Category Archives: Year of Adventure

Why it’s important say “Good job!”

Last year, as part of my “year of adventure,” I started going out of my way to say thank you to someone who waits on me in a retail setting. At least once a week , I try to find an employee at some store I’m at who is doing a good job or goes out of their way to help me or make my shopping experience better.

I literally make it a point to look for someone doing a good job.

I’ve learned that when you do that, you’re likely to find someone who is doing a good job, which generally makes the shopping experience more pleasant than looking for something to bitch about. Which I think is how most of us shop. We expect to long lines, untrained cashiers, mispriced items, the wrong amount of cream in our coffee.

In fact, customers are far more likely  to complain to a store manager than to compliment. But a compliment can go a long way towards boosting someone’s day, and hopefully count when it comes time for a review.

I visit Tim Hortons fairly regularly, and not long ago I wrote a little note to Tim Horton’s corporate and let them know that one of their employees, Chris, does a fantastic job. He knows my voice when I go through the drive thru, knows the dogs, is friendly, gets my coffee right every time, and overall makes the trip through the drive thru a very pleasant experience.

I mentioned it to him a few weeks ago, because I wanted to make sure the note got to his store manager and that Chris got something for it – something in his file, you know, something from his boss that recognized that a customer singled him out for a job well done. Chris hadn’t heard anything. Continue reading

Handgun lesson #1 – don’t point the gun at anyone, even if it’s not loaded

Last week my sister and I went to Beikirch’s to look at guns. I’ve had my pistol permit for almost two years but just haven’t really been motivated to get my own pistol.

I’m not afraid of guns. I grew up around them, my father being a cop and all. And I’ve shot guns before. But it’s different when it’s your gun, something you need to actually know how to operate and clean and store safely, not just shoot and hand back to its owner when you’re done shooting with it.

Now that my sister is a handgun instructor, we thought we’d have some fun and go look at guns. It’s a daunting process, even when you’re with someone who knows what they’re doing.  Poor Mark at the gun shop; he was overwhelmed by one woman with too much info and one with absolutely zero (that was me!).

So today I had an hour long lesson with Dave Jenkins from Rochester Personal Defense here in Rochester. We went to the gun club and for an hour he explained how a gun works, what I should be looking for in my own gun, answered my stupid questions, and then let me shoot a couple of his guns.

I learned a lot. I always knew that shooting was more than pulling the trigger; I’ve shot rifles and pistols before. But I forgot how easy it is to pull the trigger and then turn around and say, “Hey! Wow! Did you see that?” while waving the gun around. Oops. Good thing Dave only put one bullet in at a time. (“This isn’t the first time I’ve done this,” he said with a smile.)

When my sister and I were looking at guns last week, I was unable to pull the slide on one. I mean, literally, physically unable to muscle the thing back while holding the gun. Today I learned that I also need to be able to push the safety thingy up at the same time. The thumb on my right hand doesn’t want to cooperate; there was another gun I simply couldn’t work because I couldn’t push up with my thumb and then slide the … slide thing. (I’ll learn the actual terms when I take another class, I promise.) My thumb still hurts.

Dave explained that that just helps us eliminate some guns. Other things to consider are purpose (will I carry it for protection? go target shooting? both?), the grip, how it feels in my hand, and can I operate it. Clearly, some I can’t.

I got to shoot the Glock 19 and managed to get most of the bullets in one area of the paper without hurting myself, Dave, or the guy shooting next to us. I also shot a Smith and Wesson revolver.

I’d forgotten what a powerful experience it is to actually shoot a gun. It’s not like on TV; the gun BOOMS and kicks back and sends a bullet at a gazillion miles an hour into a target. I think every elementary school kid should shoot a gun if only to show them that guns are not toys and that what they see on TV is nothing like reality. Shooting a gun – even holding a gun – is not a game.

At the same time, it was a really cathartic experience. I called it “yog-un”, because I had to focus and steady myself and breathe and then pull the trigger.

There are a lot of rules, too. Don’t point the gun at someone, even if there aren’t any bullets in it. When the buzzer sounds, get behind the red line. Don’t point the gun at anyone. Don’t point the muzzle in the air. Don’t take your ear protection off or your ears will be ringing for a long time. (If you can’t hear with them on, pretend like you can.) Don’t point the gun at anyone.

Oh, and don’t point the gun at anyone.

It’s a lot to take in and well worth the $35 Dave charges for a consultation like this. (Thanks, Jackie!) Out of the hour, I only spent about 15 minutes shooting, but I was prepared for the experience and felt much more comfortable handling the gun. Dave explained how the gun should fit in my hand and how it actually fires a bullet. Plus, I got to try a couple of guns to see what felt good in my hand. Next time, Dave said I can shoot more and try some other guns. Since buying a gun is such a big investment, this is a great way to ease myself into shooting without making a huge investment in a gun I can’t shoot or won’t carry.

You can learn more about guns, especially programs for women (one of their main focuses), at Rochester Personal Defense’s website, www.safeinrochester.com. Or visit my sister online at Shoots Like A Girl. (Make sure you get the “s” in there on “ShootS”).

And with this little outing, I think I can close out my Year of Adventure!

Thankful we left BlogPaws early

Had we stayed for the last day of BlogPaws, this is what we would have driven through from Washington to Rochester.

As Bandit and I headed out of the hotel yesterday morning, I was still on the fence about leaving BlogPaws early. I knew I’d leave on Saturday; that much was clear. But I wasn’t sure if 7 AM was too early. I considered staying for the morning sessions and leaving after lunch.

As I walked through the lobby, I mentioned my dilemma to another attendee, who said, “You need to get out of here as soon as you can so you can stay ahead of the storm.” So we did.

We had a clear, uneventful drive home. A few sprinkles in Maryland, some rain in Pennsylvania (which made me glad we weren’t driving in rain the whole way), very little traffic (not even much traffic as we passed the Little League International World Series). The only problem we encountered was when we got home: I’d forgotten to pay the cable bill for the last two months and it was shut off. Oops. No TV.

As I woke up this morning and checked the weather, I realized that I absolutely made the right decision to leave yesterday. Had I stayed until after lunch, I would have hit increasing rain and wind on the way home. And this morning, the tail end of Hurricane Irene was still blasting my travel path. Just look at the 8 AM map from Weather.com – my path from Washington to Rochester would have followed the western path of the storm the entire way home.

Even if we’d left Saturday afternoon, we would have hit the leading edge of the storm. Of course, we could have just stayed in the hotel for days and had a wild advenure. But I think just driving to Washington and having two days of fun was enough adventure for a first-time Mommy and Bandit road trip team.

BlogPaws update – we’re home!

We had some kinda fun on this trip, didn't we Bandit?

Considering that I was at a blogging conference, you’d think I would have blogged about the travel down to Washington, the day and a half there, the dilemma about staying or getting out of town ahead of Hurricane Irene, and the trip home.

Nope, I’ll let Bandit do that.

Over on his blog, Bandit has posted some photos from the first two days (Day One and Day Two) and he’ll have more tomorrow. But we are home. After much debate and watching the Weather Channel, Bandit and I decided that we’d get out early and avoid traveling Saturday night or Sunday during the day in rain or bad weather. I was on the fence about leaving even as I was walking through the lobby. But in the end, I think we made the right decision.

More BlogPaws later – or really, more about my adventure with Bandit, which is really what this trip was about.

BlogPaws, earthquakes and hurricanes – oh my!

BlogPaws or bust!

Tomorrow afternoon – or this afternoon, if you’re reading this on Wednesday – Bandit and I head south to Washington, DC for the annual BlogPaws conference.

So far we’ve had $1200 in repairs to the dogmobile, an earthquake in our destination city, and I hear today that Hurricane Irene is headed for DC on Sunday, the day we’re supposed to leave for home.

Ask for adventure, and you get it, I guess. Continue reading

When the going gets tough … blah, blah, blah, just pour the wine

Why do the things I love always cost so much money?

They say that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. In this case, the writer gets writing.

As you know, I’m supposed to be headed off next week for an adventure. Bandit and I are going to BlogPaws, a pet blogging conference in Virginia, outside Washington, DC. We’ll be spending a night with my dad on the way down, and possibly on the way back. Me and Bandit, out on the open road, spending three nights in a hotel. I will return with lots of material for columns, I’m sure of that.

In a way, it’s part of my “Year of Adventure”, since I’ve been wanting to take a road trip with the dog for years. It’s a trip I’ve put off several times. “Just do it!” everyone has been telling me. “Just go! Don’t let anyone stop you!”

That’s easy to say when you have money in your pocket. Not so easy when the moth are  multiplying.

I took the dogmobile (aka the Jeep) into the shop this week for a pre-trip check up and to take care of one or two maintenance items that have needed attention for a while. Transmission cooling line. Universal joint. Spark plugs. Oil change. Turns out the little dogmobile has a more serious rust problem than I thought, and one problem leads to another and another hundred dollars and on and on.

And now the Jeep is another day in the shop, and we’re up to $1200 in repairs. And I just got off the phone with the mechanic; the cooling lines are apparently a bitch to remove (or something like that), and they may need to add a couple of hours more labor to the bill.

Great.  The repairs needed to be done; I just hadn’t expected them right now. At this point, I don’t have enough money to pay the bill and go to the conference. The Jeep will be fixed and I’ll be sitting home.

So I’m sitting here ready to bang my head against the wall in frustration.

Writing requires experience – new experiences, adventures, networking. Hitting the road with Bandit is part of the book idea. But if I can’t afford to go, I can’t write about it. Hence, no new ideas to write about. No new ideas, no new writing opportunities. No writing, no income. No income, no adventures. It’s a vicious cycle, one that has kept me not only lacking in new ideas but in a personal rut. Did I say rut? I meant hole. Deep hole. Cavernous hole. Can you hear the echo?

My mom keeps offering me money, and my sister has offered a ‘gift’, too, so I put up a little ChipIn box in case anyone wants to contribute to the adventure. I call it “reader supported writing”. But there’s a limit to what I feel comfortable taking when I give nothing back in return. If this were a mission trip, or if I was doing something that would benefit mankind, I wouldn’t think twice about asking for contributions. But this is selfish – a writing conference, a weekend away with my dog. I mean, really. There are people starving and jobless and this is what I’m worried about? 

It’s not like I’m lusting for expensive new cars or million dollar homes. I have a used Jeep that I love, that makes hauling dogs around a breeze. I have dogs that cost hundreds (and close to thousands) in vet bills. I don’t want to cost a lot, but I do.

Oh poop. I suppose this is part of the adventure. I told my sister to pray for a book deal and a little advance that will help cover the costs of more adventures to write about. Until then, I’m going to crack open a bottle of wine and have a good cry.

Adventure Girl ends her stint as a gainfully employed member of society

The Receptionist

(Image by mpujals via Flickr)

As you know, a few weeks ago I started a part time job at a local animal hospital. Ten or twelve hours a week, decent pay, nothing too taxing on the brain. I didn’t expect to get the job. In the interview, for example, I explained that I do not do well with numbers or math, and when asked if I was a very, very good multitasker I said … well, I’m a pretty good multitasker but I don’t work well in confusion.

My sister (who is a human resources professional with international accreditation) laughed and said that probably wasn’t the way to do an interview. And yet I was hired. Imagine that. They must have been desperate. Really desperate. Continue reading