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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Accurate Weather Forecast Why is it so tough?

Last March, I visited and toured the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder.  I learned the local weather forecasters generally, but not always use NOAA's  forecast for the weather...yes, they are to blame for all the wrong forecast predictions although the local weather personalities take the brunt of vocal people for their missed guesses.

Weather forecasting is the only job where you can be wrong 90% of the time and still be employed and overpaid for what you do!  It is amazing that there are so many people that are employed at the NOAA facility in Boulder and how many of them only do tours across the country.  Do we really need that?  It seems it would be more cost effective to have local contractors do the tours and stop all the waste! 

Seriously, you can walk outside, look up to the sky and have a more accurate forecast than any government administration can give you each day...or watch the behavior of the birds...that will tell you all you need to know without having to watch that crazy weather person on television. 

Happy bird watching!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Majestic Horses

Photo by Peter J. Markham, Loretto, MN

One of the most majestic things I have ever viewed with my own eyes has been wild horses running together. Maybe, it is because I can identify with the wild spirit and seeing them without a saddle, rider or a bit in their mouth is heart-warming.

Where I live, there are still a few ranchers in the area and since there is an open field behind my house, I am often blessed with a bird’s eye view of ranchers exercising their horses. Since the horse is not running free, I feel it unfair to capture the picture on film, but the sound of their hooves pounding on the ground and their deep breath breathing so much air stops me when I hear it.

On another ranch, one young horse in particular is very spirited and playful. It will tease the older horses, get up into their faces and wait until they have had enough to take off running. I find his spirit delightful as he brings the corral to life with his shenanigans. In his own way, he is ensuring that the older horses don’t act old and get some exercise…not to mention feeding his own ego for his quickness.

It reminds me of when I was young and my brothers would tease me by doing things that would antagonize me just to get me to react. Even though I complained about those days when I was growing up, as I have gotten older, I somehow remember those times with fondness.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Customer Service at Wal-Mart

I went into Wal-Mart the other day to get garden soil for my yard. It seems like a routine thing that happens every year about this time and I don’t give it much thought…that all changed this year.

This year, as I am in the line with my other purchases, I tell the clerk that I want to get 4 bags of garden soil, which is located outside the store. She rings me up and as I go outside to get what I thought was my purchase, I discover that the purchase price is nearly double what I thought it was. I really look over my sales receipt and found out that I have been charged for potting soil, which won’t work for my needs. Oops! I see what has happened and go back to the same clerk and let her know what has happened…she is very nice an apologetic and sheepishly says, “you will have to go to customer service to get it taken care of”…I smile and say, “ I figured that was going to be the case.” I laugh as I am leaving as I just know this isn’t going to go well.

I wait patiently at the customer service line which is 18 people deep at this time of day and located at about half the length of the store. After about 15 minutes, it is my turn to explain to the clerk my issue. As I am explaining to the clerk, she interrupts and says that a manager has to approve…I half expected that so I wait in a line I have formed on my own, for the manager. I am frustrated but still willing to go with the procedures.

The customer service manager arrives about 5 minutes later and goes directly to the clerk so she can explain why she has called such an important person over to mingle with the lowly customers of the store. After the manager is done listening to the clerk and comes to my line (which is only me), I explain my issue all over all over again…I feel like an echo or a parrot.

The manager explains to me that I have to go to my car, get the correct bag of garden soil (which had to be wrestled in my trunk), bring it back in the store, walk one half the store AGAIN so she can see the correct bag…I pause for a moment then ask why she can’t go out to my car with me which is parked just outside the garden area and she can see for herself? She says, “I am here by myself .” I am not sure exactly what that means but I explain to her that I too am here by myself and so we can do this together. She finds no humor in that statement and I quickly find that she lacks more than a sense of humor…I end up walking the store once again to get a bag of garden soil from outside in the parking lot so she can get the correct bar code. At this point, I am not sure why she or a clerk cannot look up a bar code for the garden soil but figure I am wasting my own time if I don’t get a bag so she can have the bar code. I get the bag off the top of the stack in the parking lot (at which time I almost grab a bag that is opened so it will make a mess all the way through the store but decide it will only be all over me in the end) come back in, walk half the store one more time AND have to wait in line yet again. I am getting to be good at waiting by this time. I have to explain my story again to the new clerk, which I also add that this is almost comical. He comes and gets the bag out of the cart, takes it back behind the counter so he can get the bar code. WHEW! That is done! The nice young man apologizes as he hands me my cash back for my purchase and I gladly leave the store.

Next time I will entertain the notion of just putting twice as many bags in the car and calling it even! Next time I will entertain the notion of just putting twice as many bags in the car and calling it even! Oh, did I repeat that again? I am getting use to that too!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Strawberries in season

Okay, it is official. You can call me Miss Piggy. I bought a container of strawberries at the store and cut them up today...they looked so perfectly ripe...this afternoon, I was working while eating and ate the entire bunch in one sitting....BURB...those were GREAT!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

1440 Beautiful Moments

Everyone that knows me knows that I read a lot of books. I review books, I read them for information and I love being entertained by books. Sometimes, there is nothing better than the feel of a book in my hand. On my many sleepless nights a book is what keeps me from feeling sorry for myself because I can’t sleep. I am just not wired for long sleeping hours, which is perfect for a writer/photographer/reader.

I was reading a book on photography yesterday (the second one I finished in a day) and read about the moments in a day that we have at our disposal. This following quote was taken from that book, “Today, be aware of how you are spending your 1, 440 beautiful moments and spend them wisely.” It is quoted but has an unknown source…apparently the person was too busy with the thought of their moments to put their name to what may be quoted in the future.

I have to agree with the number part of that statement and do understand the meaning of “paying attention” to what you do with your time, but so much of our time is not under our control, is it?

If we sleep 8 hours a night (which most of us don’t but I am just using it as an example) then 480 moments of the 1,440 moments in a day are gone…right off the top…just like a puff of smoke! Now, you only have 960 moments in your day to be pressured about. Ahhh! Doesn’t that feel better?

Then we have the moments in the day that someone else needs us to help them with it a child or adult. On average, that is about 2 hours, so there goes another 120 moments of your day. Then you have another 40 moments of exercise and 10 minutes to squeeze yourself into those exercise clothes and 15 minutes to take them off after they are all sweaty...there goes that time too! Don’t forget the shower again…another 15 minutes out of your day and then to dry your hair, 10 more minutes, clean out the locker and pack your dirty clothes away…another 10 minutes to get to the car…down to 745 moments.

Then, checking for messages on email and your phone can be a large chunk of your day...say 3 hours…565…oh, and eating takes up another 2 hours out of your precious moments because you have to either shop for the ingredients or wait for it to be served to you at a restaurant…down to 445 moments. Then we have to include the 2 hours of drive time to get to work and home in the traffic...down to 325…then our conversations on the phone or in person take up another 2 hours during our waking hours…down to 205 now. We also waste err...use about 30 minutes daydreaming and then we have a practice game for Johnny tonight, so there goes another 2 hours of your day just getting everyone there on time and watching the practice (sort of), then returning home, we now you have to sort the mail, pay the bills, and supervise the kid’s bath time…down to 10 minutes and that is all yours! WHEW!!! Don’t you feel better knowing you spent your time wisely and still had time left over for you? Aren’t you glad you paid attention to your 1,440 moments?????