Archive for January 2010

January Resolutions – 3/7 is Pretty Bad

January 31, 2010

On December 31st, I declared my New Years Resolution:  Make monthly resolutions.

Today is the last day of January, and that means it’s time for me to reflect on the goals that I made for myself for the month

(more…)

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I’m Still Waiting on that Autograph

January 30, 2010

After the Red Wings game, I had it in my head that I needed an autograph from Zetterberg for my jersey.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get to the hockey game early since I was working, so I planned on catching him after the game.  

I took my time getting out of my seat following the game so that the Red Wings would have their chance to shower and get dressed and whatnot and I could catch them on their way out.  I walked slowly around the Xcel Energy Center, hunting for the locker room exits so that I could “accidentally” run into them as they left to go to their hotel for the night.  I even took a bathroom break to extend the amount of time I was creeping around the Center. 

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find their exits, so I asked an employee what my best bet was to find them.  She told me that she actually didn’t know where the best spot was to catch the hockey players was because they usually leave after she does.  I kind of stood there with a big sad pout on my face, and she told me that, before the game, a lot of the time people will usually stand outside to wait for the visiting hockey team between the Center and the hotel that they usually stay at. 

And that is how I learned where hockey players sleep at night. 

So I mosied on over to their hotel lobby and I asked the hotel desk clerk if the Red Wings were in fact staying in this hotel and if people ever waited here for them.  She told me they weren’t staying there (I think she was lying), and kind of hinted to me that yes, that kind of thing is very much creepy.  Against my will, Dan dragged me out of the hotel and back into the skyway so we could walk home — waiting in a hotel lobby for a hockey team is too creepy for him to handle.  And I was bitter because I thought that by next year I would be too old to stalk a hockey team. 

And that story leads me to my point for this post.  Sometimes I forget that I’m only twenty-two years old.  Sometimes it slips my mind that I’ve still got a couple of years of good, solid youth to do stupid things without feeling the resonating consequences. 

Once in awhile I’ll get caught up in the fact that I don’t have my own little family, my dream job, a business of my own, and a mansion on top of a hill overlooking a city right next to a lake.  Sometimes I think it’s too late for me to go back to school for a Masters degree because I’m too old.  And sometimes…  sometimes… I think I’m failing at life because I don’t own the world.

Newsflash to me:  I’m not too old for anything except riding those little people rides at Disney World.  Real life is still beginning.

And I am certainly not too old to stalk a hockey team.  And I hope that none of said hockey players ever read this because that would just be really embarassing.

Haggling – An Art for the Ages

January 29, 2010

I’ll say it: I can’t haggle.

“Gee, Heather. Why not?”

Well, how nice of you to ask!  The problem is that I tend to be too much of a pushover when it comes to things that I’m not sure I deserve.

To me, haggling takes a lot of confidence.  I can’t waltz into a department store and say, “Hey, I see this sweater is $50, but I think it’s only worth $35.  Give it to me for $35” without flinching.  Of course the salesperson is going to say “no”, but it’s a haggler’s job to tell them why they should.  I can’t tell them why they should if I don’t have a reason for it myself and so if there is any type of resistance I am down for the count. 

Don’t get me wrong, when I believe I am being unfairly treated, I am the first to say “HELL to the NO”, but I can’t make myself believe that I am deserving a better price than retailers are asking for (unless, of course, the item is on sale — then I’m on it like I was on the jar full of gummy bears sitting next to me earlier this evening… which incidentally I ate about 75 gummy bears just before dinner tonight and now I have a MONSTER headache).  How do you people do it?  How do you say “HEY! Give me a deal! Now! …. PLEASE!”

I was reading an article titled In Tough Economic Times, Shoppers Take Haggling to New Heights in the Washington Post.  In it, the journalist learns about haggling and tries it out in various places to see what kind of a deal he can get.  By the end of the article, you find out he saved $730 dollars in a week.  What the hell?  I want to save $730 in a week…

He haggles in Macy’s.  He haggles at Best Buy.  He haggles for flowers.  He haggles with Verizon.  And did you know people haggle professionally?!  Whatever deal they get with you, they will split with you!  Well… holy effing crap. 

Apparently the key is to look for an edge.  Why should you get those DVDs for $5 less?  Because your ShopSavvy app says the store down the street is selling it $5 cheaper.  What?  You think those reindeer should be 75% off instead of 50%?  Yes, because they have little scratches on them that nobody will ever see but me.  Coffee is not free, so why are you asking for a free coffee right now?  Because I have been coming here once a week every week for the last 7 months.  That’s why.

It’s interesting to read about somebody that is learning how to haggle because his thoughts are a lot like mine if I were in that situation.  More or less, all I would think after successfully getting a bargain would be, “I can’t believe that worked”. 

Click the link above for a link to the article, or click the link below.  Either way, it’s a pretty good read if you’re looking to save some dolla dolla bills, ya’ll.

The price tag on the smooth pair of Cole Haan loafers at Macy’s said $148. I considered that a fair opening bid. Standing across from the salesman and the cash register, I said, “Can you knock off 25 percent?

The salesman said, “Can’t do it.” But I pressed on: “I’ll get them on the Internet or at one of your competitors, so let’s just do this here.”

Salesman: “Geez. You’re like the second person who has tried to do this today.”

We stared at the shoe box. I liked what was inside. The loafers fit well, but they would feel even more comfortable with a discount.

Macy’s blinked first. “Ten percent off,” the salesman said. “That’s the best I can do.” I sensed an advantage and counteroffered: “Let’s do 20 percent.” I then sensed annoyance and settled for the 10 percent.

My first attempt as a haggler saved me almost 15 bucks and placed me at the center of “the biggest sea change of consumer behavior since the end of the Second World War,” as Nancy Koehn, a Harvard Business School retail historian, calls it. In a country that has long shunned haggling outside of car dealerships and mattress stores, my behavior may have once appeared unseemly, even crass. That is, until the Great Recession. Firms are desperate for revenue, Americans are feeling broke, and the aisles from Best Buy to Macy’s and even your neighborhood Giant — as well as the 1-800 numbers at Comcast and Verizon — have become venues for let’s-make-a-deal.

A recent Consumer Reports study found that 66 percent of American consumers had haggled at least once in the preceding six months, with an 88 percent ka-ching rate on gadgets, clothes, furniture and steak. “People like this,” Koehn said. “They are not going to go back to giving their money away. Why would they?”

The recession merely popped the lid off a retailing shift that has been brewing for a decade. EBay gave millions of consumers dealmaking training wheels (top bid for a “Goonies” DVD: $3.50). The Internet offers instant pricing data (do a Google search on “Lucky jeans and deal and DC”). And don’t forget Priceline, which lets consumers name their price for flights, hotels and rental cars (thank you, William Shatner).

For consumers like me who have spent decades shopping at full retail, getting a deal on previously no-deal items is liberating and invigorating, as I found out during a recent week I spent haggling. At first, my wife and friends asked me if I was crazy, but when I reported saving $3 on steak at Giant and $50 a month on our Verizon bill, they asked only one thing: How?

Full Article –>

Read the full article on the Washington Post website.  In Tough Times, Shoppers Take Hagglers to New Heights written by Michael S. Rosenwald, Sunday, January 31, 2010

Marshmallow Art

January 28, 2010

Do you ever have one of those days where you just don’t want to get up?  One of those days when rolling out of bed seems like too much effort… but then you realize that if you want to “e-mail in sick”, you have to get out of bed to e-mail your boss to let him/her know you’re not coming… and by the time you use up enough brain power to turn on the computer, navigate to your e-mail, figure out what you’re going to say, and try to remember all relevant e-mail addresses, you’ll be too awake to fall asleep anyway… and so all you have left to say to yourself is, “Oh, hell… I might as well go”?

Believe it or not, today is one of those days for me.  I feel slow despite the coffee that I had this morning on my way to work.  I feel frumpy.  I feel like I wish I were still in bed.  And if inanimate objects had feelings, I would probably most compare myself with a marshmallow.  I took the time to draw these so you could further understand my feelings toward the day that is January 28th, 2010.

 

And while the game was fun last night, it left me in a sour mood today.  Perhaps it was the Red Wing loss.  It might have been the fact that I didn’t get an autograph.  Maybe it was the beer.  Or maybe it was some other variable that I am not taking into account here. 

Tonight I’m going to investigate a Primerica “business opportunity” despite the nagging feeling in the back of my brain (and all over the internet) that it is some kind of scam.  But even though I was considering blowing it off, I’m kind of happy to go now because it will give me some time away from work and away from Dan and away from Prandtl and away from Lucy and away from my apartment and away from everything and everyone I know.  I don’t really feel like dealing with any of it right now.  I wouldn’t really mind just hanging out in a cave for a couple of days.

I was reading today about the difference between introverts and extroverts.  Extroverts need people and thrive from social interaction and the energy of others.  Introverts are stereotypically shy, withdrawn people, but the article I was reading (which I lost, otherwise I would link it) said that’s not necessarily true.  Introverts can interact with people and can be quite good at it, but they need time alone to recharge.  Dealing with people too often makes them very tired and drains them, which I believe is very true in my case.  I love working with people and being around people, but I can’t deal with them all of the time.  I need to be alone.

Even if it’s only a half an hour in my car on my way to some stupid “business opportunity”.  Sigh.

LETS GO RED WINGS!

January 27, 2010

Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of time to write up a post tonight.  You see, I GOT TICKETS TO SEE THE RED WINGS TONIGHT!!!

Excuse me, sorry for yelling at you through my capital letters, but I am just so excited! 

I don’t watch sports on tv — it doesn’t hold my attention.  But it’s different when I’m there, listening to the crowd chanting, feeling the atmosphere created by the team and its fans, or listening to the drunk guy at the end of the aisle making an ass of himself.  You can’t really get that through a tv… yes, even if you have HD.  And hockey is by far my favorite.

So I got my Zetterberg jersey out of the closet, and I’m thrilled to wear it again.  I am in Minnesota though, so I don’t plan on wearing it to the bar before the game.  I actually said, “I am going to see the Red Wings tonight!” at work, and my coworkers corrected me.  They told me I am going to see The Wild, not the Red Wings and to remember where I am.  They’re right.  Oops.  My bad. 

The best part is I got great seats.  Row 9, right on the floor, baby.  OH YEAH!  I’ll be sitting next to the hockey crazies, which I don’t really know if I am looking forward to.  Hopefully I don’t get heckled too much.  I’m sensitive, you know.

Lets go Red Wings!

The Addiction to Appearance

January 26, 2010

It takes me about an hour to get ready every morning.  My morning routine goes something like this:

  1. Take the dog out to do her business (and in the winter that requires about 5 minutes of putting on/taking off sweatpants, sweatshirts, boots, and coats (one for me, one for the dog))
  2. Take a shower
  3. Put product in my hair and scrunch it until most of the water is out
  4. Blow dry my hair
  5. Moisturize – especially in the winter
  6. Get dressed (it takes me forever to figure out what to wear)
  7. Put on makeup
  8. Scrunch hair again to get rid of any crispy curls
  9. Wander around my apartment to gather everything I need
  10. Mirror check to fix anything that doesn’t look quite right
  11. Leave

And this morning, as I was getting ready for the day, I was thinking about all of that time I spend in the bathroom getting ready for my day.  One hour a day.  That’s seven hours a week.  That’s about 28 hours a month (already more than an entire day gone!)  Three hundred thirty-six hours a year – or fourteen days – or two entire weeks.  Wow.  If I lived for 60 more years, over two of those years will be spent in the bathroom drying my hair, putting on makeup, and getting dressed.  It will take me over two years to get ready for the other 58 years of my life.  That, my friends, is a lot of time.

And while I would like to sit here and announce to you that I am changing my ways and vowing to never spend an entire hour in the bathroom ever again, I am not able to.  I can’t say that I won’t spend ten minutes trying to get my hair just right.  I know I will never be able to choose the perfect outfit on the first try every day for three days, let alone a week.  With all of these lipstick colors, I can’t guarantee that the first one I choose will be complimentary to my skin tone and the colors that I am wearing.  And even though I know that I am wasting an entire hour of my day just getting ready to go shopping or putz around the apartment, I don’t necessarily want to change that.

When I look good, I feel good.  I’m more productive with my time.  I’m more sociable.  I’m friendlier.  I feel smarter.  A lot of the time, my happiness is directly affected by my outward appearance.  And when I am unhappy with myself or the way that my life is going, I cheer myself up in the beauty aisles at Walgreens.  I buy makeup, lotions, conditioners, and any beauty supply that I can get my hands on and believe that I might need one day.  If you were to open up the cabinet beneath my bathroom sink, you would see the results of these splurges fall out onto the floor because the cabinet can barely contain them.

So where did this need for beauty in a bottle come from?  Today’s magazines, newspapers, and blogs emphasize the importance of natural beauty.  Magazine covers are being chastised for photoshopping their covers – I even posted a video showing how our definition of beauty is the direct result of these maneuvers.  Newer, more natural models are making their debut in advertisements.  And yet here I am, feeling the need to perfect the way that I look before leaving my apartment just to take my dog on a walk.  Why is that?

And the funny thing is that you can tell how I am feeling about myself that day by seeing the amount of makeup caked onto my face.  Typically I am on the lighter side, but sometimes (when I’m feeling depressed or unhappy) it’s as if you can’t see a hint of real skin underneath all of that foundation.  And although I know that wearing all of that makeup is unnatural, I can’t help myself.  To take it off would leave me unhappier than with it on.  Because the thing is, no matter what is going on around me or what kind of situation I find myself in, I can at least control the way that I look.  Because to look beautiful in a crappy world, even if that beauty is artificial, is better than facing it looking hum-drum.

Perhaps the saddest part of this is that I know I am not the only woman in the world with this complex.  There are millions of us that choose to drop hundreds of dollars on beauty products that we will only use once.  Others might choose to physically harm themselves.  Others might starve themselves to achieve that perfect weight.  Others might stay in abusive relationships.  On second thought, maybe I should consider myself lucky that this is my addiction because, lets face it, it could be far worse.

Lately I have found myself a little more confident with my “natural” face since I have sworn one day a week to not using anything at all, but I still feel stares.  I still feel less respected.  I still feel like other people have decided that I am not worth their time.  And on days when I am feeling low, my usual “head up” posture turns into a slumped back with my eyes to the ground.  And of course it’s foolish and of course it’s nonsense, but it is something that I struggle with anyway. 

I would like to think that we all have our own comfort blankets that we cling to.  It helps me to know that everybody needs to fit a certain mold when they are feeling down so that they can feel better about themselves.  It could be anything — dressing great, laughing a little louder to make up for it, or feeling the need to prove yourself through your ideas.  You know… something that gives status so that we know we’re not just dirt on the ground. 

Is anybody willing to share with me theirs?

Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity

January 25, 2010

While working today, I was feeling a little frustrated.  To overcome this, I started watching a few videos on my phone as I worked (and yes, I was still productive as I watched them).

On the recommendation of Dan, I started watching a Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) video.  TED is a nonprofit organization that focuses on Ideas Worth Spreading and is made up of “the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers”.  Their annual conference is sold out at least a year in advance and features speakers such as Al Gore (former Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Dean Kamen (inventor of the Segway and founder of FIRST), and the subject of the video below, Sir Ken Robinson (author and advocate of creativity within schools).

He emphasizes several times throughout his video that we have no way to know what the future holds for us as a society.  The conference lasts for days, and he points out that despite the expertise at that conference, nobody can predict what really will happen… and yet we are supposed to be preparing kids for the future.

Kids are not afraid to be wrong.  They will take a chance.  As adults, it is something that we are frightened to do.  His point is that, without taking the chance, and without embracing the creativity within them, we will never come up with anything original. 

Plus, lets face it, he is a really good speaker.