Saturday, August 30, 2008

Harlequin Ambassadors

Here is your chance to make your voice heard about covers, content, all the stuff we authors hear you grumbling--er--talking about! Don't miss this opportunity to make your voice heard!

Harlequin Enterprises Limited has announced the launch ofTELL HARLEQUIN an online advisory panel that allows readers input into the direction of future novels by voicing their opinions and sharing their book experiences directly with the publisher.

~ TELL HARLEQUIN is designed to enhance Harlequin’s relationship with its readers through an ongoing dialogue whose insights will help guide the evolution of the publisher’s business and allow Harlequin to publish the best in women’s fiction.

~ Participants on the TELL HARLEQUIN panel can make their voices heard on topics such as cover designs, new miniseries ideas, new series concepts, new promotional ideas and more. The staff at Harlequin will then consider Tell Harlequin suggestions along with the publisher’s own plans as it develops editorials for the future.

~ Contributors to TELL HARLEQUIN receive free Harlequin novels and sneak peeks at upcoming books, participate in entertaining online surveys and exchange opinions and ideas with other readers.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Non-Fish Story

One morning during a relaxing vacation at the lake, a husband returned after several hours of fishing and decided to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, his wife decided to take the boat out. She motored out a short distance, anchored, and read her book.

Along came a Game Warden in his boat. He pulled up alongside the woman. "Good morning, Ma'am. What are you doing?"

Thinking it should have been obvious, she replied, "Reading a book."

"You're in a restricted fishing area," he informed her.

"Officer, I'm not fishing. I'm reading."

"Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up."

"If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault," the woman told him.

"But I haven't even touched you," replied the startled game warden.

"That's true," said the woman. "But you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment."

"Have a nice day ma'am." The officer turned his boat around and left.

MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

free Pledge kit

Two question survey and they send you a free Pledge sample dusting kit.
It took 10 seconds.


3rd Grade Postcard Hunt

We haven't done this for a few years, but it's once again time for a POSTCARD HUNT! I actually love these school projects and enjoy seeing the kids get excited about mail. Remember mail? LOL

Anyway, Elijah's Postcard Hunt is not an individual competition, but a class project, and their goal is to receive as many postcards from as many different places as they can. I'm calling upon your kindness to make this happen.

If you'd like to help Elijah's 3rd grade class, please pick up a postcard when you're out and about, at home or traveling, and mail it to:

Willowdale Elementary
Mrs. Petta's Class
16901 P Street
Omaha, NE 68135

You know I will post pictures later in the school year!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Keepsake, Tess Garritsen

Wendy the Super Librarian posted this over on her blog. I think I'm hooked. How do they make these videos from a BOOK is my question? It's not like they have a movie to cut snips from. Okay, so she's Tess Garritsen - they have a really BIG advertising budget, duh. They hire actors and find sets, etc. oh and guy with an accent to do the voice over, that's important.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Blogger Play

Here's something you may never have heard of. It's called Blogger Play. Blogger Play is a real-time slideshow of photos Blogger users have recently uploaded to their blogs. It's a great snapshot of what people are thinking and posting about, right now!

Images on Blogger Play come from blogs that are public and listed on the web, and also from public Blogger profiles.

You can watch for a LONG time and the images are still dated the current day, but considering that blogger is worldwide and people are updating and adding photos to their blogs every second of the day, I guess that's not so surprising. You see products, families, babies, food, and recently a lot of Asian pics, which I'm guessing is because so many people are visiting China right now.

Sometimes I turn it on and glance over while I'm doing somethng else.

DANCING WITH THE STARS: Misty May-Treanor among dancers announced

Misty May-Treanor, Olympic beach volleyballer with ANOTHER GOLD MEDAL will be among the dancers this season! She's the only one that really excites me to watch so far. Most of the others, I went, "Who?" but then that's not unusual.

Cloris Leachman, Oscar-winning actress, is terrific and will undoubted be a fun choice. She's the oldest participant so far -- I hope she hangs in there.

The others:
Kim Kardashian, reality TV star
Maurice Greene, Olympic sprinter,
Lance Bass, former N' Sync star
Rocco DiSpirito, TV chef
Warren Sapp, NFL star
Toni Braxton, Grammy award-winning R&B star
Cody Linley, that cute kid from "Hannah Montana" show
Ted McGinley, veteran actor (Happy Days, West Wing, Pearl Harbor)
Brooke Burke, actress/TV personality
Jeffrey Ross, celebrity roaster and comedian
Susan Lucci, "All My Children" star

"Dancing with the Stars" premieres at 8 p.m. Sept. 22 on ABC-TV, followed by a performance show on Sept. 23 and the first results show on Sept. 24.

And now that the Olympics are over, America's Got Talent will be back LIVE.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Here's an opportunity to get one of my books you may have missed! Harlequin is reissuing a classic: BADLANDS BRIDE

ISBN: 9780373361892 (#34)

Reporter Hallie Wainwright's introduction to the Wild West included traveling with a bevy of mail-order brides and shooting bandits. But it was the intimate "hello" in the arms of Cooper DeWitt that truly sent her heart racing—and made it all the more difficult for her to tell the brawny plainsman the truth….

When she jumped from the stage, shining with true grit and spewing tall tales, Cooper thought he just might have struck gold. Raised with the Sioux, Cooper needed a wife who could brave the frontier and corral his restless heart. The problem was, his would-be bride had no intention of marrying him!



Ignoring the reflection of the businesses across the street behind her and the words The Daily meticulously painted in gold and black lettering on the glass, Hallie Claire Wainwright observed herself in the window of her father's newspaper office. She adjusted the jacket of her carefully chosen two-piece fitted dress and smoothed a hand over her dark hair, fashioned into an uncharacteristically neat bun.

"I think I've earned the responsibility of reporting on the boxing matches," she said to her reflection. The sporting event would make the front page every day for weeks, and Hallie could think of nothing more exciting than seeing her name beneath the headline.

"I'm sure I could get interviews with the participants," she said convincingly. "Perhaps they'll share insights with me they wouldn't give the men." Forest green curtains obscured the interior of the newspaper office, but she didn't need to see in to picture her oldest brother, Turner, setting type and her father in the office beyond.

"I've been doing the menial jobs without complaint. It's time you gave me a chance. I'll do my best." Hallie gave her likeness a last confident nod and opened the door.

The reassuring smells of ink, paper and grease, which she'd grown up with, boosted her confidence. Turner didn't glance up as she strode pass the Franklin press to her father's office. She rapped twice and opened the door.

Samuel Wainwright glanced up and immediately returned his attention to the papers on his desk top.

"Father, I—"


Her mouth dropped open. "How do you even know what I was going to say?"

"You have that stubborn look on your face."

"I want to cover the boxing matches." She placed her fists on her hips. "Evan—" her lip curled around the name of the new apprentice "—gets all the good stories."

Samuel shifted his smoking cigar stub from one side of his mouth to the other and leaned back in his creaky leather chair. "Now, Hallie," he cajoled. "Don't get in a huff. You know it wouldn't be acceptable—or safe—for you to take up with that rowdy crowd in the Piedmont district. Any female in Boston with half a brain in her head wouldn't set foot within a mile of the place."

She rolled her eyes. "That's all the brain you give any woman credit for having."

He harrumphed, then shuffled through a stack of papers, finding one he wanted and ignoring her while he checked the list in his other hand against the sheet.

"Hello, Precious," Turner said, entering.

Hallie winced inwardly.

He'd rolled his white shirtsleeves back, and his dark hair stood up on his head in finger-combed waves. He handled the office work, overseeing the typeset and presses. "I want to check this against your copy," he said to their father.

Samuel extended a paper, and the two men concurred. Used to being ignored, Hallie sat on the corner of the ink-stained oak desk and crossed her arms over her chest, unwilling to acknowledge her father's wisdom in this particular case. So what if he was right for once? Her father and brothers, Charles and Turner, always came up with some inane reason that she couldn't handle a story, and ninety-nine out of a hundred times the real reason—the infuriating reason—was that she was a female.

Turner reached for a strand of Hallie's hair that had fallen loose. "You're a sight."

She batted his hand away.

"What are you pouting about now?"

"I'm not pouting."

He laughed. "You're mad as a March hare. Still in a fix over Evan? He says he can't sleep nights for the ringing in his ears. For the last week at supper, you've managed to discredit everything about the man, including his parentage."

Hallie uncrossed her arms and shot a glance at her father. He wore a smile of bored amusement. "I keep hoping someone around here will notice that he's not any more capable than I am."

"And as we've told you a thousand times," Turner said, raising a superior brow, "Father needed Evan."

She tried her best to swallow her resentment. Her father did need help, and she'd worked so hard to prove herself. Samuel had hired the young man to assist Charles with the reporting, so he could devote himself to the book work and editing. It hurt immeasurably that none of them had considered her for the position. And it frustrated her beyond words that they refused to listen to her reasoning.

It was one thing to constantly defer to her brothers, but now an outsider had displaced her! "Perhaps if I put on a pair of trousers, the lot of you will notice I have a whole brain in this head."

Turner scowled. "If you put on a pair of trousers, the men around here will notice more than that. And I'll have to turn you over my knee and discipline the object of their attention."

Hallie resisted the urge to stick her tongue out. Just because they treated her like a child didn't mean she'd give in and behave like one.

"Did you turn in the piece on the quilting society?" Turner asked.

"Now that was an unequaled challenge," she replied, tracing a worn scar on the desk top with an index finger. "Think it'll make the headlines tomorrow?"

"Look," her father said, interrupting. "Remember those classifieds we ran a while back? Here's more of the same."

Turner bent over the desk and read aloud. "'Bride wanted.' Another one—'Wife wanted to cook, do laundry and care for children."'

"What kind of self-respecting woman would answer an ad like that?" Hallie asked, frowning her distaste.

"A woman who wants a husband," Turner replied, directing a pointed glance at his sister. "Unlike you."

She ignored the familiar taunt. "It's barbaric."

"But newsworthy," her father added. He caught his cigar between two fingers and squinted at her through curls of blue-gray smoke. "Some of the young ladies at Miss Abernathy's Conservatory answered the last ads. Why don't you do a story on them, Hallie?"

"Really?" she asked, jumping up.

"I haven't seen anything in the other papers," he continued. "Maybe, for a change, we can print a story before they get the idea."

The assignment filled Hallie with a new sense of importance. The Daily was always trying to get the jump on the bigger papers, and even though the other newspapers always managed to edge them out, the Wainwrights had increased circulation over the past year. Any newsworthy story that first appeared in The Daily was a feather in their journalistic cap.

"I'll work on it right away." She kissed her father on the cheek and smugly tilted her chin on her way past Turner.

Samuel and Turner exchanged conspiratory grins. "How long do you think that will keep her out of our hair?" Turner asked.

Samuel ran a hand over his balding pate. "Let's hope until Evan has a foot in the door. It's hard enough being a cub, without having to deal with Hallie when she's got her hackles up."

"Well, then, we'll just have to keep her busy."

"Isn't it just the most romantic thing you've ever heard?" The young woman with golden hair and ivory skin ignored the cake and tea on the tiny table and stared vacantly across the front of the lace-decorated establishment where the ladies of Boston came to socialize over afternoon tea.

Hallie thought traveling to God-only-knew-where to marry a man she'd never laid eyes on was the most asinine thing she'd ever heard, but she politely refrained from saying so.

"Where are the northern Dakotas, anyway?" Tess Cor-dell asked, coming out of her dreamy-eyed trance. "One of the girls said up by the North Pole."

"I don't think it's quite that far." Hallie tried to recall her geography lessons. "It's far to the west and up north. Quite remote, I'm sure."

Tess took an envelope from her reticule and carefully removed and unfolded a letter. "His name is Cooper DeWitt. He has a stage line and a freight company, so he must be very wealthy." Her pale blue eyes took on that dreamy quality again. "The only thing he requested in a wife was that she be able to read and write. I think that's good, don't you? He doesn't sound like a demanding sort of fellow."

"Or discriminating," Hallie added.

"Right," Tess agreed, the comment apparently sailing over her head. "He's not superficial like most young men who care only that a woman be from a good family."

Hallie heard the resentment in her voice. Obviously Tess was not from a well-to-do family, or she wouldn't have responded to an ad from a desperate frontier man. "Does he say how old he is?"

Tess frowned at the paper momentarily. "No." Her expression brightened. "But he does mention that he's never had a wife, so he must be young."

Or uglier than a buck-toothed mule, Hallie thought more realistically. What was this poor girl getting herself into? She almost wanted to offer her assistance if the girl needed someone to provide for her so badly she was willing to do this. But she held her tongue. Her family had told her often enough that her thinking was not that of a typical twenty-year-old woman. Tess was obviously delighted with her plan. "What else does he say?"

"Only that the country is beautiful and that I would have everything that I need."

"How romantic." Hallie made a few notes on her tablet. "Are you worried about being so far from anyone you know?"

"Well..." Tess chewed her lower lip. "I don't have family, but a couple of the other girls have accepted positions in the same community, so we'll be traveling together. I'm sure Mr. DeWitt will see that I can visit from time to time."

Hallie noted the term accepted positions for later reference. "Are the other girls as excited as you?"

"Oh, yes!" Her pale eyes sparkled. "This is an adventure of a lifetime!"

"I want to speak with the others, too. Can you give me their names?" Hallie scribbled a list and thanked Tess for the interview.

Hallie met the other young women, then hurried home to write her article. The enormous, masculinely furnished house was quiet, as usual. She slipped into her father's study and seated herself in his oversize chair, arranging paper, pen and ink on the desk top. She loved the room, did her best thinking among the familiar heavy pieces with the Seth Thomas mantel clock chiming on the half hour.

Nearly three hours passed before Hallie noticed the time. Double-checking the information, wording and neat printing, she blotted the pages. Her father would undoubtedly cut it in half, but, pleased with her work, she delivered it to his office.

He read the pages while she waited. "This is just what we wanted, Precious," he commended her.

Gladdened at the acknowledgment, she ignored the patronizing nickname.

"Keep on this," he said.

"You mean...?"

"I mean follow up. Go with them when they shop for the trip, watch them pack, all that. We'll run a series on the brides, right up until you wave them off at the stage station."

Surprised and more than a little pleased, Hallie nodded. "All right." She patted the edge of the desk in satisfaction. "All right."

Hallie read her articles in print each day, delighting in the fact that her father hadn't cut more than a sentence or two. She was so delighted, she didn't allow the fact that her father's new apprentice was covering the boxing championships and making headlines nearly every other day upset her—too much.

The day before her subjects were due to leave, she stepped into the office early. On the other side of the partially open mahogany door her brothers' voices rose.

"I'll take this sentencing piece," Charles said. "I'll be at the courthouse this morning, anyway."

"Right," Samuel said. "Evan?"

"I still have the lawyer to interview and, of course, the matches tonight. I'll try not to take a punch myself this time."

Male laughter echoed.

"That's some shiner!" Charles said.

"Great coverage, son." Samuel added. "You'll do anything to get an unusual angle. That's the stuff good reporters are made of." The aromatic scent of his morning cigar reached Hallie's nostrils, and she paused, a hollow, jealous ache opening in her chest at her father's casual praise of Evan Hunter. "How many more matches?"

"Another week," Evan replied.

Hallie reached for the door.

"What're we gonna do with Hallie?" Turner's voice carried through the gap beside the door. "Her brides leave tomorrow."

Hallie stopped and listened.

"That turned out to be an excellent piece," Charles commented. "We've had good response."

"Plus we got the jump on the Journal," Samuel agreed.

"Who'd have thought that when you came up with something to keep her off Evan's back during the matches, we'd actually get a good piece of journalism?" She recognized Turner's voice.

They laughed again.

A heavy weight pressed upon Hallie's chest. Hurt and self-doubt squeezed a bitter lump of disappointment into her throat. Of all the patronizing, condescending, imperious—

They'd handed her the story like presenting a cookie to a toddler they didn't want underfoot! And now they gloated over their own superiority. Hallie had never felt so unimportant.

"Do we have any sources in the Dakotas?" Charles asked.


"The real story is on the other end of that stage line."

A moment of silence followed Charles's comment, wherein Hallie imagined them nodding piously at one another.

"Yes, when the men who sent for those gals set eyes on them," Samuel agreed. "No. We don't have anyone that far west."

"Too bad," Turner said.

"Too bad, indeed," Charles said. "We could have had a real follow-up story there."

"Let's just hope the Journal doesn't think of it." Samuel added.

Heartbroken, Hallie gathered her skirts and trod stealthily back out the front door. She walked the brick street without direction. It never entered her mind to go home. Her mother would only tell her as she always did that her father and brothers did such things for her own good. Clarisse Wainwright had been born and bred to be a genteel wife and a mother to Samuel's sons. The fact that Hallie had come along had been an inconvenience to all of them, or so Hallie saw it.

Hallie hadn't been born the proper gender to take a prominent place at the newspaper, as much as she wished to, as much as she knew the same amount of ink flowed through her veins as her brothers'. They'd patted her on the head and sent her on her way since she'd been old enough to toddle after them.

The truth lay on her crushed heart like lead. They would never see her as good enough, as equal, as valuable or necessary.

Dorothy Parker's Birthday

Dorothy Parker (August 22, 1893–June 7, 1967) was an American writer and poet, best known for her caustic wit, wisecracks, and sharp eye for 20th century urban foibles.

When she was asked to use the word horticulture in a sentence, Parker shot back, "You can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think."

Read about Dorothy Parker on Wikipedia.

Read hysterical Dorothy Parker quotes here.

Read some of Dorothy's poetry here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Your Lucky Day - Eric's on the Way!

Lucky you, Eric Stromer is on his way over to your house for the entire day! he wants to know what's on your Honey Do list, so make haste.

I have been waiting and waiting to have the garage clean, so this is his task at my place. And not just clean, but organized. I want the walls painted and racks and shelves built.

Whoo hoo!

So, what can Eric do for you?

Blogging at P&P today!

Stop over and chat with me in Wildflower Junction today!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another First Day of School!

Here are my friend Rebecca Ryan's little darlings on their first day of school. Are they adorable or what? I think the skinned knee is my favorite part of this picture. Classic cuteness.

Have a great school year Jocelyn and Shawn!

Should the motto "In God We Trust" be removed from U.S. currency?

MSNBC is doing a poll. Make your voice heard by clicking here and voting.


I have to catch the moonflowers on cloudy mornings because they're night bloomers. During the heat of the day the blooms curl up. They are huge and so unusual looking, the leaves darker than any other foliage.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Now you see me, now you don't

Scientists have created two new types of materials that can bend light the wrong way, creating the first step toward an invisibility cloaking device. One approach uses a type of fishnet of metal layers to reverse the direction of light, while another uses tiny silver wires, both at the nanoscale level.

Both are so-called metamaterials -- artificially engineered structures that have properties not seen in nature, such as negative refractive index.

The two teams were working separately under the direction of Xiang Zhang of the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center at the University of California, Berkeley, with U.S. government funding. One team reported its findings in the journal Science and the other in the journal Nature.

"However, cloaking may be something that this material could be used for in the future," one scientist said. "You'd have to wrap whatever you wanted to cloak in the material. It would just send light around. By sending light around the object that is to be cloaked, you don't see it."

So what would you do if you could be invisible for a day?
Play practical jokes?
Follow someone?
Become a secret agent?

I'm thinking I could sure see a lot of free movies. As long as no one sat on me.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bargain Day for Backup

Today has a 4GB Memory Stick for $19.99 with free shipping.

Smart tip: Back up everything!
These disks are invaluable. Remember when you see memory disks on clearance, etc. it doesn't matter if they fit a camera, they will hold your data. All you need is an MS or MMC or media port on your PC. Most PCs take all of them.

You can make your PC run MUCH faster by moving photos to disks or burning them to CDs.

Bad Poetry Day

August 18th is Bad Poetry Day, a holiday created by the people at I think they're trying to invent a holiday for every day that doesn't have a real one.

Anyway, it sounds like a good reason to celebrate. How shall we celebrate? Why with bad poems of course.

I wish I had a dollar for every word that I've writ
For I'd be going shopping to buy a new outfit
I'd buy some shoes that were sparkly and fun
I might eat Chinese, and I'd call you, hon!

We'd chat a bit; I'd pay someone to mow.
We could get massages and take in a show.
Maybe even another with popcorn and Sprite.
I'd have to get home before too late at night.

My husband would wonder just where did I get?
He'd most likely look all around in a snit
He know I'd gone shopping, for sure he could tell;
I know so many places with good things to sell.

So there's my bad poem. Come on, give it a shot!

And scroll down to see my garden photos.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

More Garden Chatter

This is the butterfly garden we created to attract butterflies. The butterfly bushes haven't grown as big as they normally do, nor are they loaded with blooms. We had a rough rainy spring followed by a hot dry summer and many of the plants have suffered. We provide water in the birdbath there, as well as bee balm, hyssop, zinnias and cone flowers.

This is the trumpet vine I'm so enamored with. I've wanted one of these forever, and this year is shot up and over the new gate/arbor. I'm hoping to attract more hummingbirds now.

Click down to the previous post to see the gorgeous pics of butterflies.

Crazy for email

If you check your email in the middle of the night or even while driving, you’re not alone. According to AOL Mail’s fourth annual Email Addiction Survey, nearly half (46%) of email users said they’re hooked on email (up from just 15% last year) and 51% check their email four or more times a day (up from 45% in 2007). One in five said they check their email more than 10 times a day. Full results can be found at

More than one-quarter (27%) are so overwhelmed by their email that they’ve either declared “email bankruptcy,” deleting all their email messages to start anew, or they’re seriously thinking about doing so. Maybe it’s because 20% of users said they have over 300 emails in their inboxes!

To start fresh, 24% admit they’ve signed up for a new email address. It comes as no surprise then that 69% of email users said they have multiple email accounts, up from 52% in 2007. To get a new email address, including, just visit

“We really do live in a 24-7 society and it’s not uncommon to be online and checking email at all hours of the day,” said Regina Lewis, AOL Online Consumer Advisor. “Sometimes we need to take a step back and refresh with an empty inbox or even a new inbox altogether to clear our mind and focus on those emails and relationships that are most important to us.”

From an AOL survey

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My Garden Mid-Morning: Butterflies

When the focus is good, it's good; when the focus is bad--well, the photo is deleted asap. For some reason it was an incredibly IN FOCUS day!

The first two are black swallowtails. The middle one is a small butterfly I can't identify, and the bottom two are monarchs. All were in the back yard on the zinnias.

So far this has been the hot stop for the beauties, rather than my butterfly bushes in front, which are attracting only a few.

CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE (You won't be sorry.)

Email Etiquette

When asked about email etiquette, nearly one quarter (24%) of email users said they don’t even use a salutation – they just dive right into their email messages! Meanwhile, 23% write “Hi Bob” and 20% say “Hello Bob” when they start an email to co-worker Bob.

“If you converse regularly – bantering back and forth throughout the course of your workday – it’s okay to leave out a salutation,” said Cherie Kerr, author of The Bliss or “Diss” Connection?: Email Etiquette for the Business Professional, “Otherwise, people can feel as though you didn’t care enough to write out their name. To really get someone’s attention, the best thing you can do is call them by name.”

As for email sign-offs, most people write “Thanks” (44%) or “Sincerely (12%). The most annoying sign-off among email users? It’s “xoxo” according to 25% of respondents. “Cheers” irritated 13% of users the most. Overall, 63% of email users were annoyed by some type of email sign-off.

Most respondents (88%) said that they pay attention to spelling and punctuation when writing emails, and 68% said emails with spelling and punctuation errors annoyed them. Interestingly, 74% said they excuse errors when emails are sent from a mobile device like a BlackBerry or iPhone.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about your image,” added Kerr. “Typos and poor grammar are the equivalent of walking into a room looking unshowered and disheveled. Good writing in an email shows you have both professionalism and class.” For Cherie Kerr’s top-five email etiquette tips, visit

From an AOL survey

Friday, August 15, 2008

Guest Blogging at Writers at Play!

I'm blogging at Writers At Play today!

Friday, August 15th, the authors of Love Inspired Historicals will be discussing their favorite time periods and why. Drop by and tell us what time periods you love to read. Leave a comment and you'll be registered for a chance to win free books and a $20.00 Barnes and Nobel gift card.

Hooked on email

People today check their email from the strangest of places. Where you ask?

• In bed in their pajamas: 67%
• From the bathroom: 59% (up from 53% last year)
• While driving: 50% (up from 37% last year)
• In a bar or club: 39%
• In a business meeting: 38%
• During happy hour: 34%
• While on a date: 25%
• From church: 15% (up from 12% last year)

Email users have also become too quick to hit the “Send” button. In fact, 32% have forwarded an email to the wrong person and 16% have relied on email as a way to share uncomfortable or bad news with someone. Meanwhile, 12% have used email to ask someone on a date and 7% have broken up with a boyfriend or girlfriend over email. A full 16% even said they still keep email notes from ex-boyfriends and girlfriends!

We also just can’t walk away from our inboxes. Of those surveyed, 60% said they’ve never gone more than 5 days without checking email and 17% can’t go more than one day without email. They’re so hooked that 11% have even hidden the fact that they’re checking email from a spouse or family member.

Info from AOL Survey

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Judge Not The Blessings

Judge Not The Blessings
An excerpt from May You Be Blessed by Kate Nowak

My friend Jackie hated having Nancy as her manager. She thought her to be cold, insensitive and overbearing and had, in the past, tried twice to get transferred to another department, but to no avail. Nancy was apparently a favorite with her employers, and since Jackie was both new to the area and the job, she felt she had no strings to pull. This only served to irritate her more.

Then one evening while she was working late to finish up a quarterly report, Jackie felt suddenly sick to her stomach and was on her way to the restroom when she collapsed in the hall. The next thing she knew she was being placed on a gurney and wheeled out to a waiting ambulance. In the sea of faces hovering over her, the only one she recognized was Nancy's, and in the blur of activity, she could feel Nancy squeeze her hand and hear her say, "Don't worry, Jackie, I'm here. I won't leave you."

It was a promise Nancy kept. Over the next few days as Jackie, a newly divorced mother of two, lay in a hospital bed, coming to terms with the damage done by the stroke she had suffered. Nancy not only stopped by to see her two and three times a day, offering never-ending words of encouragement and bringing mail and get-well messages from co-workers, but also stepped in to see that Jackie's two daughters were cared for and that every aspect of Jackie's life was kept running as smoothly as possible in her absence.

When it was necessary for Jackie to leave the hospital and be placed in a rehabilitation facility, Nancy again made all of the arrangements and visited daily, and when Jackie was finally allowed to go home, it was Nancy who made it possible for her to travel to and from physical therapy each day until she was, at last, fully recovered and able to return to work.

By the time I met the two women, over a decade had passed. They still worked for the same company, though Nancy was about to retire, and Jackie was now the manager of her own department, a promotion she had earned the year following her life-changing stroke. It was obvious to everyone that the two women were the best of friends. I was a new hire for the company and learned about their history together when they invited me to lunch.

At Nancy's retirement party a couple of weeks later, I was standing next to Jackie as her dear friend was receiving accolades from the rest of her co-workers. Jackie looked at her and then whispered to me, "Can you believe I used to hate that woman? And if it wasn't for her, I'd probably be dead. Goes to show we never know who among us is an angel, doesn't it?"

None of us really knows about the people we decide to hate. We label them wrong and ourselves right and in so doing never realize that we are building a wall of separation that only grows stronger with time. We truly do block the angels from our midst. It is not until circumstance throws us together, as it did Jackie and Nancy, that we realize how very much we need one another and how very alike we truly are.

As a young girl living with my grandmother, any time I criticized another person in her presence, she would ask to see whose shoes I was wearing, a blunt reminder that unless I'd walked in that person's shoes, I had no right to judge. It was also a signal that I should stop talking and start thinking differently.

Even today, I sometimes catch myself looking down at my feet when I feel tempted to criticize. "Who am I to judge?" I'll ask myself in the next breath, realizing as I do that I have no idea what the target of my critical focus is really going through.

Of course, that doesn't always stop me, and sometimes the judgment tumbles into my thoughts or words and takes up residence before I even notice. But through my own self-experimenting, I have noticed that when I succeed in suspending judgment and allowing myself to look at others from another perspective, my joy increases. Judging others, I have discovered, does not let joy in. Stepping away from judgment does.

In the long run, all judging others really does is bring pain and block us from our ability to offer love. We were born to give, to bless, and to be a blessing, but when we are sitting in judgment, we can't. As Mother Teresa pointed out, when we are judging others, we have no time to love them. It is only in suspending judgment that we open our hearts to unconditional love and empower ourselves and each other to be the best that we can be.

Zoo Again

Omaha usually has some sort of attraction to promote the city. We've had J. Does, which were painted and decorated sculptures like Chicago's cows. The most recent are the Big Os. Omaha is known as The Big O. The symbol is O! with an exclamation point. You spot them all over town. Whenever we see one Elijah wants a picture. Here's one at the zoo. It's in the dark aquatic museum so it's hard to see. It's tiger spotted with jungle netting over it. Don't ask me why that's in the ocean exhibit rather than the Desert Dome or Wild Kingdom, but there you have it.

Elijah took this photo of a seadragon in a tank. It's one one of my favorite things to watch swim.

It's the only inside building that is really hot, though, and I'm sure it's from all the warm water, but I'm always ready to leave.

I did not take this picture below. I found it online to show you just how amazing this creature is.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

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First Day of School 2008

Today is the first day of school for many, so you know what you're going to be seeing. Yes, those first day of school pics from me. I love 'em. Can't get enough of 'em. And I think I'll go hunt down a few from the old days, just to compare and contrast. (That's my authorly term for writing; applies here.)

Zoo Day

Here's Elijah walking along with a peacock. The peacocks are tame and run wild all over the zoo. You mostly find them in the shady lake areas. We saw one peeking into a planter of flowers, and it cracked us up.

Elijah took this picture from the train. He's realy good at these shots, isn't he? He was the train photographer.

Elijah took this shot of the elephants as we were passing by the pachaderm complex.

These entertaining fellows are inside the aquatic building, where sharks and sea turtles and puffins and jellyfish all all sea creatures imaginable are housed.

Penguins are one of his favorites, so we always stay to watch them dive and play underwater. He used some of his birthday money for a new stuffed baby emporer penguin.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Budgie Exhibit

This is what the budgie exhibit looks like from the outside. It's in an older part of the zoo and in a shady area. FYI, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo originated in the late 1800s and some of the first animals on display were bison donated by Buffalo Bill Cody. His home and scout ranch are in North Platte, NE. FYI, I wasn't around then.

You enter through double screen doors and strips of plastic that prevent birds from escaping. Sometimes the wiley fellows wait up under the exit roof until the door opens and then try to make their getaway.

Their colors are beautiful, and when several are flying around you at a time, it's breathtaking. They're quite tame, in fact you can buy feeding sticks outside the cage and feed them by hand if you want. I've seen people who get one or two to sit on their hand.

I'm sure you've heard a parakeet screech. Well, just imagine a hundred of them screeching at the same time. It's quite loud inside here.

Here's Elijah holding still for once. He kept asking if there was a bird over his head. LOL Trust me, you do check often.

I've shown you zoo pictures before. Kristin buys us a pass, so we can visit whenever we like. When you have a membership, you don't feel as though you have to spend the whole day to get your money's worth. Two hours is a nice visit and plenty of exercise.

Today we saw the Air Force Raptor and met a performing AF drill team. They had one of those gizmos that spins you around, but Elijah didn't pass the height requirement. He was bummed. But only for three seconds, because he had money to spend in the aquarium gift shop.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Worst Choices for Dancing With the Stars

I've been seeing a few "worst" lists. Like the top 20 worst songs ever. Achey Breaky Heart is on that list, and rightly so. Until a few years ago, that song was what people thought of when they heard the name "Cyrus." For that reason, Billy Ray should be thanking his superstar daughter every day. Billy Ray can also be added to the list of worst hairstyles ever. He put the ick in mullet. And pardon me, but his hair doesn't look any better now, parted in the middle and stringy. eww. He's a terrible actor, but is seen by millions on Hannah Montana. He's also a pretty bad and unexcitable tv host, but hosted Nashville Star. How does this guy get these jobs anyway? He even made Dancing With the Stars, but the judges put him out of America's Misery pretty fast.

So, just for fun, while we're waiting for them to announce this season's Dancing With the Stars celebrities, who would be the WORST celebrities they could put on this year?

Let's make a list.

Richard Nixon
Kelly Pickler would make me hurl.
Has William Shatner ever done it?
Ozzie Osbourne
Martha Stewart
Joan Rivers
Rosie O'Donnell
Howard Stern

Do you have any additions to the list?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Let the games begin!

If you missed the opening night of the 2008 Olympics, all I can say is, we'll never see anything like that again. Incredible. Beautiful.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

So They Thought They Could Dance!

And oh baby, did they ever! It was an AWESOME season. I had so many favorites that when it came down to the end, I couldn't even pick one. Never ever picked a favorite. I liked Jessica and Kherigan and was sad to see them go. I LURVed Mark and REALLY didn't want him to go. It got to where everyone left was one of my favorites.

So tonight was the finale. I really didn't want this to be over. It was kind of fun seeing Loud Mary and Nigel dance. Not together. But since they critique the dancers, it's good for them to reinforce that they know what they're talking about.

Am I the only one who thinks the Jonas Brothers' song was a little iffy in the choruses? Ewww.

I loved Courtney and every dance she did with every partner. Katee really grew on me. Personality-wise not so much-but her dancing was unsurpassed.

I never ever could have chosen between Twitch and Joshua. I have to say I was surprised that Katee went before either of them, because she was a favorite with the judges. I think the fellas had the young people and the girls voting.

I LOVED that we got to see all the judges' favorite dances live one more time - many of those were my favorites, too -- and the music? Incredible. The door routine with Katee and Twitch was awesome. What say you that Mia Michaels wins another Emmy for that choreography? Dug that bizarre fight between Courtney and Mark to no end. Wowza. Bollywood was so cool.
So Joshua is the winner. This sweet super talented guy who previously cleaned a dance studio in exchange for lessons. That's heart.

I felt bad that they didn't plan the end well enough for Twitch to have his time on the show highlighted like all the others did.

What will I watch now? I'm sad it's over.

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