Sunday, February 26, 2006

Project CENTRL in Tucson

So this past weekend I Thursday through Saturday in Tucson for Project CENTRL. It was fun. Thursday we just had dinner and had a chance to chat with classmates. We had our extemporaneous speaking during that time. I went last time- I knew I would because it was the first round and I had just dropped an English muffin on my shirt-grape jelly side down. As they were calling names, I ran to the room to change and came back learning I was going to be speaking. That is the way my life goes but I enjoyed it. I think I enjoy talking off the cuff rather than prepared public speaking. It doesn't stress me out as much because I want to be perfect and I analyze speaking if it's prepared.

Friday night we had a wine tasting party for those who wanted to try different wines. It was really cool the stuff you learn that is outside of the scheduled program of learning. I really enjoyed it.

Friday we spent most of the day touring university of Arizona. I had been there a year and a half ago with our board of directors and seen many of the things we toured. The new thing for me was the meat lab. I have been in many slaughter/meat labs in my time but still found it interesting. The rest of Saturday was sharing our internship programs and gaining outsiders perspectives on areas we could use help. I have a lot cut out for me to get mine done- hopefully it works.

This same weekend happened to also be rodeo weekend in Tucson so we went out to a couple places and danced. It was fun and we burned some calories. I have more fun just hanging with our group than anything. It's a great way to get to know them and also observe human behavior- or people watch as I call it. :)

Saturday morning we did a session on True Colors- colors representing your personality. I would highly encourage others to take this course if they haven't. I am a green, followed by gold then orange and finally blue (but only at work). Socially I'm Green- Orange- Gold- Blue. We had quite a few laughs in our group and in class in general. I think we decided our Green theme song could be "Don't go away mad... Just go away."

Next month we are in Cottonwood and participating in a mock zoning hearing. I'm looking forward to the challenge. After our session was over a couple of us went to lunch at the Buffalo Witches (I think that is what it is called) it's on 4th street. It has some great food and is a really cool place to meet for lunch if you are ever in Tucson. I told some friends about it when I got home and we decided we are going to have to go back and just explore 4th street.

All in all- it was a good time.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Nascar season finally started again

So this past weekend was the start of the 2006 NASCAR season. There hasn't been any races since the week before Thanksgiving so I was missing the excitement. Watching it on TV is not nearly as fun as seeing it live. Thankfully Phoenix now has two races each year so I can get my fix twice. I do want to catch a race in Richmond and at Daytona sometime in my life.

It was a great race. I watched both the Busch and Nextel races this past weekend. Normally when I watch the race- my ADD kicks in and I just can't sit there that long focused on the race. Usually I do work or scrapbook or something while watching the races. However this weekend they were really exciting and I paid attention the entire race. Maybe it was because Jr was running well in both races or because Tony "Smoke" Stewart was up in the front as well. Or it could have been all the really funny and cool commercials. NASCAR has some good ones and it is almost like watching the Superbowl.

I like both of those drivers. Jr is cool because he is Jr and he's funnier than crap on the radio. His sponsor is Budweiser and I like the color red. I know not a lot to be my favorite but he is cool. My other favorite driver- and afraid to say for those who really know me- possibly my favorite after this last year- is Tony Stewart. I love that he gets mad and pushes back. It shows he is a normal guy. The drivers that are always being nice make me want to vomit. There should not be niceness or pc in NASCAR. It's just not right. The other thing I really like about Tony Stewart is that you do not have to guess what he is thinking or where he is coming from. You just know it. He is up front and its cool. If you ask some people they would probably say the same about me too so I can appreciate it from him. I love his eyes too and I have heard things that make me think he is funny too. I could squeeze him!!! (it goes back to November).

Well both days I ended up watching the last of the race almost standing on the couch- actually I was kneeling, leaning over the arm rest and screaming at the TV- like that would really help Jr and Tony drive better. HA HA!!!! It ended up that Tony won the Busch race and placed 5th (I think) in the Daytona 500. The race could have only been better had Jimmie Johnson not won. I don't really like him. Not because of him (although his eyebrows really bug me- hello it's called wax and a tweezer!!). I digress. Anyway the reason I don't really like him is because I think his crew chief pushes the line too many times. It just seems a little unethical and not right. If I was Jimmie I would wonder if my crew chief really believed that I had the talent to win the race or if he needed to modify the car to get me to the winner's circle. Thankfully I don't have to think about that. But I don't have a lot of respect for the #48 crew chief.

Now it's on to California, Las Vegas and soon they will be coming to Phoenix. The cool thing is this year for the November race here, the Busch race will be on my birthday!!! I can't wait!!!

Friday, February 10, 2006

I finally had my picture taken with a red telephone box- a whole line of them!!!

Now I can scratch that off my list of things to do before I die.

Dana and I at the Tower Bridge in London.

If you look closely you can see the Lodon Eye, Big Ben and a red double decker bus.

Dana and I at an English football game.

I see London, I see... Hastings and Eastbourne!

I spent the first weekend of February in England! It was a very short trip but I was able to see Dana, see a few sites and bring stuff home for her! I left Phoenix on Thursday and arrived in London on Friday morning. Dana was at the airport to meet me and it was as if she had only been away a few weeks rather than six months!! We drove to her house were we dropped of the bags and then we headed for Hastings were she teaches. On the way to her house we saw a John Deere dealership along the road. I thought that was really cool. She had to go to school so I opted to spend time downtown looking around. It was cold but I had three layers of clothes on and a scarf so I was going to be fine (I really wished I had my winter coat from Oregon!!). Dana dropped me off at 10:30ish and I was to meet her in the same spot at 3:30. I hopped out and Dana left. As she drove away, down the street, I suddenly realized that I had left my coat and scarf in her car. It had gotten warm on the drive down from the airport so I took them off and put them in the back seat- where they still were!! I was freezing!!!!!

I did the only logical thing- I immediately went into Debenham's and bought a coat. A cute brown suede type coat that will be a nice addition to my closet. It's not to warm for AZ weather in the winter and it was on clearance!! With my new coat, I headed out to explore Hastings. It is a cute little town that has so much history! But everyplace has history in Europe because it's been there forever! I walked around and looked at some things. They have a lot of the same stores we do. I finally went into Mr. Bean's cafe and had a big hot cup of Mocha and decided to sit in there awhile and read till I was warm again. I read a few chapters in a book I brought and had another cup of coffee before I decided to head out again and conquer the cold. I continued to go up and down the streets. I stayed relatively close to the same area (so I covered some the area twice). Dana had said that could go to another area of town she mentioned but since I didn't have her cell number or really knew where she lived I stuck close to where I was to meet her. I did find a mini-mall in the area and looked through the 10 or so shops there. They have a cute store called Accessorize that I liked.

Dana met me at 3:30 and we were off to the house so I could shower and get ready for dinner. We met some of her friends and had a great meal. We then headed to Kings, a dance club that was good. It had a lot of smoke and a smoke machine so I was having problems breathing but I didn't want to complain and ruin the night so I stuck it out. We danced till about 2:00 am. I had been up for 36 hours by that time and was tired!! We went home and I had to shower again before bed to get the smoke out of my hair.

Saturday we woke up early to meet Gail and go to an English football game. It was fun. We took the bus and drove up there. They had security guards posted all along the stairs between the home and visiting fans. I had more fun watching the fans taunt each other than watching the actual game. We lost and headed home but I had a great time and Gail's dad was so funny! He reminded me of my dad.

Sunday we woke up early and caught a train to London. Halfway there we had to switch to a bus because they do the train construction on Sundays. We then got back on the train from our hour bus ride and ended at Victoria station. As we excited and headed the few blocks to Buckingham Palace, we walked along a brick wall that enclosed the Queen's Muse- the place she stores all her carriages. The palace was neat to see and we notice the guards were going to be changing at 11:30. It was 9 so we headed through the park to see Churchill's war room- where all the planning and strategizing occurred during WWII. Along the way we saw some horses headed towards the other end of the park. They happened to be next to the War Room so we walked over and took a few photos of them changing guards.

The tour of the War Room was really neat. It was cool to be standing in the exact spot that Churchill and his other advisors and the rest of the staff had been all those years ago. It had been restored to how it was when they were there. It was as if they had just got up to go to get coffee or something. They still had the original stuff. When we were done there we headed back up to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard. They had a band and it was fun to watch them march by. When that was over we headed to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.

Big Ben is impressive and there is a spot that you can stand and have the London Eye (big ferris wheel), Big Ben and if you wait to the right moment, a double decker bus in the photo. Of course I had to get one of those. Westminster Abbey was closed because it was Sunday but it was cool to see and then we walked by Big Ben and parliament and over the bridge that crosses Thime River to grab a tour bus to ride around and see the sites. They covered a lot of what we had already seen but it was cool to see Scotland Yard, Kennington Palace, the homes of Margaret Thatcher and Sean Connery. We hopped off the bus to switch lines to see other things and saw the American Embassy and then decided to get off- it was cold riding up top (the only place to get a good view and great pics).

Where we got off the bus was a long line of red telephone boxes (booths) so of course I got my picture taken along side them and then in one of them. That is all I really wanted to do in London- see a red telephone box and ride a double decker bus. So I had done both!!! We grabbed the underground (tube/subway) to go to Covent Garden and see the street performers and shop. It was really cool and switching the trains was fun to. There, you can't just get off and go to the other side. You actually have to get off and run up or down stairs and hallways to reach the trains going in the other directions.

Covent Garden was really nice and I picked up a few photos and pictures as well as a purse, tea and some really good candy. We walked around and finally had lunch. I had the traditional Fish and Chips with vinegar and brown sauce. Then we headed out to see London Tower because you can't come to London and not see the tower. It is an old castle with lots of history. It was closed but I did make my way into the gift shop to purchase a few things and then we walked over to see the Tower Bridge. It was impressive in the night being light up. That is the bridge the American's thought they were buying when they bought the London Bridge that is Lake Havasu.

We headed for the train home and of course we had to run to catch it. I did a lot of running that day and I'm not a big runner. The ride home was the same as coming in- we had to get a bus part way. Once at Eastbourne station we stopped off at a fellow teachers house to chat a while. Nate and Craig are very funny and really nice. I hope both of them come to see Dana in Arizona once she gets back because it would be really nice to chat with them again. I had so much fun but I was so tired from the day that I packed and went to bed even though the Superbowl was on TV. With seven hours difference it was really late. I didn't even know who won till I was back at the states waiting for my flight to Phoenix.

In the morning, Dana dropped me off at the train station and I took it to the airport. When we bought the ticket we thought it was a direct train but I had to get off at one point and switch trains. I was a little worried because I only had 4 minutes to make the switch and I had two bags with me. Luckily I just had to walk across the track and there was a couple other people heading to the airport as well so I followed them!!

I made it to the airport and checked in and had a great flight home. I had such a wonderful time in England and everyone was so nice but next time I go I will bring a heavier coat and Dana's address so customs won't be mad at me for not knowing where I'm staying!! (just a hint for those who travel there). :)

Kacie and I at the Wildhorse Saloon!

Riders in the Sky and Porter Wagner on stage at the Grand Ole Opry!

This is on the street by the Rhyman. We were waiting for Del to pick us up.

Music City

So I spent the second weekend of January in Nashville for the American Farm Bureau Convention. It was a lot of fun! I spent most of my time between the women's committee stuff and the safety booth the ASAP (Ag Safety Awareness Program and network) had. We handed out stress balls that looked like baseballs because our theme this year is "step up to the plate for farm safety" and our spokesperson is Nolan Ryan! One of my favorite all time players. I'm not a big baseball fan but I have always loved Nolan Ryan and I love Luis Gonzales with the Diamondbacks!

So we landed in Nashville on Saturday afternoon and headed to the hotel. Paul, Kacie, Marcos and I all ended up in the same taxi with our driver Del. He was from Ethiopia and had been in Nashville for 5 years. He wanted to be a sheep farmer so we chatted with him all the way to the hotel. He gave us his card to call him when we needed a cab. We got ready and headed to the Grand Ole Opry. In the winter time it's held in the old Rhyman Auditorium downtown. Del met us and told us of a great Italian restaurant so we grabbed a bite to eat before hand. On the drive there we talked about socks because Kacie had forgot to pack black socks and she needed to purchase some. Del said it would be an expensive cab ride to find socks so we thought we might find some in a store around the opry.

The opry was really cool. It was neat to see it live after watching it on the TV growing up. Jeannie Seally, Riders in the Sky, Michael Martin Murphy and Porter Wagner were on it. As well as new artist Jeff Bates and a couple others I can't remember. There were quite a few people from AZFB that was there. After the show we called Del to pick us up and he was going to be a few minutes so we walked behind the Rhyman to the bars behind where Tootsies and the other famous bars are. We tried to find black socks but couldn't so we headed back to the hotel. As we were pulling up Del handed Kacie socks. He had went out and bought them for her while we were at the show!!!

Convention was fun Cal Ripken, Jr. was the main speaker and Sammy Kershaw was the entertainment. The insurance company had a party for the 12 states in the company at the Wildhorse Saloon. I only attended for a few minutes because I had a dinner I had to attend. I wish I could have stayed longer but it was fun. Monday night ended the convention so a few of us younger people went back downtown to hear the live bands in the various bars. It was fun going in and out of all of them listening to the different groups. Some of them were good- some not so good.

Tuesday was our free day before we had to get on the plane so Paul, Kacie, Marcos and I toured President Andrew Jackson's plantation. It was really neat to see the history and the house with the slave quarters and different gardens and buildings.

The plane ride home as usual except that when we landed, Ty immediately undid his seatbelt, stood up put on his coat and then proceeded to turn around and talk to us behind him all the while the flight attendant is on the intercom asking him to sit down and put his seatbelt on. She asked him several times and finally we had to yell at him to sit down. We had quite a few laughs out of that!!