Sunday, May 23, 2010

Nobody said it was going to be easy

I’m reprinting below a series of e-mails I got from a lady named Jane Waldmann, a Rebooter in spirit and actions. I’m sharing them, with her permission, because (1) I suspect there are a lot of people in similar circumstances and (2) Jane is continuing her efforts despite some setbacks. I admire her tenacity and determination, and I’m hoping her words will be an inspiration to you.

Subject: Reinventing Jane

I would loooooooooooooove to reinvent myself. I have teaching degrees in English and Art but only taught HS English for a few months, quit to have my first child. I then was a stay at home Mom for 12 years raising 3 children. When I went back to work I did it in the office arena. Not much fun there.

I looooooooooooooooove computers though, self taught everything I know on them, PC and Mac. Almost a geek!! But…

The problem is money. How does one reboot without money? All the computer degrees, certificates or courses cost a lot. My husband still works and although he barely makes enough to pay our bills, I do not qualify for any type of low-income training or scholarships.So here I sit watching my life go by very rapidly without finding out what could have been.

Jane Waldmann

I wrote Jane back with some words of encouragement. I noted that she seemed to be a good writer and she’s a self starter. She has replied twice. Here are her e-mails:

Reply No. 1:

Thank you (for writing) me regarding my email. You ... showed genuine concern and encouragement. I will explore the Reboot website more thoroughly.

One of my biggest obstacles is that I am floundering all over the place. I have an art degree and love crafts but find the money does not pay the bills at first anyway. Also I love the computer and thought about graphics courses. I am not sure which direction to go in but have been praying about it. I have no doubt that when I do figure out what I enjoy and want to excel at, I will have determination and race ahead.

You say writing but I have never really been a fan of writing a lot, although I do have a command of the English language. I still favor my artistic side. I have combined the two once, when I was a temp, producing a monthly newsletter for a property management company (but that only lasted 9 months).

So I will explore your site and the web and dabble in temping and real estate ( I have my license) until I can say, "That's it, that's what I want to do!!!!"

Thanks again,
Jane Waldmann

Reply No. 2

Here is an update: I got on unemployment. (Had an accounting asst. job and was fired for not being a "team player.")

And because of that our local county Workforce Alliance gave me funding for $4000 to take a CIW course (Certified Internet Webmaster).

I finished in Feb. and enjoyed it. However I discovered most of the jobs in this market require much more than just a certificate, namely college and lots of experience. I also discovered I do not enjoy designing websites.

I did however love the Photoshop classes which were included. I also found a website in which I can upload designs and they will print and sell the fabric.

I think I am heading in the right direction. My unemployment has run out, though, and I just hope I can figure out how to make some extra money without compromising my creativity by getting an office job. I really believe, and so does my hubby, that another office job would just about kill me!!

Thank you again for all your encouragement,

Friday, May 21, 2010

The homeland security threat level today: pink?

My wife and I recently took a short vacation to Cancun, Mexico. On our way home, we learned something new about how our borders are protected.

Before I get to this insight, I’m happy to say that Cancun is delightful. Clean and new – only about 40 years old. Admittedly, what we saw was not Cancun proper but “hotel row,” an island shaped like a 7, lined with both moderately priced and luxury hotels, malls and theme parks, and connected to the mainland by bridges at both ends.

And the beach is postcard beautiful – sparkling white sand and the Caribbean a brilliant turquoise in the shallows and a rich blue in the deeper water.

Our itinerary included overnight stays both ways in Los Angeles, there being no direct flights between San Francisco and Cancun. So we went through both outbound security and inbound customs at LAX upon our return.

The TSA people were especially alert as we left. At the security point, they pulled my wife’s luggage for detailed inspection. The offending substances: Nordstrom delicate fabric wash, a white powder in a small plastic container along with alleged facial creams, all in approved 3-ounce plastic containers. The fabric wash didn’t pass the X-ray test, so the inspector had to take it out for hands-on inspection.

No problem. We complimented them on their diligence. Hey, they were doing their job and we thought they were doing it quite well.

After a wonderful stay in Cancun, we came back to LAX. After the usual long wait to show our passports, we made our way to the exit where a customs agent was collecting the tourist card you must present to authorities when you return from Mexico.

My wife, dressed in comfortable travel clothes that included a pink tunic top and pink pashmina wrap, handed the document to the guard.

He gave it a quick glance, said, “OK,” and waved us through. The speed surprised us.

“Is that it?” my wife asked.

“That's it,” the guard smiled. “Terrorists don’t wear pink.”

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Formation Flying

I was out running the other day and three ducks happened to fly over on a glide path down to a small man-made lake. They were in formation, one in the lead of a small “V” and the other two on either side.

Later that day I saw a flock of pigeons swirling and swooping over a three-story building on a main thoroughfare in a commercial district. They were not in what you would call a formation, but they were somehow staying roughly together.

If the ducks were a team, the pigeons were a mob. Or maybe a high-energy crowd, to put it more charitably.

It was the ducks, though, that kept my interest. I did a little research on duck and bird formation flying and found out that formation flying – especially in a V – is more efficient for all the birds except the one in the lead. And flocks of birds alternate the lead role on long migrations so as to evenly distribute the fatigue of covering long distances.

Seeing those ducks the other day – they were in and out of my line of vision in two or three seconds – brought to mind one thrilling formation sight I will never forget.

The Navy Blue Angels were performing at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California. A quick geography primer: Moffett is on the shore of the southernmost end of San Francisco Bay. Nearby are salt evaporation ponds separated by wide dikes or berms. There are trails on these berms that are open for hiking, running or biking. Some of them extend well out beyond the salt ponds into the bay itself.

I decided that the end of one of these berms jutting out into the bay would be a great place to watch the Blue Angels. And indeed it was. I was completely alone – not like the packed crowds at Moffett. Of course the Moffett runways were the center point of all the Blue Angels’ amazing aerobatics, but if you’ve ever seen them you know they cover a lot of real estate on their approaches and departures from the center point.

At one point late in the show the four who fly together formed up in a diamond formation and came soaring past me in a thunderous roar, banked for a right turn. They were going from my left to my right and passing directly in front of me. It was a spectacular sight.

What I hadn’t realized was that there were some ducks in the water right below where I was standing. Just at the moment when the Blue Angel formation was directly in front of me, the ducks must have been startled and burst up out of the water, wings beating furiously, water dripping from their feathers as they became airborne.

The ducks came up out of the water in formation! I really don’t think they planned it – but if they had they could not have executed it more perfectly. They flew up and to the right on a trajectory that perfectly mirrored the Blue Angels. So what I saw in one field of view was the Blue Angels in formation in the distance and the ducks in formation just a few yards away from me. It was a jaw-dropping, stunning, unbelievable sight.

I put these stock photos together just for the fun of it. Many is the time I have wished that I could have caught that scene for real with a camera, but it is just as well that I didn’t have one because I couldn’t have reacted fast enough. Anyway, I was so blown away I probably would have dropped my camera in the water.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Flipping and YouTubing

I figured it was time. High time, in fact.

Time to join the YouTube Generation.

If I’m going to promote rebooting and reinvention, I’d better do a little rebooting and reinventing myself. And a good place to start would be getting into the 21st century.

So the first thing I did was to buy a Flip video camera.

My reaction? Wow!

I was absolutely amazed at the capability of this stunning little device, completely impressed with its ease of use and blown away by how simple it is to take videos and then get them onto your computer.

I’d read a lot of praise for Flip, and now I understand why. It’s all true. Very small little box, not much inside except the Flip, a one-page quick start guide (that’s actually understandable), the warranty, a little carrying pouch and a wrist strap. It came with the battery half charged so all I had to do was take it out of the box and shoot a video, a 23-second epic of my wife sitting at our breakfast room table.

I slid the little button on the side down and out popped a USB arm. Slipped it into a USB port on the side of my laptop, and the Flip software automatically uploaded from the device to the computer. Downloaded my first video onto the computer.

In less time than it takes to write about it I was in the video business.

End of Part 1, now time to move on to Part 2: YouTube.

Figuring out how to upload a video to YouTube wasn’t as simple as learning to use the Flip, but after some trial and error, I figured it out. Now my first video (and a second test shot today) are uploaded to YouTube, along with – how many others? Several hundred billion or so?

Doesn’t matter, I did it.

Yes, I’m late to the party, but that doesn’t matter either. The important thing is that I have just opened a couple of doors to new worlds, and I feel great about it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Twinkle, twinkle, little star…

“Hi honey, Happy Anniversary. Here’s your present.”

“Ooh, wonderful, what is it? It feels like a picture frame.”

“Open it up! You’ll love it!”

(Sound of paper being ripped off a frame.)

“Oh. Wow, what is this? What does the writing say? I don’t have my glasses. ‘Inter…’”

“International Star Registry.”

“International Star Registry? What is that?”

“I named a star for you to show you how much I love you.”

“You did what?”

“Named a star for you. This is the document that identifies the star and certifies that it is named for you.”

“Wait. It identifies a star named for me?”

“Yep. Just for you.

“But… there are so many stars up there. How do I know which one is named for me?”

“Oh, honey, that’s no problem. Look what’s on the certificate: the telescopic coordinates of the star, an informative booklet with charts of the constellations plus a larger, more detailed chart with the star named for you circled in red. So we can find it any time we want to with a telescope.”

“We don’t have a telescope. You knew that, didn’t you?”

“Well, we’ll get one so we can look at your star.”

“So do I now own this star?”

“Well, no. The International Star Registry doesn’t own the star, so they can’t sell it to you. But the star is now associated with you. It is something you can point at to know that there is something special out there for you.”

“OK. So, if I don’t own it, will astronomers and scientists recognize it as ‘my’ star?”

“No. The International Star Registry is a private company that provides Gift Packages. Astronomers will not recognize your name because your name is published only in the International Star Registry Star catalog. They periodically print a book called 'Your Place in the Cosmos,' which lists the stars that they’ve named.”

“Well, dear, thank you for your thoughtful gift. I’m really touched to have a star named for me, that I need a telescope to see, that I don’t own but is ‘associated with me,’ that astronomers don’t recognize as mine, and that’s listed in a book which this outfit ‘periodically prints.’”

“Yes, honey, and because it’s you, I got you the Heirloom Ultimate version. Look! The certificate is beautifully matted in an architecturally inspired frame designed by Stanford White. The matte is a vintage eggplant color complimenting the colors in the certificate. And look what else: The personalized star chart is framed also in this package. The frame measures 24 1/2" X 20 1/2" and matches the frame in the deluxe package.”

“Who’s Stanford White?”

“I don’t know, I guess he’s a frame designer. Must be famous.”

“I guess I’m bowled over, even if it was free.”

“Uh, honey, it wasn’t free. You know they couldn’t do this and give it away.”

“You paid money for this?”

“Well, yes I did, but it’s our anniversary.

“How much?”

“Uh, well, it was only $489.00.”


“Uh, yeah, plus shipping and handling.”

“Well, honey, I have to say I never expected to have a star named for me. And for only, say $500, after shipping and handling. You really know how to make your wife happy.”

“Anything for you, dear.”

“I’m almost speechless. I can only say one thing. You shouldn’t have. Really.”