Sunday, September 19, 2010

You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up

Report: Woman eating pig's feet in bed cuts friend

The (Rock Hill) Herald
Posted: Tuesday, Sep. 14, 2010

Rock Hill, S.C. -- A woman who was eating pig’s feet in bed accidentally cut her friend in the arm, police say.

The 52-year-old Rock Hill woman told police she accidentally cut a friend in the forearm with a knife around 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Both she and the victim, 50, were intoxicated, according to a Rock Hill police report.

He had a deep cut to his arm. The report did not state if he was hospitalized.

No charges were filed, but the incident remains under investigation.

Friday, September 17, 2010

As Good An Excuse As Any

We have to take a vacation. We don't want to but we have have to. Yeah, right.

A couple years ago I did kind of a dumb thing. I bought a time share in Duck, NC, on the Outer Banks. A second one. I bought the first time share in Kitty Hawk, NC, on eBay sight unseen. It's what they call a 'lock out' unit. There are actually two individual units separated by a locked door and in total it sleeps ten.

You can use either one side or both at the same time. If you only use one side, you can 'bank' a week in lieu of using it but they have to be used within two years or they expire. You can save it to trade for another week somewhere. Theoretically you can trade for stays all over the world, but it's easier said than done to find a place where you want when you want but it can be done.

Anyway, I bought the first one on eBay for a pretty good price considering the people we bought it from probably paid eight times the amount we did. It's the week of Memorial Day in May, and we've been three years in a row. We love it. We begin to look forward to it about the middle of winter.

After our first stay I immediately when to eBay when we got home to see what else was for sale in the area. There was another time share for sale in Duck at a resort right on the water, not quite as nice but a great location.

This is the second week of October. I paid $157.50 for another lock out unit, another possible two weeks annually. Seriously $157.50 for a deeded time share which means it doesn't expire like some do after 20 years. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now we have four weeks and we can't seem to use them.

There is some flexibility. You can use them, or rent or give them away if you can't use them yourself. We have offered weeks to several people over the years but no one has taken us up on it.

A few weeks ago realizing we need to use it or lose it before the end of October, we started looking for a place to go. We don't really want to fly which limits us. I went to the RCI site, which is the company we use to bank and trade, and began to look for a place in New Hampshire, Vermont or Maine.

I found a week at Smuggler's Notch Resort in Vermont. It's costing us $179 for a week at a very well-rated resort with two beds, two baths and a fully-equipped kitchen. It's a big time share spot but you can rent there and a week could be as high as $1,000.

I think the fall colors will be gone but it's a nice location with nearby places to visit. It's near Burlington which is a college town. Stowe is close which is a pretty New England town. That's the home of the Trapp Family Lodge. Remember the vonTrapp family from the Sound of Music? It's an area we've visited many, many times but not recently.

So darn! We have to go away. It's rough but someone's got to do it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Blog Therefore I Am?

That's a question not a statement. Over the last few months I haven't been blogging much. This is due to several things; I've been busy, it's too hot, nobody cares. Pick one.

The main reason is that I started questioning why I blog. When I started 18 months ago I really had no idea why I wanted to write a blog. I don't have any definitive answer even now. But I know I enjoyed it and still do but I really began to ask Does anyone care? Does anyone really want to know what I think?

Then I began to miss it. And I realized I wasn't writing for anyone but myself. I did/do enjoy the comments people leave but because I don't spend nearly as much time visiting other blogs, my traffic has slowed down and so have the comments. That's okay. I like to hear myself talk.

I do know that some people are paying attention to my blog(s), there are four now. Seriously, I'm not kidding, four blogs. Recently the IT director for our agency, Tom, planned a tech panel for the quarterly company meeting. I was really flattered when Tom asked me to sit on the panel and talk about blogging.

There would be seven agents with certain knowledge of technology speaking about their areas of expertise. Tom actually called me a blogging expert. Whoa! I'm not an expert on anything but I have gathered quite a bit of experience with blogging recently. Despite being a little uncomfortable speaking before large groups, I said yes.

There were seven of us on the panel and the other six all had some really interesting things to offer. I'm sure we all learned some new things. I happened to be the seventh to speak. By then I saw that eyes had begun to glaze over so I cut my comments short.

I told them that Blogger is my format of choice because of its user-friendliness especially because I have no technology background. I talked about commenting and followers and about the difference (for me) between business related blogs (like my real estate blog) and personal blogs. I also spoke about the blogging community and about the blog Words of Wisdom that I was part of developing.

After I was finished Tom told the audience I was being modest about my blogging and that he thinks my designs are terrific. He also said that I have achieved some of the best search engine optimization he has ever seen. A year ago I didn't even know what search engine optimization meant. I'm not even sure I know now. Whatever it is, it was an accident.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Adventures on the Danube River

In July Paul and I cruised the Danube River in Central Europe. The cruise began in Budapest, Hungary and traveled west through Austria and into Germany ending in Nuremburg. It was our first time in this part of Europe, and the architecture and history are both beautiful and fascinating. Traveling through the countryside with castles, ruins and pretty litle towns along the river, it was most definitely a nice way to see a different side of cities and towns along the river.

We cruised with Viking River Cruises. They cruise all over Europe and Asia, and I would recommend this company to anyone thinking of a river cruise. This is not ocean cruising. The boat we were on, Viking Danube, only holds 150 passengers with a crew of about 20. It's a very relaxed and intimate atmosphere. That's our ship above docked along side the Chain Bridge in Budapest, Hungary where our cruise began.

Here are some of the photos I shot on the river between towns. We didn't have the best weather and consequently the photos aren't that great but they still show how beautiful it was. Don't ask where they are.....I knew when I shot them but I don't now.

We traveled upriver from Hungary to Germany. This is one of 26 locks we went through over the course of the cruise. Some were wide enough to accommodate 4 boats at the same time and some were so small and so narrow our boat had to go through alone and only cleared the sides by inches.

Roman ruins!

Because of all the rain, the river was high at the end of the trip and the captain was not sure we would make it under the last two bridges and to our final stop of the cruise. If the boat was not able to clear the bridges, we would have been forced to dock further down river and be bused to Nuremberg, Germany to spend the last night in a hotel.

No one wanted to do that. In enough time not to disrupt the rest of the cruise, the river dropped enough and we made it under the last bridge by just inches. Then it rained (again!) and this double rainbow came out just before we docked in Nuremberg. A fitting end to a really great trip.

Stayed tuned for more photos from Passau, Melk, Vienna (my favorite!), Regensberg and Nuremberg.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Unofficial End of Summer

I am really sorry to see summer end this year. We have had such wonderful weather. Yes, it's been hot and there's been a lot of sweating going on but that is so much better than all the rain we got last summer.

Although I admit I'm going to miss this gorgeous weather the one thing I do look forward to at the end of the season is our annual family trip to New Hampshire. Four years in a row we have taken the family for Labor Day weekend. This year we had six adults, five kids and four dogs. It's a big house and you can imagine it gets pretty crazy, but we all love it and look forward to it all year.

Today I am going to feature Pam of Pam's Perspectives who just happens to be my stepdaughter and who wrote a fabulous post about the weekend. So I'm going to be lazy and just send you over there for a visit. Please take the time to stop by her post Labor Day Tradition. She's got some great photos of the weekend.

Happy Fall everyone!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Marketing 101

We went furniture shopping last weekend. I hate furniture shopping. I pretty much hate any shopping but furniture is the worst. The sales people hang around the entrance to the store clutching their clipboards and looking hungrily at anyone who enters. I hear them whisper "This one's yours, Joe." One store I went into literally had a dry erase board where all could see where they kept track of which sales person the next shopper belonged to. Tacky, tacky.

I make my living on sales commissions, too, but I don't pounce on people like a cheetah on an impala as they walk through the door of an open house. I might walk along with them but I don't keep a running babble pointing out the obvious. "This is a closet." "Really? I just thought they forgot to put the sink and toilet in there." Seriously, I've seen realtors who do that.

When we walked in Sunday there was a 'concierge' at a desk at the door. "Can I help you? What are you looking for today?" Reluctantly, because I know this means they will assign a haunt to us, I said living room furniture. "Leather or fabric?" To which I replied "Yes." He looked a bit confused. Honestly we don't know whether we want leather or fabric or a combination of the two. So my answer was truthful. I kept walking as he pointed in the directions where we could find living room furniture.

As we walked through, there were sales people strategically placed in different sections and each one piped up with some question as we walked along. I hate when sales people butt into our conversation as Paul and I are talking and walking along pointing out different things to each other. Quit asking me what I'm looking for. I don't know what I'm looking for! That's what browsing means.

Unless you want to be downright rude, it's pretty hard to avoid these people. I want to say "If I have a question, I'll find you." I know they work on commission and if someone that I don't find totally obnoxious begins helping us, I will be sure to find that person if I have questions and I'll tell them that.

Have you noticed the phrase they now have in sales (especially with furniture) called an "up charge?" One woman kept referring to an "up charge" as I asked about different fabrics and grades of leather. Paul had no idea what she was referring to. I had already turned the price tag over, which was huge, not so much to be visible across the store but to include all the"up charges."

As she kept saying things like "there's a $150 up charge for this" "a $250 up charge for that," and I could see he wasn't following her, I said "depending on what you choose, there's an up charge from $50 to $450 per piece." "You mean an extra charge? So why don't they call it that?"

I bet the marketing genius who came up with the "up charge" one day as they all sat around the table brainstorming got a big bonus. Or maybe an "up charge" in his pay.

Note: My apologies to sales people who may be offended. I make my living in sales, too, but you don't need to act this way to be good at your job and successful. These sales tactics only aggravate our customers.

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