Thursday, September 30, 2010

Global Positioning System

A day in the life of...

...a Garmin Employee.

Stephen spends 4 days a week talking to people on the phone about their Garmins. He works (luckily) on the outdoor/fitness rather than the automotive side of things. (There's also marine and aviation sections, for those of you who, like me, had no idea Garmin made anything other than the GPS that you use in your car). That means he doesn't have to deal with angry teenagers who are lost. Phew!

HOWEVER, don't be deceived. He deals with plenty of interesting folk. The outdoor/fitness team deals with runners, bikers, golfers, hikers, and hunters, to name a few. I love sitting at our dinner table as he tells the tales of the day. Here are some of my favorites:

There was the guy who asked if he could get maps worldwide, like in South America. Stephen kindly pointed out that it is a Global Positioning System, so yes, as long as South America is on the globe, he should be fine. I think people forget what GPS stands for.

One call, the customer told Stephen what was on his watch display (Garmin makes watches for runners to wear), which was "Pace," "Distance," and "Time." The gentleman proceeded to ask if he had to enter the distance on that screen of the watch that he was going to run. Stephen (kindly) informed him that it was a GPS watch that tracks distance automatically and displays how far the runner goes in real time. This man was unaware that his watch could do that. He spent $350.00 on a watch without knowing anything about it.

A few days ago, a customer had a black watch with a broken band. Garmin didn't have any black bands in stock, but they were going to be available in two weeks. The lady was upset because she had a marathon to run, so Stephen offered to send her a navy blue band from a different watch to use for the time being, and then send her a black band as it became available (meaning she would get a free watch band, and no shipping charges). The lady was seriously upset. She told Stephen, "I can't run like that." I can't run like that? As if it were a physical problem preventing her from running! Really?

Garmin makes a GPS dog collar (called the Astro, naturally) for hunters to use (on their "coon dogs"). A week or so ago, Stephen had an angry customer who called about a problem with his dog tracking unit. The unit lost communication with the dog collar and he couldn't find the dog. Now the dog was lost and he insisted that Garmin replace it. The dog, that is, not the collar. When Stephen told him that they wouldn't replace the dog, the man asked, "Well what is the warranty for then?"

And, my personal favorite: there was a hunger from Louisiana that called about a problem with his dog tracking unit. Casually, he told Stephen about how he had lost three huntin' dogs. "How?" Stephen asked (thinking they had gone out of range and ran off). "Oh," the man replied, "to gators." In fact, that gentleman had found one of the alligators because the dog collar was still working inside of it.

Surprising, right? Who knew Garmins were so versatile. I bet "works inside of gators" isn't in the Astro unit's manual.

Stephen near our hotel in North Vancouver

Stephen, Vanessa, and Anya

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fortune Cookies

I decided to clean out my wallet today. Turns out I've been hoarding movie ticket stubs and fortunes from fortune cookies.

I have a whole box of "stuff" from "Stephen and Vanessa: The Dating Years" and there are a lot more ticket stubs in there, but here are the ones I found in my wallet:

  • Madagascar 2
  • Harry Potter 6
  • Ice Age 3
  • Twilight (yeah, I dragged Stephen to that once. I'm so mean)
  • Wall-E
  • X-Files 2

You know, taken from that sample...I'd say we're about 12 years old. We enjoy kids movies. Clearly.

In Shakespeare's opinion, someone can only be Fortune's fool, but Virgil believes Fortune favors the brave. Either way, the most common way to end a meal of General Tso's, fried rice, and egg rolls is with a cookie stuffed with a fortune.

For the sake of my own sanity, I'm not going to put all of the fortunes in quotation marks:

  • Your present plans are going to succeed within the year.
  • Do not dwell on differences with a loved one - try to compromise.
  • You could prosper in a few years in the field of entertainment.
  • Your friend or partner is needing your advice and encouragement.
  • Focus on the color purple this week to bring you luck.
  • You are going to take a trip to the seaside. 
  • Confidence isn't something that you get. It's something that you are.
  • Do something unusual tomorrow.
  • You will soon bring joy to someone.
  • Confidence is at a high.
  • Your courage will bring you honor.
  • You will make change for the better. 
  • Life is not a problem to be solved, but, rather, a mystery to be lived.

There are two ways to interpret these tiny slips of paper (well, three if you use the "lucky numbers" on the back). You can live life with courage, honor, confidence, and most importantly, optimism. Or, you can wave it off as "Confucius-esque" nonsense. After all, it came from a cookie

The thing is, Stephen and I love food, especially Chinese food, so it just makes sense for us to take the route of believing in the cookie. So in our day-to-day lives, we try to remember that life isn't a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived. This aptly fits with our blog's title: "two unpathed Waters, undreamed shores," which for those of you who aren't avid Shakespeare readers, comes from "The Winter's Tale." The original quote is

A course more promising
Than a wild dedication of yourselves
To unpathed waters, undreamed shores; most certain,
To miseries enough: no hope to help you;
But, as you shake off one, to take another:
Nothing so certain as your anchors; who
Do their best office, if they can but stay you
Where you'll be loth to be: besides, you know,
Prosperity's the very bond of love,
Whose fresh complexion and whose heart together
Affliction alters. (Act IV, scene iv)

So, even though we have a "plan" of what we want to do in our lives, we're always surprised at how that plan manifests itself in reality, and we're never quite sure of where we'll end up. For now, we're content living modestly in good ol' Kansas City, Missouri. But even we don't know where we'll be in ten, fifteen, fifty years. (Hopefully living next door to James)

Vanessa, Stephen, and Anya

Thursday, September 2, 2010

three peas in a pod

As summer comes to an end, and I remain unemployed, I find myself endlessly making lists. Grocery lists. Walmart lists. Chore lists. Job idea lists. To-do lists. Today I decided to make a Completed List. A list of all the things Stephen and I have accomplished since we got married eight months ago:

  • Work on the House - we have drapes, interior doors, a bathroom, new dining room floors, furniture. check!
  • Get Health Insurance - Stephen's new job at Garmin! Check!
  • Get a Dog - well, we "stole" Anya from my parents, so...check!
  • Go on Vacation - we went to Vancouver, B.C. in May...check!
  • Find time to have fun - definitely Check!

So, even though I still have no teaching job, there's still no baseboards on 85% of the house, the closet door in the front room still needs to be painted, and the back bedroom (aka: Diante's room) still needs to be mudded, sanded, and's hard to deny that we've accomplished anything. 

When we moved into this little house, we didn't have any drapes, or any interior doors. The mirror in the bathroom was the old one, propped up on the new sink. The brand new dining table sat on paint-splattered parkay floors, and the basement and garage were rightfully called "the dungeon." After all, just looking in them was a cruel form of torture. 

We do have drapes now, so our neighbors can't peek in on us, and we have a bathroom door (on a bathroom that's painted and fitted with new "stuff"), so people aren't afraid to use it. The basement and the garage are no longer tortuous to look at, even if they are still scary. We have new floors in the dining room, and eventually we'll get all of that baseboard up (and Diante's room will eventually be Stephen's office). 

We've accomplished a lot (even if it's not that noticeable to others...) on the house, we've spent time together, chased Anya around with her cow, watched Dexter, Scrubs, and The Office together, and tried to stretch our tiny budget on this tiny little house. But the best parts have been spending time with our families, and our friends:

Stephen riding the jetski with Sam and Richard at the lake, me taking three lactaids to try my dad's homemade ice cream (and still getting sick - totally worth it though), us taking Sue out for cheap dessert at Houlihan's. Moving James to Denton, Texas (which by the way, is entirely too far away) for grad school. Singing karaoke with our friends at a really sketchy bar. 

Summer's been so much fun (minus the heat), that needless to say, Stephen, Anya, and I are looking forward to fall. Bonfires, apple orchards, walks, raking leaves, Halloween, Thanksgiving, sweaters, and apple cider candles from Lowe's. And who knows, maybe we'll even get the house painted.

Anya and her cow. 

Vanessa, Stephen, and Anya