Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'm going to India!

Anyone that knows me knows that I LOVE to travel. Some people spend their money on big houses or fancy cars or boats or expensive clothes or ________ (fill in the blank.) I, however, choose to spend my money on travel. I love to see new places and new faces and learn about cultures and customs and history of the world.

I have actually wanted to go to India for some time now. And basically ever since I heard that Candice was going to India for two months I have had a somewhat unquenchable desire to join her for at least part of that time to fulfill that dream.

The big news is that today Heidi and I confirmed our tickets to go spend nearly two weeks in the world's 2nd most populous country. This is even more exciting because it has been somewhat of a drama to get the tickets squared away. Let's just say I found out the meaning of the saying "you can't get something for nothing" or, in our case something for next to nothing. This could be a whole blog in and of itself if I ever decide to go there one day. In the meantime, suffice it to say that if it looks like a shady deal in the Rite Aid parking lot and you are hopped up on cold medication, it probably is a shady deal in the Rite Aid parking lot.

So after paying the largest sum of money for an airline ticket I have ever paid, I am now in the process of getting an expedited visa to India (even more money), updating my vaccinations from the mission (yes, I'm that old...and even more money) and trying to figure out what we want to fit into our 10 days in country.

I may not be an expert traveler, but I am not a novice either. Regardless, I have heard time and time again that India is unlike any other place and that you will be shocked and thrilled all at the same time. I have a hard time grasping that concept (even with all of the adventures Candice is sharing) but I look forward to experiencing it all firsthand and very soon! I am not, however, looking forward to the long flights that will carry me over 9,000 miles to get there. But on the bright side, one of our connections is in London and that will be my first stop on European soil, even if it is just the airport!

Anyway, just thought I'd share my exciting news with everyone. I'm sure I'll have some good stories to tell when I get back so stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Labyrinth Canyon Ladies Club

Full membership of LCLC--2006 trip
Front--Kim, Candice, Alyssa
Back--Analee, Margot, Heidi

A few years ago I moved in to a new singles ward here in Salt Lake City. To make a long story short after about 6 months into my experience there I got linked up with a group of people that were planning a canoe trip. The group started out rather large but by the time the trip came around we were down to just a handful of girls who had actually committed to go. Our plan was to canoe Labyrinth Canyon on the Green River because our fearless leader, Kim, had been on that stretch a number of times with her family. If I recall correctly, I don't think that any of the rest of us had ever done much canoeing.

In June 2005 we loaded up our gear and our canoes and headed down to Green River State Park. It was raining cats and dogs and continued to do so throughout the night. I ended up sleeping in Lake Alyssa on my side of the apparently not-so-waterproof tent. We got up the next morning, rain still pouring, and actually went to a laundromat to dry some of our sleeping bags and other gear before packing up for the river.

Again, long story short we practically risked our lives crossing flooded out roads to get to the launch area and then braved hypothermia and death to get on the river in a cold downpour. We were still practically new acquaintances yet we pulled together and forged onward in the face of many challenges and ended up having a wonderfully fulfilling experience that has bonded us together and forever formed the Labyrinth Canyon Ladies Club.

We have now made our canoe adventure an annual trip and this past weekend we made our third journey down our stretch of the Green. Unfortunately with Candice in India and Margot otherwise occupied, we were down to four faithful members of the LCLC. Here we are the night before jumping on the river (the front of our shirts paying homage to our missing comrades):

It seems like every year we face a new set of challenges. This year it was the heat, low water, almost non-existent current and on day 2 the wind. Who would have ever thought that you could come face-to-face with white caps and waves crashing into your canoe on what is supposed to be one of the flattest stretches of water around? At one point we struggled to make headway on about a 1/4 mile stretch until we could reach a large sand bar in the middle of the river. While there we played "worst case scenario" and actually considered having to stay another night on the river. That idea seemed not so great once we saw the large feline-esque paw/claw prints along the bank of the river. Hmmm..

So we prayed for some guidance and waited it out a bit knowing that it was already 4:30 p.m. with 10 miles to go and that we wouldn't make the take out area in the dark. And NO ONE wanted to float the 52 miles past our take out until the next one! We were able to get back on the river and even though we did battle the wind on and off, I know that we were given strength beyond our own to keep paddling and make unreal time to finish the last 10 miles in just about 2 1/2 hours. So just remember that life lesson...perhaps God will not calm the winds that beat against you, but he will give you the strength to press forward.

We didn't get back to SLC until about 3 a.m.--entirely exhausted in every way imaginable. But despite this year's challenges, the annual LCLC trip is something I wouldn't miss for the world. There is nothing better than getting far away from cell phones, TV, work and the stresses of every day life and floating down a river in between beautiful red rock canyon walls. I am so grateful for the canoe buddies that have become like family to me and that we can celebrate our friendship every year with a little kick-butt canoeing! Paddle on ladies, paddle on!!

The shadow of our car on the red rock heading out of the canyon...I thought it looked pretty cool!

The road out of Mineral Bottom has a ton of curves with steep drop-offs. Nice work behind the wheel Kimmie!

After 2 days and 22 hours of paddling we earned our merit badge for tough chick canoeing!

Monday, June 18, 2007

2--not necessarily better than 1 or 3

The title of this blog likely seems a bit strange so let me explain this numbers game:

2 not better than 1
Doing 2 jobs is definitely not better than 1. See my blog from a couple of days ago about changes at work. Today I began the task of doing my job along with someone else's. I know that most of us have experienced that at one time or another as we have covered a coworker on vacation or for sickness, etc. But usually in that type of situation one has a definite light at the end of the tunnel--this being the date that said missing coworker will once again return to the ranks.

In this situation I don't have a light at the end of the tunnel. At least not a specific date to know when the added stress will shift away because my missing coworker will not be coming back and we have to hire a replacement. We have had a lot of turnover in our department but it has been a long time since I was the only Spanish-speaking coordinator around. This will be a tough position to fill because finding a bilingual social worker that wants a not very clinical job at non-profit pay is hard to do. At this point my boss hasn't even posted the job yet and is now on her way out of town. I am working on taking things into my own hands as much as possible to get this job posted and filled as it is definitely in my best interest to hire someone soon! Today 90% of my working time has been dedicated to the other job and not my own. I think I need to clone myself...or find that dream social worker soon...or move away on sabbatical. Wish me luck.

2 not better than 3
I am hoping to have more time tomorrow to blog on my canoe experience from this past weekend. Suffice it to say that when one takes a stretch of river that should be done over at least 3 days or maybe more and tries to condense that into 2 days it doesn't always work out as planned. I am still extremely exhausted and sore (I'm no longer the spring chicken of glory days gone by.) More stories and pictures to come...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The danger of "DO IT YOURSELF"

There are a number of things in life that I have figured out on my own. I'm not the most technologically savvy person but from time to time I do serve as my mom's computer help line. Of course the fact that I know more than her may just be generational. Anyway, what you see above you is the surround sound system I bought from Circuit City last week (a shopping experience that could be a blog all on its own.) I have been pretty busy lately so it has been sitting in the box until last night when I decided to attempt installation.

Now here is where the danger of the "DO IT YOURSELF" mentality comes in. My sales associate offered me the option of having someone install my new TV and surround sound for me. As I watched the sales total continue to rise with every new cable or accessory that was needed I decided I would save some pennies and install it myself. As I unloaded all of the speakers and accompanying DVD player and began the process of actually hooking things up, that pretty picture of the speakers soon became a jumble of wires looking somehwat like this:

The best part of this tangle of wires is that my beloved sales associate had touted this system as "wireless" surround sound. With further research I found that there is separate accessory that is the wireless receiver which would be an additional $100+ if I decide to purchase. This only added to the Circuit City joy I had experienced during the purchasing process. But suddenly that installation service looked so much more appealing, regardless of the cost. Maybe because at about this point I think I looked something like this...

And let me briefly discuss the helfpulness (or lack thereof) of the installation manual. If only I had brushed up on my Japanese perhaps I could have deciphered the instructions a bit better. Ok, so it wasn't actually in Japanese but it may as well have been because I couldn't make much sense of it. So after about an hour of struggling to hook up the tangle of wires to the main unit and then shove them through the small hole at the back of my entertaiment stand I was ready to hook them up to the TV itself. This process seemed to go much more smoothly than expected and I thought maybe I had finally won the battle.

I turned on the TV and powered up the main unit so that I could be blown away by my surround sound experience. And I definitely was blown the fact that NO sound whatsoever was coming from my magnificent set-up. I went back to my trusty manual to see what I could have missed. And there in the shuffle of pictures I see the text that might possibly be the key to experiencing life in Dolby 5.1--"connect audio cable from main unit to TV (audio cable not included.)" Let's review that last part..."audio cable not included." This is when all sense of reason left me because I cannot comprehend how one could buy an impressive surround sound audio sytsem without having the audio cable needed for it to work to be included in the box. So there I sat, watching the opening scene of "What about Bob?" in complete and utter silence. I think next time I'll abandon the "DO IT YOURSELF" mindset and invest a few extra dollars in my sanity!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

So I actually remember a time when I liked my job. I guess you could even say I loved my job! I would get up in the morning and look forward to coming to work. Don't get me wrong...I don't hate my job, but it's just not the same as it used to be. And that makes me sad.

A brief sypnosis would be that when I first started my job almost 5 years ago I was part of a different department and my job description was a bit different. It was a different time in terms of the whole organization as well. Things seemed to be more carefree, we had quality folks to work with and we were a happy little Shrine family.

Shriners has a little slogan that says "Having fun and helping kids." I am still helping kids but I am not so sure what happened to the having fun part. A few years back my old department was dissolved, the people I truly enjoyed working with were moved to another department and I was combined into an already existing department. Over the years I have come to appreciate my new cohort in their own way but it just isn't the same.

My department now feels like a bit of a dumping ground for everyone else in the hospital to get an issue off their desk and on to ours. More and more programs and responsibilities seem to be absorbed by us and it's becoming more and more unrealistic for us to keep up with those demands.

I think the biggest frustration for me is that we have had a LOT of personnel fluctuation over the past three years. It's like we can never get fully staffed and settle into a model of how we want things to work. Hence, the title of this blog entry. I try to be optimistic in thinking that we will eventually get settled but instead I am repeatedly learning that the only thing constant is change.

If anyone has suggestions on how to deal better with change I'd love for you to throw them my way. I've never dealt well with change and this latest round has me feeling that I may be the next personnel fluctuation they experience. Somebody help me put the fun back into helping kids!

Monday, June 11, 2007

World of blog

Ok, so it's really not that I'm behind the times or anything. I've known about blogging for a long time. I've looked at many a blog...but I'm not a "blog voyeur" persay. I mean, the blogs I have seen are kept by people I know. It's not like I sit alone in my room late at night browsing random blogs because I need something to fill the void. My life is sad, but it's not THAT sad! :)

Anyway, I guess I've decided that it's time to try something new. To get out there and publish somewhere. Not that I think I have anything terribly exciting or ground-breaking to share. Who knows, I may create this blog and only post every 17.4 days (give or take). Or maybe this will be my one and only post. Or maybe I'll post numerous times a day. The point is...there is a whole world of blog out there to explore and it's time I get my passport stamped.

As Itake a leap into the world of blog, I make no promises and therefore break no promises. So don't come complaining to me if you don't like it. This blog is yours for the viewing. Proceed as you wish...