Thursday, August 27, 2009


Respect. We could use a lot more of it...starting at the top. Check out my blog entry about this at

Aretha Franklin "Respect"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Farewell Fairfax, Hello Future

It's been two weeks and three days since I first arrived at the Hyatt Fair Lakes in Fairfax, VA. After a day and a half of travel (I might as well have flown around the globe) I finally landed at Dulles and shuttled my luggage to Fairfax before shuttling on to Baltimore for a flight to Buffalo and yet another shuttle to Niagara for the Atlas Experience.

After Niagara, we all returned to Fairfax and the Hyatt to begin the Atlas TTMBA - two weeks of intensive training and a gluttony of food and drink (see previous blog entry for details!). So the Hyatt has been my home for more than two weeks, but I am leaving today.

Most of my friends left Fairfax on Saturday, but I am still here...packing and heading home to begin a crazy, but very exciting few days prior to Kelly's wedding.

I have to say that it hasn't been the same in Fairfax without them. Wandering the hotel and not seeing their friendly faces and not finding a 24/7 buffet of foods waiting to be devoured was rather creepy. It was like I was living in a memory.

Life is such an amazing experience. Who would have thought that I would be dining atop the Watergate condos with friends from all over the world? Who would have thought that I would be meeting incredible young leaders from every corner of the globe? Who would have thought that I would become such good friends with so many of the Atlas staff?

And who would have thought that at 54 I would finally discover exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life? Not even I expected that.

Farewell Fairfax, and hello future.

I have linked arms with my friends and can think of nothing that I could do better or would love more than to continue in the battle for liberty that is being waged throughout the world by small and large think tanks and their courageous leaders.

Life is good, but it should be so much better for so many. I'm in the fight to stay and I have lots of energy, enthusiasm and years left in me.

Shaka shaka bomb!

Richie Havens Freedom Woodstock 1969

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I USED TO HAVE CHEEKBONES ( or I attended the Atlas TTMBA)

It's been an amazing two weeks as I ATTENDED the Atlas TTMBA conference in Fairfax, Virginia near Washington DC. The food has been incredible.

Training began in the morning each day (not as early as last year, thankfully) but first we ATE. Breakfast was an amazing 8 ft. spread of potatoes, sausage, bacon, cereal or pancakes or waffles or crepes - or cheesecake (not really, but I kept expecting to see it some morning) - and toast, marmalade, juices and coffee and milk and fruit. And we ATE it all. Every day. The food has been incredible.

We learned to create a strategic business plan, from start to finish. No bullet point or objective was missed and the instruction was very comprehensive. Then it was time to EAT. The lunch buffet beckoned, another 8 ft. of "luncheon" food just begging to be EATEN with more often a variety of dinner foods, with two desserts. The food has been incredible.

We reviewed and reworked our business plans after meeting with Rainier Heufers - our BP Guru and Tireless, Focused Instructor - and then we broke for 30 minute breaks where various chocolate candies were casually distributed across ANY flat surface within our break area for us to EAT, along with soda, water, coffee, tea and whatever else the Atlas staff might have found along their culinary way. The food has been incredible.

Afternoon fatigue often hit mid-presentation after lunch and breaks, but the TTMBAers (for the most part) stayed awake and alert. Coffee was consumed by the gallon, caffeine drinks were downed by the case, chocolate was traded and shared and EATEN amongst TTMBAers as if it was an addictive drug. We learned, we ate, we conquered. The food has been incredible.

Dinner's 8 ft. buffet often included meat, potatoes, rice, veggies - and I am talking gourmet veggies, not just creamed corn - and there was bread...oh, have I mentioned the breadbefore now? Bread and butter was provided with every meal...and it was sooooooooo good. We tried to pass it by, but we failed every time. It was almost an Italian peasant bread - soft, fragrant, delicious. And we ATE. And then the dessert(s). Yes, the desserts. Multiple desserts, and not just little tiny chocolate chip cookies. Pies, cakes, pastries of all kinds, ice cream....on and on and on. Wine, beer, water, milk, soda...any beverage you could ever want. It was a feast every night...more than that, every meal, to be exact. We were fed well and we partook generously. We ATE, and then we ATE again. The food has been incredible.

And then the evening would begin, a walk along a dirt path (or miles over concrete, or on the metro, or over bridges, or into neighboring states) to TGIF's, Applebee's, Blue Iguana, DC for Ethiopian food, the hotel lounge for $3 beers, virgin cocktails, wine and more wine. The overindulgence just continued, it didn't stop after dinner, it didn't stop after 9 PM, sometimes it didn't stop until after midnight....the food (and drink) just kept coming and we ATE again. The food (and drink) has been incredible.

And then, as if we had not EATEN enough - Shaka treated us to his favorite restaurant...and a new drink was created, the SHAKA SHAKA BOMB, and we watched shrimp fly through the air, and we opened our mouths to catch them and we ATE again....

And the Event Planner extraordinaire, Stephanie treated us to anything we wanted, milkshakes mid-day between lunch and dinner, as if we couldn't survive between meals, so we ATE again...

And we were proud of our gluttony, we posed with our food. You can see in the picture above that Miss Texas posed by the old car with her food for a photo op.....many others vied for the privilege as well, and we dined and ATE again atop the Watergate building...

And we danced, and we sang, and we drank, and we ATE....

We shared cultures and food and drink and food and drink and more food and more drink....and we drank and we ATE...

And it was fantastic.

The TTMBAer's are amazing and I made lifelong friends whom I adore and hope to always stay in contact with. No meal will ever be quite the same without my comrades and I will miss them dearly. We enjoyed the food together, it was incredible.

I ATTENDED Atlas TTMBA and I don't think that it's just chance that the words ATE and EAT and EATEN are three words that can be created from that larger word: ATTENDED.

I used to have cheekbones, but I have EATEN at the TTMBA training, and I am now a proud TTMBAer with friends all over the world and a certificate too...but somewhere in the EATING, I lost my cheekbones.

It won't be long before we will need to plan a reunion dinner, so we can EAT together again. I am certain the food will be incredible. Maybe I will rediscover my cheekbones before we meet again....but between then and now, I will EAT less, and work harder in the fight for LIBERTY (with snacks and beverages at hand!).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Baseball and Turkey

You might think of hot dogs when you think of baseball, but forevermore I will think of Turkey.

Not turkey dogs, not turkey sandwiches, not gobble-gobble, not the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal, but the country of Turkey.

Why, you are probably wondering. Well, because of Bugra. Bugra is from Turkey and tonight Bugra went to a baseball game along with me and our fellow students from the Atlas Think Tank MBA training in Virginia - for some it was their first baseball game ever.

We cheered, we sang, we talked about how baseball is played, we danced, we did the wave - we actually STARTED the wave, we tossed a beach ball around, we ran through the rain, we talked about freedom and in between all of that, we watched a bit of baseball.

Bugra is a young man in his late twenties who has dedicated his life to fighting for human rights and freedoms in his native country. He has had to explain what he does to his parents, and they didn't always understand or agree. He and his comrades sometimes have to leave the country simply to stay safe. They are selfless and committed to the cause of freedom.
And Bugra, although someone who has especially impressed me, is very much like the other 25 attendees at this training. Selfless, intelligent, caring, committed young people working for freedom for the people of their countries and the world.

I love baseball. And plain old American hot dogs may never be quite the same. Thank you for that, Bugra.

And thank you for fighting for your people, for your country and for freedom.

I am honored to be your friend and comrade. And not only will I link arms with you in the fight for liberty, but I will do the wave with you anytime!

Monday, August 10, 2009

It's a Small, Small World

I have been here two days. Today was our first real work/training day and it was a killer. I am too tired to blog, so let me just say that it's a small, small world that we live in.

I am at the Atlas Think Tank MBA Training in Virginia, along with 26 other think tank folks from all over the world: Poland, United States, Ghana, El Salvador, Georgia, Spain, Argentina, Belgium, Slovakia, Canada, Turkey, Tanzania, Kyrgyztan, Brazil, Mexico, Nepal, Belarus, Mongolia, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Ecuador.

It's like a grown up Rotary Exchange only shorter (2 weeks) and with the principles of individual liberty, free market economy and limited government instead of the 4-Way test. Or maybe it's more like a mini-United Nations.

Being a freedom fighter is more that a strategic business plan (which is what we are working on this week). Some of these young men and women have had to leave their countries due to death threats - one had to leave Turkey for an entire year and live in England during that time. Their average age is about 28, some have families of their own. They have travelled around the world for this opportunity to train with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, and I can see why.

It's amazing what we have in the United States and what they don't have in their countries. Restrictions on internet, Facebook and other social pages are banned. Certain web hosting services too. Visa restrictions, travel requirements, and on and on and on.

Conversely, it's amazing what they have in their countries and we don't have in ours. Respect for their elders (Nigeria), the ability to speak only in positive terms (Indonesia), a hunger for freedom that we cannot even fathom...

Life is amazing, liberty is a right, but also a gift, this training is invaluable, Atlas is incredible, the staff and participants are exemplary, the world is suddenly very small and I am grateful to be here - at Atlas, and here - in America. God bless us all and may we be wise enough to work for world peace and freedom.

Disney "It's a Small World"

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Apples and Oranges

I am blogging from the Apple Store in Fairfax, VA...on an iMac, with a 24" screen and a tiny keyboard that forces me to type everything twice since I am not accustomed to the size.

It's surreal. It's like blogging on an iMAX screen. It's a little scary. It makes me think those little icons at the bottom of the screen will be jumping out at me, just like in those 3-D movies - monsters with strange heads. I hope I don't scream, that could be embarrassing.

PC - Mac, PC - Mac, it's like apples and oranges. You really can't compare them.

But remember what they say about apples, one a day keeps the doctor away, and maybe we are just a bit confused on our citrus fruits.

Not sure where the oranges came from (probably Florida or Cali), but after spending some time getting close and personal with this iMac, I think we are comparing apples to lemons, not oranges. Sounds like a good time to make lemonade!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cake Crumbs and Bones

Bridal showers have never been my favorite thing; baby showers are in that same category. Recently, however, I have experienced two really fun showers - one for my new granddaughter Kierstyn and one for my daughter Kelly. Both were fun and we managed to keep the baby shower within the range of acceptable behavior - which kind of leaves the bridal shower just kind of hanging out there (like some of the bridal party games did), doesn't it?

Yes, it was a naughty and nice bridal shower and everything that might bring to mind - minus any Thunder Down Under or Chippendale action. In fact, the only man involved was a (very nice) 60-year old bearded and silver haired waiter/host who took very good care of us all night long.

We had fun playing games and pinning things to...well...things in our first (naughty)bridal shower game, and then watching as Kelly opened presents in the middle of the restaurant. Some of the bags contained things you would not normally open in the middle of your living room, let alone The Spotted Dog Cafe in Springdale, Utah. But she did and we enjoyed every minute. We also enjoyed our second (nice) bridal shower game at The Spotted Dog and watched Kelly's mouth fill with huge pieces of bubble gum when her answer didn't match the answer Logan had provided earlier.

The Spotted Dog made a delicious cake for Kelly, dinner was delicious and the company couldn't have been better. Kelly, Karynn (the co-hostess), Kalen, Daniele (the hostess), BreAn, Polly (Logan's darling Mom - Kelly is so lucky!), and me.

I love bridal showers with this bunch... and this one was the best; when we were ready to head home there was nothing left but laughter, cake crumbs and, erhmm, bones.

George Thorogood "Bad to the Bone"

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Outlaws and Brides

It's almost ethereal sometimes; walking in the rain, watching a sunrise, taking a shower, attending a wedding (or your daughter's bridal shower).

Yep, in the middle of all of those lovely descriptions, I included taking a shower. It's one of my favorite things and today I started my morning with a shower. Then I went for my morning walk and showered again. I am about to jump on a plane from ABQ to SLC and might even wish for a quick shower when I get there, although I won't get one. I will join Kalen and BreAn and we will head out on an overnight excursion to Cedar City.

And again tonight, after driving from SLC to southern Utah, I will take a quick shower before changing clothes to drive another hour south to Springdale, UT for yet another shower - although this one is a bit different. Tonight is Kelly's bridal shower!

I love Southern Utah, I feel as if I am standing in a holy place when surrounded by the majestic mountains and red rocks of Bryce and Zion. I am completely taken aback by the endless magnificence of it all. I feel God's presence when I am in those places, similar to feelings I used to have on Heap's Peak in the San Bernardino Mountains and when I walk the shores of the Pacific at sunset. Living in New Mexico I have those awe-inspiring moments often as I drive through the Land of Enchantment's amazing landscape and terrain. And when I return from my road trip, I am usually smiling...and (to return to the subject of this blog) ready for a shower! And since I do some of my best thinking in the shower or tub it gives me ample time and quiet to retrace my drive and remember the magnificent scenery I experienced.

So showers are the mantra of the day, my old moniker of "Green Jean the Clean Machine" was apropos all those many years ago in Truckee, CA where I worked as a AAA dispatcher. (given to me by Dave-the-mechanic one very cold day when I arrived in layers of green clothing).

But tonight it's Kelly's shower, talk about ethereal. I think of Kelly as 8 years old with curly hair and the cutest smile you have ever seen. But she is now 22, and a bride-to-be in less than 30 days, so shower her we will, with love and hope and encouragement and prayers and laughter and naughty and nice gifts.

And the most ethereal moment is yet to come, when Kelly walks to Logan in her bridal gown surrounded by the nearly unmatched beauty of southern Utah. The countryside will be breathtaking, showers of tears will stain more than one cheek, but Kelly, my beautiful little Kelly with the amazing smile and tender spirit will be the one who makes us all catch our breath. Simple. Classic. Ethereal beauty. Breathtaking beauty.

Bridal showers are wonderful celebrations of a new beginning, almost as good as that hot shower at the crack of dawn on a new day, or raindrops on a warm afternoon. Even Butch and Sundance understood that and those two guys take my breath away too, but that's another blog topic!

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head/BJ Thomas (Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid)