Oct 30 2015

“Playing like a girl means you’re a badass”

The US Women’s National Soccer Team made it’s post-2015 World Cup Championship visit to the White House this week, and the POTUS … the father of two girls … did not miss a Carli Lloyd hat-trick.

Here’s a photo of him with the team, and there’s a terrific video on the White House website as well. Definitely worth a click.

Oct 27 2015

Even sitting governors have to abide the Quiet Car Rules

As a fairly regular train-rider, I cannot express how delighted I have been by the news going around the internet of Chris Christie getting asked to leave the Quiet Car of an Amtrak train last weekend.

Evidently the current New Jersey governor and Republican presidential candidate boarded an Amtrak train rather loudly on Sunday morning (reports say he was yelling at two aides about a seating mix-up), parked himself in the Quiet Car and then proceeded to a take a call on his mobile phone.

This is a MAJOR NO-NO … the whole point of the Quiet Car is to give weary commuters a place where they don’t have to listen to half of other people’s phone conversations. To Christie’s credit, he reportedly left the minute the conductor informed him of where he was … which left me wondering … are Amtrak’s Quiet Cars difficult to distinguish from the regular ones? Because that often seems to be the case with the local variant … which always surprises me because it’s separated from the rest of the rest of the train car by a sliding glass door (as is Business/1st Class) and there are signs on the walls.

In any case, kudos to the conductor for telling Governor Bullying Blowhard that he needed to take his phone conversation elsewhere. If you missed the story, here are some of the most entertaining write-ups about it.

What Chris Christie learned in the quiet car

The Lies the Quiet Car Tells

Oct 26 2015

In case you need another reason to love Kate Winslet …

I don’t need any help in this department, but news about a special stipulation in Kate Winslet‘s current contract with L’Oréal just served to validate my long-time admiration of the actress and all-around fascinating woman.

The face of the Lancôme cosmetics line has had it written into her contract that photographs of her may not be retouched in any way for the company’s print campaigns.  Not that it would even be necessary. She’s pretty friggin’ flawless if you ask me.

Kate Winslet’s Contract States L’Oréal Can’t Retouch Her Photos

I don’t wear makeup myself, but if I were inclined to do so … I would definitely choose a brand that was willing to commit to using un-retouched photos in its ad campaigns, whether they feature the lovely Ms. Winslet or someone else.

In the meantime, I’m counting the days until I can see her in the Aaron Sorkin-penned Steve Jobs bio-film … because when you combine my long-time love for Kate Winslet (“Heavenly Creatures” anyone? with my longtime Apple Fan-Gurl status, I really HAVE NO OPTION but to geek out on multiple fronts,

Oct 23 2015

That’s Ms. Fantastic to you.

This rather long interruption between blog entries as been brought to you by my new job, which is kicking my @$$ in the best possible way. I’m loving the new challenges, new responsibilities (some of which I probably don’t even know about yet) my new colleagues, and the new company, but there’s SO MUCH to learn. I can’t remember the last time I was so exhilarated and exhausted at the same time.

Of course it doesn’t help matters that my brain is 11 years older than the last time I had to learn my way around a new job. About the only thing that’s easier is to navigate is the language. Like my previous company, English is the official corporate language of my new employer. But unlike my previous gig, my new Swedish colleagues actually seem to prefer using it … though this may have more to do with the fact that the other American on our team doesn’t speak much Swedish despite having lived here for a lot of years. Plus the head of corporate comm is a Brit, and I suppose that also influences communication choices here in Sweden.

But just because I hear a lot of English in the office doesn’t mean I don’t spend a lot of time trying to decipher the corporate lexicon … this company is coo-coo for acronyms … many of which are very similar to each other. Yet despite my near constant state of confusion, I think I’ve managed to make some contributions and “add some value” to the department these first few weeks. Even more remarkable, it seems I’ve actually convinced some of my new colleagues that I’m pretty good at what I do … as evidenced by an e-mail exchange between my boss and the aforementioned Swiss-based Brit, who wrote, “What I’ve seen from [Shazzer] so far has been truly fantastic.”

Of course I realize that this “honeymoon phase” isn’t going to last forever, which is why I am making Dr. Darling call me Truly Fantastic all weekend long.  😎

Oct 13 2015

Somebody’s taking customer service seriously

I realize that I’m still in the “honeymoon phase” with my new employer, but if today’s experience with the IT HelpDesk is any indication, I’m pretty confident that I can look forward to a VERY happy marriage.

First off, I thought it was a fairly good sign that I was nearly 9 days into the new job before I had a technical issue that required an IT support ticket. I was trying to procure some software from the self-service portal that handles such things, but the installation appeared to have failed.

So I logged a support ticket explaining what had happened (or what didn’t happen in this case) and got the usual automated e-mail confirming that IT had received my request. Less than an hour later, I discovered it was a case of “user error.” It seems I had accidentally opened the install window twice and was trying to trigger the installation from the one that was “inactive.” (And before you decide that I’m a total technological idiot … I was using an extended desktop shared between my laptop and a brand new 24-inch monitor for the first time today and had lost the “active” window between the two screens.)

I then managed to get the software installed and was  actually typing out a message to the HelpDesk saying they could close my support ticket when my phone rings … and it’s A REAL LIVE PERSON FROM IT! Not only that, the guy was actually on site instead of somewhere in India. I can’t remember the last time I got to speak directly to an IT support technician … especially one who CALLED ME. He even asked if there was anything else he could help me with before hanging up. I thought the only place where one could get that kind of personal attention from an IT organization was at a Silicon Valley start-up. Several hours later I’m still experiencing a bit of shock and awe from the incident.

Or did I just DREAM IT??????


Oct 10 2015

Another reason to love Spain

From the Restoring My Faith in Humanity Department comes this video produced by Spain’s State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals, in which average, every day Spaniards advise a gay couple to stay elsewhere when they find homophobic threats in the directions they have been provided to their hostel.

The American couple does not speak Spanish, so they request translation assistance from locals passing by, and the reactions of the translators are truly moving. Several cannot bring themselves to tell the couple what is actually written in the instructions, others … some on the verge of tears … advise them to stay elsewhere without even explaining why … clearly wanting to shield them from the hateful message.

The video is part of a campaign calling on citizens to report homophobic, biphobic and transphobic threats, insults or attacks, which a few of the locals actually do advise the couple to do. It’s so genuine and really well done. Watch it and try not to go verklempt, I dare you.

Oct 07 2015

Coming up for some air & a cappella

I’m mid-way through my  first full week at my new job, which is has been awesomely exciting and awesomely exhausting at the same time. My brain is about 10 years older than the last time I had to learn so much new stuff all at once … and I don’t have a lot of energy left over for blogging at the moment.

But I think I can muster enough focus to share this amazing cover of Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts” that you will want to listen to on repeat. Collegiate a cappella is so hot right now, and with performances like this one by James Madison University‘s Note-ariety, it’s no surprise. There is some major talent on display here, not to mention the hours of rehearsal required to sing this well. Seriously, when the hell do these gals have time to go to classes? ENJOY!

I’ll bet Beyonce LOVES this as much as I do.

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