Thursday, June 28, 2007

Gone Scuba-ing

We are less than two weeks away from our trip to Ecuador and six of the ten students traveling with us are one test away from having their scuba certification. They have done an amazing job with the class... I can't tell you how cool it is to stand on the edge of the pool and look down and see all these little bodies playing twelve feet underwater for hours at a time!

For those who don't know, PADI certification allows you to dive pretty much anywhere in the world. It's a multi-level program that involves classroom work, pool work, swim tests, and then an open water dive. The only portion of the certification process our group has left is the open water dive, which most of them will complete at the rock quarry near Greensboro this weekend.

While in the Galapagos, we will be diving off the island of Floreana, the southeastern-most island in the archipelago. Floreana is sometimes referred to as Charles or Santa Maria Island, and is one of the few islands with a reliable supply of fresh water so the sea life should be amazing.

Here are a couple pictures from the pool-portion of our class. I will make sure to post more after our “real” dives in the Galapagos.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Walk like a "Green" Egyptian

My parents just got back from two weeks in Egypt. From hot air balloon rides over the Valley of the Kings and camping in the Sinai Desert, to camel-back riding and pyramid hiking, they did it all. Here are a couple pictures from their adventures. (I hope my sweet hubby is getting mentally prepared... I'd love to follow in their "worldy" footsteps one day!)

Update on Donta's Family

Wow! I cannot believe the outpouring of support we have received for the Jarrell family. It's been absolutely amazing, and a true inspiration!

We are still taking weekly grocery deliveries over... Everything from pancake mix to canned vegetables, loaves of bread to brownie mixes. Since they only receive $300 in food stamps a month, this is a tremendous blessing for them.

We have paid off her phone bill and set it up so that her new monthly amount will be apx. $30. We are setting up a rent and utility fund that will help pay off her other bills, but this money is only accessible once she finds a new job. As soon as she can prove employment, we will pay her landlord for the next months rent.

Our goal is to help her get back on her feet and to a point where the bills aren't suffocating them to death. If you have any other ideas of ways we can help please let me know. Thanks again for showing so much compassion to this wonderful family.

I am going back over there today... Hopefully I can post a picture or two of Jaqueline and her boys this week!

Erin and Ryan tie the knot!

Our dear friend Erin Kelly got married last weekend in Salisbury, NC. Erin’s (now) husband Ryan is about to start his dental residency so they are moving to Memphis, TN in a couple weeks. Their wedding was beautiful, and all planned in five months! Hope you two lovebirds have fun honeymooning. We love you!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Community Support

I wanted to see if any of you would be interested in helping me with something… One of our GreenHouse Globetrotter kids is going through a rough time. I had not been able to get in touch with Donta for weeks (because of a disconnected phone line) so I finally went over to his apartment yesterday afternoon to make sure everything was ok... His mother came out wearing only a t-shirt (this is at 5:00pm) and started crying the second she saw me. She explained that they were going through some bad financial times… Her phone had been disconnected, her power turned off, and she’s been struggling to buy groceries for her four kids. On top of that, her van (the only thing of value she owned) had broken down… She had asked a neighbor to fix it, who ended up causing more harm than good. Then her landlord came to her and said she had to move the broken down van from the parking lot or he would tow it. Jaqueline knew she couldn’t afford the $120 it would cost to get the van out of the tow-lot, so she sold it – for $50.00

The Jarrell’s are good people, living just around the corner from my office, who are really in need of some support. We are starting a food drive in our building to help Jaqueline build up a small stash of groceries for their home... We are also collecting small donations that can be used to help pay off their utility bills (with some cushion for the summer months). If you have any desire to help the Jarrell family please let me know. Even a card encouraging her to keep going would be amazing.

Love Always, Ash

Friday, June 15, 2007

NYC Apartment

Mike and I are moving to a new apartment next week, so I took a few pictures of our first home in NYC. It's been a perfect spot for us - surprising since Hells Kitchen used to be one of the most dangerous spots in all of New York. Today there are tons of restaurants, Broadway plays, subway stops, and parks right outside our door.
(The picture is of the front of our building.)

Here are some recommendations based on our stay so far...

Restaurants to Hit:
Pam's Real Thai (404 W. 49th Street)
Hells Kitchen (679 9th Ave.)
Lenny's (I loved their salad bar)
Things to Do:
Walk to Pier 83
Riverside Run (great path)
Music at Birdland
Neighborhood Yard Sales
Favorite Stores:
Manhattan Plaza Winery
Things that are Hard to Find:

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My New "Yogi"

I thought some of you would get a kick out of this... Mike's been doing yoga. It's part of a total body workout he's committed to for the next three months. Doesn't he look skinny!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Snip of a NY Politician

A very good friend of mine was eating lunch at a local NYC hotspot the other day when guess who walked in... Top Dawg, Rudy Giuliani.

Dining in the same restaurant as the presidential hopeful was enough to make my friend's day, but to top that, the waitress walks Mr. Giuliani and his three-person entourage over and sits them at the table directly next to my friend. It took about two seconds before he was completely zoned out of the conversation taking place at his own table and glued to what was being discussed at the power table beside him. I thought you might enjoy the conversation topics as much as we did!

Topic 1: John McCain
Unfortunately my friend’s sonar devices weren't quite warmed up... He heard the topic, but couldn't get any of the details. (Still, I had to throw it in. I want this to be as complete of an overview as possible!)

Topic 2: Vision
Apparently Mayor Giuliani has very poor eyesight... He is often seen in glasses (a new, sophisticated looking pair at the latest debate, by the way), but apparently they aren’t always enough. Giuliani was complaining about not being able to read from Teleprompters.... I guess as Mayor of New York you don’t have time for scripts. It’s more of a fly by the seat of your pants kind-of place. Anyway, his new tactic is writing down everything he hears is a thick black magic marker. Maybe Crayola could come up with something good for him.

Topic 3: George W. Bush.
Here's where it really starts getting interesting – and shocking that the conversation (which took place in a public pace) wasn’t more censored. Apparently after Giuliani’s last visit with the president, he felt "for the first time" that Bush has “emotionally checked-out.” Giuliani gave Bush the benefit of the doubt, saying who wouldn't check out after everything that's happened over the past six and a half years, but still; it's a frightening when a fellow republican is commenting on the fact that he feels the leader of the free world has gone emotionally vacant. Giuliani went on to question how Bush would even manage to finish his term... GREAT! Makes me feel comfortable.

Topic 4: Guantanamo Bay
Giuliani must have been on a role, because after the Bush comments were let out of the bag, things just kept getting better. By mid-lunch he was on to Al Qaeda and the US prisons housing thousands of suspected terrorists... Again, Giuliani was not even muffling his speech when he let the comment fly that he doesn’t understand why we aren't torturing these guys (terrorists) to death and getting some information out of them, being that they are going to die anyway. Wow! If there was any uncertainty, we now know where he stands on Guantanamo Bay!

Topic 5: Jack Bauer
G-Bay and murdering everyone there led into my friend's favorite part of the Giuliani conversation... An animated Giuliani asked his fellow diners if any of them watched 24. The responses at the table were mellow, so he started into a jaunt about how incredible the show was and how he feels "every presidential candidate should have to watch 24." He thinks it's great training - between the terror plots that are constantly unfolding, the vice president who is trying to take over the presidency, the umpteen presidential assassination attempts, etc… It’s a must see for all politicians.

And with that, the conversation came to an end… At least for my friend who’s colleagues were (sadly) paying the bill and leaving the restaurant.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Very Helpful (Free) Internet Tools!
- What: A tool that notifies you every time specific websites are changed and/or updated
- How: By email
- Why: You could use this to track blogs, for example. If you wanted to be notified every time Rebecca Ueltschey adds a post, you could enter her URL as one of my change detection sites.
- What: A tool that lets you look at older versions of current sites
- How: All online and one at a time
- Why: If you had a competitor, for example, and you wanted to track some things they did in the past, this tool would be extremely helpful. Or, if a site has changed and you need a piece of old information, again this site would be helpful.
- What: A tool that allows you to send large files over the web (things that are too big to email)
- How: FTP
- Why: We have all experienced the picture that is too big to send... This will solve your sending problems at no cost. You include your email and the email of the person you are sending it to... Then upload the file and you're done.
- What: A tool that takes those grotesquely long URL's and shortens them to your liking.
- How: Not sure but it's cool.
- Why: We send out monthly newsletters at work based on product and client profile. The newsletters are all html files and therefore have pictures and links imbedded in them. When they first arrive in a client's inbox, all the client sees is a very long URL and a button they can click to open the online version. We hated our clients were seeing the ugly, long URL's. So we snipped them.

A weekend in NYC

Cory and Ross braved our very small apartment in order to hang out with us for a weekend in NYC. Despite the tight living conditions, we had a blast! We went to a Yankee game, watched a female softball series, played spades in Central Park, went to a Korean BBQ Restaurant (which I would not recommend - very expensive, a lot of work, and not too tasty), and marveled at the thousands of soldiers and the giant ships that had landed in the city for Fleet Week.

Highlights from the weekend:
- Ross' Borat impersonations
- Paying 100 bucks to cook our own food (Bad Korean BBQ experience referenced above)
- Watching girls dance with a couch (Late night bar with very sticky floors)
- The Blackberry (Never far from conversation and something we constantly used to confirm facts, locations, etc.)
- A trip to Magnolia’s (The famous cupcake bakery featured on Saturday Night Live - the boys waited in line for 45 minutes to get their prized baked goods)
- Attractive Arizona softball players (Yes, they do exist)
- The rude waitress at the Russian Vodka bar (Just ask Mike, he loved her)
- Missing Katie Webb (I needed some more girl power)
- JJ's new hairdo
- Starlight Live (And the drink teeny-bopper we were betting would fall off the stage)
- Lenny's (a great salad bar find)
- The big question (should Coke have bought Vitamin Water)

Thanks for the visit and a wonderful weekend boys!

Friday, June 1, 2007

My "Curtains" Call

Mike called yesterday afternoon and let me know there was one extra ticket to the Fulbright activity that evening... So I jumped in the shower and rushed out to meet up with the 12 summers and 8 (or so) partners heading to Broadway. We went to see the show "Curtains," which has been nominated for at least 8 Tony's... Niles, from Frasier, was the lead and both he and the musical as a whole were fantastic.

Basic story line:
Clue meets musical theatre... A leading lady is murdered on the opening night of a play. Since everyone in the cast is a suspect, they are all quarantined to the theatre while a detective (Niles) is brought in to investigate. During the course of the (quarantined) rehearsals, several other cast members fall victim to the mysterious killer.