Monday, December 29, 2008

It’s easy if you try...

"I’ve often wondered why _______"

This is one of the writing prompts suggested to try to waken the muse. I've been a little stymied in the past week or so with my writing, not only here but also with a project I've been working on. The idea is in my head, but I haven't been able to transfer the thoughts to the keyboard. So, I've been looking for inspiration by reading and watching movies. This afternoon, I finally Googled "muse" and came up with a plethora of sites on how to get your muse back, the site above was mentioned.

Here's where the blog thought line was going... We're in the last week of this very historic year, the news channels are doing their usual presentations and they seem (to me) to be filled with death and strife. My friend, Michael Levin, over at "The Funniest Blog in America" let it rip with his post, "How I Really Feel"... His words hit home for me, but much more eloquently than I could have written! This was followed by reading two articles in the NY Times; Bob Herbert's "Stop Being Stupid", and Guy Trebay's "Change We Could Live With".

Which brings me to the point I am at right now. Stuck. It sucks. I can't even say how bad it sucks because I don't have the words. Question is, how to get over it? Maybe I need Cher to smack me in the face and say, "Snap out of it!"

Being duly inspired by all three articles, I have decided to define my New Year resolution a little early. It came to me as I was walking home from the grocery store. "Make it better." Whatever it is: make it better, even if it is just one little thing... make it better. Can you imagine if we all tried doing that? One tiny step towards making something or someone or some place just a little bit better? That's my goal this year. Make it better.

Happy 2009, may all things be better!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Louie, Louie....

If you haven't been there yet, get your hungry self down to Di Palo's in Little Italy for the best whatever Italian flavor you desire! We went this past Sunday afternoon, the line was almost out the door (be sure to grab a number on your way in), but it was well worth the wait!

Di Palo's is one of those great foodie places where you go in thinking you only need one item and you end up walking out with ten. We were there for the San Daniele prosciutto, but we walked away with some fresh ricotta (heaven!), a peppery loaf of freshly baked bread (only available on Sundays) that was loaded with bits of prosciutto (to spread the ricotta on), two big blocks of parmigiano reggiano (I brought one home with me), fresh sausages, a chunk of pancetta and some marinated peppers...

We got to sample bits of everything we bought, and we got the inside scoop on some great local restos, not to be missed. Ask me!

My NYC trip was fast-paced and all-to-soon, it was over with! I arrived Saturday afternoon and was promptly picked up at the airport by John Hung, my driver for the weekend... door-to-door service with a great smile! (Ask me for his number!) My friend Brad came into the city and we enjoyed a great home-cooked meal chez Tobi. Sunday started with a long walk and ball chasing in Central Park with Tucker, (dogs can run free before 9am) followed by bagels and coffee, then the shopping tour. We hopped on the train and went downtown, starting at Di Palo's, then we headed up to Bloomingdale's and caught some great sales! Met up with another friend and had dinner at Canyon Road, a great little Mexican place near Tobi's. The duck burritos and frozen margaritas are the way to go!

Monday was a Chinese lunch with friends and a little more Christmas shopping, then I met up with Tobi and we had a quick dinner at Patsy's and we headed over to Madison Square Garden for Neil Young! He was great! He hasn't slowed down a bit, he still has his voice and he rocked the Garden with old tunes, and new! Cinnamon Girl, Old Man, Heart of Gold... mixed in with his new stuff (that I don't know yet!), excellent! The opening bands were Everest and Wilco, both sounding a bit like wannabes, although I did like Wilco a bit more than Everest. He didn't do Down by the River or Southern Man, but with his repertoire, he covered a lot of the major ones.

The next concert (that I have tickets for) is Jackson Browne here in Paris in April. Right now I need to wrap my head around Christmas and get some copy writing done for a project. The brain is in gear, I just have to sit and put the words on the page. For the moment, it's nice to be home. My son has been extra cuddly, I guess he missed me more than he thought he would... and yes, I missed him, too! :-)
I think we'll spend the holidays at home together.

Keep on rockin' in the free world...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Take the long way home...

Please note the fine Helvetica. Designed to put you in a good mood.

Tuesday, December 2: CDG, ORD, MLI (look it up), DEN.
Sunday, December 7: DEN, DFW, IAD, CDG.
That was the good news.

I flew United. The flight to Chicago was fine. I was in Economy Plus, that extra six inches makes a big difference! Landed, cleared customs, got my bags, rechecked them and went to the gate with no problems and minimum waiting time. Rolled out and went to Moline... got off at Gate 15. Sat at Gate 15 for an hour or so, got on the next plane at Gate 15... my luggage didn't. Got to Denver, no bag. Made a claim, grabbed the shuttle bus and was dropped off at the wrong hotel (for some reason, Marriott has two Residence Inns in Denver??). Took a taxi to the right hotel. Having had previous experience of losing my luggage with United, I fortunately had packed some jammies and a toothbrush. Happy day. Went to bed...

Did the CMS Expo, see previous post.

Got up at 0430 MDT Sunday morning, made it to the airport by 6am, flew to Dallas, quick connection to Washington, DC for the 1720 EDT departure. Had enough time to grab an Obama t-shirt for my son, boarded the flight to Paris... pushed back and waited. They couldn't get the left engine started, "it'll be a few minutes"... Three hours later (still on the tarmac) they pulled us back to the gate, released us to the terminal and said check back in an hour. After an hour they rolled out the meal carts. (That is NEVER a good sign!) After another two hours they announced that the flight was canceled. Mad rush to the customer service area...

Two hours later and I had a voucher for the Hyatt, $15 for a meal and a reroute to Paris via Frankfurt. Luckily for me, I have a guardian angel who was kind enough to have me upgraded to Business. Thank you!!

Here's the fun part. As the saying goes, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade... While waiting in the gate area, I managed to find a spot next to a guy who was recharging his iPod, the other socket was still open, so I asked him if he could plug me in... we started chatting and I asked him what he does. He said he works in Communications for! I almost fell over! I went to the CMS Expo hoping to speak to someone from iContact. They had a lot of people saying good things about them, but no rep! (Hint for the Chicago Expo!) Taylor, thank you for your advice, I hope you made it to YOUR conference!

While standing on the customer service line, I was chatting with Jacques, a nice French tour guide who helped make the time go by. We traded stories and buddied up to get to the hotel. First we had to claim our bags. His bags never made it on the plane from NY! Jacques, if you are reading this, get in touch!

Next day, I was checking out of the hotel and ran into Stephen who was carrying a huge bag with a bunch of Christmas goodies and his "Oscar" award. We shared the van ride to the airport and did the United check-in process. Upon boarding, and due to the above mentioned guardian angel, I was lucky enough to get upgraded and had to leave Stephen in order to nestle into my comfy chair. My seatmate arrived. Tony. A fireman. A man among men. He was reading "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus". In public! He was on his way to visit his sons in Frankfurt (also firemen). He was 6 feet 4 inches of kind, considerate gorgeousness, he made my flight.

We finally landed in Frankfurt, and I met up with Stephen again. We ran through customs and headed over to gate C (if you know Frankfurt airport, you know how long it is between terminals). I had a 1:40 connection, he had the next flight out at 5:30. Stephen, when I get back from NY we will have that café!

So, what's the bottom line from all this? Shit happens. Keep your sense of humor and things will work out. Smile, and the world smiles with you...

...and don't forget to pack clean underwear!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dress code...

This guy was waiting on the corner of 16th Street and Tremont here in Denver for his animator friends. I asked his permission and was able to snap this quick shot. Just so you know, it is the Parade of Lights tonight in Denver and folks are dressed up in all sorts of garb and costumes. Unfortunately, I have a pickup at 0535 to head to the airport. Tonight, I shall be snuggled up in bed in preparation for the long trip home.

The CMS Expo was good... it was held at the Brown Palace Hotel, a beautiful old hotel in downtown Denver. Our hosts, John and Linda Coonen made us feel right at home from the get-go. A quick thank you to LeRoy for your smile and graciousness!

Aside from our gang getting together, I had the opportunity to meet some interesting people, a few stand outs: Tom Elliott from, Azrul Rahim from, Kenneth Crowder from Crowder Web Design, Chris Rault from Joomla Junkies and very briefly, Karen Phelps from Landmark Innovations. A quick hey! to Paula Dawson and Susan Wolak, it was nice to meet you both!

A few of the things I discovered: YUI (Yahoo User Interface), jQuery, cool CSS tips and a bunch of sweet tidbits and “ah-ha” moments.

Follow up on the restaurant request.... we went to Blue Bonnet the first night. We were not impressed. The reviews are right, the place is hit or miss. I guess you kind of expect to have your fajitas served on a a sizzling platter. It didn't happen. The next night we dined at The Old Spaghetti Factory. The food was good, the ambiance relaxing, we had a chance to unwind over cocktails and then continued in that mode over our meals.

It was great to meet the rest of our virtual team, I'm looking forward to seeing you in NYC next Monday!

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.
~Chinese Proverb