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.

Friday, August 14, 2009

National Navajo Code Talker Day

Today is National Navajo Code Talker Day - it is also "V-J" Day, designated just like that, with capitalized letters and a hyphen in-between. I didn't know what V-J Day was so I looked it up: it means "Victory over Japan". It is the date Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces in the war that got two nuclear bombs dropped on them. Not like Japan had much choice after we annihilated their country and their people! (How, exactly, is that a fair fight? Just sayin'.)

Okay so there's my token mention on that.

The Navajo Code Talkers on the other hand ... it was their job to send coded messages that the Japanese couldn't decipher during World War II, and it worked: the Japanese never cracked their code. Now this to me is a perfect example of where the United States military made a SMART decision. The esteemed U.S. Marine Corps, for which I hold a special place in my heart, employed the Code Talkers in every assault conducted in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945.**

Apparently the Japanese were skilled code breakers, but were "baffled" by the Navajo language.*

Nicholas Cage starred in the movie, Windtalkers which immortalizes the Code Talkers. Recognition for their contribution did not come until 1992. Modest internet research reveals tons of information and history about these heroes. Clearly, the contribution the Marine Code Talkers made to ending the war quickly and to U.S. military history is, as one website puts it, "nothing short of monumental".

In any event, utilizing the Navajo language in order to help win the wars was pretty clever if you ask me. Just knowing that the people who are native to this land fought on our side to help us win, by giving us their most precious resource ... what can one say to that? "Thank you" seems sorely inadequate.

Click on the poster above to go to a full-size version where you can read everything.

If you do nothing else today, go spend a few minutes learning about the incredible service and sacrifice these wonderful, brave people gave to our country. Better yet, Google "Navajo Code Talkers", and off you go...

*Info taken from the website, Naval History and Heritage Command.
**(Both my dad and a half-brother fought in two different wars as Marines, my dad in WWII and my brother in Vietnam. My dad never told me about the Code Talkers, mostly because I don't think he was stationed where they were working.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Remembering Charley, and a Confession of Sorts


Okay, skipping the nap before work shift begins = BAD IDEA! I don't know if DeAnna noticed or not but I was totally nodding off during the 11am show. I don't mind admitting that because I didn't make any mistakes ... or maybe I only dreamed I didn't make any mistakes!!! OH NOES!!! Maybe I'll go into work tomorrow and find out I'm being suspended for sleeping on the job!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I did put my head in my arms briefly during a commercial break at one point ... I could have sworn I lifted my head up again, but maybe I only dreamed I did!!!!!


So I came home and went directly to my bed, I did not pass go, I did not collect $200, I passed the eff out. Woke up around 7pm to a torrential downpour. Surprisingly that did not make me go back to sleep. That's how committed I am to making this blog post every day, I made myself get up so that I wouldn't miss my chance to get my post in on time today. It's going on 3 weeks now; in fact, I think tomorrow it will be 3 weeks solid that I posted every day. Just one more week to go!!!

I'm telling you right now dear reader, after this NaBloPoMo challenge ends I'm taking a week off. I'll have to look ahead and figure out which week has the least amount of interesting things on the Wacky Holidays calendar ... actually, looking ahead, I don't see a good week at all, so maybe I'll just take a few days off.

Remembering Charley

Today marks the 5-year anniversary of when Hurricane Charley hit the southwest coast of Florida, decimating the little town of Punta Gorda and just generally wreaking havoc in all of southwest Florida. Charley descended upon the Peace River corridor as a Category 4 hurricane. This occurred the year before I moved down here, so I can only tell you what I've heard. But I can tell you I lived through Hurricane Wilma, and although Wilma was worse than Charley in some ways, in other ways it wasn't nearly as bad: if nothing else, Charley prepared SWFL for Wilma which occurred 14 months after Charley.

Check out this scrapbook of sorts that the station I work for, NBC-2, put together: click here.

The video below is not the special that aired tonight in honor of the 5-year anniversary. Still, it is an awfully good representation of what SW Floridians experienced, waiting for this monstrosity of nature to unleash it's wrath. You will also see a team of meteorologists, reporters, anchors, photogs and production personnel giving their best work through that time - none of them were any more prepared for Charley than anybody else living in SWFL at that time was! Charley seasoned my co-workers the way Wilma seasoned me.