Friday, June 27, 2008

Welcome to summer....

I heard on NPR this morning that the mosquitoes are at a more "normal" level this year.

I have to ask, what could "normal" possibly mean? I mean, c'mon, here in Minnesota we are partly serious when we jokingly say our state bird is the mosquito! So, what could normal mean?

Perhaps it means that this year there aren't enough in a swarm to lift an octogenarian and carry him to his death.

Perhaps it means that I can actually dare to bare some flesh this summer - like maybe I'll uncover my pinky toe!

Perhaps it means I can wear regular perfume instead of Au 'du DEET.

But here's the real question - courtesy of my husband - How do they know what the numbers are? Does someone actually go out there and count them? Is that a job you'd love, Minnesota State Mosquito Counter?

And do they count them by standing bare naked in the woods and then coming back and counting the welts?

Maybe they set up a tent, open the doors for an hour, then zip them and sit in there and count them. Do they tag them with RFID tags like they do with the wolves so that they don't double count them? How do they know they've counted them accurately? I'm horribly concerned about the accuracy of their counting methods. If they're not using proper methods, they're cheery predictions of "normal" levels of mosquitoes this year could all be a load of CRAP! And you know what crap does - it attracts more mosquitoes!

Personally, I think it's all one big conspiracy. Since gas prices are astronomical right now, I think they'll say ANYTHING to get us to travel to the touristy, mosquitoey venues. Beware! This is all just another Bush/Cheney attempt to get us behind the wheels of our big SUV's and RV's in pursuit of an enjoyable summer trip. With that said - Everyone enjoy their holiday weekend. We're leaving tomorrow, in our SUV, on a 6.5 hour drive "up north" to MOSQUITO COUNTRY to enjoy the holiday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I want to live on Mars

The other night I attended a public forum on Women in Leadership. It was sponsored by Augsburg College, where I earned my MBA. The two speakers were both from the Rochester community here. The first speaker was Jane Belau, an amazing woman in our community who has been in leadership positions from private business, to community, state, and national leadership positions. The other speaker, Shirley Weis, is the Chief Administrative Officer where I work, Mayo Clinic.

Overall, the evening was engaging and thought-provoking. I truly enjoyed listening to these two women and sharing in their experiences and wisdom. But [and there's always a "but" with me, isn't there?], something has been sticking with me and it's really bothering me. Shirley was talking about how she is the first woman to hold the position she now holds, and indeed I think she's the first to break into that upper echelon (C-level) of administrative management here. She talked about the differences in communication styles between men and women and referenced the book Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus which makes an attempt to explain our gender differences.

Then she turned to a small group of men in the audience and addressed them, bringing up men's style and how men can challenge each other, be spirited, disagree, discuss issues, etc. And then she said "How many of you go home at night after a meeting or interaction that can be charged and think to yourself - 'Oh, I hope Tom isn't mad at me for disagreeing with him' or 'I hope I didn't hurt John's feelings' - etc, etc...

Everyone laughed...everyone. Everyone understood implicitly and intuitively exactly what she was getting at: How silly that was! Silly! Men don't worry about that stuff! Silly. Men aren't concerned with others' feelings in that way - especially if they know they've acted respectfully through their dissent. Silly!

So, here's what stunned me. If we all understand this and know it to be true intuitively...why, oh why do we as women continue? Why can't we have those kinds of exchanges in our work lives?

I don't quite know the answer, but I can relay an uncomfortable experience I had in my job recently that highlights exactly what she was talking about. For whatever reason, I already tend towards the Mars Communication Method! I've always been a straightforward talker...I speak my mind...I will object when I believe it's called for. I will advocate for my team, I will challenge someone when I think their conclusions are faulty.

My spirituality and ethical substance have always guided me to do these things with the utmost respect possible. I always attempt to take great care to be respectful to people when I am disagreeing with them. I know I'm not always successful, especially in my personal life where it's easier to get sloppy, but in my professional life I think I have been pretty good at it. So, recently I was in a situation that called for me to challenge someone's preceptions. I believed, and still believe, that this person was making statements and decisions based on faulty logic and misperceptions of fact. The decision I was asking her to make, and indeed other dowline decisions, would be impacted. I needed to make my case. I did so in a manner that I thought was respectful. Oh, did I mention this person is senior to me in our organization? Did I also mention that she's a she?

To make a very long story short, the next day she basically scolded me like a mother would do, reading me a prepared list of statements, most of which revolved around the fact that she doesn't like to be challenged. She said she felt "attacked" - and that I had made her uncomfortable. I left the meeting feeling pretty low - as if I am now in a position to never disagree with her again for fear of making her feel attacked. Frankly, I think this is her issue. I have reviewed the exchange over and over in my mind and I don't know why she felt attacked other than I was disagreeing with her.

But, she did...and now I want to live on MARS!

Friday, June 20, 2008

I'm back...

Dear friends. Sorry for the long hiatus. I have had the "blogging blues" of late, but I think it's finally passed. Life can get so hectic and busy and it's easy to lose yourself in it.

I am lost no more. I am found.

There've been so many events since I last blogged, and I missed the opportunity to rant about some amazing political junk. Here's the shorthand of where I've been...

  • Trip to chicago with my girlfriends (we affectionately call ourselves the "church ladies" because that's where we all met) to a politcal fundraiser. Guest speaker was Valerie Plame - amazing story - and special unnanounced guest was Michelle Obama
  • Kaitlyn turned 16 on May 22nd. Got her license that day. Dinged up the car pulling out of the garage 3 days later. Over $1000 damage!!
  • Kaitlyn held her "Koncert for Kenya" to fundraise for her trip to Kenya next month. It was basically a flop...but a very fun flop! We just barely covered our expenses...
  • Kelsey and Kaitlyn left for Australia to visit their dad the day after the concert, June 8th. They come home today. We've had a wonderful two weeks being mom and dad (Nonna and Papa) to Kaden. He's so much fun. Oh to be 2 again!!!
  • Through all of that, I continue to be sick with something. I'm on my third round of anti-biotics. I'm hoping to start feeling back to 100% soon!

That's it in a nutshell - just wanted to catch everyone up on my life. I'll be back to my semi-introspective blogging and political ranting soon! I hope I haven't lost you all, and that you'll come back with me on my journey!