Sunday, November 22, 2009

I love what Forks, WA Chamber of Commerce has done (no, I really do love it! wish I could go!) (scroll down):

Friday, November 20, 2009

FINALLY-just finished watching Twilight the movie. I don't care what anyone says; I LOVED it!!! My new favorite movie. :-)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Where I got interested in crocheting (and where I need help)

It all got started when I acquired the book pictured above: Creepy Cute Crochet by Christen Haden. This book is responsible for renewing my interest in crocheting. I'm not even a horror fan, but I immediately fell in love with the dolls, which I learned are called amigurumi. I decided to start with the simplest, easiest project in there, the Fuzzy Alien (see picture below, but don't blame me if you fall in love with him! hee hee). I never made it though, because I got stumped right out of the gate. That's when I decided to scale down my ambitions and try some "easier" projects (if you read the comments on the Amazon page which the link above will take you to, you'll see that many people agree the projects in the book are for more advanced crocheters, but otherwise most people rave about the book and for good reason).

I got the book over a year ago, August 2008. One very big draw for me was the fact that these were small projects, so I figured I could have a completed project in a shorter amount of time which would help me stay engaged with the craft and less likely to drop it out of boredom. I picked up a Coats and Clark publication called "Crochet Made Easy" at the local JoAnn Fabric store, but although it taught me how to make the stitches (I highly recommend the booklet actually, especially for newbies) ... it didn't solve the mystery for me about how to make the Fuzzy Alien.

I want to make the dolls in Creepy Cute Crochet to look EXACTLY the way they look in the book. I know I can do it if I could just have someone not only answer the questions I have but also show me what I'm supposed to do.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Is your phase-shifter polarizing your neutrino bomb? Just fix it Star Trek-style:
FAILURE: The Dermatiraelian warp probe is failing! FIX: Control the primary phaser type-3 with ultraviolet subspace gateway!
1 billion people in this world DON'T have clean water to drink. This holiday consider a different kind of gift:
Check out all these great new people I'm following on Twitter:

Friday, November 06, 2009

Roller skating!

I've gotten a bug up my sleeve about going roller skating. I'm begging any and all of my friends to go with me. And then I found the video below, which is oddly a convenient homage to the late Patrick Swayze, all rolled into one.

C'mon, you know you want to ...

Okay, last month was National Roller Skating month, but that doesn't mean you can't have a late celebration! And anyway, isn't the point to enjoy it all year round?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Wow, the word "platform" enjoys rather versatile usage in the English language AND involves some of my favorite subjects!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I am pretty sure, based on what I've posted to Delicious today, that I would thrive on Vulcan.
How do you know you're a geek? When you ask for this for Christmas (please, can I???):

Words to Live By

"By clarifying what is useful and letting go of the rest, you can reduce your filing, make it easier to find what you do keep, and save valuable time and energy that you can direct to more meaningful tasks." ~from an article at Microsoft,

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"Necessary Evil": a Star Trek DS9 episode review

I just finished watching one of the most engaging episodes of Star Trek TV that I can remember seeing in a while. Glenn and I have been watching Deep Space 9 on DVD - after that, we will have caught up on the entire franchise, although I have never actually seen the original series start to finish. It's so campy I'm not sure I could get into it now, but you never know. Leonard Nimoy is just so friggin' cool, that should be reason enough!

However, I digress. The episode, Necessary Evil (reader beware! clicking on the link provided here completely spoils the episode if you've never seen it before! you have been warned), was your classic whodunit but with a twist. Because although it started out with a potential murder (Quark only got maimed), the investigation ultmately revealed the truth of an actual murder which took place five years previous, when the Cardassians still had control of the station.

This episode also provided a deep look into the storied past of the station known in the Alpha Quadrant as Deep Space 9: what the station looked like under Cardassian occupation, and how Odo met Kira, Quark, and Gul Dukat for the first time. Additionally, Quark's brother Rom proves there's more to the little Ferengi than meets the eye ... although he himself is never quite sure of it.

Everything came together to make this episode memorable and fantastic: the pacing, the acting, the writing, the directing ... everything! Even Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wikia) notes in the Background Information section that this episode is a "favorite amongst both cast and crew". It really comes through, too. Memory Alpha also draws the distinction in that same section that it "echoes strongly the classic detective fiction of the 40s" - but it does so in a very sophisticated way, not the more melodramatic, theatrical way a holodeck simulation conjures up. I don't want to give away too much information in case you, dear reader wish to find out for yourself how great it is. I rank it right up there with some of the best SG-1 episodes. I'm really just gushing here about how thrilled I am to have watched this great work of small screen magic! A great work of Star Trek magic, too.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Sche-dueling (a vent session)

I am growing more and more disheartened by the business of my weekday schedule at work. I estimated that I have 5 hours from the time my work shift ends until I have to lay down in my bed for slumber to do everything I need to do and get the amount of sleep I need. Now I don't know if I got too ambitious yesterday or if I just need to give myself time to get used to being on the five-day schedule again or what, but I did not get the 7 hours of sleep I was shooting for ... then again, it's not a typical 5-day schedule either. In fact, more and more I'm reaching the conclusion that this particular version of the 5-day schedule is worse than a typical one. Now ... now I know why the folks at work hate it so much.

Saturday and Sunday I only work 6.5 hours, which means I have to make up 3 hours during the week. Guess where those 3 hours go? One extra hour tacked onto my 8-hour days, to turn what is essentially a 9-hour day (counting my break period) into a 10-hour day. That's why I feel like I don't have enough time between shifts to do what I need to do - because I don't! When you factor in drive time (which in practice is not actually all that long) and grocery store trips, it cuts down that time even more. Guess I'll have to make sure to do grocery shopping on the shorter days and/or my weekend.

Okay, I feel better now. Actually now that I've got it written down like this, now it presents to me more of a challenge rather than a burden. I like challenges.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Two frickin' awesome videos

The first one I watched tonight is a World of Warcraft how-to regarding Brewfest. I say even if you don't play WoW, have never played WoW, have never played an MMO in your life, you might enjoy it. WoW fans ... you will most definitely enjoy it. I enjoyed it so much I already watched it twice, just to enjoy the sheer artistic value of it! I plan on watching it again too!

The second one is a Duran Duran song I'd never heard before, and just when I thought I'd already heard their best ... along comes one of my fellow Blippers with this song. And can I just say it is Simon Le Bon-riffic? *squee*

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Duran Duran

Do not underestimate the power this band has to draw a crowd. Big crowds. As in, fill-Wembley-Stadium-for-5-nights-big crowds.

So there I was reading up on them on Wikipedia. I went there to look up some petty little detail or another regarding their last album Red Carpet Massacre. Well I got more than I bargained for - hence the blog post.

I went and signed up for the member mailing list. And when I save up the money I'm going to buy an annual membership. Yeah, they're that good.

Ever since I profiled them here for National Duran Duran Appreciation Day I got such an education on their music that I simply wasn't expecting. I knew I liked The Reflex from back in the day; I knew that was a good, timeless song. I knew some of their other hits from that era were not my favorites. But then, I hadn't listened to them since their release either (yes, I'm that old, what of it!). So I settled in for a few hours of researching their music in order to write the blog post ... and I really haven't quit listening since! It has been an absolute pleasure rediscovering the hits I grew up with, as well as hearing some of the later stuff that I missed the first time around ("Ordinary World"; "Come Undone"; "What Happens Tomorrow"). Their song-writing, lyric-writing, vocals, the whole package, fits my music tastes exactly.

I really just went to Duran Duran's website to poke around and see if there was any chance they might still be touring the U.S. of A. the remainder of this year, because the Wikipedia article seemed to end right about now. I was THRILLED to see they are, in fact, still recording what will become their 13th album - and by all accounts, there is great anticipation surrounding this one! A tour shall accompany the release of this album sometime next year.

So. I've got a mission. And that mission is to attend a Duran Duran concert in my lifetime. Whatever other missions I said I had before, well, they're playing second fiddle now!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Patriot Day - 9/11 Ponderings and Looking Forward

Just today I met a tremendous fellow who writes about his experiences suffering with PTSD, which he got as a result of putting his ass in the line of fire in Iraq so that my ass can enjoy pursuing my cozy life here at home, out of the line of fire: Sgt. Patrick McNally, U.S. Army Retired. He found me on - he seemed to enjoy my music tastes, so I looked up his profile where he has his blog linked to.

I went to go read his blog. Boy did I get a lesson in PTSD from his writings. We've all heard how miserable it is for many of the soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Hospital; Sgt. McNally details his experience there, and how unhappy it made him and other soldiers (to say the least). It was a terrible experience; it continues to be a terrible experience for him now. He talks about the high rate of suicide there, and at the hospital he was medivac-ed to in Germany directly from combat in the war. His blog is better than any report you'll hear on the evening news because, well, he was there. You get the experience firsthand.

Is it hard to read? Yes, but imagine how much harder it is for him - he's the one that has to live with the reality.

Today, I ask you dear readers to go spend some time reading what Sgt. McNally has to say, and maybe say 'thank you' to him today for all he did, and all he's suffering with now. As a blogger, I can tell you receiving comments from people just makes my day. Feedback is the elixir of a blogger's life. If nothing else, leave him a comment saying 'Thank You'.

Where do we go from here? I believe if we use 9/11 to not only look back and remember, but also to re-evaluate so that we can move forward, perhaps that's how we can make things better for Sgt. McNally and other soldiers like him.

Postscript: I know the sight of George W. Bush's face upsets many of my readers; it is my hope you'll look past your emotional reaction to focus on the other man in the picture, Sgt. McNally. It was the best picture of him I could find on his blog.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sad day

I cancelled my WoW account. I am very unhappy about this. Although I am loving Jade Dynasty I have a LOT invested in WoW. And now it's going to be who knows how long before I can play again.

It's probably just as well, because I really wasn't playing. And I've only invested a month this time.


Phooey. I hope you're happy.

Monday, August 31, 2009

I ♥ Jade Dynasty

I am really enjoying this game. I've discovered the forums too, where there are some very good, very comprehensive beginner guides to be found.
More than anything, I'm enjoying having some time off. I started a blog post over the weekend that I never got around to posting, but it was mainly a bitch session about how overworked and apathetic I was feeling. So you didn't miss anything there.

So this free time, such as it is, is pretty great right now. Next up - World of Warcraft. Must level warlock on World of Warcraft!

Oh yeah, speaking of which ... over the weekend we aired a story about a young man who committed a horrible crime and used World of Warcraft to do it. 21-year-old Trevor Lucas met a boy on WoW and asked him to send nude pictures of himself. When the boy refused Lucas showed up at the boy's house who lives in Wisconsin (Lucas lives in Massachusetts) and threatened his mom.

Let me say right now this is NOT typical behavior you encounter in World of Warcraft! I've been playing the game for 4 1/2 years - my husband and I have met many, many people from the north to the south, from east to west, and everywhere in-between. We have met people who are great, annoying, liars, cheaters, socially distant, social butterflies, you name it ... no doubt there are unscrupulous types out there. The gold spammers and account hackers are about the worst we've encountered. Players run the gamut - there are white collar professionals, moms and dads, college, high school, and grade school students, whole entire families playing World of Warcraft.

But at no time have we ever encountered men like Trevor Lucas. Shame on him for giving World of Warcraft the kind of bad name it truly doesn't deserve. The story we aired is below (although not in our format):

Dear reader, keep in mind, this type of thing has been going on since instant messaging was invented. Hell, since the internet was invented. It's obvious the mom was involved in her son's life and on-task when the stranger showed up at her door, and good for her. The mom is more indicative of the type of people you meet on World of Warcraft than Trevor Lucas is.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Remembering the Abolition of the TransAtlantic Slave Trade, and Rudolph Valentino

International Day For The Remembrance of The Slave Trade & Its Abolition
On the night of August 22, 1791 in Santo Domingo (present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic) an uprising started a revolution, and that revolution helped paved the way to the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) designated today, August 23, as a day to remember a time when there was a way of life that no human being should ever endure, but also to promote tolerance and human rights.

Nowadays we are being asked to focus on our modern-day form of slavery: human trafficking. Human trafficking is going on right here in Florida. We have reported on trafficking rings getting busted up in Collier County for example, but it also happens elsewhere in the state. It's not unique to this area either nor is it confined here. Human trafficking is a bustling business, so to say slavery is 'dead' is inaccurate.

Remember that nobody has the right to take away another human being's freedom and rights by coercion, not for any reason, but especially not for exploitation. Slavery the way it happened in the transatlantic trade routes 200 years ago may be a tragic memory now, but slavery still exists, from the human trafficking taking advantage of non-English speakers from all over the world who are desperate to leave the extremely poor conditions of their homeland, to the spouse living with abuse inside a home with no witnesses. No type of slavery is acceptable, and it will take all of us working together to bring it all to an end.

Valentino Day
Rudolph Valentino scorched the big screen at the genesis of the movie industry's golden age, the silent era. Known as the "Latin lover" his sex appeal reached far and wide: women swooned for him causing men to emulate his style. He is best known for his work in The Sheik and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

On this date in 1926, Rudolph Valentino died of complications from appendicitis and gastric ulcers. And when I say complications I do mean complications. I could hardly believe my eyes - the following is from the Wikipedia on Valentino:
On August 15, 1926, Valentino collapsed at the Hotel Ambassador in New York City, New York. He was hospitalized at the Polyclinic in New York and an examination showed him to be suffering from appendicitis and gastric ulcers which required an immediate operation. The operation was a success but Valentino's condition had become so aggravated by then that peritonitis set in and spread throughout his body. On August 18 his doctors gave an optimistic prognosis for Valentino and told the media that unless Valentino's condition changed for the worse there was no need for updates.[68] However, on August 21 he was stricken with a severe pleuritis relapse that developed rapidly in his left lung due to the actor's weakened condition.[68] The doctors realized that he was going to die, but decided to withhold the prognosis from the actor who believed that his condition would pass. During the early hours of August 23, Valentino was briefly conscious and chatted with his doctors about his future. He fell back into a coma and died a few hours later, at the age of 31.
I prefer to focus on the man's work and his Leo DiCaprio-like handsome looks. In fact, I wonder why DiCaprio hasn't portrayed him in a movie about his tragically short life yet? That's who I'd pick, and not just for the looks either.

And this concludes my NaBloPoMo challenge. Today is the 30th day I have posted to this blog, and I am just barely making the cut waiting until well after 10pm eastern time!

But I made it. Pardon me while I go break my arm patting myself on the back...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Be an Angel and Hug Your Boss on Ramadan

Wacky Holidays presents: Saturday, August 22, 2009!

Be An Angel Day - August 22

"Do one small act of service for someone."
"Be an Angel Day" got started in 1993 by Rev. Jayne Howard Feldman. Today we shift the focus off ourselves in order to do something nice for someone else. In other words, "be an angel ... be a blessing in someone's life". Because although doing something for yourself can be rewarding, it just doesn't measure up to the rewards you'll enjoy when you give of yourself to help someone else out. Or just spend today meditating on angels and get inspired by what they do in order to plan something for another day.
For some more ideas and inspiration, click here.


Today marks the beginning of the Islamic holiday of Ramadan. I remember the first time I ever heard of Ramadan: I was in high school and one of my teachers, Mrs. Jabarin, was talking about how she and her family were observing it. One of my classmates, Deena, she also practiced Islam and was observing the holiday. Ramadan consists of the strict discipline of fasting and refraining from excessive indulgence or "ill-natured" behavior. It is also the time to pray more fervently, ask for forgiveness of sins, and just generally spend more time than usual meditating on how to be a better person overall. Ramadan was the month in which the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the prophet Muhammad. Ramadan begins at sundown.

Since I am not Muslim I can't offer any more insight on this holiday, but I encourage open-minded education on anything.

Hug Your Boss Day

Okay, I'm going to be real honest here. I can't think of one boss I've ever had that made me compelled to hug them. Personally, I think that's inappropriate. Perhaps that's because I'm American? That may very well be, as this seems to be a holiday with it's roots in Great Britain. Either way the website built around this holiday made me giggle, and it also gave me food for thought: perhaps I should seek out the kind of boss I'd like to hug???
Don't get me wrong - I like my boss. In the television news industry he is difficult to beat. I have also worked quite hard to get on his good side; I was inspired by the people he's hired as my co-workers and supervisors.

I think of plenty of people as being 'great', but it doesn't make me want to hug them. Maybe it's just me.

Hope you enjoyed today's serving of Wacky Holidays! Tune in tomorrow for a whole new set of 'em! You don't want to miss it - they're gonna be good ones!

Two more days!

This is very exciting! I only need to post today and tomorrow and then I can say I met the NaBloPoMo challenge of writing for 30 days straight! Ever since Saturday July 25, 2009 I've made a blog post (sometimes two) every day.

That's pretty awesome. I think instead of taking time off from writing I'm going to see how much longer I can keep it up beyond the 30 days.

I reserve the right to change my mind.

By the way, I'm not counting this as a blog post today, stay tuned for today's Wacky Holidays!

In the meantime you could ponder one of this month's monthly observances, like What Will Be Your Legacy Month...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Jade Dynasty - A Review

Glenn recently discovered a new, free, MMORPG game to play called, Jade Dynasty, courtesy of the folks at Perfect World Entertainment. The romantic-sounding name alone intrigued me, so I watched over his shoulder while he played. The graphical elements caught my eye immediately: they are absolutely gorgeous, particularly the character selection screen and the loading screens.

I found gameplay easy to get into:
  • Tutorials abound; the game goes a long way in helping the player navigate the game and progress your levels.
  • The interface looks and works very similarly to World of Warcraft.
  • The storyline reads well; there are very, very few grammatical errors and it's at least mildly compelling if not completely original.
  • Knowing how, who, and where to pick up and turn in quests is very clearly delineated. Not without bugs, mind you, but even World of Warcraft has the occasional bugged quest and/or mob.
  • The game has pets - I have a 'Woody Pig' who blows bubbles out of his nose when he's sitting idly by. And one of his attacks when he's engaged in battle? He turns around and farts at the mob he's fighting. It's hilarious! So the game developers have a sense of humor. There are other pets, like a tree called a 'Dryadling' and a rock called 'Stonus Protector'.
  • You gain experience points while 'meditating', but only if you're in a major city. Meditating is the restive state that restores your health points ('HP') and spirit points ('SP'). It's a very small amount of XP, but believe me, it adds up after awhile. I gained a whole entire level in my 30's that way, over the course of one sleep period. It looks cool too: you pop a bubble around you and gaze deeply into what looks like a crystal ball. It's actually an orb of energy called your 'chi'.

For as great as those features are however, there is one major feature that sets Jade Dynasty apart from all the other MMORPGs that I've played: 'auto-routing' and 'Invigorate'. With auto-routing you click on a mob or NPC's name in your quest log (the name will be highlighted of course) and your toon automatically starts running toward the mob/NPC.

Invigorate, on the other hand, is truly the crème de la crème of gaming: you can set up your character to grind on it's own, like what most gamers know as a 'bot'. In Jade Dynasty it's built right into the gameplay! You set the parameters - which attacks go off at which time, etc. - and then with the click of a button your character does the rest. You can sit back and watch, go make dinner, go to sleep, whatever!

There are, necessarily, a few details about the game that make it less than user-friendly, but I did not find them to be off-putting. For example, the crafting, from what I hear, is a pain in the a**. I was encouraged not to pick it up, at least not in the early levels. Crafting is not impossible, but better to do if you plan to run solo. If you belong to a clan or alliance who has a member already crafting then there's no need, as it is burdensome. There also doesn't seem to be much else to do other than questing, crafting, and grinding. For example there are no instances or dungeons, that we've found anyway. The game does contain a PvP element, but I haven't tried it and I don't know too much about it.

The camera and movement controls are slightly different than World of Warcraft and City of Heroes/Villains, but didn't take me long to get accustomed to after a couple hours' worth of playtime.

Also, you will draw aggro from mobs rather randomly. For example, you'll run past mobs everywhere you go in the game not including the major cities. No matter what level they are you probably won't draw aggro from them, except for the random mob here and there. There's just no way to tell. Now if another player comes along and engages them they'll get off of you, but you likely won't have any problems with that aspect of the game.

One nifty feature of this game, if you're into this sort of thing: male and female characters can get married. Unfortunately, it does not provide for same-sex marriages that I've noticed. The quest text is pretty gender-specific. For example, the male character has to be the party leader and has to initiate the quests. But one very cool thing the characters can do: the male character can actually carry the female character in his arms!

Okay, gender inequality aside, that's just cool. Give these games a few years, I'm sure the political bent will come around eventually.

One last thought, and this can be taken as either a negative or a positive, depending on how you look at it: the way the company makes money off the game is by selling 'zen' for real-world dollars. The zen is converted into gold which you spend in the game. This is what compensates for the lack of monthly fee. It is certainly possible to play the game and enjoy all the features without ever spending a cent. But if you intend to reach the level cap of 150 you should plan on investing real money on some zen.

For this gamer, the positives of Jade Dynasty far outweigh the negatives. The game itself is so beautiful, the music mesmerizes me, I'm enjoying the storyline, and for the most part both the storyline and leveling progression make sense. It's not World of Warcraft; no way. But it is definitely a worthy alternative.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pony Express Day and Virtual Worlds Day

Yeah, so ... another day, another nearly-missed blog post. It's 11:17pm as I begin this. *lesigh*

Pony Express Day

I couldn't find too much on this at all, surprisingly. I mean, I can find leagues and leagues of stuff about the Pony Express of course; but nearly nothing pertaining to "Pony Express Day" specifically.
For a rather pleasant little blog post on the subject that is short, much shorter than my typical blog post, click here. I've actually meant to link to that blog on several occasions, because they are doing essentially the same thing I'm doing, but they've been doing it longer and their blog posts are quite easy to read, not long, exhaustive essays like I tend to write. I really like Zany Holidays a lot, so definitely check them out.

Virtual Worlds Day

Again, this must not be something that's blogged about too much; which makes me rather sad, because I could change that if only I'd gotten to this sooner ... *lesigh again*

Today celebrates virtual worlds such as Second Life, as to be distinguished from online role-playing games such as World of Warcraft, or any other game for that matter. Today we recognize worlds that are set up and designed to be lived just like real life, but without all the drawbacks and setbacks like disease, death, and physical imperfections like zits and flabby arms.

Then again, I argue that even the virtual worlds feel the limitations of real life. For example, you use real world money to buy in-game items, and you can even make and sell your own. Which begs the question: does that also create groups of people within the virtual realm who hold the prestige because of the number and kind of items their real-world money allows them to buy? Perhaps that just me being pessimistic but I'm sure that happens.

I started a Second Life account. Perhaps if I can later I'll update this post with pictures of my character. I only logged in once, it really didn't grab me all that much.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Video Games and Pot: Two Very Good Documentaries

"Work is for people who can't play video games."
~ Jillian Wiebe, Steve Wiebe's daughter
Those who know me in real life know how I feel about those two items in the title: I love video games but I believe in moderation. As for weed/marijuana, I've always believed it should be avoided at all costs. And for many reasons, not the least of which being it is illegal. It's also very expensive! I could never understand why people would roll up a $50 bill (or more) and light it on fire, and let it burn away to ash. That just does not make sense to me. Finally, smoke too much weed and it renders one impossible to have a conversation with - it makes you stupid.

Over the past couple of days however I've had my mind changed drastically on both counts.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

Last night Glenn and I watched a documentary called, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. It's about a couple of adult men duking it out for the world record on Donkey Kong which is known in gamer circles as THE hardest arcade game to beat. So hard that one guy, Billy Mitchell, held the world record highest score, uncontested, for over 20 years: 874,300.

So why the hell should you care about that? Because this movie turned out to be SO much more than a simple contest between aging gamers - one reviewer said it "serves as a metaphor for the decline of Western civilization."

The two guys? One teaches science at a middle school in Washington, Steve Wiebe; the other is a hot sauce mogul living right here in Florida. The hot sauce mogul? Billy Mitchell himself, as a matter of fact.

In all honesty, this movie started (for me) with all the appeal of a horrific car crash: parts of it traumatizes your vision and yet you can't help but watch. The King of Kong not only shows the competition, it also takes the viewer through the lives of each man on his path to gamer infamy, and that's where it gets interesting. You won't believe me, which is why you have to see the movie yourself, but the revelation of this story surprised me. I also enjoyed the rather colorful cast of supporting characters along the way. In Steve Wiebe's wife you see a real trooper, for example.

The best part about this movie? The way Glenn and I found ourselves cheering - and by cheering I mean, yelling "Woo-hoo!!" right out loud and clapping - for the underdog. Truly a must-see, no matter how you feel about video games, for the great story-telling, compelling characters, and awesome music.

*For an excellent review of the movie, replete with interviews, click here but be forewarned: it's better reading that after you've seen the movie. Otherwise it's chock full of spoilers, as it's really meant to be read after watching it.

The Union: The Business Behind Getting High

Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would come away from a documentary about marijuana as moved as I was by this one. Jaw-dropping commentary from experts, university professors, business people, celebrities, and the marijuana sellers and growers themselves, pepper this piece from start to finish. You just won't believe it. I don't want to give away too much, because I want people to watch this movie ... mainly I want the skeptics to watch this movie. The skeptics need to know which drug war they should be fighting, and I think after seeing the numbers they just might switch sides.

Truth be known, although I've typically taken a strong stance against recreational drug use of any sort, over the years I've often felt the attack on marijuana use specifically was a bit over the top, even downright fictional in it's portrayal of the side effects. I'm thinking of the thirty-second Public Service Announcements you sometimes see on late night television. My favorite one shows a couple of pre-teens lounging around in their dad's study, one of them playing with a gun. Of course, he 'accidentally' shoots his friend, presumably killing him, and the message is this: if they hadn't been smoking marijuana that tragedy could have been avoided.

Another one shows a car full of people navigating their way through a drive-thru, and not doing a very good job of it. It ends when the driver of the car mistakes his gas pedal for the brake pedal and powers past the drive-thru window into the unfortunate pedestrian on the sidewalk.

If this were a portrayal of drunken driving, I'd say it was accurate. But I've driven after smoking and I've driven after drinking (not that I'm proud of it, and not that I make a habit of it now). I definitely had more control and I was more alert after smoking marijuana than I was after drinking. If anything weed makes you more focused; this has been my personal experience. And I'm not an advocate of smoking weed! Not at all! Everyone who knows me personally knows this about me and can verify it.

But facts are facts. Alcohol's toxicity destroys the human body in ways marijuana simply doesn't. There are stacks and stacks of scientifically proven evidence of this, which is presented in this documentary although not what the documentary focuses on.

The parents who think they're doing their kids a favor by steering them away from smoking weed have to understand that by doing that they are promoting Big Pharma's case. Big Pharma will kill you - and does kill people, on a much larger scale than weed ever has - way before anything else will.

Drug-use side effects only scratch the surface of this movie. The Union also goes into the politics, the statistics (number of users and dollar amounts, for example), but most stunningly of all The Union presents the facts on the usefulness of the hemp plant period. For example, I knew that the hemp seed is a highly nutritious food, extremely high in protein and other vitamins and minerals, and also that it's used for clothing. What I didn't know is that the clothing is actually rather high quality - a lot better than cotton!

What I also didn't know is that hemp can be used as a fuel source - for cars. Not only that but the ONLY reason it's NOT being manufactured for car fuel: it's illegal! That's the only thing holding back it's usage. It's cheap, it's totally clean, and totally available to us ... if only it were legal. Hemp literally holds the answer to our fuel problems, according to Steve Levine, President of Hemp Industries Association (which represents industrial hemp, the type grown for clothing, food, and fuel, not the type you smoke).

After watching this movie I realized how ignorant I am on this topic, but also the reasons I'm ignorant: because of all our government has done to shield me from the truth. I also see how I've perpetuated the lie myself because of the anti-drug movement's efforts to appeal to good-hearted people like myself and so many other, well-intentioned people like me that jumped on their bandwagon.

Okay. You've read my synopses, I hope my dissertation piqued your curiosities at the very least. Of these two movies, I recommend EVERYBODY watch The Union, and for funzies watch The King of Kong another night.

Correction: Snuffleupagus's Birthday

Turns out I got Snuffleupagus's birthday wrong: first of all, it's actually on my calendar for today.

Secondly, according to the Muppet Wiki, his birthday might actually be in January - in Episode 0331, Season 3, which aired on January 24, 1972, Mr. Snuffleupagus tells Big Bird that he is "two years old today".

And now I can't find where I originally got the idea that his birthday was today.

Monday, August 17, 2009

National Thrift Shop Day

My calendar tells me that today is National Sandcastle Day.


I could have sworn that occurred on Saturday: National Sandcastle & Sculpture Day. So, erm ... why have a separate day 2 days later? Moreover, I've found evidence of this in a Google search.


Well, for as much as I love sandcastles, there's another item on the calendar today that I find even more interesting: National Thrift Shop Day!

Thrift shops are great. What's not to love about a thrift store? People throw stuff out and it's still useful, it's still good. People buy clothes, wear it once or twice, and get tired of it. Off it goes to the Goodwill where people like me, who can't afford the same thing new, can buy it at a deep discount.
People will buy kitchen appliances and they sit unused for a year. "Well, I could put this in the storage unit, but I know I'm never going to use this juicer, so I might as well donate it to the Salvation Army."
People get married, buy a bunch of plates and glasses and silverware and either upgrade after a while or get divorced and neither party wants it. Guess where it winds up? Either a garage sale or, yep, good ol' thrift store.

Furniture, kids toys, shoes, electronics, books, you name it, if it's still good enough for somebody else to get some use out of it, there is a resale shop holding it for some lucky, thrifty shopper. There are so many good things about a thrift shop!

Thrift shops hold a special place in my heart because besides providing great deals on cool stuff you wouldn't otherwise own, they also contribute to charity, and just generally help people who can't help themselves. Community thrives in a thrift shop.

Since I posted so late today, if you've read this far then you can already get a jump start on tomorrow's Wacky Holiday:I will have some goodies for this one, but don't wait for me! Go ahead and bake up a storm, make your co-workers/spouse extremely happy to see a big plate of cupcakes to eat!

Also, wish Snuffleupagus a Happy Birthday!
*Note: There is one thing being celebrated tomorrow which I was really looking forward to blogging about: Bad Poetry Day. However, I found out this is a copyrighted holiday by who requires me to ask permission before I do anything with their copyrighted holiday, for profit or not. Therefore, I will not be blogging about that tomorrow, because while I'm not against people making money, I'm just simply more interested in holidays/observances of a "wacky" nature that don't have a bunch of strings attached, and/or bringing awareness to worthy causes, such as Assistance Dog Week, for example.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kool-Aid Days - August 14-16, 2009

Fun facts about Kool-Aid:
  • Invented by Edwin Perkins and his wife Kitty in Hastings, NE
  • Predecessor was a liquid concentrate called Fruit Smack
  • Edwin figured out that removing the liquid, leaving only the powder, helped reduce shipping costs, and Kool-Ade was born
  • Named changed to "Kool-Aid" due to U.S. government regulations regarding the labeling of fruit juice in products using the suffix "-ade"
  • The original flavors were: Cherry, Grape, Lemon-lime, Orange, Raspberry, and Strawberry
From Wikipedia:
The mascot of Kool-Aid, Kool-Aid Man is a large, anthropomorphic, frosty pitcher filled with Kool-Aid (usually cherry, though other flavors have been used). He was introduced in Kool-Aid advertising shortly after General Foods acquired the brand. In TV and print ads, Kool-Aid Man was known for bursting suddenly through walls, seemingly summoned by the making and imbibing of Kool-Aid by children. His catch phrase is "Oh, yeah!"
Click here to see how Hastings, Nebraska, the birthplace of Kool-Aid, celebrated Kool-Aid Days.

People dye their hair with Kool-Aid. People also dye their dog's fur with Kool-Aid:

Oh yeah!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Giant Isopods Eating Doritos

I'm sorry I just came across this picture in the most random internet search ever. Just had to share, for some reason this picture makes me giggle:

To go to the website I got this from, click on the picture.

Best Friends, Homeless Animals, Sandcastles and Relaxation

Each of today's observances really deserves it's own individual post, if you ask me. And Lord knows I could write an individual post about each one, too! Today's Wacky Holidays strike such a warm and fuzzy chord, after you get done reading this you just might faint from the positive vibes.
Best Friends Day
None of the other observances today get to me quite like this one. It's only appropo that I should blog about Best Friends the same year I reunite with my original partner-in-crime, Michelle Kuhn, now Michelle Reid.

Let me tell you about Michelle and I: we were inseparable from 3rd grade to 8th grade, kind of went our separate ways a little bit through high school, and after that it was touch and go through college/marriage years. We had a falling out almost a decade ago - that's how much time had passed before we began speaking to each other again earlier this year. It wasn't a big, knock-down, drag-out fight that began the silence; it was more me turning my back on her. She had just gotten married and was pregnant with her first child. I admit it; I was jealous. Discussions of where we wanted to wind up as adults consisted of me doing the domestic, raising-a-family thing, and Michelle running off child-free on some great adventure with someone she may, or may not, be married to.

Well, reality had other ideas and somehow we wound up living out the other one's plans! Which to me wasn't fair at the time. Since I couldn't share my feelings with her, I just stopped calling her.

Just to prove how great of a person she is, even after all this time has passed, even after doing that to her, burying the hatchet was no big deal and she was only too happy to start corresponding with me again! She now has two beautiful kids, still married to the same guy 10 years later. It's pretty funny to us now, looking back on how things worked out for both of us. Michelle will always be my bestest-best friend, and I am only too happy to devote time and space in my blog today to honor the friendship we had.

As if that weren't enough, I am also blessed to have developed a deep and lasting friendship with someone I've only known a couple of years: Jen Gillespie. Whereas Michelle was my childhood best friend, Jen is my grown-up best friend. We have a lot of the same tastes in things - we both love reading books, we're both health-conscious in a political way, we love cats, our careers span a decade or more in the broadcast television news industry. We both have our days where we just hate people, probably more a symptom of having worked in news production as long as we have. We both know what it's like to work in union shops with ancient, crotchety old directors who are overpaid and underworked. We also know what it's like to work with crotchety old directors who are the only ally you can find for miles in this business.

Jen and I don't agree on everything, but through our jobs we have found the kind of uncommon kinship that doesn't come along too often in life. For that I am especially grateful to have achieved this not once, but twice in my own lifetime. If friends are the blessings of life, my cup has truly been filled to overflowing.

Doing the internet research ... it seems Best Friends Day ALSO occurs on June 8! Hm. Well, since I missed out on the June 8 date, I'm offering my thoughts today instead. Take it or leave it.

Here is a really great essay on what "best friends" means to one journalist. In fact, it's so well-written it almost makes me want to substitute it for my entry today. Almost. Jenna Wolfe's take on Best Friends.

National Homeless Animals Day - another take on "best friends"
Shelters for homeless animals need only one thing more than extra space and supplies: money. The people who are unable to adopt for one reason or another can still help out. If you are one of those people, won't you please consider making a small donation to your local shelter? To supplement that or in lieu of a monetary donation, shelters also take donations of supplies like old blankets, towels, food bowls, and the like.
We recently featured on our newscasts a little girl not more than 12 years old, Kaleigh Lenartz, who celebrated her birthday a little differently than the average pre-teen. She asked her friends and family to buy food and supplies to donate to the local animal shelter in lieu of birthday presents for herself. It was downright humbling, and for this blogger, really got me thinking how I could do the same thing. Then I thought, what if everybody made a similar sacrifice? That would mean less heartbreaking stories on the news. Complete elimination of such heartbreak would be ideal of course, but cutting down on seeing those sad, lonely faces in our stories would be the next best thing.

Sandcastle & Sculpture Day

'Nuff said.

Although it should be noted that this observance primarily has it's roots in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Even still, what's not to love about sandcastles!

National Relaxation Day

How do you relax?
That might be my most favorite question in the world to ponder because there is NOTHING I love better than to kick back at the end of the day and ahhhh ... relax. Big, oversized t-shirt; baggy "house-only" pants; fuzzy pink slippers; warm, polar-fleece robe (yes, even in Florida - A/C gets cold down here!); and either a hot cup of tea or something sweet to eat. And something soft to sit on ... relaxation for me cannot come fast enough some days.

One article I just stumbled across proposes going even further: turning off the cell phone, and my favorite: signing off of Facebook! Another article suggests simply taking a nap or going outside to watch the clouds and daydream.

Sign me up.
If you are one of those people who has trouble relaxing, read this article for some tips on how to unwind.

Chauvin Day - Origin of "Chauvinism"

Ever wonder where the term "chauvinism" came from? I didn't, but in researching for today's Wacky Holiday post I found out. Today is also "Chauvin Day", named after one of Napoleon's soldiers, Nicolas Chauvin. According to the Nashua Telegraph he is described as the "ultimate fanboy": he idolized Napoleon, it turns out. Originally "chauvinism" meant "blindly zealous nationalism" but has evolved through the years to mean "biased devotion" to any group, cause or attitude, i.e. 'male chauvinism'.

So today we celebrate Nicolas Chauvin. It's not his fault that his name descended to such infamy. Here's hoping to restore some semblance of honor to his name again.