Archive for September, 2016

President Olivia

By
September 19th, 2016



Olivia and her friend Kiryn were trying to talk about the Presidential election, which led to a discussion about what they would do if they ran the country. The following is their list of laws if they were POTUS:

  1. No school on Tuesday (the other days are fun)
  2. Free ice cream every day
  3. Driving allowed at age 13
  4. Bedtime can be 10 p.m. for nine year olds
  5. Free iPads for all kids and all people except old people (30 and up)
  6. Paint the White House pink
  7. Mom and Dad can stay in any room we want in the Pink House
  8. Homes for homeless people (aww, sweet)
  9. Friends come over/ sleep over whenever they want, and no adult supervision
  10. Cake for dinner every night
  11. Pets for everyone
  12. University is free, and the classes can't be too hard

These are my suggestions if I were POTUS:

  1. Nobody works weekends
  2. Outlaw traffic jams
  3. No using weedwhackers or leaf blowers during nap times
  4. Apple will come up with a voice silencer for whining children
  5. Paid maternity and paternity leave for one full year (this is a reality in Scandinavia. So advanced.)
  6. Mandatory daily naps
  7. Naked travelers, so we can get rid of those long TSA lines. Nothing to screen! (Brilliant: everyone will exercise to get in shape, and it will lower medical costs!)
  8. No more wars. World leaders will win decisions via bake offs

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We all sat down and drew our campaign posters. The girls said I have to choose an animal to represent our campaign, and bunny and dog were taken (doh! but what else is there now?!?!) and they wouldn't help me pick an animal because we're opponents, so I came up with panda all on my own. Then they said I had to draw it on my campaign poster; please don't laugh at my horrible job.

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We then drew straws to decide the order of speeches. Claus was told he would be the voting bloc. Hawaii should take a tip and instigate mandatory voting, so we wouldn't be embarrassed year after year with low voter turnout numbers.

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I pulled up my iTunes and we picked introductory music for ourselves as we walked up to the podium (a repurposed stool.) I was not only a Presidential nominee, I was the a/v technician.

If real campaigns were run like this, the media would have no scandal to dig into regarding campaign spending. We spent not one dollar on advertising, convention halls, decorations, staff, or even wardrobe. I think Olivia was wearing one of her cousin's hand-me-down shirts.

There was a little bit of concern from the other candidates that the voter might be biased because I'm the voter's wife, and "everyone knows the moms are the bosses. Is he going to choose you because he has to?" So I gave Claus a Presidential nominee pardon for this one exercise.

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The girls wrote campaign speeches but I winged it because I felt 20 years of newscasting prepared me for this moment. "No fair, you know how to do that!" came the howls of protest.

Hey, life isn't fair. This is politics, baby.

Our combined speeches took ten minutes. Everyone ran a clean campaign; no mud slinging. I was proud of us.

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The media would be so sad if this were real life. How would we go wall-to-wall with coverage for 12 hours? Who would buy election ads?

In the end, Claus would not pick. He decided it would be a draw. He pointed out this would be a great new way to govern, because we can share the responsibility.

The voter

The voter

When the girls are in school, I can be President, and when they're home and I'm tired, they can do it. They thought that was bogus, but I thought that was an interesting solution.

Then the co-Presidents got tired of this; the smaller ones moved on to Shopkins and the grown up one started cooking dinner. If you think about it, the real politicians could learn a lesson from the kids.

Keep it short, keep it tight, play fair, and then move on to something else productive.

Life in the slow lane

By
September 16th, 2016



Most people aspire to have a fancy sports car that goes from zero to 60 mph in three seconds. I currently aspire to the '98 Toyota Tercel - in a metaphorical sense.

My life went so fast when I was anchoring in TV news. The morning show was a blur. The day was a blur. My existence was a blur. It all eventually ran together indistinguishably.

These are my feelings about a particular work schedule at a specific time in my life. It was a unique situation. It took all elements of my life to come together to create this perfect storm.

Now my imaginary Tercel is puttering along in the slow lane. I'm audacious enough to even drive five miles under the speed limit and irritate all the other commuters on the road.

I get up when I want, I do what I want, and I feel no obligation to do anything most days. If I want to figure out how to delete songs off my iTunes for two hours, I do that.

If I want to take Inca to the beach in the middle of the day, I do that. I spent an hour looking at Katy Perry music videos once.

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What I do a lot of, which I find peaceful, is staring at nature. I sit on my balcony and look at the trees, the mountains, the clouds, the birds. I think about the Earth spinning slowly on its axis, and feel like I'm spinning slower and slower on mine.

I see neighborhood cats wandering around, I hear chickens, and I observe the geckos.

I am, to my surprise, way more familiar with gecko behavior than I ever expected I could be. I watch them defend their territory, fight (they stand up sideways on one front and one hind leg to appear bigger), and mate.

I am familiar with the pets' morning routine. Apparently, Inca developed an annoying habit of barking at precisely 8 a.m. until our neighbor comes over with a snack. Inca has Vicki well-trained.

Our cat eats breakfast then scoots over to Vicki's to steal Pretty Boy's leftovers. She doesn't return home until midday, when she goes into the loft for her nap.

I know when the flowers bloom on the Manila palms and I watch the bees come pollinate every morning. Sometimes there's one large anole lizard who creeps among the buds to quietly sun.

Bulbuls, ringnecked doves, Japanese white-eyes, red-crested cardinals, Java sparrows, and the occasional pigeon live in the trees around us. I like to listen to them and watch them at all times of day.

I like that these are the things I know about now. I feel quiet and calm. Gecko fighting is all the drama I want to witness.

Nothing lasts forever. This phase will pass. For now, though, I've pulled my figurative car into the scenic lookout and I'm enjoying the view.

Posted in Career | 7 Comments »

Nothing ventured, everything gained

By
September 14th, 2016



If you'll indulge me kindly, I'd like to blatantly self-promote my new business plan as a Nothing Coach. Previously, I blogged about a new competition I'd like to bring to America that rewards people for doing nothing. (http://smalltalk.staradvertiserblogs.com/2016/09/12/the-coach-of-nothing/)

As I work up the long-term strategy for hyping up this soon-to-be, super awesome challenge that will sweep our nation by storm, I thought I should actually walk the walk if I'm going to talk the talk. So I've been training for Nothing, too.

My training inspiration

My training inspiration

I try to keep my daily agenda to just one thing, if that. Unfortunately, on weekends, I have a lot of mommy obligations, so I have to actually leave the house for hours to shuttle my kid around to lessons, events, and playdates. That's a lot more Something than I care to have in my day.

I don't mean to brag, but I have high natural talent for this. As a recovering Type A personality, when I set my mind to a task, I'm going to do it, and do it well.

I know for a fact I can watch Netflix for hours at a stretch. Six hours a day is my average lately, but my PR (personal record, for you non-athletes) is ten with combined split times. (Just a little more industry jargon there to sound impressive.)

I'm also able to lie in bed and stare at the ceiling in the morning, think about getting up, and then drift back to sleep again. I can do this for several revolutions. The hard part is ignoring my family's various noises as they get ready for their day, but it's good for training.

Unfortunately, one's greatest strength is also one's greatest weakness, so curses if that Type A mindset doesn't come around to bite me in the butt sometimes. The other day, I had not one but two goals for the entire day: 1) Turn on A/C; 2) Find Costco.com password.

Who sets two goals for the day?! For an athlete like me, one should be enough.

And, sidebar, I realize you can click the "I forgot my password" button and then you can reset it or some such, but I lose interest after hitting the button. I never follow through with the next step. It's been half a year and I just can't seem to find the energy to go forward.

So the whole day goes by and I did turn on the air conditioner - amazing job, Me - but I did not fiddle with the password. I didn't even do step one. It's just such a drain when I think about it.

I was kind of feeling like a failure when I realized, I'm actually a huge success. Because if I set two goals but I only accomplished one, isn't that closer to doing nothing? Holy mother-of-pearl, I am such an overachiever I impress myself.

This. This is the kind of superior leadership I could offer in your conditioning to be a Nothing athlete. Sign with me and there's nada chance you'll fail.

Special introductory offer: First three months free, promo code #spacecadet.

The Coach of Nothing

By
September 12th, 2016



If you noticed, I capitalized Coach and Nothing in the headline. That's because it's a title I'm giving myself. It's my new job path.

Some people are Life Coaches. I'm going to be a Nothing Coach. People can pay me... for nothing!

There's a new-ish competition in South Korea that rewards doing nothing. The person who can space out the longest, wins.

I'm not sure what they win, but in a culture that values competitiveness, I'm sure bragging rights is just fine.

It started in 2014, and according to Mashable.com, participants "adhere to rules that disallowed phones, talking, checking your watches and dozing off." There's even a panel of judges watching to make sure you follow the rules.

I know this will go over big in America. First, I need to organize a contest for the US to raise awareness for this new sport. I will call it "Spacing Out: The Final Frontier- presented by Diane Ako, Coach of Nothing."

If nothing else, I've learned from my PR days to make sure to work my sponsorship into the official name. Ha! Now you have to say my business name every time you report about it!

My company mission statement: "Why be a hero when you can do zero?"

You can get people to do anything as long as you call it a contest. Think of the weird ones that already exist: The Beard and Moustache Contest, Worm Charming Championships, Baby Crying Challenges, Toe Wrestling, Bee Wearing, and Nailympia, "the Olympics of Nails," to name a few. I don't make this up.

The Korean rules sound reasonable. I'll borrow that, but I'm going to add a level of difficulty. The second phase will include distractions to tempt you, like snacks, drinks, or the Olympic Tongan flag bearer.

My coaching technique will borrow from my own life experiences. It will include making you babysit a room full of toddlers all by yourself for a week. You will have lost your mind and then you will need a long stretch of space to do the Thousand Mile Stare while you recover your energy.

You will be still sitting on the lawn staring into space when the organizers are taking down the event signs and the judges' table. Someone will go back out there the next morning and find you still sitting there.

In keeping with the contest theme, we will not give away a prize. You win... nothing!

So, who's with me? Team Ako! Here goes nothing!

Posted in Career | 3 Comments »

Miss Ocho goes to school

By
September 9th, 2016



Once again, the annual trotting out of the family cat occurred at Olivia's school for Sharing Day. I packed up the cat up and gave her a pep talk about how exciting this was going to be for her.

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"I hate every single one of you."

She goes out once a year and therefore this little outing prevents her from qualifying as an official shut-in. Besides, this is how she earns her keep.

She is 13 so she really doesn't hunt birds or cockroaches anymore. In fact, the birds come into our garage to wait for her breakfast leftovers.

I think they're actually friends now. At the very least, they have come to a detente.

The understanding is they ignore each other. I don't appreciate this. I don't like birds in my garage.

It brings Olivia and her classmates much joy to have a kitty in class. It's OK as long as I come and go with the cat as soon as the show-and-tell is over. Cat can't hang out all day.

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"Hands! Hands! So many hands!"

I put a pretty pearl necklace on Ocho for her big moment, and brought a bag to hold her in. We didn't let the cat out of the bag.

Olivia proudly stood up in the front of class and recited a few facts about her pet, and answered some questions. Claus was there too, and we were proud of her for speaking loudly and clearly and not being shy. It make us happy to see her so happy.

Afterwards, the children lined up to pet her. This went over quite well.

"Deep breaths. Deep breaths. This too shall pass."

"Deep breaths. Deep breaths. This too shall pass."

Ocho is a very good kitty and didn't struggle or complain. She didn't love it (you don't say!), but she tolerated it well.

Claus and I brought her home and took bets on where she'd run first: the yard for freedom, or the attic, her "safe place." He won.

It's the little things. I like that the cat is my main drama and gossip for the day. I like that the classroom constitutes a large part of my social life for this week.

The cat's happy too, now. She can go back to her normal pattern of eat, rest, repeat for the next 364 days. I hope that's enough recovery time for Ocho.

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