Sunday, September 30, 2007

Funny Afternoon Conversation

In spite of yesterday's snow, today's weather was beautiful. I walked down to the mailbox bank and found most of the neighborhood children enjoying themselves outside. There was a brother and sister keeping themselves entertained by the mailboxes.

Little Boy (sitting on top of the mailbox bank): Are you the lady from that house down there?
Me: Yes.
Little Boy: Can I come play with your kids?
Me: I don't have any kids at my house.
Little boy: That's too bad. Kids are fun.
Me: Is that a caterpillar on your shirt?
Little Boy: Yeah. He's mine. My mom is having a baby.
Me: Oh. Right now?
Little Girl: Yeah. Want to go see?
Me: Um, no.
Little Girl: That's why we are outside.
Me: Oh.
Little Boy: Let's go inside and you can meet my mom.
Me: Your mom is inside? Having a baby?
Little Girl: Yeah.
(A small prop plane goes loudly overhead.)
Little Boy: That's my mom's car. (Points at plane) She has a driver's license for it and everything.
Me (nervously watching the little boy standing on top of the mailboxes): Would you like some help getting down from that mailbox?
Little Boy: No. I like it up here.
Little Girl: WALK!
Me: What?
Little Girl: Walk! Let's go see my mom!
Me: Um, no thanks. I'm going back to my house now.
Little Boy: If you get any kids there, let me know so I can come play with them!

San Francisco- the rest of the trip

On Wednesday morning I got up at 4:15 am to make a flight from Vegas to San Francisco. I was attending a large trade show at the Moscone Center. I knew I was in trouble before I even got to the Vegas airport. I was sick and my feet were killing me. But the show must go on, right?
It was a new experience for me, and just another one of those days I'll have to chalk up to the moving experience. I'm used to having a large booth, a big team, and pretty much being the show guru and expert. But not at this show. I was hardly needed, barely knew what to do with myself, and oh yeah, sick as a dog. It was a rough experience for me. And most definitely a learning experience. It wasn't good or bad. It is what it is. Right?
Unfortunately, I wasn't really able to see any of San Francisco. Timing didn't work out for any sight-seeing. I only saw the city from the window of the cab and the BART system. But what I saw and experienced made me fall in love easily with the city. I loved the colors, the texture, the culture, the diversity. It is definitely a place I could see myself living in at some point. I've also already started making plans to go back there on a vacation there some time in the next year. I liked it that much.
My trip was very short. I arrived at 8 am Wednesday and left at 8 pm Thursday. I flew back into Vegas sick and miserable. I spent the night at my sister's and drove myself back home on Friday. 6 hours of driving alone while dealing with a massive head cold is not fun. But I was determined to get home and go out with Guy Friend Cary on Friday night. More on that experience later.
Until then, it is time for me to go take yet another nap and try and sleep off this cold. Ugh!

Batch #4- Super Diaper Baby and Captain Underpants

I love to give my nephews books. They don't appreciate them as much as a good Star Wars toy or video game, but we have fun reading them together. I've started giving Tell "chapter books" that will hold his attention. (And I have to say, there are a lot more books for girls than for boys). But then I found Captain Underpants. What could be better? Captain Underpants has a sidekick, Super Diaper Baby. Porter loves to run around, jump off things in classic superhero style and cheer "Super Diaper Baby!"

Natalie and crew have adopted a "puppy" into their family. She's a purebred boxer named Ruby. She's the sweetest and happiest dog around. I'm not a big fan of large dogs. And Ruby is well on her way to becoming a big dog. But she is cute and very very good with the boys. In fact, I'm not so sure that she doesn't know that she's not one of the boys.

Batch #3- The Mirage Experience







My parents were also in Vegas, but somehow never seemed to be captured on camera. My parents and I stayed at the Mirage on the Strip. This was probably my 5th or 6th trip to Vegas, and my 3rd or 4th time to stay on the Strip. So I've seen the sights and casinos. But it was my parents' first time to visit Sin City.
The Mirage is a great place for first timers to stay because it has several non-gambling and non-bar activities. Of course, they all cost big bucks, but it's fun at a Vegas price. We took the nephews to see the famed Siegfried and Roy Secret Garden, White Tigers and Lions. The Garden also has a dolphin habitat. The dolphin habitat is a "research facility" and not a performance park, so the dolphins don't do a Secret show of any sort. But they do have a baby dolphin!! So cute!! We had a good time looking at the animals and watching the dolphins.
Porter is only 2.5 years old and somewhere between a baby and a little boy. He still likes to be carried and sometimes he insists on walking. Unfortunately, he weighs the same as a ton of bricks and it isn't easy to carry him for very long. It was a long day and Porter decided he was ready to be carried some more. But we didn't have a stroller for the little sack of potatoes. So Natalie did the next best thing and borrowed a wheelchair from the park. I refused to help push her. It was just too... something.

Vacation Pictures Batch #2- Cute Nephewness at In n Out Burger

One of the most important parts of going to Vegas is paying homage to In n Out Burger. In n Out isn't just any other burger joint. It's In n Out. It's incomparable. And we aren't the only ones who think so. Case in point- the white haired lady in the fancy green business suit enjoying a single stack.



I love this picture of Dallin and me. (Dallin is really into self-portraits these days.) His little snow cap was so cute. The boys have adjusted well to the Vegas climate and think 75 degrees is cold. 75 degrees apparently requires a snow cap.
You'll also possibly notice the massive puffiness under my eyes. That's just a little piece of evidence as to how sick I have been.














Tell is so cute! Even when he's not looking at the camera (he was looking at a squirrel that kept eating french fries), he's adorably photogenic!

















My silly little Dallin

Vacation Pictures Batch #1- Nephews and NASCAR

My vacation started last Saturday when I drove down to Vegas and took my nephews to a NASCAR race. I got the tickets to the NASCAR Craftsman truck series race for free from Vegas Brad. (THANK YOU BRAD!) Always looking for chances to win more points in the "Coolest Aunt Ever" category, I couldn't wait to take the boys to a race.






The boys didn't exactly quite grasp the concept of the race. To quote Tell, "All they do is go in circles??" So I had them pick a favorite car by picking a color. We picked the green car because it matched my John Deere green hat. For better or worse, the green car crashed and had a great blowout, and lost the race. But the boys would have been very disappointed if there hadn't been a big crash, so yeah for the green car!














Porter watched the entire race enraptured. As long as he was sitting in a lap and had his ears firmly covered, he was happy. Every time the cars would come by he would say, "Woah!" Dallin was happy as long as he was eating something and climbing over the benches. Tell was more or less bored out of his mind.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

it's snowing

Whatever happened to indian summers?

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

I'm home. I had to cut my trip short by a few days because I just didn't have the energy anymore. I knew I was pushing my luck trying to do so much this week with this awful head cold. But I'm home and in bed and ready to sleep off the weekend and get myself better.
I'll post the fun pictures and tell a few stories later. It was a very fun week and definitely a learning experience.
In the meantime...
I was offered a "real" writing gig today. It is for a new website and it pays. I'm pretty excited about it. But they have some requirements that are going to make me work harder than expected. The website (to be revealed later this week) is LDS church oriented and will cover an array of topics relating to LDS/Mormons. Not surprisingly, I have been asked to write on singles. While this website will obviously bring in a large LDS audience, it is actually to be written as a missionary tool. Something to help the rest of the world understand LDS/Mormons. And in my case, LDS Singles.
So I'm looking for topics and suggestions. This new writing job is not going to be my usual style of funny and snarky stories regarding love and dating and the lack thereof. Although I am sure I'll work that in as appropriate. What subjects would you find interesting? This site is hoping for our writing to introduce a topic and encourage discussion. What would you like to discuss?
My ears are open!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Porter and NASCAR

As long as his ears were covered, he loved it. I think he will be a fan for life. (Porter recently joined the ranks of all other 2 year olds out there with his very own self-administered haircut. This shaved head is the result.)

More pics when back from vacation.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

erinannie is out of the office

The quick catch up-
I'm still homesick. I'm trying. I really am.
I'm the only single in my ward. And possibly the only one under 50 in my whole stake. That doesn't do much for helping me find and make friends.
I'm still looking for the ideal second job, just for something to do and another chance to meet people.
I'm getting a new cat when I get back from vacation next week.
I'm going on vacation. I leave tomorrow. A few days in Vegas with my family, a quick trip (1 night) to San Francisco for business, back to Vegas and then camping in St George. I need a vacation. I haven't been to San Francisco in about 18 years, so I'm excited. It's a short trip, but just long enough to see the fog and Chinatown.
It's not easy packing for 3 different climates and several very different scenarios- NASCAR race, family time, business trip, driving time and camping. I have packed 6 different pairs of shoes. And I'm still not sure if that is enough.
I am really excited about the new fall tv season. I expect that will be a blog entry of its own soon.
I woke up yesterday with a very sore throat and massive head cold. I hope it goes away before this trip gets going!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

wow

CNN linked my post on Blackwater on their site today. Cool. Go to the bottom of the page and click on "From the Blogs." Last I checked, I was listed second. As a result, I had about 70 extra hits today, mostly from outside the US. Kinda fun. Surprisingly, that didn't spark lots of comments! I'm a bit disappointed on that one.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Women Over 30, by Andy Rooney

(I love this man! Make sure you read the very last line!!)

This was a monologue by Andy Rooney from the CBS show, 60 Minutes

Andy Rooney said:
As I grow in age, I value women who are over 30 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why:

A woman over 30 will never wake you in the middle of the night to ask, "What are you thinking?" She doesn't care what you think. If a woman over 30 doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do. And, it's usually something more interesting.

A woman over 30 knows herself well enough to be assured in whom she is, what she is, what she wants and from whom. Few women past the age of 30 give a hoot what you might think about her or what she's doing.

Women over 30 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you
at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant.

Of course, if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot you, if they think they can get away with it.

Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it's like to be unappreciated.

A woman over 30 has the self-assurance to introduce you to her women friends. A younger woman with a man will often ignore even her best friend because she doesn't trust the guy with other women. Women over 30 couldn't care less if you're attracted to her friends because she knows her friends won't betray her.

Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 30. They always know.

A woman over 30 looks good wearing bright red lipstick. This is not true of younger women.

Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 30 is far sexier than her younger counterpart.

Older women are forthright and honest. They'll tell you right off you are a jerk if you are acting like one! You don't ever have to wonder where you stand with her.

Yes, we praise women over 30 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed hot woman of 30+, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year-old waitress.

Ladies, I apologize.

For all those men who say, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free". Here's an update for you....

Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage, why?

Because women realize it's not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage.

Why does the common man care?

Yesterday I found myself in a conversation that pretty much blew my mind. I had to stop and ask myself how two people could see one subject so incredibly differently. I had just learned about Blackwater being banned in Iraq. To me this information was incredibly shocking and huge news. But the person I was talking to replied with a mere, "Why does the common man care?" I was stunned. Why does the common man care? I asked him if he even knew who Blackwater is and what they are doing in Iraq. His response was essentially, "I'm a sales guy from Utah, why do I care about a company in Iraq? What does it have to do with me?"

Now, I must answer these questions. I just have to. It's just who I am.

The first thing that went through my mind was asking myself if this is just one of those "DC" things, where vantage point changes everything. I sold guns to Blackwater types. I've been to the Blackwater training facility. My father has hired Blackwater operatives for security purposes. I've known more than a few Blackwater contractors. So yes, I'm probably slightly more aware of Blackwater and their operations than the "common man."

Blackwater getting banned from operations in Iraq is a big deal. It should be the biggest news on the front page of all the majors right now. This is huge. Sadly, so few people truly understand the intricacies of the situation that it isn't making the news enough.

Let's start with what it is Blackwater does in Iraq. They protect diplomats- American, Saudi, and many others. They also protect VIPs that enter Iraq (think powerful employees of large energy companies). These are all people that are NOT guests of the Iraqi government or the US military. The US military is not protecting these people from the insurgents and Iraqis. Someone needs to protect them, since just renting a car from Avis at the Baghdad airport isn't an option. If a US diplomat needs to go into Iraq, for let's say, diplomatic discussions with the Iraqi government, they are going to need an envoy and a few bodyguards. So they hire/contract with Blackwater for protection.

The firefight that went down earlier this week will probably remain short on details for a long time. But we do know this- it lasted 20 mins and there was a US State Dept diplomat being protected at the time. For those of you who don't understand combat and firefights, I'll explain this a little more. A 20 min gunfight that involved 2 helicopters and several armored vehicles (and that was just Blackwater's side) is unreal. That is a really freaking long time. These sort of street skirmishes and gun fights generally only last a few minutes. But 20 mins? Unbelievable. The report I read (not in a national news source) stated that this was no street skirmish. This was a full scale and well-planned ambush by the Iraqis on Blackwater. (Sidenote- Blackwater has very distinctive vehicles and a strong visible presence. The attackers knew full well who they were striking.) A 20 minute attack with that sort of fire power and it only ended in 8 deaths? That's pretty freaking amazing. Most people would expect to see a considerably higher number.

What I haven't been able to read yet is who was the diplomat that was being protected. Was the attack against Blackwater? Or on the diplomat specifically?

So why is it so significant that Blackwater is being banned? It's the Iraqis playing the way only Iraqis play. It's a big end to diplomatic relations. It's a sign that the Iraqis have no desire to play fair or work things through. These are the same people who bomb their own neighborhoods with suicide bombers and kill clerics. And now they want us to send in our diplomats without experienced protection. This is a huge deal.

And that is why the common man should care.


update
More articles on the subject-
Washington Times- http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070919/FOREIGN/109190017/1001

And another from CNN-
http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/09/19/blackwater.iraq/index.html

Shame on Washington Post for hiding this important issue on page A16.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sorry to disappoint you, Sir

A few weeks ago I came home from somewhere a sweaty mess. (I can't for the life of me recall where.) I had left my keys in my car (in the garage) and chose to punch in the code on the security system panel, rather than just hit the button on my key chain. Without wasting anytime, I ran upstairs to take a shower. Just as I got in the shower I thought I heard my cell phone ringing. Normally I wouldn't get out of the shower for this, but for some reason, chose to get out this one time. All wet and without a towel, I answered the phone. It was the security company. I had punched in the code wrong and the silent alarm had gone off. (It someone breaks in it is not silent. Just when punched in wrong is it silent.) I had to give them the verbal password. And I gave it to them wrong. So I ran downstairs to find where it is written in a safe place. I gave them the proper password and all was well. The operator said she'd cancel the call to the police. I said thank you and we hung up. Before I could make it from the kitchen back to the stairs, the police were knocking on my door.
Remember the part where I had jumped out of the shower and hadn't grabbed a towel? And how I live alone in a house with few windows, so I don't feel the need to cover myself sometimes?
Yeah.
So I grabbed the throw blanket off the couch and smiled sweetly to the nice young police officer. He smiled back. Big. And still insisted on walking in my front door to make sure everything was okay. (Somewhere in the back of his head you know he was hearing, "boom chick a wow wow".) And then the security system people canceled the call. And he finally left and I got back in the shower.
It all happened very fast and then I ran off to somewhere else. I pretty much forgot it all happened. Today my sister and I were comparing house security alarm features on our houses. And I remembered that story and shared it with her. Right after that I got home from work, punched the keychain button to turn off the alarm, while still talking to her, went upstairs, took off my work clothes and got in bed (bad habit= needing a 15 mins nap the second i get home from work every day). I hung up with my sister. The phone rang before I could even put it down. I could tell it was the alarm company, but they hung up before I could answer. Still holding the phone in my hand and wondering if I should call them back, I could hear pounding (not knocking. police never knock.) on the front door. I was smart enough to pull my clothes back on before running downstairs.
Same cop. With a big old smile on his face. When he saw that I was fully clothed he looked a little disappointed. But told me to call if I ever needed something.
Moral of the story? The Springville PD really has nothing to do.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Little Bit More Me

I noticed that more than once of the suggestions below for combatting homesickness was to stay busy. That's been my hardest problem here. I have nothing to do. Ever. I go to work and then come home and try and find ways to entertain myself until I'm bored enough to go to bed. I'm really not the girl I was back in DC. Church involvement? Ha. Yeah right. I'm totally invisible there. Friends? Um, I know 4 people outside of work. All 4 are pretty busy in lives that don't involve me. I'm attempting to get a part-time job just for something to do. I don't need the money. I'm really just doing it to kill time. I have a really clean house. I've even started running twice a day just for something to do. Do you know how bored you have to be to decide to just run?
But there is a small ray of sunshine in an otherwise dull life. For the next three weeks I get to feel a little bit more like me. Tomorrow morning I take off for Kansas City for a few days for a trade show. I get back for a few days and then take off to Las Vegas. I have tickets to a NASCAR race in Vegas, and I'm taking my sister and her family. I can't wait to see the nephews at the race! The very next day my parents arrive in Vegas for a business trip. So I will be staying there for a few more days having some family time. And then I fly from Vegas to San Francisco for another business trip. And then right back to Vegas, where I will then drive to St George to join some people I've only met once, but call friends, for a weekend camping trip. And then I come home.
All the travel and crazies make me feel a little more like me. I'm looking forward to the break from all the boring doldrums. I'm not sure if I'll be taking my laptop with me yet. I kinda want the break from it too.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Homesick

I probably just have a case of garden variety homesickness. I have all the clear cut and obvious symptoms- depression, loneliness, sadness and an overwhelming urge to cry and buy a plane ticket home every few minutes. And the list I swear I'm not building in my head about ways home is superior to the new life just keeps getting longer and longer.

I'm just going to cave in for a few minutes and list a few of the little things I miss about home.

1. Hearing the Netherlands Carillon Bell every hour when I lived in Arlington. I loved sleeping with my window open at night and hearing the bells toll and "Taps" play at 10 pm at Ft Myer. Something about it made me feel intrinsically a part of Washington, DC in a way I can't explain.
2. Walking to the Iwo Jima Memorial and sitting on the grass, just listening to a bell tower performance or the Marine Band play while looking over DC.
3. Anything and everything I could walk to in Arlington. I especially miss being able to walk to Court House or Clarendon for dinner and window shopping or a movie. I miss the almost-city life so much it hurts.
4. Just knowing where things are. Not having to question the directions every time I go somewhere.
5. Tysons Corner Mall and Georgetown. REAL shopping.
6. Driving up and down the GW Parkway. Especially when the leaves change in the fall.
7. Ambition and meeting people with amazing ambition. Hearing someone tell you about their huge plans for the future and believing that that person could possibly achieve it.
8. Seeing the monuments on my way to work every day.
9. Seeing the crew and row teams out on the Potomac every day.
10. Getting stuck in traffic as a motorcade goes by. And leaning out the window to see which flags are on the motorcade, or to count the number of Secret Service SUV's to figure out who the motorcade is for.
11. Diplomat tags. I used to have a guide pamphlet that would tell you how to figure out which country a diplomat was from and whether or not it was a family member, staff member, actual VIP, etc just from the license plate.
12. Local news shows that actually sounded educated.
13. Discussing current events and politics with people who got their information from first-hand sources and didn't get their news from the SL Tribune.
14. The FDR Monument at night.

The list could go on. I haven't even touched restaurants or actual people. That list may never end!!

Does anyone know a quick and easy remedy for homesickness? Is there a pill you can take? A call you can make? A comfort food perhaps? I'm willing to try almost anything at this point to make it go away. I've been trying to kill it off with Death by Chocolate, but it's not working.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

7 Ways Utah is Different from Virginia

As much as I try not to, I always seem to be making a mental list in the back of my head of all the ways Utah is different from Virginia. There's the obvious geographical and geological differences. But I'm talking about fry sauce, cost of living and others. Here's a few of the things from my list.

1. Fry Sauce- the stuff is wonderful. For you non-Utahns, fry sauce is a combination of ketchup, mayo and sometimes pickle juice or BBQ sauce. Every restaurant, fast food chain, etc has their own recipe for it. I will never understand why this stuff isn't sold in more places outside of Utah. It's amazing. Especially with Artic Circle Yukon Gold fries. Heaven.

2. Dry-cleaning- in the DC area you can pretty much find a dry-cleaners in most major strip malls. There's always a grocery store, Starbucks, random store and a dry-cleaners. Not so much in Utah. They are not in every strip mall. They are considerably farther and fewer between. I think this is probably because not as many people wear suits every day of the week here. And I can't remember the last time I saw a man in a nicely professionally pressed shirt. (I miss that clean crisp look.) Also, dry-cleaning is considerably cheaper here.

3. Checks- I can't remember the last time I wrote a check for anything other than my rent. Maybe an occasional bill, but certainly not in a store. Around here it is perfectly normal to see signs saying "checks accepted" or "checks no longer accepted after Jan 1, 2007." And it is very common to see such signs in fast food restaurants- a place I can't imagine writing a check.

4. Old Navy has a larger maternity clothes department than Juniors/Regular department. And most of you probably didn't even know Old Navy carried maternity clothes.

5. Crab- I had this one pointed out to me last night at Red Lobster. I ordered crabs. The waitress immediately asked me if I was from the East. I said yes and asked what tipped her off. She said only people from MD/VA say, "crabs." Her theory was that it is because in the east when we go get crabs, we mean multiple crabs, not just one. But in the landlocked states when they go get the delightful shellfish they say, "crab." I found this bizarre. And, for the record, the crabs were not that great.

6. Movies are cheaper- considerably cheaper. Some theaters are only $6 for full price, $4 matinee. However, movie candy is not cheaper. Today I paid more for the candy than I did for my movie ticket.

7. Church stuff- There's not much point in explaining the many ways Mormon Utah is different from the rest of the world. It just is. It's everywhere and just built in- like politics and the defense industry is built in in DC. This week the cultural shock for me was the big sandwich board placed in my yard announcing stake conference this week. (I'm the corner house. Everyone has to drive past my house to leave our street.) No one asked me first. It just appeared there. I don't mind it. If anything, it was the only clue I had that this week is conference!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

To Those 4 Faithful People

There are 4 faithful people who read my Virginians for Romney blog. To those 4 faithful people, you will notice I deleted that blog today. Someone else wanted the name, and I've allowed the blog to go into full blog rot. So I deleted the blog and released the name.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Arches, Arches and More Arches

I finally got some sun, hiking and camping in this summer. And all of it at Arches National Park in Moab, Utah.

First, an Arch. Don't ask me which one. There's a few hundred arches in Arches, and after you have seen about 10 of them, they all look the same.
















The view from our campground. Not too shabby! And not a bad way to wake up in the morning!
















After passing "Balanced Rock" twenty different times this weekend, I am feeling an overwhelming urge to watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
















Heather having fun on a rock















Alicia, Ryan and I doing something- on a rock















Look! I found "Erin Rock!" Or did I invent it? I forget.
















The best pose in front of an Arch ever. Also the best t-shirt ever. It has a picture of a chicken on it, with an arrow pointing at the butt. And the words "Guess What" over it. If you don't get it, you don't get it.
















Everyone stole my pose. Alicia stole it.
















Julie stole it.
















Ryan stole it.
















Even Brent stole it.














Check it out. I stole an Arch.















Felix stole my hat!















I'm king of the hill!


















You are here!

















And I am here. The surprise is that I didn't get a sunburn. Just a really red tan.

















That's enough for one day!

The End!

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