1/31/09

Just Fabulous!


I ain't got nothing more to add to this picture except to reiterate that we were JUST FABULOUS!!!! A few of us gathered together for lunch to celebrate Gretchen's Birthday and everybody was just...just...FABULOUS. I love getting together with these ladies each and every time.

Heard/Seen at the luncheon:
  • @Tsiporah...your hair is so damn beautiful, you could be a freakin' Breck girl
  • @TravelDiva...damn girl, you "really" look like a woman who lunches on a regular
  • CreoleInDC: Girrrrrrl, let me tell you bout [these] people...de special.
  • @OneFromPhilly...when da hell is the winery opening up? You need a marketing specialist?
  • *Sissy walking in late* - looking like she was late coming from a meeting with the First Lady. (I wasn't mad at her - at all)

We must do this more often.

Internet Intelligence

When interacting with other people in the real world...having conversations, debates, fun, jesting, arguing...if you have any sort of emotional intelligence & social skills, you can gage a persons reaction - their temperature/temperament per se - by their body language, facial expressions, tone of voice. You have numerous verbal & visual clues at your disposal to navigate your way. When you are interacting with people in real life, you usually don't have to make a lot of assumptions or infer meaning, tone or context.

In the world of social networking, blogging & the like...it is not so easy to navigate a persons intentions, mood, tone & attitude when all you have to go off of is what is written on your Wall or in your Comment section of your blog. That is when, in my opinion, you have to take decorum & etiquette to the extreme.

I primarily read "personal" blogs (a few political ones and hardly any gossip/celebrity stuff). Personal/People blogs are just that - Personal. When I visit, it is like visiting a friend or an acquaintance. You are sitting in someones living room, listening to their life stories, their thoughts, THEIR opinions (which, often times, might just be different that yours), their lives. So, when you chime in and comment on that persons post - when you speak up in their house, offering up your 2 cents - I personally believe that it is common decency to do so with some common sense & decency. Seriously.

Why do people leave comments (and I am talking strictly about personal blogs):
  • attacking the blogger (host)
  • cursing, screaming (in all caps)
  • making it all damn personal, as if the host was talking about you. Unless they called you out and mentioned you by name...guess what...IT AIN'T ABOUT YOU!
  • ...but if it is...perhaps you should deal with your ish. I'm just saying.
  • name calling

You can really disagree with a persons point a view without resorting to name calling, insults & screaming. Why do people behave like that when they know damn well they would not do that mess in real life? I think it is because they got some real issues (passive aggressiveness, a punk in real life - bully online). Whatever it is, its rude.


Now the same goes for the host (blogger)...and it is VERY difficult - even when you know someone pretty well - to not snap crazy on someone when they comment in a way that you perceive is just stoopit or crazy. I have often had to read a comment numerous times before I started tagging that azz and even then, I've gone off on someone and it was not even all that (...I had assumed). I remember once getting into it with a very good friend who had a business/consulting blog - my friends business partner just kept saying stuff that made my eye twitch and set me off. I tagged his azz a couple of times ON THE BLOG and it got out of hand. It took pulling myself up and getting on the phone with my friend to discuss it. It was immediately nipped in the bud and all misunderstandings cleared up.


Internet Intelligence is tough.


It requires skills like patience, thoughtfulness, wisdom and discernment.


This is all just food for thought...bloggers & commenters alike...behave as if you were in someones living room. Practice good manners. Take the high road - and reserve the tazer for those "anonymous" idjits (there are always a few bullies and ignants on the playground).


As for me, I have put myself on a two drink limit when reading and commenting on blogs. Anything over two and I tend to get a bit cheeky. Ummm, cheeky doesn't covey well online. A word to the wise.


This has been a public service announcement. All rights to shank someone with a stolen toothbrush remain reserved.

1/29/09

What is Success?

What is Success?

SETTING GOALS
But not in concrete

STAYING FOCUSED
but turning aside to help someone

FOLLOWING  A PLAN
but remaining flexible

MOVING AHEAD
but not too fast to smell the flowers

CLIMBING THE LADDER
but not stepping on toes

FIGHTING TO THE FINISH
but choosing your battles

TAKING  A BOW
but applauding those
who had part in your success

CONGRATS TO MY BFF VAL who got a PROMOTION to Sr. Marketing Manager. She Rocks. Do the Damn Thing Girl.

Let the Blood Bath Begin


Three years ago (Dec 2006), I was layed off from this illustrious company in what was one of the largest pharma layoffs seen. NOBODY in the industry thought that "The Blue Football" would layoff anybody, let alone 3000 people, but they did and many large pharma companies followed suit. If P.fi.zer could do it, why not the rest of us.

Well, today began a new Blood Letting at P.fiz.er. Between today & tomorrow, a good majority of the sales force is getting the ole heave ho! A total of 8000 people. I heard from some of my friends over there, some great individuals who got optimized today. While most of them are pretty non-plussed about it (great severance packages), there are still a few wandering around in shock in awe with a deer in headlights look about them. "Why me..how did this happen to me." Happens to the best of us. Seriously. Happened to me twice in under 3 years.

To add a little insult to injury - Not one Black District Manager in the DMV was retained. Hmmmm. How you gonna represent the company in one of the most heavily populated areas for physicians of color and you don't have anybody of color representing/leading the way. I'm just saying. Interesting to say the least. Let see how many of the sales reps of color are left after tomorrows 11am calls begin.

You know what else I find interesting, Pf.iz.er doesn't have money to hold onto their sales force, but they have money to buy another company...and then the audacity to say that once the purchase is complete, they are going to cut some of those people too. Wow.

So, those of you who are part of the downsizing, right-sizing, field force optimizing - WHATEVER they are calling it - best get to dusting off those resumes and re-kindling that network you might have been neglecting. You'd be real amazed at how fast you will run through that severance.
God Bless to all of my Pfired colleagues.

1/27/09

...And I Knowed De Waz A Gawd

We had a snow day today and G'ma Sandy whipped up some cupcakes and a batch of Banana Fosters Bread Pudding.

One bite of the Bread Pudding and I immediatly Knowed Der Waz A Gawd.

Check out the recipe for Banana Fosters Bread Pudding. Be prepared to just die and go to heaven.

Sad Boo-Boo Kitty



So.... I'm sitting here with my lip poked out, all Boo-Boo Kitty like cause my husband in ST LUCIA and I'm HERE, with snow, an impending ice storm, no school (Mini-Diva is driving me batty) today and probably tomorrow and a MAJOR presentation tomorrow morning to work on. NOT FAIR. NOT FAIR AT ALL!!!!!

He will read this and call to "explain" that he is "working" and not having fun at all. THAT IS NOT THE FRIGGIN POINT, PLAYA! The fact of the matter is you are "working" under a tropical sun and in the evening you can hang out with your partners talking business in an outdoor restaurant. I on the other hand, am bundled up INSIDE, tripping over barbies & crayons, "working" in the freakin cold and dinner will be leftovers. HUMPH!

Tell me again what our life is going to be like when you get this deal all finalized. Remind me again, paint me a visual picture...Please...cause right now, this very minute - looking out the window at snow, procrastinating on this powerpoint and restraining myself from striking Mini-Diva with her Pocahantas Barbie...I GOT MY LIP POKED OUT LIKE A SAD BOO-BOO KITTY.

*Sigh*

1/26/09

25 Random Things About Me

I was tagged in Facebook with the 25 Random Things Thingy...here are mine 25 Randoms:

1. I love to scuba dive...only in warm water.

2. I was born in the wrong century and often wish that Worf would beam down and drag me back to the Enterprise. I would not kick and scream.

3. I am a Certified Kickboxing Instructor...and fitness classes are the only thing I am good at teaching. I don't have the patience for much else.

4. I don't particularly like women and that is why I don't have very many close women friends. I find most grown women still operating in some kind of high school drama, hold grudges, can't handle open and frank discussion and practice way too much "one upsies." Men are just easier to get along with.

5. I love ballroom dancing and have participated in a Dance Showcase.

6. My favorite food is sushi. I could eat it every day.

7. My favorite adult beverages are Martini's & GOOD Red Wine (not that ish in a box or outta a screw top bottle - while becoming fashionable, I'm still a wine snob)

8. After sleeping in foxholes and worse, I don't "camp". I consider camping or roughing it staying in a hotel with the doors exposed to the elements. HUMPH.

9. I have a Jungle Warfare Badge, killed a monkey and ate it (I was hungry). Tastes like chicken.

10. I own my own leather tool belt. My alter ego is Handy HotNESS.

11. I am double jointed, especially in my hands and can do some really creepy stuff with them.

12. My husband and I are good friends with my "first" everything and his wife. Could you say the same or are you still harboring some kind of 25 year old love drama.

13. My husband thinks I'm a borderline genius...I tend to agree.

14. I have shot marksman with a 9MM and a M16. I'm still a good shot, don't mess with me.

15. My sister is a sociopath. I hate and love her at the same time.

17. I am a travel snob. When I spend a small fortune on my travel adventures, I will NOT accept mediocre service, attitude or accommodations. Period.

18. If I had to do it all over, I would have been a physician or an astronaut or both.

19. I love being married. Good thing, I've been with the same guy for 26 years, married almost 22.

20. Two of my children are actually my nieces...but possession is 9/10ths of the law.

21. The first time I met my husband, we were on a 9MM range. You don't turn down a girl with a gun.

22. I hate wearing a bra, but it is an absolute necessity...besides, I was raised that a woman's "underpinnings" are the foundation of decorum and class. Nobody wants to see your cellulite, muffin top, rolls or pooch. Seriously.

23. I will judge a man pretty quickly by the state of his shoes and belt. Run down heels, no edge dressing, scuffs, no polish...a belt w/braces, a worn leather belt...signs of lack of attention to detail. What else is he neglecting. Hmmmm.

24. I haven't attended church in a long time, but I love the Lord. I've got some church issues.

25. I love to scrapbook...you should see my stuff.

1/25/09

Where in The World Were You! - Gigapan


Do you know where you were located on the Mall. Zoom, Pan and you can find yourself and your friends. Read all about how David Bergman created this image on his blog.

1/24/09

Taking The Red Eye


visine gets the red out, originally uploaded by FrogMiller.

So, what is the airport like when you are taking that midnight flight back home...leaving in the dark, arriving in the daylight & in another time zone.


It's like the twighlight zone.


There is NOBODY here. I was the only one going through security at the time I arrived. There was only 2 other people at the gate when I got here. There were ample seats and electrical outlets to choose from. It is quiet. The place is clean - cause the cleaning team has been through. The bathroom is spotless. Everything is closed, so you are not shopping, eating or getting a drink, lest you brought it with you.


I just pray that I don't have to share a row with a sumo wrestler this time, and can actually get some shut eye....so that I don't have the Red Eyes like my friend above.

I have my Visine just in case.

1/23/09

Motivated to Be VAIN as Hell


After 3 weeks at my new job, I have realized that I am going to become even more VAIN and obsessed about my health & well being. PERIOD. You do what you like, I've seen enough to make a multiple theater, multiple war Veteran drop to their knees and weep.

If you don't already know, uncontrolled diabetes and morbid obesity (and/or the combination of the two) results in the most hideous, destructive, debilitating co-morbidities and other disease processes imaginable and then some. Add on top of that gruesome picture the possibility of chronic diabetic/venous ulcers (that don't heal for months/years), progressive amputations, blindness and a whole host of other "just make me wanna die" mess. If you really understood, if you really had to face up close and personal this mess you (or anybody in your family) would walk around eating any ole damn thing you can put quickly in your mouth OR walk around talking bout how you just got a touch of damn sugar. DA HELL IS THAT STOOPIT ISH. It's a little late to take that mess seriously when they are bout to cut you leg off below the knee - JUST FOR STARTERS.

On my first day calling on clients, I did a consult with a woman that weighed over 400lbs and had ulcers and large open wounds on both legs that have been there for over 15months. Her lower extremities were the size around of #10 cans of whatever. HUGE. SWOLLEN. ANGRY RED. Skin flaking off. Open, weeping wounds. This poor woman was working a full time job, mostly on her feet and was constantly in pain, but didn't want to do bariatric surgery (which her health plan approved) cause she didn't want to deal with a bunch of loose skin when she lost the weight. ARE YOU SERIOUS? HAVE YOU SEEN YOUR LEGS? Maybe not. I don't know. On top of that mystery, she was non-compliant with the standard therapy for venous insufficiency (compression) as well as the therapy I was working with her on. This bubbly, kind woman would rather suffer with chronic wounds covering both of her legs from the knees down cause all of the treatments and solutions were inconvenient. FOR WHAT. FOR WHOM? Once again, I was screaming in my head...ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!!...all the while gently coaching her on why she should become consistent with her treatment. I got her to agree to be more consistent, but we will see. I simply couldn't imagine living life like that. She told us how at Christmas at her mothers house, how she had to put towels under her legs so as to not get the exudate (drainage) from her wounds onto the carpet. ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!! But taking care of yourself is inconvenient.

I'M WAY TO VAIN FOR THAT.

I have also spent the last 3 days looking at and discussing hundreds of chronic wounds in primarily elderly - diabetic - immuno-compromised and/or obese OR all of the above combined. NASTY. HORRIFIC. PAINFUL. There are other causes & etiology for wounds (ie. pressure, resulting from surgery, accidents, complications from paralysis/amputation). Those sadden me too, but what I just don't get - what I am having a hard time coming to grips with are the patients that got that way due to the lack of proper care & maintenance AND then want to be recalcitrant about treatment and getting better. I JUST DON'T GET IT.

I'M WAY TO VAIN FOR THAT.

That consult and this past training class CONVICTED me in the mind and spirit to NEVER LET MY BODY GET OUT OF CONTROL as a result of my personal lack of accountability and responsibility for my own well being.

The images are burned onto my retina. I'm way to vain for all of that...and that is all I'm gonna say about it.

*exhaling*

Our Greatest Fear

My friend, AngryBlackManVA, sent me an email with this note in it after reading my previous post. Thank you for the note and reminder

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

- Marianne Williamson

1/21/09

Morning After Inaugural Travel Randomness

Its 430am. I have a 6am flight out of Dulles to Phoenix for training for new job. Why do I have to find the only other person on the road at this time in morning, get behind him, and they are DRIVING SLOW AS YUCK!!


*Shhhhh. Don't tell anyone* But sometimes I am afraid...of failure, that I can't do it, that I will be a dissapointment, that the dream might not come true....and then God steadies my trembling knees...and I keep falling forward.


The finger nail moon hanging in the sky is beautiful.


Why, eery time I get near an airport, I have to be in the middle of some kind of drama. People must still have Inauguration day kindness...an attendant took pity on me and got me on my flight.


Jet Blue has restored my faith in airtravel. Looks like the small upstart airlines have figured out a happy balance vs the major airlines who take gouging customers to a new level. USAir is still on my shyat list.


Almost everyone on my this 1st leg of my journey is in a coma.


It bites my azz when some of the other half of my heritage (ie. White People) get their panties in a bunch when someone speaks the truth about the past and/or current race relations in America. The truth will set you free.


You know what else..I hate even more Black people who want absolutely nothing to do with anyone or anything they consider "Black" lest they be labled/stereotyped in some perceived negative way. As if by doing so, nobody will notice the color of their skin and treat them "differently."


My eyes hurt so bad from lack of sleep, but it hurts less to keep them open than to close them. Imma need to get some Visine quick.


The sun coming up over the horizon (viewed out airplane window) is a spectacular gradient of orange.


Malia is a photo bug after my own heart. I love it that she always has her digital camera. CUTE CUTE CUTE.


The more I see the First Lady's gown, the more I like it...never didn't like it, but I was expecting more SHAZAM. Mrs Biden's boots were the HOTNESS.


Despite how often the FireMarshall plucks my last damn nerve, he is always my Knight and I think he is the business Cat's Meow.


I can't believe the Chief Justice messed up on the most important 35 words in history - Jeez


I really try not to practice obesity hate crimes; being a pleasently plump Diva myself, but I ABSOLUTELY HATE (and want to say do do mean things) it when I have to sit next to someone on my flight that clearly needs 1 1/2 seats. Why do I have to lean over into the aisles cause you are oozing over into my seat & violating my personal space. If you can't put the arm rest down between us you are TOO BIG I am some kinda mad about spending 4 hours with your body pressed up against me. Ugggggaaaaahhhhh!!!!!


Gotta turn the phone off...maybe more reflections later.

Lisa Steptoe

1/20/09

Pictures from the Illinois State Inaugural Ball

Inauguration Day 2009: Living the Dream

1/19/09

Live Feed from Illinois Inaugural Ball

Live TV by Ustream

I Have a Dream to Living the Dream

“Knowing that somehow the situation can and will be changed.” Martin Luther King.

I hope everyone is enjoying the day and this moment in history.

I've been Obamicon'd!


Inauguration 2009: West Point Diversity Leadership Council Social

featuring the Dartmouth Gospel Choir & Chicago One Accord
I could write up a bunch of stuff, but, again, I'm at a loss of words. Instead, watch the videos and experience the magic, the excitement...the feelling of being part of history.
Part 1:



Part 2:

1/18/09

Inauguration 2009: The Cocktail Party


Cocktail maybe?, originally uploaded by Noelii.

My friend, AngryBlackManVA, threw a cocktail party at his house on Saturday night for a friend from the United Kingdom. About a group of 10 civil servants and other dignitaries came to the US to participate in the excitement of the Inauguration of Barak Obama.

It was one of the most interesting, fun, eclectic group of people. I had such a wonderful time meeting new people & making new friends. We are already planning our trip to England for a visit.

There was Selvin, Deputy Head, Race Equality Diversity Division, Communities Group, who had a passion for life, politics, the Monarcy, race relations & more that was infectious. I didn't want to miss not one converstation he was in the entire night.

There was Doreen Lawrence, author of "And Still I Rise", the story of her son Stephan Lawernce who was murdered in 1993 in England and her families struggle & fight for justice amist corruption. This woman's fight changed laws in England. What an inspiration.

There was a gentleman who practiced international law & litigation. His primary client(s) is a group of people (like a family/nation) that is on the terrorist list. His job is to defend this group and try and get them off the list...if they don't then this whole group will be a target of other groups (he couldn't elaborate more on why their lives as a whole would be in jeopardy). What little he could share with us was just fascinating.

I could go on, but suffice it to say we had a wonderful time. We thoughouly enjoyed the party, the people , the fellowship. What a great way to start the weekend of festivities.

1/16/09

Learning to Care for Those in Harms Way

I'm so proud of the FireMarshall...Check out the press release below that went out today.

Uniformed Services University
of the Health Sciences
4301 Jones Bridge Road
Bethesda, MD 20814-4799
Release No.09-01-02
January 16, 2009

News Release

USUCHD Enters Educational Training Partnership with Steptoe Group

BETHESDA, Md. — Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences’ (USU) Center for Health Disparities Research and Education (USUCHD) and the Steptoe Group, LLC have entered into an agreement to research, develop and implement a culturally competent interdisciplinary educational training program for mental health providers and practitioners. The program is designed for health providers with the expertise and capacity to deliver high-quality services that are patient-centered, evidence-based and address the mental health needs of vulnerable populations within the military community.

The partnership will address the lack of health care provider and practitioner training, educational resources, uniformity and systemic impediments that exacerbate cultural, economic, familial, and regional geographic challenges contributing to disparities in health and health care. This is generally applicable when applied to mental health and mental health care issues found among military and veteran populations.


Dr. Tracy Sbrocco, USUCHD Director of Research (center), President and CEO of the Steptoe Group, LLC, Ronald Steptoe (right); and C.J. Jordan, sign a partnership agreement to develop an interdisciplinary educational training program.

The Steptoe Group, LLC and USUCHD shall work in concert with each other to research innovative solutions to the health care challenges facing the military and veteran provider and practitioner communities, including but not limited to the ability of health care providers and practitioners to adequately screen, diagnose, treat, and manage service members, service member’s families, and veterans in a culturally competent and patient- centered manner when implementing evidence-based best practices.

This includes managing and sharing information, delivering a standardized and effective mental health provider and practitioner training throughout the military and veteran communities. The programs will include, but are not limited to the following tools: DVD, Web Based Training, Web Based Certification, and Train- the-Trainer workshops.

Located on the grounds of Bethesda’s National Naval Medical Center and across from the National Institutes of Health, USU is the nation’s federal school of medicine and graduate school of nursing. The university educates health care professionals dedicated to career service in the Department of Defense and the U.S. Public Health Service. Students are active-duty uniformed officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service, who are being educated to deal with wartime casualties, natural disasters, emerging infectious diseases, and other public health emergencies.

The USUCHD has renowned expertise in systemically assessing reasons for health and health care disparities and expertise in developing and implementing educational initiatives that aim to teach providers the key tools and skills to deliver high quality care to diverse populations grounded in patient centered methodologies to significantly enhance health care education, research, and practice.

The Steptoe Group, LLC and its strategic partners have developed expertise through successful past performances in Concept Refinement, Technology Development, System Development, Demonstration, Production and Deployment, as well as Operations and Support.

For more information, contact the Office of External Affairs at (301) 295-1219 or visit the USU Web site at: www.usuhs.mil.

The Interview

1. If you want to participate, leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.” (make sure fill out the comment form with your e-mail address, please.)
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will answer the "interview" questions, updating your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. To keep the interview going....you will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

And so on it goes.

My interview questions came from Diva In Demand:

1. What is the one thing you regret most in life?

I regret that I stayed angry with my father for so long. I regret not being able to have that conversation with him about what happened. My father had his faults/foibles but I wish I let go of my hostility a lot sooner that before he died. I buried my father on my birthday...it haunts me a little still to this day.
2. Tell the details of the most most memorable day of your life so far?
The birth of my son on Labor Day. He didn't want to come out, so I had to be induced. I would not an induction on my worst enemy. No epidural. Just me, my husband, the pain & God. Hurt so bad I thought I was gonna die. I gave my life to the Lord that day and delivered the second love of my life, my son.
3. You're planning your perfect day.......tell us about it?

My perfect day...Waking up, next to my husband at our leisure to the sound of gentle ocean waves, a soothing tropical breeze blowing. Breakfast on the patio with a spectacular view. A morning consitutional walk on the beach, followed by a some pampering time in the spa (body scrub & hot stone massage). A light lunch with the FireMarshall, perhaps even a nooner (even better). Afternoon dive trip. Nap after dive, followed by beautification process and candlelight dinner on beach. Dancing & after dinner drinks with the FireMarshall. End the day with more wild passionate tropical chex. Sleep. A glorious day.
4. The ship's going down and you can only grab 5 things before you have to get off and go to the island....what do you take?
I grab:
- My husband
- A big, sharp knife
- Rope
- Lighter, waterproof matches or flint
- The biggest bottle of Makers Mark I can find.
5. The secret video is out.....who do you call first and why?
Nobody. If the secret is out, why do I need to call anybody.
It's done now. I'll wait for everyone to call me.

1/13/09

When it Rains, It Pours...



I often say to myself that God's delays are NOT his denials. I spend a lot of time meditating on that message...trying to be still, be quiet, to listen and be prepared for the time, the moment of when you are "approved"...Blessed be the man who perseveres through trials, for once he is approved, he shall inherit the Kingdom of God (James 1:12). The crew has been though a rough patch and we are still working our way outta some stuff. However, starting on Dec 20th, things started to turn in our favor...call it anything you want - just don't call it luck. I don't believe it in; to me there is no such thing as luck. All I know is that by being faithful or committed or dedicated (call it what you want)...things started to turn our way...the blessings started to happen...

God's delays are NOT his denials.

Yesterday, I lamented about being so tired from working at getting up to speed on my new job - that's okay - I GOT A NEW JOB! We rejoiced in the fact that Jordan recieved his first college acceptance. We were content, we were happy, we felt blessed.

Today was a new day! My daughter Erin, who you will recall, was laid off from her job at one of the largest car dealerships in this area, got a phone call today with an offer for what she terms - "Her Dream Job". Today she accepted a position as Staff Accountant at an International Economic Think Tank in DC. She came over this evening to raid my closet cause she said she had to take it up a couple of notches in attire. She finds the best perk/benefit is that they reimburse & encourage the pursuit of a Masters Degree. I think she was about to burst. We celebrated Jordan's acceptance & both of our new jobs over a pot roast and champagne.

But that's not all. I don't put all of the gory details out there about our lives - just most of it - here on my online diary, but those closest to us know that things were tight. Being just a tad finacially astute, we came up with a plan to restructure our mortgage (w/o refinancing & associated costs). We figured that if major corporations can get help, so can't a family with a jumbo mortagage. Well, through some savvy negotiations by the FireMarshall (yeah, I'm a little surprised, cause its usually me doing these kind of things) we were able to "restructure" our mortagage to something fixed and the new low interest rate and reduce our payment by $3k. Ahhh, I saw you gasp. Did you not read the part about JUMBO MORTGATE. The estate here ain't no small potatoes. We are doing the happy dance ....AGAIN!

Last, but not least, we were having extreme difficulty figuring out our transportation details for the Inaugural Ball on Monday. Metro shut down at midnight, we are in a restricted parking zone, we are in a security bubble. How da hell were we going to get home after the ball. The magic carriage was going to turn into a pumpkin. What were we going to do. Well, the FireMarshall worked the network and finagled a driver to pick us up at his dads house, drop us at dinner & then come back and get us (at least as close as he can - we will probably have to walk a few blocks) when the clock strikes 1am. We got this at such a reasonable price, it is a damn shame and I'm not sharing. Especially when drivers are charging up to $200/hour. Sorry.

We are still feeling Truly Blessed. When it rains, it pours.

1/12/09

Exhaustion & Elation


Burnt Toast, originally uploaded by Ìllume.

I am so tired, I feel like burnt toast. Been on the new job for exactly 7 days (5 of which were at a National Sales Meeting) and, to quote the FireMarshall, "I went out there, showed my azz, showed off and now they are expecting miracles." Be careful what you pray for, you just might get exactly that.

I prayed, I hustled, I planned, plotted & networked - and landed me a new position selling a medical device for a small biotech company. Well, let me tell ya...I did kinda show out...making them remember my name and now they like...So, can you start calling on clients like tomorrow? Ummm, maybe I should figure out how to work the cotton pickin device first, ya think. I'll get it all together soon, but Imma tell ya...girlfriend is pooped and my brain is bout to splode open like a melon.

I got exactly what I prayed and worked for...should have played a little bit harder (I thought I did). Can't complain now.

In the midst of my exhaustion, I came home from the gym and there was a big fat packet from a college for the Prince. Since he is notorious for not opening his mail for days, I usually take it upon myself to open his mail (especially college related stuff - and NO he does NOT have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a home where I pay for everything). I opened his packet and HE GOT ACCEPTED TO PENN STATE!!!!!!!!. GO PRINCE JORDAN.

Now we gotta find some scholarship money to go with that acceptance. We are doing the elated, happy dance over here where we definitly recognize that True Blessings happen.

DID YOU KNOW?....

...and are you ready? Are you prepared or are you catching up?


Did you get the implications or did it just go right over your head? Hmmmm.

1/10/09

Killers of Joy

I know that most of you don't believe it, but it takes a lot to set me off and snap crazy. Usually I just go off in my head and am polite enough to just keep it to myself. However, there are times when people just pop off with some stoopit, ignant, whiney shyat that makes my eye twitch and causes me to respond in a manner that is just, well...downright deserving. I end up going off with a verbal byatch slap cause I'm just SICK AND DAMN tired of people poppin off with their issues all in the background.

Killers of Joy.

They are the very people that, if they see joy happening they want to put some kind of spin on it to make it all sinister and evil...with some kind of ulterior motive or something. I ran smack into the wall of a Killer of Joy tonight.

I sent out a reminder of to all the people who had not RSVP'd or said maybe about the West Point Diversity Leadership Council Inaugural Event. This event, while hosted by a couple of grads from West Point, is open to all Academy Graduates, friends & family of the service academies, candidates & cadets, serviceman & vets. It is the cheapest event going on in the city Inaugural weekend and we have a lot of surprises in store for those in attendance.

I get an email today that said:
Will your event be an Obama-fest? If so, I'll pass just as I pass on the
Congressional Black Caucus events. Thanks.

Well that just made bit my azz. DA HELL. This was from a friend, a fellow grad, a brother who happens to be a registered Republican (guess what, so am I). That email just slapped me as some crybaby bullshyat. EVERYTHING AIN'T ABOUT YOU! Seriously. "Obama fest"? "Congressional Black Caucus" event? WHAT DA HELL? How pissy. GET OVER IT. Stop being all pissy and mad cause your candidate got his azz whooped soundly. EVERYTHING AIN'T ABOUT YOU ND NOT GETTING YOUR WAY.

Killer of Joy.

How about just celebrating a obviously historical event. As it states on the invitation: Join us for a celebration of history, fellowship, and our collective futures. Why do you have to take it to a whole new level and make it into something it is not? Why...

Killer of Joy.

Please, get over yourself. Come or don't. The only person who is gonna miss something is you, cause guess what....EVERYTHING AIN'T ABOUT YOU.

1/9/09

Inauguation Weekend Festivities

Woo hoo! The tickets to the Illinois State Inaugural Ball on Monday, January 19th came on Wednesday and it wasn't just two tickets in an envelope. We got two individual packets with our tickets, a formal invitation, a letter with details on what to expect, travel instructions & map. My BFF Valerie has confirmed that she got her packet too. Saaweeeet!

It has just made me more excited for the the entire week. Since my husband has a virtual office in DC, the office was made privy to updates on travel in and out of the city starting at 3pm on Monday, the 19th and not lifting until 5am on Wednesday, the 21st. The security bubble (no vehicular travel except emergency/service vehicles) has been expanded and now includes all the way out to encompass the Convention Center. Here is an excerpt from the letter we received:

The parameters of the Security Area (in which vehicle movement will be eliminated) are constantly changing, but the changes all involve increasing the size of the secured zone. The latest map expands the western boundary from 18th Street to 23rd Street. The northern boundary has been moved to K Street from Eye Street, and between 11th Street and 6th Street it moves all the way up to O Street in order to encompass the DC Convention Center where many official galas
will be held. The Eastern boundary encompasses the US Capitol with Independence Avenue being the major southern boundary.

Within the security area, there will be no movement of vehicle traffic allowed (other than public safety vehicles) from 3:00 PM on Monday January 19th until almost 5:00 AM on January 21St. Concrete barriers and a heavy police presence will enforce the restrictions.


I decided to call the restaurant we are having dinner at prior to the Ball (Acadiana's) to confirm our reservations and the travel restrictions. Yep...not even a cab. We are going to have to catch the metro in our finery to the Gallery Pl/Chinatown station and walk a few blocks to the restaurant & then across the street to the Renaissance. The whole evening is prime fodder for NUMEROUS blog posts. Awesome!

However, my weekend doesn't just start with dinner & a Ball on Monday. We start with the arrival of my classmate & friend Walter Cunningham and the Dartmouth College Gospel Choir & Chicago One Accord. Walter is the Musical Director of both and they received an invitation to sing at an Inaugural Brunch by the Inaugural Committee on Sunday. GTFOOH. My man is BIG TIME! The only problem they are having is that they need help housing about 20 people from Chicago on Saturday night. If I gotta put them all on air-mattresses in the basement I will, but I'm not worried. I'll take a bunch and I'll find some friends and/or alumni that will too. In addition, we are working to have a smaller group sing at the West Point Diversity Leadership Council Inaugural Event at the Army-Navy Club on Sunday. We actually have a few "dignitaries' & "appointees" RSVP'd to attend. Maaaaan! We are gonna have a great time.

We are NOT going into the city on Inauguration Day. I'm just not doing it unless I get tickets from my Congressman/Senator for the event. I'm still waiting to hear back from two of them but it is hightly unlikely. If the best I can do I watch it on a jumbo tron squished up against a gazillion other people (and at 5'2", I prolly won't get to see the jumbo tron either) freezing my azz off...I'll take a pass on that. We plan to watch it on our own personal jumbo tron (the home theater) in warmth & comfort, drinking mimosas & having a fabulous brunch with family & friends.

So, what ya'll got planned for the Inauguration? Come on, spill it.

1/8/09

When Life Just Blows....


1/7/09

2009 Friendship Contract

To All My Friends...

Your contract of friendship has been renewed for the New Year 2009.

My wish for you in 2009:
• May peace break into your house and may thieves come to steal your debts.
• May the pockets of your pants become a magnet for $100 bills.
• May love stick to your face like glue and may laughter assault ypur lips.
• May your clothes smell of success just a sure as stink on a dog and may happiness open plm slap you in the mouth.
• May your tears always be tears of joy.
• May the problems you had forget your home adress.

In simple words to all my friends...May 2009 be the best year of your life!!!
Lisa Steptoe

1/4/09

The Audacity of US Airways

What used to be one of my preferred airlines has now move into the category of absolutely outrageous and is in the running for the idiot company of the year award.
 
This morning, I had to catch a flight to Pheonix, AZ for a National Meeting with my new job and the entire ordeal of traveling out of a US airport was ramped up to its highest level by the audacity of US Airways. (Yeah, I said it and I hope they read this).
  • Over half of the terminals were out of order on one of the busiest travel days of the year (final holiday travel). So much for an electronic ticket & printing out your boarding pass in advance.
  • One of the attendants then walked around to tell us that it was our (the passengers) fault for the possibility of not making our flight on time.Basically, it was "too bad, so sad" - our technical difficulties are now your problem. Suck it up. Should have been here 5 hours earlier. One poor kid, a young Marine, had been standing in line forever and he seemed distraught. He had already missed his first flight, he was made to get back in line at the end to try and rebook. He was worried he was going to get in trouble (AWOL) if they couldn't get him on another flight quickly. All I could say was "It will be all right" - but it certainly didn't look that way.
  • While I heard about this before, it still makes me hotter than hell that you have to pay $17 each way for one piece of luggage. That ish just pisses me off, especially after your realize how effen much you pay on top of the damn ticket price in taxes and fees. Now that the price of gas has gone down, don't you think the airlines could roll that policy back. Hmmmm. Prolly not...they figure they got us all used to it that we will just continue to take it. One passenger brought this huge bag on the plane as his carryon - he know damn well that it was not the right size nor would fit in the overhead. The flight attendant had to remove the bag and check it for him. He didn't have to pay $17 (she didn't even ask). Perhaps that is the way to go. Let's all just drag our bags on as carryon - let's game the system, just like the airlines are gaming us.
  • BUT WAIT...US Airways get's even more ridiculous. I get on the plane, wondering what movie I'm gonna get to watch on my 4 hour flight. I pick up the US Airway Magazine to look it up and what do I see...YOU GET NOTHING unless you are flying to/from Hawaii or Europe. Here's the message in the magazine - "As of November 1, 2008 in flight audio & video entertainment is available only on fligts to and from Hawaii & Europe:" WTF! Not even music. No inflight TV or anything. Naw playa's - bring your own ish and don't pull it out till we freakin tell you to.
  • OKAY - so I'll get me a soda, read my book & listen to my iPod. NOT! - Nothing is free anymore on US Airways. While I knew about having to pay for an overpriced snack box on flights, I have NEVER had to pay for a freakin soda or water. GTFOOH! you now have to pay $2 for a soda, $1 for coffee or tea. What DA hell is going on. You have got to be kidding me. US Airways has lost their everlasting minds.
  • IT'S NOT OVER...just when I thought I had calmed down and would not be shocked anymore, I opened up my seat back tray only to find a effn advertisement for a cold medicine on the tray. This ad was on every freakin tray. So, US Airways is getting advertising dollars (you know damn well they ain't doing it for free) on top of our money for security, luggage, food, beverages, and the money they save from entertaining you on the plane.I now have to look at commercials and I don't get one (NOT ONE) amenity for my effort.
I am so out done, so outraged at the audacity of US Airways. They need to get a freaking clue and get it quick. I just can't imagine that nobody else finds these things just absurd. Let me tell you what...If I can at all help it, I won't fly these idjits again till they make some adjustments cause right now - I think US AIRWAYS SUCKS..............BIGTIME.
 
 
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Grip Hands - The Passing of Liz Houston

I previously wrote about the Benefit being held for my friends, Kevin & Liz Houston. Liz was suffering with Scleroderma - a chronic autoimmune illness involving the body's connective tissue. We went to the benefit on March 1st of 2008 (the details and pictures are below).

Liz went Home to God yesterday at 4:00pm. She is truly going to be missed.
To all my '87 friends & classmates ---

I am deeply saddened to inform you that Liz Houston, wife of our classmate Kevin Houston, passed from this earth just after 4:00PM, today, January 3, 2009. Liz had been receiving treatment at St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital since Tuesday night; the result of complications stemming from a bout of pneumonia she bravely and heroically battled until she succumbed to it's cumulative effect late this afternoon. Many of you are aware that she was stricken with the insidious scourge of the affliction, scleroderma; a debilitating connective tissue disease that attacks the organs of the body. She gamely fought its effects since being diagnosed in May of 2004, and managed to inspire all of us with a positive outlook, an infectious enthusiasm for the "battle" to beat the disease, and unconditional love for family and friends blessed enough to have been in her life.

Kevin, though dealing with the most difficult of circumstances, has rallied around their three children, and along with an ever burgeoning support network of family and friends, has begun the arduous process of pressing forward without his soulmate, his partner for some thirty years, and the beautiful girl who he began seeing while they were both sophomores at Pearl River High School in 1979. Their abundant love and respect for each other was truly inspirational to those of us lucky enough to catch some of its powerful reflection.

The family has been deeply appreciative of all the love, support, and assistance provided by not only the c/o of '87, but from many other members of the Long Gray Line, as well. Our collective efforts as an
extended "family" are another of the myriad of qualities that make West Pointers a unique brand of lifetime comrades; there for each other during conflict, as well as in times of peace and prosperity.

Please keep the Houston Family in your thoughts and prayers.

With heavy heart,
James G.


Here are some links
Grip Hands - Part 1

A mother's illness met with hardship and hearts

Scleroderma Facts:
Scleroderma is characterized by a hardening of the body's connective tissue and is a painful, life altering disease that is fatal in its more severe forms
  • About 80% of Scleroderma patients are women, typically diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 55.
  • Scleroderma affects African Americans more frequently and at an earlier age and they tend to develop the most severe form of the disease.
  • Complications of scleroderma typically include some or all of the following: extreme sensitivity to cold in extremities, hand deformity and facial changes, difficulty swallowing and digesting food and profound fatigue and pain.
  • Misdiagnosis is common. It can take one year or more for an individual to be diagnosed and receive appropriate treatment.

Ron and I attended The Friends of Liz & Kevin Benefit this past Saturday. I knew a lot of people were coming, but when I walked into the room I was OVERWHELMED with the number of people, the love and the outpouring of support I saw. At the height of the evening, there had to be approximately 700 people in a room that was fire coded for 300. Since the police department Pipes & Drums Corp played, I wasn't surprised that this little fact was overlooked. The food was plentiful, the bar overstocked (and I saw most people paying for the cash bar items vs the free stuff since a portion of the bar proceed were going to the fundraiser), and the Silent/Live Auction items were out of this world. I could not believe the items that were donated...Autographed footballs from Superbowl players, autographed basketballs from NBA players, flat panel TVs, tickets to Mets games (and even one where you spent the evening with the team photographer), floor tickets to Lakers game, a week at a beach house, golf outings, a stay at Trump Towers, huge gift baskets (I won a basket with 6 bottles of Aussie wine, 1 bottle of champagne, and 2 crystal glasses) & more.

The evening was an absolute blast (as well poignant and solemn) and I pray that they raised enough funds to help with the mounting medical bills and modifications to their home to make it accessible for Liz who is now wheel chair bound.

Here are some great pictures from the event. I am planning on making a video slide show to music after I gather up some more pictures taken by the event photographer & friend, Scott Strine.





I took a little video while at the event and have compiled it here. It is just a short sampling of the event. There were so many people to see, so many of my classmates, so many of the guys from Army Basketball (I was just a groupie from 83-87). Kevin's speech was so moving.






Enclosed is a message from one of the event organizers & my classmate- James Gagliano....

If you were in attendance last evening at the Pearl River Benefit for Kevin and Liz Houston, as many of us were, you were humbled by the unbridled enthusiasm and palpable support for our classmate and his dear wife. Conservative estimates have the crowd, who gamely braved limited parking and a bitter cold night, at upwards of 700 attendees. The festive atmosphere felt like a reunion, and Kevin nailed it when he described all the assemblage as his and Liz's "extended family" --- those of us '87'ers in attendance could proudly claim a sizable chunk of those attendance figures, no doubt. Thank you to all my classmates who answered the call; either in person or with financial support; or by the simple conveyance of thoughts by a card or note to the Houston's; or by keeping Liz and Kevin, as well as their entire conjoined families in your thoughts and prayers.

And while the assistance has been robust to date, there's still a mighty hill to climb. You can continue to help by making a donation at the secure pay credit card donation site listed below:


https://secure.west-point.org/kevinlizhouston/

All my best to you all. You make me proud to claim a similar lineage and proud to be an '87'er.

Best regards, JG

1/3/09

It Takes Energy to Manage a Pigsty

I can't take credit for the title...it came from TSJThings from a comment I made about messy people:

I find it amusing that some people expect you to hate someone, just cause they do. If you don't, then you are considered a sheep. Pathetic. Your hate, your rage, your misery is YOURS. You marinate in it and stop trying to drag me in to your pigsty.

Messy people. There seems to be a lot of them here on the Internet. Messy people are like pigs in a pigsty...they like to revel in their own hate, rage, misery...just like pigs like to revel in their own ish. Messy people rant and rave about their their lot in life, how awful things are and how heinous someone else is. That part is the worst about messy people - when they find a reason to hate someone (they were slighted in some way, they got into a fight or picked one with someone, they just don't like someone for any number of reasons) they take that hate to a whole new level - EXTRA!!

When messy people hate another person, they don't simply stay away from that person and move on with their life. Messy (pigsty) people find every way possible to try and bring their hate out into the public domain...like pigs in the sty, they jostle the other pigs - grunting, snorting, slinging ish around, trying to get the other pigs dirty with their slop. Messy people will spend an inordinate amount of energy and time railing against the object of their hate, resort to name calling and character assassinations. They spend their time trying to get other people to join them at rolling around in shyat and you can almost hear them cackle with glee when they gather another pig to their sty spreading more gossip and attempts at bringing the object of their hate down low.

And, heaven forbid, you personally manage to not get any shyat on you. Heaven forbid you refuse to jump into the sty with them and agree with their hate & rails against the world. Heaven forbid that you don't have a problem with the object of their hate and derision. When you don't become messy with them, you are labeled a "sheep", a "cult follower" and worse. When you don't join them in the destruction, they turn on you - not like simple pigs, but more like wild boars - and try and gouge you on their tusks. That is the moment when you need to recognize you are among messy, crazy people - and walk away.

I simply do not have the time and energy to put into hating someone else and trying to get the world to hate them too. I refuse to surround myself with that kind of negativity. It is absolutely draining to be that miserable, hateful, negative. It is exhausting...it takes more muscles to scowl, frown and make a fist to raise at the sky. I'm just going to move on and instead of putting my focus on people I don't like, I'm going to enjoy and spend time with the people I do.

I have no problem saying what I want to say if I think someone is in the wrong; however, I am not going to hate someone and join you in calling that person a "byatch", "crazy", "f*&king whore" and worse - JUST CAUSE YOU DO. I am not going to join the messy people and wish that someone hurt that person and/or physically assault them. I have absolutely no reason to roll around in shyat with you. And if I ever become a target of said person (I can't even imagine how or why I would - but if I did) and was "run off her site" and or "banned", then so be it. I still am not going to join you in the pig sty. I enjoy my life, my family and my friends way too much to expend the time and energy to join the messy in the Hate Her Festival. You won't find me on your site skipping around the bonfire chanting "Burn her, burn her." I will chalk it up to a lesson learned, a friend lost (it happens), and get on with my life.

I like her, I enjoy her company, I consider her a friend. Does she have issues? Yep. Don't we all?Some big, some small. From what I've seen and heard, she has come a long way, has grown a lot, and is still a work in progress. Aren't we all? Shouldn't we all be working towards becoming a better you? Can she be edgy, "evil" & snap crazy from time to time. Yep and she freely admits it. The delivery may not be my style from time to time...it shouldn't be...it's hers. If I am her friend, like I say that I am, then I accept her for the good and the bad. When we have a disagreement or misunderstanding, I take the matter up directly with her via phone, email or face. I don't go the eff off in the comment section.

I've been accused of never having been a target of her attacks...well, I have. I once posted something on her group website that she didn't like and she ripped me a new one. I was shocked by the intensity in her response, but instead of snapping crazy back at her in the comments, I sent sent her an email (that did not contain a hateful retort) explaining my position and asking her about her remarks. She immediately called me on the phone and we talked it out. She then removed the post and her remarks from the site - without any prompting from me.

What I am witnessing now among the haters is that instead of taking your issues off line and working it out, they would rather fight it out in public, slinging shyat everywhere and then sniffing the air admiring their own funk. Every fox smells its own hole. Listen to yourself, messy people. You are behaving in the same exact manner that you accuse your hate target of doing. Let it go. Clean up the your mess, get out of the sty and get on with living.

1/2/09

From Terri: Diva Rule # 23

When a Diva Gets Tired from Shopping, She Sits Down...


17. Treating myself! :), originally uploaded by sarah.louise11.

...and Tries on Shoes.

1/1/09

Happy New Year