Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Business as usual

One of the things that strikes me about really good blogs is how the authors seem to always have something important to say. Great minds have great thoughts, it seems. With me, each day is pretty much like the previous. Sleep, eat, work, surf, sleep. And sometimes even when something really interesting is going on, I look at a blank blog entry and think, "I can't write about this. It's going to come out sounding stupid." Well, here goes. If it sounds stupid, please don't tell me.

A few weeks ago Paul and I heard about a film competition that's coming to Las Vegas, the 48 Hour Film Project. It works like this: on a Friday evening at about 7:00, participants draw a film genre from a hat. All teams have a character, a prop, and a line of dialogue that must appear in their films. And then you have 48 hours to make a film -- to write, shoot, score, and edit a four to seven minute film. It's pretty amazing what some people have done in 48 hours. This guy made an audience award winning film all by himself, and he even chose to make his a musical.

We've put together a pretty impressive team just by sending out word that we're looking for creative people. The thing that will set the winners apart from the losers will be that elusive creative spark that envisions an entertaining story. We have the actors and musicians and editors. We have the professional cameras and lights and microphones. What we'll be hoping for will be the luck of coming up with a good idea. We have until August 5 to try to capture that spark. Wish us luck!

Friday, July 08, 2005

A hero

One of my favorite web sites is Where's George, a site that lets you track dollar bills as they make their way from your hands to the rest of the world. A couple of days ago I received a notification on a bill that inspired me to write this note.
Here's a link to our bill:

First of all, I want you to know that I never write to the people who find my bills. I've got thousands of them floating around out there, so I'd be awfully busy if I wrote a message every time someone found one. I couldn't help myself, though, when I saw the note you left on this bill. What a thrill to know that one of my Georges found its way to a member of the Thunderbirds! I have my Where's George account set up to notify me whenever someone finds one of my bills and enters a note. I just get the beginning of the message, though, so your note said something like "Got it from Nellis Air Force Base Dining...." It wasn't until I logged on to read the whole message that I found out the truly exciting part. The Thunderbirds! Wow!

Today was difficult. I can't say that it gave me flashbacks of 9/11, but there were similarities: Waking up and hearing the news on TV. Searching for numbers -- how many were killed by this hatred? And the one syllable question that won't stop echoing in my head: Why? I don't suppose I'll ever understand the why of this senseless killing; I've been trying to wrap my brain around it for almost four years, and it still eludes me.

I tell you these thoughts, though, because I want to thank you and your team members for giving us all the intangible gift of inspiration and morale. It's easy for us to feel despair when we see evil take the lives of innocents, but it's comforting to witness what our country is capable of -- the skill of those who defend us, the precision of the machines they command. I don't know if you're a pilot or a member of the support team, but you are important to our country. You're an American who makes me proud to say I'm an American.

If you read my Where's George profile, you saw that I promised you wouldn't receive junk mail messages. I won't write to you again. I don't want to be a pest. I just thought for a long time about this message and felt it was important to write it...especially today. I'm so proud one of my dollar bills made it into the hands of someone who is so important to our country. In this one week I've gone from the pride of celebrating America's independence to the sorrow of seeing terror reach out to bring suffering to those who did nothing wrong. In the middle of this, this one little piece of paper gave me a connection to you, one person who is part of the greatest power on earth. Thank you for all you do.

"Just Amy"

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The pool experience

When I was a little girl growing up in Social Circle, GA, there were four pools that I spent considerable time in. The primary one was attached to the Bertha Upshaw Clubhouse, now the Blue Willow Inn. My sisters and I walked the four blocks or so from our house to the pool almost every day. I remember the smell of chlorine and how it turned the blonde girls' hair a shocking green. I remember the taste of Fritos and Fresca -- why I chose to like a diet soda at such a tender age, I'll never know. I didn't drink it because it was low in calories, I drank it because it tasted good to me. Weird kid.

The second pool was at my friend Angie's house. Her family was well off, and I remember marveling at their many toys, from minibikes to a trampoline. Their pool was indoors, with a motorized roof that opened to let the sun in. In Angie's pool I could practice diving, secure in the knowledge that she was about as adept as I. She wouldn't laugh at my inadvertent bellyflops.

Then there was the pool at Fairington Golf and Tennis Club near Atlanta. Mama worked as the secretary for the director of food services there, and I spent one summer taking tennis lessons (and finding out I was really bad at tennis) and splashing in the pool for hours. I loved the deep end and joyfully leaping off the high diving board when Mama wasn't watching. She wouldn't have allowed me if she were around to watch.

And finally, there was the pool that belonged to the Conways. Mr. Conway was a pilot for Delta and had the most beautiful toothy smile. They had a lot of kids -- seven, maybe? -- so their pool was perpetually full of children of all ages, invited by whichever Conway child was closest in age. I was older when I swam in the Conways' pool, and I remember wearing my first grown up bikini and being self conscious about whether the boys were looking. Mrs. Conway assured me they were, and then I think Mama "lost" the bikini.

So now here I am thirty or so years later. I haven't spent much time in pools since my childhood. We took a trip to Edisto Island over a decade ago, so I swam in the ocean then. We went on a cruise in 2002, and I got a swimsuit for that trip. Aside from that, though, I've not had the opportunity (or the inclination) to do much swimming. When we started looking for a house in Las Vegas, though, one of the first ones we saw had a pool. I was sold. We needed a pool. A pool in Vegas was just about the coolest thing I could imagine. We looked at plenty of houses without a pool, but the one that appealed to us the most had a pool and a spa and a sprawling quarter acre lot -- almost unheard of in Las Vegas.

The pool is just as cool as I thought it would be. The temperature today is well over the century mark, somewhere just shy of 110, according to the thermometer on the patio. I spent about 45 minutes in the pool today, just floating around and almost dozing off. The water is as warm as bathwater, and I'm getting a little bit of a tan, something else that's eluded me for a few decades. Paul and I like to turn on the spa on weekend nights and gaze at the stars. (We can locate Orion and the Big Dipper, but the beacon from the Luxor is in a much more predictable location.)

It was a difficult decision to pick up and move from my Tennessee home to the big city of Las Vegas, but I've recaptured one joy from my youth: I can swim in my pool. I wouldn't be caught dead in a bikini and don't care whether any boys are looking. And not even Angie is here to see my bellyflops.