Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Home, sweet, home

Yesterday was our last day in Hawaii. Our plane left Honolulu at 9:15 p.m. last night and we arrived in Austin, via Houston, at 1 p.m. this afternoon. The trip was uneventful, but unfortunately, I find it really difficult to sleep on planes. I did sleep for an hour on the plane and took an hour and a half nap after I got home. I'm doing laundry right now and will go to bed early. Thankfully, I don't have to be in the office until 1 p.m. tomorrow.

We took tons of photos and will post some more here, with a recap, as well as more on Ofoto.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Turtle Crossing

Today, among other things, we went snorkeling. It was my first time and although I got off to a rough start, it was a lot of fun, and Doug had a blast. First we went to Shark's Cove, which was very rocky, and we swam among schools of fish. After that, we went to Turtle Beach, where we swam among sea turtles.

I am extremely tired and tomorrow we leave for home. I will post more photos once we are in Austin. Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 29, 2005

There she blows!

Today my folks treated us to a tour of the island. We went up the Windward coast (the east side of the island) to the North Shore (famous for huge waves for surfing) and down the center of the island, stopping at the Dole Plantation, going through the world's largest maze. This photo was of the Halona Blowhole, when the waves hit the rock, the water jets up from the from the hole. Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 28, 2005


This evening the family went on a dinner cruise, aboard the Ali'i Kai, one of the largest catamarans on O'ahu. This photo was taken from the boat, looking back towards Waikiki. Posted by Hello

This is a view of Diamond Head aboard our dinner cruise. On Tuesday, Doug and I hiked to the top of the volcano. We got some great photos, which we'll share once we get home. Posted by Hello

There were a couple of members of the Coast Guard aboard our dinner cruise. My youngest niece, Lauren, asked them if she could get her picture taken with them. Not only did they comply, they let her hold the handcuffs. Posted by Hello

Friday, May 27, 2005

Culture Club

At the Polynesian Culture Center they had a canoe parade, with each culture having a different canoe and performing native dances. Posted by Hello

This photo was taken during the canoe parade at the Polynesian Culture Center. Posted by Hello

Doug, the tiki god

Yesterday we went to the Polynesian Culture Center to learn about cultures of different islands, including Hawaii, Somoa, Tahiti, Fiji. That evening we attended a luau at the center and saw a great show. Here, Doug is mimicking a tiki god. Can you tell which one is real and which is the idol? Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Aloha from Hawai'i

We arrived Monday for a week on O'ahu, staying at Waikiki. This photo of the both of us was taken on top of the Punchbowl Monument, a cemetery for service men and women who died while serving in the Pacific. Behind us you can see the mountains of O'ahu and the buildings of Honolulu. So far we have gone to Pearl Harbor, climbed Diamond Head, visited Chinatown, saw some great views from Pali Lookout, walked along the beach and were treated to a hula show performed by young students. Tomorrow we will attend a luau. Posted by Hello

Monday, May 23, 2005


In three hours we will be on a plane, heading for Hawaii!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I'm not a red toenail polish type of chick

Austin is so laid back that many times on the weekends if we are just running errands, I don't wear makeup and my hair is pulled back. Rewind to five and a half years ago in Dallas and I wouldn't go to the supermarket without my hair done. Last month I came to school dressed to go to work afterwards (and maybe a client meeting) and one of my officemates commented that they had never seen me with makeup on. That wasn't true as I generally wear makeup, but I just don't wear it heavy and many times don't wear lipstick to school.

Along with the more laidback Austin look, I don't do my nails. There are three reasons for this: 1. They look like crap when I do them myself; 2. The budget the last few years hasn't allowed for $15/week to get them done; and 3. I usually have the polish smeared or chipped before I'm home. It's hopeless.

The toes, on the other hand, have to get done in the summer. I think it's an unwritten rule in Texas that you can't wear sandals without painted toes, and you HAVE to wear sandals from April to October. In fact, a couple of years ago I went on a job interview to a PR agency and the VP apologized that her office smelled because she had just finished painting her toes.

Despite being inadept at fingernail painting, I can do an okay job with my toes. This morning I was putting up some shampoo I bought and showed Doug this cool new color I bought -- sort of a light pink/purple. "Isn't that what you are wearing now?" he asked, point to my toes. No, I am wearing a silver/purple. I couldn't believe he couldn't tell the difference. "What do you think?" I asked. "It's different," he answered.

For Doug, 'different' means non-conventional and he just isn't sure about the non-conventional. I'm sure he thinks most polish is red, and there is only about three shades. Now I had looked for a shade I heard people talking about on the radio; they said it was pretty cool and a year-round color, but when I found it, it was a dark red. I don't do red because that seems too dressy for me. If I thought my toes looked okay without polish, I wouldn't even wear any (and I don't during closed-toe shoe season). But it's summer and I wear sandals, so I have to wear polish.

"Well, I like it," I said turning around and putting up my polish. "I'm just not a red polish type of chick."

Saturday, May 14, 2005


"What does this word mean?" I'm proctoring a test in an Intro to Advertising class and this girl comes up to me and asks me about one of the questions. The word was affluent.

"It's well-to-do," I answer. The girl has a vapid look on her face and just blinks. "You know, bling-bling" I answered in my head but thought better of actually saying that aloud. I explained that it was someone with a nice house, a nice car and makes good money. She seemed to finally get it. I had to wonder once again about today's college students.

Another test, another question. "What is flowery language?" this guy asks. This is History of Mass Comm, a 300+ lecture class. "What do you think it means?" I answer. After all, if you think about it, it's quite obvious, I thought. "Can't you just tell me?" the guy responds. This is a senior level class. It seems like every test there are at least one or two words students ask about.

Sometimes I wonder if we were just as clueless in college or if students today really aren't as bright. Then I remembered a discussion I had back when I was a sophomore in college. One of my teachers pointed out the word "misogynistic," or the hatred of women. She said there was not a comparable word for the hatred of men. My boyfriend at the time argued that "misanthrope" was the hatred of men, until we looked it up and saw that it was hatred of mankind, meaning all humans. I doubt that many of my college friends had to ask the TA the meaning of the word savvy.


What would happen if Michael Jackson testified at his trial

This clip on AtomFilms shows why the defense lawyers won't let him take the stand.


Last night was the May Women of Wine (WOW) dinner and wine tasting. The theme was fine wine and learning how to rate wines like a sommelier. Although the wines were rated between an 89-95, I have to say that I didn't like them. The speaker kept saying that we should rate them on their merit and not on whether we like it. I was disappointed, though. Doug loves to fine highly rated wines at reasonable prices and I think the stuff he picks are better than the ones we had last night. However, I did like the champagne -- Domaine Chandon, Blanc de Noirs. We usually buy Moet & Chandon, but it's more than double the price of this inexpensive cousin. The Opolo Shiraz was good as well, but I've had better at a few dollars less.

Still, the night was good and it was great to see everyone. Gary finally came with Tom to his first tasting. Val and Erin from work, and their significant others, were there as well. They seemed to have a good time. Marlene and Gaye were both there and they seemed to be doing well -- both ladies are breast cancer survivors. And the food, as always was fabulous!

Next WOW is June, either 10th or 11th -- most of the folks are pushing for the 11th because Friday nights after work are so difficult to make it. We are doing Italy. I haven't decided if I want to do my tiramisu or my pasta bolognese. Both recipes receive raves.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Today the Governor signed legislation allowing Texans to buy out-of-state wine online. This makes me happy. Before today if we wanted to purchase special wines from California or elsewhere, we'd have to go to a local wine store and have them order it. Not only is that a hassle, but you have to make it worth their while, so one or two bottles wouldn't do. Now it makes it much easier if we are traveling and find a wine we like, we can order it and have it shipped direct to us. Or if there is something unique we want, we can order it on Wine.com.


This is going to be a good summer

After almost 6 months of being out of work, Doug started a new job today. He didn't want me to blog about it, so I won't mention the name, but let's just say it's a huge computer networking hardware company. If you are in the business, you'll be able to figure it out.

He is the PMO Manager and will be setting up and running a project management office for this company. This is the title and responsibility he has been trying to get for years. It's a 6 month contract to hire, so he can try it before he buys it.

Yesterday Doug had two interviews, one was a phone interview with an insurance company in San Antonio, and this one here in Austin. With the phone interview, the recruiter had tried to get Doug to commit to taking the job, if offered, before the interview. The recruiter said the folks wanted to make the decision that day, was only going to interview one person, and it was going to be a 12 month contract. Turns out there were three folks interviewing, there was going to be a second round of interviews, and the contract was just 3 months.

The afternoon Doug went to this other company. He had originally gone in last week for the interview, only to find out the hiring manager was out that day. He took it in stride. It was rescheduled for yesterday and they hit it off. At the end of the interview, Doug asked if the decision would be made quickly, as he was working on some other offers. On the spot, the hiring manager made an offer and asked if he could start today. Doug accepted.

He is really stoked. Maybe I can get him to write a bit about it.


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

SBC Sucks!

How can a company grow so big with such poor service? I ask myself this question every time I deal with Southwestern Bell (SBC). If there is one company I despise, it is them, and yet, because of where we live, if we want high speed Internet, I have to have them. Maybe this will be a new project for Doug to look for alternative options...

This morning Doug had a phone interview at 8 a.m. When they hadn't called by 8:15, I thought maybe we should test our phone, so I called, and it didn't work -- it went straight into voicemail. I checked, and sure enough, the interviewer had called. Doug called the guy on my cell phone (the dogs recently ate his for lunch) and everything was fine.

After the interview, I go to the SBC site to see where to call regarding the repair. I noticed that in my haze of the end of semester, I didn't pay the phone bill. It's 10 days past due, so I go ahead and pay it. After several minutes more of searching, because they don't make anything easy to find and my phone isn't eligible for online problem reporting, I find the number and call it on my cell.

Automated hell ensues. The repair system checks my number and then says it's not a working number and will transfer me to someone who can help. I get a live person and the first thing they say is, "How would you like to pay your bill today?" Um, I have already paid my bill. It was only 10 days late. Was my service cut off? If not, I need to report a problem. The man says he'll transfer me. A minute or so passes, and I'm back in automated repair hell.

My blood is starting to boil. Not because I'm going through this, but because I go through this EVERY TIME I call SBC. I go through the repair steps again, only to be told that I don't have a working number (duh!) and get transferred back to collections. My voice is almost quivering I'm so angry by the time I get (key word is "get") to talk to a real person. "Ma'am, your service was not interrupted." Good. At least I know for sure I shouldn't be in the collections department. With SBC, you never know. Still, that means repair, which has been sending me to collections.

The lady in collections puts me on hold for several minutes and I'm afraid she's going to put me back in automation hell. Finally she comes back and has a repair person on line. I talk to the repair lady and she asks me how long I have been out of service and if our DSL is working. She said there is a short in the line and will send someone out today. I ask if someone needs to be here and explain we'll only be here until 3:30. I work afternoons at the PR agency and Doug has an interview. She said it would be helpful if someone were here, but not necessary and they should be here before 3:30. I thank her and hang up.

I probably spent no more than 2 minutes on the phone with the repair lady, which is fine. It's all I needed. But I looked at my call timer. The entire call took 17 minutes, which meant that it took 15 to get me to the right person. And this isn't a one time thing -- it's EVERY TIME I call.

Doug walks in after I hang up. My teeth are still clenched and I am breathing deep; I have the look of murder on my face. "What's wrong?" he asks. I told him I just got off the phone with SBC. I swear once again, that we need to find a better service. We are forever getting calls and mail to switch our electricity, our this, our that, but I haven't found alternative to phone/DSL that services our neighborhood. "I wish we could get Road Runner here," Doug says. "SBC sucks." I just snort. That is the understatement of the year.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Thar' she blows!

Ba-bang-bang bang!! We were on the couch, getting ready to watch CSI on TiVo when we heard this loud noise. "What the hell...?" Doug asks as the dogs jump up. Ba-bang-bang!! "I think it's coming from the washing machine, like something is falling," I say, thinking either the ceiling is falling or Dexter had snuck in there. Doug opens the door to the washroom.

Ba-bang! "I bet it's the beer," Doug says, as he closes the door to the unharmed washroom. We go look. Sure enough, the closet o' beer is dripping wet. Several of his bottled beers blew their tops, breaking a few more. All told, about a half dozen 22 oz beers were destroyed. The beer closet reeks and there are glass shards.

Probably a victim of the humidity. It's been looking like rain for days and the humidity is killer.

Guess he'll just have to make another batch to make up for the ruined beer.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Holy Smokes

Thanks to yesterday's election, smoking is now prohibited in all Austin bars. This was a big controversy and it only passed by 52%. There is already a smoking ban in restaurants and the opponents to this ban argued that this is one more example of government interference on personal choice and that it will ruin the club scene. After all, Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World. But now you don't have to worry about breathing second hand smoke inside a club.

However, outside a club is a different story. Austin is currently under siege thanks to farmers in the Yucatan. Every spring the farmers burn their crops to prepare for the new crops. The smoke from these huge fires eventually drift north to Texas and for several weeks we have to suffer and it can be miserable. The American Lung Association recommends that we refrain from outdoor exercise and in areas where it is especially smoky, we close our windows and use air conditioning.

Ironic, isn't it? The government is so worried about second hand smoke damaging me in a bar, but when it comes to smoke and pollution, I just have to suffer.


Hope this doesn't effect my grade ;-)

Back in February I had to conduct an ethnomethodology experiment and write a short paper on it. Ethnomethodology is breaking a social norm, like standing right next to someone in an empty elevator. I decided to break what I thought was a social norm by taking Allegra into Office Max. This photo was taken on our way in. When I did the experiment, however, I was shocked that no one stopped me. In fact, several employees spoke to me, and one even petted Allegra. I was stunned.

The other day I read in the paper that in Austin it's okay to take your animal into a store, as long as they don't serve food. I never knew that. Go figure.

DaraPosted by Hello

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Meeting the CEO of B&O

The last time I met a CEO of a mid-sized, multi-location, national PR firm, the thing that stuck in my mind was that he had shiny fingernails; it looked like his manicure was highly buffed and maybe he even had clear polish on them. This was the CEO of Cohn & Wolfe who came down to the Austin Springbok office to tell us that they had bought our firm, but nothing to worry, things wouldn't change. This was before the term "metro-sexual" was common. Being a southern girl, I really didn't trust a man with polish on his nails. I was right to be suspicious. Less than four months after his afternoon 2-hour fly-by the Austin office was closed.

I thought about that last week when I met Greg Spector, CEO of Blanc & Otus. The one thing that struck me was what a genuine guy he is. Although I'm never made to feel this way in the office, I am "just" a contractor. In August, when Sarah is back, I will be out of there. This doesn't bother me because that's the way the game is, so surprises me when I'm introduced and treated like a long-term team member. I think that's one of the things I like best about B&O.

Greg was in the office for three days and while he was there, he took to the time to say hi to me, and when Doug was in the office one day to get me for dinner, Greg introduced himself. Instead of the rah-rah business speeches you usually get when the CEO comes for a visit, he took us all out for a Cinco de Mayo lunch. Instead of business, we talked running, kids, vacations and he told us how each year he takes each one of his three sons on a one-on-one vacation. And instead of just talking, like most executives do, he actually seemed to be listening to what everyone was saying.

Not only is he a good guy, Greg is very knowledgeable. In March, PR Week named Greg one of the key players in tech PR. And best of all, he doesn't have shiny fingernails.


Thursday, May 05, 2005

It's all over but the presentation

Tonight I present my findings from my blog research project and then the semester is over. This weekend I am going to sleep...


Monday, May 02, 2005

Home stretch

For the first time in a month I'm not feeling stressed out. I wrapped one class today and my grade is good in there. Tomorrow I have a final that will be tough -- 6 essay questions. Looking at my notes there are holes, but I have to remember, we can only write a page per essay. Also, as long as I get a C or better, I'll still have an A in in the class. That takes the stress off of it. Not that I plan to do bad, but still, it's good to know.

I also have a paper due Thursday, but I only have a few hours of revision and copy editing and it will be done. I think it's good and in talking with my professor, I should be able to submit it for this conference in the fall.

Work is going well. Sarah comes back Thursday and we will be job sharing then. One thing that means is that I will get more involved with clients other than Britestream, so I'm looking forward to that. Not that Britestream is bad, but I like a little more diversity than just one client.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Happy birthday Eeyore & Doug!

If you didn't know it, yesterday in Austin was the annual Eeyore's Birthday Party celebration. If you want to read about the party, check out today's Austin American Statesman.

The party started the year Doug was born. Austinites love a reason to have a party and 42 years ago a UT professor decided that we should all celebrate Eeyore's birthday, because, after all, Eeyore always complained that everyone forgot his birthday. Ever since then, it has remained a bastion of counter-culture (read hippie fest), complete with a drum circle.

This photo of Doug and Eeyore, while appropriate as they both celebrated their birthdays this weekend, was not taken at Eeyore's Birthday Party; it is from our trip to Disney World in January.

Happy Birthday Guys!
Dara Posted by Hello

You say it's your birthday...

...well it's Doug's birthday too. He turned 42 today. We are going out to brunch this morning and then he's going to play poker tonight.