snakes

on the metro?

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Well, snakes were not exactly on my metro but they were apart of the podcast that I was so intently listening to. Last Friday it seemed like anyother. I was running a head of time, and things were going smoothly until I turned my podcast on. Let me preface this by telling you lately, Matt and I have been getting really into the show River Monsters with Jeremy Wade and by “really” into it that’s exactly what I mean. There is not a night that goes by where River Monsters is not on our Netflix cue. It’s an incredible show.

Back to my Friday morning commute. There I sit on the train and I turn on The Moth podcast to get me through my morning commute and luckily it’s a radio hour which is featuring “a squeamish writer is sent on an assignment to locate enormous poisonous snakes; a hippie kid seeks the approval of his conservative father; and two child refugees from Afghanistan arrive in America without their parents.” All hell breaks loose as soon as I turn on the podcast. I sit on the train listening intently and the next thing I know, I look up and I am TWO stops past my transfer location. All I could think of was “wait, this is not right”. After I got back on track to get to the office, I turned my podcast back on and finished listening to the stories.

This is a pointless funny story for me to share with you. It just goes to show that all parts of your life truly are interconnected. That, and well the fact that you should really be paying attention to what’s going on throughout your morning commute.

a short story

Finley

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

All the kids turned and pointed at poor Finley. Finley was always friendly and free-hearted. It was just a mistake. “Why were they laughing,” he would ask himself. Finley always knew he was different, but never truly understood why until he clumsily fumbled onto the metro platform, with much embarrassment. Finley picked up his bag and carried on his merry way, but this time he clutchimagesed onto his tail ensuring it was close to his body. Above all he never wanted to be dragon-ing his heart around. He never meant to hit anyone with his cumbersome tail.

Waiting for the train to arrive Finley daydreamed, much liked he did when he was growing up.  Finley always knew he was different, but he didn’t understand why people pointed and poked fun at him and his heart-tipped tail. As daydreaming was Finley’s escape from his heart-tipped tail, he fell into a dazzling daydream.

The daydream emerged and Finley dreamt of his differences being something that brought people together, rather than bring them apart–like they did in real life. Finley dreamed of his heart-tipped trail being magic! Sure, he was different but different doesn’t have to be bad. Much like Cupid who helps people fall in love, in this dream, Finley did, too! His tail was the culprit of making people fall in love. With one wack of his monstrous tail, strangers became friends, and friends became lovers. It didn’t matter who Finley tapped with this tail, everyone would fall in love. Finley dreamed of much love being in the world.

As a train conductor zoomed by with the air horn blasting, Finley popped out of his dream, but little did he know his dream was becoming a reality. Finley searched around to find when the next train would be coming to the National Airport Metro Platform, but all he could see were smiles and beaming hearts. It seems that dreams do come true.

Thanks to Finley, believing in his differences and his heart-tipped tail there is a clumsy cupid out there on the loose and who knows when he will strike again.

google doodle

Valentine’s Day

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Today, the Google Doodle features six sweethearts. Each of the hearts tells a different story about love; “Mr. Right,” “First kiss,” “4ever yours,” “puppy love” and “blind date.” A radio-show entitled This American Life inspired this feature. It’s mostly audio but there are some delightful illustrations accompanying each story.

Listen to First Kiss— the story is just like mine and Matt’s.

phonetics

& technology

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

As we all know, phonetics represents the sounds of speech with a set of distinct symbols, each designating a single sound. An easier way to say that is, the proper pronunciation as aspiration of consonants or vowel length in English. Sometimes people have trouble with the pronunciation of particular words. For instance, I get tripped up on saying the words cinnamon and synonymy. I know these are two very different words, but they related phonetically. Other words that have been hard for me to say include but are not limited to, pistachio, sandwich and February.

There always is a correct and a wrong way to pronounce things. In my opinion, I think technology has a one-up on humans. Technology is programed to help us properly phonetically pronounce words. There have been times I’ve typed a word into my notepad, highlighed, then selected speak to ensure I will be pronouncing a word (or name) properly.  photo

Technology is a funny thing. Siri is a funny thing. She is trained to complete taks based on your speech pattern. After using Siri, she will start to recognize how you say things rather than correcting you. Patrick, who has guest blogged in the past, has been using Siri for years. While Patrick was driving in the car, he said, “Siri call Brittney.”  This is something Siri often does for Patrick, so calling Brittney should not be a hard task. Low and behold, Siri responds saying, “I don’t see ‘Britt Knee’ in your address book. Should I look for locations by that name?” Flabbergasted at this request, Patrick just dialed her on his own.

I was roaring with laughter when Patrick told me this story. I couldn’t believe that a technological item took him so literal. It just goes to show, Siri truly is out smarting us. I found an article to share with all of you Siri lovers, Teach Siri To Stop Saying Your Contact Names Like a Robot. Now you can program Siri to understand your phonetics and how you speak. If you use Siri, I would love to hear about your experiences with her.

teaser

tinfoil dinosaur

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Walking to and from work each day can get pretty boring. In order to occupy myself on my walk, most mornings, I talk on the phone with my Aunt, Mom, sister or boyfriend. More often than not, I am listening to music but that gets really boring too. My playlists stay the same, Spotify isn’t working with my mood or something in between. Lately, I’ve been getting back into podcasts. For me, it’s hard to listen to podcasts at work because I get so into them. Instead of working, I find myself listening intently.

This morning on my way to work, I geared up The Moth Podcast and was on my merry way. Today the episode was an interesting mix. (If you are interested check this link out). All of the stories were touching, but one hit me a little different than the others, The Tinfoil Dinosaur. I made the honest mistake of missing my building to continue listening to this story. Three blocks away from my building, I noticed that I had two minutes to make it into the office on time. I decided that once I made it into my office, I would make tea and finish this interesting podcast.

I will give you a little teaser: you will laugh and it features Canadians.

A huge thanks to both Sam and The Moth Podcast for this fantastic episode. It added some extra pep to my step this morning! Keep on keeping on!

Credits:

Sam S. Mullins lives in Vancouver, Canada where he tells lots of stories, often on the CBC show, Definitely Not The Opera. http://samsmullins.com/

The MothPodcast, The Moth is an acclaimed, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It is a celebration of both the raconteur, who breathes fire into true tales of ordinary life, and the storytelling novice, who has lived through something extraordinary and yearns to share it. At the center of each performance is, of course, the story – and The Moth’s directors work with each storyteller to find, shape and present it.

my guest post

Matt asked me to write a blog about how my life was consumed by lifeguarding for six years. He wanted me to get into the details about saving, and trainings, but I spared the boring details and wrote this for his blog instead.

You can find Matt on Twitter: @hamsterjockey; insta: hamsterjockey, make sure you follow him!

My Guest Blog Post: Lifeguarding via Matt’s Blog

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn
It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Life happens I guess. But to get me back in the swing of things, I asked the lovely Kendal Ann to write me a guest blog about her experience lifeguarding. I, myself, have never been a lifeguard (but I did get my Lifesaving merit badge in Boy Scouts), but Kendal Ann was talking about it one day and it really interested me. Check out Kendal Ann’s blog here and I promise you, she’s a hell of a lot better at updating her blog than I am.

In high school and college, I lived for summers. I spent my days stretched out in a chair, slathered in SPF 85 (yes, it’s a thing), occasionally jumping off the dock for a quick dip and always playing with kids.

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. For five years, lifeguarding consumed my life. As downfalls of the job, my ginger locks would turn bleach beach blond, and it would always have a slight green tint to it. And I often found myself involuntarily yelling “No running!” at random kids on my days off.

I trained hard at 15 to become a Baywatch wannabe. The Red Cross certifies lifeguards only after an intensive, 30-plus-hour course on CPR, first aid, AED and rescue skills with both a written and physical final exam. (I was through the Red Cross and the YMCA)

Sure as a lifeguard our first priority is safety, but there is so much more to the job than safety, getting awkward tan lines and working 15 hour shifts.

Let’s get back to the trainings. I was originally hired to lifeguard at the YMCA (an indoor pool). After working at the YMCA for a year and a half—I was stolen. My supervisor put in a good word for me at the beach and the next day I was hired. I will always be grateful of her “stealing” me. (Note, I still worked at both the YMCA and the beach—I wasn’t exactly stolen, I was more of a timeshare). Working at the YMCA, we often had a training to refresh our skills. These trainings happened once every quarter (about four times a year). During the trainings, we would go over skills, back boarding, CPR and how to administer Oxygen. More often than not, they ended with the staff gathered in the hot tub.

Working at the beach was a totally different story. Before the season started, we took three days to refresh our skills on back boarding, oxygen administration, AED and first aid.  If that wasn’t enough, we had trainings every Thursday morning for two hours. It would begin with a few jokes and recognition, but beyond that, it was down and dirty—straight to business. We would swim to build our endurance (about a half a mile), and continue the meeting with saves and missing persons drills.

Yes, there are days it’s sunny and no one is at the pool or the beach so you get to work on your tan, read a book or go swimming for fun, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a hard job. I had to go through a 30-plus-hour course and pay money to get certified. My certifications last a year, before I have to get recertified. The money is lifeguarding is good, but everyone doesn’t get hired. So, don’t tell me I am just sitting there looking pretty, and getting paid to tan. Sir, you aren’t watching your 3-year-old in the water, and more than likely—you’ll be thanking me later.

Lifeguarding isn’t as glamorous as a gig as people make it out to be. Even though there are hard days, angry parents, and clingy children, at the end of the day I loved my job. For five years lifeguarding consumed my life, and honestly I wouldn’t change a minute of it. I met some of my best friends through lifeguarding. And thanks to lifeguarding I am not afraid of most situations, I know how to survive in the coldest water conditions and I can swim the “Bermuda Triangle” (it’s a Wisconsin thing)—no sweat.

Next time you’re at the pool and you think the lifeguard is cute and just soaking in the rays—think again. I challenge any of you to take a lifeguarding course, pass the test, get hired and then keep your job.

when I’ve made it

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

I was going through some emails today and I found that was titled, “This is When I Know You Made it”. After reading that subject line, I was so intrigued. I had to open it. Upon opening the email, it was a short sentence that said: look at this article— I am sure you will do the same thing, and this is when I will know you made it.

Honestly, this couldn’t be more true. With my love for sharks, this would be the coolest thing to have. Could you even imagine having a little aquarium in your house? I cannot wait for the day when I made it, so I can have sharks swimming around! (In all seriousness though, I don’t want a shark tank, I would just rather go on scuba excursions and drive with them in their natural habitat. It’s still pretty awesome though!)

 

winona bound, post graduation round 2!

It’s that time of the year! I’m heading back to my Alma Mater and I could not be more excited. Last year, I was asked to reflect on my post-graduation woes and write an article for the University paper, and that is exactly what I did. Take a peek below. Next stop, Winona! See you soon, Minnesota.

visiting the alma mater

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

For the past 18 years August meant, school supplies, a class list, new books and new clothes and being reunited with friends, but not this time. The excitement of August wasn’t the same this time around. For the first time, August, to me, didn’t mean back to school. With the uncertainty and the sudden change of August I felt a void. Now being in the “real world” and having grown into a “real person”.

For the first time, I am truly out on my own, a time zone and a 14-hour car drive from my family who cannot drop everything and come save me when I’m having a subpar day.

December changed everything – that’s when I walked across that stage and became a graduate.As you are aware already everyone has the expectations that once you graduate, you’ll immediately have it all figured out and you have to stick to your plan.

Wrong.

Since graduation, things have stayed the same for me; my love for politics and the fact that I’m pursuing my dreams in Washington, DC. I don’t have a clear path of how I will tackle my dreams, but each night I can rest, knowing I’m on the right path.

Since January there have been many kinks in my plan.

Things haven’t gone exactly as expected. Through these times I have learned with each unexpected change, it will be what you make of it, but most of all it is an opportunity and you must seize it.

It is simple: life is unpredictable.

Just because you are set in your ways and think you have figured out a so-called life plan does not mean someone isn’t going to come throw a wrench into your plans, chances are they will.  For better or worse the only constant is change. Get used to it. Become accustom to it and things will only get easier. You never know where life will take you or where your true passions lie.

Take chances, make the time to connect with new people and your life will unfold beautifully right in front of you, and better yet in your hands.

Know this, before I knew it, August turned into September and September will soon be October.October means my first visit as an Alumnus to Winona. One thing that will never change is that  I cannot wait to see the great things Winona has in store for me. Don’t forgot you do not need to wait to be an Alumni for this incredible journey to start. The sooner your journey starts, the better it will be and the better you will feel.

Whether your journey is in political science like mine, journalism or biology, make sure that you enjoy what you do because you’ll be doing it for many years to come.

The more I reflect back on my time at Winona State, the more I miss it. I love being in Washington, DC, but at the same time I miss the bluffs and I miss the friends I made who are still in school. Washington, DC has taught me to remember not to take the little things for granted; a phone call from a loved one or  a smile from someone as I pass them by on the street. As the time approaches when I make my way back to Winona, I look forward to coming back as an Alumni.

I can’t wait to rehash some of my past memories with students and staff alike. Being in Washington, DC is sometimes hard, but when all is said and done, I’m really happy that I decided to start my career here.

I’m ready for Winona, but the question that remains is this: Is Winona ready for me?

sweetest day

a Midwesten holiday

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

First and foremost, Happy Sweetest Day!

This holiday is mainly celebrated in the Great Lakes region, and parts of the Northeast United States, and every third Saturday in October we celebrate! The first Sweetest Day was pronounced as October 8, 1921 in Cleveland.  The Sweetest Day in the Year Committee distributed over 20,000 boxes of candy to “newsboys, orphans, old folks, and the poor” in Cleveland, Ohio.

People say that Sweetest Day is a Hallmark Holiday, though it was not invented by Hallmark. This is the real deal people. I will agree that Sweetest Day makes Valentine’s Day much more appetizing (whether you have a significant other or not). Unlike Valentine’s Day, this holiday is not nationally recognized.

It is described by Retail Confectioners International as an “occasion which offers all of us an opportunity to remember not only the sick, aged and orphaned, but also friends, relatives and associates whose helpfulness and kindness we have enjoyed.” Sweetest Day has also been referred to as a “concocted promotion” created by the candy industry solely to increase sales of sweets.

With an interesting fact, Sweetest Day commonly involves women giving their husband or boyfriends candy and acknowledgment.  So here’s to my amazing boyfriend, Matt, Happy Sweetest Day! I wish we were together to celebrate.

For the celebration

Friends, family, and significant others often will give each other candy, flowers, and cards on Sweetest Day.  This holiday is much like Valentine’s Day; the Sweetest Day is associated with heart-shaped boxes, and the colors pink and red. Statistics show that 80% of Hallmark’s greeting cards designed for Sweetest Day are romantic.

Sure Sweetest Day is a Midwestern holiday, predominantly celebrated in Cleveland, but that doesn’t mean I still can’t celebrate it now living out on the East Coast.

rants & raves of a job

Almost two years ago my life changed; I met Patrick! (Dramatic entrance, I know.) I met Pat through a friend, and I knew we were going to hit it off. After a few months gap in our friendship, due to him being at grad school–he made his way back to DC. Needless to say, I was beyond tickled! Pat got a job a IBM and was joining the real world as a consultant. Now, I couldn’t be more happy for him–what an awesome job opportunity post education, but the one thing that get’s get down is his lack of availability, but that’s not going to deter me from being his friend, heck that makes our friendship stronger! Once you read this post, you will understand exactly what I mean. So, here’s to Pat and his #LifeOfAConsultant, him writing this blog, and well just to our friendship!  Sit, back, relax and enjoy the blog!

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

#LifeOfAConsultant

guest blog presented by: Patrick Kotary
You can find Pat on Twitter: @Kotary; insta: patrickkotary, make sure you follow him!

In March 2013 after three colleges, two degrees, and one small bank account, I started my professional career with IBM Global Business Services. After just 7 months though I can honestly say this job is never what I had expected my first big grown up job to be growing. Until the ripe age of six I wanted to work at the mall so I could eat lunch at Sicilian Delight everyday – a pizza place at Sangertown Square Mall; my immature palate thought it was the best food ever, but I digress. Needless to say my aspirations only went up from there. I had the classic dreams – teacher, astronaut, news anchor, race car driver, the next Ward Cleaver, and POTUS were just a few (the last two are still on my list). Until about a year ago I never considered being a consultant for one of the world’s largest technology companies.

My friend Lizzie told me IBM was recruiting for consultants at our school, Clarkson University. I hadn’t given that career choice much thought, but after her persuasion and hearing that if you were hired you were sent to Orlando for a few days to celebrate, I said let’s do it! So I gave it a shot and was hired! I was one of the few extremely fortunate people who were recruited and hired during my last semester of graduate school. While I watched others hunt for jobs, I spent my last two months before the real world soaking in rays by the Gulf, baking, and watching the Barefoot Contessa. As Ina would say, “how easy is that?” All that time though I kept thinking, “I don’t know really what I’m going to be doing come March.” You see, consultants bounce from project to project in different roles – one day you could be on a project as technical resource and the next you could be running financial reports on another. You’re in a constant state of motion, meeting new challenges regularly – something I love doing. Whenever I was asked what I was going to do at IBM I would say, “I’ll be consulting. Companies hire us to come in and solve problems for them.” Now is that broad or what?

Despite that uncertainty I started my first day as a consultant on March 4th, 2013. I had a busy first two weeks in training – one in Herndon, VA and one in Baltimore, MD. Week three was when things got most interesting because I was staffed; I started my first project assignment as the Project Management Assistant at a company in Spokane, Washington. 2,080 aeronautical miles from my home in Northern VA. For about 7 months I travelled back and forth between the Washingtons – out on Mondays and home on Fridays. That’s about 5,000 miles a week (there isn’t a direct flight) – about 135,000 miles total. Like everything this unique lifestyle has its pros and cons.

The Pros:

Status.

Hi, my name is Patrick and I’m addicted to travel status. I am a Delta Platinum Medallion, a Hilton Diamond Member, United Elite Silver, and Starbucks Gold for many years to come. Status is a beautiful thing. First class is the only way to fly.

Seeing new sights.

Instead of going back to NOVA every weekend, I sometimes took alternate weekend travel. New Orleans, Los Angeles, upstate New York, and Florida to name a few.

Try new things.

As previously mentioned I like new challenges, so knowing that week to week my job changes is very exciting.

Foodie’s heaven.

Being in new cities is a dream for foodies like me. In 7 months of working I can count on one hand the times I’ve eaten at a chain restaurant. I love trying new foods.

 

The Cons:

Tired.

I was constantly changing time zones and had some difficulty putting my body on a hybrid system. Thanks to Kendal Ann et al though, I was able to stay on PST time on the weekends back east #DCNightlife

Travel numbness.

Air travel has lost its glamour for me. There was a time when I loved flying and thought it was the best experience ever. I now feel like I’m getting on a big dirty bus with smelly people. Also, hotels no longer stand for vacation. All I can think now is, “How many people have slept (and done other things) in this bed before me?”

Long workdays.

Because of travel, my office time is limited. To make up for this, I spend about 11 hours a day M-T at the office. Lunch is usually at my desk.

Relationships – lack thereof.

This job is not great for relationships. Even though I am extremely handsome and debonair, many don’t want to be with someone if he’s only around 3 of 7 days. I can respect that. I’d rather someone NOT like that than ENJOY having me gone all week.

The #LifeOfAConsultant continues. In a few hours I’m boarding a plane home to Dulles from my new project city… San Francisco, California. It’s an exciting life I lead working for IBM and I love it. I’m young, single, and free, so why not? For now, I’m not the next Ward Cleaver and I’m fine with that.

I urge you all to get out and see what this beautiful country and world has to offer.