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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Startup Wife

Oh look, I made a new blog:

It's called The Startup Wife, and it gives you the inside story of 401k Buddy,the company I wrote about before. You know, that company I was so.excited.about? The one that I thought would surely get me on Oprah?

Yeah, well, things happen. I'm not giving up, I'm not surrendering, or anything, just being realistic. Time to go back to work and make some money for a while.

Life is tricky, in this new economy. I hope you are all hanging in there. I'll keep you posted on the next big thing, of course. We have to have some reason to get up every morning, right?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spoiled Ducks: Looking for Handouts

We have several gaggles of ducks and geese here in Bend. Most of them hang out by Mirror Pond, downtown. They waddle around looking for free bread from children and tourists, and they poop all over the grass.

Some of the ducks are aggressive, and will follow you around, squawking loudly to get the last crumbs from your sandwich. Some of the mommy ducks stop traffic on Franklin so they can cross the street with their babies waddling behind them. I have no idea what's on the other side of the street, and I doubt they do either. But they still waddle over there, to check.

These ducks are loud. They are obnoxious. They have bad manners, and they never ask for anything, they just expect it.

Of course, it occurs to me that the ducks are like many Americans in the middle of the worst economic meltdown in history. There is much fuss. We want things to be given to us and fixed. We'd like the rest of the sandwiches, but if we can't get them, we'll fight for crumbs.

The ducks are animals, though, and I bet if the tourists stop coming, the ducks will figure out a way to feed themselves and their babies. They'll have to eat stuff they find in the water, instead of bread, and maybe they'll have to back up and move down stream a bit to find an easier place to live and hunt.

Even spoiled ducks can figure out how to survive in tough times, if they need to. More of them may have to cross the street to the unknown. I bet we will too.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ouch! When Dogs Miscalculate

My arm hurts and it is not my fault. It was the dog's fault. It usually is.

Weimaraners are nice dogs. They're big dogs. They're strong dogs. And worst of all, they're nervous, high-strung dogs. So even though they want to do the right thing and mind their manners, sometimes they can't.

For instance, let's say you're a Weimaraner and it's time to go for a walk.

The leash gets clipped onto your collar. this is exciting!

The people pick up leashes - wow! It's gonna get good, really, really good. There will be a walk and a potty. This is the best part of your day, always has been. Well, besides getting a cup of dry food scooped into your bowl. That makes you jump and prance a bit. The sound of the refrigerator door opening is worth getting up for, and a kid in the kitchen is always a good thing too, but the walk?

The walk trumps all.

Now you've got your leash on, the door is opening. You're nearly beside yourself with anticipation. You're patient, alert, working hard to make sure nothing goes wrong.
This is your moment. You sit down perfectly and wait, just trembling a little. You're almost out. You don't want to spoil it, ruin it for yourself. It's going to happen. It is.

Dang it! That irritating little punk of a dog that your traitorous family brought home one day for no.good.reason is in the way now. He puts himself first in line at the door. He's gonna ruin this whole thing if he's not careful.

Stupid puppy!

You growl. Wait, no, you're not going to lose it here, remain calm. This is no time for Dog Whispering. Just focus on getting outside. It's all about the door now. Fine, fine, he can go first, who really cares? Mr. Milan is not a dog. He has no idea. The door. The door, just wait for it, almost time.

The dad hands your leash to the mom. She says something under her breath. It's time! NOW. GO! YES!

Of course she didn't mean to drag me through the doorway. She didn't know there wasn't room for me to make it with her. She couldn't have understood that my left arm which held her leash would bang into the door frame from the full force of her 70 pound muscular body springing through her narrow slice of opportunity, taking only part of me with her.

She only knows physics as they relate to her, and even then she often miscalculates. She's been known to miss turns at high speeds on wood floors, and sometimes bonks her noggin under dining room tables due to unfortunate miscalculations of force and distance. She is not so brilliant as she might seem. She is a dog, after all.

She has no remorse, she doesn't understand bruises and ice packs. She went outside. She went for a walk. It was a good day for her.

My arm aches now while she takes a nap on the rug in the sun, dreaming of the smells on the bike path.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Truth or Dare

Sometimes I wish I could write about the bad things. The hard things.

Fluff can get ordinary and mundane.

Sometimes I wish it was okay to lay down the track of the pain and misery that happens to all of us sometimes, in this public place, for the sake of catharsis.

To be honest and raw about the real things that haunt the best of us in the worst of times? It's not what this blog is about, really.

Sometimes I'm not sure what this blog is about.

But look, here I am, still here. And the funny stories cheer me up, so I guess it's not so bad to write happy after all.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Two Choices

A friend of mine sent me an email today with this story, and asked that I pass it on. It's sweet, and made me remember that kindness is king.

Two Choices:

What would you do? You make the choice. Don't look for a punch line, there
isn't one. Read it anyway. My question is: Would you have made the same

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children,
the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be
forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated
staff, he offered a question: "When not interfered with by outside
influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my son,
Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things
as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?"

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. "I believe that when a child like Shay, physically and
mentally handicapped comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true
human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat
that child."

Then he told the following story:

Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were
playing baseball. Shay asked, "Do you think they'll let me play?" Shay's
father knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their
team, but the father also understood that if his son were allowed to play,
it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be
accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

Shay's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not
expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and
said, "We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I
guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth

Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a
team shirt. His Father watched with a small tear in his eye and warmth in
his heart. The boys saw the father's joy at his son being accepted. In the
bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still
behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and
played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was
obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from
ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands.. In the bottom of the
ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases
loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be
next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the
game? Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all
but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly,
much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the
other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved
in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make
contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The
pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay..
As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball
right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and
could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been
out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out
of reach of all team mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started
yelling, "Shay, run to first! Run to first!" Never in his life had Shay ever
run that far, but he made it to first base.. He scampered down the baseline,
wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, "Run to second, run to second!" Catching his breath, Shay
awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the
base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had
the ball ... the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to
be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the
second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so
he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's
head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him
circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, "Shay, Shay, all the way!"

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by
turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, "Run to third!
Shay, run to third!"

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on
their feet screaming, "Shay, run home! Run home!" Shay ran to home, stepped
on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the
game for his team.

"That day", said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face,
"the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity
into this world".

Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never
forgotten being the hero and making his father so happy, and coming home and
seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

"I Abstain!" she insisted.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

Four days without wine. Or beer. Or vodka.

I only made it two days without sugar, but that's because Ryan baked the most amazing cupcakes I've ever had for the IgniteBend event, and I didn't want to hurt his feelings. Buck Heim took this amazing photo, which sums up my "corporate culture" in Bend, Oregon.

A bunch of us went out for drinks after the event, but I just had water. Because the thing about me and alcohol is this: it's just a habit, and if I decide to break it, I do. It's easy for me to get into a habitual routine every night around 6:00 p.m., when the kids are crazy and there's dinner to be served and my brain is fried and I think: Oh, excellent, it's 6:00, time for wine!

But when I decide to break the habit, I just do, and it's not that big of a deal. The first night's hard because my brain misses it. The second night was easier, and tonight I didn't even think about it until I remembered I was going to update my blog.

Giving up sugar on the other hand, is different. Sugar is far more addicting (for me) and it's the hardest thing for me to give up. My brain likes how sugar makes me feel. My tongue likes it, too. I've given up sugar long-term before, but eventually, I come back to it, like some people come back to running marathons when their broken toe heals.

Not me, of course. I've never had a broken toe, or run a marathon. I'm not really interested in either.

So, I'm not sure how long I'll continue the no drinking, but I did see the scale move down a notch already, despite the cupcake issue, so I'd like to give it another week or two and see if cutting out alcohol helps my weight loss efforts.

But Ryan, I'm always available for extra cupcakes.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Giving Up - The No Wine Whine

Dear Interwebs,

No, I'm not pregnant. I just look like I am.

In a last ditch effort to actually lose some weight instead of just talking about it, I'm going to give up alcohol. For a while. For now. I hate to say forever, because I like wine.

Meh. I will try not to whine about wine. I will try.

The truth is, I've been careful with my food choices and I'm walking 6 days a week with my 20 pound weight vest up hills (sometimes carrying 10 lbs of hand weights, too) for several weeks now, and the scale isn't moving. And I know why.

Gaining muscle and losing fat is all well and good, but the fact is, I'm more than 20 pounds overweight, even if I count all my muscles. The fact is, I know for sure, that my body doesn't let go of pounds while I drink alcohol.

I've done this experiment before, so I speak from experience. If I cut out sugar, alcohol and refined food, and exercise in my zone for an hour a day, and lift weights and do sit ups, I will lose about 2 pounds a week.

It sounds so easy really. It doesn't sound like rocket science. So I should be able to do it. Right?

I'll let you know how it goes.

Anyone else want to play? We can not whine about wine together.



p.s. photo credit to steffe I can't seem to get my blog to post flickr photos like it's supposed to...although I've tried, believe me.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Living with Brilliance

I have this idea...

(Oh, shh, no eye rolling, it always starts this way for me!)

I want to write about people who live with Brilliant people.

I currently work with some Brilliant people, and I've met a few others over the years. I have some friends who have over-the-top brilliant "TAG" kids (Talented and Gifted, a club I did not get into when we were all tested in junior high, and I'm not bitter, not at all...) and from my observations, it's tricky to be Brilliant, and it's tricky to live with Brilliant people.

I know many Smart people, and most of them are able to have happy families and interesting jobs they enjoy. I think it may be easier to be Smart than to be Brilliant.

Disclaimer: I do not consider myself Brilliant. And, dear friends and relatives, I know you love me, but I'm not looking for compliments here. I think I am clever and smart about certain things, and woefully pathetic at other things, and usually quite confident about my self-esteem (I'm the youngest of four, so of course I assume I'm wonderful and fun to be around!) So please, humor me, and my idea here for a moment, I don't need comments about how you think I'm Brilliant.

When I say Brilliant, I mean those select few top, top brains that are able to think of things that are way outside of the box, like ideas that start before the box is even made. Ideas that are hidden in the trees before they're chopped down to make cardboard. People like Richard Feynman, Albert Einstein, Doris Lessing, Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, Maya Angelou, you know the type.

Brilliant people often have to navigate life differently than the rest of us. Many of the Brilliant artists and poets and musicians and super geeks have a hard time in this world. Sometimes they sink into depression, self-destruction or madness.

Many stories have been written about the Brilliant people, because these people are so out of the ordinary, they fascinate us. But I want to hear the stories about the people who lived with and raised the Brilliant people. I want to know how they navigate life with and for their Brilliant person. I think these people must be quite gifted in their own way.

I'm interested in what it takes to help a Brilliant person be a person in this world. Not all of the Brilliant people move into Brilliant careers. Many of them must navigate a world that doesn't understand them, and never has.

In his new book "The Outliers" Malcolm Gladwell talks about Christopher Langan, the man with the highest IQ in the world. Einstein's IQ was 150. Langan's is 195. Clearly, he's Brilliant. But his life has not been easy. He has an interesting story, of course, but I'm curious about his wife's story.

So, if you know some Brilliant people and people who live with them, I'd be thrilled to talk to them. As always, you can email me directly at

Maybe I'll share some stories here, or who knows, maybe I'll start a Brilliant blog somewhere else. What's another blog between friends?

"Let your light so shine upon a weary world."
---Willy Wonka

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Chosen One: the new @juliejulie avatar

Here we go: all votes are in and counted. Picture #5 has taken the lead, and will now serve as my new avatar. Until I change it.

Why was this one chosen, I ask? Perhaps it's the name tag. Yes, it really is me, @juliejulie, for real. I mean, who would impersonate me? Anyone? Julia Roberts maybe?

I'd like to think so, but, I think not. She's so busy tending to her babies and all, I highly doubt she has time to Twitter. And if she did, she'd probably choose a glamorous avatar. Like a picture of her wearing diamonds in Pretty Woman, or a picture of her being a Runaway Bride.

If Julia Roberts were on Twitter, she probably wouldn't choose a picture of her as that battered wife in that move where she had that crazy OCD husband who made her put the spice jars in perfect order and her life was so horrible, despite her perfect house, that she had to fake her own death.

Remember when she had to go to the nursing home to see her mom in disguise? Pictures of Julia dressed like a pretend man probably wouldn't be the best avatar for her. I'm just sayin'.

So, this picture is really me, with my real name tag to prove it. Thanks to everyone who voted, especially Dave Johnston who had to rush home from work and get his vote in before the deadline. And it was the deciding vote, by the way, Dave. If it weren't for you, we'd be seeing that picture of me holding the cupcake for a very long time.

Yum. Cupcakes...

Narrowing Down the @juliejulie Options

That's options as in photo options for my new avatar, not stock options, just so you know. Currently, @juliejulie has no plans for an IPO, but I'll keep you posted.

So, after the Twitter votes were tallied and added to your comments, I'd now like you to vote between the final pictures (shown in my previous post, please scroll down) to help me decide which picture I should use for Twitter.

#4 - Halloween Julie
#5 - @juliejulie with name tag
#6 - Julie with a cupcake
#9 - Julie in Orange Sweater

Thanks for playing, I'll decide tonight!

Oh, this is all so exciting, really...