Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I hope you enjoyed the recent Alex story about the love note.

Last night at dinner, I discovered the note, wasn't a note at all.

As part of the "100th day of school" celebration, each kid brought 100 of some edible item for use in trail mix.

Haley Hicks brought in conversation hearts. She didn't give the "call me" heart to Alex, but instead turned her 100 hearts into the teacher. The teacher then gave Alex a handful of the trail mix that happened to have the heart in it.

I asked Alex if Haley knew about the "call me" heart.

"When I saw it, I said, 'Haley, this says call me'."

Haley just shrugged her shoulders.

So, Alex isn't the romeo I thought, at least not yet.

Thank goodness, I definitely wasn't ready for that yet.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Race & Relationships

I have to share an Alex story from the other night.

The four of us were sitting down to dinner when Alex asked Lorenzo, "Dad, are you Mexican American?"

"Yes, Alex and so are you," Lorenzo responded with a smile.

So, Alex turned to me and said, "So, Mom, you're African American, right?"

Trying to suppress a smile, "No, Alex I am not African American."

"What are you, Mom?"

"They call me Caucasian. But, I am mostly English, German and American Indian."

"Well, I told Trey you were African American," Alex said very matter of factly. "I'll have to tell him the truth tomorrow."

"That's fine Alex. Why were you talking about this?," Lorenzo asked.

"We just were," with all the sincerity of a 7 year old.

"Alex, do you know what an African American would look like?" I asked.

"I guess not mom."

"Do you remember Brendan from soccer?"

"Kind of."

"Hmm, how about Condeleza Rice?"

"Yeah, she went to Notre Dame and works for the President, Mom."

"She is African American, Alex."


And he went on to finish his dinner. Who knew that explaining "race" would be so easy?
Alex announced that he has received his first love note.

Sunday, after church, Pam, Meghan, Alex and I were in Starbucks enjoying a morning beverage. (I highly recommend the Cinnamon Dolce Latte - they taste like a cinnamon roll!)

"Mom, I got a love note."

"What?!", as Cinnamon Dolce Latte comes dangerously close to coming out of my nose.

"I got a love note."

"Who gave it to you?"

"Haley Hicks"

"What did it say?"

"Call me"

"Do you want to call her?"


"Do you like her?"

"No, she likes Purdue." This couldn't have been more frank!

At that point, Pam was about to lose her non-fat upside down caramel machiato through her nose.

Yes, it's ND or nowhere.

Too bad for Haley Hicks.


Friday, January 20, 2006

Cell Phone Etiquette

We have all seen it happen. You're in a public restroom somewhere, and you hear someone else talking on a cell phone. Why they chose the restroom to have this call, who knows? So, you ask yourself the question, do you flush?

I believe that there is a key decision to be made. If the talker, rude as they are, is also in a stall, flushing is ok. Why? Well, they are going to have to also. Plus, maybe they'll get the hint.

However, if they are by the sink, having not entered the stall, then I can see an argument for delaying the flush, as long as possible.

Let's take an example. You are on a business trip, and your son calls you. You excuse yourself from the group dinner table and need a quiet space to take the call. One option is the bar. Option two is outside. Option three is the restroom. Personally, I avoid the restroom at all costs, but I can understand the need. HOWEVER, I wouldn't enter the stall!

I was at the office the other day. I heard a lady come into the restroom. She initiated her call FROM THE STALL. I was in shock. Timing was not her ally, because there were many flushes occurring.

The questions in my head ranged from "Who is she talking to?" "Can't they hear the flush?" "She is ok with them knowing she is in the bathroom!?!" By the way, she was clearly speaking to her boss. I certainly wouldn't call my boss from the restroom!

I don't get it at all. The restroom should be a private experience, as much as possible even in a public restroom.

It appears that some of the few remaining privacies are being killed with cell phones.

And with that, it's time to flush.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Chihuahua Chapter 2

In my last entry, I think my frustration was obvious. In reflection, however, I've developed a sense of sympathy for The Chihuahua.

She must be a very unhappy puppy. In the last day of our meeting, we cats were hissing or sleeping as she barked. She clearly realized her bark was not a meow. She realized that she was in fact, not, a cat and eventually stopped barking. Defeated and alone, she retreated to the back of the room.

There was a sense of victory for the cats. We had defeated The Chihuahua. It was like someone have given us catnip in the room!

I watched The Chihuahua leave. She left alone. No one said goodbye. Her tail between her legs, she left.

I must admit I truly feel for her. She really could be happier if she could read people. Any one of us cats have hissed at another cat, but we realize when we must stop hissing. Somehow she never learned when to stop barking.

In my early 20's, I had a boss accuse me of being a chihuahua. She counseled me. She taught me to hiss and de-clawed me. I resented the exercise at the time, but without a doubt I am now grateful.

In a team setting, to be successful, you must read the room. You must also control your own emotions. Finally, even if you have a chihuahua in a room of cats, you must try to de-claw them and teach the dog to hiss.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Corralling Cats

Yes, I am from Texas, but I am no Cowboy. I have no experience with a Cattle roundup, but being a participant in industry standard setting bodies, I am gaining extreme experience corralling cats.

I have spent the past 3 days in a group made up of manufacturers, retailers and service providers with the express goal of developing and implementing a series of messages to transact price information electronically.

For those who don’t work in the Consumer Products Industry, you should know that today, sales representatives across the world take price data from their internal company’s systems and fill out paper forms to be given to retailers. Some retailers, then literally publish that information in what they call a “price book”. The price book was the main way some manufacturers gather information about their competitors’ prices on items.

In other words, today’s non-electronic methods are not particularly secure. But, it has been the way in which we have operated for at least the ten years I have been in the industry.

The people involved in this committee are mostly from a technical background. They have never actually filled out these forms or seen a price book. So, they are trying to find an extremely secure method to transmit that data. Worthy goal, yes, but it has totally impeded our ability to meet our goal.

I should probably describe the data flow, so that the rest of this makes sense.

I am a manufacturer called Lynn’s Cookie Company and I send my Chocolate Cookie prices for Lorenzo’s Grocery Store to my contracted data pool service provider, X. Lorenzo’s Grocery store uses a different data pool service provider, Y. So, X sends my data to Y. Y then sends my data to Lorenzo’s Grocery Store. (See below)

In addition, there is a standard setting body that has to certify that X & Y meet certain standards.

Readers, I am not the most technically savvy person. However, my experience is deep enough to know that security, as important as it is, can impede our ability to process data in a timely fashion. However, this is my first encounter with the concept of security impeding a group’s ability to even create a hypothetical solution.

I am so frustrated with them. First, I have heard a number of comments.

“My CEO says it must be secure, because it’s our price data.” Fair point, but if you tell your CEO it’s secure, he’ll believe you, as opposed to checking himself, right? And given the billions of records that will be transmitted daily, and broken into spearate pieces, the likelihood of a mean spirited body discovering the price of Lynn’s Chocolate Cookies is slim.

“My company is only willing to allow a partner with which I have a contract to view my data. All else must be passed through encrypted only.” If the standard’s body has certified both of them, then why don’t we trust both?

“But the ideas you’re proposing mean I’ll be changing my backend systems.” DUH! This is a change. Today there is no standard, so when a standard comes change follows.

We all know that my patience, especially in a business environment is not known as endless. However, when you add to this environment, a personality that:
Can not ready body language
Is extremely willing to shanghai the group’s progress based upon her inability to understand the material
Is blunt to the point of rude, continuously
Well, you can imagine that I have really enjoyed this meeting, right?

So, I have been sitting in meetings, with a group of cats who can’t agree, and added a Chihuahua[1] to the meeting, who thinks she’s a cat, but clearly doesn’t think or process as quickly as a cat. And, as natural for a group of cats with one dog, (or dog-like creature) the cats have left (at least mentally) and the Chihuahua keeps barking. Unfortunately, for us cats, we’ve got no-one who can remove the dog (we’ve all been de-clawed), we’ve got no one who can lead us cats anywhere (cats aren’t really known for group behaviors anyway), and we can’t leave (without our claws, we are relegated to being indoor cats).

The good news is that this meeting is over, and we’re not getting together again until the last week in January. I am concentrating on growing some claws in the meantime.

[1] For those who love Chihuahuas, I do not intend for this to be a slight against their personalities, but instead this reference is due to the striking resemblance between the person and an actual Chihuahua.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I've Been Working on the Railroad

Have you ever noticed that the melody of the Texas Fight Song is the same as "I've Been Working on the Railroad"?

Well, living in Texas, and having Uncle Ernie as a graduate, Texas is one of the few schools that we also root for in college games. Thanks to Uncle Ernie, we have a bottle opener that plays the Texas Fight Song when you use it. Meghan loves it and has figured out how to cue to the music without a bottle. Of course, since I am not a Texas grad, I have delighted in teaching Meghan the words to "I've been working on the railroad", each time the melody plays.

Lorenzo rolls his eyes, and Alex's always finishes the song...LONGHORNS!

As you may have guessed, we've heard the song a few times in the past day or so.

I must admit, I was quite happy to learn that the Longhorns won. It's always ok for me to see USC lose. However, the funny part was listening to Meghan sing "I've been working on the railroad, all the live long day" every time the song starts.

We may live in Texas, but the kids are ND born and bread.

GO IRISH! Beat Georgia Tech....Ramblin Reck... or bumble bees!

And, Congratulations Longhorns.