Sunday, June 28, 2009

R.I.P. Famous and Not-So-Famous

TV Sidekick Extraordinaire

Blond Bombshell Turned Serious Actress

Top-Selling Singer and Pop Icon

Super-Volume Pitchman

I understand that celebrities and public figures are people, too. They are someone's child, sibling, friend, lover and sometimes parent. Many times, they also represent a crucial period of our lives, so not only do we mourn their passing, we mourn the passing of a key part of ourselves or cherished memories we wish we could revive. I totally get that.

I only hope that we don't get so busy mourning famous people that we forget about others who have made a difference but didn't get as much fanfare. People like Neda Soltani, who became well-known only after being shot and killed in the streets of Tehran while marching for democracy. People like Joseph Cannon Houghteling, a political and environmental activist who devoted his life to public service. People like Dr. Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald, the doctor who diagnosed and treated her own breast cancer before a dramatic rescue at the South Pole in 1999, and who went on to spend her last decade of life speaking out about her cancer and working as a roving ER doctor at hospitals all over the Northeast.

They died recently, too. They may not have sang the songs from my formative years and they may not bring back memories of a more innocent time for me, but they left their marks on this world and I mourn them.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Leave the Flying to the Birds

Just got back from a really fun two-day business trip in Tennessee and North Carolina. Met some very interesting people, learned a lot about my client product and ate much catered-event food that was surprisingly delicious for catered-event food. Part of my trip included taking a scenic drive from Knoxville to Asheville and then through the beautiful winding Blue Ridge mountain roads of North Carolina. (I must Google "Pigsah," which was one of the areas we drove through and whose name caused us much mirth.)

The only part I didn't enjoy was the flying. The last time I traveled for business was before all the security precautions resulting from 9/11, that blissfully innocent era when you (and your unticketed companions) could get through security an hour before your scheduled flight with your shoes intact and bringing through as many liquid as you could carry, not just the quart-sized bag of 3 oz.-or-less containers.

Business flying just sucks. It sucks when you're flying on vacation, too, but at least you check your bags for that and you'll be at your destination much longer so you can kind of justify the inconvenience at the airport. Yes, yes, I know it's all for the common good of homeland security and I appreciate not having a terrorist on my flight. But when you're supposed to be on a two-day business trip and it takes you three days (nearly four if I hadn't miraculously been able to snag a last-minute vacant seat in Asheville, and that's a different story altogether) with all the flying and connecting and security precautions and what-not, well ... Let's just say I am very thankful for phone and Web conferences. It's great to go on location and learn things first-hand, but there's a lot to be said for being able to attend meetings while sitting comfortably in your office chair with a cup of coffee and having all the legroom you want.

Post-note: I googled "Pigsah" and apparently it's not Pig-sah but Pis-gah. It's a large national forest featuring many waterfalls and hiking trails and there is a local college institute with the same name that helps provides environmental education for students grades K-12 using the forest as a laboratory. I (and my co-driver) could have sworn the signs said Pig-sah. Now I feel bad that we giggled. Boo to me.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Time to Make the Donuts

I've been away for a while and I'm sure my three blog visitors probably missed me a bit. I would like to say that I've been traveling the world but, truth be told, I have a new part-time job that has taken me away from my Internet recreation world.

I'm not complaining because I really like my new job, working about 20 hours a week as a media coordinator for a small consulting firm. Basically what I do is try to get our clients' activities out to the media and try to convince publications, TV/radio stations and Web sites to post the info. It's interesting work and I totally get to use my degree and past journalism/PR background. I also like the people I work with and they are very flexible about letting me work from home. Considering the economy right now, the fact that I didn't even apply for this job (it was word-of-mouth) is mind-boggling.

There is one complaint I have to make and then I will shut up. Having been a stay-at-home mom and infrequent substitute schools staffer for the past few years, working 20 hours a week is kind of hard. Yeah, I know that people working 40+ hours (which I used to do) want to punch people like me in the mouth when they hear that type of complaint. The challenge is balancing my work hours with my second job, which is being a mom to two active young kids. This week, between PTA and band concert and ballet recital rehearsals, I rarely had an evening free.

Now that I've gotten that little whine out of my system, let me just say that I'm quite pleased to be working again and stimulating different parts of my brain. Oh, yeah, and getting paid is nice, too.

(The photo of the gnome above has nothing to do with my new job. My friend Jennifer spotted it while taking a walk and it made her think of me so she took its picture. That's right, the sight of a squatting gnome with its pants pulled down reminded her of me. Are my friends great or what?)