Running on Empty

I think I may finally be running on empty. The past few days have felt like a marathon. Between changing time zones, coordinating travel plans and well work, I'm do for a little rest & relaxation. Not to say it's all bad, but I definitely feel a bit drained by events. Here are some of my highlights from my packed week thus far:

*Listening to the new Radiohead album. Definitely some good stuff, at a price of your choosing!

*Waking up and enjoying some Blueberry Pancakes and freshly squeezed OJ in a new city.
*Stories of inspirations told by a stranger.

*Chatting up DeShaun Foster while overseeing an event opening in Charlotte.
*Greetings of a friendly face(s) when you are at the airport.

*Bonding with my co-workers over Halloween (seriously our area rocked the house).*Candy Wars

*Learning more about people by the music they select.

*Pure joy of kids smiling while trick-or-treating!

Hope your day was filled more with treats then tricks! So for now, I wish you all a Happy Halloween and good night as I try to refuel.


Professional Hipsters

Tonight I left my corporate shadow behind; as I headed downtown with a friend to become what I know will deem a professional hipster. What's a professional hipster you might ask? Well it might seem like a rare breed to see in action in the Memphis area. Truth be told a sighting might not be that far off if you go to the right venue 'round town.

But let's breakdown what the definition of Professional Hipster might be:

Professional: can be either a person in a profession (certain types of skilled work requiring formal training/education) or in sports (a sportsman/sportwoman doing sports for payment).

Hipsters: are typically associated most closely with a love of "alternative" art and performance, particularly music. They are commonly perceived to be devout fans of indie or independent rock and/or independent film. Hipsters may also enjoy or create DIY crafts, and enjoy any or all forms of fine art including conceptual or performance art. Contemporary hipsters are sometimes associated with leftist or liberal social and political views, a general appreciation of intellectual pursuits, and an ironic appreciation of lowbrow or lower class culture and subculture.

In this case the Professional Hipsters group consisted of 1 Pilot, 1 Manager, 1 Fundraiser, 1 Beat Writer, 1 School Administrator, 1 Engineer, 1 Ad Man and sprinkling of Marketing Gurus (like me) for good measure. Once you've got a core team of professional hipsters established you just need to appoint a social chair to dictate the events for the night. Toss in some Alt-rock music, adult libations and downtown locale to the schedule and you're good to go!

Ok, I wish I could take credit for outing, but I was just a participant. The truth is the man (in this instance WOMAN) behind the plan was my co-worker Janet from Janet's Planet on WEVL 89.9.

She's like the Encyclopedia of Music and the Yellow Pages all rolled into one. She's definitely a professional hipster and was able to gather an eclectic group of us to catch the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. It was a killer show and I recommend you give them a spin if you get a chance.

It was an evening full of professional hipsters gearing up for a weekend of River Arts Fest and Voodoo Musicfest 2007 in New Orleans. Hopefully you can find something to entice you palate for this weekend...


Blimey Limey Tuesday

What a terrible way to start a Tuesday…I walked out the door with just a light rain coat, but was greeted by a misty rain. The gloom and wintry type of chill alone stopped me in my tracks. Today’s weather seemed so foreign to me since I haven’t seen a rainy, cold fog in what feels like well over a year. Feeling quite stupid for not consulting the Action News 5, Doppler weather forecast or the internet I returned into my house to fetch a warm fleece. This day was already off to a rotten start.

By the time I rolled into the office I was cold, cranky and a bit damp. I was sure I wouldn’t be able to shake the funk. But when I arrived at my desk a stack of 10 new music CDs greeted me! Yippee!!!

A co-worker had left me some new tunes to check out in preparation for a concert. My frown started to melt slightly.

Next, I headed off to a morning meeting and it ended early. Bonus!!!

And finally another co-worker stopped by my cube to drop me off a mid-morning Blimey Limey treat. Yummy!!!

At this point I realized it was futile for me to continue along my mopey path. I went out to lunch with the boys from work. I spent the afternoon smiling and laughing. Heck, I may even decide to splash in some puddles as I leave the office tonight.

Moral of the Story – Even when the cold wet rain falls on you, try to capture a few rays of sunshine. It might even turn into a bit of happiness! What made you happy today?


Indie Memphis & a slew of new music

Tonight I went to the 2007 Indie Memphis film festival. I had every intention of going to preview The Central Standards new music video "Cosmic Hole" and then jetting off to another function. However when I got there I quickly realized the premiere included all the videos submitted to the film festival this year. So I sat back and was introduced to a slew of new music. Some of which I enjoyed (see below) and others I truly could live without hearing or seeing again (that's right Mr. White - please stay in Leipzig, Germany). Anyway below was one of the new bands I was introduced to via music video stimulation tonight. I'm pleased to introduce the music stylings of the Chess Club.


Watch out for that first step

Wednesday I participated in a team building activity for work. It was a great way to mingle with work peeps outside of the normal daily grind. We traveled to a ranch where we participated all morning in smaller team leadership activities. Then we broke for lunch. Here I am mixing it up with members of the opposing teams:

After lunch the entire group did a team building activity, before heading over to the zip line and climbing wall for a bit of fun. Below is a step-by-step of how I ventured off a tower onto the zip line. Word of caution to those of you unfamiliar with the zip line - Watch out for that first step, it's a doozy!

Step 1 - Strategically climb a tower, have the guide clip you into the zip line and gaze out on the horizon...

Step 2 - Look down below about 60+ feet and decide that a sane individual probably would choose to take the stairs back down...Start to panic!

Step 3 - Take a leap of faith and hope the line will hold. Attempt to look cool while jumping, even if you're scared silly!

Step 4 - Loosen up as you free fall. Now you can start to crack a smile. Maybe this isn't so bad after all...

Step 5 - Laugh as you swing through the air with the greatest of ease. You've survived yet another challenge. Now it's time to prepare for running landing!

Overall, it was an excellent day and I was glad to participate in all the activities. It was a great way to get to know my team better and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. If you get a chance to take the leap, definitely try it out, it’s worth risk!


Free Hugs Campaign

The Free Hugs Campaign may be old news to some of you, but it's new to me! I came across the video after a strong recommendation by the check-out girl at Wild Oats. Hope you enjoy and make sure to give someone a hug afterwards...


3-day Caring Marathon

I do enjoy volunteering around the city, but I’m thinking I may have taken it to an EXTREME this weekend. Please don’t start picturing me a Saint Rach or a Girl Scout, because clearly I spend loads of time and energy on personal pursuits/gains. And usually my volunteer events are spread out every few weeks.

Here is a quick recap of events from Friday to Sunday -

*Team building “Day of Caring” through a United Way agency called the Diocese of Memphis Housing Department down to the Cleveland & Jackson location, I knew this wouldn’t be a typical day. We entered a worn building in need of some freshening up. My work group with a team of other corporate citizens spent the day bonding over the numerous fences, rails and rooms that needed to be painted.

We passed the time away chatting and painting what seemed to be the longest fence EVER. And when we ran out of paint I got a chance to hone my non-existent gardening skills as we planted some flowers and mulched in the garden. Our reward at the end of the day was seeing a freshly painted and flowery Diocese of Memphis Housing Department. Plus we rewarded our good behavior with an early happy hour at Boscos…

*Woke up at the crack of dawn to headed to Northhaven (an area in Frayser) to assist in a Habitat build. My friend Jan had set this adventure up for us, but backed out due to illness. But Julie and I pressed on to go work on the build. It truly was an adventure as we started the day attempting to put up baseboards. After some complications with the volunteer we were paired with, we somehow we are able to maneuver over to Amy’s painting squad. What Julie and I lacked in skill we definitely made up in with heart.

So I spent the morning painting and chatting with Sarah, Amber, Amy & Julie. As an added bonus I got to talk with the lady at length whose house we were working on. She’s was single mother of two from the Frayser area, whose husband has passed away a few years ago. She was probably in her early to mid-forties and this was going to be her first home purchase. I think she was most excited knowing that her son was going to be old enough in the coming week to help contribute some sweat equity onto the house too. At the end of my shift I left a little bit tired and dehydrated, but felt fulfilled knowing I was helping such a nice woman and her children take part in homeownership.

*I wrapped up my volunteer hat-trick by escorting the 7th grade class from TI-Memphis to the The Food Bank. Normally these kids are engaged in social interaction with each other or their cell phones. But early on a Sunday morning we got a reprieve from their normal behavior. For over two hours they worked as a team to selflessly label plain white boxes of fruit loops that were donated by Kellogg’s. Since it was a donation, they sent over those plain, white boxes filled with cereal we all enjoy and pay a premium for to see Toucan Sam on our box. Yet the government won’t allow a food bank to distribute food without a label that includes nutritional/ingredient information. So we split up into teams and went to our make-shift workstation pallets that included printed copies of nutritional information and box tape.

It was amazing to watch as the kids and adults attack the task at hand. I think our small crew of 30 labeled about 1,000 individual plain, fruit loop boxes. I think the kids felt good that their small impact was going to affect so many families across the mid-south who can’t afford basic necessities like food. And I it was fun to hear some of them thinking out loud and trying to calculate how many meals each box would contain. I know the whole focus of the 7th grade program on repairing the world, but I hope the kids walked away learning how even simple physical tasks can ease the burden of our fellow man.

Lessons Learned
Giving money is a very noble way to accomplish a variety of goals, but giving of your time can be just as rewarding and fulfilling. And now that I’ve wrapped my marathon weekend of caring up, I feel proud of the work that was accomplished and happy to stand next to the folks who contributed along side of me. I wish we all have more time to donate to our special causes to help relieve the people and community that surround us. But until then I hope ya’ll have a happy start to the coming week.


Grand Theft Auto 101

Saturday afternoon I got a first hand lesson on how easy it is jimmying a car open in under a minute. The folks at Mr. Pride locked Sarah's keys in the car and then asked if she perhaps carried her spare set of keys with her. Excuse me, how many people carry their spare keys with them?

When she failed to provide the keys we got a glimpse into how quickly someone can pop n' lock!


The Victorian Village

I traveled back in time this weekend with my friend Celia to the Victorian Village. This historic area of Memphis used to be the address of many of the wealthiest families in the city (in what used to be the edge of the city). These grand houses built in the 1800s stood as symbol of the growth and prosperity of Memphis. The homes remained intact through the yellow fever epidemic and the civil war. Most of the single-family residences were however destroyed in the name of progress by the people of Memphis.
Now all that is left a few original Victorian style homes that litter the streets between Adams & Jefferson. I was so excited when I read in the paper about the Victorian Village tour happening on Sunday. It provided me the opportunity to visit the grand homes, some of which are now private residences or closed museums. I was especially interested in revisiting the Mallory-Neely House and Woodruff-Fontaine House, which used to be yearly stop for school field trips. I had always been fascinated by the large homes because they had such ornate furnishings from the time period and the stories of Molly’s ghost.

The tour did not disappoint as I learned more about the living history left in Memphis. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Celia and I were both amazed by the splendor and magnificence of these homes. My only hope is that they do eventually re-open these houses to the general public for tours.
In the meantime if you get a chance, make sure to at least drive through the neighborhood or at least stop in for a drink at the Molly Fontaine Lounge.


24-Hour KC Twister

Indeed, Dorothy was right. There is no place like home...And in my case that means there is no place like my 2nd home - Kansas. Although I missed out on an opportunity to go visit Lawrence/KU (bad weather and not enough time), I did get to spend 24-hours in Kansas City for work. It was a whirlwind adventure as I flew in Tuesday morning and flew out Wednesday at lunch.

In between I did how ever get to fit lunch in with BPOP (Bitter Party of Pat) and a tour of Barkley (an ad agency) that will soon be featured on 20/20. Pat introduced me to the hipster area of downtown KC, which when I was still at KU was pretty dilapidated. We ate lunch at this great pizza shop (ok, I enjoyed it more then Pat) around the corner from here office. Seriously, check out how yummy my lunch looked (and it tasted even better)!

Afterward I shopped and even ran into some guy, named Guy from the food network who filming a segment on YJ's Snack Bar. Where I ended up having breakfast with Tony the following day. I'm not going to lie, the place was a dive but it was delicious and fully caffeinated!

Tuesday evening though I worked my tail off at Arrowhead Stadium interacting with customers and signing them up for a program sponsored by work. It was a lot of standing, a lot of talking and loads of schmoozing. I think it all paid off when the customers walked out happy learning about our products and more about the Chiefs. Plus I couldn’t really complain because I got to meet Boomer Grigsby & Derrick Johnson from the KC Chiefs.

And then there was a behind the scenes tour of the stadium…AweSOME!

It was a short, working trip, but it was jam packed with loads of good stuff. I even ended my day chilling on a porch with an ear to ear grin.