Linda O

Linda O
Glamorous Me

Monday, December 29, 2008

One week left...

A week from today, I return to work. Ugh. Not that I don't like work, actually, it's one of the best jobs I've had in a long time, but it's that I've used up half my time off and have done NONE of the things on my project list. My family/friend dinner on the 26th was delicious, although my bro and nephew didn't come in from Palm Desert because Bob was sick. Big disappointment! (I really, really like my brother...in case you didn't know.) Good news: He's driving in today for leftovers. Bad news: it's another excuse to still not get started on my projects!

Yesterday, I helped my daughter by volunteering at the Community Faces booth for the South Bay Children's Museum. They were, in turn, helping another group, the Chula Vista Nature Center, which is being threatened with closure by the Chula Vista City Council because of--you guessed it--lack of funding. So, the Nature Center had a day of fund-raising at Bayside Park. It looked like they had a fairly good turnout. The media was certainly there! But, despite being in lovely San Diego, the SBCM's booth was in the shade, right in the path of a fierce wind from the bay and it was FREEZING! Well, at least it seemed that way to us San Diego wimps. We were all taking turns standing in the sunny spots and doing all we could to get warm. I think the cold kept a lot of the children from visiting the booth where they could draw a self-portrait or use the special paints for face-painting themselves and each other. I stayed about 2.5 hours and had to leave. I don't know how Connie and her friend Erica (the ExecDir for the museum) managed it for the full 4 hours!

When I left, I spent the rest of the day with my long-time friend, Connie Vickers (who happens to be my daughter's namesake). We visited at her house for a little while, then went to La Bella Pizza Garden for a DE-LEE-CIOUS late lunch/early dinner. La Bella has been around since the mid-50s, and it was a spot my family used to go to when I was a little girl! I grew up in Bonita and Sunnyside (little towns east of Chula Vista--so we had to go to Chula Vista to get to restaurants and stores back in those days), but when I came back to San Diego, I decided to buy a home in a completely different area of town, so I don't get to the old haunts often. Those old memories are nice when I want them, but I wouldn't want to have to live with them all the time!

Yesterday, I felt up to a little nostalgia and it was just fine...in fact, being with Connie and eating there was pretty special. (Side note: I went to La Bella with my new husband right after we got married by the judge in National City back in March 1967--Connie was there then, too! [The first Connie, that is! LOL!!] See? La Bella has a lot of memories that are usually best left in the past.)

It was a great day of both reminiscing and setting up thoughts for the future. Connie and I threw around some ideas for our Bucket List! Connie will be 60 this May, so she'll catch up with me then. We both need to add South America to our list of continents visited...so we discussed how that might happen some day... Hey! you've gotta start somewhere...

And, with 2009 almost here, what better way to spend an afternoon with an old friend?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Contented Christmas

It's about 7 pm on Christmas Day. I've had a peaceful, blessed day of connecting with friends, reading, and preparing a photojournal gift for Cheryl. By choice, I spent today alone. It's kinda weird, but it's been wonderful. My life is in a great place and my family and friends are, in most cases, better than ever. It's been a day of reflection and thought, and I've decided that I'm pretty happy to be me.

Don't worry, though...I'm definitely having Christmas events! Cheryl had a gathering of about a dozen family and friends at her home last night. She served us stew and a few loaves of killer garlic bread. Christmas Eve with her son, her granddaughters, my daughter, and various others who are all "family," is always a tour de force! Somehow, the love shows through and although we're all exhausted when they go home, we wouldn't have it any other way.

To meet my nephew's social calendar, tomorrow is my day to cook and act as host to the few remaining Garlands--Christine, Robert, and Parker (bet some of you didn't know that was my maiden name, did ya?). Of course, since Cher and I are family, she and her beau, Rick, and their good friend and boarder, Jim, will also be here. I decided to go all out for the dinner and bought a big prime rib. I plan to stuff it full of garlic (just like my mom used to do), season it, and roast it slowly until it's medium rare and juicy. I'm serving fresh green beans and a scalloped potato casserole to go with it. I wimped out on the dessert, though, and bought a frozen cheesecake from Sam's and a Dutch apple pie from Coco's. I can't seem to pull off the full Martha routine, although I do plan to have us all sit down together and use my grandmother's china. So, maybe being alone today was my way of making sure I had plenty of energy in reserve for tomorrow!

Some of that reflecting brought these things to mind (most are good things; a few are things that I pray will turn to good):

  • Rick is still working toward getting back to normal 7 months after his stroke. He's doing well, but he has a long way to do.
  • A good friend, Martin, is in the hospital with viral pneumonia. He's bad enough that they've put him into an induced coma so his lungs don't have to work so hard while they heal.
  • My friend Suzanna's daughter has had a tough year with several complications from kidney failure and other related problems.
  • My friend Janis, who has had breast cancer, has had it metastacize into her spine. At the moment, it's under control and the chemo is keeping it at bay, so we're all hopeful that prayers will continue to work for her.
  • Bruce, the husband of my dear friend Carmen, has had wonderful success with bone-marrow transplant and is doing well after months of very scary times. They just took him off the drugs that help the body not reject the donor materials. Good news!
  • My sister has been clean and sober (as far as I can tell anyway) for a few months. She's getting more together every day and although she may always have problems, they are fewer and less horrendous than they've been in a long, long time.
  • My daughter is well and seemingly happy. She's in a secure job and has made some recent changes there that seem to be for the better. I see her a lot these days and that's good.
  • My brother is happy, is a good man, and has been the kind of father my siblings and I all wish we had had.
  • Jim and Connie R, cancer survivors, have had clear, clean, cancer-free checkups.
  • Jeanne moved into her new home in Virginia and is playing nanny to her niece. Go figure!
  • I lost a friend this year, by choice. This loss was caused by confusion, anger, and miscommunication. I don't know if I can mend it; worse, I don't know if I want to. I do know that I think of her often and care about her well-being. Maybe that's as it should be. I wish her well in her new life.
  • I am blessed with a network of friends that support me and that I love dearly. My friends are my treasures. They fill my heart and give me strength beyond measure. My cup truly runneth over.



Here's a picture of me and Cher at the beach a while ago. It was rainy today, so not a good beach day!




Glory to you all; may your spirits buoy you through whatever rough seas you may encounter. Merry, happy seasonal blessings to you all! Whatever you celebrate, I hope you celebrate yourselves and this wonderful life...

Love always,
Linda

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Could be Lousy, but Isn't

Tough Times

Dang. I've fallen way behind on blogging. I keep thinking about doing it and then don't. Thinking ain't gettin it done! Had a small STC Holiday gathering at my home last night. It was delightful. Really got me into the mood even though I've promised myself and everyone else that I'm buying few presents this year, and those I do buy will be sensible and inexpensive. Money for me as well as for everyone I know and probably most everyone in the country is tight. The economy needs us all to buy, buy, buy; yet most of us are holding on and waiting. Three of the 23 folks who came to my home yesterday had recently been laid off. One of my best friends in Houston was laid off last Monday. Adobe closed down its San Diego office and everyone who was there is now looking for work.

I vaguely remember a recession almost this bad in the 80s. At the time, I was working for Uncle Sam, so I don't remember being worried about losing my job (and I was 25 years younger, so the outlook was a bit different). I certainly didn't have the network of friends and collegues who had lost their jobs as I do now. I don't know what's going to happen, but I don't think it's hit bottom yet. I am grateful for what I have and I trust that if it were to happen to me I'd get through it. The older we get, the less confident we are that anyone would want to hire us. Yet, so many of us are getting older, that if employers say no to us all, they'd have no one with any wisdom working. So, I'll stay confident that someone out there will have the smarts to know that I'm valuable to them. I'm hoping that HP will hold on to me. But if they don't, I'll throw my hat in the ring and pray. And, see if anything's left in my mutual funds to fall back on if necessary.


Joy to the World


So, now that I've purged myself of the negative stuff in the first part of this blog, I do want to share that I'm elated to be in this Holiday Season. I've decorated my little house more than ever and it's tasteful and fun. I've shared food and fun with a great group of folks and hope to do it again before the season is over.



I am actually pleased that HP is having a mandatory shut-down from Dec 20 through Jan 4 (even though we have to use 6 days of vacation or take unpaid leave to do it), because I can't remember when I've had 2 weeks home when I've been well. (I was home for 3 weeks in February when I had my knee replacement, but that really wasn't the same!) I'm phasing out my STC duties and slowing down parts of my life. I've begun seeing a therapist who has some new ideas that I've been mulling over and she's given me a lot to think about.


In fact, with her help, I've made the decision that for the next year, I'm not taking on any special volunteer roles or working a second job. Instead, I've decided to work on ME. Let's see if I can do it. I think I'm ready. It's only taken me my whole life to get here. I think I can be better. And, I think this is the year to make it happen. It certainly feels right right now.


So, perhaps I'll share a little of what I'm learning. I have a great friend whose blog I follow who has learned to write everything in her blog. She doesn't seem to hold back at all. I'm not sure if I'm there yet, but I'll see if I can do it. But not tonight. Tonight, I just want to share this picture of my house with you and tell you all that I hope your pre-holiday season is wonderful, and that you do something for yourself that gives you bliss!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Goodbye to a Good Friend

I have been threatening to post a blog for several days, but kept getting side-tracked. Today is Thanksgiving, and it was one of the sweetest and least dramatic I've had in a long time. I took my sister and daughter out to dinner and all went quite well. Then I came home and logged on to get ready to blog. It's still early in the evening and I knew I wanted to post something about how thankful I am for so much in my life...and then I read the blog by my dear friend, De.

De's golden retriever, Ginger, died last night. It was an unexpected death. Ginger was only 8 years old. How tenuous a hold we have on the critters we call "ours" and how much we grieve when they are gone. It was August 2007 when I visited De and Gary as an extension to an STC trip I had taken to Milwaukee.

During that trip, my dog, Katy, who was back at home in San Diego, died as a result of a series of mishaps I won't go into here. But, that night, as I lay in De's guest room and got the phone call from my daughter, I broke down and sobbed. I was trying to keep quiet because it was about 3 in the morning and I didn't want to wake De & Gary. Nonetheless, a minute or two later, De was at my door, entering with Ginger close at hand. The two of them sat with me and held me...one in her arms and one in her compassionate, sweet, loving dog's heart. De later told me that it wasn't my sobs that woke her, but Ginger. It seems that Ginger had heard me crying and knew that I needed her. I did.

And now, 15 months later, I can feel the strength of that wonderful soft head, hear the "purring" she would do when she was being petted or loved on. Ginger wasn't just De's dog, although she certainly was mostly De's and a lot of Gary's, she was the dog everyone imagines a dog being, the perfect, loving cuddler who had a passion for life, loved all things new, and gave her housemates everything she had right up until the moment God took her away. De and Gary have had three goldens that I've met over the years...and each has been special. But Ginger was the only one that I truly fell in love with; she was the only one who helped me through the night when I needed it most.

Those of us who are loved by a dog and truly embrace that love, are blessed beyond measure. Each dog is different; they are each here for only a short time in comparison to our own lives, yet we continue to bring them into our homes; we continue to fall in love with them; and we continue to grieve when we predictably have to let them go. Ginger was one of the best--but then they all are.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What we think about we bring about

Back in the US for a whole week! And the world has changed. Obama is our president-elect and although some conservatives are still throwing all the mud they can find, much of the world is hoping that this one man can truly make a difference. I don't know what will happen, but I do know that I'm optimistic. I'm open to the possibilities of a new way of thinking and a new attitude about the world.

Obama comes from a family of many races and religions and to me, that's good. Rather than worry about the specific jobs, beliefs, and attitudes of those people, I am hopeful that he will be open-minded and inclusive because of those people. Within the microcosm of his life, he has already experienced what our country is now about. We are not a white, Anglo-Saxon, male country; rather, we are a melting pot of the world. We have good and bad, all colors, multiple languages, multiple weaknesses, and multiple strengths. I don't know if any one of us can truly look at our network of friends and family and see nothing but good. I know I certainly can't. I have a brother who died a drug addict; I have a sister who is on the dole. I had a father who was an abusive bigot and I have had a personal history that certainly would be viewed as tainted by many who choose to live their lives judging the merits of others.

In my life, I have learned to see folks for the gifts they have, even if those gifts are difficult to find amongst the wrappings, styrofoam peanuts, and old newsprint. And, I'm willing to dig a little to get to the good, even if I get a few peanuts on the rug and my hands become covered with black ink.

I believe we all have something worthwhile in us and I believe that we live up to expectations placed upon us. So, my expectations for this country of ours are high. I believe we can be supportive of business and growth while we also take care of our poor and disabled. I believe we can embrace those from around the world who seek solace and success within our borders. I believe that we must choose wisely the reasons we send our youth into war, and I believe that what we think about we bring about.

So, I will think positive things and keep myself open to the changes that are about to happen. I believe that one day the world will be a global place of peace. I doubt that I'll see it in my lifetime, even if I do live to be an old, old woman (as I truly think I will!). I am hopeful that one day, religion and politics will be personal and will be tolerated and accepted. When that day comes, we won't have to thrust our beliefs on others, or be forced by others to accept theirs. We will only need to honor and respect each other--no matter what their beliefs; no matter what the color of their skin; no matter what politics they support. Only then will we be able to move on to other worlds and other planes of existence with intelligence and love.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-jig

Well, here I am. Safe, sound, and sane (sorta) in San Diego. Got home at about 5:30 pm Halloween night. Cher picked me up and Connie graciously came over to answer the door for all the trick or treaters! Thank goodness! After a trip lasting more than 30 hours, I wasn't in the condition to be jumping up every 5 minutes. As it turned out, we didn't have as many visitors as last year, but they did keep coming until about 9.

Connie went home, I took a shower, and then was wide awake. Stayed up til about 12:30, then slept in this morning till 11:30 am. Didn't do much today but talk on the phone to some folks and take care of a Christine issue. Nothing too worrisome, but it did take a little time. Big Connie came over and we went to a local joint for Mexican food. I may never want to eat Chinese food again!

I have so much to share, and yet I'm not up to it right now. It's about 12:30 am again. Guess my body clock isn't exactly working right. Oh! Tonight we set our clocks back...so it's really only 11:30. That makes me feel better.

I haven't unpacked. I haven't even gone through my snail mail. I did, however, catch up on HP and STC mail, called the HP Helpdesk and had my password reset, and figured out how to access phone messages on my work phone. (I know...how could I not have known that! just know that I didn't.)

My HP NT password had expired on 10/30, and since I didn't have my work machine, I couldn't reset it myself. So it was gone when I logged on this morning. The process was easier than I had thought it would be...and the announced 20-minute wait on the Help line was really more like 10. Nice to get small favors.

I'm not very energized, but I also don't feel too exhausted. So, maybe tomorrow I'll get unpacked and sort the mail and do laundry. That would make it a pretty nice day. It was great to be here with Charley and Karma and sleep in my own bed. Life is good. I'm blessed beyond comprehension, and grateful to the tips of my toes.

China is behind me. What do I look back on as sweet memories? the comaraderie of the delegates, their guests, and our guides; the juxtaposition of incredibly old and immediately new; the vast expanse of buildings and myriad ant-like workers woven in and out of scores of cranes piercing the skyline of every city; the breath-taking beauty of Guilin's landscapes and small farms; the friendliness of the people; the realization that in the cities, the people were dressed in Western style and moved and acted just as they do in any large US or European city (with the exception of the plethora of bicycles and scooters and pedal-driven carts mixed in with the Mercedes, Toyotas, and Hondas); the multitudes of people represented by mile upon mile of high-rise apartment buildings; the sweet care-taking of our guide Huang (Shawn); the sheer skill of each of our bus drivers to navigate amongst the millions and bring us all to our destinations unscathed; the healthy new knee that did everything I asked of it; and the satisfaction that our delegation represented techcomm with grace and intelligence in every city and every company no matter how formal or informal the meetings, no matter how little our hosts might have known about what we do. These will be the things that I remember and will treasure forever. It was beyond imaginings; beyond expectations--it was stupendous, yet I'm so glad that it's over and that I'm home.

So, based on that, I think I'll take me and all my little piggies to bed while it's still the first day of November 2008. I'll be back soon and I promise to write more and post some pix from the trip.

So, to hold you over until then, here's the story of the osmanthus tree--from which the Chinese around Guilin make wine and tea. I bought a small bottle of the lovely, sweet wine, but managed to drink it all before I left China! I don't think customs would have let me bring it in, anyway: http://www.paghat.com/osmanthus.html

Much love always,
Me

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tomorrow--home!



Well, it's not REALLY tomorrow...although it will be tomorrow here. then, somehow, through the magic of man's concept of time, I fly for more than a day and arrive home on the same day I leave. How quickly 11 days goes by when you are so busy you can hardly think! The days have flown by. Today, we have our remaining two professional meetings and a farewell banquet. I hope the banquet is over early...we have to leave for the airport tomorrow at 5:15 am!!! YIKES. I just looked at my schedule, and realize that we have to have our check-in luggage out at 11 pm tonite. Guess I'll have to restrict what I use for my morning routine--I usually put most of my makeup, etc., in my checked luggage! Oh well...I'll worry about that later.


This morning, we visit Accenture--the new name of what was once Arthur Andersen--I think. Then, we have the visit to HP, where I'll finally meet the team of writers that loosely report to me. I'm really looking forward to that.


Last night, seven of us on the delegation met with 9 folks working in techcomm who live and work here in Shanghai. Susan Wu, who has a blog at shanghaitechwriter.com (if that doesn't work, just google her!), brought some colleagues from National Instruments. One of the writers from HP was here, and an STC retiree who lives in Shanghai, Jim Edgcomb, came along with one of the native Chinese who sometimes works with him. My good friend, Melanie Flanders, joined us with her friend Sammy Huang who owns a translation company. The weather was rainy and all of us on the delegation were exhausted, so we stayed and ate at the hotel's buffet.


At the beginning of this post you can see a picture of all of us (minus Jim and Charles). It was great to talk to folks who are actually doing our work here in a country that doesn't quite understand what it is we do.
Well, gotta run. So much more to say but not time to do so now...maybe on the plane!
Luv & hugs to everyone,
Linda in Shanghai

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Update from South China

First wake-up in Guilin. We're only here a couple of days. One day culture; one day professional visits. It's a small, sleepy town compared to Beijing. And it feels just like HOUSTON! We are right across the street from a beautiful river walk. The pace feels slow, and the atmosphere is very laid back--as long as you don't think about the traffic. There's nothing like pedestrian right of way here...every time you step into the street you put your life at risk!

We're scheduled to take a river cruise today. Then, we visit a small village. First, breakfast here in the Sheraton. It's a western hotel and has a beautiful central atrium with restaurants, lobby, etc. I'm in room 2311, which will please my daughter. 23 is a good number for us! And, here, everything is about superstitions and numerology. People pay extra money to get certain numbers in their phone numbers!

It's been a whirlwind. No time to really do the blogging I had hoped to do. I barely made it to the bus in time to leave our first few days. Breakfast was me running into the restaurant and grabbing a roll or chocolate croissant and taking it to the bus. On the second day, I found the cheese, so I got something a little more substantial. The idea of sitting down to the breakfast buffet was impossible. No matter what I did, I was usually bringing up the rear. Not good for the leader of the delegation.

As many of you know, we've been having a lot of trouble getting into our livejournal blog. John Martin, who set it up, says that there's a lot of traffic on the internet about it. Apparently, the Chinese gov't has blocked it. We can access it through VPN lines, but not directly from a browser. So, the blogging there will be sketchy. Never fear, we all plan to catch up when we can!

The role of delegation leader has been amazing. I am truly the focal point of all the professional visits. Much of the time, the leading hosts will only speak to me during their speeches! They don't look around the room, they don't even act like others are in the room. It's unnerving at times. On our second day of meetings in Beijing, we visited CRD--whose definition escapes me at the moment (it's just barely 8 am Sun here & I have to be breakfasted and at the bus by 8:30).--anyway, they brought the province vice-mayor in to see me! SHE stayed only a few minutes to shake my hand and welcome us, but the event was covered by the media! I wish I knew how to find out where and how it was presented to the public--if it was. So much was incredibly formal. Lots of thank-yous and lists of accomplishments. We have had our photographs taken more this week than all the photos taken of me for my whole life. Lots of smiling and bowing and shaking hands and saying sheh sheh!

So, I have so much more to share, but as i said, I'm on a tight timeline. I'm hoping that these two days in Guilin will be a little more laid back than the first 4 in Beijing!

I'll add photos later. they take too long to upload now.

Luv,
LO

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This time I'll press Save

So, I've been in China for more than 24 hours. I wrote a blog last night and although I thought I saved it, it wasn't there this morning, so I must not have. I was pretty tired from the trip, so I'm not surprised that I lost it. Maybe the whole thing was a dream...I did doze off a few times trying to write it.

Well, the techcomm.livejournal site just isn't working for me over here, so I'll just write in my own personal blog.

Yesterday was a long day. I think I was traveling for about 32 hours. That includes waiting time. I think standing in line time should count double, but I'm having enough trouble trying to convert $USD to RMB (yuan). We flew from LAX to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific. Service was good and although the seats were uncomfortable, I did manage to sleep a little. Great movies were available. I watched two: Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Visitor. Both were good in different ways.

Thirteen of us at the same time & on same plane. In fact, People to People had two other delegations (nurses AND ground water) leaving LAX at about the same time. Groundwater folks were on our plane. Service was good, and the time really did go quickly considering that leg of the trip was 17.5 hours long! Capt said that there was a major headwind blowing from the west, so we were diverted way north. We flew across the Int'l Date Line. Surprise! (No one cared or was pinched or got a certificate, or anything!) But there was lots of room. sherry and I were at the opposites of a row with two empty seats between us. Sweet!

We got to Hong Kong at about 5:30 am on Tuesday morning (left San Diego Sunday pm). Hong Kong airport was almost deserted. Shops were closed and relatively few folks were around.

I think I went through at least 4 security checks during the day. This new knee sure gets me a lot of attention in airport security lines. Thank goodness it is doing very well!

Although the left one complained today, I was really putting it through a workout! Why?Because today I climbed on The Great Wall! What a thrill. Unfortunately, it was hazy, foggy, and even a little drizzly, so our pictures aren't as great as we would have liked. I have to download them and go through them before I can send any to you, but I'll get to that in a day or two.

I'm drifting off to sleep again...guess I need to sleep. Tomrrow is our first set of professional visits. I give the first presentation. We'll be at Peking University.

Be well and stay tuned.
BTW: Our other blog isn't working right, so this one might be all you get!

Blessings,
Linda

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Twenty-two hours to go!

Yep, just 22 short hours before I get on the first plane to head to Beijing! Let's see, SAN to LAX to Hong Kong to Beijing. I leave San Diego at 6:05 PM on 19 October, and arrive in Beijing at 11:25 am on 21 October. That whole international date line thing is a bit weird. I have no idea how long I'll actually be flying. The time changes make my head spin. But, what's even weirder is that when we come home, we leave Shanghai at 8:40 am on 31 October and I'm home in San Diego at 4:46 pm the same day! Guess that's how I get the day back that I will lose on the way over...

I remember when I used to date sailors (those details another day, another blog), they told me that crossing the international date line was reason for celebration and/or hazing...or was that the equator??? Hmmmm...goes to show how long ago that was! I can't even remember it right.

Well, I'm not ready. And, I've found something else to do to procrastinate just a little longer. Lots of things are done, but the packing is still far, far behind. I'm doing laundry. Can't pack it 'til it's clean, right? I have some piles of things all over the guest bedroom. That's my staging area and I'm hoping that by 3 o'clock tomorrow, when I have to leave for the airport, that I will be calm, cool, and collected, knowing that I have it all done and that I've forgotten nothing. Yeah, right!

I've cleaned out all the likely-to-go-bad food from the fridge, I've paid bills through the end of the month, I've got instructions ready for the dog sitter, and I think I have my traveling money figured out. I'm still putting files on my new laptop so that I'll have everything I need while I'm there. I got the car washed, and I had a mani/pedi, and I have my rides to/from the airport set up. Wish I had packed. But, nonetheless, I'm ready. Not literally...but mentally. The literal part will come.

The next time you hear from me, I'll be in China!

wan an! (good night)

Monday, October 13, 2008

L'hotel Linda and a new blog for the China trip

I'm blogging because it's been a week. A quick week! And still so much to do before I leave for China. I learned from Mary Wise, who also blogs (http://bozoette.typepad.com/red_nose/), that lists work in blogs. So, here goes:


  • Two great STC friends visited with me and stayed at L'hotel Linda on Saturday night. They had just taken a cruise to Mexico and had a 24-hour layover in San Diego before they returned to the east coast. It was fun to give them the speed tour of San Diego. Because of the Santa Ana conditions, the view from Pt. Loma was clear enough to see all the way to Arizona! (or so it seemed)
  • Had about 15 folks over Saturday night for a BBQ with the friends above plus Cheryl (my BFF) and her family and another couple who were visiting her! Ahhh, the spontaneity of life!
  • The China delegation has begun a blog just for the trip. So, if you're following this blog, you might also want to look in on http://techcommchina.livejournal.com/ from time to time. That's where we'll be posting daily journal entries about the trip. I won't be writing that one by myself, but will be one of 20 or so who will take turns being the group scribe. Should be fun. We promise to upload pictures and be as interesting as we can be!
  • Had a quiet day on Sunday. Took my buds to the airport, then had lunch with my sister, then came home to make lists. Didn't really accomplish much on any of the lists, but I did make the lists. Does that count?
  • Last night I went to the 99-cent Store. That's always fun! Had to get materials appropriate for presentation of our gifts to our Chinese hosts. I found some nice gift bags, a lot of tissue paper, and several spools of ribbon. Now, I need to figure out how to use all that to wrap 30 thumb drives, yet not take up much suitcase room. One of my duties as delegation leader is to collect gifts from all the delegates (once we get to Beijing), and combine them into gift packs that will be presented to each of our professional hosts. So, I bought gift bags for that, too!
  • I want to let all of you know about a great website that our delegation found: http://www.onebag.com/ . If you travel anywhere, anytime, you'll find something valuable at this site.
  • A few things that I have left to do: get a voltage converter; buy dog food; update instructions for pet/house sitter; gather papers, maps, journals, etc.; get SDG&E to turn on heater (it will probably get cold before I get back); go to the dentist for one last filling; tie up tons of loose-ends at work; and PACK!

So, that's it for now. Headed for work. Glad you stopped by!

Linda O

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My dear, most longest-time friend


Yesterday I had a long-overdue visit with Jean-Marie and Vicky Cercley. Jean-Marie was one of five boys who lived next door to me in a little courtyard at 13 Rue de la MaMora in Pt. Lyautey, Morocco, from 1954 until 1956. He and his twin brother, Claude, were about 4, his older brother Guy, was 5, his younger brother, Alain, was 3, and Patrick Tom was born in 1956, I think. I was the older woman next door--I was 6 in 1954. The picture to the right is of me, my mom, and my dad when we were in Pt. Lyautey. (I can't find any pix of the boys right now, but I will and I'll post them in an upcoming blog.)

My mom and dad were in their twenties and they found life-long friends in the parents of the five boys...Maurice and Hughette Cercley. At that time, Morocco was Maroc, and it was still a French territory. The city of Pt. Lyautey is now Kenitra, and I have no idea if the French/American air base where my dad was stationed is still an airbase at all. It's certainly not French or American! When the Arabs won their independence from France--I think it was in 1958 or 59, the Cercleys, like so many Maroc-born French, had to leave Morocco. They settled down in a suburb of Paris and missed Morocco every day for the rest of their lives.
Yet, somehow, the connections of that 2-year friendship have lasted long past the lives of our parents. Two years ago, I visited France and visited with Guy and Alain and their families. Patrick Tom passed away a few years ago, but the other four sons are hale and hearty and with the exception of Claude, I have seen all of them now in the past couple of years. Jean-Marie and Vicky live here in California--but north of San Francisco in Santa Rosa, and it just isn't as easy to see them as I would like. But it's definitely easier than seeing the other three in France!

So, yesterday's visit was heartwarming, information-packed, and fun. All of my family collected (my brother and his son, my sister, and my daughter) to visit with them, and although neither my brother nor my sister were born until we returned to the states, they met various members of the Cercley family over the years during visits and through letters. My mother and Hughette were sisters of the heart and loved each other as much as two sisters could love--even though they only saw each other twice after my family left Morocco. They died just a few months apart, and I like to think that they found each other wherever it is that they are now.

They both struggled to write to each other over the years. Hughette never did learn English, but my mom managed to learn enough French to translate her letters and with painstaking precision, she would share as much of our lives with Hughette through her letters as her French dictionaries would allow. In those days, trans-ocean phone calls were exhorbitantly priced, and there was no email for them to use. Airmail was their main connection with the very occasional phone call allowed for special events such as deaths, births, and announcements of upcoming visits.

My mom took me to France in 1978--three years after my dad died. We stayed with the Cercleys for several days. The stories around the dinner table were mostly about my father and the events of those precious 2 years in Morocco. Anyway, that family has always played a part in who I am and I know that I am better for them. So, Jean-Marie and his three living brothers are truly my oldest-time, dearest friends...I've known them longer than anyone else still on this planet in this plane of living. And, it fills my heart to know that they are still part of me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

CHINA!


Barring any unforeseen circumstances, and with God's help and approval, I will be crossing the International Date Line 3 weeks from today! Yup. The long-awaited China trip is almost here. I received a package from People to People Citizen Ambassador Programs (http://www.citizenambassadors.org/default.aspx) in the middle of last week, and amongst the luggage tags and passport holders, I almost missed our FINAL ITINERARY! Who is "our" and what is our "itinerary"? Well, in case you hadn't heard, I have the distinct honor of leading a delegation of technical communication professionals to China from 19-31 October 2008. A life-altering event is about to happen. My world is about to grow by an order of magnitude, and my wonder quotient will rise far above the height of anything yet experienced (or so I hope!).

The actual page on the People to People (P2P) site that describes the trip I'll be leading is here:
http://www.citizenambassadors.org/upcomingprograms/science_tech/oestreich-linda_10-2008.asp

We have 20 folks on the trip, five of whom are "guests." That means they are accompanying the techcomm professional and will have their own side trips to see more of the cultural side of China while my colleagues and I visit universities, organizations, and businesses to discuss the business and theory of techcomm.

Pretty nifty, huh? Of course, even with the 4 days of professional visits and several days set aside for traveling within the country, we will still do some cultural things. The one that I'm looking forward to with most excitement is the day we will take a trip down the Li River in the area of Guilin.


Lordy, Lordy! I'm just about the luckiest person in the world! I know only one of the people on the trip--my good friend, Sherry Michaels, who lives and works in Scottsdale ( http://www.docntrain.com/home.php). We have 20 folks going on the trip, so I'll be adding many more folks to my ever-growing network of wonderful people. The group is already multinational, even before we begin meeting with our Chinese colleagues. Our delegation includes four folks from Canada, two from Belgium, and one American who lives in Indonesia!

So, in the coming weeks you'll hear a lot more about this trip. My crazed preparations will take up much of my energy from now til then, I'm sure. We have all been sharing information through a Yahoo group. We've decided to begin a special blog just for the trip that we can all write in. That way, all of our friends, families, and colleagues can keep up with our adventures.

Be well, Everyone, Life is GOOD!

Linda O

Friday, September 26, 2008

Work, work, work


Big day at work today. It's Friday and I've spent the whole day in meetings to reconfigure our plans for getting the doc done in time to meet the yet-again rescheduled software release. Our first target was for October. Then it was moved to January '09, now it's moved back to late Oct/early November. I have a phenomenal team of folks working for me and they are really making some huge improvements in what we deliver to our customers, but the job is daunting and time is fast running out. Unfortunately, the scope of what we deliver has changed dramatically over the months, and one of my employees is on an extended disability leave. Not fun. But we'll get done what we can and move on to the next release. Documenting for enterprise-wide software systems is never simple. Yet it pays the bills and most of the time, I have fun and get a rather big kick out of working with the folks I work with. So, rather than face traffic, I'm blogging! Actually, traffic isn't all that bad. So, I won't complain. I just knew that if I didn't blog now, I might not get to it for a few days. Sometimes, over the weekend, I forget to log on! (HORRORS!)

Working for HP Software (http://welcome.hp.com/country/us/en/prodserv/software.html) is almost like working for Uncle Sam. It's interesting to me that I began my career working within a huge megabureaucratic environment, and if I play my cards right, I might get to end my career working in something similar. I know that folks who run this place would probably be offended if they realized that I compare the two. However, the processes in both places, for the most part, take more time than the results of those processes. We have a gazillion levels of management. (I think there's 7 or 8 levels between me and the CEO.) Most of my support from HR and IT comes from faceless emails or voices on the phone from faraway, exotic places (actually, that wasn't happening when I worked for the gov't!) Other than that, one big difference is that when I worked for Uncle Sam, I got wage increases more often! :-)

Nonetheless, I do like my work and the folks I work with, so I'm basically a happy camper. If the powers that be align, I could envision myself staying here until I retire. Of course, after being laid off by BMC (http://www.bmc.com/) back in 2003, I take each day as a gift and have no expectations for security. Just wishes. It's interesting to me that BMC is the #1 prime competitor for the product I now work on! Amazing how the world works.

As you can see in the picture, I work in a cube farm. First time ever in my life! Guess I was lucky it didn't happen earlier. It's better and worse than I imagined. You can see from the picture that it's certainly not extravagant! But, it does lend itself to keeping one's nose clean. Everyone knows everything about everybody. HP at least puts EVERYONE in a cube--even directors and VPs! Not sure about our CEO.

So, that's today's bit of thought. As I sign off, I happen to look up at a quotation from the Daily Word (http://www.dailyword.org/) that I have on my bulletin board: "I am a willing participant in change, a process of unfolding good." I'll keep that in mind the next time they change the release date.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

$700 BILLION Bailout plus

Lots and lots of traffic on home email about the bailout and the upcoming elections. I choose to be rather uninformed, because I find that when I get informed, I am even sadder/angrier/more scared to think about what's happening in our country right now. Nonetheless, this bailout is a topic that I am following better than most. I truly think that we (Americans) are in the most critical/tenuous position I can ever remember as an adult. I'm saddened by our loss of respect throughout the world. I'm saddened by the masses of us who are more interested in what Britney Spears is doing than what is happening to our economy and our planet. I religiously listen to NPR for my news. I can't handle the local TV news, but listen to the national news programs. From time to time, I read specific magazine articles that help me learn more about candidates and causes. So, I hope that in the long run, I can cast my vote based on some hard information and a lot of heart. I am always amazed at how each of us interprets the same information in such different ways, depending on what we bring along as our personal baggage. Nonetheless, I'm hopeful for us. I believe in our foundation of civil liberty. And I believe that the United States is and will remain the best country on Earth for living free. I hope I'm not wrong.

Along a similar train of thought, I did a fun and interesting quiz online this morning. It's part of an ABC poll (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/MatchoMatic/fullpage?id=5542139). You click on statements made by Obama and McCain to answer specific questions. Then, based on how many questions you chose by a certain candidate, you vote for that candidate. As I answered the questions, I really didn't always know which candidate had said what. I needed to answer what I thought was right. As it turns out, I was strongly in favor of Obama, but I did agree with some of what McCain said, so it was by no means a shut out!

I can't help but be pleased that I'll be out of the country the last two weeks of October. I won't have to listen to the last-minute, negative political ads. I'll be back in plenty of time to cast my vote. I hope everyone who can does.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's About Time!

I'm finally blogging! Got lots of things going on, not sure how prolific I'll be, but I'm gonna give it a try. For those who know me, you'll probably see the connection between my vanity plate, home email, and blog site name. I thought about calling it LO Knows, but the older I get, the less I know, so that would limit my blogging.

I like titling this Blog "LO Writing," because it doesn't set up any expectations. All I have to do is write! To begin, I thought I'd tell you a little about me.
I'm 60. My Myers-Briggs is ENFP (but I was barely an E), and my DISC is ISCD. I am a mom, although my daughter is as old as my mom was when I made her a grandmother (Egad!). So far, I'm not a grandmother, although I do claim my best friend's granddaughters from time to time.
I have a dog, Karma, and a cat, Charley. They're both girls, even though Charley's a bit of a tomboy. They give me love, keep me sane, and make me laugh. (Pretty good return on my investment.)
I grew up in and now live in San Diego. I lived in Houston for all of the 1990s plus some and although it was fun and I met many lovely people who will always be in my life, I am glad to be home. Someday, I'll blog the story of that life journey--to Texas and back!

I write for a living. Well, actually, I manage people who write. I used to write for money. Now I write for fun.

I love Paris. Not Paris, TX, but Paris Paris. I'm convinced that I lived a past life there. Oh yeah, that tells you something else about me. I believe in lots of new agey stuff. Not all of it, but a lot of it. It makes sense to me and helps me make sense of the world we're in.
I am a technical communicator. I've been active in STC (Society for Technical Communication) for many, many years--in fact, I am the Immediate Past President of the Society. My final year on the Board of Directors. Time to move over and make room for new ideas and new processes to match the evolving world!
So, that's the first installment. Glad you stuck it out! See you next time.
LindaO