Friday, October 31, 2008

IT Dreams... or Nightmares!

So our office have never really done Halloween before, but this year more than half of the office donned masks... of our IT Director... going down to the conference room in the elevator together was rather creepy.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Have You Voted Yet?!

Shhhh..... it's a secret....

Or maybe not!

If you're in Oregon - it's too late to mail in your ballot... drop it off at a library, the elections office, the Obama campaign offices...

If you're not in Oregon - don't forget to go on Tuesday!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Love You

My desk at work is in a converted conference room, we're out growing our space so the big table was removed and 6 of us in the marketing/IT departments were moved in. Pretty much there are no secrets between any of us, there are no partitions or dividers whatsoever. It's a good collaborative working environment for the most part. It also means that when we do have a personal call...everyone else hears it.

When Noland and I talk on the phone, we always tell each other that we love the other. We tell each other 'I love you!' constantly. I can't imagine not proclaiming that I love him every chance I get.

All 6 of us in the room are married. I hear each of us on the phones with our spouses at some point at least every few weeks. Of the other 5... one talks to their spouse like they do their child; giving instructions, telling them what to do and why they need to do it. Three of my co-workers talk to their spouses like a friend; they make plans, they joke and laugh, say what needs to be said and say good-bye. Only one of my co-workers says 'I love you' to their spouse when they end their phone call.

I think they all have strong, healthy relationships... I'm not hinting that there's anything wrong... I just find it interesting.

UPDATE: Ok, just as I posted this I heard one of them on a call and replied with an "I love you." :D

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rated R: may include language inappropriate for children under 17

I had the beginning of an interesting conversation with my parents about curse words. We didn't get very far because they just assumed I was being argumentative and that we just shouldn't cuss. Period. But that's not the thought that was in my head.

It goes back to that 'random rule following' again. Why are certain words 'bad' and others that mean the same thing ok? Or at least to a degree. If a child calls another child a 'poopy-head' he's probably going to be told it's not nice to call names, made to apologize and sent back on his way. But if he calls the other child a 'shit-head' he's going to get spanked, or detention, or grounded. But it's the same thing. Albeit neither one is nice - but that was the point. The child was mad at the other child, so he called him a name. Why is one considered so much worse?

And many parents, including mine, encourage their children to use these substitute words. Don't say damn, say darn. Don't say shit, say shoot. Don't say fuck, say fudge. But if I'm just subbing a word, my intention is still the same. To make a derogatory statement about the other person or thing - or just yell out in anger, pain or excitement. So if you think it's wrong, than it all should be wrong. And then we're forced to bottle up raw emotion. The fact that even the most prudish person will probably curse when the old hammer on the thumb occurs shows that it's a natural and appropriate word for certain situations. Or if we understand that sometimes expletives are needed because we're mad or frustrated, then all are ok. Just like anything else, we just have to learn how to use them correctly and in moderation.

For the most part, I don't swear much, so it's not like I feel the need to shout swear words from the roof types, I just think we need to reevaluate what's "bad."

Now using words that actually ARE offensive.... a racial or ethnic slur, not acceptable. And most people will agree on that. Some folks do still use them just because they're bigots, others think they're using them 'ironically' or because 'that was ok when I was your age.' And those people are wrong.

Words that are used to make a negative association about a person by relating them to another group of people. Like calling someone or something retarded or gay - also not acceptable. But the kid on the playground probably will get the 'poopy-head' punishment not the 'shit-head' punishment for saying either one. But when you think about it, which is more offensive to society overall... calling someone who is a shithead, a shithead or calling someone who is a shithead, retarded?

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I had a variety of reasons for leaving Metroblogs receently, but a primary one was to spend more time on my blogging personaly. I just don't have the bandwidth to really do multiple things like that. One will always be neglected, and I really want to spend more time with my personal blog. Maybe actually learn how to set up a space of my own rather tan on Blogger. I hear rumor that the BlogHer conference emay be held in Portland this year - and I'd love to attend that. Really develop this as something that's very me.

At this point though, because I haven't had much time to write just for me, things are just coming spewing out. Not much direction, not much organization, not even a whole lot of editing. Rather journally. (of course that's a word.) So there may be some random spewing here for another few weeks. Get my rants and raves out of my system. Then I'll get some focus.
I promise.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Don't tell me to follow the rules. Convince me why they exist.

I'm not a big fan of the random rule following. Those designed to protect the safety of myself or others... like laws... for the most part I'll follow - that's what keeps us civilized. But believe me, even those aren't steadfast! But rules that seem to exist arbitrarily even from the get-go, I want to know why.

I've had more than one run-in with an HR person over silly dress codes. And usually because of my questioning the rule, not only did I not have to follow the silly rule, others didn't either. I started working at Blockbuster Video as a part-time second job after college. Employees were to wear khaki pants or skirts, a light-blue dress shirt and tie. I'm not a boy. I don't wear ties and I don't wear button down-shirts. Those are boy clothes. So I got a shirt and I got a tie. I wore them both - but I wore the shirt unbuttoned over a colored cami and I wore the tie like a scarf. I was told be several people that I had to wear the tie. I replied that I was. Soon others stopped sporting their ties. Unbuttoning their collars and untucking their shirts. We relaxed the dress code to be much more practical for the job we were doing.

I also worked part-time at Kohl's. There we had to wear the equivalent of office casual. One hot and humid Iowa summer day I wore a cute sun-dress of an appropriate length and nice sandals. I was called out by the floor manager for not having pantyhose on. I was told I needed to purchase hosiery and put them on. First of all, it's hot, second of all, at that time my legs looked great in a skirt and sandals and thirdly - I was wearing open-toes sandals. Open-toed sandals and hose at a huge fashion mistake. Being a bit of a smart ass, and totally unwilling to wear something evil like pantyhose, when I went on break I I went to the children's department, bought a pair of lacey ankle socks, and put those on. Then I went to the breakroom, found a copy of the employee handbook, found the dress code which only said "appropriate hosiery" not that pantyhose or covering your legs was required... made photocopies, highlighted them and posted them on the wall. And stuck a copy in my pocket for when I ran into that floor manager back upstairs again. Most of the 20-something female staff went barelegged for the rest of that summer.

Good comes from questioning rules. Mary Tyler Moore told the producers of The Dick van Dyke show that she wanted to wear pants. Maybe if Lucille Ball had done that, my mom wouldn't have had to wear dresses to school in northern Minnesota in January. Maybe if my mom had told the bank she worked at in the 1980s that she wasn't going to wear high heels and hose, then I wouldn't have had to more than a decade later in a department store.

And if you can't even question rules on simple things like modernizing fashion, how will you ever question rules that really matter?

Like those in many churches. Sure, some are pretty harmless, the one we went to for Amy's wedding had a "no flash photography' rule. Why? It doesn't hurt for me to ask that. Maybe there are exceptions, or no one ever bothered to change it after it no longer applied. But others, like the rules that don't allow women to participate in certain roles in many churches. Valid at one time? Maybe. Valid now? No. But they still exist in too many places. We must step forward and assert that the time for the rules is long gone. One reason I am drawn to the church I now attend, is that while they are very conservative in many respects, they are also not afraid (sometimes) to question 'rules' that were most likely made arbitrarily by some man hundreds of years ago.

All that blind following, because that's the way it's always been done... leads to nothing good. Rules like who's allowed to drink from what water fountain or take a seat on a bus. Rules about who is allowed to marry and who is not. Rules about people of all genders and races getting equal pay for equal work. Rules about whether a woman has the right to decide her own right time to have a child. Rules that say if people don't agree with our religion, they shouldn't exist.

If you want me to follow your rules, you'll have to convince me why they exist.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Going fully digital

Today I've started "the conversion." Nothing too scary, not crazy rituals or surgeries...I'm talking music. From my first CD player - a high school graduation present in 1989 - up until around 2001 I was an avid CD buyer. I joined and quit and joined and quit the bmg music club time and time again to take advantage of the introductory offer. I scoured used CD stores looking for bargains and albums from harder to find bands. For the five years I worked at The Des Moines Register I'd be the first one in line at the annual sale where they'd put out all of the discs sent in to be reviewed - on sale for $1 each (and all proceeds going to charity.) Often times I'd completely unknown artists because I liked the cover art, the band name or some other random reason. Sure - I ended up with some junk - but I also discovered a number of treasures. And the junk could always be taken back to the used CD store and resold.

Throughout that same decade, a young man I did not yet know living halfway across the country was doing the same thing. When we met, one of the first things that he did before heading out for a week long business trip, was hand me a handful of CDs and ask me to take a listen. I loved almost all of them. He already knew me, and knew my musical taste. And while we certainly diverge in some instances (he tolerates the Indigo Girls and looks pained when I play Madonna...I cringe at Slayer and just shake my head in bewilderment at Manowar) there is a lot of common ground.

There are still primarily His and Hers CD shelves...but after we bought our house we went through all the boxes of music and eliminated the dups - and then adding the sum total of that artists collection to either one of our shelves. And all told - we probably took more than 100 duplicate CDs to sell/trade once we were done.

In this last decade however, the music has gone digital. While we'll still occasionally cruise the used CD bins and find some gem that I must have - most of our musical purchases are now done online. Up until last year, we always still listened to CD in our cars - so even though our at home and at work music was mostly of the recently purchased digital variety, the old friends were with us when we drove. But then came the new car...with the MP3 jack for the iPod...and the discs that are in the car now - have probably been the same five for more than a year now. Random songs here nd there have been digitized for specific playlists for parties or events. But for the most part our CD collection has sat lonely for too long.

Noland just bought me an external hard drive and I'm beginning the process of converting everything over so that we can listen online, on our iPods, etc. While I've been typing this I've downloaded 10 discs. Only 840 more to go!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Return to Kansas - Part II

Although I spent most of my childhood there, I don't think I ever really belonged. After all the short-term places I lived as a small child we ended up in Topeka when I was eight. I lived there for 10 years. Then I lived for nine years in Des Moines. I've been here in Portland now for 10 and a half years. Longer than I lived anywhere else. This is home. And it fits me. I enjoyed my childhood in Topeka - but I couldn't live there as an adult.

I think my parents thought I was picking on them when I took this photo and kept talking about it, but really it's just my wonderment at how different life can be in places not so far away, and that used to be familiar. Now when I go back there the things I take for granted don't exist and even common things seem foreign.

See there - all in one container headed to the landfill - yard debris, cardboard, plastic bags and food waste. Here at home - that's at least three separate containers - if not four. Yard Debris. Recycling. Trash. Compost. Only one of those is going to go to the landfill. Now my folks do collect newspapers and aluminum cans in their garage and my dad takes them in a few times a year, so they do recycle what they can - but the city has NO curbside services whatsoever. Nearly everything is simply thrown away. Nearby in Kansas City, they do have curbside recycling - so hopefully it's something that will continue to spread across the country, it's such an easy thing for people to do.

I was happily surprised that I didn't see as many McCain signs as I thought I would. I did see more on my parents block than I have in all of Portland (three - I've only seen three in Portland - I love that!) But it wasn't nearly the overwhelming tide I assumed I'd see. Of course I didn't see a single Obama sign until we got to Kansas City, so my thought is that the people of Topeka aren't fully embracing either candidate. The staunch conservatives will still vote McCain - but they're not going to advertise for him. We get a (pleasantly) biased view of things like that here in Portland. You can safely assume that a majority of the people you talk to are going to be more liberal. If not a registered Democrat - they're an independent who leans that way.

And then there are the things like our NW coffee and beer addictions. My mom brought back some good coffee from their trip to Montana last month, but Sat morning after being wakened at 7:30 am but two little girls - and knowing that since that was the day of the wedding that I'd likely be up quite late - I wanted a big four-espresso shot latte. So I asked where I could go to get coffee. I got a recommendation for the Phillips66 station. And at the Renaissance Festival I went to with Steve and Tracy and the kids - with the exception of one Guinness stand I saw - everything else they served was made by Bud, Coors or Miller. Shudder!

At least, unlike Violet, I had internet access.

The Return to Kansas - Part I

We've contemplated trips back to the Midwest a few times over the past two years since our last trip, but prices have been high, then my folks were out to visit last year at this time and Noland's folks have been out 3 or 4 times in the past two years, so we keep putting it off. While I love my folks, if we're going to spend $900 and burn a week of valuable PTO - we want to do more than sit on the couches of our parents homes. We'd just been talking of making a trip pin January - after holiday prices dropped - but just going for a long weekend and each going to our respective parents homes once we landed in KCI, saving us 3 or 4 days of PTO by not having to divide time between the two. Then I got the invite for Amy's wedding and it fit into the plan perfectly. Since Noland's folks had just been out the month prior, he didn't go - but I took off to Kansas for a whirlwind weekend of family and wedding festivities.

Often when I've been back, both my brothers and their families come to my parents for a day or so when I'm in town. This time scheduling stretched things out a bit more - and I think it worked nicely that way. I had about a day with just mom and dad, then my brother showed up with his little girls and we had about a day together, then a brief stint at the wedding and over to my older brothers for an evening and the next day with his family. It was good - I got adult time with mom and dad - and even a brief visit to an old family friend (who was also an undecided voter...I don't think I actually know any of those, so I got a chance to make a good plug!) Then I had a chance to play with the little girls and give them my undivided attention. We had a scavenger hunt, did manicures, drew pictures and played restaurant...they're pretty adorable (and I think the 4-year-old is a bit of a mini-me - complete with proclaiming "dammit" when she was told no more Skittles before bed. Dad and grandma weren't too impressed, but big sister said "that's what mommy says" and I was trying so hard not to laugh! Good luck with that one James and Colleen...tee hee...) And then I had a chance to talk to my teenage niece and nephew without the little ones vying for all of our attention. Almost grown up those two - we talked about colleges (the smart ones!) debating, driving, drama...and that twisted sense of humor that us Newman kids all have...although I think it comes from the Grandpa Amble genes.

And I had one good high school friend at the wedding whom I got to sit and chat with at the reception for a brief time. I probably should have gone ahead and rented a car so that I didn't have to bolt out of the wedding immediately after dinner, but it was very nice of my folks to drive me around to it all. And I'm so glad that I was at least able to make it to the wedding.

The only problem with the family time being so spread out, is that I didn't really get any friend time. There aren't many people left in Kansas, and even fewer in Topeka - but it would have been nice to have been able to see some of them. So if your in Kansas and I didn't see you, or you didn't even know I was there - next time! Or you'll just have to come out to Portland!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I Get Bored Easily

I think I'm growing bored with "city blogging." I've been writing for Metblogs for more than two years now, and not that it's a huge span of time - but it is a good chunk of time. I just don't have huge inspirations for posts these days. I post things because I should. I post things because I don't want to let the MB folks down, especially after being the last man standing there for awhile after all the brouhaha. Because I'm a responsible person. But not because I really am excited to. I'm not even very excited to read what's posted. It's beginning to feel like a lot of the same old thing. Even over on OurPDX - which is cool and I read daily, but I'm just not as excited as I used to be...Tri-Met woes, cool bands, new restaurants, bike stuff, tech stuff, quirky things spotted downtown. I often find myself just skimming.

I know I can have a short attention span. I was a member of the OMTAAMB for 5 or 6 years - then I got bored and quit. I've sung in community choirs - then after couple seasons I got bored and quit. I took purely for fun classes - dance, guitar - then I get bored after a semester and quit. I don't want it to become a chore, and there is someone new now who can take the reins to build a new author group - something I had no interest (or talent) to do. So I think it may be time for me to call it quits on Metblogs. By taking a break, maybe I'll return again later more enthused. It's kind of sad 'cause it has been (mostly) fun - but in a way it will be good. I still read a lot of blogs - it's just my 'go to first' blogs have shifted. It's the more specific blogs I'm drawn to lately. Individual people with more personal stories or specific topics I'm interested in. So I'm not sure what that means exactly, but I think it means that I'll be writing here a heck of a lot more!