blogger web statistics

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Gulf of Mexico

Here I am flying enroute from Houston, TX to Orlando, FL over the Gulf of Mexico. All throughout my life, I managed to miss out on visiting the gulf – I grew up on the Pacific coast and enjoyed the beaches there, and a few times hit up the Atlantic for its lighter blue-green coloration. About two years ago, I finally reached out in Naples, Florida and took in the calm, greenish seas of the gulf.

I’m glad I did, because right now outside my plane is a plethora of lights in the sea, supposedly from boats that are being used in the effort to stem the oil leak from hitting the fair shores of the southeast US. Interestingly enough, it feels almost like I’m watching a game of Battleship – I see ships with two three and even four light beacons on the masts, the ships lined up parallel to each other as if they were arranged on a game board. I could almost yell out “C4!” but I think my fellow airline passengers would have a conniption with that.

Vic, it’s now dark and I’ve yet to see anything that I could attribute to a big fire in the seas – you led me on, man! I so brought the smores, too! ;-)

Update: It’s about 45 minutes before we land and there’s some real good storming happening off the starboard bow… high flying clouds with a lightning show storm! Sweet! Interesting that it’s the leading edge that’s doing the lightning…..

Update 2: Ah! I see the Florida coastline! I’m writing like 4 blogs at once so I can update everything…

I’m looking forward to this weekend. The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf conference this weekend is always a good place to get a pulse on the hearing loss community. The professionals that attend are always up to date with the latest in techniques and products, the exhibitors get to show off their services and wares, and the throngs of parents present with their young children who have hearing loss are absolutely hungry for information! It’ll be nice to help make lives better by giving out information on resources and make connections with people.

I think that’s the most fun for me at these kinds of conferences. While I love to learn from workshops and exhibitors, and marvel at the sights and sounds of new cities, it’s definitely the connections and networks made that brings me back. Helping a parent understand what options their kids have, or an audiologist to learn how to help their patients, or even young adults like myself who just want to improve their lives, just gives me the best feelings.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Ahhh, Jamba Juice. How I miss thee! A Choco Moo’d certainly hits the spot when you’re rustling around Houston’s main airport, waiting for the next connection. Even three hours of a layover can’t entirely be killed by having dinner with a great bud!

Airports (and airplanes) have long been a part of my life. I’ve frequented small airports like Van Nuys with my Dad – the story being every Saturday or so he’d go flying in his plane to keep up his flight rating, often just jumping to the “next town over” just to get breakfast and fly back. What would have been a two hour drive turned in to a 45 minute airplane jaunt. A good number of times I would go with him – in a rented Piper Dakota or one he eventually part-owned. Now he’s a part owner of a Cirrus SR22, that comes with its own parachute in case you feel coming down on your own three-wheels is too mean a feat.

Nowadays, I’m often enough finding myself sitting on the tarmac in a 737 or 757 – ready to jaunt off to the next big adventure. Zoom, zoom!

Do you like flying? I love it.

Dinner in Houston with Vic!


That’s the name I call my bud Vic in Houston. Even though I just hung out with him last week (not enough, really – I mean, most of the time we were either in workshops or he was on stage improvising ;-) ), it was awesome seeing him again and getting some dinner together during my extensive layover in Houston.

We managed to pop over to a series of restaurants not too far from the airport. See, I like Godfather’s Pizza chain, because they have gluten-free pizza in some (but not all!) restaurants. You could imagine my chagrin when I discovered this particular spot didn’t have them! Curses!

Since I was prepared to accept a setback at Godfather’s, we hopped over to the backup plan – Adalwi’s Mediterranean food – Greek food, essentially. Usually they’re really good about not putting things I can’t eat into food, and it’s family run, so I hit up the shish kabobs and man, were they good! Beef, steak and chicken – faboo! Vic had a gyro and fries, those looked good too! What was it, man, lamb?

What I’m really bummed about is that he’s supposed to be up in Kansas City next week, the 4th of July weekend – and both Kel and I are going to be away! One of Kel’s cousins is getting married up in Minneapolis, and I’ve not really gotten a chance to check out the city much. I figure this year, instead of climbing a 14Ker like we did last year (which was a freakin’ blast and hard as heck!) we’ll do something a bit more civil and do the roughing it thing some other time.

In the meantime, Vic – have fun while I’m out! Make sure you wear the big glasses! ;-)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Can't escape work

I've almost accepted it as a normal part of my life to be working at any time. I've put out fires at 11pm at night, worked on presentations until 2am, and put off attending events until I could get a document just right. But it still amazes me how much work still needs to get done even when I take a vacation.

I'm at HLAA in Milwaukee and actually doing some business while I'm here. Hopefully, that'll mean I'll be done before noon and can take the rest of the day to just have a good time learning and bringing back HLAA presentations to my members. But, really, can we ever be entirely "off" from our jobs? After all, even when I'm not working, I do talk to people about my company, and advocate for the services and products we provide, and show off the work I do.

It's a dangerous line to walk between being a corporate shill and just passionate about my work. Just the other day, Kel made a bet that I couldn't say "EVO" for 1 hour. I kind of stopped talking for a bit.... then one hour later started talking to someone else about it, right in front of her. It was a joke at the time, but I realize this: my work isn't my life. Life needs to be in balance, and I need others to tell me when I'm out of balance.

Hopefully I'll be able to put this to rest for the time I've got left here in Milwaukee. I'm ready to go have fun!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lightning is beautiful

crack-BOOOOOM goes the dark sky. Something flashes out of the corner of my eye as I drive down the Kansas highway, the green covered rolling hills looking a bit greener than usual today. A heavy downpour coats the road and car, adding a film that makes everything look shiny and slick. Another flash - on the horizon, a bright, jagged spear is connecting the sky with the ground, pulsing momentarily before it is gone. crack-BOOOOOMmmmmm......

I stare at the space where the lightning was. Did it hit anything? Would there be disaster where it struck? Or was it harmless, passing through a rod connected to the ground?

The lightning itself is beautiful - dazzling white and yellow, with a hint of blue, against an outcropping of white clouds and grey skies. The sun has lost the day's battle and is retreating to return another day. Soon the lightning will have the skies all to itself, a pitch black canvas at which to brighten to nearly daylight, if only for mere moments.

I remember growing up and parking myself by the huge window, gazing outside to catch a glimpse of the bursts of light. I learned early that you count the seconds between flashes and the thunder to determine how far away the lightning was. Today, I was running from the torrential rains into a store and stopped to check out how bad it was getting. A huge flash was almost immediately followed by a tremendous, ear-splitting, chest-rattling thunder. Boy, was I glad I came out of that rain!

I guess in some ways I still want to be awed by nature and realize how little control we really have over the world. Lightning is certainly one way that does that for me. It is a powerful force that is only rivaled by the surface of the sun. But it's a beautiful thing, and I certainly look forward the next light show!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I've never been much of a storyteller.

This past week, I shared some stories from others that I thought were absolutely excellent and ought to be immortalized (or at least digitalized) electronically. Creativity should be recognized and applauded, and my way of doing that is by selecting such stories that are worth remembering and putting the pen to paper, so to speak.

Yet while it is enjoyable for me to pay attention to others when they give their epic tale of daring do, I believe I have a challenge sharing stories with others. I'm not the type to stand up and get people's attention, and say "oh, you've got to listen to this!" I've always been content to let others get the spotlight, to be the engrossed and engaged audience, to ooh and ahh at the right moments in the story, encouraging the actor/storyteller to fully immerse themselves in their craft.

My own memories are hardly worth remembering - I think that the way I could tell something, like my college pledging experience in a fraternity, or my high school time spent TPing random people's houses at 3am in the morning, or my frustrations dealing with my family as a kid, hardly compare to "Well, one morning I woke up in a dumpster in Connecticut" or "This one time I went out for cookies and booze..."

Sometimes it feels like other people's lives are more interesting than mine. So I'll listen to their stories - and enjoy the exploits of the Pink Gorilla and the Swedish Swordsman while I'm at it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

YASS (Yet Another Silly Story)

So, continuing with the silly story saga. This one happened to a co-worker of mine who is legendary in his mishaps while working for my company.

One day, he flew to another state to attend a board meeting for some community members. His flights were delayed, but otherwise he arrived without incident. Since it was late, he crashed into bed for the evening.

The next morning, he woke up and realized he overslept. Frantic, he got dressed in his nice black suit quickly and dashed out to the door to his rental car. He rushed to the supposed location of the meeting, then realized he was lost. With the clock ticking, he searched the town for the right place to be. He stopped off at a gas station, asking the attendant where the building was. Learning that the site was nearby, my co-worker hurried back into the car and floored the gas, not quite paying attention to what was in front of him. His car dropped off the curb and knocked into the asphalt - immediately setting off the airbag in the car. POOF!

Everything went white. Literally.

The whole car was full of particles from the airbag. My co-worker's face, hair, and suit were covered with some kind of talcum powder. He looked around, saw no damage to the car, and still in a hurry, shoved the deflated airbag back into the steering wheel and jammed off to the meeting.

Arriving slightly late, he popped into the board meeting, still dusting himself off. The board members looked at him, mouths agape, astounded at the sight of a partially ghost-white monster leaving a dust trail behind him. Apologizing for the tardiness, he sat down and started preparing his presentation.....

I can't imagine the heads that were scratching themselves when he returned the car to the rental place! No damage to the car.... just a slightly sneezy guy after that!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Silly stories

In my line of work, I listen to many stories. Some heartfelt, some touching, others knock-down drag out hilarious. I'd like to share two that I've recently heard (one I've heard before but figure it bears writing out) and hopefully I'll never have these situations ever happen to me....

One of my bosses many years ago took a trip up to South Dakota for a meeting. For the trip back home, he was scheduled to board a tiny 17-seater turboprop plane. Since it was storming a bit in the area, the flight was delayed getting in. People were at the airport bar drinking it up somewhat heavily, since those prop planes aren't exactly the most pleasant to fly. Oh, and did I mention this plane doesn't have any restrooms? I think that's a key point here.

So, the plane finally arrives and everyone boards. It's a full flight, except for the last row of the flight, which consists of 3 seats across. Everything else on the flight is tiny and jam packed, with no room for carry-on luggage. The flight was going to be two hours long in bumpy weather - so everyone settles in for a rough ride.

They take off. My boss was seated in the next-to-last row in the back of the plane. Across from him, barely 2-3 feet away, was a woman who looked very uncomfortable to be flying. The plane gets cruising and things are relatively smooth for the first hour.

Something odd happens. Getting up near the front of the plane, a man starts walking down the aisle to the back of the plane. He looks like he's had a bit to drink. He reaches my boss and the woman in that row. He's making the universal sign for wanting to go to the bathroom. I guess when you've got to go, you've got to go! He asks them "do you mind if I use the airsickness bag behind you?" Both my boss and the woman are astounded by this guy's audacity. But before they can do something, the man sits behind the woman and starts doing his business with the bag. My boss just lets it slide and pretends to ignore the whole thing, while the woman is clearly freaking out. When the guy's done, he leaves the used bag on one of the back seats. Ugh.

It didn't end there though. The guy returns to his seat. About another half hour later, a woman from the same row starts coming down the aisle. My boss is slow to put the pieces together, but the woman next to him apparently gets it faster than he does. She lets out screams when she figures out it's the girlfriend of the man who just used the airsickness bag behind her. This woman apparently also has no shame and lets loose into one of the remaining airsickness bags. The woman on the same row as my boss gets up and runs to the seat the woman let vacant, screaming. Meanwhile that airsickness bag woman settles into the first woman's seat, leaving the filled bag in the back on the seats.

Does it end there? No, not quite! The plane lands in one piece then discover there's no stairs or entry for the passengers to disembark. All gates are being used. So the entire passenger manifest has to deal with the bags just sitting there in the far back, until a gate opens up. When that finally happened, they couldn't wait to exit! I'm sure the maintenance people were warned about what to expect coming in....

The second story will come next time!