Dare To Dream

On Wednesday night, I peeled myself away from my desk to attend the annual Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE)’s Dare To Dream Awards Dinner.

The coolest part of the evening was business plan expo set up outside of the ballroom where the regional high school business plan winners from all over the world (including China, New Zealand, and Israel) were showing off their products and talking about their business plans.  Their business ideas included rugby lessons, cream pies (which I sampled and were delicious), personal stylist services, hand painted sneakers, and home made lemonade.  They were SO excited to get a free trip to NYC to show off their work.

Then the dinner began.  While we ate our appetizers, some of the kids talked on stage about what they had gained from their NFTE experience.  It was very well done with dramatic lighting and well rehearsed speeches. Then all of the kids came on stage and Magic Johnson (the special guest) joined them and gave some advice (he is an entrepreneur, apparently, real estate) and posed for pictures.  That was also cool.

Then we ate dinner which was not super delicious, but perfectly acceptable since my ticket was free (except for the huge donation I made as a board member, of course.)  After dinner, the program involved a lot of grown ups which was not quite as inspiring.  Teachers got some awards (go teachers!  I was just tired from my work schedule combined with 1 1/2 glasses of wine) and some local finance entrepreneurs were honored for “advancing entrepreneurship education.”  One of them, unfortunately, went on and on about how amazing our country is and how much opportunity there is to build your own business here when clearly, the evening was about kids from all over the world.  I wanted someone to take his award back for being such a dufus.

I almost fell asleep at the table during part duex but overall the event was great.  I really love what NFTE is doing and I believe it can change kids lives.  Still glad to be a part of it all (and to get away from my desk for an evening!)  Read more about NFTE and the Dare to Dream Awards dinner here.


Attenuator Update

The Tivo/attenuator situation is frustrating.  (What the heck am I talking about? See this post)

I now have four different strengths of attenuators.  The purpose of these little electrical gadgets is to reduce the signal strength coming in to my TiVo.  The problem is that only SOME of the channels have too strong of a signal, so when I attach the attenuator, it is either not strong enough for the super strong channels or too strong for the other channels.

I called TiVo for the fourth time, and got a tech lady.  The tech lady told me that the high signal strength can burn out my TiVo box, great.  She suggested combining the attenuators in various combinations to try to get the right mix.  A creative idea.   If that does not work I have to call Time Warner to ask them to reduce the signal strength.  Not looking forward to that phone call.  She also confirmed that upgrading to a TiVo Premiere wouldn’t help the issue.

Many have asked why I don’t just get a DVR from my cable company.  TiVo invented the DVR.  I graduated from my very cool VCR that auto-forwarded through commercials (loved that thing back in the day) to the TiVo.  I was a pretty early adopter in 2002.  I dressed as TiVo for halloween that year.   TiVo is part of who I am.  I can’t imagine not having one.  Would you Apple fans give up your Macs or your IPhones? I think not.

TiVo does have features that a cable DVR does not have.  Admittedly, I don’t use most of them.

  • I do use Netflix “watch instantly” through my TiVo.  I can select any DVD available for “watch instantly” and stream it immediately to my TV  (Got sucked back in the Battlestar Gallactica on Netflix “watch instantly” last weekend while I was avoiding work.)
  • I sometimes stream Pandora though my TiVo.  Sounds better through the TV.  Would be even better if I had any kind of sound system.
  • I can transfer many programs from my TiVo to my computer and/or IPhone (if they are not copy protected.)  I sometimes watch TV on my IPhone on the treadmill.  If I had an IPad I could carry around a mini TV with me!
  • TiVo can connect to a special external hard drive to add more disk space.  I added 100 hours last year so I will NEVER run out of space.
  • I have 8 hours of Inhale yoga on my Tivo that I can’t get off (because it is copyright protected) and the show isn’t on any more.   Since I don’t have time for a 1 1/2 hour studio yoga class these days, Inhale is imperative.
  • For a full list of cool features that I don’t use click here.

Why not Hulu?  I definitely don’t want to spend more time on my computer.  I know there is a way to hook the computer up to the TV, but I have never had the time to figure that out.

Off to play with my attenuators.  Find out what happens next here.

Baby Steps

It’s been too long.  I miss blogging.  I miss doing things that are blogworthy.  I miss having bloggable thoughts.

I had a big two day meeting at corporate headquarters this week that I was super stressed about and busy preparing for.  It all went well, and although there is still a lot of work to do to, I promised myself that I would start re-introducing “my life” back in to my life after the meeting.   I like to keep my promises to myself and I think this is an important one! I’m taking baby steps.

I took the entire day off and am not looking at my blackberry until tomorrow.  I took a nap and went for a run.  Two things I have not done in quite a while.  Naps are luxurious.

I did squeeze in a 24 hour trip to Atlantic City last week to see a Malt Shop Memories concert produced by my brother-in-law’s father.  It was more fun than I thought it would be, rocking to the oldies with my fam.  We were tearing it up in the aisles (inspired by my “fun-in-a-can” sister of course.)  I could not stay awake late enough to hit the tables, but I did get to shake Frankie Avalon’s hand.  (That would be him in the photo singing “Beauty School Drop Out”) That was pretty cool.   The couple screaming that they would kill each other at 2:30am in the room next to me was not so cool.  I do take credit for saving one of their lives by calling security.

Observing the clientele in Atlantic City (including the women dancing half naked in the bar after the show and my traveling companions on the greyhound bus to and from Ceasars Palace) did shake me back in to reality a bit.  Sobbing at my desk because I have too many emails to read and power points to create on my fancy laptop while sipping Starbucks coffee and wearing a Theory suit is kind of ridiculous.

There are a lot of unhappy, unhealthy people in the world who are stuck.  This is very sad.  I really should figure out a way to put my extraordinary organizational skills and powers of productivity to work at saving the world. Baby steps. I’m still working on saving  well dressed upper middle-class self.

My Attenuators Have Arrived

I hate to say anything bad about TiVo.  I think of my TiVo as one of my best friends.  But lately, we have been on the outs.  My five blog fans probably don’t have much interest in this, but this is for my TiVo peeps out there who are on the outs with their TiVos.

About a month ago I started to notice partial recordings (nothing more disappointing that that!)  Sometimes, I would turn on the TV and notice the picture had been frozen in the same spot for hours.  Other times the playback would start skipping or get stuck and then the remote would stop working.  A couple of times it just freaked out rebooted itself!  Lots of weird stuff going on.  I was watching stuff on Hulu because my TiVo failures.  Not cool after a 13 hour day at work.

I have to say, TiVo support was not very helpful.  Tech support guy #1 mis-diagnosed it as a hard drive issue.  I ran hard drive diagnostics (which happen to know how to do) and all was well.  Tech support guy #2 had me check the signal strength and SNR (in the DVR diagnostics) and said they were too high.  Signal Strength was 100 (supposed to be closer to 90) and SNR was 37dB (supposed to be below 35).  Apparently Time Warner bumped up the signal on some of the HD channels and my TiVo can’t handle it.

Tech support guy #2 told me to go out and get a cable splitter.  Did not help.  Called back again and tech support guy #3 told me to get a 30dB attenuator.  The dude at Radio Shack had no idea what that was.  J&R had no idea what I was talking about.  I found some on the internet, but not 30dB and he specifically said 30dB (I am very literal.)

What is an attenuator?  It is a little metal thing that you screw on between your cable TV cable and your TiVo that lowers the cable signal.

After another week of non HD television I caved in and ordered a 20dB attenuator from Amazon.  It was too strong!!  I had no signal!!!  (Tech support guy #3 was way off.)  I went back on Amazon and ordered a 10db, 6db, and 3db Attenuator.  These things cost $3 each and I paid more than that for shipping, twice!

The attenuators have arrived BUT I can’t try them out because the TiVo is recording (non HD channels of course).  You are now in suspense until we can find out if one of these attenuators will work….

Continue reading my TiVo saga here.

Elimination of Stress Reduction

I have been under eeeenormous stress at work.  I am the most organized person I know and I am struggling to keep my to do list in a coherent state.   I have almost been broken down in tears at the office three times in the past two weeks.  Twice on Friday.

So it is pretty ridiculous that I have chosen this time to completely eliminate the great stress reduction activities I started when I was less stressed and actually had the time.

Its REALLY hard to motivate to get up early to mediate when you have to be at the office at 7:30am.  (My life would be so much easier if the world was all on the same time zone.)  My amazing yoga class is a full 2 1/2 hour commitment (including commute time.)

I have been squeezing in a run once a week and it is SO helpful.  I did interact with human beings this weekend which was also helpful. And I had cupcakes on Friday (but clearly that did not help much.)

I have nothing hugely insightful to say about this except that I acknowledge how ridiculous it is. I thought I would do better last week and I didn’t.  This week I might try harder.  There is no crying in Enterprise Software, so I am going to have to pull it together.

In other news, I started crafting a post called “Would I be Happier if I Were Less of a Perfectionist?” but my thoughts were not developed enough to craft a perfect post on that topic so it is still floating around in my head.

I Have Regressed

My “indecisive hostile takeover” made a decision and it has resulted in me drowning in work.  The good news is that I have a team to manage which gives me all kinds of professional and personal growth opportunities.  The bad news is that people require a lot more time and energy than spreadsheets and power points.  The even worse news is that I still have a lot of power points and spreadsheets to tend to.

My hope is that once this transitional period is over (the one that has been going on forever!) I can settle in to a work routine that is not so crazy and all consuming.

In the mean time, there has been no yoga, no meditating, no reading on the Kindle, no interesting learning adventures, no hanging out with friends, no blogging.  A lot of work and some TV because that is all my brain can handle at the end of a long stressful day.

I am almost done with Breaking Bad Season 3 which is so amazing.  I watched an episode last night where Walter is obsessed with a fly and will not cook meth in his fancy new lab (or leave the lab or sleep) until the fly is dead.  He becomes delirious and some serious ridiculousness and deep pontificating occurs between him and his sidekick Pinkman.  Good TV.

I am tuning in to American Idol but I might be outgrowing this show.  I LOVE J Lo and Steven Tyler on the judges panel but I am not loving the contestants.  How can I really get in to 18 year olds talking about how they have wanted this “their whole lives.”  This week they sang songs from the year they were born.  Like in the 90s!  Ugh..the top 5 will be cool but until then it’s kind of painful.

I just half watched a Medium marathon (culminating in the series finale) while I paid bills and read backlogs of email.  The show got a little bit old with Alison misinterpreting what dead people are telling her in her dreams EVERY WEEK. No one ever caught on (except me) that she always gets it wrong for the first 45 minutes of the show.  After her 5th dream or so, she figures it all out and saves the day.  Same formula every week.   My favorite part of the show was her husband, Joe.  He is a super nice, smart, geeky stud and a great husband and dad.  He was smart enough to question those dreams!  He will always be preserved in my blog (until they take down this picture that I have linked to, in bad blog form..)

My First (and Probably Last) Opera

I thought, perhaps, since I have recently become a cultured Shakespeare fan, that I might not hate the opera.  The truth is, I had no idea I had purchased tickets to the opera until the show started this afternoon.

There was a frantic texting session last month with a friend who insisted that we had to get tickets to something at the spring season of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) before they all sold out.  Someone else suggested The Nightingale, we all agreed to it,  and clearly none of us did our due diligence because we were all equally surprised when people started singing in Russian.   I had recalled that it was a series of fables.

The first fable involved shadow puppets which was kind of cool for about two minutes.  Unfortunately, it went on for about 20 minutes.  I appreciated the artistry of it all….for about two minutes.  The second fable  had no shadow puppets, and that was worse.  The third fable had dancers behind a screen dressed as various animals.   I think they were eating each other.  It was hard to follow because I kept dozing off.

At intermission my friends tricked me.  They were as miserable as I was and made jokes about leaving, but at the last minute decided to sit through the second half.  I could think of about 60 better things I could be doing with my time, so I bolted.

Looking at the web site now from home, it says that the second half is the “pièce de résistance.”   Oh well…I might have missed something fabulous, but I doubt it.  I think Diary of a Mad Man with Geoffrey Rush would have been a better choice.