Archive for January, 2011

Letters to Myself, Age…

My dear friend over at The London Leprechaun once wrote a blog of letters to himself at various ages, so I thought I would do the same. If I could give myself advice…

PlutoDear Kelly (Age 3),

Yes, that toy Tonka Jeep is sturdy, but it’s not meant to be ridden down the driveway like a luge sled. Especially not face first. So now you’ve got this big scab on your face for your fourth birthday thanks to the small pebble halfway down the driveway that stopped that Tonka truck cold and launched you into the concrete like a missile. But don’t worry, there won’t be scar.

Dear Kelly (Age 4),

The Monkees are never going to drive up to your house just because you love their show so much, so stop staring out the window and watching for them. The show is taped Kelly. When you see them drive away at the end of the show they are not driving to your house. They are probably in some bar having a Scotch.

Dear Kelly (Age 5),

Uhm, you forgot to take your pajama shorts off before you left for Kindergarten this morning. They’re still there under your dress.
5thGradeDear Kelly (Age 12),

You’re lying there with your arm in a cast. It’s summer. I know it sucks. You’re lucky you didn’t land on your head when you fell into that empty swimming pool. And just so you know, your wrist is going to heal just fine and you’re going to be a fabulous volleyball player for the next 20 years. What? You’ve never tried volleyball? You will.

Dear Kelly (Age 13),

You and your best friend Cathy, whom you’ve known since you were 4 years old, have gone your separate ways. I know you are heartbroken, but let me tell you something. You two will reconcile and stay the best of friends until the day you die. Just give it some time.

Dear Kelly (Age 16),

I know that your original plan was to escape to a foreign country for a year just because you were sick of living at home. I know you’re homesick in Finland, but resist the urge to pack up and go home. Stick it out. This experience will shape the rest of your life. And that family you’re living with has a heart of gold, and you will keep in touch with them for the rest of your life.

Dear Kelly (Age 17),

When the guards at the Russian border tell you to stay in your seat on the bus and not take any pictures at the border crossing they mean it! Did you really think they wouldn’t see the camera flash as you took the picture while the bus was pulling away? Tsk tsk. You’re lucky that all they took was your film.

HomeComingDear Kelly (Age 18),

The fact that you were Homecoming Queen will have no value whatsoever later in life. No, I’m not kidding.  Sorry, but it’s not something you can put on your resume.

Dear Kelly (Age 21),

I know you went to San Diego State because you wanted to be a news reader and a reporter, but it’s going to take a while. You’ll graduate in a year and become a cocktail waitress because there are no jobs in 1980. Eventually you’ll decide enough is enough and you’ll get your first corporate job at Sun Microsystems. You will have this incredibly awesome boss who will push you into Engineering. I know it sounds really far fetched, but it’s true. You’ll love it. Don’t worry. Oh, and that news reader thing? You’ll eventually have your own political talk show. You’ll write it, co-produce it and host it. Yes, really.

Dear Kelly (Age 22),

For future reference, you’re not supposed to touch royalty. I’m sure Prince Andrew will get over it but the Mayor of San Diego will never forgive you.

Dear Kelly (Age 23),

Did you really think that buying a one-way ticket around the world and traveling by yourself was going to be without incident? You are too trusting. Leave Madrid as soon as you can and stay in India for a while. You’ll like the Shah family. Did you know that Mrs. Shah thinks you are her daughter from a past life? They will love you like a daughter. Go.

Dear Kelly (Age 29),

I know you’re wondering if you’ll ever get any sleep again. That little baby who’s waking you up at all hours will grow up to be a young man you can be proud of. He will have written two novels by the time he’s 20 years old. Oh, and he will stop spitting up eventually.

Dear Kelly (Age 41),

I know, I know, this is not where you thought you’d be at this age. Being a single mom with three kids is rough. No doubt about it. But Kelly, this time in your life is going to teach you so many good life lessons so make sure you pay attention.

SurvivorTrackDear Kelly (Age 42),

You are a Survivor. Remember that.

Dear Kelly (Age 47)

This too shall pass.

Dear Kelly (Age 48),

The teenage years don’t last forever. You’re not the first to have an angsty teenage daughter.

Dear Kelly (Age 50),

I warned you! Be careful what you wish for. You got it. Now what?

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The Hillbilly Half

I’m training for the Napa Marathon in March, and as such I have to do a lot of boring long runs on the weekends. Don’t get me wrong, I do love doing a 10-12 mile run with the girlfriends every weekend, but when you’re training for a marathon those runs tend to be more like 18- 20 miles long and it gets old. We usually run out of things to talk about by mile 16.

So I suggested we ditch the long run this past weekend and do a race instead. The only half marathon we could find in Oregon in January was the Cascade Half Marathon in Turner. Where’s Turner you say? It’s just South of Salem, four miles from Aumsville, which is now famous for having a tornado rip through town a few weeks back.


We all met in Wilsonville at 7am to carpool to Turner. There were five of us packed into the car, and all the way to Turner the conversation went something like this.

“This weather sucks.”

“This is really going to suck.”

“I think we should do the 10k instead of the half.”

“This really sucks.”

We arrive at Cascade Junior High School in Turner at 8:15am and it is still pouring down buckets. There is no real signage anywhere to indicate we have arrived at the right place, so we just follow the steady stream of cars around the corner until we see someone in a fluorescent orange vest directing traffic.

We park and reluctantly get out of the car to make our way to packet pickup. Once again, there are no signs as to where the packet pickup is or where the start line is, so we just follow the droves of people and hope they know where they’re going.

We finally find the gym and the 900 other soaking wet people who are also picking up race numbers and getting ready to get even more soaked. It is now about 8:50am and the race starts at 9am. At this point we realize that none of us has actually seen anything that resembles a starting line, and we have no idea where we’re supposed to be.

Then someone announces over the school P.A. system, “We’re going to have to kick y’all out now to get the race started. Just head to the front of the school.”

All 1000 of us, minus the elite runners who opted for the early start so they wouldn’t have to deal with this cattle call, file through the gym doors to the front of the school. Thank heavens it has stopped raining for five minutes. I look over at my friend Kelly and say, “I bet there’s just a guy up there with a Nascar flag, and he’ll just drop it and say ‘go.’ Or maybe they’ll fire a real gun with live ammunition.”

Two minutes later, the runners start moving forward. No bull horn. No starting pistol. I think I was probably right about the Nascar flag.

We get to enjoy about 30 seconds of rain-free running and then the heavens open up as if to say, let’s just see how you do with soaking wet shoes and a 30-mph wind in your face.

I had heard this would be a nice flat race on country roads and it is. I am running by cows, and chickens, and sheep, and getting into my groove until someone yells, “Car!” WTF? Car? It seems that the race course is not closed to traffic, so we are sharing this 2-lane country road with all kinds of motor vehicles, including the one that is nipping at my heels before I hit the 1-mile marker.

Now that I know we’re sharing the roads with motor vehicles I am no longer able to bliss out on the lovely array of farm animals and hillbilly road kill. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that. The entire race course was a Technicolor display of frogs, lizards, moles, and various other creatures who had picked the wrong time to try to cross the road. Who knew they had such vibrantly colored innards.

The halfway point of the race is a guy standing by an orange cone telling you to turn around. I have never been happier to see a turnaround in my life. I am soaked to the bone, and when I make the turn I am running directly into the wind. Oh goodie.

Remarkably it stops raining for 20 minutes, just in time for me to look up and see a pilot car coming down the road, followed by a double wide being pulled by a semi. I’m looking at how much space there will be between me and the multi-ton mobile home when it passes by, and quickly make the decision to get off the road all together, and run in the gravel until it passes. It turns out to be a smart decision when I see that one wall of the mobile home is just about directly lined up with the shoulder of the road when it passes by, and is probably going to take out a runner or two down the road if they’re not paying attention.


Four miles to go, and the rain starts again. Yeah, whatever, bring it on. I can’t get any more soaked than I already am.

Two miles to go. Nice headwind of about 30mph. So, yes the course is flat, and the scenery is lovely, but the weather sucks!

I finally see the high school up ahead, and there are no signs to indicate a finish line. I am dodging the cars of the 10k runners leaving the parking lot, as I try to make my way back to the front of the school. I started there, so I assume I finish there?

Ah yes, I see a row of plastic flags and a digital time display. There are no timing chips for this race, so there’s no such thing as an official time. If you cross the finish line first you get a prize. If you cross second, nobody knows or cares.

I sprint to the finish line, grateful to be done, grab my medal and head inside to find the rest of the gang.

We head to the cafeteria to get some post-race food, which turns out to be cafeteria chicken noodle soup and oatmeal cookies, which sounds just fine when you’re chilled to the bone.

We bitch some more about the weather, the cars, the wind, the roadkill and the mobile home. We change into dry clothes, jump into the car and head for home. And there’s one thing we all agree on, the Cascade Half in Turner will now be forever known to us as the Hillbilly Half.

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The Skype Coffee Date

In the prehistoric dating world we dated people at work, in the neighborhood, or in the same zip code. If we were really adventurous we might venture to a neighboring zip code for a date. Well online dating has expanded that dating radius to every zip code, area code, postal code and country code in the world.

That’s great, right? Sure, if you have unlimited vacation time and a bottomless bank account.

What happens when a guy in area code 503 (Portland) meets a gal in area 206 (Seattle)? They exchange a few emails, maybe a phone call, and then one of them offers to make the 3-hour drive to meet for coffee (more likely dinner because it’s such a long drive). They meet and immediately realize there’s no chemistry. She thinks he looks 10 years older than his profile picture. He thinks she looks 30 pounds heavier. And they are both right. They could have saved themselves a lot of time and money if they would have done one thing: had a Skype coffee date.

All of the emails and phone calls in the world won’t show you what Skype will.  Skype adds the dimension of body language that you can’t get via email or phone. I highly suggest you skip the lengthy emails and phone calls and go straight to Skype.

The First Skype Date

Do yourself a favor and treat the first Skype date like you would any other first date. That is, take a shower, put some clean clothes on, brush your teeth, and pretend you’re actually meeting in person. I suggest “meeting” for coffee first, and following the suggestions below:

  1. Pick an area in your home that is free of clutter, and doesn’t have any personally identifying information in it.
  2. Set your computer on the table facing where you plan to sit, and then walk around to the back of the computer and take a look at what your date will see. Is there some hideous art in the background? Pictures of your kids? Your ex? Take them down or pick another spot.
  3. Check that the light is flattering. Fluorescent lights and overhead spotlights are the worst.
  4. Take a picture of yourself with your webcam so you can see the environment and the lighting before your date.
  5. Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea before the date, and off you go!

The Second Skype Date

If you’re still not quite sure if you want to drive the three hours to meet your date in person, or fly 5000 miles as was the case with my first Skype coffee date, have a second date. In fact, make it a lunch or dinner date. You think I’m kidding? I’m not.

Have you ever been annoyed by the way someone eats a salad, munches their popcorn, or slurps their soup? Yep. Have a date that inlcludes food. Set your laptop on the kitchen table and have a meal with your date.

Once you have had a couple of Skype dates you’ll know if you actually want to make the effort to meet in person. You will also get the added bonus of not having first-date jitters when you have your first real date, because you’ve basically already met.

Happy Skyping!

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You Think You've Fielded Odd Interview Questions?

I just read an article in the Silicon Valley Business Journal entitled “Top 25 oddball job interview questions of 2010.”

Ever had a tough interview? How would you like to get one of these questions in an interview?!

Questions were shared by job candidates during the past year:

1) “If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?” — Asked for an analyst position at Goldman Sachs.

2) “How many ridges [are there] around a quarter?” — Asked for a project analyst position at Deloitte.

3) “What is the philosophy of martial arts?” — Asked for a sales associate position at Aflac.

4) “Explain [to] me what has happened in this country during the last 10 years.” — Asked for a consultant position at Boston Consulting.

5) “Rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how weird you are.” — Asked for an operations analyst position at Capital One.

6) “How many basketball[s] can you fit in this room?” — Asked for a people analyst position at Google.

7) “Out of 25 horses, pick the fastest 3 horses. In each race, only 5 horses can run at the same time. What is the minimum number of races required?” — Asked for a software developer position at Bloomberg LP Financial.

8) “If you could be any superhero, who would it be?” — Asked for a customer sales position at AT&T.

9) “You have a birthday cake and have exactly 3 slices to cut it into 8 equal pieces. How do you do it?” — Asked for a fixed income analyst position at Blackrock Portfolio Management Group.

10) “Given the numbers 1 to 1000, what is the minimum numbers guesses needed to find a specific number if you are given the hint ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ for each guess you make?” — Asked for a software engineer position at Facebook.

11) “If you had 5,623 participants in a tournament, how many games would need to be played to determine the winner?” — Asked for a manager position at Amazon.

12) “An apple costs 20 cents, an orange costs 40 cents, and a grapefruit costs 60 cents, how much is a pear?”– Asked for a project manager position at Epic Systems.

13) “There are three boxes, one contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled such that no label identifies the actual contents of the box it labels. Opening just one box, and without looking in the box, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?” — Asked for a software QA engineer position at Apple.

14) “How many traffic lights in Manhattan?” — Asked for an analyst position at Argus Information & Advisory Services.

15) “You are in a dark room with no light. You need matching socks for your interview and you have 19 gray socks and 25 black socks. What are the chances you will get a matching pair?” — Asked for a quality assurance position at Eze Castle.

16) “What do wood and alcohol have in common?” — Asked for a staff writer position at Guardsmark.

17) “How do you weigh an elephant without using a weigh machine?” — Asked for a software engineer at IBM.

18) “You have 8 pennies, 7 weigh the same, one weighs less. You also have a judges scale. Find the one that weighs less in less than 3 steps.” — Asked for a systems validation engineer position at Intel.

19) “Why do you think only a small percentage of the population makes over $150K?”– Asked for a sales agent position at New York Life.

20) “You are in charge of 20 people. Organize them to figure out how many bicycles were sold in your area last year.” — Asked for a field engineer position at Schlumberger.

21) “How many bottles of beer are consumed in the city over the week?” — Asked for a research analyst position at The Nielsen Company.

22) “What’s the square root of 2000?” — Asked for a sales and trading position at UBS.

23) “A train leaves San Antonio for Houston at 60 mph. Another train leaves Houston for San Antonio at 80 mph. Houston and San Antonio are 300 miles apart. If a bird leaves San Antonio at 100 mph, and turns around and flies back once it reaches the Houston train, and continues to fly between the two, how far will it have flown when they collide?”– Asked for a software engineer position at USAA.

24) “How are M&M’s made?” — Asked for a program development position at US Bank.

25) “What would you do if you just inherited a pizzeria from your uncle?” — Asked for a business analyst position at Volkswagen.

You can see some of the answers that interviewees gave here:

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