Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Everyone Loves a Good Christmas Story, right?

(We all get a little sappy around the holidays, so here I go...)

I heard a great bit on NPR this morning about random acts of kindness.

These random acts take the forms of Secret Santas, handing out $100 bills to total strangers in thrift stores, cafes and other places that may be frequented by downtrodden folks. Larry Stewart of Kansas City started the tradition in the 70s after a stranger gifted him with $20 at a time when he was down on his luck. After making his fortune in telecomm, he (anonymously) wandered through the community during the holidays, handing out cash to those in need.

Since his death a few years ago, others have picked up where Stewart left off. The NPR piece claims there are anonymous Secret Santas in about a dozen U.S. cities, mostly CEOs who feel like they have money to give back to the community.

The story included audio of the "new" Kansas City Secret Santa giving $100 to a couple in an urban thrift store. They were shopping for a space heater. The Secret Santa asked them how much they had to spend. When they responded, "$10," he inconspicuously passed them a $100 bill and said something to the effect of, "now you've got $110." Even though I couldn't see their faces, I could feel this couple light up with gratefulness and relief.

See more info and listen to the story here.

I always love hearing stories of kindness and generosity, but this year feels especially impactful because of prolific job loss, real estate distress and overall financial woefulness. I hope there are even more Secret Santas on the streets next year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Temporary Quarters

Happy Holidays, blogland!

I haven't taken a photo of everything totally unpacked, but here's where we're camped out for now:

(Photo taken the day we moved in)

We're enjoying our adventure in the Virginia-Highlands. We found a one bedroom, one bathroom (with a sunroom) in an older apartment building. I.e., it was built in the 1930s and has lots of old "charm." Dan has given the place a pretty good makeover already, installing some practical items (extra rods in the closets, a coat rack, a key rack, etc.). I would like to say I handled most of the cleaning and unpacking... but Dan did the serious chunk of that, too.

Beyond the fun location (walking distance from Harry and Sons, American Roadhouse, Hand-N-Hand and Surin of Thailand - SCORE!), the other great thing about this place is that we didn't have to sign a traditional lease. We can be out when we find "the" house... whether that's in two months or five months.

So, to keep things consistent with my house hunting posts, pros and cons about the a-p-t:

  • Killer locale (proximity to shops, restaurants, bars and an overall walkable and bustling area
  • Affordable rent
  • Bigger than a traditional one bedroom
  • Didn't have to sign a traditional lease
  • Includes water, trash and heat
  • Slightly worse commutes for both me and the hubs
  • Roxxi's knee surgery seems to have slowed recovery due to now having to walk up and down the stairs
  • Dan = the dishwasher (i.e., we don't have one)
  • No washer and dryer in our unit (but at least there are shared ones in the basement)
  • Aesthetically, the place could use a little help

Friday, December 18, 2009

Google Voice Strikes Again: Now with more Christ's Birth

(From my husband)

"Hey Dad, It's around 2 o'clock. I just picked up those golf clubs. I had to withdraw 4 blocks here. There are 350 some reason. A. T M would work, but that's fine, thank you know that one of the the Fall or. Predefine about alright. 50 100 I heard. Whatever 200 trying to get you to know if it's Ross I can definitely grow, strictures. Anyways, got your fellow they've got a birthday present, so I'm excited and Andy, I was Peters Realty stopping by the office to drop off perishable Christ's birth so very nice. And yeah, I'm just sorry. I'll talk to you soon. We have a good day."

You tell me what that probably means...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hours of Endless Fun (Google Voice)

When my friend Paul invited me to use the Google Voice (formerly Grand Central) app a few weeks ago, I had no idea what I was in for.

What I thought: Google Voice seems like a great way to handle voicemails. When you can't listen to your voicemails, Google Voice delivers them to your e-mail and to your phone in written form. Wow, this will make life a lot easier! Not to mention I don't always want to physically listen to my voicemails -- now I can just read them! (If you need to listen, you can click to play the message.)

Reality: Google Voice only accurately translates about 40 percent of what people say. Convenient? Ummm... maybe a little bit. Funny? YES! The computer generated messages are effing hilarious!

A few examples:

(From my brother Ben)
What Google Voice captured: "Hey give me a man. Gimme a call later."
What he really said: "Hey Katy B. It's Ben. Give me a call later."

(From my sister Anna)
What Google Voice captured: "Hey Hannah, I, and things dying at some point. Mister cost. You do want to go on Saturday evening. I don't know it's not to be dinner something. So gimme a call man. Love you bye."
What she really said: "Hey..umm it's Anna. I'll be driving from Columbus to Dahlonega on Saturday evening and I didn't know if you wanted to get dinner or something. So give me a call and... I love you, bye."

(From Mb)
What Google Voice captured: "Hey Baby, It's me a call. I'm just leaving a message and sorry I missed your call earlier. I'm heading home. I'll be home, so give me a call if you don't get me through everything lines give you a call back. I should be up for a while. Talk to you later. Bye."
What she really said: "Hey Katy, it's Mirabelle. I'm just leaving the gym. I'm sorry I missed your call earlier. I'm heading home and I"ll be home so just give me a call. If you don't get me for whatever reason, just give me a call back. I should be up for a while. Talk to you later. Bye" (hey baby back atcha!)

(And my all-time favorite, from my brother Paul)
What Google Voice captured: "Can a quit being. Lana Peterson 5 o'clock on Friday. I'll be back."
What he really said: "Hey Katy. Quit being lame and answer your phone. It's five o'clock on Friday. Love you. Bye."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Inspiration: Kyle Maynard

This weekend, while helping my Aunt (Very)Vera out again, I had the pleasure of meeting Kyle Maynard. He was shopping with a friend and I recognized him from a news story.

Kyle isn't just a fellow Georgian and University of Georgia alum, he's a dude with an inspirational story. As if being an athlete isn't hard enough, Kyle has been a winning athlete in high school and (club) college wrestling... with no arms and no legs.

Kyle was born with a congenital defect that led to him not having any elbows or knees. While many people would let this get them down, Kyle has managed to not just led an average life, but an extraordinary one. He's regularly on the speaker's circuit, encouraging others to be the best they can be no matter what the circumstances. And boy would he know about beating the odds! This blog/article says his senior year record was 35-16. Incredible.

In our brief conversation, I told Kyle about something that you all may be interested in, too. I told him about another news piece I'd seen about a guy born with no legs who's made a project out of photographing people's reactions to him. He rolls around on a skateboard and snaps photos from below of others he approaches. The reactions to range from smiles and admiration to shock, dismay and discomfort. To add an additional level of interest to his photography project, Kevin Connolly traveled to several foreign countries to see how the reactions differ there. The result is a moving, interesting and brilliant series of photographs that Connolly describes as "15 Countries, 31 Cities, 32,000 photos, One Stare" on his site. Check out Kevin (another incredibly inspirational person) and his photography project here: