Monday, July 31, 2006

Angry & Jewish

Mel Gibson is an anti-Semitic alcoholic.

At least that’s what all the papers are saying.

He was driving while heavily intoxicated. He was pulled over and got belligerent with the arresting officer. Then he started spewing hatred about Jews.

I’m not surprised by any of it. But not why you’d think.

Yes, his father is a known anti-Semite who claims the Holocaust was mostly fiction. Yes, Gibson’s a big supporter of Opus Dei, a fundamentalist Catholic organization that advocates misogyny and corporal mortification. And yes, he’s battled alcoholism his whole life.

But here’s why I’m not surprised by Gibson’s hard fall from grace: It’s what invariably happens when you set yourself up as a shining example of anything.
Question: Gibson is one of the world’s most popular actors. He’s a millionaire many times over. He’s received blessings and prayers from millions of Catholics around the world because of his blockbuster movie, The Passion of Christ. He’s met the Pope, for Pete’s sake.

If this guy can’t get his shit together with all that going for him, how can we?
He says he’s sorry.

He said: "I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable."


Oh, I’m sure he’s sorry. There’s no question about that.

He’s sorry that his career is essentially over. He’s sorry that he got caught drinking and driving. He’s sorry for the pain he’s undoubtedly caused his family. He’s probably sorry he let down his fans, who I’m certain are praying for him this instant.

And he’s definitely sorry he said that thing about the Jews.

But he’s a big fat liar for saying it’s not what he truly believes.

Alcohol is like truth serum. It magnifies your worst habits and inclinations and brings out every ugly, mean thought you’ve ever had.

This guy actually believes that "Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."

Doesn’t seem particularly Christian, does it?
Oh, Heather.

You’re supposed to be compassionate. This man is presumably at the lowest point in his life – it’s splashed all over the newspapers and tv – and we should feel sorry for him.

That would be the Christian thing to do I suppose.

But today, I’m feeling kinda angry and Jewish.

And this what I mean when I say I’m feeling Jewish: I’ve really had it with people hating others more than they love themselves and their families.
I am reading: Steinberg
I am listening to: Nothing because I forgot my goddamn headphones
And I am: You guessed it, angry and Jewish

Friday, July 28, 2006

Meetings 101

Tuesday I was sucked into a Very Important Meeting at the last minute.

Four of us were granted 30 minutes with a Big Cheese at our largest business partner, which happens to be one of the biggest, nastiest technology companies in the world.

I’m usually pretty flexible when it comes to these things, but it was irritating for several reasons:

Irritation #1: The meeting was scheduled for 10:30; I heard about it at 9:45.

Irritation #2: My three co-workers had a pre-meeting the day before to prepare. I wasn’t invited.

Irritation #3: The meeting didn’t go as well as it could have if I’d been involved earlier.
I’m not good at much beyond mowing the lawn, but I know how to run an effective meeting.

I’ve mentioned this before. You attend enough bad ones and you become an expert on what it takes to make a meeting work for everyone involved.

Sadly, the people who truly suck at managing meetings are the ones who end up running them most of the time. They’ve been doing it the same way since God invented meetings (“Adam, meet Eve. Stick to the agenda, stop looking at her tits, and try not to bore her to death, okay?”) and they’re not about to change.

Here’s the old way of handling the Very Important Meeting: A sales rep or some other Mid-Level Executive Hoo-Ha stays up ‘til 1 a.m. the night before, building a presentation of no less than 50 slides summarizing what your company does.

This presentation includes a detailed description of every technology, department, company, industry, and executive with which/whom you’ve ever worked. It also includes a list of every employee of note at your organization, including Betty the receptionist who is otherwise un-noteworthy except for her huge breasts (“Oh, that’s Betty. How did that photo get in here? Hee-hee. You’ll meet her at the golf outing; she’s an expert ball-washer.”)

The presentation also features a one-page graphic of how your company is structured. Pyramids and buildings with columns were popular in the 90’s. Since then, there’s been a shift to flowing, swirly diagrams that are more visually appealing yet still confusing and uninteresting to anyone other than the CEO who demanded the graphic in the first place.

Exactly one hour before the meeting, the sales rep hogs the color printer making 50 copies of handouts before realizing there’s a typo on every other page. Thankfully, the font is so small that no one can read it anyway.

The rep frantically asks Betty, Keeper of the Huge Breasts, to find out exactly where he’s going and with whom he’s meeting because up to this point he hasn’t given it one thought.

At the Very Important Meeting, the rep proceeds to talk for 60 minutes straight without taking a breath – let alone a question – while heads nod, eyes glaze over and the potted plant wilts sadly in the corner.

He blathers on about your company, occasionally injecting what he believes is witty banter with the glassy-eyed folks in the room who remain un-fooled by this fake attempt at familiarity.

Your rep talks about everything in hopes that something, anything will resonate with the decision-makers in the room. At the end of the meeting, which blew through the 1-hour time limit and never followed the carefully prepared agenda, your brilliant and breathless sales rep says: “So, what do you think?”
You’ve sat in on these meetings. Nobody likes being sold to. Nobody wants to listen to someone yap for more than an hour; we did our time and paid our dues with that in college, thank you very much.

So here’s how to become a master at the art of the Very Important Meeting:


1) Write down a short list of goals you’d like to accomplish.
2) Research the company and executives with whom you will be meeting; Hoovers and OneSource are great resources for this. If your company doesn’t have a subscription to these on-line research tools, find someone who does and borrow it.
3) Develop a long list of questions to ask. What are their goals? What challenges them? What are they held accountable for at the end of the day? Think of possible answers and develop follow up questions as well.
4) Memorize highlights from case studies on the value/ROI you’ve delivered to existing clients in your prospect’s industry.
5) Also, now is a good time to figure out who else from your company should attend. Share your research, brief them on their role, describe the value you expect them to provide, and clearly explain how you plan on running the meeting.
6) Lastly, figure out if you have any mutual acquaintances through your well-developed network. Don’t use who you know as an ice-breaker (it’s too obvious) but as the icing on the cake if the meeting goes well.

I know what you’re thinking: This is an ass-load of work, Heather.

Only if you’ve never done it.

Once you develop a good list of questions, you can re-use it and tweak them for specific prospects along the way. The research is probably the most work, but it can take less than 10 minutes if you know what you’re looking for and have the right tools.

What about preparing leave behinds like sell-sheets and case studies? For that first meeting, don’t leave ‘em with anything but your business card and a smile. It’s a great excuse to send them something post-meeting to keep the dialog rolling and your company foremost in their mind.

During the meeting: Take two minutes to introduce yourself and your firm. If you can’t do it in less time than that, smack yourself in the head repeatedly and practice until you can.

For the next 45 minutes, ask all of your questions. The VIP decision-maker should be doing most of the talking, which is great, because it makes them feel as important as they undoubtedly are.

I’ll say it again in case you weren’t listening: Your prospect should be doing most of the talking. You’re not grilling him – it’s supposed to be an easy, enlightening conversation in which your prospect has the starring role. And for Pete’s sake, don’t be afraid of silence; give ‘em time to think about their answers so that you’ll get better information.

Besides keeping you from talking too much, asking a lot of questions:

1) Makes the other person feel important
2) Helps you find out things you didn’t know about their role, their business and their corporate culture – stuff you’d never find in any on-line research tool or industry rag
3) Shows that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say and not just trying to sell them something they might not need
4) Gets you out of the typical inward facing mentality and forces you to think about the value you might bring to your prospect from their perspective.

If you’ve done your homework, listened closely and taken good notes, you should be able to spend the last 10 minutes of the meeting explaining how your product or service could help them overcome their challenges and meet their goals while saving time, money, or both. Confidently convey that you understand their unique business challenges better than most by offering valuable insights on how their industry peers are leveraging your product/service to create competitive advantages and grow their business.

It’s critical to take cues from the person you’re meeting with: If he’s actively engaged and yapping to the point of over-sharing, just roll with it, my friend. You win.

But if your prospect is glancing at his watch – or contemplating slashing his wrists – take the hint and cut the meeting short.

Wrap up with next steps, thank them for their time, and burst out of the room with a spring in your step and a song in your heart.

Then go home, scratch your dog, have a scotch, and screw your wife, because you’ve earned it. You’re a Master at the Art of the Very Important Meeting.
I was the only one from our team who asked a question.

It was near the end of the Very Important Meeting, which went on for nearly 90 minutes – way over our allotted time.

“How do we compare to other alliance partners in terms of our approach to the market? Is there anything we should be doing differently?”

I thought the Big Cheese was gonna leap over the table and hug me, he was so happy at the prospect of finally being allowed to speak.

It was disappointing that we didn’t get to hear about his goals and challenges and how we might be able to help him. It was frustrating, having left the impression that we really don’t care much about what he has to say.

And I told my co-workers exactly that, in between bites of sweet and sour chicken at our post-meeting lunch.
I am listening to: Frou Frou – Holding Out for a Hero (Shrek 2 soundtrack)
I am reading:
And I am: Bitchy

Thursday, July 27, 2006

All cracked up

I guess this is a good thing: it’s gotten so bad that now I laugh uncontrollably when something doesn’t work right. It’s either an excellent coping mechanism or I am finally going completely bat-shit after all these years.

The wireless network here at home freaked out this morning. The garage door opener is giving me attitude.

And that painful back/rib thing I had earlier this year decided to return for no good reason.
So I’m face down at the chiropractor’s office an hour ago getting the Best Massage of My Life and listening to the Best of Phil Collins wafting through the office.

The best of Phil Collins? Yep.

It’s a much longer album than you’d think.
Actually, I know why the back/rib thing came back.

I resurrected the evil backpack for Boston – it was the only bag that would accommodate the Mac plus all of my miscellaneous girly travel items.

Lugging that thing around for a week did some pretty good damage according to my chiropractor, who (speaking of bat-shit) looks exactly like Hannibal Lecter but has the hands of a Minor Deity.
Confession: I’m glad this happened.

I’ve been carrying all these minor irritations and major disruptions around in my head for more than a month – it’s no wonder I’m cracking up physically and mentally.

I needed a not-so-subtle reminder from the Universe that this is the Year of Traveling Lightly.

Now if I could just get Phil Collins out of my head, I might not go bat-shit after all.
I am listening to: Phil Collins (c'mon sing it with me: Sussudio! Oh oh oh!)
I am reading: Client case study
And I am: Lighter and laughing

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Could be raining

At this point I don’t care if the Mercury retrograde is responsible for all of this month’s ugliness.

I just want it to be over.
Why do we expect things to go well all the time? Why do we expect people to get along and do the right thing? Is this a uniquely American trait?

Because I’m pretty sure the folks in Iraq and Israel and Lebanon don’t think that way.

They expect things to go badly.

And while I’m sitting here mildly irritated by a half dozen things that didn’t go my way between the shower and the train station, folks over there are hoping and praying someone they love doesn’t get blown to bits today.
There’s a woman sitting behind me on the train talking a million words a minute into her phone. She’s speaking so fast it sounds like a foreign language.

And it’s not a conversation – the other person isn’t getting a word in edgewise.

It’s an odd comfort, knowing that things could be worse and that I’m not the only person she’s irritating right now.
It could be worse. Yep.

It’s a by-product of our easy American lifestyle.

We comfort ourselves with the misery of others.

It’s why the Maury Povich show is so popular. It’s why that appalling American Idol gets big ratings.

And it’s why I don’t feel quite so badly about things this morning.
I am listening to: The rain
I am reading: My guy Steinberg, for whom it’s always raining
And I am: Mildly irritated but feeling guilty about it

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


was the last time you laughed so hard your belly hurt?

My answer: Yesterday.
I am listening to: Nothing
I am reading: Nothing
And I am: Giggly

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bueller? Bueller?

What is your idea of perfect happiness? A sunny day at the beach
What is your greatest fear? Being dependent
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Queen Elizabeth (because she was unconventional – not because she was a great leader)
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Small-mindedness
What is your greatest extravagance? Annual vacation by myself
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Piety
What do you dislike most about your appearance? Freakishly huge boobs
Which living person do you most despise? There’s no one on earth worth that kind of negative energy
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Fabulous + the standard bad swears
What is your greatest regret? I don’t have any regrets; I am here for a reason
Which talent would you most like to have? The ability to create something that will be here long after I’m gone
What is your current state of mind? Relaxed
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would be more compassionate
What do you consider your greatest achievement? It hasn’t happened yet
What is your most treasured possession? My comprehension that possessing anything/anyone is an illusion
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Ignorance
What is your most marked characteristic? Being non-judgmental
What is the quality you most like in a man? Sense of humor
What is the quality you most like in a woman? Self-awareness
What do you most value in your friends? Unconditional love
Who are your favorite writers? Mark Twain, Ayn Rand, Jane Austen
How would you like to die? Quietly, quickly and without causing headlines
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? My dog Gromit
I am listening to: Roxy Music – More Than This
I am reading: Mitch Albom in the Freep
And I am: Ferris Bueller-ing

Friday, July 21, 2006

Between the Moon and Mercury

All week I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about this next topic without coming off as a complete nut-job.

Um, Heather? Two words: “Quee. Quee.” Get over it.

Right. Here goes.

Things are out of whack.

It’s been this way for a couple weeks. I started a short list of everything unusual that’s happened but it became a long, rather depressing one and I had to stop.

Friends/family arguments. Unexplained illnesses. Computer issues. Power outages. Missed flights.

On a personal level, it’s things that normally take just a few minutes to do taking all day. People being exceptionally stupid and thoughtless. Nothing seems easy.

Worldwide, it’s this Big Ugly Mess known as the Middle East and that ass-hat in Korea.

Everything everywhere seems to be getting worse, not better.
I’m sure you’re with me on this. A lot of my friends have noticed it, too.

There’s an explanation. And that’s where the whole nut-job thing comes in.

It has to do with the planets.

It’s called Mercury Retrograde. Because of the Earth's movement, planets actually appear to be moving backwards around the sun during certain times throughout the year. When Mercury is in retrograde things related to technology, travel and communication do not function as well.

Look it up.
So you’re telling us that a teeny tiny little planet 50 million miles from Earth made my computer die last week?

Heather, please. Do us a favor. Go back to talking with the bunnies, because this shit is whacked.

Exactly! It’s totally whacked.

But it's the only decent explanation I've found for all the crazy bullshit that's happened so far this month.
I don’t believe in astrology.

But I do believe that the moon holds sway over way more than the tides here on Earth.

Remember my fat mean bitch of a roommate? She worked in the children’s psychiatric ward of a hospital. Like clockwork, her patient count would escalate around the time of a full moon. My other roommate worked in a juvenile detention center; again, the full moon always meant more troubled kids.

More babies are born when the moon is full. And police and fire departments are busier.

And how do you think we got the word lunatic, hm?
It’s never a good idea to start a new project during a Mercury Retrograde. Don’t plan any trips – and if you do, leave yourself extra travel time. When it comes to communication, think before sending that nasty e-mail.

These phases are a good time to clean and organize things. Get rid of clutter. Do all the little unimportant things that you can never quite get to and leave the big things for later.

Later? When, later?

This current Mercury Retrograde ends July 29.

So hang on. Things will get better.
I am listening to: Acceptance – Take Cover
I am reading: Steinberg in the Sun-Times
And I am: Happily waiting for the weekend

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Let us swear

“Hedy said the f-word.”

It’s a family joke that dates back to high school.

My brother and I got into a huge fight – who knows why. We thought no one was home at the time so the f-bombs were flying.

Later we found out my dad (who never swore in front of us) was there and heard the whole thing.

Laughing, my mom gave us a summary of the argument as conveyed later by dad: “Eric called her a fucking bitch and said fuck you. And then, well, Hedy said the f-word.”

It’s a giggly yet telling commentary on how I imagine all fathers feel about their little girls.
The fact is, I’ve been cursing like a truck driver since seventh grade.

I love it. It’s a part of who I am.

And it won’t kill me like smoking, drinking too much or taking drugs – bad habits I’ve never had or needed.
Speaking of bad swears: Bush said shit this week. And the whole thing stinks.

He knew that microphone was on – these guys don’t fart without some professional handler guiding them through the process. Bush knew exactly what he was doing and he knew the media would make a big deal of it.

It’s a sad, irritating pattern with this administration and with politics in general.

When faced with bad news of any sort – and we’ve had plenty of it lately – those in power create non-news events knowing the media will serve it up like a toasted crap sandwich.

Sadly, we gobble it up. Because when you’re starving for real news, the shit starts to taste pretty good.
I am listening to: Not a goddamn thing
I am reading: A client case study
And I am: Hungry

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Same bunny, different day

The train whistle blows. The echo follows, soft and far away.

And I am back to the comfort of my routine.

I usually take Airport Road to the train station. It’s a zippy, winding little stretch with no lights and very little traffic.

Plus, there’s this bunny eating breakfast every morning alongside the road.

I like bunnies.
When I was very little, my parents taught me how to call rabbits to our backyard.

It’s true.

I’d yell “Quee! Quee!” at the top of my lungs and like clockwork, the bunnies would come to visit.

I know what you’re thinking: “Well THAT certainly explains a lot.”

Nah, my parents were just very creative and fun loving with my brother and me.

It was much, much later we realized that the rabbits only came close enough to dine in our big vegetable garden.

It might sound silly, but to me it’s a classic childhood memory.

Because when you grow up with parents like mine – who remind you almost daily that you can do anything you set your mind to – even calling the bunnies over for a visit is possible.
I am reading: The Teachings of Buddha
I am listening to: Tom Petty – American Girl
And I am: Grateful

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Not pretty

“So tell me something about Heather S______ that I don’t know.”

That was Mr. What-Happens-in-Boston, sitting on the steps with me at City Hall Plaza last Thursday night. We were eating teeny tiny cheeseburgers from one of the 30 food tents, drinking Sam Adams and waiting for the Train concert to begin.

I want to believe he was just being friendly – he’s married with two kids – but I’m wary about getting too familiar with work folks.

My first thought: What you don’t know about me, you horny little honk-knob, could fill a book.

But of course I didn’t say that.
“Oh my god. It’s a nightmare,” said Maureen Flatley, a political consultant from Essex. [USA Today, July 12]

While I was in Boston last week, a 3-ton concrete slab fell on a woman riding through one of the city’s infamous Big Dig tunnels. Her husband was driving and somehow survived.

From the convention center, we could see the emergency vehicles and news crews at the tunnel entrance.

Maureen Flatley was right about one thing: it certainly was a nightmare.

Except she wasn’t talking about Milena Delvalle, the woman who died so tragically.

She was talking about the traffic.

It's unfair to generalize, but Ms. Flatley was sadly representative of the native Bostonians I encountered during my stay. The 20 or so I met were a surprisingly crass, crabby and cruel bunch.

“If we can’t get those foreigners to leave, we’ll just have to start settin’ traps for ‘em,” said McNeil the cabbie, referring to the native Costa Rican woman crushed in the tunnel as he drove us to the Union Oyster House for dinner.

I wanted to ask the captivating Mr. McNeil when his ancestors came over from Ireland.

But of course I didn’t say that, either.
As a veteran of software conferences, I’ve got a few tactics for dealing with creeps who try to get too personal. Here’s one of my all-time favorites:

“You’re pretty,” says the creep. “Tell me something about yourself.”
“Things weren’t too pretty an hour ago, lemme tell ya. I was in the crapper putting on a major concert and you wouldn’t believe the stench. Like something just crawled outta my ass and died. Whew-wee!” says me.

Works like a charm.

Of course, I couldn’t say that to Mr. What-Happens-in-Boston.
So what the hell did you say, Heather?

“I was married in Scotland. In a castle by a lake.”

It’s good for two reasons: It’s mildly interesting and it serves as a gentle reminder that I have a knight in shining armor waiting for me back home.
I am reading: 1776 (VERY busy weekend, but almost there)
I am listening to: Cherish – Do It To It
And I am: Pretty good

Monday, July 17, 2006

Technical difficulties

  1. A fireproof wall used as a barrier to prevent the spread of fire.
  2. Computer Science. Any of a number of security schemes that prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to a computer network or that monitor transfers of information to and from the network.
Apparently they upgraded the firewall last week so I couldn't get in to update my blog, among other things (including our own corporate web site.) But thanks to the outstanding IT staff here, HedyBlog will be back in business Tuesday morning.
I am listening to: Cherish - Do It To It
I am reading:
And I am: Hot

Friday, July 14, 2006

All I ever wanted

I am flying home from Boston this morning.

I am people’d and software’d out.

Although I got to see Train again last night.

I saw them live for the first time at a PeopleSoft conference in San Francisco almost three years ago.

I’ll never forget that night: Hearing Drops of Jupiter made me cry because my life was changing in so many ways. It seemed like I was making decisions to eliminate everything that was safe and comfortable in my life – literally taking off to strange places in order to find myself.

Hearing that song tonight made me realize how far I’ve come since then.

No tears this time. And no regrets.

I found myself and everything else I thought I’d lost.

It's so good to be back.
I am listening to: Train - All I Ever Wanted
I am reading: 1776 (I know, I know, I’ll finish it this weekend. Yeesh.)
And I am: Back in the atmosphere

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The connection (revisited)

So Tuesday night I’m sneaking out of the Go-Go’s concert at the Roxy (hosted by Microsoft) when an ex co-worker shouts ‘Heather!’ and foils my escape.

I haven’t seen this woman in a year. We rarely spoke when we worked together. But at that moment, it was as if we were long lost relatives.

“It’s so good to SEE you. We should TALK this week. Where are you STAYING?” She gushed.

This is Familiar Face in a Foreign Land (FFFL) syndrome. She was overly excited to see me only because she’s in Boston not expecting to run into a soul she knows.
FFFL syndrome also is one possible explanation for the connection concept I mentioned earlier this week.

Incidentally, I am revisiting this topic at the behest of a dear friend who admonished me (actually he began with GOD DAMN YOU! and it got worse from there) for not giving the whole connection thing the attention it deserved.

So here's the big question that I ‘ran the feather duster over’ last time: Why do these rare, profound connections occur?
I moved to Illinois in 1989. It took more than a year of living there before running into someone I actually knew and sadly, it was my fat, mean bitch of a roommate.

Because of FFFL syndrome, I practically hugged her right there in the canned goods section of the grocery store, having finally found a familiar face. As humans, we search for the familiar -- people, things, and experiences to help us feel comfortable. To make us feel like there is order in our environment.

On the flip side, we’d like to believe we’re unique. There's only one you, they told us in kindergarten, and we believed it. So we think the odds are slim we’ll find someone just like us out there in the world.

In reality there are people like us everywhere – you can’t walk 10 feet without tripping over someone with whom you’ve got at least 10 things in common.

But we delude ourselves into thinking we’re special. So when we encounter someone who is actually like a long lost relative, we think it’s a miracle.

I like this explanation because it is rational. But you can’t rationalize a feeling. You can’t apply logic to a miracle.
The last time it happened, it was profound. Exceptional. Recognition on a molecular level.

The explanation I’ve favored most up to this point is reincarnation. Some people are familiar because we actually knew each other in another lifetime. It’s FFFL syndrome on a higher level.

I won’t get into the whole debate here, but my personal belief in reincarnation is based on the First Law of Thermodynamics: Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

Reincarnation would explain the quiet soul-shaking experience of the connection. It also takes care of the somewhat mystical quality of these unexpected relationships.

I like this explanation because it acknowledges the profundity of the connection.
You’ve heard this old Buddhist proverb: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

That’s another possible explanation. People appear at certain times in your life for a reason. To teach you something. To take you from one phase to the next. Or to help you get back on the right path, to remind you who you really are.

Why did that connection happen at that exact point in your life? Maybe it didn’t happen earlier because you weren’t ready or didn’t need it. Then BAM! Suddenly you meet this person and everything seems right for that time in your life.

I like this explanation because I believe that the Universe gives you what you need when you need it; lessons, people and sometimes, if you’re lucky the person is the lesson.
Then there’s this: If we’re all connected – truly one – like I think we are, maybe these special connections are glimpses of the divine. A sample of the true nature of the universe.

If that’s the case, then these fascinating glimpses just become big distractions. Why? Because it feels like a small miracle, we pay attention to it (usually too much.)

It’s very easy to be around people we feel connected with, but we don’t always learn things from taking the easy route.

So is the connection a small miracle to be honored and cherished? A lesson delivered from the Universe? Or is it a comforting distraction that keeps us from learning and growing? Or some combination of all three?

Here’s all I want: To feel that connection – that profound, joyful, effortless link – with everyone.

Now that would be a miracle.
I am listening to: Bob Schneider – The World Exploded into Love
I am reading: 1776
And I am: Rather blah this morning, quite frankly.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What happens in Boston

So I’m outta town on business. There are four of us in Boston for this year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.

We’d been here all of 10 minutes on Monday (roughly one beer) when someone said it: “What happens in Boston stays in Boston."

Way back in 1993, I traveled to Orlando for my first software conference. I was rather shocked (Yes, me, shocked. Shaddup, I was young then.) at how differently my co-workers behaved “on the road.”

Now I try to stick to a routine: Socialize as expected, but make every effort to sneak out early before things get ugly and people get stupid.
C’mon, Heather. You’ve never, ever cut loose on the road?

Of course I have. I've got plenty of good stories. But I learned early on from the mistakes of others that what happens elsewhere rarely stays there.

So I drink a little, swear a little, even dance a little, but then I disappear so no one has any real stories.

And of course, the very best stories are the ones that no one can tell.
I am listening to: The Go-Go’s – Vacation
I am reading: 1776 (although not much since I’ve been here; not a lot of down-time)
And I am: Ready to be home

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The connection

From the moment we met, it was as if we’d been friends forever.

It was easy and comfortable – like meeting another, slightly different version of myself.

You know what I’m talking about, right? The connection.

You meet someone and everything…just…clicks.

It’s happened maybe five times my whole life.

It’s a profound comfort – like a great big sigh – when you’re together. You could talk and talk and never run out of things to say. Or you could be just as happy sitting silently together for hours.

I consider these connections small miracles.
A flight attendant is providing connecting information to the folks coming out of the K11 gate at O’Hare airport.

Dallas - Forth Worth. Seattle. San Francisco.

If it was only that easy connecting with people.
Things are just easier with some people you meet. We want to be around them because they are familiar and comfortable and practically an extension of ourselves.

Then there are The Others.

The ones you couldn’t connect with if your life depended on it.

I’ll give you an example: She never has anything positive to say. And she’s always right – so she’s quick to point out if you’ve done something wrong. Or God forbid if you’ve offended her. You can never have a real conversation with her -- exchanging thoughts and ideas, asking questions. It's just one big long rant and you're her captive audience.

I’ve tried with this person. Really tried. But we will never, ever connect. I can only take about 10 minutes of her and then I’ve gotta be elsewhere quickly.

Still, as much as I love spending time with the people I connect with most, it seems like the lesson is in connecting with The Others – the ones with whom I have nothing in common.
Yes, I said flight attendant.

I like it. It makes more sense than stewardess.

You see, I’m not entirely anti-PC. If the new word is an improvement over the old, I’m all for it.

Flight attendant gives that person more authority; makes them more powerful.

Stewardess sounds like someone who can serve you coffee and fluff your pillow. A flight attendant sounds capable, like someone you want in charge if the wings suddenly fall off your plane.

The same goes with firefighter. Fireman sounds like a guy who gets a cat out of the tree.

A firefighter is courageous and fierce and powerful – again, someone you want around if the wings fall off your plane.
I am listening to: U2 - One
I am reading: 1776 (To be reading this in Boston? Incredible. Every corner is a landmark.)
And I am: Connected

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Big Family Scandal

Yes, I realize the politically correct term for midgets is little people. Thanks so much to all you Very Smart People for pointing that out.

Hello? Is this thing on?

If you haven’t noticed by now, we’re fresh outta PC here at HedyBlog.

I like saying the word retard. I use ‘gay’ when something is overly sentimental or silly.

And I love midget.

Midget. Midget. Midget.

If you are offended by what you’re reading, it’s a free country. Feel free to stop reading any time.
We’ve got divorce. Children born to unmarried parents. Drugs. Alcohol. Feuds. And of course, religious whack-jobs.

You name it. In my family, we’ve got it.

It's likely you could check a few from the Laundry List of Family Dysfunction, too.

Here is what’s so interesting: I recently learned that “Heather’s not a Christian” registered fairly high on the family scandal-o-meter.

It appears that my perceived lack of faith is right up there with terminal cancer, divorce and drug addiction.

Secretly, I’m thrilled to be part of a scandal, albeit a lame and misguided one.
I pass a fundamentalist Christian church on my way to the health club.

There’s a huge sign out front that reads: “Connecting with People! Connecting with God!”

This is just a hunch, but I’m guessing they don’t get that people and God are actually one and the same.

The church’s main sign says: “Jesus Lives!”

So I’m also guessing these folks are really big into exclamation points.

Again, just a hunch.
I spent ten minutes on the Internet trying to find the PC term for illegitimate child.

'Children born to unmarried parents' is the best out there.

Whoa, wait a minute, Heather. You’re anti-PC. Why didn’t you just say bastard?

Because if a kid is born a retarded, gay midget and his parents aren’t married, he shouldn’t be called a bastard.

That would be wrong.
I am listening to: Godsmack – Keep Away
I am reading: 1776 (it’s VERY good, please try it)
And I am: Flying to Boston in an hour

Friday, July 07, 2006

People come and go so quickly here

Life seems to be accelerating again.

New friends. Old friends. And midgets.

Oh, my.
I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who comment regularly on this blog.

I do this because I love it. It’s become my hobby, my passion, and my obsession. Even if no one ever read it, I’d still do it.

But I’m so honored and pleased to have you along for the ride. Thank you.
I am listening to: A sales meeting (but not really)
I am reading: 1776 by that dude who won the Pulitzer
And I am: Wishing for more time

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Idiots & Assholes

Over the holiday I finished ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ by Lauren Weisberger.

When I started reading it on Friday I told a few friends that it was good, mindless summer reading.

I was wrong.

It’s an awful story that shouldn’t have been written, much less published.

Why is it so gosh darn popular then?

The author is a woman who worked as an assistant to Anna Wintour, the notoriously bitchy editor of Vogue. The book is a dishy, gossipy, fictionalized account of her experience at the world’s biggest fashion magazine.

And it's complete trash.
Heather’s Theory #137: People are assholes because the rest of us let them get away with it.

Assholes aren’t born, they are made.

An asshole tries something once to see if they can get away with it – like cutting the line in traffic or at the store. If it works (nobody says “Hey, asshole! Wait like the rest of us!), then their bad behavior was rewarded and they do it again. And again.

Us non-asshole types have a responsibility to let others know when they’re displaying asshole-type behaviors.

And we can’t complain about assholes if we’ve done nothing to stop them.
The main character of ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ is an asshole.

But she’s wealthy and powerful so people allow her to be an asshole in hopes that they will eventually benefit from it. The assistant in the book sacrifices just about everything – her morals, self esteem, friends, boyfriend and family – trying to meet this woman’s ridiculous demands.

In my estimation, the assistant is way more despicable than her boss.
Yes, we should call out assholes on their behavior. But that doesn’t mean we should go around mistaking idiots for assholes, either. Idiots are the occasionally clueless folks who do stupid, unintentional things.

I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We all have the ability to be idiotic once in a while.

That’s why I’m particularly careful about confronting assholes.

Because invariably, I’ll display that same behavior within 24 to 48 hours after the incident. It’s a quirky little karma thing that I haven’t quite figured out yet.

So as the responsible, intelligent (ahem) participants in society, we need to use prudence in assessing any idiot/asshole situation.
Then there are the Hopeless Assholes.

You can call them on their bad behavior but they’ll never change. These are the neglected children of the world who will do anything to get attention.

I mostly feel sorry for Hopeless Assholes and do my best to avoid them.
Hey, wait a minute. This whole asshole thing you’ve got going here doesn’t seem particularly Christian, Miss I-Love-Others-as-Myself.

You’re right.

So let’s agree that when we’re doing our part to make the world a better place by confronting assholes, we should do it in a way that is loving and supportive.

Wrong: Hey asshole, stop yapping on the phone while you’re riding the train!
Right: Hey Mr. Asshole, stop yapping on the phone while you're riding the train!

Hmm. Perhaps this theory needs more work.

Because that asshole I’m confronting could be me.
I am listening to: Songs about trains
I am reading: 1776 by David McCullough
And I am: Trying hard not to be an asshole

Monday, July 03, 2006

Wave that flag!

I venture to suggest that patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. - Adlai Stevenson
I am reading: 1776 by David McCullough
I am listening to: A mix from last summer
And I am: A proud American


HedyBlog is light today because I'm taking the day to hang with the creatures I love most.

I'm also working hard to develop a backlog of stuff so that when I have to be away, I can still publish something relatively useful and/or interesting.

Best wishes for a safe and fun Fourth of July.
"Always make new mistakes." - Esther Dyson
I am listening to: Rain
I am reading: Nothing (to recover from The Devil Wears Prada)
And I am: So chill