Sugar Glider

I just finished another PAC. You know, gigging for Microsoft at their Partner Advisory Council. It’s nice to be out of town. Nice to stay at our regular hotel in Seattle, which is part of our timeshare.

Seattle should be a coffee hub. I say should be. Because our hotel’s coffee is the worst. We tried drinking it a few times, thinking it couldn’t be that disgusting. Yet, it is.


Okay, so I happened to photograph the decaf one. No matter. The regular, which also comes with the room, tastes like dirt in a cup. I don’t care where coffee is grown. It shouldn’t taste like the rainforest just because it grew there.

I had a new PAC this time. New acronyms, new presenters, new participants. I was a little nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. Your lead can make the experience good or rather horrible. Blessedly, I had a great lead and an even greater assistant, also a contractor, who sent me the agenda, list of participants with company names, and a list of the most regularly used acronyms. Only 57 of those on the list. I felt like I’d won the lottery. That, folks, is organization.

But back to the rainforest. The second day’s agenda included one more session after lunch. I didn’t notice it went from 1:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m until after we returned. I groaned inwardly. Any breaks? Please, God. I can only tread water in the acronym ocean for so long.

The first speaker stepped up. A tall glamorous blonde woman in a blazer, hair past her shoulders, smiled at the group. She introduced herself.

“I don’t know if you know this, but last fall during this PAC, I had been on the job for less than a month.”

Not the first time I’ve heard this. Microsoft has a habit of throwing people into the fire pretty much right away after they get hired.

“I don’t have it here today, but I had a sugar glider with me. Anyone know what that is?”

We all looked at each other. I had a vague reminiscence of a bat-like creature, left over from a trip to the zoo. But it couldn’t be.

Maybe this? But made of sugar. Like a Boy Scout-crafting project.


She smiled again.

“It’s a marsupial, like a flying squirrel.”

sugar glider

The look on my PAC lead’s face was priceless. Shock. Concern. Worry. Everyone else in the room looked uncomfortable, but laughed at the incongruity of it all.

“He stayed quiet for PACs, but unfortunately, not much after that. People kept asking me, is your stomach growling? Are you on dialysis?” She laughed. “I got the reputation of the lady who carried a pouch on her chest.”

What happens at PACs, stays at PACs.




Good Friday Sully

I’ve done a lot of running this week. When things get crazy, run. It helps.

Sully running

We watched the movie “Sully” with Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart the other night. He was stuck in New York as the FAA investigated him. He couldn’t sleep. So he ran. A lot. Sometimes with his co-pilot and sometimes alone. During the day. At night, by the bright lights of the city. I had to laugh, despite the heavy content of the movie. Runners know. Burn off some of that anxiety and stress instead of eating a whole pie, or drinking yourself into a stupor. Get your head in a good place.

Running, it seems, can be a type of prayer. You pour out your concerns and frustrations to God as your feet hit the pavement. I know it’s been like that for me. I can hear the Lord once I come to the end of my homemade solutions.

I’m thinking about pouring out frustrations today as it’s Good Friday. How it must have hurt Jesus to be betrayed by one of his closest friends. Of course, He knew it all would happen. But I doubt that made it any easier.

Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.”  He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed.  He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” –  Matthew 26:36-39

He felt fear. He understood the weight of what came next, the suffering and pain awaiting him. Judas led the group of men with clubs and swords who came and arrested him, a citizens’ arrest. Then, the betrayal, mock trial before Pilate, beating and crucifixion.

At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” – Matthew 27:46

We all have seasons where we feel abandoned or lost or completely alone. Jesus knows. He went through it all. We remember what He did for us today, and what it cost.

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. – Hebrews 4:15-16

At the Zoo

We took Ruby to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium this past Sunday.

Sunday signaled the tail end of the kids’ spring break. Zac declined to join us, choosing sleep after his early morning church commitments.

We drove under a mixture of sunbreaks and cloud cover. Random cherry trees blossomed along the side of the highway.

The peacocks strutted around, fanning their tail feathers to admiring crowds. One man even snuck close enough to stroke the iridescent plumage. The tigers paced, eyeing the children hungrily. One of them even roared at us a couple of times. I was glad of the moat between us.

Even better was the people-watching. Shelton, despite a certain amount of ethnic diversity, often feels very homogeneous. But many people groups call Seattle and Tacoma home. Despite language and cultural differences, little kids all over the world flock to see animals.

We bought handfuls of goat feed for 50 cents. The fat and sassy mammals nibbled the pellets out of our palms, tickling them. The muskoxen strolled in their pastures, muscles rippling. We saw the red wolves, brought back from extinction by this very zoo, napping in the sun, unperturbed at their former situation.

Then, Ruby saw the camel rides.

“Oh, can I ride one?” she asked. Her face lit up with anticipation.

“Sure,” Jonathon said.

You could smell the camel dung from the aquarium. Okay, really from anywhere – the Budgie Station, the Arctic Animals display, you name it.

I watched the ungainly animals as the trainers led them around the fenced area. They lumbered along, chewing something, as their passengers slipped around on their humped backs. Ruby climbed onto the furry hill from the raised staging area. She put her feet in the stirrups and hung on.

The smile on her face said it all. Zoos provide a little taste of the far away close to home.