Category Archives: Randomness

Hands-down and hands-free: my pick of Verizon Bluetooth headphones

Verizon's LG Tone Infinim headset

Verizon’s LG Tone Infinim headset

I’ve been in the market for a pair of high-end headphones to use to listen to music as well as to conduct hands-free telephone interviews. Verizon Midwest provided me with two different Bluetooth options to try out for several weeks each: Tracks Air by Motorola X SOL REPUBLIC and the LG Tone Infinim headset.

These were two completely different styles but I wasn’t sure which I would prefer until I tried them out. The Tracks Air is an over-ear headphone while the LG Tone Infinim headset sits around your neck.

Tracks Air by Motorola X SOL REPUBLIC

Verizon’s Tracks Air by Motorola X SOL REPUBLIC

While music sounded great on the Tracks Air, telephone conversations didn’t sound as good. Those on the other end of the line said I sounded fine, but the over-the-ear design made me feel like I was talking in a small enclosure. My own voice echoed in my head. My husband used the headset to mow one day and that same design was a plus when it came to canceling the noise of the mower.

LG Tone Infinim headset

Verizon’s LG Tone Infinim headset

Hands-down, though, the LG Tone Infinim was my favorite of the two because of the versatility of listening to music and making phone calls. I have small eardrums yet the earbuds fit well. I loved that the cords for each earbud were retractable since I always seem to get headphone cords tangled within minutes. And, surprisingly, the headset was so light that I actually forgot it was sitting on my neck (it weighs less than 2 ounces).

Disclaimer: Verizon provided three-week loaners of each headset for purposes of this review. Views of the products are my own. You can find more reviews of Verizon products and accessories on Instagram and Twitter by following the hashtag #vzreview.


Also posted in Work

Remembering a failed interview with the X-Man

Here's Xavier McDaniel in a Seattle promotional poster. The dog was not with him at the interview :)
Here’s Xavier McDaniel in a Seattle promotional poster. The dog was not with him at the interview :)


Xavier McDaniel will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame tonight. This brings back memories of my first summer in Wichita, Kansas … and having the NBA player basically kick me out of his gym.

I moved to Wichita for the summer of 1992 to take on a sports reporting internship at the Wichita Eagle newspaper. I covered a little of everything that summer – minor league baseball, the annual NBC amateur baseball tournament held in Wichita every year, professional tennis {Martina Navratilova was on a visiting team}, horseshoes {not kidding}, auto racing, motocross racing and a lot of youth sports. Then there was the time I was asked to interview Xavier McDaniel; it was one of my first assignments of the internship.

The assignment: localize a national wire story about the one-year anniversary of Magic Johnson announcing he was retiring from basketball because he had the HIV virus. NBA player Xavier McDaniel was in Wichita conducting a youth basketball camp, so my job was to go ask him how Magic’s announcement had changed the league.

I’d heard of him — known as X or the X-Man — but I didn’t know much more than he was an NBA player. There was no Google in 1992, so I did a quick search of the newspaper’s archives before heading out to interview him. Turns out he’d played college ball at Wichita State University in the early 1980s, where he became the first collegiate player in history to lead the nation in both scoring (27.2 points per game) and rebounding (14.8 rebounds per game) in the same season. He was drafted fourth overall in 1985 by the Seattle Supersonics, which was the team I remembered him playing for, and lost the Rookie of the Year award to Patrick Ewing.

Some of the archives and/or stories shared by my fellow Eagle reporters also pointed to some anger issues that had gotten some publicity over the years. To say I was a little intimidated walking into a high school gym to ask the X-Man about the risk of HIV and its effect on the sex lives of pro basketball players would be an understatement!

I was 20 years old and this guy was 6-foot-7, 220 pounds PLUS his baldness gave him an even more menacing look. I mean, the guy was known for his intensity!

It might have been the world’s shortest interview, and I recall it went something like this:

Me: So we are running an article about whether Magic Johnson’s announcement has changed the behavior of pro athletes over the past year.

X: OK, so what’s your question?

Me: Um, well … has Magic Johnson’s announcement that he has HIV changed your behavior, or that of your teammates?

X: You want me to tell you if it’s changed who I sleep with? No way, I’m not telling you what me or my teammates do personally. You’re crazy.

His words were a little loud, not yelling but … intense :) It was clear that the interview was over.

Looking back, I don’t blame X for his reaction. I think I’d be able to approach the topic differently now that I’m a little older and wiser, and I’d get a few usable sentences out of him!

So there you have it, my brush with a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Sometime I will tell you about Norm Stewart yelling at me on the phone and hanging up on me, or how friendly Martina was not.

Also posted in Sports, Weird shit that happens, Work

Getting to know me — a Kansas Women Bloggers assignment

Kansas Women Bloggers is having a link party and this is my contribution. The instructions were to write a post on my blog answering the questions below so members of Kansas Women Bloggers could get to know each other.

Getting to Know You Link Party with the Kansas Women Bloggers

1. If you make money with your blog, how do you do it?

I currently do not use this blog to make money, it’s a creative outlet. I have a writing and photography portfolio site that I run on a blog platform, and that is an indirect way to boost my earnings as a writer and photographer.

2. How do you increase your blog readership?

I share my blog posts via Facebook. I need to be more consistent about sharing posts via Twitter. I also join communities like Kansas Women Bloggers and TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange).

3. If you aren’t originally from Kansas, what brought you here?

I moved from my home state of Missouri to Kansas in December 1994 for a reporting job at The Wichita Eagle. I thought I’d be here a couple of years. If you’re any good at math, you’ll see that something went amiss with that plan. Got married, had good luck with jobs, blah blah blah.

4. If you are from Kansas, have you ever lived elsewhere?

Not applicable

5. If someone were to hand you $10,000 (no strings attached), what would you do with it?

I would use it to splurge on an upcoming trip or two. We tend to choose moderate options when traveling and it would be fun to get a little luxurious in our choices.

And for a good deed portion of this found money, I’d donate enough money to the Sedgwick County Zoo to name one of the tigers there Truman (the name of the University of Missouri mascot, in honor of Harry S. Truman).

6. Who was the first blogger you ever really followed?

The Bloggess 

7. What’s your favorite pair of shoes?

Hiking shoes … because if I have them on, that means I’m on a trip and that makes me very happy.

Here we are at the Fire Wave in Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park.

Me and my favorite shoes in Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park


I also covered some general “who are you” stuff in my very first blog post in December 2012.


I found a time capsule in my basement

birthday_card_30I opened a time capsule today. It wasn’t an intended one, but it sure took me back in time about 12 years.

The capsule was in the form of a cheap, white plastic bag that was buried inside a cardboard box that once crated a microwave.

I was looking for a camera lens box that had important warranty information on the lens. I opened the large microwave box, sitting atop a wardrobe that my grandparents once owned, thinking maybe it contained a bunch of smaller boxes. Instead, I found a hodge-podge of decorative tins and other reusable containers, and the plastic bag.

For some unknown reason, I’d stashed the cards from my 30th birthday in this plastic bag and then it ended up in this box in our basement.

The most interesting part of this find is the story that it painted of my life then – on Aug. 6, 2001 – and how that moment in time highlights what has happened in the world and my life since. That’s the point of time capsules, right?

Finding and reading the cards made my mind go back to 2001 and all night I was thinking, “If I only knew then what I know now…”

I thought it would be interesting to share the inventory of the bag along with commentary.

Then: A birthday card signed by about six of my immediate coworkers at Raytheon Aircraft, my first job in aviation and my first corporate public relations position.
Now: Well, I quit that job about two weeks after getting that card! I wasn’t happy with what I was doing at work and turning 30 made me realize life is too short to waste it doing something you dread every day. My last day was Sept. 7 … I was celebrating my new freedom the next week by visiting friends and family in Columbia, Mo., when 9/11 happened.

Then: A birthday card from my mom and stepdad, Charles, signed “We love you!”
Now: My mom passed away in 2006. I still get a card most years from Charles, and he usually puts a sticker or six on the envelope and that makes me smile.

Then: A birthday card from my dad and stepmom, Pat.
Now: One of the few actual cards I get in the mail today comes from my dad. I love getting that kind of mail.

Then: A birthday card from my oldest brother, Roy signed “Have a good one.”
Now: Roy died in 2003.

Then: A birthday card signed by my nephews Cory (11) and Zach (15). It cracks me up that they felt the need to sign their last names too :)
Now: Cory graduates from Mizzou next spring. Zach is married, just bought his first house and is graduating in just a couple of months from Columbia College.

Then: A birthday card from my in-laws, Toba and Fred.
Now: I still get a paper card from them and they always make dinner for me on or around my birthday.

Then: A birthday card from my Aunt Linda and Uncle Skip.
Now: My aunt passed away in 2009 and my uncle in 2011 – both from cancer. How is it that I still remember their phone number but I can’t remember my current bank login and password?!?

Then: A birthday card from my long-time, close friend Dave, who I went to grade school with but didn’t really become friends with until the college years.
Now: We went from texting every day to no texting or talking at all. Remember that rule about not loaning money to friends. Yeah, I thought our friendship was strong enough to prove that wrong but it wasn’t. It’s a good rule.

Then: A birthday card from my college friend Jodi that included an invite to come visit her in Springfield, Mo.
Now: Jodi still lives in Springfield, and I went to visit her several times there last year. I’m meeting her and our friend Kim in Kansas City this month.

Then: A birthday card from Morgan, one of my longest Wichita friends.
Now: Morgan still gives the funniest, craziest birthday cards and gifts. And she mails me really funny postcards throughout the year.

Then: A greeting card to my dog from my mom’s cat with a written inscription of “Astro: love ya!” and signed “Sampson.” I think we both know who really signed the card.
Now: Both pets have passed away.


There you have it – the contents of the time capsule 2001: The Year MeLinda Turned 30. Oh, and there was a Mizzou garter in there too. That might be another blog post …

Also posted in Family, Friends, Weird shit that happens

Remembering that I forget my birthdays

10th birthday

My 10th birthday celebrated with friends and family at Cosmo Park in Columbia, Mo. I’m in the middle back, striking a pose.

Birthdays make me stop and really think about how I’m spending my time. That’s why I quit my job just a few weeks after turning 30 … and quit another job a few months after turning 40. Both times I didn’t have another job lined up yet.

The milestone birthdays seem to move me beyond thinking and into taking action. They put me in the whole life-is-too-short-to-not-be-doing-something-you-really-enjoy mindset.

Today I’m just turning 42, so there won’t be any monumental announcements. Plus, I couldn’t just up and quit on my current boss {I can’t quit myself!}.

Overall, though, my memories of birthdays are lacking and this bothers me. I recall very few specific birthdays. It’s not that I don’t have great birthdays to remember, I’m just lousy at recalling details of what presents I got, who helped me celebrate, what flavor cake and ice cream I had, etc. I wish I could look at a knickknack in my home and remember that my mom gave me that for my XXth birthday. I can’t.

Does anyone else have this issue? Do I just not pay enough attention to life?

Since my birthday fell outside of the school year, most of my K-12 celebrations were with family and a few friends. Birthday parties during my grade school years were often at Cosmo Park in Columbia, Mo., and usually involved picnic-type meals, sheet cake, presents and a small group of friends along with my family. I don’t remember specific years except for the two that I can find recorded via Polaroid camera: my 10th in 1981 and my 12th. {Mom – photos of only two of my birthdays? I know I was the fourth child but I WAS the only girl and I know technology was zipping along in the 1970s and 1980s.}

I do remember another birthday but not the year: my dad and stepmom stopped by our house early in the day and gave me a rocking chair and a Holly Hobby themed cake. I remembered they told me to keep it forever and share it with my children. I got confused and refused to let my mom serve the Holly Hobby cake at the park – I thought I was supposed to keep it forever! We froze the cake and when I told my stepmom this later, she wasn’t too happy they’d spent good money on a cake that nobody ate. I’m pretty sure that was the year my parents stopped saving money for a college fund.

In junior high and high school, the get-togethers were usually outside at our house or my aunt’s house – a family barbeque with a couple of close friends joining us.

As an adult, I’ve been fortunate to have great coworkers and friends who have always made me feel special around my birthday – whether it was on the actual day or near it. Going out for lunches, getting drinks after work or having dessert – I just don’t recall all of the details of who, where and when.

Lee always plans something fun for my birthdays, from a simple dinner out with the two of us to a marathon day at the movie theater to surprise parties. Unfortunately, I only recall a few specifics.

Here’s a little experiment, I will start with last year and work backward to see how many of the 41 birthdays I can actually remember.

41 – had a layout lunch with Kate at our friend Morgan’s pool … but I can’t remember what Lee and I did that night. He doesn’t remember either, which makes me feel a tiny bit better. Also had drinks that week with a group of friends.

Birthday drinks with friends in 2012.

Birthday drinks with friends in 2012.

40 – was in Boulder, Colo., with Lee. Celebrated with friends in Wichita a few weeks earlier by attending Cattleman’s Ball, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

40th birthday

Celebrating my 40th birthday with friends by attending the American Cancer Society’s Cattleman’s Ball in Wichita in 2011.

39 – went out with friends Holly and Jason to a bar, where a really drunk lady convinced Holly and I to sing backup to her singing Joan Jett’s I Love Rock ‘n Roll. I held the mic as far from me as I could and it was still bad. Real bad. Ask Lee.

38 – was in Banff, Alberta, Canada on an incredible hiking trip with Lee, who scheduled a massage for me that day. We also had an awesome steak at a restaurant that night.

36 or 37 – either the first or second birthday after my mom passed away, my Aunt Linda called Lee and said she wanted to drive out from Columbia to surprise me for my birthday that year. Lee told me we were going out to meet friends he works with for dinner and drinks. We got to the restaurant and then my aunt, uncle and my stepdad walked in. I started crying. It was the only time my aunt and uncle had come out to visit me since helping me move to Wichita in 1994 so it meant a lot to me. They both have since passed away.

35 – my mom sang happy birthday on a voicemail to me, which I kept on my phone until I accidentally erased it a month later. That fall (2006) my mom passed away. I wish I still had that voicemail.

33 – Lee invited several of my high school friends I still stay in touch with to come out to Wichita. They showed up and he made me think that was the only surprise. The second surprise was a party that night at our house with my out-of-town friends and my Wichita friends. (I only remember the year because there are photos!)

huge pizza

Lee ordered the Superdome 29″ pizza for my surprise birthday party one year.

Early 30s – One year Lee took me to a jewelry store and showed me three pieces he’d picked out for me to choose from for my present. That was a lot of fun and he did a good job selecting.

Early 30s – One year Lee planned a surprise overnight stay at one of those murder mystery bed & breakfasts. He said we were just going to our visit our friends Holly and Jason but when we got there, we all went to Oklahoma. He even had to pack funeral clothing for me and miraculously he picked the black dress from the closet that actually fit me!

30 – Lee had to cancel a surprise visit from my parents that he planned for the weekend before my birthday. I was working for Raytheon Aircraft at the time and Saturday, Aug. 4 was the day the machinists union was voting on a new contract. My boss dispatched me to spend my Saturday at the Salina manufacturing facility in case the machinists voted to strike and they needed a company spokesperson on-site.

Either that same year or another year close to this one, Lee & I drove to Kansas City to goof off for the weekend, and when we walked in to a casino my parents were there. Lee had asked them to come over to surprise me!

Mizzou-themed birthday cake.

Mizzou-themed birthday cake.

21 – went out with family for dinner and a couple of my friends came along, then my friends and I met a larger group of friends out at Déjà Vu. I think that’s the night I took a shot of something purple, threw it up in the ashtray and was good to go! I remember my friend Kim got me this cool artsy T-shirt that said “It’s a dog eat dog world” and it had a dog eating a hot dog on it.

20 – This was right before the start of my junior year at Mizzou and the guy I was dating was being a jerk so at the last minute I had nothing to do on my birthday. I was sulking at home and my girlfriends made me go out. A friend who is one year older than me was turning 21 so I kinda crashed dinner with her and her parents at a restaurant downtown. I made up with the guy the next week and I remember he gave me a turquoise stone necklace.

19 – The summer between my freshman and sophomore year at college, my friends and I were playing a ton of racquetball at the outdoor courts on Mizzou’s campus – like every night for several hours. We met a group of guys at the courts that we started hanging out with. One of them asked me to go out a couple of times and it happened to be around my birthday so he made dinner for me at his apartment. I can’t remember his name but he was from St. Louis. I remember one of his friends was named Dax. And another of his friends wore those colored denim shorts – he had a pair in what seemed like every color.

16 – I remember my brother Roy sent me a check for $100 and I thought that was awesome! I think I bought a Swatch watch.

12 – My group of Benton Elementary School friends went swimming at Oakland Pool then came back to my house for food and games. I mainly remember this because there was a photo taken of me that my family used later in life to embarrass the crap out of me. I’m over it now so I’m posting it here. (fyi: I’m Facebook friends with a couple of folks in the photo!)

12th birthday

That’s me second from the right after having my 12th birthday at the local swimming pool in 1983.

10 – This was the Strawberry Shortcake year, I only remember because of photos that we still have. Looks like it was a party at Cosmo Park. In one photo I’m holding this guitar toy that I remember my brother Roy got me. It didn’t work though so we had to return it. I’m sure that’s the same year I got my Strawberry Shortcake wristwatch, which I still have.

Me and my brother Roy, and my Strawberry Shortcake birthday cake on my 10th birthday in 1981. (also had on a Strawberry Shortcake wristwatch that you can barely see...and I still have it!).

Me and my brother Roy, and my Strawberry Shortcake birthday cake on my 10th birthday in 1981. (also had on a Strawberry Shortcake wristwatch that you can barely see…and I still have it!).

1 – no, I don’t really remember this but there is a photo of a cake with my name on it along with several other family members’ names. The family used to have larger get-togethers at the end of summer and celebrate everyone whose birthday was within a two-month timeframe.

My first birthday cake -- 1972

My first birthday cake — 1972. My brother Roy is holding the cake.


Well, that experiment makes it look like I missed my entire 20s! I was mostly sober but still I remember very little about those birthdays.

So I’m officially taking back my stance on social media. All those times I’ve said, “Damn, I’m so glad Facebook and YouTube and Instagram didn’t exist when I was a kid because I certainly would have embarrassed myself or made myself unemployable!” – nevermind. I’d risk that to be able to look back through my or my mom’s Facebook timeline to see a photo of the Holly Hobby cake {in the freezer}, my family gathered in our yard on Mexico Gravel Road for my 16th birthday bbq or me with a group of friends celebrating one of my college birthdays.

If anyone out there remembers something about one of my birthdays that I don’t, let me know!


Also posted in Family, Friends, Lee