30 May 2013


CGA emailed note 82212 requested visit two weeks regarding co-clinical trials program gift met with   prior spring BOV meeting introduced one leaders co-clinical trial program met Panera Bread loves MDACC continues support spends playing tennis being Mom mother law moving hoping have  opportunity get event which discussed  would good contact should we put together event some kind area We promised stay touch met Nuclear Medicine clinic said that wife met laundry mat soon after bought own washer dryer so meet anyone immigrated from Budipest after father imprisoned beaten death communist oppressors 1950 grandfather began business called  arts retired sales executive thyroid removed several years ago here 3 month check-up invited come home when request joined husband lunch Rotary House here appointments Spring BOV meeting During lunch mentioned would like IRAs maturing end month set up annuities know would touch assist setting up mentioned since Intellectual Property Technology BOV Committee longer existence needs join another BOV Committee asked recommendation told bit about recent Development Committee meeting seemed interested materials meeting asked information other committees available said mail him all information During lunch mentioned most likely returning depending outcome appointment tomorrow Because appointment need leave BOV meeting early Austin  presented cause-related marketing idea MDACC Team MD Anderson Speedway GrandPrix Houston event utilize entire track marketing piece cause component opportunity  GrandPrix sell flags prior event MDACC logo artwork opportunity people personalize hung around track event utilize entire 17 mile track fill flags suggested sell flags higher level flag signed Indy Car Winner framed sent purchaser following race Additionally MDACC use celebrity Go-Kart race fundraising event Teams sell each ride track race celebrity forecasted net revenue contributions both initiatives discuss development production website podcast unable participate meeting provided feedback suggestions website change font standardized font adjust homepage layout consider starting will contact requesting three dates film take approximately 30 40 minutes sent outline questions proposed script received input interviewed content within couple hours cost vacation week assist coordinating podcast efforts during met office discussed work criminal defense attorney retired state age 50 children 1 son college Trinity 1 son high school daughter previous marriage positive experience Austin Texas Oncology positive experience MDACC gift annual fund Interest cancer believe remain annual fund donor donor Outcome not donor Follow up add conquest promise mailing list send handwritten note thanks visited husband clinic today behalf visit delightful couple terrific sense humor positive attitude cancer second marriage first husband passed away  4 children 8 grandchildren discussed challenges cancer including point where hardly breathe because tumor pressing against lung  through one round chemo used alternative therapies such acupuncture mushrooms done well treatments breathe well now  MD Anderson second opinion trip planned summer Amalfi Coast Italy whole family going invited house lake next come gave business card signed HIPAA form client advocate stopped hello Next step Visit next clinic appointment South Carolina joined Bill lunch discussed 2 sons already school SMU one passion MD Anderson willingness serve ambassadors potentially host future event things met coffee introductory visit  discussed husband passing cancer 3 year anniversary somewhat positive experience MDACC frustration long waits appointments 2 kids living Houston previous position Press Secretary Deputy Chief Staff Governor Perry vineyard California moon shot program CPRIT strong opinions support MDACC feel good very connected would good resource cultivated feel probably not philanthropically minded because comment made regarding husband view philanthropy Follow up asked investigate whether tissue sent over sister in law children handwritten thank you note

06 October 2010

High risk homeowners

Precisely one year ago Cristybella and I signed the papers, transferred the money and breathed a huge sigh of relief as we closed the purchase transaction for our house. It had been a harrowingly stressful experience, but it came to pass.

Twelve days later, demolition began and on October 30th, we officially moved.

A lot of activity has transpired. Much of the activity fueled by our desire to transform our home into a living space that is congruous with our style and rhythm of life. But a fair amount of activity has arisen unexpectedly.

The old adage, it’s always something, is a familiar tune for most homeowners. Let’s review the list of repairs in the past 12 months, shall we?
  • Oven
  • Garbage disposal
  • Garage door opener
  • Furnace
  • Lawn sprinklers
  • Garbage disposal (again)
  • Pool pump
  • Electrical circuit
  • Pool filter
  • Washing machine
  • Plumbing.
Impressive list. Everything except the lawn sprinklers was covered under the home warranty contract we decided to purchase prior to moving into the house. American Home Shield was happy to sign us up. We were mighty glad to have a single number to call each time something went awry. It’s stressful enough when something breaks, but not knowing who to call seems to amplify the anxiety. We have been thankful for our AHS home warranty.

About 30 days ago, someone in the AHS sales department called me to ask if I was planning to renew. They cleverly noticed that my 1-year agreement was about to expire and offered to sign me up for another year.

That was convenient. I’m all about convenience.

Then today, 1 day into the 2nd year of AHS home warranty coverage, we received a letter notifying us that AHS had reviewed our service history and had opted to reconsider coverage for our account. In other words, they dumped us.

We clearly make too many service calls and our track record has not been in AHS’s favor financially.

Of course, we certainly didn’t plan for these items in our house to break down all in the same year. Our existence would have been far more tranquil without the breaks, the leaks, the inconvenience. But then again, isn’t that why people purchase home warranties? Sort of the major medical coverage equivalent for our houses.

So tomorrow, during business hours, we will sort this thing out with AHS. If they have canceled our agreement, there’s still that minor question about charging us for the 2nd year. Hmm.

I wonder if we are considered high-risk homeowners?

13 September 2010


I drive an old car. About 10 years old. Nothing fancy. It’s a transportation tool, not a luxury item or source of entertainment. I might feel differently if my car was, in fact, luxurious. But it isn’t.

On my first real job, I once had an assignment to join my department manager to give a presentation to another business unit located across town. He offered to drive and when we arrived at his car, I was surprised that this mid-level manager was driving such a heap of junk. At the ripe age of 23, I held automobiles in much higher esteem than I do now.

Well, he must have noticed the mildly quizzical look on my face and explained that in this world, you can either have a really nice house or a really nice car, but usually not both. He chose the house. And when I got to the point in life when I was ready to buy a house, I did exactly the same thing.

So, back to my car.

After 161,800 miles, it is one tired machine and needs a few replacement parts so I called the auto mechanic shop last week to give them fair warning I would be in on Saturday morning. They didn’t exactly roll out the red carpet, but I was able to find a spot in the customer waiting room. I fretted while they assessed my car and tallied up the list of parts that needed replacing. I had asked them to break the work into two groupings – one for this month and one for next month.

And the news came in with a four-figure price attached.   > gulp <

Cristy was with me, thankfully. We all went to stand underneath the car and peer into the mysterious places where the wheels attach to the chassis. I asked this auto mechanic if my car was sound; if this money I was about to spend in repairs was indeed a good investment?

The look he gave me in reply did little to bolster my confidence.

I explained my working hypothesis: the cost of repairs to my auto, over the span of the next 12 months, would probably be less than the cost of 12 payments on a car loan. But I wanted a more informed opinion. Thankfully, this made more sense to him and he understood where I was coming from. He pointed out 2 additional things that needed to be addressed over the course of the next couple of months and otherwise pronounced the car healthy.

Next year at this time, I hope to have exceeded the 200,000 mile mark on my odometer with no other unforseen mechanical repairs.

Stitch in time

I spent some time sewing over the weekend. Relatively simple task using fabric, scissors, pins, needle and thread. But it is overwhelmingly time consuming since I don’t have a sewing machine. I started Saturday and was still at it Sunday morning.

One of the things about starting a sewing project is that it interrupts the activities and chores that I normally attend to on the weekends. Like laundry and cooking. And well, of course, sleeping late and working on my suntan. It requires me to reallocate my time.

Cristy walked in the back door around 11:30 giving Betsy Ross (aka, me) a quick acknowledgement, with a smile.

As I finished stitching the seam, I began wondering about the level of effort Betsy Ross invested in making that legendary flag, my personal favorite of all the American flag designs. Now that would have been a time consuming task.

She must have had some serious extra time on her hands. Or insomnia.

01 September 2010

Stormy weather

A pale grey band obscures my view of the galleria area skyline. Rain. It moves northward quickly, erasing the outlines of tall buildings with the density of the precipitation.

And just like that, the sunlight that was warming my office has vanished, leaving a chill in the air. The storm is advancing in my direction. Even now I hear the irregular smattering of raindrops. And soon it will be a drenching rainfall with big fat rivers of water moving to the thunderous drumbeat of the heavens.

31 August 2010

Personal currency

Sometimes my mind takes me to an unusual place. It all started out so simply. A Saturday night dinner with two lovely friends at my favorite bistro. One friend, a widow, lost her job in a layoff about a year ago, but has found enough work to keep paying the bills. We genuinely care about her and are sensitive to her situation. But it seems that her worries are practically over. Out of the blue, an offer appeared to purchase an asset that she has held for many years. It was the answer to a prayer.

While this transaction does not propel her into the jet-set uber-wealthy stratosphere, it does ease her budget constraints and make for a comfortable retirement. At 75, she certainly deserves a few days off now and then.

This conversation initiated a web of thoughts related to women. And money. While there are many women who are employed or run their own businesses and earn an income that meets their family living expenses, there are many who do not.

My grandmother had a job outside of the home to contribute to the home economy. She earned a low wage, but it helped. My great-grandmother sold eggs, butter, strawberries and other products from her garden to help make ends meet. Her mother, a widow, took in boarders to pay the bills.

Many generations of women have worked, traded a currency available to them, to pay for the necessities of life.

My mind wandered back to a favorite book of fiction, social commentary actually, by Edith Wharton. Lily Bart was the heroine. A young woman from a family of social distinction, but without the independent means to sustain her livelihood. The currency available to her was her youth, beauty and cleverness. However, trading this currency to a possible husband that she did not love did not seem like an attractive trade to her. Unfortunately, she did not have the means or the strength to hold out for love.

A similar, familiar tale is woven into Tennessee Williams’ play, A Streetcar Named Desire. Blanche DuBois, the heroine, capitalizes on the currency available to her in order to obtain security and stability: charm and beauty. She attempts to fabricate youth into the equation to close the deal, a deal in which she is willing to forgo love. But unfortunately…well, everyone knows the ending.

In my own circle of family, friends and acquaintances, I know of several females who are in a situation similar to Lily and Blanche. The currency available to them does not include the education and professional experience needed to drive an income sufficient to pay for the lifestyles with which they are familiar.

I don’t know if my outlook is pessimistic or realistic, but I don’t put much faith in the dream of a knight in shining armor. Fairy tale endings usually only occur in fairy tales.

Except, of course, for the good fortune of my friend.

27 August 2010

School year memories

The added presence of school buses on the roads this week brought to mind all the things that used to occupy my world as a youngster starting the new school year.  Best wishes to students everywhere as the academic year begins.