Sunday, January 31, 2010

haiti

no time to write. i have about 30 haitian men watching me as i quickly type. please read utahhospitaltaskforce.org for updates!!!!

we got our babies out!

haiti

no time to write. i have about 30 haitian men watching me as i quickly type. please read utahhospitaltaskforce.org for updates!!!!

we got our babies out!

haiti

no time to write. i have about 30 haitian men watching me as i quickly type. please read utahhospitaltaskforce.org for updates!!!!

we got our babies out!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

12 minutes to go

I have to leave in less than 12 minutes. Things just changed again.
I just found out there may be no electricity or internet at the NGO compound at the airport. I may not be able to blog after all. I may just leave my laptop behind, if the senior execs at the airport agree with me. This will save about 12 lbs for me to leave it and the accessories behind. That's a lot of weight!


Also, another great place to follow our journey will be on Meridian Magazine http://ldsmag.com. The owner/publisher/editors, Scot and Maurine Proctor, are going along on this trip. They are good friends of mine, and are the ones who told me about the trip. I owe them a lot! Please check the site our for coming stories. It was great to see Scot and Maurine last night and get big hugs from familiar faces.

More Updates

There are other updates to our activities that I have posted on the UtahHospitalTaskForce.org website. Possibly the biggest one being that we are no longer going to be staying at the Healing Hands medical center. There is no longer running water there, and the conditions are deteriorating. We have been moved to the "NGO compound" at the airport. Unfortunately this major change also meant a major change in our water situation. We now have to carry all of our own water down there. The organization will be providing the majority, plus we are carrying our own small supplies. This changes the weight in the plane considerably as well. Tonight we had to ask for volunteers to stay home so that we can carry the necessary water and medical supplies.
Other things we heard tonight-
due to medical conditions, we will be training as many individuals as possible within our group how to do sutures. and we'll be teaching this, and other essential first aid skills, on the plane.
we are providing 70 Creole translators. (The Red Cross only had 40 at the time of the earthquake.) (let's hear it for awesome LDS missionaries!)
previously the rule was "if you can carry it, you can take it." As of tonight, after the water weight issues, we found out we can only carry 25 lbs onto the plane each. This includes are one day's worth of water, our clothes, supplies, etc. (As of right now my bag weighs about 40 lbs. I have a lot to do.)

Hopefully my next update will be from Haiti on Friday evening sometime.

Haiti's Orphans

Today has been a whirlwind of emotions. There are so many things I wish I had the time and energy to tell you. But first, a story that brought me to tears today.
Our director (a man I actually know from Virginia) has been receiving nonstop phone calls from international agencies and organizations looking to collaborate with us. He has also been receiving nonstop phone calls from families adopting orphans out of Haiti who are looking for assistance. He relayed this story to us tonight that completely broke my heart. (Please forgive me if I get some of the numbers wrong. It is late, and I have heard many stories and numbers today.) A couple from Virginia has been working to adopt a little girl from Haiti. In the days following the earthquake they attempted several times to reach the orphanage with no success. Finally the husband felt he had to travel to Haiti to find his daughter and ensure her safety. He had to fly in to the Dominican Republic and then cross the country to the border, and then walk several hours (I believe in the dark), to find the orphanage.When he arrived there he found no adults. I can't recall now if there were no adults present at all, or if there was one deceased adult on the premises. (Sorry, so many of these stories are running together in my head now.) What he did find was a dozen little toddlers alone in this building with no caregiver. And they have been living this way for several days. He also found deceased little bodies on the floor. (He did find his own daughter alive, by the way.) He then called his wife and said there was no way he could leave. He had to stay and take care of these little girls. Through another series of events he then was able to call our director. To him he explained that he has no food or water. He tends to the children and then goes out to steal food for them each night. He begged for our organization to come help him. We have his GPS coordinates. And he has our promise that we will be coming to find him ASAP on Friday, and that we're bringing supplies and help.

You will all understand if I just happen to come home in a few weeks with a child of my own, right?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

48 Hour Countdown- Other thoughts (not medical)

When we arrive in Haiti we will be staying within the still-standing walls of the Healing Hands for Haiti medical compound. The 7 buildings within the compound have been destroyed. All 150 of us will be camping in tents within the compound. Today I learned that 2 nearby orphanages have also been destroyed. The children from these orphanages will be staying with us within the compound as well. I have purchased several cheap coloring books- with no English words in them!- to take down with me, as well as stickers, playdough, and other little items. I heard a rumor that a local school girl has collected 100 teddy bears for us to take as well. But anyone has any additional clean, used, toys , or new toys, they would like to donate, I can take them down. I have no idea how many children there will be, or how old they are. I just know they won't speak English!


Speaking of speaking English, I stopped by the library today as well. I feel a little guilty that I took all of their French/English dictionaries, (all both of what the Lehi library had to offer), and a Learn French textbook. Hopefully this will help with communication down there. (Why do I just know in the back of my head I will be paying the library for lost books in the future?)


Tonight as I shopped for my last minute supplies it hit me that it is going to be really dark in Haiti at night. With no electricity, except from generators, across most of Port au Prince, it is going to be really dark! (So I bought a special hanging LED tent light, and I packed an extra hand-held flashlight.)  Ooh! I bet the children would love those glow in the dark bendy necklace things! I wonder how cheap those are?

I was speaking with a local newspaper today and they said something that really saddened me. They opted to not send a reporter and photographer down with us, "because we've covered Haiti enough. We are going to start scaling back and reporting on it less now." 150,000+ people have died and 1 million have lost their homes, and they are tired of reporting it. I guess its back to the important things like Tiger Woods in sex rehab (which was on their site today) and which soft drink is spending the most ad dollars at the super bowl. Disgusting.


My brain is operating in a completely overloaded capacity right now. As I type this more thoughts are jumping into my head, "Pack the sleeping pills!" "Grab some 3x5 cards to help memorize French terms!" "Wear glasses on the flight Thursday so you can sleep and not get yucky contact lenses!" "Email Ashlee C." " Text Little!" "Eat a huge breakfast before getting shots!" "Don't forget to transfer the Paypal money!" "That French/English Visual Dictionary looks freaking heavy but will probably be really useful!" "Are 7 pairs of underwear and socks really enough?" "I wonder if I will miss my dog's incessant and loud snoring?" "This blog post is way too long! Chop it down into smaller posts!" "GO TO BED!"


Okay, I will.

48 Hours till Wheels Down- thoughts on the medical stuff

In 48 hours from now my flight will be touching down in Haiti. I'm still in shock that this is all happening! Right now I am sitting on my bed, my bedroom a complete disaster area, wondering how I'm going to get this all done in time?!

Thanks to some generous donations and assistance from friends and family today I was able to get the majority of supplies that I need. (Most of which are now scattered all over my room, waiting for me to find a way to cram them in my backpack.) Tomorrow morning I will be getting up earlier than usual to head down to the county health clinic to get a series of vaccines. I am really  not looking forward to it at all. Hep A, Typhoid, H1N1, and Pertussin (and possibly Polio if my mother decides that I didn't get it as a child. We're very unclear on that right now) are on the list. If I'm not allergic to this year's flu shot, I'll also be getting that. As the nurse ever so kindly put it on the phone this morning, "You are going to be one sick puppy for 2-3 days." Apparently getting that many strong vaccines at once will wipe me out, nauseate me, and give me a low grade fever. Not what I need right now! But the good news is that the bad side effects should start to wear off right about the time we land in Haiti. I'd really hate to be our first patient down there, so please pray that I don't get too sick from the vaccines! (side note- these vaccines are NOT cheap! I'm not medically insured, and even for a community health clinic, these are not cheap! I'll be spending close to $200 for shots!)

I have received some very kind and generous donations from friends already. Thank you so very very much. They are making a huge difference for both me, and for my ability to help take care of the patients in Haiti. I also have to thank my very generous parents and uncle who are making sure I get the right medications, vaccines, and anti-malaria drugs to take with me!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Help Me Help Haiti

I've sent it out in an email, on Twitter, and on Facebook now. Now it is time to post it on the good old blog.

I'm going to Haiti!

Yes, in a crazy turn of events, I walked into the Utah Hospital Task Force offices today to volunteer to help with fundraising and marketing efforts and I haven't left yet (7 hours later). Suddenly I'm going to Haiti as the press secretary/executive assistant/medical support on Thursday. I will be in-country for 21 days.

And I seriously need your help!!

I need your help getting cash donations, physical donations, etc. ANYTHING. If you can get it to me to take to Haiti, I can do it! I need first aid supplies, sunblock, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, clean socks, iodine tablets, a pocket knife, batteries, etc, etc. Anything and everything! If you live nearby and can bring it to me, I'll love you forever. If you don't live nearby but really want to help, you can send me money via PayPal (erinannie at yahoo.com). Every little thing will help!

This might be the most random of the requests- but what I could really use (in addition to everything else) is a pair of woman's size 8 work boots. (They are the most expensive item, and I am still unemployed and broke!)

I will be blogging, Twittering, Facebooking, etc while I am there. (That will be my main job.) If you can't make any other kind of donation, I'll gladly accept your prayers for our safety, and the safety of the Haitians!

In the meantime you can follow along on Twitter @uhtf and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UtahHospitalTaskForce and on their blog at http://utahhospitaltaskforce.blogspot.com

THANKS!!

Help Haiti

If you have a blog or website, and you are open to helping support the Utah Hospital Task Force and Healing Hands for Haiti with either a backlink to their site, or a short blog post about them, please let me know.

If you are open to sending an email to your friends, family, and networks about the need for donations to the Utah Hospital Task Force and Healing Hands for Haiti, please let me know.

If you would be willing to put up a one line Twitter or Facebook status, or become a fan of the organization on Facebook, please let me know. (You can find them on Twitter already as @UHTF)

If you have an LDS ward email list that you could send an email to about the need for donations and volunteers, please let me know.

In other words, if you are willing to help me get the word out about this worthy organization, please let me know- ASAP! Not getting to go to Haiti isn't going to stop me from helping in any way I can. And really, I think we all know that my best skills are in creating online viral movements!! So let's move it!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Healing Hands for Haiti


the Healing Hands for Haiti Medical Center

I am fully supporting the Healing Hands for Haiti organization. As mentioned previously, I had hoped to travel with them, as part of the Utah Hospital Task Force, to do rescue work in Haiti next week (for 21 days). They have secured an airplane, tents, MRE's, and all the necessary supplies to take 150 volunteers to Haiti for 21 days. They had over 400 people apply, and took the most priority qualified individuals first. It costs roughly $300,000 to take one plane to Haiti round trip. (The flight departs from Salt Lake City with the volunteers, and will return immediately filled with medical patients who will receive medical attention in Utah.) This organization wants to take more volunteers down- Haiti needs the help! But they need more funds.
Over 110,000 people have died in Haiti in the past 2 weeks. That doesn't even begin to include the people who have been lost, displaced, and injured. Haiti needs help.
Why support Helping Hands for Haiti/Utah Hospital Task Force over another organization? There are rumors and stories out there of volunteer groups showing up in Haiti and getting turned away for various reasons. I don't know how true those stories are. But I do know that Helping Hands is doing this the right way. They are working closely with the UN and USAID. They are bringing all of their own food (MRE's) and water for their volunteers. They will be rebuilding the destroyed Healing Hands for Haiti clinic (an existing clinic/hospital for rehabilitating amputees, and for performing amputation surgeries) as well as performing emergency medicine with USAID. The clinic has its own closed in compound where the rescue volunteers will be living in tents. (In other words, these volunteers aren't just showing up and hoping to be put to work and housed somewhere. This is a self sufficient group.)
A lot of organizations are out there raising funds, but you don't really know where and how the money is going. With this organization, you know. The money pays for the plane to get the volunteers down there. (The LDS Church has donated all of the tents, food, and more.) And the money pays for the construction of the clinic and the medicine. You can trust this group.
Donations can be made at http://www.healinghandsforhaiti.org - during the payment process please click on the “Add Special Instructions to Seller” and note that the donation is for Utah Hospital Task Force.
If you feel you have items to donate or questions regarding needed donations please contact them at info@utahhospitaltaskforce.org. Donated goods are being collected at the following address:

Aspire / UHTF
Attn: Dave Beachem
11585 South State Street #104
Draper, Utah 84020


(in the interest of full disclosure, I am on the waiting list to go down if additional planes can be secured)

Getting Used to Disappointment

I'll be honest. This has been a tough week. If you are my friend on Facebook you already know that I was hoping to go to Haiti as a rescue volunteer, but didn't get accepted. I feel so completely useless right now. I have nothing to do most days, nowhere to go, no one to see, etc. Seriously, I'm a waste of time and skin right now. I hate this!
I didn't have any major job hunting developments this week. That was the first time that has happened. No interviews, no call backs, no rejections either. Just no developments. I hate that! (I did apply to a few jobs though.)
I did volunteer for a completely and totally worthless project. I was hoping it wasn't a huge waste and that the organizer would impress me. (The organizer has seriously unimpressed me in the past.) But no, it was worthless. Yet another disappointment.
I think I mentioned this a few weeks back. I HATE it when people say "we are human BE-ings, not human DO-ings."  I am a DOer. I can't just sit and be. I want to help. I want to work. I want to serve. I don't want to sit on this couch and do nothing another day!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

So




So much to think about.
So much going on.
So bored, in spite of everything.
So little control.
So much patience.
So impatient.
So hungry.
So not willing to gain weight.
So A.D.D.
So happy.
So dang cute.
So crushing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

(Insert Happy Theme Music Here)

I had a very fun birthday weekend. It started on Friday night at my friend Violet's birthday party. There was a big friendly dinner followed by dancing. I haven't gone dancing too much since moving to Utah, so that was a very fun change of pace for me.

For the past several unemployed weeks I have had some serious insomnia. Friday night was no exception. I finally fell asleep at 5:30 am, and woke up on my own at 8:30 am. (WHY WHY WHY???) So I got up and joined some friends at a zumba class.
HOLY COW. Zumba is just plain evil! And tons of fun!! I loved it and hated it. And I can't wait to go again.
Which reminds me, I finished the HCG diet on Friday. (And enjoyed my birthday pizza on Saturday.) I hit a plateau I just couldn't break. I lost a total of 15 lbs. I didn't quite make my goal to weigh the same on my 35th birthday as I did on my 25th. But nonetheless, I am very happy with how I look and feel right now. I plan to really ramp up exercising to keep the weight off, tone up, and improve a few stubborn spots. I think Zumba and some serious treadmill time will be a part of that.
After 3 hours of sleep and a killer work out, you would think I would have been tired. But no, I was buzzed. So I cleaned my house till I decided that was just stupid. So I took some Nyquil and slept for the next 5 hours. (And I wonder why my sleep cycle is so off?)
Then it was birthday time!!
First it was dinner at a fancy pizza and gelato place in Salt Lake City. I had several friends come out and join me there. It was a lot of fun! I love when friends from different aspects of my life come together in one place. Sometimes it can be hard to juggle and get everyone to enjoy themselves when you do that. But me, I love it. My friends are all wonderful people, and I'm never surprised to see them all hitting it off and making new friends across the groups. Saturday was no exception.
And I must say, after nearly 2 months without pizza, (which is normally consumed at least once a week in my house) Settebellos hit the spot! I can't wait to go back and try it again.





After dinner we went over to one of my most favorite places in SLC! Keys on Main dueling piano singalong bar. We met up with several other friends there, and had fun losing our voices and singing along!
The piano men never hesitate to tease the birthday VIP's at the bar. I'm not sure which song my friends really requested be sung for me. But I am confident they didn't really request "Drink You Pretty." (Lyrics- Every time I drink a beer, It makes your lazy eye disappear. Every time I do a shot, I think you're hot, but I know you're not. Oh, I'm just trying to drink you pretty.)
The piano man assured me and the room that they only sing that song for the prettiest girls. So I suppose I was supposed to feel flattered. They (and by they I mean the two piano men) invited me to sit on the piano, and I declined quietly, mostly because I was wearing very tall stilettos, and a very short for me dress. I didn't think I could get on the piano without flashing the audience. Not that I got the chance to vocalize that. I just said, "I'll pass on that." So the piano man said into the microphone for everyone to hear, "Don't worry. It will hold you up. We've had much larger girls get up there." (This was before I heard their choice of song.) Not exactly flattering. (I've actually stood on top of their piano before to dance to Baby Got Back. I was wearing jeans that time.) So the piano guy came over and helped me hop up on the piano. I'm still just hoping I didn't flash the whole room. (No one tell me if I did!)


They made a point out of explaining how I met all the criteria for them to sing their favorite song- blond, cute, and sexy. (I'm not usually called sexy, so I did like that!) I got a big laugh out of the song, and had a little fun playing with a pink boa while sitting on the piano. They also sang happy birthday to me when they were done.


The piano man came over to help me down from the piano, and gave me a hug. I only mention that because they had appropriately embarrassed some other birthday girls earlier. He didn't hug them. While he hugged me he told me privately thank for being a good sport, and that they only do it to the most beautiful girls. He then paused, still hugging me, and said, "and you have sexy legs!" So for that I forgave him the silly song.

There were several dozen more pictures taken throughout the night. They are all up on Facebook and properly tagged. I had a great time. Thank you to everyone who came!

Sunday, my actual birthday, I was planning on staying home, and keeping things low key. It was nice to not clean the house, and just veg out for a day. And then my awesome neighbors surprised me! Becky and Liz and their kids all came over with pictures and cards the kids had made me, and sang to me. I got lots of hugs from my favorite kids. And all of their artwork is now displayed on my fridge. That was a very fun surprise! Thank you guys so much!!

There were lots of phone calls with my siblings, and some Skyping with my nephews. I love Skype. It really does make not living near family a whole lot easier!

After that I went over to neighbor Becky's for some birthday cake. She always worries that her kids are jumping on me, or are too loud. Little does she realize I love going over there because I miss being near family and all my little cousins. I love playing with the kids. And the adult conversation too!

And then there was Monday and my birthday time with "Little." She was determined to give me a great gift. And that she did! She made several pictures for me, (all hanging on the fridge), got me a movie (Princess Bride- I love it!), chocolates, cookies, a facial, lipgloss, a nail file, and more. The girl has me pegged! And she was so cute. She got all dressed up in the outfit I had bought her for Christmas. It was the first time I had seen it on her. I was so worried when I got it. She's right at that in-between phase between juniors and kids clothes. I bought it in the juniors section, convinced it would be too big. Instead, she probably only has a few months left in it, before it is too small. And she looks so grown up in it!!

But then, after I saw how cute she was, I told her to go change so we could go swimming! We had a lot of fun splashing around in the indoor water park. After that we headed over to my favorite DC-area restaurant that can now be found in Utah- 5 Guys Burgers. I introduced Little to vinegar on fries. She was very skeptical at first, but she loved it. And I have converted her to the ways of 5 Guys. And for that, our thighs will never be the same.

All in all it was a great birthday weekend. I had a lot of fun and enjoyed myself from beginning to end.

Now, back to real life! There's so much going on this week. Stay tuned for some amazing craziness!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

35th Birthday!




Thank you to all who came out for my birthday party. I had a wonderful time. I think this picture is my favorite from the night.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Picture Worth a Thousand Words



Have I mentioned lately how much I love my cousin Jon McBride's photography? This is my favorite picture by him right now! Check out the rest of his pictures from a recent trip to Paradise Island!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Things That Suck/Things to be Grateful For

Things that suck
1. Record breaking earthquakes
2. Nasty weather inversions in Utah

(see how there are clouds over the mountains and below the mountains? and how you can't see the big huge valley straight ahead? that is because the lower set of clouds is the smog inversion. this picture was taken around 2 pm.)

3. Not getting the job I had my heart set on after 3 interviews
4. Raging insomnia
5. Having to keep the house colder than I like because I'm poor and have to cut back on the heating bill
6. Hitting a weight loss plateau and not losing anything for 4 days

Things to be grateful for
1. I get unemployment insurance
2. Inversions can't last forever
3. Friends that give me projects to do
4. "deferred payments"
5. At least I have a house to live in
6. I lost some weight, right?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Porter-isms

An awesome Porter story from my sister- (FYI- Porter will be 5 in just 2 weeks! Such a big boy!)
 
(Giving one of their 12 puppies a nice tight squeeze.)



Tell (now age 10) found a box of matches.  Porter was in awe as Tell struck and lit a few of them. Porter cried and said he wanted to do it too.  I told him no.  Porter's eyes followed me as a I put the box away.  Porter then turned to me and oh so innocently said, "Mom. Go take a nap." 


Quote of the Day: Go take a nap!

HCG Lessons Learned

I'm back on HCG again. I really do love being on this diet. I thought I'd share a few of the lessons I've learned from my third round of HCG.

I tried the diet for the first time back in August and lost 18 lbs. I gained 5 back. I did the diet again in October-ish, and lost another 15ish. I gained every single pound back within 4 weeks. I've now been on the diet again for 15 days and I've lost 17 lbs.

What I learned from the second attempt on the diet is that I could cheat and enjoy the diet a whole lot more. And then I discovered that, what I think is a result of the cheating, I couldn't keep the weight off at all. So here in round 3 I am doing my very best to not cheat at all. (Last week I couldn't help myself and ate 5 french fries and 2 bites of cheddar cheese and gained 2 lbs. Talk about not worth it!)

I've also discovered that my body just might have a limit as to how much weight I can lose. In round 2 I approached my current weight and couldn't pass it. I just stalled out and couldn't lose any more, no matter how hard I tried, and what more I did. This round I've hit the same weight and nothing is happening. I can't seem to lose anymore!

I'm actually perfectly happy at this weight. But I am fairly sure I will probably gain back a few pounds, so I'd like to lose just a little more so that I can settle at where I'm at. I like this weight. I think it looks good, and I feel good.

All in all, I still highly recommend the HCG diet. It isn't easy, and you do have to be willing to make some serious sacrifices and stick to the diet.

My gift to the 15 people a day who google hcg and find my blog- my favorite HCG friendly recipe.

Take a granny smith apple, slice it into disks, sprinkle a little cinnamon on it, and grill it on the Foreman grill. Eat it nice and hot and juicy. It is so good that I plan to keep eating it long after this diet is over with.

All it takes is one

While today was a fun and enjoyable and unexpectedly good day, I still have to say it. I'm so sick and tired of being unemployed. I need a job and bad. Its not just a money thing. It is a sanity thing. I am not good at just sitting around all the time. Keep me in your prayers will ya? There's lots of good irons in the fire. But all it takes is one, right?

Friday, January 08, 2010

Unemployment Day... 40 something?



I've lost track of how long I have been unemployed. It feels like years, but I realize it has only been about 5 weeks really. (But give me some credit here, it was a really crazy 5 weeks.) I'm so over it. I so very badly want a job and something to do! I spoke to an interesting company about a part-time remote position that I would be able to start very soon. I am really hoping that will pan out. It doesn't pay too much better than my unemployment insurance, but I don't care. It will give me something to do for a few months (something I actually enjoy doing), and that is all that matters to me right now.
In the meantime, it is all about sitting and waiting. I've had several great interviews, and I'm continuing to apply to jobs as I find them. There are two I really would love to hear back from. One of them I am absolutely sure I would accept if they were to make an offer (but it is too early in the game for that still). This whole patience thing is killing me. I'm not very good at it at all!

Sidenote-
today I spoke to a company in another state about an interesting position. I liked it, it sounds good, but when we got to the salary part, I was very disappointed. It pays a lot less than what I was making. But the recruiter suggested that cost of living there may be significantly lower, and therefore the salary acceptable. So I did some homework and looked up cost of living calculators. It was a total joke. I'm wondering how often they update their data! It suggested to me that the cost of living in Provo, UT was the same as it is in Roanoke, VA. It (and by "it" I mean the 4 different calculators I used on different websites) even suggested that houses cost the same in each city. Um, so not true! I live in a lovely 4 bedroom, 2 ba, 2 car garage home with about 2000 sq ft. It would sell right now for about $200-220K. (I'm guessing, but I don't think I'm too far off.) This same exact house in VA would EASILY go for $325K or more. How do I know? I've done a lot of online house shopping over the past few weeks. And I dare you to find a one bedroom apartment with a washer and dryer, in a great neighborhood, with full amenities in the DC area for $700/mo. It is ridiculous! You can't trust those things!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

I have a feel good story for you. One that involves me, a bank, and a website called Twollow.

I'm not going to bore you with the full details of how this all came to conspire. Here's the nutshell instead. Last week I received 4 unexpected charges from Twollow. I have unsubscribed from their site multiple times, but due to a long story that doesn't need explaining here, I keep getting charged by them.

The charges are only $5.99. And sure, don't most people have $6 in their bank accounts? Well, yes, obviously. But here's the catch. I'm unemployed. I'm not using my regular checking account anymore. (For those of you unfamiliar with unemployment funds, it doesn't go into your bank account, or come in the form of a check. You get a debit Visa card, which pretty much negates the need to use a bank account.) My regular checking account is completely empty. The 4 charges of $5.99 earned me 4 charges of $25 each from my bank.

Last week when I saw the unexpected charges from Twollow I complained via their website. They promptly and without question refunded the money. So I called my bank in hopes that they would also refund their charges. They said no. (Note: I love my bank. They have been kind to me in other situations. I am leaving their name out of this because I don't blame them. Their policy is to refund charges that are their fault. Not when it is someone else's fault.)  Royally annoyed and feeling rather "kicked while I am down" I went to Twitter to complain.

To be exact here is what I said on Twitter.
"so @twollow charged me 4 times a $5.99 fee on an acct i no longer use. Bank is charging me $25 for each of those. can you say PISSED?"
"but @twollow refunded the charges, paypal blocked the rest. but bank won't reverse the fees. thank u for screwing over the unemployed!"

Shortly thereafter I turned off the computer for the day and decided to just relax and not worry about money. 


You can only imagine my complete and total surprise when I got an email just now from PayPal that says, "Yo, saw your money problems with the bank. This should cover it. Hang in there finding work. Twollow.com"

Yes, folks, Twollow sent me $100 to cover the charges.

So I'm doing them a big thank you solid and telling you about them. For a small $5.99 each month, Twollow auto-follows keywords on Twitter for you. It searches all the tweets that be for words you select. When it sees those keywords in use, it auto-follows that person for you. I have used it for my different jobs, and recommend it to anyone trying to build their follows on Twitter.

Thank you Twollow. It isn't every day you see such great customer service.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Finding Creativity



I'm trying to take advantage of my free week and really get into writing again. ("Because I Can" week continues!) I've managed to write a little bit so far, and I'm glad I did it. But I can really feel my creative side hasn't kicked in yet. When I feel creative, I LOVE to write. I can write and write, and daydream and get it down on paper in a heartbeat. I love it.
But sometimes I just can't get into the groove. I just don't feel it. Right now when I relax and let my mind be free, I find myself writing lists and lists of things I need to do. Or looking up houses online, or checking moving van prices. Anything but releasing my inner creativity. I miss it! I want my creative side back!
Normally my creative side is very literally fed and fueled by chocolate, cheeseburgers, and pepperoni pizza. Apparently my creative gene requires grease and sugar to stay alive.
So how to be creative? I don't know. I know it is an important step in becoming a writer to be able to write well without inspiration or "the urge." So I am working on that step this week. I'm trying to write without the bug in me. Maybe I'll finally be able to just relax and let my creative side win. Maybe. I hope so. I miss her.

Monday, January 04, 2010

(Insert Happy Theme Music Here)

Today was a good day. In fact, it bordered on a fantastic day. Really, it did. Here's some of the reasons why.

1. After 3 weeks of multiple times a week going to the chiropractor, my back, arm, and neck finally don't hurt.
2. I had 2 job interviews today. Both left me smiling.
3. After a scary weekend thinking my aunt's breast cancer may be back, we had out of the blue good news instead!
4. I'm back on the HCG diet. In less than one week I've lost 12 lbs. I'm back in my "not fat" jeans today.
5. The birthday party got planned- pizza and gelato, followed by some dueling piano singalong fun. I've invited 95 people. (Of which I really hope I get more than just 10 people there.)

I think the only reasons it wasn't a fantastic day is that my cat, Tiny (the one who never goes outside for more than an hour), has been gone for over 24 hours and I'm getting nervous about him. (Seriously, what is it with me and cats disappearing??) And I didn't line up anymore job interviews today. I have one more interview tomorrow, and then, well, I'm done. No more interviews in the pipeline. So let's hope the phone starts ringing and I get some more follow up calls soon.

Oh and now I have to go give my big fat dog a bath. She hates baths. This will not be fun for either of us.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Two Weeks' Notice

In exactly two weeks from today I have a birthday that I am dreading. Maybe it's just the current state of my life, but I don't want to celebrate hitting the age that officially marks the entry into middle age. I'm officially at that age where I'm an old maid. Where I'll probably never get married and have children. Where it's all about a career (and I'm unemployed) and not much more. Where it could be all down hill from here. So what is there to do except throw myself a big party? But I need your help!

Do I throw myself a-
big, huge pizza party?
fancy dress-up party at a fancy high-end restaurant?
cake and ice cream party at my own house where I have to do all the set up and clean up and everyone has to drive to Lehi?
(it won't be a costume party because Big Alliance is throwing an awesome costume party just a few weeks later)

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Movie Review: Invictus



Using the Erin rating scale-
Would I see it again? In a theater? Or on DVD? Not in a theater, but yes on a DVD.

Would I recommend it to my movie snob dad? Would I not recommend it to him because it is too explicit or the language goes too far? For reasons I won't be explaining here, no, I wouldn't recommend it to my dad. We'll just leave it at he's not a fan of Nelson Mandela.


Would I recommend it to goes-to-less-than-2-movies-in-a-theater-a-year-and-even-then-only-kid-movies-with-her-kids- Juli? On DVD, yes.

Sidenote- I would recommend this movie to most other people. Including my mother or sisters to watch when my dad isn't around.

Did I get bored or wish it was over? I really enjoyed it. It was a story I had not heard before. The beginning was a little slow.

Was I intrigued by the plot? Absolutely. It was an interesting view into healing South Africa, and made me want to learn more about rugby.

Or just entertained by the special effects? If by special effects you mean hot rugby players, then yes. That being said, I'll add that Matt Damon looks great as a blond.

Overall, I found it interesting. Here are some things to note. There is no sex or bad language. The rugby can be a bit rough, but I wouldn't call it violent. Also, it has a definite Clint Eastwood vibe to it (he directed it). If you don't like his raw style, you may not enjoy the movie as much as I did. Also, both Damon and Freeman deserve an Oscar nod if they get them.

Thanks!

Thank you to everyone who voted for me in the Vidli Booby competition. I took 5th place! Not bad for only one week in the competition! (the top 2 people were in the competition over a month)
For placing in the top 5 I score an initial job interview with them. That makes 3 more interviews (1 third interview, 2 first/phoner interviews) next week! I'm also expecting to hear back on where I stand with two other companies (advance on to another interview, or out of the running).
I'm looking forward to "write because I can" week starting tomorrow. "Watch movies and NCIS until I turn into a pile of goo because I can week" has been lovely. "Back on the HCG diet because I need to week" has been tolerable as well.
Again, thank you for your support in helping me score the job interview! Let's hope I can actually get a job offer sometime real soon!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Don't Forget the Pepper Spray

GET IT FOR LESS!!!
It’s fun, it’ll make you laugh and if you pre-order now, it’ll save you money. List price is $15.95, but if you order before January 10, 2010 you can have it for $13.95*. Books will be shipped February 1, 2010.

I contributed one short story to this collection. Which story? You'll just have to read it and guess. I've been sworn to secrecy! I'll never tell!

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