Monday, July 31, 2006


I have returned home from another week-long trip on the Owyhee River. Incredible! 14 of us in Inflatable Kayaks all week on the most beautiful stretch of desert wilderness in the entire country.

I had a blast getting to know the six students from Sitka, Alaska, getting to know their three leaders, spending time with my YD guide friends, and swimming through Class II/III rapids.

At the end of the week, the Sitka leaders said to me, "We're coming back in Summer '08, and we want you ready to lead!" Later, Greg (our trip leader) told me, "You know, you're going to be a great trip leader..." Wow. I've never really anticipated that people would have confidence that I could safely navigate them through 50 miles of backcountry whitewater...but Jenny, one of the leaders of Sitka's group said, "When I was in the rapids with you, I felt safe!"

So. I have a new goal--to get my whitewater and trip leading skills to the level that I could lead a group of adults and students through the Owyhee wilderness on a 6-day kayaking trip. Specifically--to be able to tailor more of the trips towards women. Right now we don't have any women in high enough leadership positions to make the trips 100% women (hence why we had two male guides on an all-girls trip.) So...a new goal.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Off to the River.

I'm off to the river. Again. A 9-day trip on the Owyhee River in Southeast Oregeon. An amazing, amazing trip. You can read about my adventure in Summer 2004 or Summer 2005.

This week, please pray for me and my staff (Greg, Heidi, Becca, and Eddie) as well as our group of 8 Girls and Women from Sitka, Alaska.

Pray specifically that we enjoy a rattlesnake-free and gnat-free week!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Business or Personal?

Are you traveling for business reasons or personal reasons?

Regarding this fall--I don't know how to answer that question.

Because--I'm taking four cross-continental road Anaheim, Austin, Cincinnati, and Charlotte. I get to travel for work? I get to hop on airplanes for work reasons?? Stellar! A few months ago, I was feeling trapped in the Northwest, like my grand adventure was isolating me from exploration...and now, my job is morphing into a 2-month travel whirlwind!

Why? Because YD is renting a double-booth in the Exhibition Hall at all four Youth Specialties Conventions. Youth Specialties is like, the mac-daddy guru of Youth Ministry...and they host the most wonderful youth conferences in the world for thousands of youth workers. We're making a huge push this fall to recruit a slew of new staff! So, why not show up at a place where thousands of people are volunteering their time in youth ministry and talk to them about working for us?? (Including David Crowder...maybe he wants to work for YD?!)

I'm going to be at all four conventions to set up, run, and oversee the booth in the Exhibition Hall...I'm going to design it, train the staff how to man it, and be present for the exhibition times to make sure everything's running smoothly. I went to the convention last fall (click here) and had a blast! So--now I get to take it to the next level and figure out how to market to that same group of people I was in-the-mix with last year!

Suddenly, I feel like I've spent years preparing for this...because as kids, Sean and I spent hundreds and hundreds of hours running around Exhibition Halls at Grocery Conventions. Then I remember the three years I spent learning about PR and Marketing in the Admissions Office at Taylor University...and I feel like a pro!

Okay, actually, I'm nervous, because I've never run a booth before, and we're spending thousands of dollars, and so much of the responsibility is on my shoulders!! Blah! But I'm thrilled at all that this implies...mostly, that it's requiring me to be a leader, a teacher, and a brainstormer.

Stay tuned...I'll probably be bugging you with feedback on marketing ideas soon...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Freelance Project #1

As part of my personal development as Communications Director, I've set a goal to write one article for publication every month this year. That doesn't mean I plan to be published 12 times (although, Lord willing, that would be stellar.) But it does mean that I want to write 12 submission-worthy articles this year.

Today, I received an offer to write for an Admissions publication at Taylor, so I'm going to submit a 1st draft in 2 weeks. Hooray for personal development and for writing!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Heather vs. Therm-a-Rest

I made a horrible discovery during the Deschutes River Rafting Trip last month: my beloved Therm-a-Rest had a hole in it.

A Therm-a-Rest is no ordinary sleeping pad. It's a self-inflating slice of heaven. A Therm-a-Rest provides a soft cushion of air between you and roots and pebbles. It's so much preferable to a foam mattress, which has no give and take. AND, the thing compresses to fit inside my sleeping bag stuff sack with my sleeping bag and weighs only 2 pounds. BUT, when your Therm-a-Rest has a small leak in it, it is no longer your friend.

It's hard to notice a pinhole in a Therm-a-Rest right away. The first night, you assume that you didn't close the valve tight enough. The next night, you worry that your worst fear is true. By night three of being woken up at 3am because your hip is asleep and nicely wedged on a rock, which you can feel fully through the compressed, non-inflated foam separating you from rock, you weep with bitterness. Your self-inflating dream pad has failed you!

Have no fear, though. Submerge your Therma-a-Rest in water, and its secret leaks will be revealed by bubbles of air. According to Kurtis, you should first start with the valve, because they are often problem areas. Submerge the valve in a cup or a sink, and try to squeeze the air out of the closed valve. If you see bubbles, replace the valve. If the valve is fine, then move onto step #2--checking the pad for holes. To do this, you must submerge the pad in a filled bathtub. This morning, I discovered this is easier said than done, because you have to simulateously be squeezing air out of the inflated mattress while trying to submerge it and check for bubbles all at the same time. It's a difficult balancing act.

At 6:30am this morning, barely awake and still in my PJ's, I ran a bath and inflated my Therm-a-Rest. I stared at the whole situation quizzically. I mean, my Therm-a-Rest is 6 feet long, and my bathtub is about 4 1/2 feet long. Hmmm...I rolled up the bottom-half of the mattress to create an outward airflow for the top half...and I put the top half in the water. Actually, on the water because it wouldn't submerge without me holding it underwater. But, I was already holding the rolled up bottom half and squeezing it. How am I going to do that??? So I end up squatting down, the rolled-up bottom-half wedged between my chest and knees, freeing up my arms to reach into the water to submerge the top half. I felt like I was playing an underwater full-body bagpipe.

As soon as I was properly balanced and holding the top-half underwater, an immediate stream of tiny bubbles rose to the surface from an otherwise undetectable pinhole. I squealed with glee! The culprit was discovered! I drew a black dot over the hole and proceeded to double-check the rest of the pad for holes. Hole #1 was the only leaky culprit.

So. This evening, I will show my Therm-a-Rest who's boss by repairing it with a fine Therm-a-Rest patch kit. My sleeping pad may have wreaked havoc on the Deschutes Trip, but when I'm on the Owyhee River next week, it WILL fulfill its duties.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The trip to Ohio: photojournalistic highlights.

1. The Detroit Airport. It's a very odd conglomeration of modern artisticy-type things. When I arrived there for my layover, I was completely disoriented and desensitized (mind you, it was 5:15am Eastern, 2:15am Pacific.) I saw what I have deemed "The Terminal to Infinity" complete with over 60 gates all in a long row...and I walked through this tunnel, which I have titled "Japanese Mermaid Goes to the Airport."

The tunnel was several hundred feet long, was constantly changing colors and had some sort of pervasive Japanese Mermaid-esque tunes emanating from glass-etched walls. I'd barely slept on the plane...and I was fumbling through a hallucinogenic tunnel in the middle of the night. It felt very Lost in Translation-ish.

2. The Backyard "Cook Out." Ever since I moved to Washington, I've been resisting the term "barbecue." In Washington, you do not "Cook Out" on a "Grill." You have a "barbecue." It doesn't matter that there's no barbecue sauce and that you're cooking on a barbecue's a barbecue.

It was such a relief to be in Ohio and hear mom say, "We're having a cook out with the family tonight." Whew. I know what that means.

So lots of people in the extended Baker/Casey fam gathered around a backyard campfire for grub and convo. We love to tell good stories, and I was very eager to relate to my teenage cousins, who all are now my friends on MySpace and whose love lives would fill quite a few made-for-TV-teen-dramedies.

3. The reason we were home: Kris and Desiree's Wedding. My cousin Kris married his high school sweetheart, Desiree in a beautiful ceremony in Newcomerstown. Over 400 Wedding attendees, a Hummer, and bubble wrap. What more could you ask for? Oh, you want the electric slide and the chicken dance? Check, check.

(Pictured below--L-R--Grandma, Sean, Aunt Angie (Mother of Groom), Dad, Cousin Sandy, Mom, Me)

4. A Day at "America's Roller Coast." Cedar Point and I hadn't hung out together since the dawn of the millennium, so I was glad to be there again. We did all the mandatory Cedar Point traditions: photo in the stocks, riding the big coasters, eating a lemon freeze, and returning home dripping wet thanks to the water rides (HA! Just kidding! Totally skipped the water rides!!!)

But--Isaac and I did tackle the Corkscrew, Mean Streak, Gemini, Magnum, Millennium Force, Raptor, Power Tower, and Top Thrill Dragster. Which, as far as number of ginormous roller coasters in one day has to be a personal best. So, two thumbs up for Cedar Point, and special thanks to Isaac, who is a very good peer pressurer. He assured me that even though I blacked out last time I rode Millennium Force, I probably wouldn't this time. And I didn't. I think it's because the DJ in line prepped us with some quality Britney Spears tunes to get us pumped up for the 310-foot drop.

Thus ends this photojournalistic journey. It does not fully capture the interestingness of last week. But, I hope it's a small improvement to white text on a black screen.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

How to cure jet lag:

1. Take one overnight flight and one early morning flight in a 6-day period, crossing at least three time zones.
2. Get six hours of sleep each night during every night of your visit to the alternate time zone.
3. Include "wedding," "trip to amusement park," and "multiple hospital visits," in your time-zone crossing to-do list.
3. Arrive back to your original time zone completely exhausted with 7 more hours of daylight ahead of you.
4. Force yourself to stay conscious until dark.
5. Fill the vacant zombie-like hours with Fox's "So you think you can dance."
6. Cheer loudly for Benji, the Mormon swing dancer.
7. Go to sleep at normal bedtime and wake up at normal wake up time.
8. Ingest half a pot of coffee.
9. When your boss drinks the other half of your pot and you still want more coffee, make another pot just for you and drink it too.
10. During every mid-day zone-out, patiently pause for a moment and then turn back to your to-do list, completing reviewing it, and reminding yourself that the world needs you to do your job.
11. Eagerly anticipate your next bed time, which will be at your normal hour, or else.
12. Eagerly anticipate tomorrow, when jet lag will be a quiet memory.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Buckeye State

I walked to baggage claim bleary-eyed when I arrived in Ohio on Friday morning. The Detroit airport had not provided a nice place to sleep after an overnight flight from Seattle. I was out of it. But not too out of it to see a girl in a bright red Ohio State sweatshirt in the Columbus terminal. I was thrilled! Ohio State! I never see people in Washington wear Ohio State. Just as I was about to suck up my last bit of energy to run by her hollering "Go Bucks," I walked past an Ohio State gift store.

I was reminded that I was in Buckeye land again. And that I was in the midst of millions of Buckeyes fans. And that if I ran up to that girl and hollered "Go Bucks," it would not evoke my anticipated response. While in Seattle, she would have given me a hug, in Columbus, she would think, "It's not Michigan weekend. Why is that girl running around the airport under the influence?"

It's been a whirlwind series of days in Coshocton. I have spent lots of time with my crazy relatives from Ohio and Florida. I have eaten my favorite chicken salad in the entire world from the Serenity Tea House. I have witnessed my cousin Kris marry his high school sweetheart, Desiree. I have spent lots of time laughing with my brother and his girlfriend, Rachael. I have visited my Grandma Baker in the hospital several days, where we're praying she is soon moved out of her 4-person unit into something a little more private and spacious. I have spent a day riding the world's tallest rollercoaster and being generally amusementized at Cedar Point with Isaac and the family. I have spoken twice at Grace UMC about what God is doing through me with Youth Dynamics. I have watched Pirates of the Caribbean. I have lost my pink/red nalgene bottle.

I really enjoy Ohio in the summer. It's hilly and green and warm and sunny. Last night, we drove through a huge thunderstorm, and I grinned to see flashes of lightning I haven't witnessed in two years. And as we were monitoring flash floods cutting through the farm lands, I encouraged mom and dad not to worry. They had a trained Whitewater Rescue Technician in the car (me.) I began mapping out a strategic plan for getting mom and dad safely to shore, should our car become trapped in high water in Amish country. Fortunately, we didn't need to use my skills. (Although I did bore them with a brief lecture on how river and flood safety needs to be taught in schools as much as fire and tornado safety, since more people are killed and injured every year in floods and rivers than in fires and tornadoes.)

Two more days. And today, Grandpa Casey is in the hospital again too, and he's going in for surgery. It's good to be home and be with my family.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Day Two--Exciting to-do list.

I think brand new to-do lists are always rather fun. Mostly, because everything's listed on a clean white sheet of paper. And because, however disorganized I was in my former job, today is a new day: I can become the most organized person ever.

Already this morning in Day #2 of new job, I have completed organization of my office. (This means that unwanted materials have been properly shoved into bottom drawer, giving office a general facade of cleanliness. Commence downward spiral into clutter. No! This will not happen! Must resist clutter!!!)

Then I have commenced important meeting #1, in which things were discussed about our upcoming corporate Fundraiser (Golf Marathon.) I have made myself a bright and shiny "Golf Marathon to-do List." It says fun things like, "Put together proposal for golfer gift bags," and "Edit invoices and underwriting letters."

Most excitedly, we have begun discussions about the Fall Youth Specialties Conventions. YD is going to take a double-booth in the exhibition hall at all four fall conventions (Anaheim, Austin, Charlotte, and Cincinnati.) Last week, when the idea was brought up, I thought, "Ooooh! I get to plan the booth. I wonder if that means I get to go to all four conventions?!" This morning Mark says in our morning meeting, "If it works with your schedule, I would like you to go to all four conventions." To that I say, "Laaaaaaaaa! I love new job!"

Now I am eating lunch in an organized fashion, preparing for meeting with the Office Manager, who is extremely organized herself.

Hip-hip-hooray for new planners, for new items on to-do lists, and for all of the above assigned tasks to become things I'm automatically excited and motivated to tackle.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Day One

Day One of New Job is today. Based on the fact that I'm only half unpacked and my desk is cluttered, I supposed it feels like my new office home.

Earlier today, I called my coworker Stuart in the Arlington YD office to let him know about a message on the Arlington YD voicemail this morning. And it felt weird to not be a part of the daily coming's and going's of Arlington already on Day One.

But today, I sat down with PrimeWest Graphics to talk about a project, and I felt like I moderately knew what I was talking about--or--at least that I enjoyed trying to figure out what I was talking about. I am sure I will spend the next few months vascillating between "I am so good at this" to "I have no idea how I opened this can of worms! I'm so naive!"

So. A new adventure in a familiar, but new, place. And life is in transition yet again.