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Sunday, September 28, 2008

The next generation moves on, out and up

It's awfully quiet around here this week. Rene is flying out of New York today, Stacy's been in San Francisco for a couple of months now, and even our nephew, Matt, left for Air Force boot camp two weeks ago. Almost all the kids are adults! When did that happen?

Here are some updates on the kids:

Rene will be in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia for around 3 months for training. Then she'll be on her own, with a job and her own apartment in a town somewhere in the country. In the meantime, the best way to catch up with her will be via email, her blog whereisrene.wordpress.com/ and Facebook—though she told us today that the Peace Corps will only pay for 15 hours per month of internet service. Seems like an awfully short time, but I told her to write in advance and post quickly! No Skype calls for casual purposes; no surfing the net for fun; no long video chats. That's a major lifestyle change for her!

Stacy is keeping busy in SFO canvassing for the DNC during the week, helping out in the home of a family friend on weekends and interviewing for Social Work positions. Her biggest learning seems to be that in San Fran, you really need to speak Spanish and Mandarin Chinese to get a position with a non-profit social work program. I see Spanish language classes in her future.

I don't have much news for now about our nephew Matt, as he's at Lackland AFB in Texas and won't get many opportunities to call home for the first eight weeks. We can write him though... contact me or his Dad if you want his address. I'm sure mail from friends and family will fill his lonely times.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

But, is Macedonia ready for Rene?

On September 22, Rene will say bye-bye to warm and dry Phoenix and zoom off to Philadelphia. This is the "staging," or jumping off point for her Peace Corp assignment in Macedonia: a two year placement with a non-governmental org, plus an extra 3 months tacked on up front for language immersion and training in-country with a host family.

As you can probably imagine, we are experiencing equal amounts of excitement, anxiety, fear, worry, happiness and great pride in our globe-trekking daughter (go ahead and throw in a little frustration with all that, too!) As I write this, Rene is busily trying to fulfill her Bon Voyage Bucket List: visiting with friends one last time, last minute shopping, packing, throwing out old stuff, and even spending an evening with a Macedonian family for some much needed cultural tips. Too bad she doesn't have the resources Jack Nickelson's character was able to tap in the movie; things would go a little faster, I think.

We had a little bon voyage party for her on Sunday, and lot's of people got a chance to come by and wish her well. I'm glad she had this chance to see her friends and family--two years is a very long time, and lots of things can change. It's said that some Peace Corps volunteers can never make the transition back to "home" after their service... it's that life-altering an experience for them! Heck, the tagline on the website says it all: "Life is calling. How far will you go?"

We, in turn, are learning a lot about her new host country, and lots of people are asking questions about her upcoming service. A great place to go for information and enlightenment is always the internet, so of course a link to a site about Macedonia, by Macedonians, is called for here: http://www.macedonia.org/.

Also, the Peace Corp's website is especially helpful, with general information about the area Rene will be working in: http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm? shell=learn.wherepc.easteurope.macedonia. They also have a lot of info about the types of things volunteers will be dealing with, testimonials, answers to questions from friends and families of volunteers, and lots of other cool stuff.

Rene is going to try to manage a blog...if all the internet connection stars in the universe are lined up favorably! The address is http://whereisrene.wordpress.com. She has already posted her first message, so please don't be shy! Post comments and questions for her to answer--it'll keep her connected to home, and we'll get a little education along with her. She hasn't got contact information about her destination yet, so this will be the perfect tool to keep up with her (though not as timely or intimate as some may wish).

Just so you know, she can have visitors after the initial three month training period and once she's established in her final position. It takes several month's advance notice... but the Peace Corp even encourages it, (great way to get new recruits!) Hmmm, anyone up for a trip to Greece?

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Monday, September 15, 2008

And the question is: What country lies north of Greece?

Yes, Rene get's all the luck!

She's going to fulfill her duties with the Peace Corps in Macedonia! A country just north of Greece and, per their own website, "Macedonia is known for hospitality, rich culture and history, and love for good wine and great traditional food."

How does she do it?

Dog saves his master by dialing 911

Wow, it would be cool if Norma could have a dog like this...unfortunately, she'd have to be disciplined enough to remember the dog's commands and keep up with training, and that part is hard for her. Found this in the AZ Republic newspaper on Monday morning. You can click the link for up to a month, but it's not permanent.

Associated Press Writer

"Man's best friend" doesn't go far enough for Buddy — a German shepherd who remembered his training and saved his owner's life by calling 911 when the man had a seizure.

And it's not the first time Buddy has been there for owner Joe Stalnaker, a police officer said Sunday.

On a recording of the 911 call Wednesday, Buddy is heard whimpering and barking after the dispatcher answers and repeatedly asks if the caller needs help.

"Hello, this is 911. Hello ... Can you hear me? Is there somebody there you can give the phone to," says the dispatcher, Chris Trott...

...go to the article on AZCentral.com to read more and hear the recording.
Dog calls 911 after owner has seizure from Associated Press

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Parking Spot is Johnny on the Spot

As mentioned previously, we had a challenging night on our return from a recent trip to Castroville. Following is a letter I wrote to my local airport parking garage in gratitude for helping us in a tight situation:

Thank you so much to the caring and concerned employees at the Phoenix Parking Spot!

On the evening of August 25, as my daughter, my mom and I were returning from our weekend trip, my mom had a very difficult and sudden gran mal seizure. We were just getting ready to depart our shuttle when this happened and luckily we were the last drop for the driver.

I especially want to express my gratitude to our driver--I don't think he had ever seen a person in this state, and he was quite frightened! At first I assured him that it was a fairly normal health condition for my mom and that she should be OK in a couple of minutes. He kept calm and helped my daughter to load our bags in the car while awaiting the end of the seizure.

But, then, as Mom's seizure peaked, ebbed and then returned, (not normal!) we decided to call for an ambulance. Our driver drove us to the front of the lot so the ambulance could find us easily. At that time I lost track of our driver, who I'm sure by then must have been feeling quite unnerved. A seizure is hard to witness, and it is difficult for those who've never seen one to stay calm. But, it's also important to note that most times, a person seizing doesn't require emergency services.

In this case it turned out that Mom's seizure was was not normal and that she was also having a slight heart attack at the same time. She was taken to the hospital, and after a 5 day stay, is now home and recovering very well!

I'm so grateful to all the staff at the Parking Spot for helping us the way they did. One of the gentlemen brought us some bottles of water, which in all the excitement we promptly forgot about--I hope the emergency techs were able to take advantage of the generous offer. The staff even comped our parking fees for that weekend, so that we could quickly exit and follow the ambulance to the hospital.

I apologize to anyone at the Parking Spot who may have been deeply frightened by this event--a seizure is always quite dramatic, and this one was doubly so because not only was emergency help required, but there was a tremendous thunderstorm pounding overhead!

The Parking Spot already had a loyal customer before this event because of your courteous staff, ease of entry and exit, and quick airport pickup and drop-off services. But now, I can only say, you guys ROCK!

Thanks for caring!!
Terry Rohrs and family

I received a very nice reply from them on the same day. These guys are quick responders all the way around! They've got my back everytime I fly. (Names are removed in respect for those who are unaware I'm posting this response.)

Hello Terry:

On behalf of The Parking Spot and our PHX team, we truly appreciate your kind words via our message center. I am glad our Driver ... was able to assist you during your challenging situation. In addition, I am proud of our Assistant Manager ... for stepping in to comp your stay and bring you water. Most importantly, its good to know that your family is doing ok.

Thanks for being a loyal customer and we look forward to servicing you on future trips.

Sales Director
The Parking Spot

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