Sunday, December 7, 2014

There's an 8-foot Dinosaur on My Lawn

First, let's be clear. I am not one of those people who has all of the holiday decorations staged and ready to put up immediately after the T-day turkey carcass has been turned to soup.

Yet, there's a somewhat crazed looking eight-foot inflatable T-Rex on my lawn, complete with Santa hat, sweater, and a nifty little tree. Why? Because I wanted the Saint Bernard.


As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted it. Really, really wanted it. A nine-foot tall inflatable lawn puppy. Nine feet of awesome. Nine feet of cute.

But I didn't want it because it's cute. Within minutes, maybe a few dozen seconds, I had a plan. I had it all figured out. I had a three-step plan.

Friday, November 7, 2014

What's in the Box, Luke?

Sometimes I just have to go back in time to laugh out loud.

Enjoy.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Janitor of Words, Crusher of Dreams

This is so awesome. Sooo very awesome. I have a new title. I am now, officially, as proclaimed by my son, The Crusher of Dreams.

I've earned the title over time, with many incidents proving my worthiness of it, because I am -- after all -- a parent. But my title was not until today bestowed upon me. And bestowed upon me with all of the melodrama such a title deserves.

What, you ask, has brought me this honor?


A piano.

More accurately, parts of a piano. The disintegrating corpse of a piano currently basking in the twilight behind the middle school cafeteria on a large furniture dolly. Legless, lidless, and missing several keys, my son wants this piano for its nostalgic and historic value.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Where There's Smoke...

Three weeks ago, my dad called me with questions. By his tone and the less-than-subtle hint of frustration in his voice, these were very pressing questions:

Why do we have so many damn towels? 
Where in the hell did all of these sheets come from? 
What am I supposed to do with all these damn towels?
Who needs this many towels?

Then two weeks ago, on a Thursday morning, it was abundantly clear why we had 
       so 
            many 
                      damn 
                                 towels.

I come by my hesitance to ask for help honestly. It's inherited. Hobbled after a foot surgery, X gave me a bell so I could ring for help when I needed it. Me? Need? Help? True to form, I would wait until he was out of the house, then hop around to get what I needed.

That's not fog in them thar hills, it's smoke. Lots of it.
So when my dad called me on a Wednesday afternoon and asked  for help, there was no question. I picked up @ from school and arranged to have TG take him to to school the next morning. My a-m-a-z-i-n-g neighbors agreed to pick him up in the afternoon. I threw some empty boxes in the truck and drove toward a forest fire.

Started by an arsonist on a Saturday evening, the fire had covered more than 20,000 acres by the time I arrived at my dad's house late Wednesday night. By Thursday morning at 7a, the King Fire had made a massive 15-mile run north and expanded by 40,000 acres -- with zero containment. By 10a, I was running out of towels as I wrapped valuables.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mother's Day from Two Perspectives

I did something different this year in preparation for Mother's Day. I asked for something. Specifically, I made a breakfast-menu request. And so, my day started with amazing cornmeal blueberry pancakes. TG (being TG) did more than standard recipe-research due diligence and came up with a very tasty formula.

The best part of Mother's Day is that I get to be a mom to this amazing, intelligent, goofy ten-year-old sidekick. He's the kid who takes a shirt, tie, and jacket to his grandpa's house in the woods so he can dress up for my birthday dinner and Mother's Day breakfast. And he's the kid who surprises me with the facts he has amassed in his curious mind.

He asked whether I knew what Thomas Edison had invented. Thinking the answer was obvious, I went straight to "incandescent lightbulb." True enough, but he was referring to the electric chair. Yeah, I didn't know that. And I gladly admitted it. Edison had more than 1000 patents, why should I expect my kid to pick the most obvious one? (The History Channel strikes again.)

But that's not just the best part of Mother's Day. It's the best part of any day. Being @’s mom is a privilege in more ways than one. It’s not that he’s just a great kid, but that he overcame so many challenges to survive. He's here. I get to celebrate him. In my heart, I have his twin, who will always be a part of me. On certain days, that's a more bittersweet reality than on others.

Mother's Day is complicated. Or it feels complicated to me. Or I make it complicated in my head. But it's not for the reasons surrounding my own motherhood. There are other pieces to it that don't particularly co-exist all that well -- namely the whole "daughterhood" part.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bikers for Babies -- start point details






Staging for Bikers for Babies will be on Park Avenue. Park your bike on either side of the street (someone will be there to direct you). Check in with me to get your wristband and grab some coffeecake provided by Hobee's in the main festival area. Come back for the safety talk. 

The event starts with speeches and a ceremony hosted by an executive from my company. A family will speak about their personal experience. After the opening ceremony, they'll have a countdown, and the walkers will go down the middle of Park Street -- with us cheering them on! 

Once they're clear, we're on our way!!! Vroooooom!

A very personal request: Please observe the moment of silence during the bagpiper's playing of Amazing Grace to recognize babies who didn't survive. 



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Corporate Branding or Corporate Blanding?

My day job is in marketing for a technology company. I've worked on a lot of projects, both as a content creator and as a reviewer. I'm sure we're not the only company that calls our "brand identity" team, the "brand police." And this video is so flippin' on the mark, it hurts :-)



The video is a fantastic visualization of a post (or is it a poem?) by Kendra Eash on McSweeney's.

The brand-approval process often feels more like cattle branding than I'd prefer. There's something to be said for creating a consistent image, but sometimes that effort goes further into the generic void than creative minds can stand...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Does Your Bank Read the News? Apparently, Chase Doesn't

I always tell my son something along the lines of "a little bit at a time adds up to something big." Not earth-shattering news. And I'm not sure he's really listening to me. But someone with a long list of stolen credit-card numbers is listening. Intently. And listening to the sound of ca-ching, as they charge your credit card $9.84 at a time.

Living in the age of internet rumors and dramatic Facebook alerts about whatever the fake freakout of the week is, I wasn't immediately alarmed about this whole $9.84 fraudulent charge thing. But then I heard it on the radio. I saw it on the news. And I looked into it. No foolin' this time.

The Better Business Bureau posted a scam alert last week advising people to look for fraudulent credit card charges on their bills. Specifically, a charge for $9.84 on your credit card bill. The "merchant" is typically a .com name of some sort.

I checked my statement. I found the charge. Yep, there was a charge for $9.84, as advertised. In my case, the merchant was listed as EETSAC.com. Nope, not the source of any recent purchases. Or non-recent purchases for that matter. Damn.

So, naturally, I started with my bank. For the purposes of this post, we'll call it "Chase." (Because it's Chase.) First I went to the website, we'll call it chase.com, and tried to search for 9.84. But you can't search. I found a link for security on the home page. Lots of links about their policies, but nothing about current alerts. But, eventually a link to a page that tells you how to report fraud by phone.

Excellent. This should be simple.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Two Wheeling: East Bay Hills Loop

Destination: Castro Valley via Livermore to Tracy and back, freeway free
Mileage: 100-mile loop
Route

It's January. The weather is insane -- in a good way, kinda. So far, January 2014 has been chock full of fabulously beautiful days. Warm, sunny, and ripe for riding. It should be raining. We need the rain. But until the water falls from the sky, it must be time to ride.

Our group of 30 met up at Peet's for coffee, conversation, croissants (chocolate, thankyouverymuch), and all that good stuff. We broke into two groups. The first section of the route took Palomares Road, which winds along farms and a few wineries, oak trees, and a creek until it meets up with Highway 84 near Sunol. We continued east on 84 to Tesla Road, which skirts the south edge of Livermore and heads over the hills.

By some magical magic of some sort, Tesla Road becomes Corral Hollow Road along the way. OK, so the signage about explosives testing "next four miles" was a bit disturbing. But I feel much better now that I've checked out the website and seen Bambi on the picture.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Channeling Carol Brady

I had a frightening moment while I was washing the dishes tonight. I was revisiting a conversation I'd had earlier in the evening, when I damn near dropped the scrubby brush.

Holy crap, am I channeling Carol Brady?

I quickly realized that it wasn't possible. And I have a bullet list to prove it:
  • Carol Brady wouldn't have had a scrubby brush to drop. The kitchen sink was clearly Alice's turf. 
  • I am not raising a herd of polyester-clad kids. 
  • That much polyester would make me chafe at every physical joint of my body. 
  • Who in the hell names a dog after a cat anyway?
Proof. I have not been sucked into a mental parental Brady Bunch vortex.
(And now, a word from our sponsor. 
     Dearest twitchy grammar nerds:
     I fully realize the above list is not of parallel construction, but making it so
     would bust the story's groove, so get outta my editorial grill.
     Hugs, Me)
Yet, there's the instance that brought me to this startling start.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Timing and Cookies at the NICU

There's something about timing. It's all in the timing. Call it chance, call it God, call it source energy, call it coincidence, call it what you want.

Each year, @ and I make and decorate holiday cookies. We eat a few, but I take the rest to the parents at the neonatal intensive care unit where @ spent his first Christmas. I include a letter with his picture, telling our story then and now. 

This year, I made the cookies, bagged them in tidy sets of three, wrote the letter, and... didn't take them to the hospital on the 23rd as I'd originally planned. And I just plain ran out of time on Christmas Eve with work, dinner with friends, and a candle-lighting service. On Christmas we headed up to my dad's for a few days.

The cookies waited patiently.

On Sunday, TG and I ran errands, finishing with a trip to the hospital. As we were waiting to give the cookies to the receptionist, I offered a bag of cookies to a couple that was leaving.