Monday, February 25, 2008

Free Hugs

Students returned to classes today on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

As these young adults are still trying to come to grips with the tragic shooting attack, by a former sociology student, that left five of their fellow students dead and nearly 20 wounded, they must, somehow, return to their jobs of learning.

I can only imagine how surreal walking through the campus must feel to them. It doesn't seem possible to me that any of them would be able to concentrate on their studies or think about anything other than the events of February 14 that left some of their friends injured and others dead.

In my life, I can only recall two events that left me feeling as lost and utterly hopeless as I imagine many of these students must be feeling now.

The first was when my father passed away and the second was the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. Although it took quite a bit of time to return to normalcy from both events, eventually I was able to move past the sadness and return to the task of living my day-to-day life. Thinking back on those events today, what I regret is not giving hugs.

During my father's funeral, my little sister sat next to me in the first pew of the church. I looked over to her and saw that she was crying. I was crying too, but instead of hugging her or holding her hand, I just turned back to the priest and tried to concentrate on the homage he was paying to my father. When I think about the funeral today, I can't remember a single word that priest said, but I can remember that I didn't offer comfort to my sister. I sincerely regret that.

When the planes hit the World Trade Center on September 11, I was at work. As it became clear that it wasn't an accident, but that the US was under attack, most of us, at the office that day, gathered in front of a small television set watching the events unfold. When the first building started to collapse, tears started streaming down my cheeks. I looked over and Jennifer, one of my co-workers, was also crying. Instead of giving her a hug, or even placing my hand on her shoulder to offer comfort, I simply turned away. I sincerely regret that as well.

It seems that I give hugs freely in happiness, but in sadness, I detach. I wonder if that's a character flaw? Now that I'm aware of it enough to admit it, it's something that I will work to change.

On my drive home from work today, I heard a news story on WBBM out of Chicago that one student, John Sprinkle, stood outside on the NIU campus all day today with a "Free Hugs" sign. The story quoted the young man as saying he had lost count of the number of hugs he had given, but he knew that people needed them.

I agree. Not just to celebrate the happy times or to express affection, hugs are needed to heal sadness.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Garanimals for adults

I saw a TV commercial for Garanimals today. You remember Garanimals... clothes that allow kids to easily coordinate tops with bottoms by matching up the animal tags.

It reminded me of the reason I like to shop at Christopher & Banks. Walking into C&B, you see that all of their clothes are grouped into matching outfits.

It's impossible to make a fashion mistake at Christopher & Banks.
Even if you can't figure it out on your own, just take any piece to the front counter and ask for help. Within a few minutes, a helpful employee will have a dressing room full of outfits picked out, waiting for you to try on. The employee will stand outside the dressing room in case you need a different size. When you stand in front of the mirror, admiring your new outfit, the employee will tell you how fabulous you look.

Yea Christopher & Banks. I just wish they had a full e-commerce website. Their clothing sizes are totally consistent, and actually run a little large, so there's really no need to try on clothes before you buy them.

UPDATE: I just checked out their website... haven't been there for awhile. And, it's fully e-commerce enabled. Yea Christopher & Banks. 'Scuse me while I go shopping.

Living the rock n roll lifestyle

Valerie Bertinelli (the cute younger daughter from the One Day At A Time sitcom) has been getting a lot of press this weekend about her up-coming appearance on Oprah where she's to talk about the breakup of her marriage to rock star Eddie Van Halen.

I used to be a huge Van Halen fan. In fact, my first date with Bruce was to a Van Halen concert in Evansville, Indiana.

Eddie was so cute, with his long, dark curly hair. I remember thinking, when he and Valerie were first married, that they sort of looked alike.

I did a Google images search today to see what Eddie looks like now.

OMG... what happened? My guess is that Valerie dumped him because when she woke up in the morning, turned over in bed and saw him laying there, it scared the bejeebers out of her. She probably had to pinch herself to wake up from the nightmare.

What's for lunch?

Sammiches.... yummmmm!

When I was a kid, in Catholic grade school, we didn't have a cafeteria and had to take our lunch to school. Every day my mom would make us each a bologna sammich, on white bread, with Miracle Whip.

The best part was that the sammich, carefully enclosed in an Alligator Baggie, would get nice and soft and warm and squished below an apple or a Little Debbie treat, as it sat in a paper lunch bag on the shelf in the coat room.

Squished flat, with the crusts carefully ripped off, was my favorite way to enjoy my daily bologna sammich.

One day, dad made our lunches because mom was in the hospital recovering from surgery. Imagine my surprise when I bit into my bologna sammich and, instead of the yummy Miracle Whip I expected to taste between the bologna and the bread, I tasted butter. Yuch... who would even think of putting butter on a bologna sammich. Dad's defense was that he liked butter on his sammiches because it helped the bread slide down the throat. And, he thought we'd like it, too.

Thinking about odd condiments on sammiches, hubby Bruce made me an egg sammich one morning... one of my favorite, yet seldom eaten breaksfasts. My favorite way to make these is with one fried egg with a slice of cheese and a little salt and pepper on white bread. As I was driving to work, I bit into the sammich made with love and tasted something very wrong. I spit out the bite and, when I reached the stop sign on CR 22, I opened the sammich to investigate the odd taste. It was Miracle Whip. Big yuch! Who eats Miracle Whip on an egg sammich??? Guess what his reasoning was... "makes it slide down the throat easier."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Please Donate

OMG... I need to raise $200,000 immediately! I just received the email below saying our local Ford dealer has ONE Mustang Shelby GT500KR available.

Anyone who thinks it would be cool to see me in this hot car, send me your credit card number and tell me your credit limit. I may need a bit more than $200K in case there's a bidding war. The top 10 donations will earn a ride with me in this awesome car.

Thanks for your support!!!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

From: Gurley Leep Ford Lincoln Mercury
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2008


I have ONE 2008 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR available. If you, or anyone you know are interested, please contact me immediately. This will be an extremely RARE collectible.

This is THE BIGGEST and BADDEST Mustang...EVER.

This will be the ONLY unit available to us. This is a Limited-Production Muscle-Car. Expect to pay upwards of $200,000. If you want a piece of American History in the making, call me immediately or email me.

I can't stress enough...This is FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVE.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Free Electricity

Ever run out of power, on your cell phone or computer, at the airport?

It's nearly impossible to find an outlet. It's common to see people sitting on the floor, huddled around the airport's only publicly-accessible electric receptacle outlet, with others waiting in line for their turn to charge up.

If you've ever been in that predicament, you'll understand the excitement I felt in finding a Power Station in the Orlando airport.

I hope the Power Station company has an aggressive sales force because I want to see these in every airport.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Friday in Florida was fabulous.

All day by the swimming pool.

Constantly applying sunscreen to keep from burning.

Enjoying the colors of the season.

Saturday in Elkhart was not so fabulous.

Cold. Snowy. Overcast.

Adventures in Orlando - B-52s

The B-52s were the featured performers at the SPIKE party @ Universal City Walk.

I liked their music, but other than "The Love Shack", didn't know any of the songs.

After the concert, we took a little trip to Margaritaville enjoying the beautiful Florida evening.

Adventures in Orlando - Wynfield Inn

My business trip to Orlando was scheduled at the last minute, and with the IHB show, many of the hotels were sold out. I ended up finding a room at the Wynfield Inn, a motel badly in need of refurbishing.

The lobby and grounds were actually pretty nice. The room was disgustingly filthy and badly in need of repairs. The safe was not operational, and even if it had been, was not large enough to accommodate more than a wallet or watch.

None of the light fixtures worked, and neither did the TV remote or alarm clock. The maintenance man was quick to come to my room to make repairs, but it seems that housekeeping would check these things during their normal rounds and order them fixed before the next guest checks in.

The carpet, bedding, chairs and walls were heavily stained as was the inside of the dresser drawer.

On the plus side, the pool area and staff were very nice.

Adventures in Orlando - Chef Irvine

I had a client meeting in Orlando Thursday afternoon so I took Friday off as a vacation day to enjoy some time in the sun.

My friend Cheryl was in Orlando on business at the same time. She had met a Food Network celebrity, Chef Irvine, at a Lunch Impossible event on Thursday.

Thursday night we went to the SPIKE party at Universal City Walk and ran into Chef Irvine in one of the food lines.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Not much to see here

Now that my windshield wipers are in perfect working order, it's a shame there isn't much to look at.

Today, as I was traveling on the bypass, where the sky was the same color as the ground, I was listening to the new Stephen King book, Duma Key.

The main character woke to the sound of ocean waves pushing around the shells under his house on stilts. After his morning orange juice, he took a stroll down the beach, enjoying the feel of the sand on his bare feet.

Sure wish I was in Florida now.

No Swimming @ Pinhook Park in South Bend

I saw this No Swimming sign protruding from the frozen river inlet at Pinhook Park today.

I guess the birds took it seriously because the ducks and geese haven't been around for weeks.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Snow Plow Guy Driving Away Our Neighbors

I know it's not us... we're not the reason all of our neighbors are moving away. But, we may be the reason none of them have sold their houses. Or, maybe it's more accurate to say that they all are each others' reasons their houses have not yet sold.

Or... maybe it's the snow plow guy who keeps piling up the snow in the middle of our cul-de-sac.

Say you're looking to buy a house and you come into our neighborhood. You see four houses on the cul-de-sac, and three of them have for sale signs in the front yard.

Do you think:

a) Hmmmm... wonder what's wrong with those people in the house that's not for sale. They must really be trouble.

b) With all of these houses for sale, something must be wrong with this neighborhood.

c) Wow, that's a huge pile of snow in the middle of this cul-de-sac. I don't blame these people for wanting to move.

The real reasons are none of the above. One neighbor recently married and wants a different home with her new hubby. Another neighbor finally found the perfect house on the perfect acreage in the country. And, the third... we'll not sure about them. But, that third house is so desperate to sell that they're offering the buyer a new car with purchase of their house. Seems like it would make more sense to lower the asking price of the house.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I've been watching too much TV

I haven't left the house since I arrived home from work Friday.

It's just too cold outside so I've been hanging out in my comfy chair, in front of the TV, wrapped in my softest blanked, with a computer on my lap.

The TV is mainly on for background noise while I work on my computer but every once in a while something will catch my ear and I'll look up.

Over the past few hours, I've seen a couple really bizarre TV commercials. I can't wait until summer when I can turn off the TV for a few months and spend time in my garden.

  • The annoying music in this Dolce & Gabbana ad (warning, not safe for all audiences: NC-17, maybe R) caught my ear. After watching it, I still can't figure out who they're trying to target and what they're trying to sell (tennis shoes, clothes, watches???).
  • This Holiday Inn commercial caught my attention because I couldn't figure out why they were sort of mumbling/humming an REO Speedwagon song. I did a quick search on YouTube to view the entire commercial and found it hilarious!

Crazy Weather

I didn't really think about how crazy our weather has been this week until a friend, returning from Costa Rica, called me to ask about it.

Monday it was so foggy I missed my exit off the bypass because I didn't see it through the fog. It took me four hours to drive from Lafayette to Elkhart; a trip that normally takes two hours.

The fog continued Tuesday morning, with a bonus rain storm in the evening.

The warmer weather and rain have caused more wide-spread flooding with many of the county roads closed.

Wednesday started out with rain and turned to snow in the afternoon.

This weekend we were supposed to get 10" to 12" of snow, but only received a couple of inches. The biggest problems now are the ice and wind. It's very, very cold. The standing water has frozen and the winds are blowing snowdrifts across the formerly flooded county roads.

The toll road and bypass were both closed earlier today. The morning news reported that police officials have advised everyone to stay off the roads unless travel is absolutely necessary.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Windsheild Wipers Finally Fixed

After a few weeks of windshield wiper problems, I finally found the correct wiper arms, but couldn't figure out how to install them properly. I really tore up the old arms prying them off Tuesday night so Wednesday I worked from home because it was raining.

Thursday I took my van over to Veldman's Service Center and not only did they properly install my wiper arms and my new Rain-X wiper blades; they did it for FREE.

I highly recommend Veldman's Service Center (corner of Mayflower Road and Western Avenue in South Bend). They've taken care of my vehicles for the past 15 or so years. If you go, tell them Sharon sent you. If you get new tires from Veldman's, they will repair any flat you get for free. That comes in handy around the South Bend area where the potholes have caused so many flats this week that the local newspaper made that a front-page story.

I also highly recommend the new Rain-X Latitude Wiper Blades. They're a bit pricey at 17.99 each, but worth every penny. I picked up a new set at Pep Boys in Evansville on Sunday -- buy 1 get 1 free. I should have bought a few sets at that price.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Amazing IHOP Waitress

Our traditional Superbowl weekend farewell breakfast found us in the care of the Amazing IHOP Waitress.

This woman never fails to amaze me with her uncanny ability to take food orders from 10 people, without writing anything down, and getting it all to the table without a mistake.

I've got the kind of memory that fails the minute I meet a new person. As soon as I learn their name, I forget it.

Yat's... now a little closer to home

My sister introduced me to Yats in Broad Ripple a few years back. Yats Cajun Creole is a small, no-frills cajun restaurant where a huge serving of Chili Cheese Crawfish Etouffée with garlic toast, served on a paper plate cost me all of $5.

Bruce and I liked the
Etouffée so much, we talked the owner, Joe, into selling us a gallon of it to go. Twice since then, as I've traveled through Indy, I've stopped into Yats for my special gallon-to-go take out order.

Now, Yats is open in West Lafayette. The meal prices are up to $6.50 a plate, but the great taste remains unchanged.

There have been a few cajun restaurants in the South Bend area, but none that compared to Yats. I think Yats' success comes largely from their no-frills format -- no need for waitresses or dishwashers; simple menu of five or six meal choices; and friendly counter staff.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Partying With the Older Crowd

Here's what happens to the first person who passes out (falls asleep) at a party full of 40 somethings.

Clydesdales Rock

My favorite Superbowl XLII commercial was the Budweiser dalmatian training the Clydesdale to lead the team.

I've already decided that my retirement job will be at Sea World Orlando. I'll be the lady that takes your photo as you pose next to the Clydesdales.

Giants Win Superbowl XLII

Congratulations, Eli and team!

Gotta love those Manning bros.

Whose the Guitar Hero???

Me? I'm the guitar hero? Yea, I thought so.

Watch out Slash!

Wireless Electricity, Please

As I patiently wait for someone to develop my eyeball camera idea, I'm also looking for an engineer to take on my wireless electricity project.

I'm staying with friends in Evansville this weekend, for our annual Superbowl party get together. As the breakfast dishes are being cleared and one-by-one people slip away, shower and return as fully respectable party guests, there are many sitting around with laptops, catching up on email, watching Funny or Die videos and doing homework.

I noticed my battery was running a bit low so I grabbed my computer's plug and went in search of an available outlet. Hmmmm, upon further inspection, it may be better to logoff and wait until a socket opens up later.

As soon as wireless electricity is available, this will be a non issue.