Friday, December 11, 2009

New Home For Minutes From Nowhere

Hi Faithful Readers!

It's been several weeks since my last post, partly because I've been getting my blog moved over to its new virtual home: Minutes From Nowhere (and partly because we're in the process of physically moving into our new home). Minutes from Nowhere is now living on a WordPress hosted site, which offers lots more options and flexibility.

Soon I'll be implementing a re-direct from this home on Blogger over to the new site (or not, so just click the link above for the latest content) but wanted to let you all know now. You can head right on over to the new home and subscribe to receive updates just like you did this one (look for the Subscribe button on the right under the header picture).

I did just update a new post on Tinny, which many of you know affectionately as: The Bad Dog. Tinny does so many things worth sharing on a regular basis that I decided to start writing it all down. If only so we can look back and laugh.... one day.

Hope you all are well and I hope you will join me in my new virtual home: http://www.minutesfromnowhere.com/.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gender Differences in House Hunting

Ryan and I have been house hunting for most of this year, and looking quite seriously for the last few months. This has been a learning process, to say the least. To begin, it's the first time that either of us have bought a house with someone else. We've had to learn to understand not just what criteria are most important for ourselves, but also for each other. We've had to factor in our needs as a unit, and plan for future needs as well.

This dynamic alone has made it very difficult for us to find a home that we both love. A few weeks ago after another exasperating weekend of driving and looking I finally said "We're never going to find a home that at least one of us won't rule out for some reason." That set us in motion to formalize our search. We came home and made a list of items that were "must haves" for both of us, as well as lists of "would like to have" and "would be fun to have." We thought this would simplify things, but for the first couple of weeks, it didn't seem to be helping at all.

Then I realized why. Ryan and I could enter the same house, walk throughout the whole thing, not say a word to each other, and walk out with radically different impressions of what we'd experienced. It was as if we'd seen different houses.

It began to dawn on me that men walk into a house and see a structure - 4 walls, a roof, a foundation, layout - construction and materials. Women walk into a home and feel its soul. We walked through a home one day after completing our list and I had to admit Ryan was right - it satisfied all the needs we had put on the list. And so Ryan grew frustrated as I explained that I could never live there because the house felt very sad.

What women experience in a home can't be quantified with words on paper. It's ethereal. Ryan jokingly added "must feel right" to our list after that house, accepting that some things I can't explain and, while he may never understand them, he can respect them.

We signed a contract on a new home this week - and I'm certain our real estate agent is ecstatic to finally be done showing us houses and answering our incessant questions!

Like most things in marriage, this was yet another learning process for us. We learned more about each other, we learned more about ourselves and we learned more about "us" and who "we" really are.

Here's to the individual differences that enhance and make our lives richer, together.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

When Companies Get It Right

Anyone who has ever spent time around me knows that I love my Sigg water bottles. I have a variety of sizes and bottle tops, and can rarely be found without one of them full of water. I prefer not to use plastic containers and won't purchase disposable water bottles and create a landfill nightmare. Since glass bottles aren't very portable, Sigg is the best thing I've found to keep hydrated on the go!

Several months ago, the credit card software provider for Sigg, Network Solutions, LLC, experienced a data compromise, resulting in unauthorized access to credit card information belonging to credit card holders of its clients. The first I learned of this was through a letter in the mail from TransUnion. The letter: 1. explained what happened and 2. provided me with one full year of credit monitoring from TransUnion, paid for by Network Solutions.

After doing a little research and verifying the contents of my letter, I signed up for the credit monitoring and now receive regular email updates on the status of my credit history, which so far have been happily boring. The timing was fortuitous, since 2 months later a friend had her home broken into and her laptop stolen, which contained my SSN.

So, already I'm pleased. Here's a potentially very bad situation for a company, which moved quickly and proactively to provide a solution for its clients and allay any concerns about the security breach.

Then today, I find a box in the mail from Sigg. Since I hadn't ordered anything lately I was curious. Inside the box was a brand new Sigg water bottle with a letter, again with apologies for the security breach, and offering the water bottle as a gesture for my inconvenience.

Whoa! Now I'm very happy. I've gone from someone who may have been frustrated about my credit card being compromised, to someone who feels totally protected and is guaranteed to now be an even more loyal customer. Companies that can take a bad situation and turn it into "delighting the customer" deserve great commendation. In this case, the company I did business with directly, as well as the company they entrusted with my credit both did a great job.

In these days where we are quick to hear and talk about the companies who get it wrong, the ones who sue their customers, the ones who give bad service - you know who they are, service like Sigg and Network Solutions just provided should be shouted from the mountaintops.

Hey folks - this is how you do customer service right! If you haven't discovered them yet, please check out Sigg water bottles and try one - you will never use a plastic water bottle again!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

State Decides Mom Can't Babysit

Is it just me, or does this story scare the hell out of you too? Would someone join with me in telling the government to mind the business of running the country and get out of our personal lives?? We're way past walking a fine line here.

"IRVING TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Each day before the school bus comes to pick up the neighborhood's children, Lisa Snyder did a favor for three of her fellow moms, welcoming their children into her home for about an hour before they left for school.

Regulators who oversee child care, however, don't see it as charity. Days after the start of the new school year, Snyder received a letter from the Michigan Department of Human Services warning her that if she continued, she'd be violating a law aimed at the operators of unlicensed day care centers."

"Snyder's predicament has led to a debate in Michigan about whether a law that says no one may care for unrelated children in their home for more than four weeks each calendar year unless they are licensed day-care providers needs to be changed. It also has irked parents who say they depend on such friendly offers to help them balance work and family."

Read the whole story here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay

I worked from Daphne, AL last week, on the Eastern Shore of my hometown, Mobile, AL. One of the great things about working from a home office is the ability to call anywhere with an internet connection "home," especially thanks to Skype. Last weekend my mother turned 60. She's no typical 60 year old though, and for her birthday wanted to go deep sea fishing out in the Gulf of Mexico.

So I called her favorite charter - Captain Mike Theirry, who operates out of Dauphin Island, AL. The Thierry's have been around a while. Mom's mother used to go out fishing with the Thierry's on their boat Lady Ann.

We were tired to start the day because the day before was the inaugural football game for the University of South Alabama Jaguars, complete with a huge tailgate at Ladd Peebles Stadium. My mother, older brother and I all received our undergraduate degrees from USA. I'm proud to announce the Jags won that game.

So the next morning we got up very early for a 50 mile drive over to Dauphin Island, where Mom's best friends had already gathered and decorated the boat to surprise her. Mom didn't know I had called her friends (two of them had driven down from Tuscaloosa) and that they would be with us that day. She was very surprised and very happy.

Unfortunately the weather didn't quite cooperate with us. We caught some fish, mostly Trigger Fish and Ruby Lips, but when we got boxed in by storms we decided to call it a day early. The water spout you see in the photo is one I took from the boat that day, so you can see why we decided not to tough it out!

Monday was Labor Day, so all the friends and family in town came over for a fish fry, because that's how everyone in the south eats stuff - deep fried. My little brother, William, has a giant fryer (in which he makes wonderful fried turkeys for holidays), so he took care of the fish (except for the ones dad grilled, since I don't eat fried fish).

All I can say is by Monday night we were all thoroughly exhausted, but very happy. I was able to visit with my niece and nephew, now 6 and 8, during the week, which is always fun and interesting. This was a particularly tough week for them though, as they were in a car accident (everyone was fine) and then two days later the niece suffered a broken arm. The arm was broken because her brother (and I quote) "body-slammed me on the floor." And still she let him be the first person to sign her cast. Kids are so forgiving.

On Thursday night a friend hooked me up with some free tickets to the Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert concert in Biloxi, so mom and I drove over. The tickets, while free, were not good seats. Moments before the concert began we ran into Steve Nodine, now county commissioner in Mobile. I hadn't seen him in years so we chatted a bit and he immediately upgraded our seats to some of the best in the Colosseum. I think I love free stuff better than about anybody alive.

But better than that, there's something about coming home: running into old friends, taking care and being taken care of, years of memories, familiarities (knowing the back roads), being known and understood and remembered, that just makes it special and irreplaceable. No matter where I've been, where I've lived, or where I'll go, I know that nothing else will ever feel like that.

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Favorite Things: Mraz & Franti in "Say Hey" Live

I LOVE this Michael Franti song, and I LOVE Jason Mraz, so when Mraz joined Franti on stage in Seattle for a live jam version of "Say Hey," it landed a ticket straight to my blog. Enjoy the video and hey, let's love each other today... everyday!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Going Out With His Boots On

What a cutie - this kid is rocking out and playing the fly swatter guitar to Randy Houser's Boots On.