Home for my rants, raves and general sharing of 'insytes'. Some of you will enjoy this gathering of text - others will wonder how I tricked them into giving me a Blogger's license...

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Community. What a lovely word.

I am truly blessed and surrounded by a wonderful community of friends. Deep down inside I have always known this, but sometimes things happen that remind me just how lucky I am.

Friday was one of those days.

Chris and I decided to throw a last minute BBQ together this weekend, so I shot an email out to a small group of friends to come over and join us as we threw some meat on the grill, popped the top off a couple of beers, and chilled out in the sunshine. In the email I mentioned I had been laid off (part of the reason for the BBQ as I felt like celebrating) and joked if anyone needed their car washed or their weeds pulled - I was for hire.

In less than an hour I had three people respond with job prospects. My buddies had circled the wagons and were doing what they could to 'protect' me. They knew I didn't want to be out of work for long as I wish to keep the lifestyle I like to live (let's just say I have never been a Top Ramen kind of girl). Even a couple of Chris' friends who I didn't know as well offered some leads. God love them all for being there for me, and it just confirms how powerful belonging to a 'community' can be. Doesn't matter if it is centered around technology, knitting, sailing, or painting. Just circle yourself with loving, caring people to share your life and experiences with and you will be rewarded in so many ways.

So a big 'thank you' to everyone. I am busting at the seams with excitement over what lies ahead for me, and I sincerely appreciate the well wishes you have sent my way.

Also, stay tuned - there will be a big celebration bash once I either nail my dream job or hold that winning lotto ticket in my hand. :)

Photo credit: Amman Circle Of Friends

Technorati tags: community circleoffriends buildingrelationships giveandtakeandgiveagain

Friday, April 28, 2006

Dinner in a box

Chris and I had a wonderful lobster dinner last night (a little pre-layoff celebration), that came straight out of a can. Yes, that's right people. Whole Maine lobsters in a can.

I had a gift certificate from Maine Lobster Direct that I had received from a former co-worker
three years ago, and I decided Wednesday was the day to finally dust it off and call in my order. I don't know why I had held on to it for as long as I had - but I was surely glad they chose to honor it - and I can tell you it was well worth the wait.

The great thing about Main Lobster Direct is they make it so darn easy for the consumer. I picked the lobster dinner and side dishes I wanted (highly recommend the clam chowder and the bacon wrapped scallops), they package it all up and deliver in less than 24 hours. And the cool thing about this process is the can it all arrived in is the same can you cook the lobsters in. You basically throw a little water in and boil for 15 minutes. Whalaa. No fuss, no mess. Well, no mess until you try to de-shell the buggers. But, Maine Lobster Direct is a company owned by thoughtful people and they went the extra step and included picks, bibs and wipes which is all added bonus to make it as lovely an experience as possible.

And did I mention the lobsters were great? And don't even get me started on the scallops - we inhaled all twelve of them in less than 15 minutes. (burp) The chowder also kicks ass - light and flavorful. And before any of my Martha Stewart loving fans get a chance to rail into me...let me just say, I know I won't get a gold star for the way I plated the dinners, but I was starving by the time we started cooking so I just slopped it down. I will do better next time. I promise.

And there WILL be a next time. This is a good business, with great food and excellent customer service, so we will be calling them again. And I need to call David and let him know I finally used the gift certificate he gave me.

Technorati tags: mainelobsterdirect mainelobster lobsterdinner lobsterinacan

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Stick a fork in me, I am done...

...with my current employer that is. It seems tomorrow I will go into the office and I will be axed/canned/kicked to the curb. Oops, I mean laid off. That sounds so much better doesn't it? Lovely.

The funny thing about this whole event is I have known lay offs were coming, and I am just now updating my resume. On the eve of the big day. Part of the delay was my disbelief in whether or not it was really going to happen, the other is tied to things that I am just not sure I am ready to let out in a public forum.

I will probably bury it all, but I guess only time will tell.

Photo credits: Geocities

Technorati tags: laidoff axed canned outofwork needwork

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

LTC Hosts BrainJams New Orleans

A big 'thank you' to Mark Lewis over at the Louisiana Technology Council (LTC) who graciously opened his doors to host the next BrainJams event on Thursday, May 4th.

The LTC is doing good work throughout Louisiana by providing programs, events, organizational support and other value added services to individuals and organizations that advance technology development and contribute to their competitiveness and growth.

Good people doing good things. Show them love and support them anyway you can.

Technorati tags: louisianatechnologycouncil ltc brainjams brainjams04May2006 neworleans

Monday, April 24, 2006

Las Vegas anyone?

Sitting here staring at the calendar has me realizing another month has passed by without Chris and I securing a location spot to say 'I do'. Yes, we still have over 14 months to plan this bugger - but we have picked a rather popular date (07/07/07) and places are being gobbled up quicker than a pair of Manolo's at a shoe sale.

The frustrating thing is I thought we had it all tied up with the Southernmost House in Key West. It seemed like a perfect location to have both the ceremony and the reception while giving our guests a lovely place to stay while in town. Then the proposal came in and even though July is hurricane season (and as of a couple of days before this posting did not have a single room booked for July 2006), they still felt they can charge top dollar (and some) for our wedding in July 2007. I asked them several times to work with me on the site fee as they would be getting revenue from the room rates, caterers, florists, etc. but they would not budge. Of course, they can run their business anyway they wish, but I find it odd they would rather walk away from a weeks worth of guaranteed rental and all the fees that come with a wedding (totalling well over $30k), allowing the house to sit vacant, than to shave off even a $1,000 off the site fee as I don't feel their requirement to hire their staff bartender for two days was reasonable. Crazy. Make me feel like I negotiated a little something here or offer to add a few things to the package to compensate for the quirkiness of your agreement. Please. But no. So when I started looking at the numbers, I realized this 'destination' wedding was going to cost us as much (if not more) than if we stayed in San Francisco which just doesn't make sense. Come on...it is Key West for Pete's sake! Sure it would have been lovely, but my dollars should have reached so much more here.

So back to the search we go. I have since bounced Belize, St. Martin, Cancun and the Dominican Republic off of Chris and nothing has stuck. Doesn't have the right feel he says. Everything else I like is just too much money for our guests to have to pay to see us getting hitched - otherwise my trip to Florence, Italy would have
already been booked. Why is this so hard? AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

So I am ready to push all this destination wedding aside and go empty my suitcase still full of clothes from a recent business trip to Vegas when it clicked. Vegas. Why not? We can go as casual or as glam as we want. We can hang out at the Bellagio, jump in a gondola in the waters surrounding Venetian, or hang out on top of the Eiffel Tower in the Paris hotel. It is a fun destination with lots to do (which has been one of my sticking points). And there are plenty of great restaurants to choose from for the rehearsal and dinner and the reception. Yeah, this might work she thinks to herself.

Then the 'Why Not?' hits me. Another one of my sticking points is finding a place we could just hang for a week or more. I like Vegas for a day, maybe two - then I can't wait to get out. I also realize Vegas in July would be horrible and my mascara likes to run when the dial gets over 85 - can you imagine what I would look like if it hit 105? Yikes.

Crap. I guess the only solution is to call it quits on my personal search and turn this all over to Chris to decide. If he doesn't like the places I pick - then he can deal with it. Yeah, this sounds like the best plan I have had in a long time. Phew - now I can go eat my bon bons and get Desperate Housewives off the Tivo. Oh happy day!

Photo credit:

Technorati tags: wedding weddingplanning destinationwedding

Venue, venue – where are you?

Now only nine days away from the BrainJams event in New Orleans, I am starting to sweat some serious bullets. Securing a venue has always been one of the more (if not the only) difficult pieces to throwing an ‘unconference’, but throw in the fact that you try holding an event in a city that has been totally devastated by a hurricane – and well, it has given me more than a few gray hairs.

Now it seems most of the ‘free/low cost’ places we had scouted are either already booked for Jazz Fest events, or not ready to be opened to the public. One of my last hopes is a classroom in the Louisiana Technology Council building and I am fervently working with Mark Lewis (President of the LTC), so odds are good we can get the space, but I would still like everyone to get together – think nice thoughts – and cross every digit on your body.

Of course, if we had a sponsor who could kick up some serious cash for a hotel room ($5k which includes food and drinks all day) – the location would have been set two weeks ago. But, that type of sponsorship is hard to come by - and to be completely honest, I think it might even detract from the feeling we hope to get from the BrainJams events. Keep it simple. Low key. Enable people to connect through ‘fireside conversations’. That is the beauty of BrainJams.

This process also confirms previous discussions Chris and I have had on the need to build a repository of items such as venues, video equipment, sponsors, etc. to make it easy on other people trying to hold their own ‘unconference’. Because this part just sucks and I would like to save others from having to go through this process.

Technorati tags: venue needvenue unconference brainjams brainjams04May2006 sponsorship needsponsorship

Have you hucked a buck lately?

Through our efforts to bring BrainJams to the New Orleans area, I have had the pleasure of meeting a couple of lovely fellas, Chris Schultz and Blake Killian, who just launched their metasearch super engine, HuckaBuck.

HuckaBuck is great as it queries three main search engines (Google, MSN and Yahoo!) to ensure you receive the most comprehensive and relevant results all in one spot. HuckaBuck is cool as the boys added a search tuner that enables you to set personal preferences determining which results show first. For example, I usually use Google for most of my searches so with HuckaBuck’s search tuner, I can set my preferences to always show the Google searches first, then MSN, Yahoo!, etc. Nice. They have made searching so easy, and I have made them my primary tool as it is all about convenience baby.

To add icing to the HuckaBuck cake, Chris and Blake are also some of the nicest guys I have ever come across (no fib). They saw the posting for the May 4th BrainJams event and immediately called to offer help with whatever we needed to make this happen, even though their days (and nights) were already filled with launching their own company (which officially happened last Saturday – 04/22/06 – and I am truly bummed I missed the party). Truly guys who go above and beyond to help others, in and around, their community.

Oh, and did I mention they are donating a portion of their profits every year to several charities in the local area to help rebuild their glorious city, New Orleans? Yeah, I know. We need more people like Chris and Blake in this world.

Technorati tags: huckabuck search searchengine google msn yahoo! brainjams

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Chris interviewed by Net2

Eddie Codel came over to the house the other day and interviewed Chris about the power of blogging, and how it can help to build a community.

You can see the interview
here (less than five minutes long).

Technorati tags:
chrisheuer brainjams net2 blogging vlogging

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Women making a difference in this world...

Tonight I had the opportunity to have dinner with the Silicon Valley Supper Club (SVSC). This is a fabulous group of women in technology and digital media who get together once a month to share knowledge and advice to help each other get ahead in this world. They have put together a wonderful format where you can ask for something (job, money, advice, etc.) and then you must give something to the group (can be a book or restaurant recommendation, free consulting, new software you have mastered, etc). If you ask me, this is the best kind of support group and I am proud to be an offical member (thank you Lisa).

I would also like to give my heartfelt thanks to Grace Davis for extending the initial invite to me and exposing me to such a wonderful group of people. Grace, you should know - is the center of all that is good in this world. She has done so much in supporting the South with Hurricane Katrina support, setting up WoolfCamp for all those who love writing and the literal word, and now backing BrainJams by not only attending the next event in New Orleans, but blogging about it and spreading the love throughout the Blogher community. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I wish I were a poet so I could do you justice as my words be so much more eloquent, but I am not - so all you get is '
Grace, I want you to know you are such an inspiration to me, and you fill me with so much drive to push harder and do more for others around me. We can make a difference not only in NOLA, but around the world - it might be one baby step at a time, but we will do it.'

I also wish to thank Lisa Stone for being so open, loving and immediately pulling me into her fold. She is so much like Grace in so many of the lovely ways and I am blown away to know these two fabulous women. Lisa, your ask/give speech brought me to tears. Me! Hello, here I thought I was the tough one in the group and you brought me to tears. Thank you for believing in our organization. Your support means so very much to me, and if you ever need a chauffeur to take one of the kids to soccer practice - call me. I am there for you.

Sylvia thank you for the information on the steps hike. I am buying a pair of good walking shoes, packing Chris up in the truck and heading East to check it all out personally. I am sure my calfs will be thanking you shortly.

Joyce. Your willingness to help us in our 501c3 filing is so welcomed. I'll see you next week and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Lori and Pauline (wish I had your links...sorry!) - thank you for the donations to BrainJams New Orleans. I won't let you guys down.

Jory. First - congrats on the engagement - the story is fabulous and makes me want to go back and recite how my dear Chris proposed. I don't remember much of the night except spinning around on the dance floor and seeing him down on one knee. Oh well there is also the part where I went up to him and hit him as I thought he was joking. Ok, I need to blog it - it was funny and lovely and charged with emotion. Secondly, a big thanks to you, Elisa, Lisa and Susan for setting up this group and giving us the opportunity to connect with some amazing women.

There were so many more women - I should do right by you all and list you individually, but I am coming upon the bewitching hour and sleep is starting to take hold of me. I shall save my praises for next month as I look forward to getting to know more of you on a personal level and seeing how we can all contribute to each others successes.

Be well.

Technorati tags: women womenintechnology siliconvalleysupperclub svsc groups

Thursday, April 13, 2006

BrainJams New Orleans kicking into high gear

A whirlwind of activities has surrounded the New Orleans BrainJams event this past week, and I am excited to announce Sandra Gunner, President of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce and Mark Lewis, President of the Louisiana Technology Council have signed on to help promote the May 4th BrainJams event to their members in the small business and technology communities throughout New Orleans and the surrounding parishes. Wow.

Brian Oberkirch from
WeblogsWork has also been instrumental in introducing us to key people in NOLA, including Tim Williamson from IdeaVillage and Robbie Vitrano from Trumpet Advertising and Robbie has offered to speak to the CVB to try and obtain a donated space for the event which would be ideal, as that is always the hardest part, especially operating on a non-profit's budget (i.e. there is none).

' company, Conversal, is also kicking in a little something to help cover costs.

It is hard to believe we are only two weeks away from the event as I feel there is still so much we need to do, but I am sure this one will all come together as the
previous four events have. The project manager in me wants to control everything and well, I can't, so it is always an interesting position for me to be in. But I can deal. :)

Technorati tags:
brainjams brainjams:planning brainjamsneworleans brainjams04May2006

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Kristie and Chris living in South Park









A big 'thank you' to Kris for turning me on to some kids in Germany who put together a website enabling me to create my own South Park characters. I thought Flickr was killer of my time, but I think I have just met its match as I lost 45 minutes of my day today casually sifting through the outfits trying to figure out how to dress my boy a la South Park. Too funny.

So here we go - I now present Chris and Kristie, South Park residents, as they would be on their wedding day. Enjoy.

Technorati tags: southpark chrisandkristie weddingday

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Oh no. Not the 'B' word.

I have real contempt for the words 'bikini wax', but it seems there is another word that I can't stand even more, and it is sure to suck every bit of joy out of my body...BUDGET. Yes world - it seems Kristie and Chris need to be a little more mindful of the dollars we spend on a daily basis as we need to re-build our rainy day, sunny day, and even the foggy day fund. Blah!

Funny, as I never thought I would ever need to put controls on myself - let alone another human being - but looking at the year ahead and the possibility I may be out of a job in six months - I realize that money does not grow on trees and I need to quit buying handbags and shoes, and we both need to stop buying expensive wine.

I think the final kicker for me was sitting down last weekend in Tahoe with my buddy Petrina, who happens to be an event planner by trade, and nailing down the
actual expenses of our wedding. $750 for flowers? $1,000 for invitations? $11,000 for the site fee? How much for the catering bill? Eek gad. Somehow my $15,000 budget for a low key 'beach wedding' has been expanded to $36,000 (and this does not include our honeymoon which is sure to run another $15,000 as we bike our way through Tuscany). Crap. So much for destination weddings being inexpensive - that eloping thing is sounding better and better all the time.

Of course, I tell my consort it is all his fault as he wanted a nice upscale reception instead of my proposed pig roast and kegger. This I say to him as I am looking at those friggin bridal magazines and tearing out dresses I like, which all happen to be in the $4k price range. Oh Lord. Girl must grasp reality quick or there will be no wedding.

So, I realize it is ok. We can do it. Good things come to those who wait they say. I don't really need another handbag. I have enough strappy sandals. We can eat at home five nights a week. I am sure that $10 bottle of cabernet tastes just as yummy as that $60 bottle.
Am I really saying this?

I know there are some expenses in our future which could cause a little chaos with our checkbooks, but if we are smart, neither of us has to find a second or third job (I might just be finding a new first job, but that is ok as there is not too much pressure there), we just need to curb the impulse buyers within us and stay strong for a couple of months.

So, if we seem a little more crabby...you will know why.

Photo credit: Debitline-Online

Technorati tags: budget savingmoney weddingexpenses reducingdebt

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Drupal is kicking my ass

I know this will be a shocker to most, but, I am not a techie. I know, I know. I hide it well. I can talk it up with the best of them and I know it looks like I am using all the hot tools. Well, ok - maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration and you are all probably on to me as I havent' finished setting up my Dodgeball account and I can't remember what the heck my Bloglines password is to get the RSS feed running. But! I do blog, I am a Flickr user, and I use Upcoming.org to post all our BrainJams events. I even started to master Wikis. It is a good start of the Web 2.0 tools I think.

Then along comes Drupal. Now, I know it is supposed to make my life easier, but I must admit - this software is kicking my ass and I am cursing the day Chris brought it into our house for the BrainJams community site. What he seems to be able to do so easily - I sit for hours banging on the keyboard and pulling my hair out - and still can't get it to work right.

My tasks are simple - set up event and book pages to start. Ok, sounds easy I say. Alas, when I sign in and try to set up bullets for certain items, add lines inbetween sections and bold titles, it all bunches together into one paragraph. ARGH!!!!!!!!! Doesn't matter if I import it from Word or type directly into the page - it never formats correctly.

And of course, I am supposed to be helping Chris out, so the last thing I need to do is keep interrupting him everytime it goes haywire as that is not very productive. And even though I have Will's cell phone, I can't call him everything it crashes.

Maybe I ought to buy the book and learn it the old fashioned way,but this would mean I would have time to learn it and quite frankly, I don't as I am already scrapping for hours in the day.

So there must be another way. Guess I should do some research and see if there is a crash course offered for those of us who learn by watching someone do it once, in lieu of reading it on paper.

Come on technologists - make it easy for those us still wet behind the technology ears to learn this stuff. I get that it is cool - but I can't use it!

Technorati tags: drupal teachme web20 web2.0 trainingmanual

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Building a community we can be proud of

One of the interesting bits I noticed at WoolfCamp was the immediate bonding that happened within the group. I was not more than five minutes through Grace's front door before I felt the overwhelming sense of community, and to this day, posts continue to happen to the WoolfCamp blog as my fellow campers are emailing each other for tips while others offer additional insights to ensure we all continue to grow both spiritually and professionally.

I want to know what the secret sauce with WoolfCamp is as this is exactly what I would hope to see happen with the BrainJams community. I know something like this cannot be forced as a community usually needs to be nurtured and will grow organically when they are ready, but darn it - the Type A'er in me wants it now.

I have thought many times of the different groups and how they respond to each other overall, trying to dissect the phenomenon of the likes of WoolfCamp. It makes me wonder if it was due to the fact that WoolfCamp was predominately women? Note: sorry men in blogging land, I am not here to diss you, but we all have our strengths and women get the checkmark in this 'bonding' column for sure. Well, except for my consort - who is more caring and nurturing than many women I know. Though he is, per Miss Grace herself, a 'male lesbian' so I don't think he really counts.

Anyways, I digress...so the majority in this camp were women. They felt secure. Open. Able to communicate with one another. They belonged. There was a non-verbal 'permission to participate' once you walked in the door. I don't know how I sensed it, but I did. I am sure this is a major part of it, but how do you replicate it within a mixed crowd? Can you?

I also find that 98% of the women at WoolfCamp were bloggers and were already used to exposing themselves in public (some more than others -
ahem Liz and Debbie - ha!) and sharing their life experiences with others as they happen. They were willing to speak openly right then and there, and their fellow WoolfCampers were there to support, nuture and help you on your way. I think this fed into the feeling of comfort and the overwhelming desire to contribute to the WoolfCamp blog which definitely sets this camp apart from the others.

So does it really just boil down to women -vs- men? Bloggers -vs- non? I don't know, but I think I need to figure it out as a facilitator of unconferences who wishes to build a community. The BrainJams community. I want to see people live blogging during the events, and I want to keep the conversations going online afterwards.

Technorati tags: brainjams woolfcamp unconference buildingcommunity