Thursday, May 26, 2011

Off to NoDak

In the morning, we hit the road for a looooooooong-ass drive to North Dakota - 965 miles. It'll be hard to compete with all the bikinis and beer bongs that always flock there for holiday weekends but maybe the recent tornadoes will keep tourists away. It was pretty close but we managed to score a room at the party-all-night-long lodge: The Forestwood Inn.

Going to check in our farm and Brent, seen here below with me a few years ago. He's the steady guy who farms the land. His father, Perry, worked for my grandfather, Wilbur, so he's like family.

The recent floods (the farm sits near the Red River) and late spring rains have caused some sleepless nights for local farmers. If it's too wet to plant, the farmers can't get seed in the ground and if they plant past a certain date, they are not covered by crop insurance. Tricky business.

Meanwhile, stayed up far too late last night reading this Vanity Fair article on the extremely evil chemical company, Monsanto. And then I read that 26% of Americans believe they've ever eaten genetically-modified foods before .... hoo boy!

I'm going to try to be there for the harvest in the fall as well. In my ongoing quest to learn more about my food - where it comes from and exactly how many toxins are in it - I figured it was best to start with our own farm. Poor Brent - he's going to get peppered with questions.....

See ya on the road!

Monday, May 23, 2011

WANTED: Trusty Sidekick

Last Thursday was the birthday of Maria Cubeta, who has requested that I please "update the blog already." Granted, this space has been horribly neglected as of late. What can I say? Life happens to me at an alarming rate - hard to keep up with myself sometimes.

Nevertheless, Maria is the devious one who inspired this blog back in August 2005 - holy crap, nearly SIX years ago! - so she gets whatever she wants in this space.

Back in the day of my corporate adventures, Maria was my steady co-pilot. I liked to use the term, "assistant" because I've always wanted one of those and it made me feel important, but Maria swiftly rejected it. "A-hem. I prefer the term, 'sidekick'," she said, and so it stuck. She is 17 years younger only by chronological happenstance but intellectually and emotionally, she is decades older than I, a fact she respectfully keeps to herself.

My trusty co-pilot at Miramar Marine Base, making sure we don't fall out of the sky.
Together, we ran a global account dealing in venture capital and we both became smitten with the eternal optimism of that world. On more than one occasion, we ran the media aspect of an annual Big Event and although we'd request separate hotel rooms, some tech snafu always forced us to be roommates. Instead of complaining, we opted to brand it College Dorm Life 2.0 and immediately trashed said rooms. It was in one of these rooms that poor Maria endured my whimpering and groaning through a near-fatal crush on an eyebrow-endowed reporter. "Oh my god, Heather, JUST CALL HIM ALREADY!" (I did as told but am still in recovery.)

MC Sidekick, working hard.
Still, I like to think I showed the girl a good time, y'know? My ego imagines I taught her a thing or two about the importance of fun while working. For example, 'Preparedness is very important, as are cocktails. Include both in your account strategy.' Or 'Remove shoes and work outside, whenever possible.' Er...actually, I think she may have taught me that one.

My favorite shared memory occurred at the same Big Event and so many times I've wished it'd been captured on video, ideally, to be played in slo-mo. MC Hammer was speaking onstage before 600 or so suited CEOs and international execs on the topic of tech investing. (Strange but relevant, sort of.) Most of the audience members were riveted by this odd intersection of celebrity and venture capital - except maybe for this guy:

He'd just arrived in San Francisco from Italy - horribly jet lagged.
Anyhoo, at the conclusion of his talk, Hammer asked the question that we'd hoped for, which was: "Now, who is ready to DANCE?" Before the jaw of every starched-collared exec could fully drop, Maria and I literally flew out of our chairs and headed straight for the stage. We left phones, purses and strategic notes behind, pumping elbows for maximum speed; we simply could not get there fast enough.

 For awhile, it was just Hammer and his two back-up dancers, me and Maria, before he implored others to join: "C'mon! This jam is for everybody!" Eventually, it turned into a full-blown dance party which ultimately lasted until 2:30 a.m., MC Hammer (who is actually a super nice guy named Stanley) was still giving private dance lessons to myself and two colleagues at the Clift Hotel's Redwood Room, at which point, the staff kindly encouraged us to leave already.

By that time, Maria had disappeared and I had a hunch as to her whereabouts. There was an Important Client, one of six or seven, that we were supposed to be supporting and doing all that we could to make them happy. Our job description included, 'Be charming to these people at all costs.' Okay, I'm paraphrasing but it sums up our assignment.

Instead, Maria would fiercely debate this one fellow - a senior exec several tax brackets above us both - on the cozy topic of politics. He, a Republican, and she, not. More than once, I sat at their table, watch them pound drinks and argue, sometimes loudly, all the while wondering how long it would be before he'd storm out angrily and we'd lose the business. Not only did this never happen but she now runs the account and they still argue politics to this day.

Yes, it was Maria who would conjure up documents I thought I'd lost, put together crucial contact lists, answer me with a simple facial expression or review my attempt at putting together a 'professional uniform' with quiet shake of the head. My point is this: Good sidekicks are hard to find.

I spoke to a former colleague just yesterday who complained about this very thing. "I'm having trouble finding an assistant who is - how do I say this delicately? - smart enough," she said. She then shared several examples, including one who would create Word file documents with 27-word names. "Lots of them can cut and paste, but I'm finding very few can synthesize information and think for themselves."

Hoo boy. This only made me miss Maria more.

But MC Sidekick has moved onward and upward and it is high time I manifest another sidekick. Someone who can see the potential of my crazy ass ideas, who can remind me when to care about something and who can match my drinking abilities, ounce for happy hour ounce. This special someone would also share my shoe size (7), have an updated passport and have very low cash flow needs. Someone who is up for a good time and down with random adventures. Preferably someone like Darren at Kramerica Industries?

Dining on quail at San Francisco's Legion of Honor. Just a sampling of the exciting life that could be yours!
Now taking applications.