchange stories and information. This class bonded very well and I hope to stay in touch with many of the people I met this week.

A highlight of the week was that Wednesday night we went out for dinner to Makeda, an Ethiopian restaurant. Colleen and I had planned to get together ourselves Wed, but instead she joined us as a group. We had a great time.

Most of us had never had Ethiopian food. Makeda is supposed to be one of the top ten restaurants in NJ. It was very good. Here is a URL to tell you more about it if you are interested in it. I do have to caution you, however, that two people in our party, the same two people who shared a dish, were very sick on Thursday and while we were out drinking that night and didn't get back to the hotel until 1:30 am, we didn't attribute it to a hangover. However, it could have been the alcohol.

The atmosphere of the restaurant was very intimate, and while crowded for a Wednesday night, it was not too crowded to interfere with our conversations and enjoyment. After dinner, we went on what was advertised as a pub crawl. Unfortunately, there weren't too many pubs to choose from and we only went to two bars, one of them twice. One bar had a DJ and the other a band. I preferred the one with the band. Although we danced at the bar with the DJ and didn't dance much with the band. Part of that was the style of music as well as having the room to dance.

Interesting to see the South Carolina results come back tonight. Although it can be rather alarming to listen to the press babble about what all this means. They change their stories frequently, it seems, to make the story more dramatic. The other day, their story was that Hilary was going to lose SC and had in fact, basically abandoned that state to focus on the Feb 4 multi-state (20) primary. Today, it is the death of her campaign because she came in second place. And it is fascinating to see how they pick one snippet of a statement and frame the story one way, and then someone else will use the other part of that statement and frame a totally different argument. And, most people who are voting don't seem to pay much attention to their choice in terms of researching their position or candidate. That is, unless, you are in Iowa and had the chance to have coffee with the candidates or even have them in your home campaigning to others. Here in PA, it will be decided already by the time they get here in April. I'm still torn as to who I will vote for in the presidential election, but since I haven't changed my party, I'll have to vote Republican so I'll probably vote for McCain in the primary. My area is predominantly Republican so I stay a registered Republican so when I write to my representatives, I figure they'll pay more attention to my opinion. If I was a Democrat, I think they would just ignore me completely. I'd rather be an Independent since I never vote straight party but Pennsylvania does not allow Independents to vote in primary elections.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Rank the Candidates

I was very surprised by the candidates that came up on the top of my list.....

This is a short 11 question quiz that ranks the candidates by how much you agree with their stances.

Homeless Breakfast

I think I've mentioned before that I help serve a breakfast ministry the first Saturday of every month. This month, the person who does the eggs wasn't there so I scrambled and cooked 36 dozen eggs. We had a full crowd this time, serving over 236 people before our counter lost count of the people there. We serve eggs, pancakes, sausages, donuts, cereal, coffee and orange juice. And, we try and gather the baked goods from local grocery stores that would otherwise be thrown away and put that out for them with them.

Not everyone is homeless. I think many of the people there are stretching their food stamps or their budgets. You can tell the ones that seem to be really homeless by the number of clothes they are wearing and if they are carrying stuff with them. You get to know some of them, the ones who are there every month. There is a man in his 40s who tells me every month, how many months he's been clean, and how he won't use anymore because he's been clean now for 13 months and he would have to start counting all over again. This month, he told me he really wanted to go to an NA meeting that day, but the location is in a bad neighborhood for him - one he used to go to to score drugs and he would run into too many former acquaintances who would try and lure him back into drugs. He was going to try and find someone to go with him who could help keep him strong.

There is a woman who is usually there every month. She wasn't there this time. It made me wonder where she was - was she ok? Did she just skip that day? Did she move or find another job? She had been employed by the city school district, but was let go because they didn't think she was efficient enough.

It was sad to see how many children that were there this month. Usually there are a couple, but this month, there were probably over 20 kids there, ranging in age from infants to pre-teenagers. I was wondering if maybe the parents spent money on Christmas presents that left them short in January for their grocery budgets. Or is this the start of a worsening trend in the local economy.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Five Balls

Work is changing from one day to another and it is stressful. Tonight, around 8 pm, I got a phone call that things have changed again. This time the pendulum has swung to the positive side. But I've decided it's probably not a good idea to blog about work and the transitions. Nothing on the internet is private and could be dangerous career-wise.

But someone sent me this today - someone who didn't know about what was going on. Things happen like that if you pay attention; when you need a message, it comes to you.

From the book "Suzanne's Diary to Nicholas" by James Patterson

Five Balls
Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them - Work - Family - Health - Friends - Spirit, and you're keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls -- family, health, friends and spirit are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life. How?

1. Don't undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others. It is because we are different that each of us is special.

2. Don't set your goals by what other people deem important. Only you know what is best for you.

3. Don't take for granted the things closest to your heart. Cling to them as you would your life, for without them, life is meaningless.

4. Don't let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live ALL the days of your life.

5. Don't give up when you still have something to give. Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying.

6. Don't be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that binds us together.

7. Don't be afraid to encounter risks. It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.

8. Don't shut love out of your life by saying it's impossible to find. The quickest way to receive love is to give; the fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly; and the best way to keep love is to give it wings.

9. Don't run through life so fast that you forget not only where you've been, but also where you are going.

10. Don't forget that a person's greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.

11. Don't be afraid to learn. Knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.

12. Don't use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved.