Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 comes to an end

I am SICK of all the eye-rolling about the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team surpassing the UCLA men's team record for consecutive wins. I am SICK of the dismissive comments that imply or say outright: it's only women's basketball, and there are only a few teams that play at the same level as UConn and, therefore, it's no big deal.

As my Mom used to say every time the Wooden record got brought up, "Who in the hell did UCLA play in the 1970s?!" How many college teams in the West Coast basketball league in the 1970s were any where near the level of play of UCLA? How many of those West Coast college teams, including UCLA, could have made it against the teams of the SEC or Big East?

UConn's accomplishment is EVERY BIT the accomplishment of UCLA in the 1970s, PERIOD.

* * *

What were the highlights of my year? In no particular order:
The Top Words I used in Facebook status updates in 2010:
    1: Out - used 33 times
    2: -- - used 32 times
    3: One - used 32 times
    4: Up - used 32 times
    5: Want - used 29 times
    6: More - used 28 times
    7: Now - used 28 times
    8: Back - used 27 times
    9: Time - used 26 times
    10: Ill - used 26 times
Yes, my number one used word was a freakin' HYPHEN!

* * *
Stefan is off to China for my birthday. Second year in a row he's missing my birthday. Were finances and timing different, of course I would go with him. 45 in Shanghai! But it is not to be - we don't have the money and I have two big work projects right now. I'm so glad he's doing so amazing in his job. And very proud. But, yes, I'm being a big baby at not having a birthday celebration for the second year in a row.

Last year's birthday was, you may remember, a disaster: Stefan was in Europe on business (and promised that would be the LAST time), I was alone in what felt like a foreign country, in a city and state where I know very few people and have no close friends, it was my birthday, and I thought my dog was dieing. What a miserable, lonely birthday that was... I spent most of it crying. Poor me. Poor Albi.

And it wasn't the first time Albi decided to have a life-threatening condition and surgery on my birthday; she had a large cancer and several breasts removed back in 2008 for my 42nd birthday. At least then we were all together!

Albi has promised to not have any medical emergencies for my birthday this year. I'll be going to a training for Girl Scouts in Portland that day and, if I can find it to rent, watching Seasons 2 and 3 of the rebooted Battlestar Galactica.

The good news is that it looks like I'll get to go to Budapest, Hungary at the end of January to lead a training. I've been to Hungary, but not to Budapest. Very excited -- I'm training for a group I really, really love.

I'm so hoping that 2011, at last, leads to a full-time job for me, preferably back East. We'll continue to make the most of Oregon and The West, but we're ready to be in friendlier surroundings (and a much shorter plane ride to Europe). And we're still trying to put a motorcycle trip together for 2011. Stay tuned.

* * *

Our Christmas Eve meal was pot roast and veggies, cooked for five hours in my crock pot. It was gooooood. Our movie selection was Die Hard, which is always an excellent Christmas Eve choice (Ho Ho Ho!). My Christmas Day viewing was one of my favorite "family" movies, The Lion in Winter. Let's face it -- Lion in Winter puts the FUN in dysFUNctional. Then we watched the latest Wallace and Gromit adventure, A Matter of Loaf and Death (why, yes, we DO own all of their films now, thank you very much). A Matter of Loaf and Death is cute, but surprisingly cheese-less.

Thanks, Han Solo, for being there!

Watching a retrospective on some morning show of over-the-top reactions of kids opening presents on Christmas from year's past makes me really happy there is no video of me when I was six and realized Santa had brought me a Donny Osmond album. Which gets referenced in A Matter of Loaf and Death, much to my delight.

* * *
My Afghan friend, Fariba, has written a new essay for the Afghan Women's Writing Project. It's very short, and really worth reading. And if you read it, please leave a comment on the page -- it means the world to her to get comments. Actually, comment on ANY of her six essays there, please?

* * *
While watching The Wizard of Oz the other night, during the "Over the Rainbow" scene, Stefan didn't believe that was really Judy Garland's voice. Cause that voice is so BIG and she's so little.

Stefan had never heard of Judy Garland before he met me, but he did know who Liza Minnelli was already. Liza is known in Germany, but The Wizard of Oz is virtually unknown there. Germans know the Blues Brothers and they quote from it regularly (though they have no idea that The Blues Brothers really was a band before the movie) and they know Gone With the Wind, but not The Wizard of Oz.

I never realized just how much The Wizard of Oz permeates American culture until I lived in Europe. It's constantly referenced in our movies and TV shows, and I constantly reference it without even knowing it - so when we're watching something and there's a reference to The Wizard of Oz and I laugh and Stefan doesn't, I have to try to explain it... and it's impossible if you haven't seen the movie 50 times, really. When American movies and TV shows are dubbed into German, these references have to be completely altered. For instance, years ago, I was watching the X-Files movie dubbed in German, and at the end, instead of saying to the Lone Gunmen, "Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow...Toto?" Mulder says something like, "Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty..."

The Sound of Music is also unknown in Germany, and even in Austria, where it was filmed and where the story is set. There's a whole Sound of Music tourism industry in Austria that is centered around American and Asian tourists, but most Austrians outside the tourism industry don't know the movie at all. They've never heard the song Edelweiss and don't understand why Americans keep asking them about it.

Stefan's never seen The Wizard of Oz in its entirety, nor The Sound of Music (he doesn't do musicals). He knows the latter only because of a joke a German friend of ours made when his then girlfriend made him watch it: when did Austria ever have a Navy?!

* * *
Will gay marriage ruin the sanctity of Hugh Hefner's latest marriage?

* * *
Did you catch the Polar Bear - BBC camera smack down? Awesome!

What about The Hag's comments after the Kennedy Center Honors? Also awesome!

* * *
I stumbled upon a documentary I've never heard of, Thread (2008), and as I watched, realized I know two of the people featured in it. Filmed in 2005, the film focuses on the lives and struggles of five Afghan women entrepreneurs. Each woman talks about the challenges of living under the warlords and then the Taliban, and their hopes for both themselves, their families and their countries. The film also shows their homes and their businesses in Afghanistan, and how these businesses were founded and operate (all of the businesses featured relate to clothing in some way). The documentary provides a glimpse of how these women are -- or are not -- supported by their families, including husbands, fathers and sons, in their businesses. The film shows how these women have been assisted by nonprofit organizations such as Bpeace (Business Council for Peace), and by women from the West. The highlight of the film focused on a visit these women make to New York City to collaborate with women-run businesses in the USA, to get advice they could use in Afghanistan. The film presents images of Afghan women that are in stark contrast to anything on news reports.

If it shows up on the Documentary Channel again, be sure to give it a watch!

* * *
Just a small percentage of Appalachian mountain landscape leveled by mining has been transformed into new developments such as businesses, prisons, golf courses and subdivisions, as coal companies promised. Read for yourself. Outrageous!

* * *
I need a Mr. Giles in my life.

* * *
When I'm feeling down, I watch this video yet again.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I just found my theme song

I was a HUGE fan of H.R. Puffenstuff when I was, you know, 5 or so... and I remember this scene from oh-so-long ago, but I didn't remember the song, nor that it was sung by Her Majesty, Mama Cass. A friend posted it to his Facebook status today.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Imagine

December 8, 1980. I was 14. I was laying on the couch in our living room, alone, waiting for -- or watching -- a rerun of Johnny Carson (I can't remember which). I was thinking about how bored I was.

And an announcer broke into whatever was on to say that John Lennon had been shot and killed.

I lay there and cried and cried. There was no CNN, no 24 hour news and, for the general public, no Internet, so I had to just lay there and cry and wait for more news. My brother came in and I told him what happened. I don't remember him saying anything - just looking shocked and walking out of the room.

I was a HUGE Beatles fan -- still am. Geesh, how can you not be?! I couldn't afford to buy all their albums (I had just two), so I did my best to hit "record" on my cassette tape player whenever a Beatles song came on, and I can't believe I didn't wear those tapes out with playing them again and again. Their songs were the first I played on my guitar. I didn't just know their mainstream songs by heart; I knew the Beatles Christmas records for their fan club by heart. And I was big fan of all the post-Beatles music by the various members as well. More than that, there's no question that "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" and Imagine influenced the person I am now.

Over the next weeks, following his murder, I watched every John Lennon-related news story I could find on TV, listened to every John Lennon retrospective I could find on the radio, and read every news story I could find about what had happened. I probably spoke less words in that first week after his murder than I had since I first started blabbling as a baby. For the first time in my life, I didn't have anything to say. Everyone had been so abuzz about John Lennon releasing a new album at long, long last, and while reviews were mixed, everyone I heard on the radio had been excited about it -- and about what might come next. But now, nothing was going to come next.

My parents hated the Beatles, and my Mom had made disparaging comments here and there about them being communists, anti-American and drug users. She had never liked me sitting in my room for hours on end, listening to so much Beatles music (or my Star Wars story albums). Now I was spending even more time doing it. I wasn't close to my parents, and we never discussed anything personal. I don't know how many days it was after John Lennon had died, but my Mom came into my room, sat on my bed, and said, "When James Dean died, I felt like the world was ending. I felt like all us teenagers had lost our representative, our voice. It felt a lot like this." And the she got up and walked out of the room. She never made a disparaging remark about the Beatles in front of me ever again.

Over the years, I found out John Lennon could be a huge wanker, a snarling, mean person that was not at all full of love and peace every moment. He could be downright cruel. It was good to learn. Between that and the not-so-great things I learned about another hero of mine, Martin Luther King, Jr., I learned never to think a man could be perfect, to never think of a man as God-like. There are no saints, not really. There are just men -- and women -- who have moments of being extraordinary.

26 years later, I was at campsite in Thurso, Scotland, on the Northern coast. I was in the camp kitchen washing our supper dishes. Another woman was there and we chatted, as one does when washing dishes in a camp site. We were talking about how I had ended up in Europe. I told her I had moved to Germany from Austin, Texas, the "live music capital of the world." And she said, "Oh, then I bet you like the Beatles. I went to art school with John Lennon." I felt like fainting. My knees were weak. I asked her what he was like. She said she was afraid of him, that she had gone to all-girl schools up until that point and that she had never been around the intensity of teenage boy angst and anger, qualities he was oh-so-full of. She said he had a very large chip on his shoulder. She said he also could have been a professional cartoonist, he was that talented. She added, "But, then we all were!"

It's my two-degrees of separation from John Lennon story.

Imagine.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holidaze 2010

I have to admit to giggling over some of the documents written by US diplomats that were released by WikiLeaks, especially the dispatch A Wild Wedding in Dagestan, Russia (if it's not what comes up when you click on the link, look at the menu on the left). Because I've seen some of this in my work abroad. Ofcourse, send some foreigners to a wedding in Kentucky, and they could have equally crazy stories...

* * *

There is a relationship between Dubai and Kabul -- and Dubai and Bagdad -- that my favorite blogger has defined perfectly in a recent missive. It's so true! Have a read, even if you don't ever plan to go to Dubai.

* * *

Geesh, I hope with those first two items I'm not turning people off to traveling abroad. International travel doesn't have to be surreal. International travel can also be just as boring and predictable and comfortable and sterile as you might want, truly. I just happen to be one of those people that enjoys the surreal moments.

This broad loves to be abroad - and wishes more American broads would give it a try!

We are so hungry to travel. Stefan is as itchy as me. This is us. But the weather isn't cooperating. Nor are our schedules.

* * *

We had a nice visit to the Clear Creek Distillery in Portland (thanks to the Flying Spaghetti Monster MeetUp folks for organizing the visit!). Here's my review on Yelp. I didn't say on Yelp which items I liked, because I find that incredibly subjective, but I'll say so here, in case you are curious:

* * *

Thanksgiving 2010We also had a very nice Thanksgiving, just the two of us. We had tomato cream soup, made with tomatoes from my garden (thawed from my freezer), stuffing (out of the box, with fresh celery added), mashed potatoes (made by me mashing actual potatoes and cream), steamed green beans (flavored with onions), croissants, and pecan pie (store bought). All washed down with Korbel Brut. And all served in our gorgeous ceramic dishware from Stefan's home town of Hoehr-Grenzhausen -- except for the gravy in the Jerry Curry memorial gravy boat.

* * *

So thrilled to find a diet at long last I can do!

* * *

Our plans for Christmas? None. Stefan's boss is notorious for telling him to go somewhere far away the day before a trip (and his boss has usually known for days, even weeks in advance, but forgets to tell Stefan). I've told him that if its a trip to Europe, then I'll agree to it because I know Stefan would love to spend Christmas with his family and friends back home in Germany, and I would be fine here, as I'm not that big a fan of Christmas anyway. But any other trip at Christmas is absolutely unacceptable. In addition, his boss can expect a visit from me if he tries to send Stefan anywhere during my birthday in January -- for my last birthday, Stefan was abroad for business while I cried over Albi who, spent most of the month in a drug-induced stupor following emergency surgery. My 45th birthday needs to make up for that.

* * *
Some TV talk:
  • Locked Up Abroad rarely talks about actually being locked up. It should be called what I did to be arrested abroad.

  • The Full Throttle Saloon should be shown in MBA classes - it has great lessons regarding customer service, human resources management, strategic planning and crisis management, sometimes showing best practices and sometimes showing absolutely what you should NOT do when running a business.

  • Really loving Conan, though I tend to turn it off as soon as its time for the first guest.

  • So looking forward to the return of Parks and Recreation on January 20. It's the first show that closely resembles many of my work places.
* * *
Still so pscyhed about this.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sacrifices. I hate sacrifices. Yuck.

A few months ago, I volunteered to help with the annual camp out for Girl Scouts in my area in November. It's a very big deal, the highlight of the entire Girl Scout annual experience for girls in this area -- and it will be the highlight of some of these girls entire Girl Scout experience.

At the time I volunteered, it was several months away. I was unemployed, feeling worthless and so tired of a life devoid of any social activities. Plus, there's a big rift among the Girl Scout troops in this area; a lot of people who should be volunteering aren't. This was my way to show support for all of us coming together and helping, regardless of various differences.

So the weekend is approaching. Of course, now, the timing isn't great; Stefan and I haven't had a weekend together in a while, because he's had to travel. And I'm missing the premiere of the next-to-last Harry Potter movie, but I thought, okay, I got to read the last Harry Potter book the day before it came out in the USA and hours before it came out in Europe, so I'm not going to complain. Besides, we can go Thanksgiving weekend, as we have no other plans, and I do know how it ends...

And this morning, my brother informed me that the University of Kentucky men's basketball team will be playing in Portland on Friday.

Yes, I wept. No kidding. I had a big, long cry. My face is still a little swollen.

Believe it or not, I have seen the UK men's team play only once my entire life. Yes, you read that right. Just once. December 1980. Against Maine. Chuck Verderber missed the game - out for an appendectomy (first game he missed for that). It was a blowout by UK. It was fantastic.

But I never got another opportunity to go. Years passed.

The team never came to New England the two years I lived there after college. The team came to San Jose the year after I moved to Austin, Texas. When they played in San Antonio for the NCAA final, I called every person I could think of to get tickets - to no avail. And then they finally did come to Austin -- but I had moved to Germany.

And after 30 years, I still won't get to see them. Because I have a commitment to keep. If I don't go on Friday, I leave about five adults and more than 60 kids in the lurch. And I send a really lousy message to Girl Scouts.

When I posted about this to Facebook, I was looking for "Wow, you are such a martyr, what a huge sacrifice on your part, what incredible character you have, you're like Gandhi." What I got instaed was "Oh, forget the Girl Scouts, they'll get over it, commitment shommitment."

I know I'm doing the right thing. But, geesh, it hurts so bad...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Albi approaches 14

Albi enjoys the sun 02I haven't done a dog update in a long while, so here it is:

Albi will be 14 years old in December.

On the rare occasion the sun shows up in Oregon, I let her know it's there (don't ask how -- but I have to let her know) and she lays there, getting up and moving as the sunshine moves across the floor.

Note my tiny indoor garden by the window, which I'm going to try to cultivate through the winter (a bell pepper plant, an Italian basil plant and a tomato plant).

But back to Albi: she is amazing. She still jumps at the front door when it's time to go out for the morning walk, she still tries to boss male dogs, especially adolescents, she still wants to catch dog treats in her mouth (and if the room is well lit, she can, every time), she still runs to the door when the doorbell rings on The Simpson's, and she still works Stefan like a conspiracy theorist at the Rachel, Nevada Little A’Le’Inn gift shop. Her appetite has never been better. She's amazingly spry and oh-so-aware of her surroundings. Every cat she sees is still a MUST HAVE NOW target. We walk about a mile every morning about about half a mile in the evening. I stare at her when we're walking or when she's jumping at the door and can't believe she's survived two cancer-related surgeries and is the age equivalent of a human who is more than 100 years old.

In the mornings, she walks to Stefan's side of the bed and stares intensely at him until he wakes up. If he's not here (he's traveling a LOT these days for work), she goes to the same side of the bed and stares at me. She also likes to stare intensely at Stefan in the evenings when he is watching TV or playing on his computer, until he finally relents and pets her. When Stefan is home, I do not exist...

But she does have growing physical limits. She hesitates before jumping into the back of the car for a trip to the park, and can't do it at all after a long walk. Her eyesight is not good, and she cowers when a car goes by on the street if we walk after sunset (the sound startles her). She lost me one day in a nearby park when it was almost dark -- she couldn't see me anymore.

She ignores all female dogs except for two -- Brandy, the boxer across the street, and Coco, the little yappy dog down the street. All other female dogs are utterly ignored - she'll walk right past them and not even glance. She cries if her doggie boyfriend, a tiny eight ounce hairless thing called Yeti, isn't available for a smell fest. She tries to dominate every male dog she encounters, especially the ones that are biggger than her - she presses her head down on the back of their necks, her eyes wide and fearless, and they look at their owner's with an expression of, "What in the heck is this old dog trying to do?!"

We really want to take her camping at least a couple of more times. But it will have to be warm at night to do that.

I sooooo take her for granted -- her health, her patience, her fantastic behavior...

So, there's your doggy update.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

For friends on Twitter & those outside the USA

I cannot send texts to people outside the USA via my cell phone. My particular cell phone company does not allow such, and because of my current economic situation, I cannot afford any other cell phone company -- much less a smart phone. It hasn't been too big of a problem... but sometimes, it is a big pain in the neck.

Those outside the USA can send me texts to my cell phone -- a good thing to do when you are wondering why I haven't responded to your email or you need to reach me urgently. How? You text my Google phone number. Don't have it? Email me and I'll give it to you! However, note that, if you are outside the USA, I will NOT be able to text you back (but I can call you!).

You can also text me via Twitter, if you have an account, by becoming a follower of my private account. If you send me a private message via this private Twitter account, I will receive it via my cell phone. And, since you are sending it via Twitter, I can reply to it as a text, even if you are outside the USA.

Yes, I have TWO different Twitter accounts - one for my professional self, where I post links to my latest professional blogs, and another private account only to allow people to send me messages to my cell phone.

I thought communication was supposed to be getting easier?

Friday, October 29, 2010

We want to move next year

Yes, you read that subject line right: we don't want to live in Oregon anymore. In fact, we don't want to live on the West Coast anymore.

It has not been a horrible experience: Stefan has a decent job -- and in this economy, having a job at all is amazing. This has been the perfect place to learn to ride a motorcycle. I'm not sure we would have been able to get the Africa Twin titled free and clear anywhere else. There are a lot of adventure motorcyclists that are in this area or come through, and they have been wonderful to get to know -- there are quite a few people we hope to keep as friends forever. We have loved living in a HOUSE. And Albi's had a great time.

But this area just isn't for us. I won't go into all the many reasons, but I will say that the last straw has been my health; as of today, I'm now on an intensive anti-asthma/allergy regimen for the first time in 15 years, something I've only had to be on once before -- when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. I do not want to live this way again.

We will stay here for the rest of 2010, ofcourse. But we really are hoping that, a year from now, we are moving to or living elsewhere.

Where do we want to go? Back East. I'll be looking for jobs in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Virginia, West Virginia, the DC area, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and even Kentucky. We'll entertain the idea of other states as long as the climate is neither desert (we really love trees) nor summers of endless 90+ days (we melt).

We hope we can find a friendly, low-crime community where Stefan can be a volunteer or reserve firefighter again (he does NOT want to be a full-time firefighter!), relatively near a large city.

First, however, one of us needs a JOB. I will start looking after January 2011. I will be looking for an opportunity to:
  • manage/direct a program at a nonprofit, university or government agency.
or
  • direct the marketing, public relations or other communications activities for a major project or program at a nonprofit, university or government agency.
Among the jobs I've applied for recently, to give you an idea of what I'm looking for:
  • managing editor at a large international nonprofit
  • program director at national nonprofits focused on women
  • program director for an international law-focused nonprofit that delivers its program through a wiki
  • marketing director for the continuing education/adult education program at a university
  • coordinator of a nonprofit-focused program at a state's attorney general's office
  • chief communications officer for a division of a large international foundation
  • senior writer for program development at a large, international health institute
  • directing a program that places media professionals in the developing world to train new journalists
  • public affairs specialist at a federal office that manages several international programs
  • director of communications in North America for an American University abroad
  • public information officer for a conservation district
I have a profile at LinkedIn, as well as details on my own web site about my professional activities. If you have any specific questions about what I'm looking for, feel free to contact me.

As for our plans for the holidays: we'll be sticking around here. Other than going to San Jose for work in January for work, I don't have any travel plans; we're hoping to still be able to do something fun on the motorcycles in the Spring. If we end up stuck here for all of 2011, we may even try to do a motorcycle trip in Mexico!

And before we go, we would still love to have visitors! Our guest room awaits...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Have you been a bully?

All these teen suicides tied to bullying from classmates and based on the young person's perceived sexuality, whether the teen was really gay or not... Day in, day out, these kids heard the most vile things possible to define them. Many of these teens suffered physical abuse as well. The pain of the Rutgers University student who committed suicide after his sexual encounter was filmed by classmates and broadcast online got to me in particular. That so many people delight in saying the most vile things they can think of to another person and engage in activity meant specifically to humiliate another person makes me lose my faith in humanity.

You don't think what the bullies said was that bad? It was just innocent teasing that everybody does? Okay -- go say it to your mother, your father, your spouse, your own child, or anyone else you love, and then get back to me with their reaction. If they laughed and said, "Oh, you are so funny!", then I stand corrected. I'm not talking about teasing or even very harsh criticisms -- I'm talking about saying something very personal about a human, with the speaker's intention being only to crush that person emotionally.

I have had some faith restored in humanity by the actions of so many high-profile people -- Daniel Radcliffe, Bette Midler, John Shore (a Christian blogger), Ellen DeGeneres, and Tim Gunn, to name but a few -- who are reaching out to gay teens to convince them that things do get better, that there is a lot of love and support out there from a variety of sources. And, ofcourse, Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" video campaign rocks more than I can put into words.

I could write a very long blog post about all the times I was bullied and threatened as a child, even though I wasn't gay, and repeat all the words that were used over those many years to tear me down as a child and as a young teen, as well as the physical pounding I took from a couple of other kids regularly. But instead, I'm going to talk about when I was a bully.

There was a group of neighborhood girls who bullied me in my pre-teen years. Individually, they were fun to hang out with, but get two or more of them together, and they became focused on making me cry. Each was a master at getting me to share the most intimate secrets one-on-one, which they would then use as a group to say the most vile things to me possible. There were days I saw two or more of them outside and I would stay in the house and watch TV, despite Mom calling, "Jayne? Have you seen so-and-so outside? You should go play!"

Elementary school was my sanctuary from the Mean Girls because they were in different classes from me and, for some reason, they were never interested in targeting me there, even at recess. But one day, in the fifth grade, it happened: our classes were all out on the playground for recess. And I saw the Mean Girls were targeting... someone else. Someone I didn't like either (not for anything personally about her -- she was just really annoying and whiny). For reasons I will never know, the Mean Girls invited me, their usual outside-of-school target, to join in.

For a moment, I was thrilled. I was being included! And if someone else was being targeted with the Mean Girls wrath, that meant it wasn't being focused on me! Maybe this was a turning point! Maybe I wouldn't be the target any more! Maybe I was now cool. So I joined in: we walked by the girl, coughing to show how much she was making us sick by being near us, and walked on. And everyone dissolved into laughter. Except me. I looked back and saw how incredibly hurt she was. I felt like crap. There was nothing fun about this. I walked to the swing set and started talking to others. The hyenas didn't notice me. I watched them walk by the girl again and again, coughing, talking and laughing. Yeah, I had stopped, but I didn't say anything to show them, or the girl, that I knew it was wrong.

I regret that day hugely. I bet that girl remembers that day. I bet it's burned into her memory. I'm so sorry for that.

In all these discussions about bullying, I think it's just as important to think about when YOU have been a bully, not just when you have been bullied. Why did you do it? Do you still do it?

And don't just talk to your kids about what to do if they are bullied; talk to them about why being a bully is wrong, what the consequences are of targeting someone for humiliation, and what they should do if they see someone being bullied.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Outside Missoula, headed to idaho thru lolo. LOVE it here. Went to Garnet Ghost town today- google it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

@ Omak city campground. RAIN! Canada in 45 miles. We cross tom.
Yestday: saw Stonehenge & camped @ Brook's Memorial SP, WA. Stefan had smores 4 1st time.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My letter to Kentucky Farm Bureau

When I hear the words "Kentucky Farm Bureau", the image I've always had has been an organization working for farmers in Kentucky to improve the their quality of life and their interests. But that image was shattered when I learned today that you have a stated corporate belief that gay people are abhorrent and immoral, and that public institutions ought to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. I have read some of the Kentucky Farm Bureau's formal positions:

* "The institution of marriage should only be recognized as the legal union of a man and a woman."
* "We are opposed to any state-supported agency providing benefits to 'domestic' partners."
* "Alternative lifestyles should not be taught in public schools."
* "We are opposed to granting special privileges to anyone."

I am going to encourage all of my family and friends, many of whom are farmers and many of who are your customers, to NOT be a part of the Kentucky Farm Bureau, based on these discriminatory policies and grossly inappropriate statements. Thanks for contributing to the negative stereotype so many people all over the world have about Kentucky!

You can write Kentucky Farm Bureau as well here.

More about this ridiculous practice here.

Harumph.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

tribute to Sandy

As any one of you in or from Henderson, Kentucky know by now, per the instant messaging network that's existed there long before there was cell phones or the Internet, Henderson County Judge Executive Sandy Watkins died some time before the dawn today. He was attending a convention in San Diego, California. He died in his sleep. He was 58.

My family considers Sandy Lee family. My mother has been his assistant since the first year he took office. When Sandy ran, my Republican Dad put a large sign outside of his downtown shop supporting Democrat Sandy, and actively campaigned for him all over town. Sandy performed my oldest brother's wedding and co-performed my sister's wedding. He stood with me at my father's funeral and held me at a moment that I thought the world was collapsing. I loved calling the Judge's office on the rare occasion when he would answer the phone. I would say, "What in the heck are you doing answering the phone, Sandy Lee?" and he always had a funny answer, like "Well, really, that's all your mother let's me do here. You know she's the one really in charge, right? I'm just a front."

Ofcourse, we all remember last year's infamous Halloween. My Mom's on the far left (for the photo only; I'm the only far lefter in the family, politically speaking).

Each time Sandy ran for re-election, he would visit my grandparents and ask them for their vote. He never assumed it was a given. My sister sang "My Old Kentucky Home" to his supporters the night he was re-elected the first time. He first ran for judge-executive in 1989, but was beaten by just seven votes. My family is very politically active, and even though I was no longer living in Kentucky then, that loss hurt us so much. Sandy never contested those results, but he ran again and won in 1993 and, as the Gleaner put it, sailed through re-election campaigns in 1998, 2002 and 2006. He easily won the Democratic primary in May this year, and was ready to serve another four years. Sandy Lee is why I defend "career politicians": people will benefit from what Sandy did for Henderson even 50 years from now. The list of his accomplishments on behalf of Henderson County could take up the whole entire front and back pages of the Gleaner.

Love you, Sandy. I'm just not ready to miss you yet.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I hate ever-changing rules

It's readily available all over the Internet that a US citizen can get into Canada with a U.S. driver's license and a birth certificate.

What's not readily available is, to come back into the USA, even by train, you have to have your USA passport. You find this out only if you are lucky enough to find the information online (which I didn't, after hours of researching this) or you get ready to fly to Canada.

My passport is currently being renewed. It should have been here yesterday. Maybe it's sitting in my mailbox right now. But as I had to leave at 9 a.m. today to take two buses and two trains to PDX, I have no idea.

So now I'm trying to get any refunds I possibly can on hotels and flights. And it's not easy. But I must say that Expedia really did all that they could, and then some, even staying on the line with me as I rushed through the airport, back passed security, to cancel my check in (and at one point asking if I had had lunch yet and, when I said, no, saying, "You really need to be sure to eat something."

I don't mind rules, as long as I know what they are, and I'm happy to comply with rules, as long as I know what they are. As long as there's plenty of readily-available information about them. But I hate ever-changing rules. When it comes to airline travel, the ever-changing rules are usually at the security check point: "Oh, I see you have all your liquids in a plastic bag. However, your plastic bag is too big. Yes, I know you've had two flights today and used this same bag, but from the time you last flew two hours ago until now, the rule changed."

So, per the concerned Expedia representative, I'm going to have some lunch now, then head back home. Albi will be thrilled.

Would really like this day to get better...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My first motorcycle trip on my own bike

I did it! I took my first trip riding my own motorcycle! More than 1000 miles on a trip!

Here are all the details of our California trip, including links to photos. I decided not to put the travelogue text on this blog, because I think I'm going to create a section on my women travelers web site that is focused on motorcycle travel for women. I know there are tons of sites already -- a woman traveling by motorcycle is not unique. But I think I have a perspective that's not represented entirely by what's already out there. Plus, it would be a way to link to all the excellent existing resources for women motorcycle travelers.

Albi is fine - the dog sitter was great, as I can see from how calm and happy she was when we arrived and what great shape the garden is in.

I need a nap...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sorry - no cell service, no blogs! In canyonville on way home. Great time! More soon!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

327 miles yestrdy on my own moto. I5 (yuck) & hwy 155 (yum). Hwy 1o1 2day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Motorcycle Mania

Within one week, I've attended two events by motorcycle manufacturers here in the greater Portland metropolitan area. And I'm gearing up for my first overnight motorcycle trip on my own bike! Am I a biker babe yet?

One event, in Gladstone, Oregon, was a women's-only event by Harley Davidson, called a Garage Party. These events are held at Harley dealerships all over the USA. It could not be more female friendly: it's staffed entirely by women (all male staff leave), because new women riders tend to be very self-conscious and self-depreciating, and there's nothing like watching a woman smaller than you pick up an 800 pound bike (362.87 kilos) and then tell you, "YOU can do this." And, yes, I did, indeed, pick up a 800 pound motorcycle! There's great food, short demonstration stations, gift bags, and free t-shirts with I am not a back rest on the back.

The other event was by Triumph in Canby, Oregon. They had about 20 motorcycles you could sign up to ride, on group rides, every 30 minutes, on one of the many nice roads around here. The Triumph truck travels all over the USA to bring these events to cities all over. I had no idea Triumph made such a huge variety of motorcycles. The reps even hinted at some new models coming out later. I found my current dream motorcycle, a Triumph Scrambler. And I wore my I am not a back rest t-shirt and not only did the Triumph local dealer representative ask to take a photo of it, several men told me, "I have to get my wife one of those!" Stefan rode a cruiser for the first time ever at the event (I know, I know, he is SO hot).

Both events inspired me to write about them over on my professional blog, per all their great ideas that nonprofits most certainly could learn from.

* * *
We're gearing up for our first motorcycle overnight trip with me on my own bike. Yes, I am beyond nervous. We're going to Petrolia, California, the "Lost Coast", for the 19-22 August Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meeting. We will be meeting lots and lots of other people that orient their lives around traveling -- specifically by motorcycle.

Then, around September 7, we will head out for about two weeks into Canada for my second motorcycle trip-on-my-own-bike. Stefan's birthday is September 8, and he likes to spend it on a trip of some kind. After that trip, I'll be able to say, at last, "Why, yes, I am an ADV Rider!" Although, honestly, I think riding on the back of the bike all these years earns me at least a few ADV Rider stripes already.

While we're gone, dear Albi the Dog will be taken care of by our new dog sitter, who has family one block away and two blocks away, and our neighbors will look after her as well.

I continue to be amazed at how many people there are out there, to know that Stefan and I are far from alone in making travel a priority in our lives. I'm not talking "Eat, Drink, Pray, Shop, Sell-the-Movie-Rights"; I'm talking about people who go to foreign places, and that doesn't necessarily mean leaving their own countries, and immerse themselves in experiences starkly different from their home lives -- not just shop. Love, love those people, and I feel oh-so-honored to be part of their tribe.

My favorite travel-the-world-by-motorcycle folks are "Dusty Old Bags," Sheonagh Ravensdale and Pat Thomson, from the United Kingdom, who just finished touring Central America and are now somewhere in Europe. This is, in fact, their second world trip by motorcycle (they did another in 2006). It's Sheonagh’s way of marking her 60th birthday. Their earlier travels inspired them set up and run a charity for girls in Mumbai who are at risk from or who have been rescued from child prostitution. Here's a short newspaper article from their hometown paper about their travel plans. I haven't read all their blog entries, but so far, my favorite is for Guatemala, when they attending a local blessing-of-the-bikes event and all the local Guatemalan bike guys wanted their pictures taken with them (scroll down a bit on the page to see those). And they have an excellent way of handling attempts at bribes!

I just wish they had made it easy to find their contact info, because I would love to send them an email to tell them how awesome they are!

Could I be so lucky to be spending my 60th birthday touring Central America by motorcycle? Could I?!?!?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I support the Islamic community center in NYC

I'm an atheist. I do not believe in God. People who are religious often make me uncomfortable, because of their divisive, even hateful, language. Fundamentalists in particular frighten me. They can be fundamentalist Christians, fundamentalist Muslims, fundamentalists Hindus, whatever -- they frighten me with their absolute thinking, their discouragement for toleration and understanding among different people, their denial of science and reason, and their stated desire to deny people like me of civil rights.

But not all religious people make me uncomfortable. The ones who don't want to take science out of schools, the ones who don't want to force children to pray in school, the ones who believe that secular government is the best protection for both religious and non-religious people, the ones who treat people who have different beliefs with respect -- these I like. Many of these kinds of religious people are close friends.

With all of that in mind, I am disgusted by the reaction of so many Americans to efforts to create a multi-service Islamic community center in Manhattan a few blocks from where the World Trade Center towers were. The venomous reaction is exactly why so many religious people make me so uncomfortable.

Let's be clear:
  1. That area of NYC is not "sacred." My dictionary says that something sacred is connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration. It's a historic site deserving of respect and remembrance for what happened there, but it is NOT sacred.

  2. The person in charge of this multi-service Islamic community center, Oz Sultan, has two patterns in mind for this site: YMCAs and Jewish community centers. In fact, this Islamic community center is the kind of Islamic effort fundamentalist Muslims hate -- presenting Islam in a reasonable, loving, welcoming-to-all way. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan, are actually the kind of Muslim leaders so many of the people in the USA have been saying they want to hear from: modernists and moderates. Rauf is a Sufi Muslim, which I think of as the Universal Unitarian or the United Church of Christ versions of Islam. Sufi writings and followers draw wisdom not just from the Koran, but from a variety of modern Islamic writers, as well as Christians (including the Bible), Gnostics, and Zoroastrians. The men who flew planes into the WTC buildings, and all of their supporters, don't even consider Sufis as Muslim, because of their refusal to follow dogma -- the terrorists of September 11 considered Sufis heretics, infidels, or worse.

  3. Time magazine notes: "Ironically, Islam's roots in New York City are in the area around the site of the World Trade Center, and they predate the Twin Towers: in the late 19th century, a portion of lower Manhattan was known as Little Syria and was inhabited by Arab immigrants — Muslims and Christians — from the Ottoman Empire."

Islam is just as varied as Christianity in how it is practiced and how its adherents behave. Pat Robertson has much more in common with the terrorists on September 11 than the Muslims behind this Islamic community center do.

And people wonder why my handle on Yahoo is READ MORE BOOKS...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A GREAT DAY!

A great day for civil rights, human rights, and the Constitution of the United States of America: a federal judge has overturned California's gay-marriage ban today! Proposition 8 -- Proposition HATE -- will be talked about in 20 years with the same shame and astonishment that laws that prevented "mixed race marriages" are talked about now.

The best part of the day: seeing status update after status update on Facebook from all my friends, gay, straight, old and young, celebrating this ruling today. I've felt my faith in humanity get a much needed injection of hope as a result.

This is a victory not just for Americans who are gay, but also for Americans who are atheists or who do not want or cannot have children, because the way the Prop 8 proponents -- the Haters -- defined marriage, atheists and people who do not want or cannot have children would also be excluded from the rights of marriage. Would we have been the next target of their quest to curb the 14th Amendment? Most definitely.

Onward to the US Supreme Court!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Remembering Buster & Wiley, London & the 90s

I'm still scanning photos. Not all my photos. Just enough so that, if there were some horrible flood or fire, I would have the best photos preserved.

Since I last blogged, I've posted photos from my infamous first trip outside the USA, when I went to London, England through a program by WKU. No Ashley Judd photos -- sorry. Even more sad -- I really don't have that many photos from that glorious trip. I was so busy being overwhelmed by being outside the USA that it often didn't dawn on me to take photos.

I've also uploaded many photos of Buster and Wiley, spanning all our 12 years all together, starting when I got Buster in Williamstown, MA in 1990, then when Wiley joined us in San Jose, CA, when we took some road trips together, living in Austin, Texas, and our first years in Bad Godesberg, Germany.

I've also added quite a few more photos from the 1990s, making the decade look a lot more fun than it actually was.

And now, back to my lazy life among the unemployed. Thanks to Republicans Greg Sargent, Ben Stein, Senator Richard Burr and other Republicans for letting me know that myself and other long-term unemployed can't find a job because we "are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities... who do not know how to do a day's work." Thanks for setting me straight!

Monday, July 19, 2010

July ups & downs

Congrats again to my Spanish friends regarding the Spain World Cup victory. I'm so happy a team that never won it before won the World Cup this time. Although I would have preferred that first-time country be the USA or Ghana...

We watched Germany playing for third place (again) at the Highland Still House, a Scottish bar in Oregon City we adore. It was a nice little vocal crowd watching it with us in the upstairs lounge, all for Germany! DIE MANNSCHAFT!

I'm stunned at how much more people in the USA were into the World Cup this year! It was talked about every day on TV (and not just on The Daily Show and the Colbert Report) and in the status updates of my very diverse FaceBook network. Portland even had a public viewing/fan zone downtown for the final in Pioneer Plaza!

* * *
You don't have to be my friend on Facebook. But won't you at least be my fan?

* * *
As of the moment I'm writing this blawg, I've ridden more than 2000 miles on my own motorcycle, since November 2009. I'm really proud of that. We ride almost every weekend. I even dared to ride on my own for the second time -- just to Oregon City, to send off my passport for renewal. We tried to do a ride to Mount St. Helen's a week ago, but whereas it was completely clear in Canby and Portland, it was cloudy and rainy anywhere near the volcano in Washington -- at least in the early morning when we headed that way. We ended up going through Gifford Pinchot National Forest, also in Washington state, and got to a view point at just the moment Mt. St. Helen's decided to peak out and the weather cleared up.

Yesterday, we headed down to Albany, a cute little town that's deader than doornail on Sundays. The highlight was finding an open barber shop and, while Stefan got his hair cut, I got to look over some awesome vintage barber tools.

The big upsides of living in this area has been all the motorcycle newbie riding time I've gotten, something I'm not sure I would have gotten any other state (as much as I've not liked the sunless weather here, it has been dryer than and not as hot as anywhere else we considered moving to), and Stefan getting his motorcycle titled without a bond on a total fluke that probably wouldn't have happened anywhere else. Those two things were so hugely important to us, and I can't imagine life without either right now.

I just dumped a bunch of money in my bike's woefully-bad steering. Yes, I bought a clunker of a motorcycle, we know that now; the mechanic was unhappy to report that the bike has been in an accident at some point and he's not at all pleased with how it was repaired. But the mechanic also assured me that it's road worthy. He just made me promise never to buy anything off of Craigslist again. Which I won't.

Craigslist is the biggest joke ever -- I knew most of the jobs and rental announcements on it were frauds; now I know that stuff for sale isn't so great either. Bring back newspaper classifieds, which screen out the fraudsters by making people pay for ads!

* * *
My unemployment continues. I lost out on both jobs I thought I had a really, really good chance for.

I'm obviously doing a good job at fooling people with my professionally-related online activities; their impression is that all is great for me professionally. At least that's what I keep hearing from them, or from people interviewing me for jobs. There was a time in my life that, when I interviewed for a job, I got that job. But that's changed. Now, interviewing feels painful, like I'm a single girl desperate for a boyfriend of any kind. And it's been this way for almost two years.

I moved to the wrong city and the wrong state, and probably the entirely wrong part of the USA. I know that now. I've known it for a few months now, actually. Where should we have gone? The D.C. area. Many more jobs for me there. Though, who knows... maybe I'd still be unemployed there too... There are very few jobs here in the Portland metro area, and what ones there are, there are a few hundred applications for each. Organizations won't grant informational interviews, because they have been overwhelmed with requests. One organization that I had been trying to get to know (and that everyone said, "You should work for such-and-such!") now charges people to attend their public meetings, because most of the people coming to their events were actually looking for a job rather than coming to learn about a particular project (the organization is looking for collaborators from other agencies with these events, not desperate job seekers like me).

And before you ask, "Why don't you move?": we cannot afford to move to look for employment. We can move only if one of us gets offered something well-paying.

It hurts like hell when the right-wingers on TV rail against people like me, saying we're unemployed because we're lazy, because we aren't trying hard enough, because we're too stupid to get hired, etc.

I just really want to thank my friends who email and call and check in to see how I'm doing, give me words of encouragement, send me job announcements, etc. I just cannot say enough how grateful I am for you. I've learned yet again that you know who your friends are when you go through an uncool period (when you're unemployed and looking for a job, when you've been dumped, etc.) -- some friends are there for you, some friends stay as far away as possible. When I win the lottery, I'm going to remember you great friends who have been there for me!

* * *
My favorite FaceBook wall post of late: my former singing partner from the United Nations basement band, writing, "Dear Emmy-Lou, I'm off to Toronto Thursday where I will jam with Brian. Any requests?" I really need to get back to that -- Stefan has said he would like it as well (he's always been a terrific audience for my singing). I need to put together a living room concert for my husband and doggy.

* * *
The cornhole game was called on account of dog.

* * *
To celebrate the 4th, I watched 1776, which I had never seen before. And what a little jewel it is! On a related note: Peter Hunt threw his Tony Award at me once. No, I'm not kidding. Ah, memories of my career in theatre, so long, long ago, when I was so much younger and thinner...

* * *
It feels great to have a garden again, for the first time in about nine years. I have so missed gardening. It's not much, I know, but since we're renting, since we're living on a tight budget, and since we're always hoping some fabulous job opportunity will take us elsewhere, I couldn't get too crazy. I'm just stunned at how well the Topsy Turvy planters do. The guy that sold them to me at Home Depot didn't sound very enthusiastic about them, and the other people in our neighborhood who have them aren't doing so well with theirs. But I've had terrific luck with mine!

* * *
For the record: I was encouraging women to travel LONG the book "Eat, Pray, Love" -- I should have written a book and had Julia Roberts starring in MY movie! Actually, Bitch magazine called the book "Eat, Pray, Spend," saying it promoted travel in such a way that would "exclude all but the most fortunate among us from participating." That's NOT how I promote travel for women.... I certainly don't have the finances for traveling that way!

* * *
Someone used freetranslation.com instead of getting a human to translate the unsubscribe instructions: "If you don't like to be informed, discharge yourself from our list by clicking on the link below."

* * *
A good friend of mine is a Christian. He's also gay. If you find that hypocritical, let me ask you: how much bacon have you had this week? And are all your clothes of the same fabric? And are you divorced?

He had a heart-breaking post to FaceBook, noting that a Christian friend he'd just reconnected with after oh-so-many years and used their reunion to tell him he was going to hell. You could tell it hurt him. Amazing how much pain you can see just from a few words on a computer screen. I wrote an impassioned defense of him. And he passed on this to me, from Parker Palmer, theologian, from the book, Promise of Paradox: "Next to a Christian eclipsed by theological arrogance, an honest atheist shines like the sun!"

So, pardon me whilst I go shine...

* * *
Albi is watching yooooooooooooou.

* * *
The Google Ads experiment is proving a success! If I have as good a month as July every month, I will make enough money to pay for my web site hosting, domain name and web backup annually! And for someone who is unemployed, that's way, way important!

Want to help? Just go to any of these pages and click on any of the ads (more than a few ads, please?). And please feel free to recommend these pages to friends seeking specific information on volunteering abroad, on fulfilling community service requirements, etc.:
* * *

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Still whirling in the World Cup: DIE MANNSCHAFT!

Sadly, Stefan had to work in Virginia, and could not see the incredible Germany v. Argentina game today. I called him and screamed "Gooooooooooal" when Germany scored within the first four minutes of play, and then kept him up-to-date with text messages after that.

As you all know, I fell in love with the World Cup when Germany hosted the games in 2006. The German team wasn't given any chance by anyone that year -- too young, too inexperienced, coach is too young and unorthodox, etc. -- but they played with spirit and grace, and they had FUN. Their chemistry together was irresistible, as were their personalities. So many players from four years ago are still on the team. If the USA had played Germany, I would have pulled for the USA, no question, but it would have been with a lump in my throat.

But coupled with my enthusiasm for Germany is my loathing of the Argentina and Brazil football teams (no one dives, cries and whines quite like those guys -- certainly not WOMEN soccer players), and my detesting of Maradona. I didn't even know who Maradona was until I moved to Europe in 2001, and my dislike was almost immediate. And when in a "friendly" match a while back Maradona refused to share the press conference podium with Germany player Thomas Müller, storming off and saying he would not share the stage with a "ball boy," I was LIVID. So when Müller scored against Argentina in the first four minutes today, I was yelling "Whose your ball boy NOW?!?" at the TV, sending poor Albi to the back bedroom for some peace.

Since Stefan wasn't here, and FaceBook was mostly silent, I read the Fark.com commentary during the game to feel not-so-alone. It was hysterical. My favorite comments:
"Thank you Soccer Jesus"
and
(at half time) "Heinze trips over the corner flag and demands the referee issue it a yellow card. Maradona takes him out and replaces him with...Maradona. Germany continues to combine deadly accurate passing with ridiculously inaccurate shooting. Messi scores an own goal. Germany up 2-0. Wait, Messi was offside--goal disallowed, still 1-0. Pete Townshend asks Neuer for his jumpsuit back."
But even with the terrific German victory, I'm still grieving over the Ghana loss yesterday. It hurt soooooooooooo bad. And that FIFA banned Uruguay's Suarez for just ONE game for that handball is outrageous -- his butt should be on a plane home and his World Cup should be OVER.

And a side note: a group of US senators is getting behind an effort to bring the World Cup to the USA in 2018 or 2022! It was here in 1994, but few noticed (I was one of the few that noticed, mostly because I really liked Alexi Lalas and because the Italian sandwich shop I frequented at the time was decorated as a shrine to Roberto Baggio). I think next time, people in the USA would most definitely notice. I'm stunned at how much more people in the USA are in tune with the World Cup (Canby being an exception, ofcourse).

* * *
I have a garden for the first time in nine years! It's not much, and because of the cold weather of Oregon, I got a really late start. I'm doing all raised beds and upside down hanging planters (Topsy Turveys or Turvies or whatever): lots of peppers (most started from seed from bell peppers we've eaten over the years), five tomato plants (two in hanging planters), six strawberry plants, all in upside down planters, squash and a lot of herbs. Yes, ofcourse I have photos (look towards the end of the set). I probably won't have any food to eat until late August, but I've already started using the herbs.

* * *
We knew the weather would be bad for a lot of the year -- but not this bad. June and the start of July have been COLD and rainy. Even Stefan, who hates heat, is craving sun. So I'm now applying for jobs elsewhere in the USA, in addition to here in Oregon. We haven't lived in Canby a year, but we know this isn't it for us, and we're ready to move anywhere that either of us could get a great job and where Stefan can, at last, be a volunteer or reserve firefighter again.

Yes, I'm still looking for a job.

* * *
"This was a private incident between me and a bear," he said. "I was chomped on by a bear, and he was a bad bear, but that doesn't speak of all bears." First recorded bear attack in Kentucky! Scary...

* * *
Thanks to everyone who has clicked on any of the ads on these pages. Really appreciated!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Some web pages you might like

I've launched some new pages on my web site, designed for those who aren't volunteer managers, and aren't professional nonprofit staff -- rather, these new pages are for individuals, particularly young people, who want to do some good, or need community service hours, or want to fund a volunteering trip abroad, but aren't sure where to or how to get started:

For those seeking volunteering in order to fulfill a community service obligation from a court or school obligation.

Detailed information on Finding Community Service and Volunteering for Teens.

Detailed Advice for Volunteer Groups / Group Volunteering.

Ideas for Funding Your Volunteering Abroad Trip.

More than you ever wanted to know about Creating or Holding a Successful Fund Raising Event.


The majority of my web site, which is focused on those who are formally affiliated with nonprofits and NGOs, are ad-free. This new section of my web site is not. By clicking on any of the ads on these pages, you help me raise funds to maintain my entire web site (web hosting, domain name ownership and, ofcourse, my time).

So, tell your friends, and click on some ads!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup and Burning Motorcyclist Effigies

To the left is what my Facebook updates looked like during one of the World Cup games (I'll let you guess which one). I am so enjoying the World Cup, particularly since there is interest in it in the USA as I have never seen before, not even when it was hosted here back in the 1990s. I love the commentary by Alexi Lalas (hilarious and right on!) and I love that so many friends are into it! It's been great to not feel so alone while watching the games, many of which are at 6 a.m. our time (yuck).

Alas, I am broken-hearted over the USA loss to Ghana -- at least we weren't denied a goal yet again!). I was oh-so-sad that Mexico lost/Argentina won (I hate Maradonna). I was ELATED over Germany's win over England (Stefan was too). I want a team that has NEVER won to win it all -- or Germany.

* * *

We had a great time at our very first Burning Moto Man motorcycle rally in the Willamette National Forest. Eric and Gail live in the kind of space I dream of having some day -- a big comfy house in a gorgeous setting and plenty of room to host lots and lots of people, including lots and lots of motorcycle traveler friends. We did a presentation on our Eastern Europe trip in 2008. I didn't go on the Saturday ride, however... I stayed behind to watch the USA v. Ghana game. I appreciated so much that Eric and Gail let me watch it in their lovely, refinished living room. But I was about to kill one of the guys watching it with me ("What does the yellow card mean? Do you think those are LCD panels on the side of the field? When is the commercial break? Is that a foul? Why are you so upset that Ghana scored -- it's just one point! What do you mean they play 45 minutes with no commercial break? This game is a lot like American football, don't you think?").

Check out our photos from the Burning Moto Man event. It was a great time, though they need a place at the event for people to socialize past 10 p.m. It is a motorcycle rally, after all... we like socializing at night time, particularly around fires (perhaps a bonfire the second night as well, and tell those that want to go to sleep early to camp farther away?).

Friday, June 18, 2010

More Whirled Cup Madness

I want a vuvuzela. I have a Coca Cola horn I got in some World Cup promotion in 2006 in Germany, plus a plastic yellow card and a plastic red card (so I can make my own decisions about fouls while I'm watching games), and I do a really good job of driving Stefan crazy with those during games, but nothing is as powerful as the vuvuzela.

I think the commercials during the World Cup have been way more fun than the Super Bowl commercials of late (with the exception of the Snickers commercial with Betty White). If you have been watching, then you know which one is my favorite, by far (I actually trembled the first time I saw it -- yes, that movie still has that power over me).

I'm SO angry over the Slovenia game. THE USA SCORED A WINNING GOAL. The ref blew that BIG TIME. Where was the foul?!?!?

I usually keep personal information off my professional FaceBook profile, but I have been posting about the World Cup a bit there, since I have so many, many international colleagues in that particular FaceBook network. The posts are all rather tame; I save my trash talk for my personal FaceBook profile.

What I want most out of the World Cup is for a team that has never won it all to win it this year.

I hope the fans in South Africa are being as wonderful to each other as most folks were in Germany. My favorite moment in the World Cup back in 2006 was watching the USA-Ghana game with a bunch of Ghana fans, and how sweet they all were during and after the game. I loved seeing all these people from different countries wanting their photos with each other. It was a party for everyone.

* * *
I had to withdraw from consideration from a fantastic, part-time, temporary job (only until Nov. 1) with a local office of Habitat for Humanity, as I'm going into second interviews for two full-time jobs, either of which I would love to have. Some folks said I should have taken the job, had it been offered, and then quit if I had gotten the other jobs (in four - eight weeks). And, to be honest, had it been a for-profit company, I would have (I'm sure a corporation wouldn't hesitate to hire me for a job that they might eliminate four months later). There's no guarantee I'll get either of these jobs I'm second-interviewing for. But I think Habitat for Humanity is a great organization, and I would be leaving not only the organization in the lurch, but also, all their many, many volunteers as well. And right now, I need to not create any bad karma...

* * *
I've now put in more than 1600 miles of motorcycle riding since I got my motorcycle license a year ago (though I didn't start accumulating miles until I bought my own motorcycle in October 2009). And that's with no overnight trips yet; it's all been short rides and day trips. I'm really proud to have ridden that much, because so many people buy motorcycles and then just let them sit. I think that setting riding goals has really helped me progress.

Ofcourse, I'm still an absolute novice rider. I've dropped the bike three times: once in the drive way when I stopped on the incline, once in the garage when I was getting it off the center stand, and once while trying to park on the last trip. It's so humiliating to drop the bike. But I guess that's way better than it going over while I'm going any kind of speed.

The map below is courtesy of Stefan's GPS.


Our last trip was all the way to Mt. Hood, then through the gorge and back. The riding to and from Mt. Hood was fantastic. There is a lot of snow up there, but the roads were completely clear of all snow, ice, and even salt. The Timberline Lodge, with exteriors featured in The Shining, doesn't look at all intimidating, and there's no hedge labyrinth. Neither Stefan or I had ever been a ski lodge before, or seen a station for mountain climbers (where they check in before a climb, and leave reviews of their climb when they are done).

The Hood River valley is gorgeous and was my favorite part of the ride. My least favorite part of the ride: the Columbia River Gorge. It's absolutely brutal, because of the wind. I was totally chuffed that I did it after the ride, but during the ride, I was really scared, and the next day, I was mentally and physically exhausted - it had taken all of my energy and focus.

It sounds like I'm riding beyond my abilities, but I'm not. I'm an ultra-cautious rider. I ride with the idea that no one can see me; I never assume all the drivers know I'm there. And I ride the speed I ride and if you are behind me and don't like it, TOUGH; I'm not going to go faster or do any kind of riding that is beyond my abilities.

After our trip to California next month, I'm going to look into taking the next level of motorcycle classes. I need to work on breaking, starting and stopping on hills, and going around curves faster (cornering).

* * *

I've started to place a few ads on the non-professional portions of my web site (some of the travel pages, the camping with your dogs page, the tips for moving to Germany page), and I've started a series of pages that I've made only to generate ad revenue (as opposed to promoting my expertise, though they still do that):
I picked those three topics because
  1. they are frequent questions on YahooAnswers (which means there is a high number of people seeking answers to such), and
  2. they aren't subjects I like training on (so I'm not interested in them being on the professional, ad-free part of my web site).

Feel free to visit any of those pages and click on those ads and, therefore, earn me some revenue! Remember, I'm unemployed!

* * *
Every time the doorbell rings on the Simpsons, or even the commercial with Ronaldo and Homer Simpson,, Albi thinks there is someone at *our* door. Bark.

In Germany, she was always trying to catch rabbits (she got one) and field mice (she got at least two). Here, she's after gophers.

* * *

Do you really want to know what I think about BP? And all of their many defenders? Really? Can't you already guess? If you know me, you can. Not that I'm not also disappointed in our government as well, but the behavior of BP and Haliburton is, yet again, criminal. So many, many, many small business and workers will never recover economically from this, will never see appropriate financial compensation (if any), and the natural resources may never fully recover. And it gets worse and worse every day. Every day. AND IT WAS ALL PREVENTABLE. When will anyone from these companies ever face criminal charges? Will that day EVER come?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's the World Cup!

It's World Cup madness again. I'm feeling nostalgic for four years ago, when the World Cup was in Germany. What an amazing time that was (a few photos here - I so regret not taking more). Soooo much fun. Very pleased at the US 1:1 draw with England (I was expecting a blood-letting) and Stefan loved the 4:0 result against Australia (the Germans looked textbook amazing, except for those two attempts at taking a dive which were STUPID).

I blew my Coca-cola World Cup horn for all USA and Germany goals. I'm sure the neighbors were all wondering what in the HECK was going on. If the USA comes in 2nd in its group, it will have to play Germany. Our household shall be... shall be... interesting for that game...

In the USA: if you want to see what the World Cup is about, find an Irish pub or a Scottish pub and watch some games there. No, it can't just be a sports bar -- you need a place where foreigners gather. That's a *taste* of what the World Cup is like for the rest of the world. Whats similar in the USA? March Madness in Kentucky, no question.

And for the record: the TV commercials during the USA world cup games are even better than the Super Bowl.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

wine (but no whines)

We had a nice time at the Canby Wine, Art and Garden Show today, and it prompts me to say some things about the Oregon and other regional wines we've tried thus far since being back in the USA:
  • in terms of good, cheap wine (less than $10 a bottle), the best I've found (for my taste) is the Gnarly Head Wines, out of California, particularly the Old Vine Zin. Everyone seemed to be drinking it in Louisville (it was a popular recommendation at Old Town Wine & Spirits).

  • Stefan got called into work while his parents were here, and also has been putting up huge amounts of uncompensated overtime, so his boss loaded us down with six bottles of what I call guilt wine. Two of the bottles were stand outs: the Pinot Noir 2008 from Montinore Estate here in Oregon (not too far from us), and the Cabernet Sauvignon Sterling Vintner's Collection in California.

  • We liked the Canby Wine, Art and Garden Show, but none of the wines grabbed us in particular until we were almost ready to leave. We decided to make two more stops, and it was well worth it. We ended up buying a bottle of Riesling from the Nehalem Bay Winery in Oregon, and that's saying a lot, because I am NOT a Riesling fan. I'm not a white wine fan. But it is really good. I was tempted to buy a bottle of their Gewurztraminer as well, also usually not a wine I'm crazy about. We also really liked the Merlot, Drop Dead Red, from Hip Chicks Do Wine.
We would love to try and buy more regional wine, but it's just too bloody expensive. We talked about the ridiculous wine prices of Oregon and the region with the delightful representative from the Nehalem Bay Winery (who has visited the Szépasszony völgy in Hungary -- it's always fun to talk about that place with someone who has been). We'd love to support more local wineries, but we just simply cannot afford it.

As for the Canby Wine, Art and Garden Show, it's a nice event -- a variety of vineyard are represented, and the art items that are for sale were terrific (lots of things that would make awesome wedding gift items). But the event desperately needs better signage in order to attract more people. It needs a big banner on the fence that can be seen by traffic passing by on 99E (that's the only reason we went to the Clackamas County Master Gardeners Spring Garden Fair in May), and sandwich boards on the sidewalks on 99E as well (readers of my blogs from Germany know that Stefan and I are notorious for critiquing community event marketing -- we really need to start a consulting business).

Okay, I actually have to do a bit of whine: the Oregon weather has brought us so down. The constant rain -- and I mean CONSTANT rain -- and frequent cold has far exceeded what anyone warned us about in Portland. Turns out it's been record-setting for the area. That gives me some comfort, because it's got to get better soon, right? Right? If it's any consolation to us, it's been the same in Europe, so we haven't missed anything...