I know a few of you have been trying to contact me via e-mail. Unfortunately my father has been hospitalized and I'm not exactly thinking straight to get back to everyone's holiday wishes.

We already had tickets to fly out home this Thursday, but it looks like we'll be moving things up and getting out of town tomorrow. The animals will be in the capable hands of our usual house-sitter, and I think we've already tied up other things since we were planning to travel anyways. If anyone needs to get me on the phone, please call my cell... and if you don't have that number just leave a message here with your e-mail address, and I'll reply.

Please keep my father in your prayers... His name is Ernie.


Middle of nowhere... New Mexico

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Office Party Etiquette - By Kate Lorenz

With the holiday season in full swing, many employers throw a party for employees to reward them for a job well done, celebrate the year's successes and build camaraderie among workers. But while this is a time to relax, there are some pitfalls of partying with your coworkers.

Thinking business social events are off the record and thinking you have an excuse to drop your ethics and inhibitions can be job suicide. "Stories of one disastrous evening will be spread by employee and spouses to their colleagues, friends and customers," says Kathleen Rich-New, an executive women's coach. "You are a paid professional, act like it."

Whether it's punch in a meeting room or a shindig at the hottest club, it's important to remember you'll be working with these people come Monday. This doesn't mean you have to be up-tight and a party pooper, but rather know where the line is drawn between office hijinks and fodder for gossip. Here are some tips for enjoying the office party while still maintaining professional decorum.

*Deck the Halls*
Although you might want to dress up and be decked out in your favorite outfit, remember you are with professional colleagues not your drinking buddies. When you are thinking about what to wear, remember that this is not just an ordinary holiday bash but a party with people you see every day in a professional setting. Your clothes should be similar (in taste) to what you would normally wear at work. "A good guideline is to think about what your boss or your boss's boss will be wearing to the party. Don't wear anything that is sexy or revealing to an office party," advises Theresa Castro, Career Coach and author of The Dark Before the Dawn: 70 Secrets to Self-Discovery.

*Frosty the Snowman*
The office party is about building camaraderie, not fostering cliques. Remember to mingle with people outside of your immediate group of work buddies - don't just clump together with your friends and co-workers, Jill Bremer of Bremer Communications says. "Check in with them periodically, then move on to another person or group. Your company expects you to work the room." And, if someone enters your conversation group? Welcome them and make introductions. Don't monopolize any one person at a party, either. This isn't the time to corner the CEO and deliver your 45-minute pitch for office recycling. Bremer suggests circulating every five to 10 minutes so that you can meet as many people as possible. This is your opportunity to learn about projects and clients, departments and get to know the variety of people in your organization.

*Do You Hear What I Hear?*
Although work parties are a time to let your hair down, it doesn't mean you should let it all hang out. This isn't the locker room so don't treat it as such. Be mindful of swearing and crude language, advises Jim O'Connor, president of the Cuss Control Academy and author of Cuss Control: The Complete Book on How to Curb Your Cursing. "You may be offending people and it makes you look like you are an oaf," he says. "Respect people and think before you use profanity - it will get you a lot further in your career." It's also important to be careful of inappropriate jokes. Don't tell a joke that you ordinarily wouldn't tell at the workplace, such as jokes that are discriminatory in nature or contain racial, sexual, gender-based undertones.

*Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer*
Keep in mind that alcohol has the tendency for people to say or behave in ways that they normally wouldn't. Set a limit of one or two drinks. "Don't get trashed," Castro says. "What you say and how you behave at a party can and will be held against you later. This is to not to say that your behavior will be documented in your next evaluation. Instead, people will keep mental notes and use them later when you are looking to get promoted or get an increase in your pay." Cindy Rakowitz, CEO and founder of RNR Entertainment Inc. agrees. "The office party is not the place to overdrink. The repercussions can result in the loss of a job, and a demerit in one's reputation for a long time." And never use drugs at an office party, she says.

*I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus*
Be wary of putting yourself in compromising positions warns Peggy Post of the Emily Post Institute. In her book, The Etiquette Advantage in Business, Post writes, "Excessive flirting, inappropriate soul-bearing, too-eager touching -- amorous adventures in all forms lose their romance in the clear light of the office workday. The safest way to avoid embarrassment and regret is to be well aware of the dire consequences that can result."

Employees should think of the office party as a place to show themselves at their very best, Rakowitz says. "It is a rare opportunity to impress upper management, and transform oneself from a "number" to a friendly, fun human being. Rigid rules the night 'ON'....and have fun!"

I think The Fish broke every rule on this list... Revealing dress cut down to her navel, sluts ONLY table (i.e. drunk & single people), "Fuck" as an alternative word for "the", and passing out where everyone could get a picture with their camera-phones.


Kitty! (Part Deux)

My husband took this picture of the kitten and I had to share! Posted by Picasa


Christmas Parties

Company "Holiday Parties" - - It's fun to be around the people you like and just be happy enjoying the food and drink you don't have to pay for. What makes me want to cry is the belligerence that is the nature of some people.

Now there have been some great memories from company parties in years past such as inappropriate comments from managers to employees, old people dirty dancing, and a barfing accident in the parking lot. All the typical things you see at any company party.

This year's party had some very crowning moments.

First there was The Fish - - back up to her old tricks. Free company drinks are never enough... she brought her own bottle of hard alcohol (looked like Patron to me). A couple of appetizer crackers, 1/2 a bottle of liquor and she seemed like herself. To me, the funniest thing about drunk skinny chicks is that they think they can still dance when they're three sheets to the wind. Imagine a girl, basically skin & bones with stringy unwashed hair, shaking her non-existent boot-ay with so little balance that she has to grab the nearest chair / person / fireplace guard to keep from falling down. It was comical!!!

Then there was the piano player, who convinced the future President of our company to participate in a song & dance routine. Again there was enough liquor around the room that the man stood up and grabbed his ass and crotch in front of the entire company.

Finally, Raspberry Beret brought her best friend. Both are divorced women who don't think too highly of men. Both like to party. Both got drunk. Not too surprising because that happens with the two of them every year. This year, the best friend made the mistake of wearing a dress with very little give. "Baby Got Back" came on, the women rushed to the dance floor, and when it came time to bust a move the best friend busted the back side of her dress. A beautiful black lace dress became something you would expect to see in a Red Light District. Her bits and pieces were displayed for all to see - - and even as people tried to help her off the floor, she insisted on continuing her rip-tease.

It was awful. I love the holidays!