You’ve been Chopped!

Chopped-logoIt always amazes me to watch Chef’s cook. They come up with these concoctions that just sound and look delicious.  Of course I’m watching a cooking show at the moment called Chopped.  The premise of the show is similar to that of Top Chef, however it’s scaled down to a winner per show, rather than per season.  In Chopped four Chefs converge in a single kitchen to put out 3 courses.  Each course becomes more and more complex and with each evaluation the judges select their least favorite dish and then “chop” the Chef off the show.

In this particular episode, Chef Gavin Mills, Sous chef – Mas Farmhouse in New York, N.Y., made an incredible looking dish of tomato and mussel ragout with potato and celery root hash. Confession time — I have no clue what ragout is, but I’m thinking he’s referring to a stew of some sort? And then celery root, i wouldn’t even know where to begin with celery root! But the dish looked incredible!

Now I’m definitely no Chef — but I’ve never starved. However, I am inspired and curious. I love the fact that Chef’s have creative freedom to produce amazing experiences — much like that of a wine maker, just with more immediate results. Last night I met an Executive Chef from the Playboy mansion. And he was telling me that one of the challenges he loves is going to a friend’s house, raiding the pantry and seeing how creative they can be. To be honest, that sounds like a great time! The challenge would be intellectually stimulating, and the pleasure of stimulating the taste buds would be rewarding — pair that with a delicious wine and I would need a moment of silence!

Ok, time to look at culinary courses at the local college!

PS: for desert Chef Gavin made roasted figs with almond and sabayon. — again, no clue what sabayon is — but YUM!

Hungry for Leadership

I’m often perplexed by the opinion that Leadership is best taught with a hands off approach.  I understand that young leaders want to be “treated as adults” and not be “nagged” for deliverables.  These are two reasons I heard this week as to why the California Jaycees has decided to empower chapters to run themselves.  In theory this course of action is sound. I mean you’re giving chapters what they want and enabling them to explore their entrepreneurial spirit and lead their chapters as they see fit.  It’s definitely a win-win on the surface, but what about beneath the surface?

Beneath the surface the state of the State is in dire straits.  There is a perception that the State does not care because the have opted to take a “hands-off” approach.  This is the direct result of giving Chapter Presidents a list of deadlines at the beginning of the year with little to no follow-up.  I realize that people don’t want to be nagged — who does?  But since when has follow-up been equated with nagging?

In business, we are consistently asked by our bosses and our peers what the status of certain projects are.  When tasked with a specific task, it is not uncommon for the assignor to ask the assignees if a task has been completed.  I’m not condoning micro management, but neither am I condoning macro-management – because both have the potential for adverse results.  What I am condoning, however, are the basic elements of project management which dictate that tasks are assigned and reviewed through to completion.

If we are to be an effective leadership development organization teaching community development, individual development, business development, and international development through project management (let’s face it, this is what we do!), then we need to make sure that we don’t forget to lead by example and employ those techniques that made us the leaders we are.  I don’t want us to “nag” our members, but I would like for us to follow-up with chapters to make sure that they are doing what they need to do in order to maintain in compliance with the organization itself.   Members are hungry for leadership — lets lead!

The safest place on Earth

I was 3 years old when my parents bought this house. Some may claim that I was too young, but I swear I remember the day my parents brought my older brother and I to the house the first time.  There was a rainbow outside and when an adult (could have been mom, dad, abuela, abuelo?) took my brother and I by the hand and we crossed the street, I saw the rainbow frame our house.  I remember that day and it was a perfect day.

For the next 6 years my brother and I shared a room.  I’m not sure why, there are plenty of bedrooms for everyone, but we were fairly inseparable, so I guess sharing a room made sense.  When I was 9, I decided that I wanted my own room — this room.  My mom made me promise that if she bought me my own bedroom set, I could not call for her to come to the room in the middle of the night.  Deal.

We cleaned out what was to be my room and my Dad gave it a fresh coat of paint.  My furniture arrived and my bedroom was made up.  That night was the night that I would be sleeping alone — without my brother and without my mom.  When it came time for bed, I went to MY room and shut the door.  My mom came in and told me that since it still smelled like paint, it would be best if I slept with the door open.  OK I did, but the next night, I shut the door again.  I’ve slept with the door closed ever since.

Today I drove back home to hang with my parents for a couple of days.  There is no question as to where I’d sleep as I’ve always kept my room here… afterall, it’s MY room, my parents gave it to me. The house can be theirs, the room is mine.   This room has been with me my entire life.   I always know that it’s here for me when I need it, or when I don’t.  It’s seen me laugh, cry, yell, dance, sleep, stress, veg-out.  It’s where I feel better when I’m not feeling well and where I can relax after any event.  It’s made me feel safe when I’ve been scared and surrounds me with familiarity when I’m lost.  It’s a place where I am welcome, whether it’s for a day, a night, a week or years.   It has been my private sanctuary since I was 9 years old and it is now what it was then –the safest place on earth for me.

I am my Father

Sept 2007 at my brother's wedding

Sept 2007 at my brother’s wedding

In 2001, my dad had a mild heart attack.  It happened 3 days after I placed him on a plane back to California from Texas – he and my older brother came out to help me move into my new house that weekend.  I’ll never forget the phone call my brother made to me.  It was about 2:00 am CST.  My dad dropped my mom at the airport the evening before so she could help me get settled into my house.  The phone rings, I answer and the first words my brother says is… “don’t tell mom I’m calling”.  I tell him, “hey, what’s wrong?”  “it’s dad, he kinda had a heart attack, but don’t tell mom because we don’t want her to worry”.  Mid-sentence, of course, my mom was already in my room saying “what happened?”.  I wasn’t even sure that she had heard the phone ring, but she did.  Later she confessed that she couldn’t sleep because she felt that something was wrong.

I wasn’t able to come home that weekend and to this day I wonder what would have happened if things had gone differently.  My dad, thank our Heavenly Father above, is healthy now.  But it’s interesting because after every disagreement I have with my dad, I immediately think of how I could have lost him that night.

Why am I thinking of this now?  I don’t know to be honest.  I think it’s because I’m going home tomorrow to hang with my parents (and report to jury duty the next day) and I want to brainstorm with him a couple of ideas on what I could do to isolate a portion of the balcony for Corky.

The irony of all of this is that my father and I have butted heads my entire life.  My mom claims that we are “like looking at each other in a mirror” or that we are so alike, we’re like “two parts of same magnet trying to reconnect, but instead we repel.”  One may look at this as negative things — however I feel blessed because although not perfect, I love that he has given me his strength, his creativity, his wit, his innovation, his determination and his stubbornness.  He is the only person in the world that I know who can see something through to completion, regardless of the obstacles along the way.  We may not always agree, and yes there will be more arguments, but together we find a way and we get things done.  Writing this now, I can’t bear to think what life would be like without my dad.

I love you Papi!

Why do Mac computers make that noise?

I don’t have a Mac, not that I don’t want one, I do — but I just don’t have one.  But as I was talking with Vanessa (my rockin’ roommate from afar – not to be confused with my dog-owning roommate) on the phone last night, she was telling me about how her Mac is wiggin’ out and making a weird noise.  I tell her about another Mac user friend who had the same thing happen last year and that although I didn’t know what it was, I do recall it being fixable.  Today Vanessa called me to tell me that the RAM card was loose and that all one has to do is recede the card.  Cool –I confess that I  have no clue how to recede a RAM card in a Mac,  but I will file it away in my mental file cabinet for future reference should the question arise in random conversation, OR if I ever actually got a Mac.

Now you know!

PS — just in case Santa is reading — a MacBook under this year’s Christmas tree would be AWESOME!

4 things….

I was going over some new blog sites  and came across a post that gives a bit of insight on the author.  I thought it would be fun to fill it out myself and share it with you.  Here goes:

Four jobs I’ve had:
— Wine Cellar Manager
— CEO of a cheese manufacturing company
— Web applications developer
— Graduate School Adjunct Professor

(wow, looking at that list I’m wondering — who wouldn’t want to hire me?  uh hello!!!  That’s ok, I’m confident that good things are coming my way.. you’ll see!)

Four places I’ve been on vacation:
— Antalya, Turkey
— Rosario, Argentina
— Maui
— California (well that was when I used to live in Texas and I’d come home to California to hang out with friends and family)

Four of my favorite foods:
— Anything I cook
— Anything my mom cooks
— Anything my friends cook (well except that one meal that Vola made right after she got married.. it was salty and the chicken was raw — yes Vola I can tell you now, it wasn’t your best effort… love ya *air kisses*!)
— oh and farfalle pasta — yum!

Four movies I can watch over and over :
— Ever After
— Sweet Home Alabama
— Anastasia (yes, I watch cartoons.. love them!)
— and can’t say there’s really a 4th movie out there yet.

Four places I’ve lived:
California and Texas are the only 2 states I’ve lived in.  Well unless you count the months I spent traveling for work.. if that’s the case then I lived in Wisconsin for 2 months — which was the longest time I was assigned to an account off-site.  Other job assignments at the time were really never longer than 3 weeks and included various states.

Four TV shows I watch regularly:
— Amazing Race
— Greek
— Gossip Girl
— Fraiser (got to love late night re-runs!)

Four websites I visit daily:
— My Yahoo!
— Facebook
— Twitter
— Gmail

Four places I’d rather be right now:
— to be honest, I’m good at the moment.  However travelling the world is always welcome!

There you have it.. more info about me!  Going to bed now — good night!

The “E” Word —- “Economy”… EW!

One of my mom’s favorite songs is Bing Crosby’s “Mister In-Between”.  Every now and again you hear her singing:

” You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between”

I find myself thinking of this song a lot lately.   Let’s face it, shy of living under a rock, today’s economy has affected us all in some way or another.  However, my current thoughts are on the fact that people can’t seem to participate in a conversation without bringing the word up.  I’ve heard the term “economy” used as the reason, and the excuse for many things .  I’m sure that I could write pages upon pages of the negative effects of the economy, but I want to take a moment to reflect on the positive effects.  For example, true, it’s the reason for company closures and increased unemployment.  However, it’s also the reason that families are spending more time together at local, low-cost, family events, which bring them closer.  With our new found “free” time, there has been an increase in the number of blogs, it has spurred creativity in many new and seasoned artists.  Some would say that people are returning to their Faiths for support through this time, resulting in an increase in attendance at Sunday Services/Masses.  True, many cite the economy as  the reason for lower membership numbers in member-driven organizations, but there is an increase in non-profit involvement.  It’s good for reality shows (shout out to the Baldwins!), local farmer’s markets, cheap entertainment, and personal growth.  And if we really did a brain-storming session, I bet we could come up with a hundred more positive results of the economy, couldn’t we?

happy_faces_lead_wideweb__470x3390As I mentioned in previous posts, I fell victim to our economy.  I often think.. “only if”, “only if the economy was better, I’d be doing…”  and “only if the economy was better, I would have the money to do ….”.  I can spend countless hours identifying the things that the economy screwed up in my perfect life plan.  But what would that accomplish?  Instead, I am going to make a conscious effort to try and think of the opportunities this economy is providing.  I’m going to “accentuate the positive,  eliminate the negative,  latch on to the affirmative” and not  “mess with Mister In-Between”.

To everybody out there who is quick to cite the economy as the reason for all that is bad, I ask you to take a minute and reflect upon the positive results of your situation.  Who knows, you may find that in today’s ugly times, there are beautiful moments to be shared… and if we’re fortunate we may even find a touch of prosperity.

Celebrities vs. Newlyweds

This evening I’ve decided to schedule a couple of recordings for the DVR, afterall, summer is coming and we know that summer shows are pretty much the bottom of the network barrel, right?  So tonight I recorded “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” and “Here Come the Newlyweds.”

celebrity_682_653227a_sm“I’m a Celebrity” — first I think that it’s a reality show’s right of passage to have a Baldwin grace the cast.  Throw in a female wrestler, an NBA star, a couple of cable TV comedians, an American Idol, and 2 whiney socialites and this show has disaster written all over it!  Heidi and Spencer have absolutely no reason to be in the lime light.  It reminds me of the time when Sean Penn would act out for attention during his younger “look at me” years.  Who was it that cast them for The Hills?  Are you still employed?  If so, please tell me that at some point you were reprimanded during your yearly evaluation for that decision!  As for Mr. Baldwin — I’ve come to love your level-headedness on reality shows – loved you on The Mole!

s-here-come-newlyweds-smAs for the Newlyweds — too funny!  If  celebrities in the jungle is a train wreck, then Newlyweds is a blimp passing overhead — you acknowldege it, and wonder how long it will circle your neighborhood.I have to admit, this show made me laugh, after watching it, I wasn’t sure if I was happy to be single or longing for a boyfriend.    To the wife who totally slapped her husband’s privates because he embarrassed her in front of Dr. Ruth — that just wasn’t nice!  On another note — to the husband who farted on his wife’s hands when she felt his butt – you totally had my rolling!

So be it!

Sometimes life is about compromise, other times it’s just about letting things sort out on their own.  Wow, ok, that’s a little deep — but today I find myself being reminded that I can’t control everything – or even anything for that matter.  The past couple of weeks I’ve had the pleasure, and the challenge, of introducing a puppy into my household.  A cute – 1 year old Chihuahua mix puppy who is so sweet and really just wants to cuddle (and run around and play and eat my shoes, and pull the toilet paper off the roll — oh wait, focus!  He’s so sweet :) ). It shouldn’t be daunting, I mean it’s just a puppy right?  Well, here’s what you may not know:  I have a roommate and he has a dog – a big dog — a 70ish pound dog — a boxer.  I think she’s a pussy cat, my roommate thinks she’s a “killer”.  Ok, this could be a minor issue.

So when I bring Corky home, my roommate agrees that he’ll keep an open mind and will work with me on introducing Corky to Lacey.  Surprise!  Lacey isn’t hungry and Corky is allowed to live!  Happy times because that makes my life SO much easier!

4163_84997792982_646527982_1977784_3863422_nSo now we’re in week 2, Corky is no longer scared — actually he’s starting to display true “puppy” like behavior.  He wants to play — Lacey, well she probably just really wants him to take a nap.  I, on the other hand, get a little stressed trying to make sure that my roommate is ok with the situation – that Corky stays off of Lacey’s bed (because I mean seriously, why should I expect him to stay on his measly twin-sized doggie bed when there’s a  king-sized doggie bed to lounge on across the living room floor?), that Lacey has her space, that my roommate doesn’t feel that his life has been imposed upon by my stubborn need to have a new puppy enter the house.

So, now we’re in week 3.  Lacey has just come home from vacationing at his grandma’s house for the long weekend.  Corky has had his run of the house.  Roommate is home — and my stress level is rising –  new rule:  he’d feel more comfortable if Corky stayed off the couch.  Ok, to be honest, I’d feel more comfortable is Lacey didn’t poop on the balcony — BUT there are things I just can’t control.

So I went walking this morning to process everything and I’ve come to a decision.  I’m going to just let things be.  If Corky jumps on the couch as part of his marathon course to strategically steal Lacey’s bone (the one she’s actually gnawing on at that moment), then so be it.  If Lacey decides that Corky has overstepped his boundaries and she decides to swat at him, so be it.  If my roommate is upset with me because I can’t keep the dogs peacefully co-existing 105% of the time, so be it.  In the meantime — it’s a beautiful morning.  I’m going to go outside, move Lacey’s poop to the other side of the balcony (actually just outside his door, hehehe) sit at the table, under the umbrella and drink my coffee.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!

A couple of weeks ago I made a reservation to attend  I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! at The Repertory East Playhouse (or as we call it “The REP”) with a few friends.  It is a musical comedy about “everything you have ever secretly thought about dating, romance, marriage, lovers, husbands, wives and in-laws… but were afraid to admit”, at least that’s with the poster in the lobby said.

Last night was Opening Night.  It was FANTASTIC!  Two minutes into the musical, I began laughing and didn’t stop until the very end.   No wonder it’s Off-Broadway’s longest-running musical with over 5,000 performances!

As I was watching the first half, I couldn’t help but think that I was watching a musical documentary of my own dating life!  I can’t tell you how many men I’ve dated and was left wondering where all the good guys where.  Well, last night my suspicions were confirmed when on stage they informed me that there is a “serious single man drought”.  Oh and I’m not talking one of those “turn the sprinklers on in the early morning or late evenings” type of drought, but a “delirious, severious, varbirious, send the marines we’re talking serious, single man drought!”  OK, that explains so much!

Like one of the characters, I also learned that a woman who focuses on her career might also be in trouble.  As it turns out, career minded women tend to be single, and that’s why “we’re still single now.” Ouch! Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Obvious.

There is, however, comfort in knowing that  “I’ve hung on to my pride. I’ve lived life alone, but the terms are my own.”  And, of course, in knowing that I have time to utilize the services of  Gechovian, Myers, Masters, and Johnson to negotiate any further relationship contracts — i hear that they negotiate EVERY little detail!  **wink wink, nudge nudge**

Me & George M. Chavez II

By the end of the evening, I was reminded that although I’m single, there is someone out there for me.  For that reason “I keep coming back to this whirlwind tour –  Of loving, and leaving, and wanting more. ”  You’re out there, I know it.  And when we find each other, just remember – I love you, you’re perfect, now change!

On a serious note, if you haven’t seen the musical, find time to do so — it really is entertaining!  It’s playing at The REP in Newhall from May 22nd – June 20th (2009) and with tickets ranging from $16 – $18/person, they are UBER affordable!  Major props go to the 4 Actors that give this evening life — George Chavez II, Kristen Heitman, Erin Rivlin and Aaron Wong — you were Amazing! And, to The REP for another FANTASTIC production!