Archive for August, 2007

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A Week of Rest and Relaxation

August 27, 2007

As I alluded in my last posting, I went to Palm Springs. It was a fantastic trip. Filled with relaxation, drinking, hanging out and tanning. I finished a couple of books, read the latest issue of the New Yorker cover to cover and did I mention drinking?

There was an interesting article in the New York Times that said American’s don’t take enough time off each year. And when I thought about it, before my trip to Palm Springs, I had only taken four days off in the past year. One day to paint my apartment, one day to drive over to Spokane and two days for my wisdom teeth recovery. Europeans have it too easy.

Photo of Justin and I outside our condo in the Oasis Resort. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton. Photo taken on August 13, 2007.

Photo of Justin and I outside our condo in the Oasis Resort. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton. Photo taken on August 13, 2007.

Photo of Justin in Joshua Tree National Park. I believe it was 150 degrees when I took this photo. Photo taken on August 15, 2007.

Photo of Justin in Joshua Tree National Park. I believe it was 150 degrees when I took this photo. Photo taken on August 15, 2007.

A photo of a lonely Joshua Tree. Scientists say that if current global warning patterns continue they could be extinct in 50 years. Photo taken on August 15, 2007.

A photo of a lonely Joshua Tree. Scientists say that if current global warning patterns continue they could be extinct in 50 years. Photo taken on August 15, 2007.

Photo of Justin and I in one of the eight pools at our resort. Photo taken on August 14, 2007.

Photo of Justin and I in one of the eight pools at our resort. Photo taken on August 14, 2007.

Photo of the sunset at Laguna Beach. While the sun was going down, the night was just about to get started. Photo taken on August 16, 2007.

Photo of the sunset at Laguna Beach. While the sun was going down, the night was just about to get started. Photo taken on August 16, 2007.

One last photo of Justin, Melanie and I at Laguna Beach. Photo taken on August 17, 2007.

One last photo of Justin, Melanie and I at Laguna Beach. Photo taken on August 17, 2007.

While in Southern California, we headed over to Joshua Tree National Park, spent a couple days in Laguna Beach and took a tram 8000 feet above Palm Springs. The average high was 112 degrees everyday and at 10:00 p.m., it would cool off to 102 degrees. Despite the heat, it was a perfect vacation.

Check out more pictures from the trip at my picasa album.

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The Most Satisfying Delay

August 13, 2007

Currently I am sitting at the airport. My flight is delayed. It was supposed to board at 7:30 a.m. and it is 9:03 with no end in sight. When I arrived to the gate, there were not many open seats. The only other good seat left was a handicap seat. I thought about grabbing that seat but I thought better of it and I squeezed into another seat adjacent to it.

As every flight except mine boarded, a middle-aged man sits in the handicapped seat. He places his bag down and makes some phone calls. After the latest flight delay announcement, he gets up and leaves with his bag still in the handicap seat. I begin to think what a douche he is.

Then out of no where karma strikes. An Alaska Airlines employee wheels up a very elderly woman and asks everyone whose bag is occupying the seat. The Alaska Airlines employee is pissed. After no one spoke up, she moved the bad and helped the elderly woman into the seat. The employee calls out to the owner of the bag one last time, pages the owner over the loud speaker and the man does not claim it.

Twenty-five minutes pass.

The man returns with a cup of coffee and a muffin. He asks the woman next to me where his bag is and she curtly tells him that they had confiscated it. I had just watched the three Alaska Airlines make talk about the man. They looked through his bag and discovered that he is an executive vice president of some company and that he should know better about taking the handicap seat and leaving his bag unattended.

The man walks up to the desk and inquires about his bag. The three ladies at the desk say that it has been taken to security which has it at lost and found. And lost and found is behind the security line. He began to complain bitterly and said that he was only gone for three to five minutes. He even said that he flies on Alaska frequently and is a first class passenger. But the ladies held strong and told him to go out to lost and found to retrieve his bag.

I was hoping that he would miss our flight to Palm Springs. But with the continual delays he made it back in time. But the extra hassle he went through was the perfect karmic payback for taking the seat of a handicap person.

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An Amazing Couple of Days

August 3, 2007

If there has been an overarching theme in my blog, it would have to be around change. I started writing this blog at a crossroads in my life. I found myself in Seattle after living in Eastern Washington all my life. And now as I approach my third year living in the city, I am amazed how different my life is now as it was that fateful Labor Day weekend when Justin and I packed everything I owned into a u-haul and headed for the coast.

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind. My last day at Business Week was on a Sunday and I started at the Pacific Northwest Research Institute (PNRI) the next day. Whether it was by design or on accident, they threw me into the fire. The annual fundraising event for PNRI was less than three weeks away – 300 guests, a quarter million dollars at stake and nearly 400 bottles of wine. And there was no formal orientation. They asked me to get things done and I had to figure it out.

The girl who I am replacing has worked at the event the last two years. And Tia has been amazing at it. I cannot even describe how much work there is to do for a fundraiser of this magnitude. Every detail needs to be planned and every potential fuck up has to be thought through. The goal is to make the guest have a seamless experience and thankfully, this is eased by the amount of wine that flows during the evening.

If you haven’t gathered yet, our annual event is focused around wine. The auction packages include nice bottles of wine and there is a wine tasting game. Winemakers from Woodinville to Walla Walla participate in the planning of this event, pour wine for the guests and they always tell us that this is their favorite annual event. The most expensive bottle of wine during the evening was a mini bottle of wine (I forget the name right now) but it was valued at $200 for a mini bottle.

I was solely in charge of guest registration and payment. And this was terrifying to me. Not only have I never done this event before I was 14 days new to the organization by event night. But it went well. We raised $255,000 for diabetes research. The volunteers were happy. I wore a headset and the guests needed taxis. But hearing the testimonials from parents with two little girls with type one diabetes was heartbreaking. Their father, Ted, was talking about how his parents suffered from diabetes and how diabetes can skip a generation – which it did for their family. Ted escaped the disease but it was passed down to his daughters. He spoke about the survivor’s guilt he had and broke down tears while giving making his remarks. It was his remarks that reminded me of why I got into the nonprofit world. Why I wanted to make a real difference. Why I wanted to make change.

I was exhausted after the event. It was 12:30 a.m. when I finished loading my car at Newcastle. Tia, Shawn (lead volunteer) and I took an open bottle of nice wine and sat on the terrace that overlooks the city. From our vantage point Newcastle, you can see all of downtown Seattle and Bellevue. You can see the moonlight reflecting off the sound. The stars shined bright and other than the soft sound of the sprinklers, it was completely quiet. The city looked so small from up there. We sat there drinking wine until a security guard encouraged us to leave at 1:00 a.m. Experiences like these change you somehow. I cannot explain it. So often in our lives, we are caught up in the shit and the drama. And after you finish something like this, you gain perspective. And you realize how much of the drama doesn’t matter.

Scientists at PNRI don’t think we will have a cure for diabetes in our lifetime. They say there is too much they still don’t understand. Too many mysteries. But I know that Ted believes his daughters will see a cure. And I hope they do too.