Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Course of Action

I wrote yesterday about the dilemma of giving it away for free.

Social media is an interesting medium. It's very easy to get drawn into, spend all your time tweeting or on facebook or linked in. Next thing you know the day is about done. I admire people like Chris Brogan who appear to be ON all the time.

The key word is Appear. Chris is one smart cookie. He has a plan. He can see light at the end of the tunnel. Part of his plan is helping others. It's a BIG part of his plan. He helps others for a reason. They ask for help. Keith Burtis does the same thing. Both of them learn so much from teaching! I'm beginning to see the benefits in helping in this medium. (see yesterdays comments from Keith, really eye opening.)

Yesterdays post was a sorting out of thoughts running in my head. I can look at it today and see just how I am NOT managing my time effectively. This month I'll be using some new tools to create a better working schedule for me. I'm also exploring the notion that I don't have to get everything done early. On time is fine.

I DO like answering questions, exploring options and running things up the flag pole to see how it flies.

Please call me, ask questions and lets figure some things out. I may ask you if we can continue the conversation on another day. I really like the idea of Fridays being my learning day. I am not going to charge you for having a conversation with me. That's just too silly, isn't it?

picture courtesy of Dimitri N over at flickr.com

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dilemma for the network communicator

I've spent the last year studying the phenomenon known as social media - or as I now like to call it - networked communications. I've always networked in work and life - and this was a great fit for me. I took the skills I had, am honing the ones I'm learning - and have figured out a couple of ways to make them useful to me.

I've learned twitter, Facebook, blogging, linkedin, google docs (all things google really), slideshare, flickr, and use them all in my business. (By the way, there are no social media experts. The medium changes way too fast for that.) There is a lot more out there - and I've chosen to get better at just a few of them.

I operate several businesses under the umbrella Debworks. One of those is working with small businesses to determine if they need an online marketing plan, what that plan can be, implementing it and teaching someone how to take it from there.

I also work with team mates and lateral team mates on setting up accounts for Melaleuca. I volunteer at various organizations in my community. I belong to the Chamber of Commerce. I travel for family and for business. I take care of my elderly parents. I'm busy.

Because I network so much, I am starting to have a problem.

People want me to teach them how to use some of these social media tools. For free. I hem and haw about the answer to that. I am in the process of setting up some things so my associates and their friends can utilize some of my teachings in a better way. But it's not going to be free. And the tools I and my team are creating are not ready yet.

It was a lovely process (is a lovely process really) for me to learn how to do these things. It's even fun teaching others. But imagine this --- I could spend 4-5 hours EACH day helping someone. That's 4-5 hours away from my business.

It's not that I don't want to be there - to help and answer questions. It is that I need to work my business FIRST.

I've blogged about how to twitter and blog (see the labels on the right?). I suggest people review that first. Then let's talk some. That way you will have a more focused idea of what you want to know.

Then I'm going to take a page out of Keith Burtis' manual. I'm going to work for one hour a week with someone who asks for my help, and really wants to work with me. I think Fridays are a good day to do that. I was one of the fortunate ones in that Keith worked with me. He was HUGE in my twitter success.

It's just hard to figure out where to draw the line between being helpful .... and as my friend Jenn says ... in being a sucker.

Anyone got some brilliant ideas? I'd love to hear them!

Lively discussion has ensued and I just got this youtube post from Seth Godin - who really is often the last word for me. I see the synchronicity of my day here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

No More Social Media

Networked Communications.

Doesn't that sound much clearer than Social Media? Steve Woodruff wrote about it on his Sticky Figure blog. I've been looking for just the right words to describe what it is I do. It's so much more than just writing a blog and talking on twitter and Facebook.

It's now a two way street of communicating. I'm not telling you something. I'm having a conversation with you. I'm showing you a picture and expecting a response from you. I'm sharing links and hoping you'll be as excited as I am about them. I'm marketing my business in a new way that involves you. I'm painting a picture of who I am and building your trust in me.

The new way of business requires networked communications. We are all connected.

Friday, June 26, 2009

3 Girls Party

There's a good saying "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em".

I live in a county of 10,000 people and most everyone knows everyone - or at least their families. Branding is real important out here. Also, people want to see you can stay in business and are trustworthy before they buy from you.

My friend Denise is an independent Watkins associate and our mutual friend Michelle is a representative for Tupperware brands. Both of them are Melaleuca customers. I know how important it is to both of them to be seen as the great businesswomen they are, representing a great product. They are doing their homework on building the brand and being their word (building trust).

The three of us decided to throw a party. Tuesday June 30th at the Geneva United Methodist Church from 6:30 to 8:30.

Denise will cook using Watkins spices (and she is a great cook!). Michelle will show how to store the cooked products with her Tupperware. And I will show how to clean up with non-toxic Melaleuca products.

We chose a location that can be intimate enough if we get a small turnout, or large enough and everyone can see and hear if we get a large turnout. I've gotten 15 confirmations so far -- it's looking good! The location will also be easy enough to clean up and everyone knows where it is.

We chose a weeknight because its summer in the country. A lot of people go camping or out of town for the weekends. There are baseball games, municipal band concerts and other events - but that is everyday. We did our best to find a date that works for everyone.

We decided it would be a party, a lot of fun and no stress. If we get new customers, that's great! It's all a part of our branding strategy -- give people a chance to see who we are, what we do and how we do it.

What are you doing Tuesday night at 6:30? Why not stop on over?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lasting Impressions

Yesterday I talked about what my tattoo looks like.

Now, how did I choose who would do my tattoo?

The most common way people choose their artist is by word of mouth. You've seen someone's tattoo and really like it. That held true for me as well. My neice has a tattoo I really like so I asked her who did it.

Izzy at Lasting Impressions. I called and made an appointment for early June. My friend and I were both going. About a week prior, our schedules changed and we needed to reschedule. So I called again and talked to Katie.

The only day we could go was on a Tuesday. Katie does her job well. Izzy is off on Tuesdays. However, she informed me Jameela is one of the best tattoo artists she's ever seen. Katie talked about her work, her love for the art and personally recommended Jameela's work.

I'm a feminist at heart, and believe as women we need to support each other. I made the appointment with Jameela.

Jameela is indeed a talented artist. She also lived in Athens Greece for a number of years and was able to verify my words were correct, and she drew out the tattoo freehand and it was perfect. Jameela did Keri's tattoo (see part of the process in the picture). It took longer than expected and she had to pick her brother up from the airport.

She gave me a choice: wait until tomorrow or have Taylor, her protege, do my tattoo. Wow! I'd waited and finally made up my mind, drove 50 miles and now my artist can't do it! My reasonable brain understood her reason. My nervous brain was freaking out. I had seen Jameela's work, but who is this Taylor ? What about my decision to support the women of the world? All that synchronicity was flying out the window.

I thought about what my tattoo was going to say. Peace. Be still. I took a moment and calmed down. I then went and looked at Taylor's work (all good artists have a book with pictures of their work). I already had the design drawn up, he would be just doing the tattoo. I said yes, Taylor can do it.

It turned out just fine. Taylor was patient, took time to answer my one million questions and did the procedure as painlessly as possible. I do love my tattoo.

Now let's look at the process and see where we can overlay it onto other areas of our lives.

How To Make A Good Decision

1. Look for examples of what you want, and then ask for referrals.
2. Be flexible, being rigid often requires going against the flow.
3. Don't freak out. Take a minute or two to step away from the situation, get calm and then decide.
4. Be thankful.

Lasting Impressions
114 Welch Avenue
Ames Iowa

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Peace. Be Still.

Yesterday I got a tattoo.

I've been considering getting one for about 4 years now. Getting a tattoo is a serious endeavor. First you have to decide you want to. Then you should decide what that tattoo will be or say. They you have to find a talented tattoo artist. Finally, you get the tattoo.

I already have a small penguin tattoo on my ankle. I got 'Fred' for my 40th birthday. As you get to know me, you know I love penguins. That tattoo just made sense.

This tattoo took a lot of thinking about. I wanted something Greek, and something with peace in it. My house has many pictures representing peace. We lovingly call it the house of peace and there is no arguing and yelling allowed. You have to go out side to do that. I love Greece and have been there 3 times, with more visits planned. I think I must have been Greek in another lifetime.

Sunday in church the preacher talked about the Scripture where Jesus is asleep in the bottom of the boat and a storm comes in. His disciples freaked out and woke him up, wanting to know what to do. Jesus said "Peace! Be still" and the waters calmed.

I knew right then what I'd have my tattoo say. Often I'm at ends with myself, frustrated or just too busy. If Jesus can calm the waters, I can look at the words and calm myself.

I chose an olive branch - the symbol of peace. I choose the Greek Words for Peace, Be still.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Build It and They Will Come

I'm looking for this kind of conference to attend:
  • In January and someplace warm - I'm thinking Sante Fe
  • I can bring my family and they can play while I work
  • as a matter of fact, I can take family breaks and play with them
  • there's a pool and great restaurants
  • a little sight seeing
  • I can be with other conference attendees who want to do what I want to do
  • say I have a project I can't get completed, I'd like to work on it
  • there's no line of people giving lectures
  • there's no set schedule really, just a braintrust of people doing their own projects
  • all the attendees are as smart as me (or preferrably smarter)
  • I have fun, get a lot of projects off the ground AND get to be with my family
  • the cost for the conference is not $1000, it's maybe only $100, maybe less

There's no conference like that. Yet.

We're working on it. You interested?

picture courtesy of davidw at flickr.com

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day in Our House

Father's Day may be a Hallmark holiday. We don't care - we take it very seriously.

My dad has a bad heart, bad knees and early Alzheimers. Some days are better than others. All his days are numbered. Some days he's a real character. Some days he can be an asshole. Most days he doesn't remember the day before.

Here's the thing, imperfect as he is - he's been there. There are 24 million people in the U.S. who were raised with no father present. My dad taught me the power in working hard. I learned to be my word from my Dad. I can argue with the best of them - and my dad was often my debate partner (on the other side).

Happy Father's Day Dad!

(picture taken last winter - hat was a gift from me, sucker a gift from his 4 y/o great grandson. )

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I've been thinkin' ......

I've started Debworks and then got lost in trying to make it 'perfect'. The perfect rate sheet. The perfect description of what I do. The perfect website. The perfect mindset. The perfect circle of associates. The perfect clients.

I hate that word perfect. It's not working! I find myself frozen when I have to work on something I need to be perfect. There is no perfect.

Neal Donald Walsh said this:

Many people live within a "you-made-your-bed, now-you-have-to-lie-in-it" paradigm, in which they hold the thought that whatever they decide about their life mission, life purpose, life goals, and overall life agenda has to be the "right" decision, or they will have "messed things up." In fact, in every creative process (and creating one's whole life is certainly that), nothing stops the forward momentum faster than the idea that "I have to get this right."

With regard to that, my father taught me something wonderful and really quite extraordinary when I was a teenager. "Son," he said during a time when I was striving very hard to do something to perfection, "there is no `right way' to do anything. There's only the way you are doing it.

So I'm letting go of the need to be perfect. I am striving to be better. I'm working towards a great business. I'm asking for help and offering assistance. I'm really just being me, in the moment, and having fun.

The photo is me in front of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. It's a perfect building -- yet it's in ruins.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Focus and Good Leadership

Day one of Communitelligence Conference! All of the sharepoint presentations and audio are available online for conference participants. In this post I'm going to give you the takeaways for me from this morning's speakers.

Kris Taylor from K.Taylor and Associates started us off by setting some focus. We took a look at what the intentions would be for the day.
  • How valuable do you plan for this day to be?
  • How participatory do you plan on being?
  • How much risk do you plan on taking today?
  • How vested are you in the well being of the group?

With those intentions, I decided I would really participate, make comments, take notes, tweet the event and see what I could contribute to the group.

Tom Lee Arceil Leadership Ltd. Robust Credibility and the Three Voices of Leadership highlights and notes :

Number one issue we face in corporate communication is not social media – the number one challenge is trust . the 2009 Edelman report on trust shows corporate America is trusted about 20% of the time. We, as corporate America, have not done what we said we were going to do.

His Rainbow model moves us through a process. Awareness, understanding, acceptance, commitment and finally engagement. Most companies are well managed by poorly led! Leadership is all about change and management is not comfortable with change.

Common to all great things over history is
  • single minded intense focus
  • object of deep curiosity
  • subject of consuming passion and
  • product of someones enduring courage .

There are three voices when you communicate with your employees.

Formal voice -- this is all the media things – words, numbers, pictures and images that convey official information and voices – less than 10%of all employee perception are attributed to this .

Semi formal voice – institutional management tools that implicitly, often inadvertently establishes priorities and signals an organization is ready for change. If this in incompatible with your formal voice, you lose.

Informal voice -- a leadership connection that culturally defines the organization and determines where and how people fit in – the relationship between the boss and you is in the informal voice.

Are your three voices aligned? Is your message consistent?

If we are not minding the store on trust and authenticy, we are squandering the future of our enterprise.

How does all of this translate into meaning for my business? After every good meeting, you need to ask yourself: what is my next step? Do I have a way to put these items into action?

1.I like setting the focus each day. To be intentional about what the day will be like. I can ask those questions of myself each morning – and then live into my answers.
2.I can manage anything, but am I being a good leader? Am I capable of making the change I need to further my business? If I take a good look at what I'm doing – I will ask myself these questions:
  • can I have a single minded focus on this topic?
  • Am I curious about what I'm doing here?
  • Am I passionate about it?
  • Can I have the courage to continue?
3.My conversations, both internally and externally need to be in sync. What can I do to make that happen today?
4.Am I trustworthy? Have I built that into my business plan?

Bullseye picture courtesy the marque

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Social Media Inside A Company

Innovating Employee Engagement meets Executing Social Media.

This conference is the 16th and 17th in Chicago and there will be around 50 attendees. I've been asked to represent bloggers and twitterers and small media. I will attend all the sessions and follow in this blog and on twitter (hashtag #commtell09).

Conference details are here.

There are some things Communitelligence (the event host) is doing. I like that they have set up a private communications area for all attendees, including the speakers. You can upload a photo, go into detail of your life, add links and even blog. They have a resource directory (where you can add your company), a section for elearning, a participation page and a calendar. Great ideas for both speakers and participants!

Looking at the list of speakers and their topics, I am hopeful. I hope this conference is more than a group of lecture series strung together. I am hopeful they really will show us how to engage with your employees and use social media strategies internally. I am hopeful that the HR and internal communications people at the companies attending are in tune with their employees. That will enable them to bring home valuable ideas out of this conference.

Some exciting news: there's a couple of sponsors that I know - and they rock! Mashable, Social Media Club, and food for thought. I'm interested in knowing more about the other sponsors and hope to conduct interviews with their representatives that are there.

Stay tuned --- let's see if we can learn how to engage in social media internally.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Yesterday Was A Good Day

Friday, June 12, was a good day here at Debworks.

I enrolled two new customers to Melaleuca. I accepted an offer to represent the media at a conference in Chicago next week. I completed two issues of my newspaper and posted many blog posts to the www.readhampton.com so my readers won't miss a thing while I'm gone. We got my dad to rehab to help strengthen his weakened muscles.

That's a whole lot of good luck in one day!

But wait, is it really good luck?

Actually, no it's not. Good luck is really just when preparation meets opportunity.

Let's take a closer look at how these events came about.

I have been having conversations (in person, over the phone, via email) with my two new customers. The young lady, I first did a presentation for her ONE YEAR AGO. She's a new friend from my community. We have spoken once a month since June 2008 about Melaleuca. No pressure - just a few tidbits of information and asking "are you ready to be a customer?" I gave her information so she could compare our products to what she is currently using. She called me yesterday and said she was ready. We did the deal right over the phone - and she is now happy.

The young man I enrolled last night is a busy man. He's got a family and a demanding job. The hardest part for him was sitting down with his wife for one hour and viewing our online live presentation. After about four months, we both finally had last night at 8 p.m. open - and we watched the presentation online. He's a smart guy - and realizes the value of the products and the company and how his life will be improved by being a customer. We completed his enrollment online. Easy breezy.

I got a twitter Wednesday suggesting I should fill out a form to be eligible to represent the blogging/twitter media at a conference in Chicago next week. I filled out the form. I got an email Thursday night offering the position to me! I did accept and will be attending the conference and writing about it. I started studying in depth social media last October. I was laid off and realized I needed to have multiple streams of income. I've done (and continue to do) my homework. I attended the Successful Outstanding Bloggers Conference in May, where I met many like minded people. I started Debworks as a business this month. Reporting about this conference is just perfect. I will be learning about using social media for businesses - and also how to be using it internally. I'll meet the presenters and get interviews with them. It will provide another avenue to my business that I can roll into what it is I can do for my clients.

I collect stories, conduct interviews, take pictures and talk to people about Franklin County all the time. I also write all the time. It's nice to have plenty of articles and news for the times when I need to compile all that information in one day. It's a process. One that works for me.

My dad's heart works at 20% and won't get better. It's hard for him to get around - and he uses a walker. For the last six months, he's been sitting in his chair an awful lot. He says it hurts to walk. His feet hurt. His head hurts. His body hurts. My brother and I do what we can to get him out and about. Lately, it hasn't been working. Mom and I went to Public Health (a great group here locally that supports our community and offers services and advice to all income levels). They suggested we talk to his doctor and get a prescription for physical therapy. We went the doctor and had the conversation and he heartily agreed.

Yesterday we took dad for his first appointment. He got a chance to tell a professional (not his family) what was happening and what he wanted. She worked with him - made him sweat! He's got to stay active or he will lose his mobility. We'll be going three times a week for a month. She will give him exercises to do at home. Sometimes you just need a third party validation to what you know is right. The payoff for me? My dad will live longer and have a better quality of life.

So was I lucky Friday? Nope. I was blessed. See what a little work and perservence will do for you?

picture is of a home office I particularly like from Jeremy Levine Design.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Setting Guidelines

I am in the process of setting up the guidelines for the work I'll be doing under the umbrella Debworks. It's been an interesting process.

I've from the school of thought that you learn as you teach. Now, teachers get paid. Students don't. I've been a student who has shared her information with her friends and coworkers. I am now stepping into the teaching phase of my life.

And I still have people asking me 'just one question'. And expecting an answer for free. Where do you draw the line? And how do you draw the line?

My main local focus is working with small businesses in my county helping them to get a handle on social media. They know they need it (or think they do) but have no idea how to go about it. I'll consult with them, help them find a direction and show them how to go down that road.

My Melaleuca business is growing, and social media solutions are helping. Of course I will work with my team - they earn, I earn. But what about the side teams? It makes me no money answering all of their questions. As a matter of fact, it takes away from my time I could be doing something else. I'm exploring ebooks for this industry - and think I'll be writing some of them.

Where do you draw the line with giving information away for free --- or charging for it?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Growing Pains

Have you noticed a lack of posts everyday? Me too!

I am revamping my site, adding things, removing things and restructuring my business. It should be close to completed this week. I didn't want you to think I wasn't blogging.

Since I started this blog late last October, a lot of things have happened. I've met incredible new friends and mentors, branched out on my own in the social media world -- and my business is growing as a result!

So pardon my dust, enjoy the ride -- and watch for the posts sharing how things are going, and just how maybe you can try some growth too.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Don't Take It Personally

9 Immutable Laws of Not Taking Things Personally
by Christine Kane

I always tell people that there's nothing like the entertainment business to teach you how to not take things personally! 

Really though, there's opportunity in EVERY business to get this same lesson. It's about learning to live as a creator, and not as a reactor. 

In my work, both as a coach and as a coachee, one of the common challenges is about not taking things personally. That's because moving forward, getting bigger, and living your dreams require that you step out of the petty concerns of your small self. You simply can no longer afford to waste that kind of energy and attention. 

So, here are the 9 Immutable Laws of Not Taking Things Personally. Let them guide you to bigger places in your world! 


A well-loved acronym, this stands for "Some will. Some won't. So what? Someone's waiting!" 

It means that some people will love what you do. 

Then there will be those who look at your work, read your poems, review your resume, visit your store - and they'll shrug and say, "Yea, not so much." 

So what? 

Somewhere out there someone is waiting for your gift. And if you have to keep working on your craft, or wait a little while, that's okay! 

2 - Know your "Why." 

This is what Sheri McConnell (my coach) says to me if I ever get afraid of stepping out in a bigger way. 

Your WHY is your deeper motivation. Your WHY is your guideline. Your WHY will help you dismiss the minor petty things that try to hold you back. If you don't know your WHY, it might be time to get clear

3 - Remember that people are busy. 

People are busy. 

Don't sink into resentment when a single email isn't answered. It's not personal. Many times, it's just that people don't have time to answer every email. We all have a lot on our plates. It's not personal if you have to try someone twice or three times! (Revisit #1.) 

4 - Email is instant. Use accordingly. 

The rapid pace of our culture has removed much of the etiquette that some might normally expect. Most people just "fire off" email without thinking. 

If you get an email that hurts or feels personal, take some time to chill out. Then re-read the email in a kind voice. Be careful with the temptation to over-dramatize someone else being in a hurry. 

5 - Begin each day with presence. 

How you begin your day sets the tone for the day. 

Learn to start your day by getting centered with creative and proactive activities. Some possibilities: meditation, yoga, going to the gym, writing down goals and intentions, visioning your day in advance. Start with a strong foundation each day. 

6 - Eat enough. Sleep enough. 

Being tired or hungry will make you more sensitive or irritable. Don't try to function well in these draining conditions. 

7 - The power of lists. 

Are you hoping for the ONE BIG THING that will be your "saving grace?" This is a veritable petri dish for taking things personally! 

Examples: Applying for a scholarship to one single program. Submitting your article off to one magazine. Waiting to hear back from one single new client. 

There's a better way. Before you send yourself out into the world - be it resume, grant, publication - make a list of many options. Then, move down the list if someone says no. Find the someone who's waiting. 

8 - Shut up and listen 

When you quietly listen, you may actually see humor in how you can take everything so personally. 

When you're in a conversation with someone else, stop and listen. Really deeply listen. Try practicing this first in everyday conversations that aren't emotional. This will prepare you for more highly charged situations. 

9 - Communicate without Emotion 

Do you use phrases like this?

- "Well, you're the one who..."

- "You took that all wrong!"

- "You ALWAYS do that!"

- "I'll NEVER make it!" 

Notice that this language is laced with drama and blame. 

Language is a very powerful tool. Learn to use words that aren't about the emotions and pointing fingers.

"I didn't communicate this well so let me try again."

"I'm not sure I understand you. Can we discuss this on the phone?" 

Learn to take a "Here's the facts ma'am" approach. Write out your desired outcome for the conversation. Get clear inside yourself, and then talk with the other person.

Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her 'LiveCreative' weekly ezine with more than 4,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative atwww.christinekane.com.

Thanks Christine for the guest post! 

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Promise is a Promise

On June 1 I promised myself better health.  

I ordered the Slim in 6 video thinking okay, this might work.

I started today.

Yeah, it's going to work.  I am so out of shape. (How out of shape are you?) A sloth gets more exercise than me.  

I am quite happy I got through the first 20 minutes.  Marching, plies, squats, sit ups, push ups.  Yup, I did them.  And I'm going to do them for two weeks.  Every day.  Then its on to another section of the program.  

So my form sucked.  I was out of breath.  I marched in place a lot.  Who cares?  I'm moving.  

It would be hard to climb Machu Piccu in the condition I'm in.  But here's a secret -- and you might want to write this down -- You have to see yourself as you want to be.  Really see yourself there.  Imagine what you'd be doing, how you'd feel, what people would say to you.  

So every step I took, was a step up the mountain.  I heard the crowd cheer when I finished.  I did an interview with NBC, Matt, about my accomplishments.  I WAS THERE.  

Another secret.  You can do the same activity with your business.  Plan it out, implement the plan and see your success.  

picture from this site (no affiliation ,great pic! ) 

future updates about my wellness journey will be at www.needalittleadvice.com 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jeff goes to Dubai

Jeff Christiansen is in Dubai for business.  It's a 14 hour plane ride, and they are 10 hours ahead of us!  Jeff has been chronicling his trip on Facebook and has agreed to share pictures and comments here with us.  We will interview Jeff when he arrives home and get all the details then.  For now, these are pictures and comments from Jeff.  Enjoy!  

Arrived May 27th.  This is a picture of me with the Jumeirah hotel in the background. All rooms are suites.

Friday morning: Visited the Mall of Emirates, Jumeirah, Al Qasr Hotel, and the beach this morning. Tonight it is Dune Bashing in the desert, then dinner in tents in the middle of the desert with belly dancers. Hmmm, this aint Iowa.

Mall of the Emirates - inside ski slope, complete with lift.  It's 110 degrees outside!

Al Qasr Hotel- This is a resort. The rooms are like villas all surrounded by water in canals, so you take a boat everywhere.  One of the villas is $10,000 a day to stay!

Friday evening: The Dune Bashing was great. Imagine hundreds of Land Rovers and Jeeps tearing around the dunes in the desert. I asked after it was over if they have ever rolled one... "Oh yes it happens quite a bit, that is why we have these roll bars" with an Arabian accent. Glad I asked AFTER! Dining with a belly dancer was interesting, but the food was great. Not sure what I ate other than lamb.

People watching the ATV's on the sand dunes.  The Al Ahbob desert that we went dune bashing in. Yep it is as hot as it looks.

Camel rides at the camp.

The drive to the sheik's palace was lined with these peacocks. Tried to talk the driver into
 stopping in and saying "Hey from Iowa Sheik".

The tables we at at. This was a camp in the middle of the desert. Yep those are pillows not chairs.

Saturday afternoon: The night was a bust. Visited the worlds largest mall... ehhh... just like any other mall, just bigger and more expensive. Went to Hard Rock... closed, wasted $30 on cab ride, finally went to Applebee's...not very good and no beer. Just about fell in a hole in the sidewalk on the way home... priceless for those watching I am sure.

Sunday night: If last night was the worst, tonight was the best. Went to Irish Village to a pub for a couple of stouts, then to Century Village to Saphire for the best steak I have ever had, and yes even Iowa beef. It was a M7 Ribeye served raw on a Stonegrill (hot stone). You cut of a slice and lay it one its side to finish cooking. Awesome! Dipped in shitake mushroom sauce. Ready for bed all fat and happy!

Thanks Jeff -- we look forward to seeing you when you get home!