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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Outlander, The Best Book Ever, Is Coming to TV!

So, first:  I've been uninspired for months now to blog, but I am going to try to be better now.  I have inspiration!  I have a reason to look forward to March  2014!  I have reason to LIVE!  

Outlander is a book by Diana Gabaldon.  She is my favorite author because of this book and the 6 (soon to be 7) books that follow it.   She is, to me, a genius.  And the cable network STARZ is going to start production on a TV series, much like Game of Thrones, based on this magnificent series.

If you are not familiar with this series, let me tell you a little about it.  It's about Claire Randall, a former WWII combat nurse who accidentally travels back in time from 1945 to 1743 Scotland and meets Jamie Fraser, a beautiful red-headed Scot warrior.  She is forced to marry him to protect herself from the English Army Captain who wants her tried as a spy.  The twist here is that the English Army Captain is her 1945 husband's 8 times great-grandfather.  That is just one of many twists and turns the story takes over the years that the series spans. 

Oh, and did I mention the tasty Scotsman that is going to play Jamie?   Feast your eyes on this:

Sam Heughan
Now, imagine this beautiful man with longer, reddish/auburn hair and wearing a kilt.  Yes, a kilt.  If you are a heterosexual woman and you don't think attractive, fit men in kilts are sexy, then I just don't understand you.  At.  All.
But back to the books:  Do yourself a favor and read Outlander.  It's historically very accurate, Gabaldon is an obsessive researcher and dives into every beautiful detail of life in 18th Century Scotland.  Honestly, I didn't think I would ever like a book like this, but I do!  It's full of history, romance, and the nightmares of war.  It's got the whole Sci-Fi time-travel thing going for it, and it's a loonnggg book.   But hey, it's summer, you have a little spare time to read on the beach.  Why not read this? 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Happy 2013!

It's been awhile since I've had the inclination to sit down and write, not that there's been a shortage of news to comment on, just that I don't know what to say about what's been happening since the last time I wrote!

Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast just days after I posted.  It hit us all the way in Northwest Indiana, which is something that hasn't happened before.  People were devastated by this horrible storm that shut down NYC for some time, as well as decimating the Jersey Shore.   Here on the shores of Lake Michigan, it just meant a couple of very windy days and big waves.  I went to the beach to take pictures of the lake, and couldn't believe the wind.  I didn't get very good photos, but I got a nice face exfoliation thanks to the sand slapping me at 70 mph!

Then the Election, where THANK YOU JESUS the crazy man from Utah was NOT elected.  What more can I say that hasn't been said about that?  Not much, so I'll leave it at that :)

Then the horrendous shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School happened.  I still can't think about it without choking up a little.  The image in my mind of 20 little babies riddled with bullets is unbearable.  I hold my nieces and nephews just a little tighter now, and pray that these mass murders will stop.   I believe in the right to bear arms but assault rifles have no place in civilized society, period.

We had a good Christmas here, not a White Christmas, but then who needs snow when you're traveling to see your family?  Not me.  I did run into a little snow on Christmas morning when I left my brother's house on the South Side of Chicago, but it didn't last to the Indiana State Line and it hasn't snowed more than a dusting since!   That aside, I had the absolute JOY of spending Christmas morning watching my 2 and 4 year old nieces open their gifts from Santa.

I also had the great displeasure of having some sort of flu or cold, beginning on the day after Christmas, which has finally left my body in the last few days.  Get your flu shots, people!  I had mine, as I do every year, thanks to my wonderful stepmom, a retired nurse.  While I was quite miserable with a stuffy head, bad cough, swollen tonsils, and overall yuckiness, it wasn't the flu that's putting people in the hospital, so I consider myself one of the lucky ones!

Last week, my TEAM, my wonderful Notre Dame Football Team, lost the National Championship to **shudder**  Alabama.  All the NDFB haters are all of the sudden, HUGE 'Bama Fans??  "Roll Tide" appeared on my Facebook feed so many times that night that I considered de-friending a couple of people!  Not just hurt!  But I love my team, I'm proud that they made it that far, and I'm proud that they Played Like Champions! 

My New Year's resolution (I normally don't make them) is to be nicer.  Stop criticizing, find the good in people, love my family and friends for who they are, and smile more.  I figure that's something I can do that will make the world (okay, just my immediate world) a little nicer :)

So, Happy New Year to all 5 of my readers!  Cheers to a healthy and happy 2013!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

9 More Days

How many times have I sat down with the intention of writing this post?  I have lost count...

Politics are tricky.  Bob Newhart once said that he never commented on politics because he would automatically lose half his fans.  The same can be said of friends these days.  With the explosion of social media since the last Presidential Election, we all know who our friends and acquaintances support in the election.  I would rather have not known.

I'm a Democrat.  I have (and yes, I'm ashamed) voted for a few Republicans, although not recently.   I could be considered more of a conservative one.  I think that people who can work, should work and support themselves.  I think that abortions are not a viable form of birth control.  I'm a Christian, but I think that churches shouldn't get a tax exemption when they can build cathedrals and pay their pastors enough to live in mansions, and when those pastors preach politics from the pulpit.

But I'm very glad that abortions are SAFE and legal for those who need them, that the welfare system is in place for those who need it, and that small churches don't have the additional burden of paying taxes when the idea of a 10% tithe is impossible for people who are struggling to feed their families.

I live in a heavily Democratic county within a state that is firmly on the other side of the fence.  Indiana usually goes to the right, leaving Lake County as a little blue corner.  My vote doesn't count for much state-wide.  And we get our television stations from Chicago, which is, like us, very firmly Blue.  We don't see the commercials because the Republicans don't want to waste their campaign funds on people who aren't going to vote for them and the Democrats know that we're going to vote for them anyway.  Only on my trips to swing states have I even seen any of the commercials for any candidates.

This is why I think the Electoral College should go away.  It's outdated and ineffective.  Why bother voting when Ohio or North Carolina or Florida are the real battlegrounds?  You don't want to campaign for MY vote?  Then why on earth would I give it to you?

Al Gore lost the 2000 election by 543 (or maybe 537) votes in Florida.  Even though he won the actual total vote count, he still lost because of an antiquated system.  None of our votes counted, except for less than 550 Republicans in Florida - and at least one Supreme Court Justice.

Added to that, millions of us aren't even registered to vote, and only 50-60% of registered voters actually go to the polls to vote!   Our forefathers would be horrified!  They braved crossing the Atlantic, fighting the British, and building a NEW COUNTRY because they didn't have a vote.  And WOMEN weren't allowed to vote until 1920!  They had to pass a Constitutional Amendment to get it! 

Registering and voting aren't that hard.  If you can update your Facebook status every time you eat or watch a funny television show, you can take the time to register and vote.

So, vote on November 6th, or earlier where possible.  No matter who you vote for, really.  If everyone who was eligible to vote did so, the results just might make a difference.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pausing to Remember

So I took a slightly unintentional FOUR months away from my blog.  What can I say?  It's been a busy summer! 

I have been consumed with the upcoming election.  Watching my party's convention, Sunday morning political commentary, and 24-hour cable news have made up a great deal of my spare time as of late.  There is so much that I want to say about the candidates and the issues!  But first, I couldn't let the anniversary of the September 11th attacks go by without acknowledging the victims of that horrible day, or the fine men and women of our Armed Forces who've been fighting for justice and freedom ever since.

No one can think about that day without remembering where they were, how they found out, what they were doing before they got to the closest television, and how the horrible sight made them feel.  I was home, getting ready for work when my husband turned on the television, having heard about a plane hitting the WTC on the radio.  We thought it was a tragic accident and nearly dismissed it as such when we witnessed the second plane exploding into the second tower. 

I remember every detail of the rest of that day, as well as most of the events of that week, even though it went by in a blur of grief and profound sadness.   People were kinder for a time, but that ended.  I've heard that crime was even down for a few days.  No planes flew overhead for the rest of that week, which was nice, considering the last planes most of us saw were slamming into buildings.

Almost 3,000 people died that day.   Moms and Dads, Sisters and Brothers, Sons and Daughters.  People in airplanes, people in buildings, people wearing uniforms, people at work, people walking on sidewalks, people stopping to look, people trying to get away, people praying for rescue, people who thought they were safe and out of harm's way.   Some of the souls we lost that day were Muslim, and about 10% of those who died were foreign nationals or citizens of other countries. 

Thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, have died since.  Approximately 6,300 U.S. Troops have died and another 42,000 wounded in the "War on Terror" in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Sure, we've killed a fair amount of the terrorists, including the masterminds of the attacks, but when is it enough?  Will it ever be enough? 

We can't bring anyone back.  What we can do, and have done, is clean up the mess they made, mourn our dead, and rebuild.  Once a year, we can remember the souls we lost that day.  We can fly our flags on Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veteran's Day, and now on September 11th. 

We can be kinder to one another, the way we did that week.  That would be a nice way to remember.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

They're Going There With Their Friends!

Do They Still Teach Grammar or Spelling in Schools These Days?

Not that it would make much of a difference, in all seriousness.  The people who sat with me in English classes from elementary school through high school didn’t pay much attention when they had the chance. And I’m not talking about text-speak.  Everyone gets a pass on misspellings there; we’re abbreviating, I get that. 

I’m really not a grammar nazi, but I’m embarrassed by my own friends’ misspellings.

Before I really get rolling, I’ll admit that my own grammar is not perfect.  I end sentences with prepositions, misspell common words, and use too many commas.  I’m not talking perfection, I’m talking about knowing the difference between “they’re, there, and their.” 

Now that 50% of Americans have Facebook accounts, almost all of us have had a chance to see how our friends spell.  I don’t know about you, but most of my friends can’t.  A few of them are great at it, sadly most of the ones who are fluent in English are also English teachers. 

Here’s a partial list of the worst things I see, daily:

For the love of God, there is no D in the word congratulations!

Learn when to use “me” or “I” in a sentence, and when to use an apostrophe.  It’s not that hard.

Know the differences between ~ they’re, there, and their ~ you’re and your ~ to, too, and two ~ then and than ~ know and no ~ awe and awww! ~ hear and here ~ buy, bye, and by ~  break and brake ~ loose and lose ~ peek and peak ~ You get the idea, I could do this for days.

Does ANYONE remember: “i before e, except after c” ?


And while we’re talking about awesome things, let’s talk about the overuse of the words AWESOME and AMAZING.  I hear them everywhere, describing every imaginable thing in the world.  People sure have been awed and amazed at the most boring of things!  Please, people, find more adjectives.  Here’s a word for you: THESAURUS.  Please get one.

These days, we have to be concerned about potential employers asking for our Facebook passwords.  Everyone’s worried that they’ll find some old college pictures of us, drunkenly hanging off of our dreadlock-wearing, unwashed ex-boyfriend, playing beer pong and wearing bad 80’s fashion.  Maybe you should be more concerned about your spelling and grammar in the “About Me” sections.  Just a thought.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Turn Right At The Third Light

There are a lot of things that I don't understand about men and how their minds work. That's nothing unusual, of course. The mystery of the differences between the sexes is the subject of countless books, movies, songs, and drunken barroom discussions. Here is the one thing that really confuses me about guys: Why do they think that they are the authority and final word of direction-giving?

I've spent many years working in convenience stores and gas stations, which is where a lot of people go to ask directions when they're lost or looking for a specific place. I'm happy to help, and if I don't know how to get there, I'll find a way to help regardless. I've drawn maps, written step-by-step directions, called the place for them, and unfolded (and then re-folded) many a paper road map to help. Nowadays, I simply pull out the trusty iPhone and type in the place they're looking for. It's part of the job and I actually like doing it because it's one of those customer service things that people appreciate and remember.

And I've been told many times that I give good directions. Concise, clear, and easy to follow directions...even though I am a girl. I get around much better than my husband, he's more likely to get lost than me, and he's more likely to ask directions from someone than me. He asks me how to get places, and as his wife, I'm always pleased for the opportunity to tell him where to go. ;)

So why is it that when a man OR woman comes into a gas station and asks me for directions and I do so (quite well I might add), any man within earshot of my directions feels obliged to then give the lost person the exact same directions, verbatim, immediately after I have done so?

If the answer to that question is: To Seriously Offend And Piss Me Off, well then, mission accomplished. I gave PERFECTLY GOOD DIRECTIONS, sorry they didn't ask you first. It was not an insult to the size of your penis that they didn't ask you instead.

That's all for today!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Customer Is Always...

Since I’ve been in the business of Customer Service for about 32 years, give or take a few years, I feel as if I have the right (and the responsibility) to provide a few pointers to you customers out there on how not to piss off your customer service providers or your fellow customers. That’s right, because sometimes you are so self-absorbed that you irritate other customers.

You think it’s not your problem? You think that you’re always right? Weeeelllll, let me tell you, you are not. Sometimes you’re not only wrong, you are DEAD wrong. Sometimes you are stupid and rude. Sometimes we call you some very mean names after you’ve walked out of the door. Sometimes we wish very bad things upon you. You reap what you sow, people!

I’ve had poor customer service, but I have never been rude to that person. Really, never! Not even a little bit. Because that person is a PERSON. Being rude to PEOPLE is not nice. Why am I stressing the fact that these are people? Because sometimes, you customers treat us as if we’re not people. You are disrespectful to us. So first and foremost, remember that the person ringing up your purchase is just that, a person.

In no particular order, here are some other things that we customer service providers want to let you know.

1. When we say “hello” or “good morning” or some other greeting, it would be appropriate for you to respond in kind. When I say “hello” and you say “Large Coffee” that is not polite.

2. However, when we say “hello” or some other greeting, it’s just a greeting, not an invitation for sex. We are not flirting, we are being polite. If I want to have sex with you, I will be more direct. But unless we're in a strip joint, don't hold your breath.

3. If you haven’t bathed or brushed your teethe in the last week or your clothes are standing up on their own, you probably stink. And spraying half a bottle of cologne on yourself isn’t fooling anyone. If I step back from you, or blow a fan toward you and away from me, take a hint and hit the showers. You make me want to vomit.

4. With only the rarest of exceptions, the person at the register did NOT set the prices. Telling me that the price of one of our products is too high is pointless and annoys me. If you want a bargain, go to Wal-Mart.

5. Same goes for your complaint about the number of restrooms or parking spaces, how the building is laid out or the color of the floor tile. I didn’t design the building; I was probably not even born when the building was constructed. So either write a letter to our corporate office or shut up.

6. This one really bugs me…When you tell me that you can buy it cheaper at another store, I really want to tell you to go there and leave me alone, but I am not allowed to do that. So here’s the thing: Either go to the other store and save yourself the nickel you’re bitching about, or shut up and pay what we’re charging. Please.

7. When you are too clueless to work a credit card machine or a gas pump or any other simple piece of machinery or technology, do not get mad at the person behind the counter, get mad at your own stupid ass.

8. (This one applies only to gas stations, but I’ve worked at a lot of them and it still makes me shake my head) When you go inside to pay for your gas, it is NOT the cashier’s job to know what pump you’re on, it’s YOURS. Pointing at ALL of the pumps and saying “That one right there” does NOT help. Telling me it’s the white car does NOT help. Telling me it’s pump 19 when there isn’t a pump 19 does NOT help. Telling me it’s across from pump 4 does NOT help. The only thing that does help is knowing what the number is on the pump that you are parked closest to. Nothing else. When you don’t know your pump number, we think you are stupid.

9. When there is one person working behind the counter and there is a line, just get in the line. Coming to the front to ask me a question because you think you’re too important to wait is rude. I am doing the best I can. I see that I have a line and if there is someone else to help, I will call them when it’s appropriate. You are not the President and you have to wait in line like the rest of us.

10. When there are people waiting behind you and you are digging in your wallet for your money or debit card or a damn penny, they make faces behind your back. They wish you would die, right there. You knew you were coming to a store to buy stuff, and so you really should be a little more prepared. Get your shit together already.

There are a lot of other things that I could add to this list. Just be nice and polite and realize that you aren’t the only person in the world. That would really help. And if you think that this list doesn't apply to you because you are a wonderful person and everyone should who knows you should feel lucky, think again. If you think that then this list is definitely for you.

If all of the above makes me sound like a bitch that shouldn’t be in contact with other people, much less be left in charge of a cash register, well, maybe that’s true. But I can assure you that I’m nice to all the customers, even the dumbest of the dumb, the rudest of the rude, and the clueless-est of the…you know what I mean. I just received a certificate of excellence in customer service from my current employer, and it’s not the first time I’ve been recognized for it either. All of the above is what’s in my head as I’m giving you and the general public the best customer service possible.