A Different Kind of Summer Day

Sigh. It’s a beautiful August day outside.

The sun it out but it’s not too hot. A slight breeze dries the little bit of sweat that springs up from running around on the green grass. The pavement is warm on my sandaled feet.

I miss having summers off. Three months of ease and joy. I miss those lazy hot August days, like today, in the waning hours before school starts again. It seemed like summer would never end and Autumn was a forever away.

I miss dry Albuquerque days with powerful monsoon rainstorms in the late afternoon.

Splashing in sprinklers. Chasing lizards. Riding my bike.

Then dashing inside where the refrigerated air was like heaven on earth and sipping sun tea while watching Guiding Light with my mom and sister and often my grandmother too.

I think I had angst back then. I’m pretty sure I worried a lot. I at least got a little worked up over the latest machinations of Reva and Josh in that soap opera world.

But I had kid worries too. What would school be like? Why didn’t I have more friends? Why was my hair mousey brown and not blonde? When mom and dad talked about money problems did that mean something bad was going to happen?

I know I had a lot of angst back then, but in hindsight it seems so easy. So effortless.

What is that saying? “Youth is wasted on the young.” For me maybe not wasted but certainly not appreciated.

On this beautiful August day, I sit in my hard walled office with one glass wall and gaze out to the park across the street. Kids run and tumble and shout and scream and seem to be having a really effortlessly fun summer.

And I feel wistful.

I know kids today have their own worries and in a lot of ways it’s harder to be a kid today than it was way back when. But right now I am gazing out the window as I prepare for my next conference call where we’ll blah de blah for an hour about something that seems terribly important but really isn’t. Right now I sort of wish for a swimming pool, a soft serve ice cream cone and the time and desire to lay out on a beach towel and just soak up the sun.

For just a moment to have nothing to do and nowhere to be and nothing to worry about other than when to flip over so I don’t get sunburned.

That’s summer vacation to me.

Ah well. Back to the conference call. My boss is pinging my mobile phone and asking if I am attending.

I’m attending. In body only. The spirit is floating on a hot pink blow up mattress in the muddy waters of Ute Lake.


This photo is not totally applicable to this post, but I went to my favorite royalty free stock photo site and put “summer” in the search box.

This was the first image that came up and it was too compelling to pass up. So there you have it.

Image by Teresa Howes and used royalty free from stock.xchng

I’m So Pulling out my Textbooks

Back in 1890, they passed into law this little ol’ thing called the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

From the wiki: “The purpose of the act was to oppose the combination of entities that could potentially harm competition, such as monopolies or cartels.”

Yes, this is a good thing. Boon to a free economy and such.

Well I’m ready to invoke that act on a little institution known as Getty Images.

If you look around the web and you see an image you like, look closer…odds are Getty already owns it. And don’t both trying to “borrow” it, Getty wants their money and they want it bad.

Oh, and they are large enough to bring a whole passel of lawyers along for the ride.

Getty owns most shots from any professional sporting event. Getty owns the photos of most individual players too.

Getty has hoovered up many of the great images on Flickr, too. In many cases, photographers *gladly* gave over rights to their photos in hopes of making a little money or at least getting a little exposure.

Understandable, but I don’t have to like it.

Ever visited iStockPhoto, a place where you can find a lot of for-pay great stock images? Getty.

And now, oh now, my fave royalty free photo site, stock.xchng is under new management.

You guessed it, Getty has booted the original team (ok, they probably received a nice sum for their time and trouble) and is now in charge.

I’ll betcha some cold hard cash that many of these formerly free images will no longer be free. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that stock.xchng will soon be blended entirely into iStockPhoto and s’long high quality royalty free photos.

This make Hulk maaaad.

I’m just a little personal blog. I don’t make big ad bucks. I make no bucks from my blog. I do it for the satisfaction. And oh so sorry, can’t pay for high quality photos with just my sense of satisfaction.


Photo below, found by searching “greedy” on stock.xchng.

Photo by Svilen Milev and used royalty free (for the time being) from stock.xchng.

Restoring Balance

Yesterday I used this blog as my confessional. I had to get that story off my chest because it had been top of my mind since it all happened Wednesday night.

Once I published that post, I had to remind myself that really, all in, my day on Wednesday was incredible (in a good way). It’s time I make sure that I don’t let the end of the evening cast a pall on rest.

So now that the yucky stuff is off my mind, let’s talk about the good part.

The event I attended on Wednesday night was one of the largest and most overwhelmingly fun corporate events I’ve ever seen.

And let me say this, I once worked for a company that rented out AT&T ballpark for the company Christmas party, ok? So I’ve seen some huge corporate sponsored events!

They got nothing on this.

The event, as mentioned, was a “customer appreciation party” and it was held out on Treasure Island.

For those not familiar with the Bay Area, Treasure Island is a man made island, created for the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939.

Treasure Island sits at about the halfway mark of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. To get to the island you take an exit off the bridge.

I was included as an extra special guest of one of the main sponsors of the event, so I got a hard to obtain ticket that got me to the island an hour before everyone else.

It was, literally, a carnival. But everything was free. Since we were among the first on the island, there were also no lines.

Imagine going to a carnival and NOT waiting for the ferris wheel! Or not standing in line for cotton candy! I walked up said “yes please” and they put a corn dog, French fries and a big bag of cotton candy in my hands.

And it was a GOOD corndog. Have you any idea how long it has been since I had a really good corndog?

Prior to the corndog (thankfully) I was coerced into riding one of those Drop Zone rides. The kind where there is a central tower and you strap in to the seats, then it takes you up to the top and drops your ass back down?

Yeah. I hated it.

I screamed a single curse word in one long note the entire journey downward.

The gentleman working the ride said, as he let me off the ride, “I like you, you say what’s in your heart.”

Vowing no more rides, I switched to playing all of the carnival games. You could play as many times as you wanted over and over.

And STILL I couldn’t manage to win anything. *sigh*

Then, after a while the good food came out. Tables of fancy and delicious treats of all kinds. We ate our fill and partook of the free flowing beverages as well.

Then, around 7:00, the music began, and by music, I mean full on concerts held at two different stages, one indoors, one outside.

We started with English Beat. Ok, I’m a child of the 80’s, I knew some of their stuff and they were pretty good.

Next up was Berlin. I’m a huge fan of Terri Nunn. She is a goddess, so I was pretty happy to see Berlin live, though I’d seen them play before. They put on a great show. Ms. Nunn knows how to work the crowd and had everyone enchanted.

Now that the music was really going, it was time to start making some choices. They had acts going on both stages and you had to pick which show to attend.

The main acts of the night were the Black Eyed Peas on the outside stage and Don Henley inside.

I talked it over with my group including my boss and several coworkers. They all wanted to see Black Eyed Peas. Look, I don’t mind the Peas…but we’re talking Don Henley here.

One other woman in the group said she wanted to see Henley too, so we walked away to choruses of “you guys are so OLD.”

No matter. I’ll cut to the chase. Don Henley put on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Like…top ten concerts of my life (<--I should do a blog post on that). Let me tell you right now…Don Henley is 63 years old. I once heard Billy Joel talking about how, as he aged, he couldn’t hit the high notes anymore. Don wasn’t having that problem. Think about the song “I Can’t Tell You Why” and all the high parts. He sang ’em. Every one. Nary a crack in his voice. It wasn’t just that he sang all the songs that I knew, it was that one, his backup band was amazingly tight, and two, he had a certain way of capturing the audience every step of the way. Captivating is a good word to describe. This guy is a genius. I went in saying “yeah, I like Don Henley pretty good” and came out swearing my allegiance and praising him to the ends of the earth. A. Mazing. After that was a choice between Steve Miller Band and Montgomery Gentry. Although I would have liked to have seen Montgomery Gentry, it was midnight by that time and I had an early morning meeting. So I chose home over the last acts of the night. As mentioned, I spent the better part of an hour in line waiting for the shuttle bus, so I may as well have stayed. No matter. When I did finally get home and lay down in my bed, my ears were ringing and the refrains of “Desperado” were still singing in my head. And I gave thanks that I got to live such a good day in my life (shuttle bus incidents not withstanding).

Ms Terri Nunn onstage (on the screen) taken with my iPhone

That Ain’t Right

Today I have a follow up to last week’s The Great Dr. Pepper Incident.

A reader suggested to me that since the cost of that taste-tested Dr. Pepper was free, and since free is good, didn’t all the no-cost make that nasty Dr. Pepper taste better?

And heck, my readers are brilliant, so of course I considered this to be a good point.

Then I decided to embark upon an experiment.

I would try other sodas in the for-free cooler and see how they fared in the “tastes better cuz it’s free” hypothesis.

First up in my research was a Mountain Dew.

I decanted the Dew into a cup thoughtfully provided by my employers.

Now. Um. That’s not a nice color.

That looks a lot like the last time I tried taking a multi-vitamin supplement. My pee turned that color. WHY IN THE HELL would I want to ingest something the color of vitamin-tainted pee?

That said, I forged ahead. I was able to get through a good deal of the Dew before I gacked out and had to pour it down the nearest drain.

Twenty minutes later, I remembered why, besides color, I don’t drink frapping Mountain Dew.

The caffeine.

I had heart palpitations the rest of the day.

Yeah. Free. So not worth it.

Not one to be easily dissuaded…

…Or, as my father used to say, not smart enough to come in out of the rain…

The next day I plunged back into the challenge.

This time, I made sure I took on something caffeine free.

After checking the entire line of Pepsi products in the cooler, that left only Orange Crush.

Also, I’m going to have to say, that’s not a color I’d generally like my food to be. Not even the orangest of foods, say carrots or pumpkin is that shade of neon orange.

It haunts me.

The taste was even worse. I couldn’t get more than two sips through the Crush before it went right down the drain.

Experiment terminated. The lab rat can’t take it any more.

Conclusion: Free doesn’t actually make a crappy beverage taste better.

Sacrifice, all for the good of science.

Now I must go drink three gallons of water to get all that artificial color out of my liver.