Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An Observation On My Blog Hits

Thanks to both the Hit Counter and Live Traffic Feed, I've been able to keep track of not only how many hits I'm getting on my Blog, but also where they are coming from AND what they are landing on.
Up until fairly recently, the majority of these (sometimes well over a hundred hits per day) were landing on my post, "Does Microsoft Hearts CHEAT?" In addition, many of the visitors leave comments and it's apparent that several of them come back from time to time to see what other people may have posted. Again thanks to Life Traffic Feed, I can see not only where they are coming from (literally all over the world including some places I've never heard of), but also HOW they found my post. For example: Saint Albans, Vermont, arrived from on Mrs. B's Brilliant Blog: Does Microsoft Hearts CHEAT? by searching for what's a good winning percentage in computer hearts. It also provides the date and time they landed. I've been getting a kick out of seeing what these folks are typing into the various search engines!
A few weeks ago, I started to notice that another entry, "Which of Henry VIII's Wives Are You Most Like?" was getting its fair share of interest, mostly from visitors arriving from the UK. It is at the point now where I believe this post gets just as many hits per day as the one on the card game.
What is intriguing is, no one has yet to post a comment! I really wish someone would as I'd like to know what they think about what I wrote! Is it that the British don't think it's polite to comment or they can't be bothered? Also, they seem to be arriving from something called " (or whatever country if not the UK) which leads me to believe they are looking for pictures of Hank's wives and are somehow led to my Blog (because I do have pictures of each one in the post). Maybe THAT'S why they are not commenting? They just want to see a picture?
Anyway, it's been fun keeping tabs on who is visiting and from where and what they are looking at!
Mrs. B

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Blog Block Busters

Thanks, Analee, for some of these ideas. There is nothing like rambling on about lists of this or that to, hopefully, get creative juices flowing again. And, what follows is a true ramble of a bunch of stuff most people probably won't care about!

...things in my shower:
1. Ivory soap
2. Aqua-colored bath pouf
3. Soft Soap body wash
4. Two washcloths
5. (technically six) a tall stainless still contraption that holds all the above
...favorite articles of clothing:
1. Reversible (red/grey) fleece jacket I got at Target several years ago for cheap. I shoulda bought several of 'em!
2. Work out pants (also bought at Target over 10 years ago; I always feel good that I still fit in them!)
3. Black coolots from Chico's
4. Green Levi shorts
5. Brown "Dog Rescuer" tee-shirt
...things on top of my refrigerator
1. Cake stand
2. Ceramic Jack-O-Lantern
3. That's it. I just cleaned a bunch of stuff off and moved them to the top of the cabinets
...favorite "easy" things to eat/make for dinner:
1. White chicken chili
2. Burritos
3. Penne with blue cheese pesto, asparagus and toasted walnuts
4. Cajun bean soup
5. Buffalo chicken wraps with black beans
...wonderful traits about Mr. B:
1. He's honest
2. He's a wonderful chef
3. He can do just about anything around the house/yard
4. He's affectionate
5. He is smart/doesn't miss much
...movies/TV shows I've seen recently:
1. Dexter Season 3
2. Forever, Darling (a REALLY awful movie with Lucille Ball/Desi Arnaz)
3. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
4. Gone with the Wind (I just felt like re-watching it)
5. True Blood Season 1
...books I've last read:
1. The Secret of the Old Clock (yes, that would be Nancy Drew!)
2. Something for the Pain (book club)
3. Night
4. The Killing Dance
5. The Last Wife of Henry VIII
...ways to save money:
1. Clip and use coupons. Yes, it IS worth it!
2. Use loyalty cards; ditto, the above
3. Look at circulars and plan meals around what is on sale
4. Join a club like BJs or Cost Co. There are some things that are SO much cheaper (cat litter, for one; something we need A LOT of these days). Just be careful you don't buy too much of something you'll never use up (those Keebler bags of cookies I bought thinking they'd be good for Mr. B/The Kid's lunches have long since gone stale)
5. Count up all the money you save from the ideas above each month. Move that amount of money from your checking account into a special savings account. In about 18 months, I've saved roughly $2,500 doing this!
...different/sort of weird things people might not know about me (or know all of them):
1. I can read Tarot cards
2. I can cast Astrological charts
3. I am semi-ambidextrous
4. I can type really, really, really fast
5. I usually read several books at a time (for example, right now, I am reading/listening to: Roots, The Hidden Staircase and The Hour I First Believed)
...tidbits about my pets (well, six):
1. Lucy: Is afraid of sprinklers
2. Pete: Stares at me. It's unnerving at times!
3. Lily: Growls when she carries a milk jug ring around in her mouth
4. Ares: Although not the friendliest of the bunch when he's awake, always sleeps at the foot of the bed near Mr. B's feet
5. Athena: Destroys bugs
6. Apollo: Squeaks when he meows
...things I am going to do today:
1. Go to the dentist (routine cleaning)
2. Meet with KB Homes about our buckling carpet
3. Clean The Kid's bathroom
4. Go to CVS and see if I can't find a product I've been searching for
5. Mail mom and dad's anniversary card
...things I do now that I didn't do 5 years ago:
1. Blog/Facebook
2. Walk a dog
3. Serve on a Board of Directors
4. Have wedding anniversaries
5. Have my own business
Hey, time's up!
Mrs. B

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pete and Apollo "Playing"

Pretty much every morning, Pete does this thing where he gets one of the long wand-toys and drags it around while howling up a storm. This morning, I finally managed to capture it on video (he usually stops when he sees the camera; I guess he's camera-shy!) He had a playmate today in Apollo, although watch how Pete takes the wand-toy away from Apollo.
At one point I cock-eyed the camera; sorry, I keep forgetting that, unlike a still photo, I can't rotate the video film back upon viewing!
Apollo is settling in pretty well. It was a bit rough the first few days for him because the other four basically shunned him, but, most of the hissing and spitting has stopped. I will say, though, that he's definitely turned out to be our buddy of the bunch (he likes humans; maybe it's because the other four have sort of paired up?) He is also a special friend of Lucy's!
Coming soon: Our Path to Five Cats!
Mrs. B

Thursday, September 24, 2009

REALLY Glad I Wasn't Interested

For a little over a year now, I've been providing HR consulting services to a fairly well-known company. A brief recap; this came about because a guy I used to work with in a former life contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in doing mostly compensation reviews on their prospective hires, as well as a few projects. After a bit of soul-searching and considerable encouragement from Mr. B, I decided to give it a whirl.
The first few months were pretty busy, mostly with getting up to speed on the organization and reviewing salary offers. There was a bit of project work but not much. Initially, I drove to their facility (located an hour and a half one way from here) once per week for a day (doing, really, the same thing I did while at home but they were interested in face time). During one of those visits, my pal (their top HR person) pulled me aside and asked me if I'd consider taking his job because he was going to leave HR and go into sales.
There were many reasons why I said no: Too far to drive every day. I knew it would end up being a 60+ hour a week job (not including the commute) and I'd been there, done that and burned out and walked away once already. I was concerned about leaving Lucy alone that much. The HR guy's boss (Hyper Dude) would drive me insane. I didn't care for the environment (HR people in cubicles? Give me a break. No privacy). I wasn't certain I agreed with the culture OR could influence it. In the end, though, the primary reason turned out to be quite simple. I didn't WANT to do it.
I continued to provide support to them off and on and to keep in loose contact with the HR guy, who, despite his statement that he was going to go into sales, remained in place. Due to the economy and probably a few other factors, things began to slow down after the first of the year. However, just when I'd think the gravy train had arrived at the station, someone from the HR department would get in touch with me and request assistance with a new project or a few salary offers would trickle in. Case in point, a few weeks ago, they asked me to conduct a offer decline survey on the roughly 50 or so folks who had declined their job offers in the past year (frankly not a terrible number given how many offers they made).
Although the work for this company never turned out to be anything really exciting, I'm not complaining. They agreed to my hourly rate and have been reliable in paying my invoices in a timely manner. I've learned a bit about doing consulting work and even more about myself as I've flip flopped back and forth regarding whether I want to do more of it and what that would involve. Not to mention, this gig has paid for several things that we might not have otherwise done (e.g., vacations and a sprinkler system), has allowed us to pad our savings account a bit and has kept Lucy and the Pussycats in kibble and cat chow (ok, ok, I'm sure we could have paid for this, anyway!)
So, yesterday, I get a really odd email from one of the employees (not my pal) in the HR department asking me if I would be available to go down there this coming Monday to sit in on a six hour meeting with the HR department and another consultant, followed by a one on one meeting with the CEO. This seemed weird to me. I mean, I haven't been on site in almost a year (I think the last time I went down there was mid-October 2008) and, other than necessary involvement regarding offers, I've not had much at all to do with anyone in HR except my pal (and not even him all that much).
I got in touch with him to ask, in a nice way, "What the...? This doesn't seem appropriate to me".
He said, "Right on target. Just make up an excuse why you can't come on such short notice". He then went on to tell me that the CEO has decided HR needs a review, he's not happy about what they are doing (or not doing), he's never satisfied, he's never run an organization, he has no clue, he's fired 10 managers so far this year (including Hyper Dude), he thinks he can do whatever he wants, he thinks if he puts your name (meaning mine) down as the HR person, that you'll simply show up (HUH?), etc.
My pal is a seasoned HR professional. Yeah, he might not run things the way I would and he may be a bit scattered, but, heck, he knows what he's doing. The company, if I haven't mentioned, is Japanese and there have really been some tough cultural barriers that my friend has run up against and it's become too much for him (and, apparently, the CEO is gunning for a way to get rid of HIM).
Sales job? Never happened. Another HR job? Economy sucks. So, he's treading water.
Hey, I don't want ANYTHING to do with this. For all the reasons I mentioned earlier, I have no designs on his position nor do I want to participate in this particular witch hunt.
So, I won't and that's that and I wish him all the best and hope he lands on his feet.
This strange situation just highlighted how very, very glad I am that I didn't get sucked into that environment as I know now I WOULD have been absolutely miserable.
Mrs. B

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blog Block

I'm not sure what is going on lately but I just haven't felt like blogging much. Maybe I've run out of things to say? Nah, that can't be it!
Similar to writer's block or being speechless, I suppose I'm Blog-Less. As in, blogging less; don't have quite as much to blab about, can't think of anything fun. Blog burn out?
Sorry, y'all. Maybe the urge will come back to me soon! Or, something really interesting will happen such that I'll absolutely have to share.
I'll be on the lookout for topics.
Any ideas?
Mrs. B

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Few of Our Zoo

L-R bird watching are: Pete, Athena, Ares and LilyIf only I could get out there to lick the mail man!

This past Friday was a rainy day. All pets were quite interested in and entertained by staring out the windows.
Mrs. B

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Really Short Stories

My SIL posted on her Blog that Hemingway once wrote a story in just six words: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

I looked it up and he is said to have called it his best work.

Analee challenged others to come up with six word stories; a few did.

To vary from Analee, however, I am thinking it would be fun to brainstorm what the intent of Hemingway's (and a few others I came up with) very short story might be/could be; this to illustrate the amazing relationship between words and imagination.

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

1. The seemingly obvious; someone is selling the baby shoes they bought for an unborn baby because the baby died before it had a chance to wear them.

2. A woman is selling an expensive pair of baby shoes on eBay that she bought because she thought she was pregnant, but, in reality, she was going through menopause and had simply dried up.

3. Someone is selling the baby shoes because they won them as a door prize at a Bunco game and they don't have children on know anyone who does.

4. Someone is selling the baby shoes because their baby's feet are way too fat to fit into them.

5. Someone is selling the baby shoes because their baby was born without feet.
The Truth Will Never Be Known
1. The only person who knew "the truth" about something has died (or has Alzheimer's) and never wrote it down.
2. There is no such thing as just one truth so all truth can never be known.
3. "The Truth Will Never Be Known: An Inside Story Into The Life Of A Compulsive Liar".
I Am The Queen Of Everything
1. A tell-all expose written by Queen's Freddie Mercury.
2. A nature book about honey bee queens and their drones.
3. Self-help book for women with really low self-esteem.
Anyone else have some good ideas?
Mrs. B

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kendal's Birthday Party

Here are but a few from yesterday's party for my big boy nephew Kendal who, believe it or not, is turning 2 this week!

I'm also including a video of his younger cousin Jacqueline's version of dancing. There are a couple more on my You Tube page.

Mrs. B

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Moment Of Silence

I posted this entry on my old Blog three years ago today. I re-post it here now because it continues to represent how I feel about 9/11/2001 and its aftermath. My flag is out today; I hope that yours is, too!

This morning, I made sure I was up and lucid well before 8:46a so that I could reflect, during the requested moment of silence, on what happened five years ago.

A moment’s not really enough, of course, to think all of the thoughts that should be thought. To honor all of the people, those that died for nothing more than going to work or getting on a plane that morning, those that died trying to save them, and those that survived to carry on. This would be all of us.

I suppose it’s an amazing ability of the human race, and perhaps, in particular, Americans, to pick themselves up and go on after great tragedy. And, sometimes over the course of the past five years, I’ve felt that one could almost pretend that 9/11 didn’t happen at all, because so many other awful things have occurred to take its place.

Over the past several days leading up to this day, we’ve been bombarded by journalistic attempts to remind us that we must remember this day; all that happened on it, and everything that has changed as a result. One article talked about how 9/11 would never have occurred had our government been more competent. Another discussed the differences between physical memorials to tragic events and memory memorials. Several articles reiterated the sentiment that America “lost her innocence” on 9/11, and that we, the collective we, finally woke up to the realization that we are not beloved all over the world and that we are not invincible. And yes, that we are in danger.

The most poignant article I read relayed many of the final phone conversations between 9/11 victims and their loved ones; those that they chose to call in the last minutes of their lives; spouses, fathers, mothers, children, before they succumbed to their fate. This article impacted me the most because it addressed that, in the end, what is most important to us are the people that we love.

At 8:43a this morning, I turned off the washer and sat at the bistro table in my kitchen looking out onto Saratoga Drive. I could hear the slight, distant rumble of the ever-present sounds of construction work going on nearby. I watched the flag my husband put out this morning flutter slightly in the breeze and was pleased to see that, because the morning was grey and gloomy, the vibrancy of its colors were noteworthy.

I became aware that the construction noises had stopped. The only sound was Clyde crunching away on his dry food (and I can hardly blame a cat for not being silent during this time). Although I was saddened to see that no one else on our street was flying a flag this morning, I was pleased that, apparently, the construction workers, all likely illegal immigrants, had paused in their work out of respect for those that died and for a country that they feel they are a part of.

A few days ago, I forwarded an email I’d received, one requesting everyone to fly an American flag on 9/11, to several family members and friends. One friend wrote back in a quite grouchy manner that, in essence, flying a flag was a worthless gesture and that, by the way, 9/11 wasn’t this nation’s worst tragedy, The Civil War had that dubious honor.

When I read this response, I was irritated. I thought about sending back a curt reply about this person’s (supposed) insensitivity. But, I didn’t, first, because he is a decent person and also because I know he tends to explore different “perspectives” on a routine basis (Socialism, Communism, now something called Objectivism) which is all his right to do and it is also his right to have a different opinion than mine (imagine that!) I figured the best way to respond was with a gentle, “I simply thought this was a nice way to remember all of those who died on 9/11”.

He almost immediately wrote back and apologized for being cranky. He also sent me a link to a site one of his web buddies had created to memorialize 9/11.

As I ramble on and on regarding this subject this morning, now well over an hour after the moment of silence, I am blessed in that I am here to do so, and, that no one I knew (that I know of) died on that day. At one point, a few weeks after 9/11 when they started to publish the names of people in the paper that had been killed, I read the name of my ex husband. I read it again. I wondered if it could be him as his name was fairly common (someone with his name actually signed the Declaration of Independence, too!) Although we were not speaking to one another then (for he’d done something yet again to really anger me), I worried about him enough to talk to my mom; she then called his mom, and he, a few days later, sent me an email telling me that he was fine.

My point in all of this is that, obviously, no one should have died that day, including those that we did not like.

All of this is what ran through my head in the time I sat here silently thinking. In total, about 5 minutes.

5 minutes. I could say that I should have thought more, that I should do more, than I have done. But, I think that I have in that I, and all of the rest of us, have accomplished the most important thing we could do in the past five years to honor the people that died and to thwart the organizations that killed them, and that is to refuse to be cowed in fear and to continue to live.

Mrs. B

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

5 Ways to Waste Time

Yeah, I'm wasting time. I need to do this, that and the other thing but, here I am thinking up lists of various things to post on my Blog! Oh well! I'd definitely be interested in reading YOURS!
Mrs. B
Five concerts you’ve been to (that might surprise people):
1. Ratt (80s hair band)
2. Bob Seeger
3. The Osmond Brothers
4. Sammy Davis Jr.
5. Jerry Lee Lewis
Five concerts you’ve been to (that WON’T surprise anyone):
1. The Bee Gees
2. Bruce Springsteen
3. Van Halen
4. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
5. The Who
Five movies whose ending you keep hoping will be different:
1. Gone With The Wind
2. Brave Heart
3. Immortal Beloved
4. Titanic
5. Old Yeller

Five movies whose endings are KICK ASS fantastic (in your opinion, anyway):
1. The Sixth Sense
2. Being Julia
3. Ghost
4. The Shawshank Redemption
5. The Sting

Five books you’ll be reading in the coming months:
1. The Hour I First Believed, Wally Lamb
2. Something For The Pain, Paul Austin
3. People Of The Book, Geraldine Brooks
4. An Echo In The Bone, Diana Gabaldon
5. South Of Broad, Pat Conroy

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day 2009

A few family pictures from yesterday's get-together at mom and dad's. Since there are so many cute cookie crunchers to take pictures of these days, there are not so many of the adults and none of me! That's ok!
Mrs. B

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ares's Adventure

For some reason, my head just wasn't on straight this morning. Distracted, wandering around starting one task before I finished another, bemused. Not enough caffeine intake, I guess.
One thing I did do was scoop out the cat boxes (this is the ONLY bad thing about having four cats; having to scoop out litter boxes no matter what every morning). As I was doing this, I decided the trash can (next to the litter boxes) needed to be emptied. This is one of those 20 gallon or so plastic kitchen ones with a snap on lid. I finished up the scooping, snapped the lids on the boxes, swept up the stray litter, took the lid off the trash can and laid it on the dryer, lifted the smelly trash bag out, put the bag of scooped litter into it, and threw it out into the primary trash can outside.
When I came back into the utility room from the garage, I noticed the cat food bowls on top of the dryer were empty. As the cats also needed their monthly dosage of Heart Guard (which I have to chop up quite finely and put into their food as NONE of them will eat the "treat" (never had a problem with this with Nigel and Clyde or with Lucy who views hers as a goodie)), I set to doing this task right away; chopped it up, mixed it in with the dry food and put the bowls back on the dryer.
Feeding the cats made me realize I hadn't yet fed Lucy (who was outside in the backyard for her morning constitutional). I got her food out of the pantry, went outside to give it to her (she was anxiously awaiting it) and walked back inside the house. I saw Ares go running by me into the utility room as I walked over to wash the cutting board.
I heard this crash and scrambling noise. Ares's typical MO is to jump up onto the trash can and then hop up onto the dryer (he CAN jump from the floor to the dryer but apparently this is much more fun). Well, since I'd forgotten to put the lid back on, imagine his surprise!
I went into the utility room to find Ares face down in the trash can, butt still near the top with one of his back feet wrapped around the lip scrambling madly to get back out of the trash can. Which, obviously, he couldn't do since it was hard plastic and he couldn't get a grip.
It was so damn funny. You all don't know Ares, but, let me tell you, he's a pill. One of our nicknames for him, "Little Butt Head", should give you a clue! So, yeah, pretty funny to see the normally swaggering Ares in this predicament.
If I hadn't been sorta worried about him (he was scared), I would have gotten my camera and filmed it.
He let me take him out and put him on the dryer where he promptly forgot all about his trauma and began eating his breakfast.
Who needs the TV? These pets provide us with more than enough entertainment! What a fun way to start off my morning!
Mrs. B