Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: work (Page 3 of 5)

My, What A Fetching Chapeau….

Yes. There has been knitting. I haven’t done much in the way of blogging it, partly because I haven’t done as much blogging in general, but whatevs. You forgive. We move on.

Here we have Hat #1, the lovely Koolhaas, by Jared Flood (Ravelry Link, FYI). This hat rekindled my love of twisted stitches, reminding me just how much I adore them. In fact, they sorta make me shriek with joy. Apparently I was so swept up in my twisted stitches, I opted not to follow the pattern accurately, and so I stunted the first few rows by not knitting them in pattern, and continuing to make the stitches travel. If you do not knit, never mind. I made the hat too short. That’s why you see my buddy Amy modeling it, because it went into her birthday stash.

Amy's Koolhaas

According to her mom, it was THE hat in the house, eschewing all others, for a while there. Flattery, Miss Amy, it will get you everywhere, and quite possibly into my stash! I’m going to teach her how to knit over the holiday break, and I’m looking forward to it.

Fresh on the heels of no-hat-for-old-Jen, I knit another Koolhaas, this time for James. He wears it well.

Big grins

Now, I am going to make myself a Koolhaas, and I cast on for one this weekend, in a beautiful merlot-cranberry merino. But I also needed a hat, and fast. Enter the Chunky Cabled Tam, from the latest issue of Knit 1. (Rav Link)  It’s a fast knit – two strands of Manos, doubled, and it sorta killed my hands. But I was determined, and it was whipped out over the weekend. Part way through, I tried it on and got an interesting reaction from my husband. Part amazement, part shock and maybe a sprinkle of horror. “Is that for you?” he enquired…. uh, yeah! “Wow!” I think we agreed it takes balls to wear it, and balls, well, not so much an issue for me. Chutzpah. I haz it.

Cabled Beret

Yes I Can Wear This Hat


Someone at work pointed out it has the potential to resemble uh, Blueberry Muffin, from Strawberry Shortcake, circa 1980.  I’ll grant them that there’s a resemblance, with the caveat it does only when worn IMPROPERLY.  That’s if you put the hat straight up on your head, and anyone who’s ever worn a beret or tam can tell you, nobody makes that look work well. So piss off, Strawberry Shortcake. I’m wearing the hat and everyone else can go suck it.

And, apparently, this is my general approach to the holidays. I’ve not even looked for cards or wrapping materials, and I remain unfazed. The more I participate in the crazy, the crazier it makes me, so I’m resisting. I can smell the panic around the corner, though.

Woohoo, Short Week!

JWo is not happy I cleaned the coffee pot. He seems to believe the patina of crud ‘haz a flavr’. Well, LOL and it’s too late baby, yeah it’s too late, I can practically see my reflection in the dang thing now. It was my weekend highlight, getting that vileness cleaned out. I’m attributing his gout to the buildup and he’ll thank me later.

Still have the head cold. Not pleased. Just polished off some Theraflu and am verrrrry sleepy now.

Knitting is going well, I’m almost finished with the gussets on the sock club socks, and I’m on the last set of repeats for my second Koolhaas hat, the first one came out too small & was gifted to an adorable 7-year old; this one’s going to be perfect & is for James. I’ll make myself one next. But first, I think, the Druid mittens. (ETA: Koolhaas is DONE! Woohoo! I finished it while getting a pedi. The ladies there all thought it was awesome.)

Surely I am not the only person who rethinks their wardrobe choices before heading out to Target? I purposefully avoid wearing red when I go there. A long time ago, I was shopping & someone came up to ask me for help…. being a Target fanatic, I was able to help them, but I try to avoid the confusion if I can…anyway, the adventure wasn’t nearly as crowded or irritating as I anticipated.

Just remembered I’m bringing the green bean casserole to dinner on Thursday, which means, hey! I need green beans! And cream of mushroom soup (the official soup of Iowa, btw, home of the Hot Dish), and some of those fantastic french-fried onion thingies. Thinking about causing a commotion and getting the cheese-flavored ones. I hear they haz a real gud flavr.

Thunk! Thunk! Thunk!

When you hear someone talk about how they have a batting cage in their basement, what do you think?

“Man, that’s a big fuckin’ basement,” comes to mind. Also, “Holy moly, you have money.” I also think, “Goddamn I’m jealous.”

How awesome would that be, to come home after a stressful day, and just start cracking the bat & feeling that delicious thunk when the ball collided into your swing?

I’m not sporty. Never really have been. The one thing I could marginally do, at least exceeding expectations of those around me, was hit a softball with a bat. Perhaps it is the degree of solidness I bring to the plate. There isn’t any amazing upper-body strength, that’s for sure. But I always got an extra degree of smug satisfaction seeing the softball sail right on by the motherfucking first baseman, or second baseman, or shortstop, or pitcher, or third baseman, because all of them had moved forward about five feet when they saw me come up to bat. (We won’t talk about the running. Run-ning. Not so great. But still. They were runnin’, too, to get that ball. HAH!)

I feel like I’m walloping off the softballs today. It feels good, if not a little exhausting. Hope you’re having a productive, walloping sort-of-day yourself!

Apricot Tart with a Mascarpone Cheesecake filling Glazed with a Raspberry Sauce.

That’s totally what I would make for my “Make-My-Head-Explode-With-Rage” pie, in the spirit of the utterly charming movie, “Waitress“. I don’t even know if it exists, but after the day I’ve had, I was about to lose my shit all over the Costco parking lot. And then? I decided to think about pies. And what I would make, if I were going to theme my day. It really does diffuse some of the stress! And makes ya hungry, to boot.

Fortunately, I’d picked up a nice big bag of shrimp, and the Wo turned it into delicious scampi. We had that with some salad & a baked potato, all of which he fixed.   After we exchanged twenty minutes of sharp political banter, in which we both just decided to scream at each other the worst things about each other’s party we could.  All on the heels of declaring our unconditional love for one another, so, no worries, we couldn’t be happier. Well, we could be a little less maddened by each other’s beliefs. But it doesn’t touch our love, thankfully! Two minutes of balls-out yelling is cathartic: I’m a tax-loving liberal who wants to hand all the money to no-good deadbeats who’ve done nothing to deserve it; he’s a fascist capitalist who rewards businesses who don’t need more money with more tax breaks and leaves everyone who’s not rich out in the cold. Oh, and yeah, I’m a baby-killer.  But so is he. Now that’s a fuckin’ pie.

Hi! (I get enthusiastic after long separations.)

Enthusiastic, that would be a good “E” word, were I keeping up with that Alphabet Soup project… :) In any event, I could feel it in me, bubbling out, when I met up with my co-workers at LaGuardia on Monday. I’d spent the day traveling, but by myself, with little chitty-chat and moving amongst a sea of strangers. I remember when I first had a self-selected roommate, after college, and I chirpingly greeted her in the morning. (She was not a morning person, and I was more of one then than I am now…) I figured out that I’d spent so much of my life alone, or with just my parents, that upon seeing someone else in my life sphere, I became quite gregarious and happy for the company.

Now, I just hate people in general.

(That’s not true.) I would, however, enjoy the use of a taser while traveling. Not for nefarious purposes, but more for that person who thinks it’s perfectly fine to come to a screeching halt in the middle of the main-traffic-drag of the busiest airport in the world. The problem is, the longer the day got, the less judicious I would be. I would have taken out two people alone flying back to KC for their insistence on slowly putting their three bags filled with Walt Disneyworld purchases into the overhead compartments, rearranging them, with no sense of urgency whatsoever. Actually, only one of them was doing the stowing, the other one? Standing in the aisle observing. I might have half-body-checked her as she finally realized she needed to step back into her seat.  Might.

New York is a really kick-ass place, I love the energy and motion and the seventy-billion options you have, though it can get a bit overwhelming.  If I had the chance to go back in time and invest in two things? Parking and scaffolding. There’s a lot of scaffolding, and parking charges are crazy! We had drinks & snacks with one of our clients in Bryant Park, and it was just lovely, the atmosphere. On our walk there, I was bringing up the rear (that’s what we do, phat girls, we bring up the rear and take the pressure off everyone to slow their pace to ours.) I got waylaid a bit, waiting for a couple tourists to get their photos taken, and then I strolled by a Hispanic couple, her arms draped around his neck, as they stood in this little patch of green in the concrete jungle. They looked at me, I looked at them, she turned as I passed and said, “Your eyes are really pretty.”

So much for all those New Yawkers being asshats, eh?

I’d love to have a trip where I could stay an extra day or two, just to do things at my own pace, have the Wo by my side, to see some things for the first time together, to see his face as he drinks it all in.  We had dinner at a Belgian bar, and then on our walk back to the parking garage, ended up going through Times Square. It’s a lot cleaner now, I’ll give ’em that – it’s been 15+ years since I was there. I’ll get the photos off my phone, at some point!

Well, I’ve gotten derailed numerous times trying to write this, so I’m giving up – my concentration is shot, I’m still “hung-over” from the very long days of travel & meetings, and I’m ready to have a good dinner with my sweetie. I made the choice to get Papa Murphy’s pizza last night, and while it’s a “10” on appearance and toppings, it was about a “1” on flavor – I couldn’t believe how much it tasted like.. nothing. Uber-disappointing. And I was disappointed today on another matter entirely, so I’ve had enough.  Tomorrow is Friday, I’m going to strive for stress-free right on into the weekend. Hope yours is as well!

Oh, hi. Miss me?

It’s been another crazy week here! Yup! Work has consumed a big chunk of my time/life/brain, and as a result of that work, I’m heading back to NYC on Monday. Since I was a late-addition to the itinerary, my co-workers & I are going to be engaging in an Amazing-Race-esque travel event, with me leaving before everyone, flying to Atlanta, then on to NYC. They leave an hour and a half later, go through Cincinnati, and yet we’re all supposed to arrive at La Guardia at the same time. My brain keeps seeing the two colored lines peeling out from Kansas City in two directions, and I hear Phil Keoghan’s voice conjecturing if one team will encounter delays, or will we both arrive on time, and someone…..may be eliminated.

So, there are worse places to be stuck for 2.5 hours, which is my layover time in HotLanta, and I have loving, fond memories of that airport, because I walked off a plane once and saw a Body Shop in front of me. That was the trip where I’d forgotten my hairbrush, so it was a welcome sight indeed. I’m going to charge up my Zen and add some more music/This American Lifes to it, and of course, I’ll pack a knitting project, and a book. I dreamed a couple nights ago that I ran into the Yarn Harlot on my travels, too, which was pretty cool. My favorite part of this trip was when my boss told me that if they encounter delays, to just take a cab and get to Times Square. (That’s when my AE said that’s where we’d have the Amazing Race carpet to jump on.) So if you’re there on Monday during rush hour, and you see a fat lady talking to the singing naked cowboy dude, come up and say “hi”, I’ll be there waiting to get my next clue.

In other news, it’s a busy day here at the shop, because we’ve got our annual client/vendor party this afternoon/evening. There’s been a lot of hustling & bustling to get the place ready, and I’m just going to say it, my office is a disaster. I’m going to have to remedy the situation pretty quickly, but I also have another piece of my presentation to finish for Tuesday’s meeting. Instead, I’m blowing off a little steam & blogging. I miss my blogging!

Last night, we went to BB’s Lawnside BBQ, which is a fixture in the KC BBQ community (and I love that they underwrite on NPR); I had never gone there, despite its proximity to our house, so when I heard co-workers were taking our out-of-town AE there, I ran it by the Wo, who heartily agreed it was better than scrounging in our (very messy) kitchen for something. They had a band, and a helluva special, with a full slab of ribs & two sides for $15. Pretty tasty! And the music was great, and I even got snorgled by the harmonica player. I was engrossed in conversation (more like listening to the conversation between my hubby & a co-worker), and suddenly there was a man with a cowboy hat & a harmonica, playing by my face. Whenever I leaned away from him, he followed me, tickling my cheek & neck with the air from his playing. I couldn’t stop laughing, it was that crazy mixture of fun, unexpected attention and a pinch of embarrassment!

All right, I need to crank out my spreadsheet, and determine what’s for lunch. I know I’ll be Plurking my way through New York again, so if anything hilarious happens, I’ll let you know, and I’m going to see if I can blog with my phone as well. Just in case there are pictures that need sharing. Who knows? It just might be my week for cowboys!

Bodhisattva, Baby.

I’m not saying a whole lot about the years I spent listening to Steely Dan on a regular basis. Let’s just say, they were good times. I was in college. I didn’t really worry too much about my 40’s back in those days.

And I know they were good, because I’ve had another really stressful day? And after rebooting my *(&^&%$%)__(^&^%%^$$ computer after it precariously froze in Excel once again (with a huge table of numbers teetering in the balance), I scrolled through my iTunes, looking for just the right music to play while I continued to fiddle and work with all this data. Then I found it. Ah. A Decade of Steely Dan.

I just sailed through the rest of the calculations & am quite excited to start on the next phase. So relaxed.

And kinda hungry. Good thing hubs is grilling chicken for chef salads tonight.

Can You Hear the Drums, Fernando?

I’ve had what we like to call “A Day.”
Holy ABBA, Batman, bust out the shot glasses, swing on over to the liquor cabinet and keep ’em comin’.

I ping-ponged between a breakfast meeting to a client meeting, then off to the Studio to finalize the classes I’d be teaching, plus a lunchtime private lesson I’d scheduled. After waiting 15 minutes, I thought, hrm, maybe I should check my email, and sure enough, the student had canceled. (I found out tonight she had a very, very good reason. Poor thing.)

I high-tailed it back to the office, where I plowed through emails & a remnant handful of Doritos, and took off for another client/vendor meeting. All the while keeping my eyes peeled for a mailbox, which, have you noticed, no longer exist? Maybe they do, in small clusters or at drive-through post offices, none of which are near me, so I finally gave up on my way back to the office & just stopped at the Plaza branch. Again. No box out front. Must be the internet’s fault. Or terrorists. In fact, I’ve had such a long, machine-gun sorta day, I think it’s both. I should start a website. Wait. That might be …. confusing. Anyway, I went back to the office and stumbled into my iTunes, settling on some old-school Phil Collins to soothe my spirit. Now I’m thinking great, that was Christian Bale’s music choice in American Psycho. It’s been top of mind because I listened to the first part of this “This American Life” podcast when I was in New York last week. Just listen to Starlee Kine’s segment if you don’t have the time for the whole thing. It’s priceless. And will renew your teenage love of Phil Collins if you happen to be around 40 years old.

Oh, and through all of this, it was eleventy-billion degrees with the humidity.

But I’m home, the house is clean, we got Thai food for dinner, and it’s starting to rain. I’m going to knit and hang with the D-O-GGs and be so grateful that tomorrow is Friday, I have a half day (hopefully) and it’s a three-day weekend. Sleep. Crafting. Friends. It will be good.

If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando. Or do you go by Sussudio?

Oh, I forgot a c-word (which is odd to type, seeing how it’s everyone’s favorite euphemism for uh, that “c-word”) that’s pretty crucial to my list…. Competitive.

OK, It’s Official. The Big New Business Pitch Results Are In!

I knew last week, but couldn’t say anything.  My ad agency is the official agency of record for…..

wait for it….

drum roll…..

cue fireworks…..

Consumer Reports magazine.

We will get the full scope of our assignment next week (I anticipate more harried Plurking via mobile phone as we travel!).

I’ve worked on some fabulous accounts in my life, and I’ve worked on gigantic chemical companies that made my father cringe. (I’ve never forgotten a conversation on the phone – “I’ve spent my life as an environmentalist and my daughter works for XX?!” Another city, another job, but still. I hated his disapproval.)

Dad would approve. Highly. My Auntie Karen approves and agreed, Rick would have been proud. I talked about him in the new business pitch, and credited him for my own fervid love of the magazine. It makes me sad he didn’t live to see it, but my joy is still unchecked.  Oh, and I got to tour a chunk of the building when we were there – I was almost shaking with excitement.  To see where they test cameras, and televisions, and scooters, and laundry detergent. Maybe to some folks this seems mundane and geeky, but to me? Nir-frickin-vana.

Yeah. If I had a 40, I’d pour a little on the curb for ya, Dad.

The Concept of Loyalty

As a marketer, I’m fascinated by the psychological components that work together and create “brand loyalty”. I am a consummate consumer myself, and I can give you the rationale and reasoning (or lack thereof) behind many of the items I choose to buy.

Today, we were talking about a client’s business, and the different elements that contribute to loyalty. Our creative director talked about work on an account in a former life – an insurance company – who actually wanted their customers to file a claim. Unheard of, right? Well, this particular company had such phenomenal service, they knew that if their customer had one interaction with them, at a time of stress and worry, when something bad had happened – well, because they provided such great service, they knew that they’d have that customer for life.

That’s money in the bank, and that’s running your business well. Not many people have a product, brand, company that they’d commit to for life. But it also requires a commitment to that goal from the client. (important!)

Last month, when I was traveling (via train) with my interactive director, we were talking web stuff, and the subject of domain names came up. I asked him who he’s used – he answered, “GoDaddy” and then he asked who I used for my own website. DirectNIC, I told him. He laughed. Because he used to use directNIC, but as time went on, nobody seemed to recognize their name. I said that I’d happened onto them when I was helping my dad with his website, and had just stuck with them since.  Plus, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the staff at directNIC was in the thick of everything happening – and they stayed in their offices through the whole ordeal, blogging a live feed, posting photos, etc. I felt good about them. They were dedicated, they were reassuring everyone their data was going to be protected as best they could – and then they also had a unique opportunity to give the world more information.

But I still don’t know if I’d call myself “loyal”. Just stickin’ with ’em. Until tonight. Because as I referenced earlier, I had a devil of a time this past weekend, getting my little shopfront up and running, and then trying to redirect a sub-domain in my blog to that storefront. I knew it was on me to do it, and let’s face it, skilled in this arena, I am not.  I had two trouble tickets open – the first was closed quickly, refunding me the money I’d spent for a redirect, and then a day later, the second ticket was closed, stating that I couldn’t do what I’d figured out I couldn’t do. Ya know. Re-direct. As both tickets were closed, so was the issue in my mind. And then, tonight, I got an email from another tech specialist, who read my blog post about the situation, and he not only confirmed (in plain English) what wouldn’t work, but offered a solution, if I wanted to try to do something else differently. It isn’t something I’m going to do, BUT. BUT! BUT! He read my post. He responded to me when the ticket had already been closed. He went above and beyond. And now? I’m a loyal customer. Happy. Impressed.

There are other brands, products, entities, to which I’m fiercely loyal. Viva paper towels, for instance. Colgate toothpaste. Another brand (not mentioned)  -out of the blue- asked us to pitch them, and I can’t even begin to tell you how that feels. Like I’ve waited my whole career for this, quite frankly. I’ve done some unique, creative, innovative stuff – and I’m not even in the creative department. But this account would be like ….getting to work on a crazy yarn consortium consisting of Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Colinette, Hand Maiden, Louet, Wollemeisse and Noro. And all of them are giving you free yarn. I know. All my knitters just kinda wet their pants. Sorry! But I’m just that excited. Brand loyalty can really be that cool.

(Should know shortly on the business, too.)

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