I had the opportunity to help with the Youth Entrepreneurs summer partnership program at work this year. Our Topeka office has participated in the program for a few years. Last year was our first year to participate. Isaac and I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with the kids when they came to tour our Customer Relations Center. These were the most brilliant young minds and they had great questions. I remember wishing that I could have spent more time with the students. This year my wish was granted when our Community Relations Manager Ebony reached out to me to be part of the 2015 summer partnership committee. My work schedule was already hectic but I didn’t even have to think about it. Of course, I said yes.
Some important meetings prevented me from being with the class the full two weeks but I did get to interact with the kids a lot more this year, beginning with the mingle/speed interview session we hosted a few of weeks before our June 1 start date.
I was there on the first day when the kids learned about the basics of electricity from Mr. Joe Drassen. It was a really informative presentation.
Several executives made it a point to speak to the class. Mr. Jimmy Martinez talked to the kids about how he got his start, the different jobs he’s held in the company, and what he learned along the way.
We got to tour DSO. Pictured above is Mr. Phil Sadler talking to the kids about his area of the business. That same day is when the kids learned about emergency operations from Ms. Natalie Rolfe and Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) from Ms. Sherii Farmer.
Since we were in the area, we took the opportunity to get a group photo of the class in front of the Keeper of the Plains. What a great looking group!
Here’s a picture of the group at lunch.
The class also got to tour our Emporia Energy Center and learn about our generation portfolio and public relations efforts. I didn’t get to go with them on that day because I had mandatory training with my department. That was a really cool day though because the YE class from Topeka met the Wichita class in Emporia so the two groups got to mingle and work together.
The next time I got to join the group was when they went to our service building on Central to learn about safety and training. I was one of the drivers designated to shuttle the kids from the Wichita office to the service building on that day.
The students learned about the importance of wearing safety gear and they got to experience climbing poles. Don’t worry. We asked them all to sign waivers ahead of time.
The students were quite competitive, each one trying to climb higher than the last.
Some of the students opted to skip the pole climbing in favor of getting up in the bucket. Others did both. It was really hot but everyone seemed to have a great time. It’s so much better when you can make learning fun. I think so, anyway.
I was relieved when it was time to head back inside for the power town demo because I was melting. Couldn’t leave the kids, though.
On the day that we were supposed to take the kids to the Symphony in the Flint Hills work site, we had transportation issues so we ended up staying in town instead. It worked out alright because I was a little nervous about driving the 12-passenger van for an hour and half. I’d never driven any kind of van before until that week.
Since we canceled the trip to Strong City (kind of a bummer because we were going to meet up with the Topeka YE class there), I didn’t have to drive very far (just to the American Red Cross). The kids still got to experience doing some community service. Some of the kids helped with the fan distribution and disbursement of supplies. Our group helped fold brochures and stuff envelopes and bags.
I was grateful that our strategy summit ended at noon on Friday because I was able to make it back to the office in time for the final presentations. All of the teams did great but had to be ranked first, second, and third. Potato Power took third, WattStars took second, and Electric Eels finished first.
All of the presentations were very good and demonstrated the depth of knowledge the kids learned in such a short amount of time. During the two weeks the students were exposed to various aspects of our business and then some. Looking back at my own experiences growing up, I really wished that YE was around when I was in high school because the summer partnership experience is amazing. It allows you to learn about the company from the inside and meet people. It’s a great networking opportunity. In fact, one of the YE participants last year got an internship this year.
There are several great companies that participate in the summer partnership program. This year the list included Case New Holland, Morgan Stanley, Koch Industries, BKD, Eric Fisher Academy, High Touch Technologies, Cocoa Dolce, General Motors, and RSA. The Youth Entrepreneurs organization participated by hosting a summer partnership as well. Not only do the kids earn valuable experience, they also earn YE points which they can use to either fund their business or higher education.
I wish YE was around when I was young. I highly recommend it. It’s a shame it’s not available at Derby High School where my nephew goes. Classes are available at several schools in Wichita, though. Check the web site. If you’re a student (or have high school age children), this is an opportunity you definitely don’t want to miss!
My dad recently found a hole under the concrete slab that his AC rests on behind his house. He couldn’t figure out what had been digging that hole. It could be anything. Rather than speculating, he put a camera down the hole and captured video. It wasn’t in there and there burrow had no clues as to what kind of animal had been using the hole for shelter. The animal did not come back while dad’s camera was in the burrow.
Dad removed the camera and filled the hole up. As soon as that happened the animal returned and there’s the hole again. It drove dad crazy not knowing what he was dealing with so he did what any resourceful Pinoy would do. He didn’t want to have to buy an outdoor camera so he rigged his Foscam for outdoor use. Not only that, he set up the monitoring features so he could watch from his PC and he also set up the camera to auto-record using motion detection. Here are some pictures of his outdoor camera contraption.
Pretty clever, right?
He mounted the rig to a stick staked to the ground and pointed the camera right at the hole. Sure enough he got the perpetrator on video. He posted the video on his Facebook wall but I’m not sure how to share it with you guys because of the privacy settings.
Turns out, a skunk has been making a home under that concrete slab. I suggested calling Animal Control but it seems like dad is having too much fun playing cat and mouse with the skunk. Now he wants to build some kind of one-way door so that when the skunk leaves the hole it can’t get back in. Seriously.
For those of you who someday find yourself in this predicament, there are a couple of options: (1) make a trap, or (2) call Animal Control. I’m a proponent of the latter myself because it’s less hassle. If you are like my dad though, then you think it’s fun to rig things. I’m guessing there will be people out there who will go for the first option. However, think about what you’re going to do after you capture it. How are you going to release it into the wild without getting sprayed? And where are you going to release it? I say go with the second option all the way.
If you are not yet in this predicament and want to avoid it, here are some suggestions.
- Don’t plant fruit-bearing trees. If it’s too late and you already have trees that produce nuts, berries, crabapples, or other fruits, remember rake your yard often so the goodies don’t tempt critters to come over and feast on your lawn.
- Protect your waste. Don’t leave your trash bin out except on trash day. If there’s no room in your garage and the trash bin has to be outside, make sure that it is securely fastened so the smell doesn’t attract skunks and other critters.
- Close off hiding places. Use rocks, fencing, plywood, etc. to close off any potential hiding places. If you have unkempt bushes and vegetation around your house, make sure these are trimmed so as not to appear so appealing to wild animals.
- Install yard lights. Nocturnal creatures such as skunks don’t like bright lights so this may be a suitable and attractive deterrent. Lights with motion detection will probably be most effective because it will trick the animal into thinking someone’s there.
- Use chemical warfare. Okay, not in the grand World War III scale. Skunks don’t like ammonia so soaking rags with ammonia and placing it in potential hiding places is an option. Scattering orange or lemon peels around your property, specifically under your deck or porch is a good option also.
- Install motion-activated sprinklers. If you have the resources and really want to keep critters out, this is another alternative. It’s a nice surprise for two-legged unwanted visitors also. LOL.
I hope you find these tips helpful. I’ll keep you posted on my dad’s adventures.
My super awesome husband helped me assemble and decorate our new Christmas tree. That’s after I registered my new tree on the NationalTree.com of course. 😉
Here’s what the new tree looked like before we added trimmings. Brian and I agreed that this is the most beautiful Christmas tree we have ever owned. I searched everywhere for a 9-foot tall, slim tree that’s got character. I finally found one that I liked at HomeDecorators.com. I never knew about that store until my search for the perfect Christmas tree began. Now I’m hooked.
Anyway, I love that my new tree already has pinecones and berries and has a snowy look to it because then I don’t have to buy as many ornaments.
This is a photo of Brian trying to figure out if there’s enough room between the top of the tree and the ceiling for my new Kurt Adler 20-Light gold rattan star tree topper. It’s a $30 tree topper that I got on Amazon for just $14. I love, love, love Amazon!
This is our tree after we added some ornaments. I found rattan stars that match my tree topper perfectly at Pier 1. I only got 10 of them and now wish that I would have gotten some more. Brian and I decided that it’s probably for the best as we wanted to keep this tree minimalistic.
Here’s a closer look at our tree.
The balls are not really ornaments. They are rattan vine glitter sphere decorations (also from Pier 1). Most people put them in a bowl or basket. The burlap eucalyptus leaf branches are another one of my improvisations. I think most of the time you’ll see these in tall vases. I had a vision of a natural-looking, woodsy, minimalist Christmas tree and I thought these decorations, though not really sold as Christmas tree ornaments, would look great in my tree.
The rest of my vision involved a burlap Christmas tree skirt and burlap ribbon. The tree skirt was perfect except for a small gash. I can’t tell if I got a defective item or if Brian damaged it while he was trying to open the package. He has this thing about using his knife to open packages and he’s not always the most gentle with it. I don’t ever return stuff so I guess I’m keeping it. I’m not happy about the tear, though.
As far as the ribbon, well, I miscalculated and ran out. I thought 10 yards would be enough. Wrong. I ordered some more ribbon, which should arrive in a couple of days because I caved and signed up for Amazon Prime. As much as I order from Amazon, you’d think I’d have a Prime membership already. I’m too cheap for that, though. I usually just take advantage of the free super saver shipping. However, running out of burlap ribbon in the middle of trimming the tree constituted an emergency. LOL.
Anyway, stay tuned because I’ll be taking a picture of the completed tree as soon as the additional burlap arrives. Check back soon.
It’s that time of the year. Whenever we start talking budgets at work, that’s our cue to do start working on our household budget also. Brian and I sat down and did our 2014 budget the other day. Hopefully we’ll actually stick to it next year.
We’ve had to deviate from our budget over the last couple of years. We planned on paying off my student loan by end of 2012 but got derailed and didn’t actually make the last payment until the beginning of 2013. Buying a house brings with it some additional expenses, which we expected, but didn’t really budget for in 2012 because we originally planned on waiting until our lease expired in May 2013. We were supposed to pay off my student loan first, then buy a house once our lease was up. We just ended up doing it backwards. Things didn’t quite go according to plan, but it all worked out in the end.
We wanted to put 20% down on our house last year but we closed on our house on our 10th wedding anniversary, which was a couple of months before our CD at Intrust Bank matured. It makes me sick that we’ve had to pay PMI over the last year so Brian and I and promised each other that as soon as we found a good time to do it we’d make a principal payment that will drop our mortgage balance enough so that we wouldn’t have to pay PMI anymore. I’m so happy that we finally made that payment the other day so I’m looking forward to slightly lower mortgage payments each month going forward. Hurrah!
For 2014 we’ve had to tighten the budget a little because we’ve got a couple of things that we’re saving for — a new car for me, which I plan on paying cash for in 2018, and down payment for our next house in 2016. That means no extravagant vacations and frivolous purchases over the next few years.
Brian thinks I have a shopping problem and I agree that I have a difficult time passing up a good deal but I think we can do it. We’ve tightened out belts before (when we were paying off all of our credit card debts eight years ago) and we got through it. We were actually completely debt-free within a couple of years. So I am completely positive that we can do this.
Anyway, I highly recommend sitting down once a year to create a budget if you’re not already doing this. Brian and I have done this over the last few years and it has really worked well for us. We set pretty high goals for ourselves so even when we don’t quite make it (such as in the last couple of years) we’re still in great shape.
Our annual budget gives us a good road map to follow for the coming year so we’re not all over the place. Having a plan also allows me to look forward to the coming year with less apprehension and much more peace of mind. This may not work for everyone but it works for us. So come up with a plan, stay focused on your goals, and best of luck to you in the coming year!
I pretty much followed Tony around on the final day of convention. On Sunday morning I had Ballroom Beatdown, which he and his wife Jessica presented. Then in the afternoon I had the warm up and cool down workshop.
Here are some of the bits I learned (or re-learned) that day…
For best results classes should begin with five to ten minutes of warm up. The warm up is designed to increase blood flow; raise the body’s core temperature; stretch your core or postural muscles; loosen the joints, ligaments, and tendons; and preview movements that will be used during the workout. By starting with a good warm up you can prepare class participants for the workout and decrease the risk of injuries.
A good cool down consists of five minutes of diminishing intensity and five minutes of stretching. Moderate to low activity in the cool down is designed to return the body to a normal state and create the ideal state for stretching the muscles used during the workout. Doing a proper cool down also helps to prevent muscular and cardiovascular injuries. Remember to stretch all of the muscle groups including neck, upper and mid back, deltoids, chest and arms, core, quads and hamstrings, gluteal and hip regions, calves, ankles, and shins.
- Some reminders…
- Don’t lock your elbows or hyperextend the elbow joint
- Keep core tucked in and spine in line
- Control or avoid any major twist or torque in the core
- Don’t let knees go over your toes when doing squats or lunges
- Avoid twisting your knees away from the direction of travel
- Select warm up music that is around 120-134 BMP
- Avoid “dancy” movements in the warm up until your body is ready
- Avoid long breaks between warm up segments
- While the Zumba formula is still very important, it may be necessary to repeat movements or keep the same types of moves for different parts of the music to ensure that all of the appropriate parts of the body are properly prepared for the workout.
I’m going to try and incorporate all of these tips beginning with my playlist for Fall 2013. Saturday Zumba classes at Evergreen Park Recreation center start on September 21. Be sure to register for the 10-week session if you haven’t already. The cost is $24, or you can drop in for $3 a class. What a bargain!? See you all soon!
Being single doesn’t mean you’re broken. This was the message last week at Riverlawn. Your single time is a time when you can really make a difference. Along these lines, don’t waste your 20s either.
The Christmas cards we’ve received so far have made their way onto on our Christmas tree! I think they are wonderful additions, don’t you?
Who needs ornaments when you can adorn your Christmas tree with the beautiful Christmas cards that people have sent you? Looking forward to getting a few more and filling our tree up with holiday greetings from all over the world.
Brian got his haircut at Great Clips yesterday. I normally don’t go with him because I like to do Group Power right before Zumba on Saturday mornings. However, I was being a slacker yesterday so I decided to hangout with Brian at the hair place.
The work stations at Great Clips are divided by these colorful sails. It makes me think of sailing. Don’t know whose idea that was, but it’s pretty creative.
Brian has been going to the same Great Clips location for several years now. He loves it because they know the kind of cut he wants and he says he always gets great service. The best part is their mobile app. Brian loves it because it keeps your place in line for up to two hours. He checks in on the mobile app and then gets right in at the salon when he shows up. There could be dozens of people waiting in line, but he doesn’t have to wait. It’s pretty neat. He usually gets lots of evil looks from the people waiting to get their haircut, but it’s not his fault they didn’t use the mobile app. LOL. We love, love, love businesses that embrace technology.
Here’s today’s tip: If you’re going to get a haircut and you’re not partial to a particular salon, consider going to Great Clips. Their mobile app works great!
I know a lot of people were still doing some last minute holiday shopping yesterday and possibly even today. Not us. We bought almost everything prior to and during Black Friday. Why? Because we are weirdos with OCD who don’t like to wait until the last minute to do stuff. We like to plan, plan, plan AND well in advance.
The presents have been wrapped for almost two weeks, but last week I asked Brian to organize them into “Christmas Eve” and “Christmas Day” piles so we know what goes where at a glance. Although, we did have to separate the gifts that we had for Kevin, Kasey, Kendra and Andrew because we found out the other day that we would not be seeing them at Christmas after all. We had to create an additional “For Delivery” pile. LOL. (Had I not delivered my work presents the week prior, we would have had a “For Work” pile also.)
The gift pictured below was one of the first ones to get wrapped and gifted. There were three identically wrapped gifts in different colors for Carmen, Tiffe and Sunni. I had them ready by the first of December because they were for people at work and some like to take vacation during the holidays. I never know when they’ll take off and then I miss the opportunity to give them their present before the holidays.
I was going to put the presents under my Mardi Gras Christmas tree as part of the decorations. You know how people put fake presents under their Christmas tree? Well, I wanted to do that. Except mine would be real presents. After talking my idea over with Amy, who suggested that the presents might disappear after others figured out they were real, I decided against it. I kept the presents at home until I was able to hand them out last week.
The gift piles were actually in the living room before they finally made their way to the dining room. After I finished wrapping everything, we decided to move them to the dining room because we were tired of having to step over and navigate around them. It gets so cramped in this little townhouse. I think I’m asking Santa for a house next year. I know it might be challenging for Santa to fit a whole house in his sleigh, specially with all the other presents that he has to deliver, but he’s magical so I’m sure he’ll figure it out.
I forgot to mention the Phelpi and Feifels pile. We saw the Feifels on Christmas Day last year so we had their stuff in the “Christmas Day” pile at first. However, we weren’t sure if we would see them on Christmas Day this year so we went ahead and gave the Phelpi and the Feifels the gifts for their kiddos when we took everyone out to dinner at PCP last week.
Brian hates that I try to remember who gets what present by size and shape and gift wrapping paper and bow. I must say that it’s easy to remember until it’s time to unwrap them. With the chaos and mayhem and multitude of presents to unwrap, I start drawing blanks. Then a guessing game follows. It’s kind of fun, unless you’re Brian. In which case, you just find it frustrating. LOL. So anyway, he made me tag all of the gifts this year. He did help me make these neat embossed gift tags. It’s hard to see from this picture, but there’s a snowflake in the middle and the words “SEASONS GREETINGS” and “BRIAN AND CHING” around it.
We had to save the bows and gift tags for last because I prefer to do real bows as opposed to the stick on kind (unless I’m feeling lazy or don’t have enough time to put my fancy bows on) and I didn’t want them to get smooshed. I’m actually not sure that “smooshed” is a word, but I’m using it anyway. I take that back. I’m pretty sure “smooshed” isn’t a valid word because a red squiggly line appears underneath it each time I type it, so let’s just say I didn’t want the bows to get flattened instead. Sorry. My OCD is kicking in real bad this morning.
I put bows and tagged the last remaining presents yesterday afternoon while Brian was playing video games. Check out the finished product below.
This is the “Christmas Eve” pile.
This is the “Christmas Day” pile.
I can officially say we are ready for Christmas. How about you? ¿Estás listo para la Navidad? I had to throw some Spanish in there because I try to practice every now and then. I got to practice with my friend Rene at Suede last night. He’s a regular and is always there. I asked him, ¿Que hiciste ayer? because I’m trying to practice using the past tense. He told me that he worked yesterday until he realized he actually had the day off. LOL. I speak terrible, broken Spanish, but I guess it’s enough to get by for ordering food at restaurants. I’m glad all the Latin American people I know are patient with me as I practice.
While we were dancing last night, I wanted to keep speaking Spanish but didn’t know what else to say so I said, Este zapato es tu zapato. Rene started laughing and nodded, Si – estos son mis zapatos. Whenever Brian and I are talking, I spit out random thoughts out of nowhere. It’s nice to know that my randomness has transcended the English language. LOL.
When we sat down on the couch, Brian explained that I’m trying to practice speaking Spanish every chance I get. I encouraged Rene to keep talking to me in Spanish so I can continue practicing. He talks really fast sometimes so I frequently have to ask him to slow down. He also has this habit of asking yes or no questions and I’m not really quick at coming up with responses yet.
While the three of us were sitting there, he asked me something that one could answer with yes or no so I replied, Si. He said something else and I said, Si, again. Then he said something else and when I replied with Si again, he started laughing. He was like, “So if I asked if you would like to jump off a bridge, you’d probably say yes too?” LOL.
That reminded Brian and I of a tip we heard from the cruise director during our honeymoon cruise almost ten years ago, so we shared it with Rene. The cruise director said that it’s better to book excursions through the cruise ship as opposed to venturing out on your own because things can go wrong sometimes. He knew that people want to do their own exploring and want to go shopping for deals in town so he shared some valuable advice about how to select a cab before we arrived at our first port in Cozumel. He said, just ask them three questions and if they answer it correctly then you know it’s safe to get in the cab. You’ll likely ask, “Do you speak English?” and they’ll say yes. Then you’ll ask, “Can you take me to town?” and they’ll say yes. If you ask, “Is the sky green?” (or some other similar question which you know that the proper answer isn’t yes) and they say yes again, move on to the next cab. We all got a kick out of it because I was that cab driver last night. Fun times!
Anyway, ¡Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo! to all of our Latin American friends. To everyone else, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Flip and Ching
For those of you who wanted to know how to send SMS from your email, here’s how you can do it for most of the cellular carriers. If we missed any carriers, please post them in the comments.
AT&T MMS: phonenumber@MMS.att.net (for picture mail)
Boost Mobile: email@example.com
Centennial Wireless: firstname.lastname@example.org
Centennial Wireless MMS: email@example.com
Metro PCS: phonenumber@MyMetroPcs.com
Mobi PCS: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sprint MMS: email@example.com
US Cellular: firstname.lastname@example.org
US Cellular MMS: email@example.com
Verizon MMS: firstname.lastname@example.org
Virgin Mobile: email@example.com
Where phonenumber represents the recipient’s 10-digit phone number.
[update] Added Cricket. Thanks, Misty! [/update]