Thursday, September 30, 2010

As Requested

So you want to know where the concept of someone standing on their soap box came from (also referred to as soapboxing)?

I'll tell you.

Long before corrugated fiberboard (what we generally call a cardboard box), soap (among other things) was actually transported in sturdy wooden boxes. Because everyone needs soap, there was a proliferation of these boxes in any given town. They were surprisingly sturdy, easy to find, easy to move (when empty), and, therefore, provided the perfect platform for street speakers.

Street speakers, which, I imagine, have been around since the first human being realized not everybody agreed with him and he was hell bent on "educating" them, would start talking to passersby about whatever topic they felt strongly about. As people would stop to listen, the crowds would get bigger and it would be harder for people to see or hear the speaker. The speakers, wanting the largest number of people to hear the message they thought was so important, would grab a soap box and flip it over to stand on it. The extra height put the speaker above the crowd and allowed them to stand out from the rest of the people and project their voice more effectively.

Street speakers were often people talking about political issues, and crowds could get a little rowdy, so law enforcement officials were usually on the ready, waiting to break up a fight or a riot. The large crowds could also spill into the streets and cause traffic problems. So, while the street speakers felt that the first amendment gave them every right to stand on their soap box and say whatever they pleased, they were always at odds with police, who were trying to ensure crowd control.

Street speakers, or soapbox orators, reached the height of their popularity in the decades (yes, decades) just before World War I. Many people didn't have a lot of discretionary income to spend on entertainment, and these soapbox orators were a source of entertainment. Free entertainment. And they generally worked hard to entertain the crowd and keep their attention.

Of course, with so many soapbox orators, you can imagine that some of them were on the opposite end of the political (or even religious) spectrum. Sometimes part of the crowd's entertainment was found in two sparring street speakers, each stating their own message while also heckling the other. This, again, generally led to a rowdier crowd, and sometimes even lead to physical violence. As previously stated, law enforcement officials did not look kindly upon soapbox orators.

Eventually, street speakers fell in popularity, and radio personalities gladly took their places. And, even the soap boxes were changed to the cardboard we know today. So there you have it, the origin of the phrase "up on their soapbox." The phrase is still alive and well, but all that inspired it has long since disappeared.

Now the phrase is only used metaphorically, to describe someone who is speaking very passionately about something, and many people consider a blog a "soapbox". I am passionate about a lot of things (I don't do anything halfway. If you're gonna do it, do it right), so I chose the name for my blog accordingly. This is my soapbox. Of course, I added the space back in (so soapbox is no longer one word, but two), well, because I felt like it. Being on a soapbox has more to do with passion for the subject, than the reasonableness of that subject, in my opinion.

So there it is. You have been educated. Congratulations.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Otis Redding Trivia

Tonight, we are having an Otis Redding trivia lesson. Why? Because "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" is stuck in my head and has taken over my brain. Because I feel like it. Because I can. Wait for it....Because I said so.

1. Otis Redding was born in Dawson, Georgia. He grew up in Macon, GA.

2. He is the one who wrote "Respect". Aretha Franklin changed a few words around so it could be from a woman's perspective.

3. He also wrote "Hard to Handle". His performance is much easier to understand, by the way.

4. He signed with a subsidiary of Stax Records, based in Memphis, TN.

5. He also wrote "Try a Little Tenderness", "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", and several other well known hits.

6. Some of his most famous songs (including "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay") were written and recorded before his death, but were not actually released until after his passing.

7. He died in a plane crash in December of 1967.

8. I think that the next time someone beats the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, they ought to play "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" for the simple reason that is has the line "Watching the tide roll away". I might be a nerd, but I am totally owning it.

Disclaimer: All of the above information was found on the internet. Take it with a grain of salt. If any of it needs to be corrected, just let me know. I will gladly correct any mistakes.

That is all. Class dismissed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Music of My Childhood

So last weekend the MSU Marching Band played a tribute to the 90s during halftime of the football game. They played Nirvana, NSync, and Ricky Martin. It was like being in middle school all over again. I almost felt like turning on TRL as soon as I got home and watching Carson Daly count down the most popular songs of the day. Wow.

My husband wasn't all that amused by the song selection and completely rolled his eyes when I giggled at the opening notes of "Livin' La Vida Loca". One of my best friends, though, who was sitting elsewhere in the stadium, was quick to text me her support. I thought it was funny, because at that moment I was thinking that if she were sitting with me, that she would understand and giggle right along with me.

She and I continued our giggly texting during tonight's episode of Glee! It was a tribute to Britney Spears. That woman might be nutty as a fruitcake, but when I was in school she DOMINATED the radio. Right up until the head shaving madness, that is. Still, back in the day, she was awesome.

Ugh. I am old enough to say back in the day. Sad.

I know that it is no longer cool to admit that you were into NSync or Britney Spears. I don't care. My sister teased me relentlessly at the time, so it wasn't cool in my house back then. I rocked out, though. Still have some of the CDs to prove it. Actually, I don't care what anybody says the NSync Christmas CD that I bought so many years ago is STILL one of my favorite holiday CDs. A cappella "O Holy Night". 'Nough said.

What are some of the songs you rocked out to at the height of your awkward phase?

Unrelated Side Note: As an FYI - A former MSU baseball player broke his neck over the summer, during a trip to Key West with friends. His name is Ryan Duffy. He survived, but his medical bills are mounting and he has a LONG road ahead. If you would like to help, the MSU Athletic Ticket Office is selling "Do It For Duffy" wristbands for $5 to try to raise money to help his family cover his rising medical expenses.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bragging Rights

So this weekend my own beloved Mississippi State University played the University of Georgia. It was the bulldogs vs the bulldogs and it was fantastic. I was prepared. I had my cowbell in hand (and I can admit that now that they are not banned!) and I was pumped up.

Now I realize that there are those of you out there who may not recognize the tradition so let me enlighten you.

Mississippi State University is known for its cowbell ringing fans. We carry cowbells bearing all sorts of decorations, with handles attached, to ring during the game as a sign of support. When on the field you may not be able to distinguish the words of the crowd, but you CANNOT mistake the sound of a cowbell. It's distinctive. It's loud. Borderline amazing, is what it is.

Now, the way I heard it growing up, the tradition got started during a football game many eons ago between State and our biggest rivals, Ole Miss. Ole Miss is the accepted nickname of the University of Mississippi. Mississippi State University (affectionately just called State) is NOT the same as Ole Miss. Be careful on this one. The rivalry is deep and intense, and to call one by the other's name is the kind of insult that makes one's blood boil. DID YOU HEAR THAT ESPN??? BLOOD BOIL! It incites the kind of rage the likes of which you may never have seen. In short, them's fighting words. But I digress. The football game that started the whole cowbell craze, was between the two aforementioned universities and State was down. Losing. To the Rebels. It was tragic. Then, however, a cow wandered onto the field, the bell around it's neck just ringing and ringing. State went on to win the game and the cow was immediately adopted as a good luck charm. After the cow passed away, the bell came as a symbol. It caught on. By the 1950s the bell was not just popular, but common. The handle was added in the 1960s, and the rest is really history.

Now, according to most "official" sources, the actual story of how the cowbell got started are in question, but the above tale is how I heard it, and it is generally accepted as truth. Regardless, the cowbell is here to stay. They are now passed down from generation to generation of State fans until the fall apart. That's fanaticism, people. If you're gonna do it, do it right.

So there you have it. You learn something new everyday. After all, we all know that I strive to create an environment of education and culture.

Stop rolling your eyes.

Anyway, for those of you who are still having trouble picturing the cowbell, in all it's handled glory, no worries. I took pictures of one of ours (I say one, because my husband and I have more than one. That's right, each person must have their own. It's like an unwritten rule).

It's decorated on both sides. That is also a must. An unwritten rule. A necessity.

I don't care what people may say, a cowbell is infinitely more fun to celebrate with than a vuvuzela. I stand by that statement.

But anyway, back to the ACTUAL game. It was glorious. The REAL Bulldogs came away with the win (that would be State, in case you have not caught on to the fact that I am maybe, just the little teeniest bit, A HUGE FAN OF MISSISSIPPI STATE).

MSU has had some rough years on the football field. Rough. Hard to watch. Wince-inducing. If you are not a fan during the rough years, you are not a fan. Generally, our hopes are high, but our expectations are low and a win over an SEC team, no matter what the rank, is something to be celebrated. Especially when that win means that you get to come away with bragging rights. In this case, the bragging rights are that we are the REAL bulldogs of the SEC. This cannot be challenged for at least a year, when we meet again and battle it out once more. Glorious.

And just for the record, THIS, Ladies and Gentlemen, IS A SCOREBOARD....

That's how it's done. It's as tall as the stadium itself. It can be seen from the highway before you get to town, its speakers can be heard all over campus. You almost need sunglasses to look at it. Again, if you're gonna do something, do it right.

Another plus to this particular game, was that I sat next to a delightful gal, who just had the cutest (and still practical!) shoes on. They were from Tom's Shoes (nobody is paying me to talk about them, I really did think they were adorable and practical). So not only were they maroon, they were comfy slip ons. As a girl who would LIVE in either sneakers or flip flops every day of my life, for me to say shoes look practical is really saying something. Plus, Tom's Shoes gives a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes you buy. And the price is not outrageous. Reasonably priced, practical, cute shoes? It's TRUE! But because I KNEW you wouldn't believe me, I have pictorial evidence.

And Thank You, Dakota, for not thinking I was insane when I wanted to take a picture of your shoes. They are flat (score), have a comfy sole, and did I mention they are MAROON?

That's right, I watched a football game, rang a cowbell, made a new friend, AND found cute shoes. THAT IS MULTI-TASKING AT ITS BEST!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wicked Awesome

I love musicals. Love. LOVE. I know it makes me a geek and I really don't care. I love musicals. I think a world in which people randomly break into song would be much less stressful. I mean, I can't sing a note, but in my crazy musical world, EVERYONE can sing.

Anyway, I have seen some pretty good musicals in my time. I can still sing the songs from most of them. My current favorite is Wicked. Why? BECAUSE IT IS AMAZING! I loved the Wizard of Oz (well, the flying monkey scene used to freak me out, actually, but I could listen to Judy Garland belt out "Over the Rainbow" everyday for rest of my life), and Wicked turns the whole story on its head.

For those of you who may not know, Wicked is the story of what happened before Dorothy came to Oz, back when Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West were college roommates. It is fantastic. I won't ruin it for you. You should see it for yourself. Why? IT IS AWESOME.

I am thinking about it because my fantastic husband bought me tickets to see it when it comes to town next month. It will be my third time to see it. That's right, third. It gets better every time. My husband has yet to see it. He is coming with me. I love him for doing that. He has heard the soundtrack because I play it fairly regularly (Idina Menzel is now my musical hero), but he has not actually seen it. He can contain his excitement, I can't. I am itching for showtime. YAY!

It is still a month away. How will I ever make it?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

You Know Who Irks Me?

Lady Gaga.

I know that is a dangerous thing to say when blogging, because of her legions of rabid fans who will probably track me down for saying it, but it's true. She irks me.

She irks me for several reasons. The least of which is that her songs are catchy and get stuck in my head. The truth is the only part of her songs that I really like is the dance beat. My romance is not bad, I don't want your ugly or your disease, I don't care if it's free.

Also, she wears all those crazy outfits to "make a statement." What statement? If you ask her she doesn't have a solid answer. She changes answers all the time and then says things like it can be interpreted however you want. If I am interpreting it to say what I want, you are not making the statement, I am making it for you.

And while we are on the topic of her outfits, can I just say this whole meat dress thing is just gross. And PETA, where the hell are you? People wear fur coats and you throw buckets of blood on them, she wears a dress of MEAT and you applaud her for making a statement about wearing animals as clothing? IT IS MEAT! EW! Hypocrites. You say you would rather go naked than wear fur, but you are all about wearing meat.

I know we are supposed to excuse some of her crazy behavior because she was an outcast in school and didn't have many friends, blah, blah, blah. Really? Her teen years were awkward and horrible? She wasn't the first and she won't be the last. Not everyone who was an outcast in high school needs validation from the ENTIRE WORLD.

I am sure she has redeeming qualities. But I don't know her personally, so all I know of her is crazy outfits and catchy songs.

I don't know why I felt the need to tell you this today. I just did.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shopping, Chores, and the Return of Glee

It has been a busy day. After work I had to run by Target to pick up a few things: a new drying rack (the legs gave out on my old one some time ago and I really need to stop drying my sweaters on top of the dryer or in it), a longer leash for obedience class (the one we have is a regular walking leash, and the class requires a six foot training leash for the new stuff we are learning), and some grocery odds and ends.

I was confident that Target would have what I needed. I even looked online and the selection was quite satisfactory, so after work I stopped at the Target on the way home. All I found was disappointment. Sure, they had the grocery odds and ends, and at decent prices, but they only had one style of dryer rack in stock. ONE. As for the leashes? Not a single one more than four feet long that is suited for a dog Major's size. Ugh.

So I came home, made dinner, worked on the laundry, watched GLEE! (I am super excited that it is back!), and then went to my neighborhood Target. It can always be trusted to have what I need. I knew the neighborhood Wal-Mart would not have the leash I needed, because I have looked there before, so even though the Target is a bit further, I went there. Ugh again.Even my go-to Target store only had two dryer racks in stock. And not one leash that was long enough.

I am about to reveal to you another of my weird little quirks, brace yourself. I don't like to buy a lot of things online. Books, movies, music, sure, but some things I like to see in person. I like to touch and feel and size up certain things in person (this goes double for shoes and clothes - some things you should just be able to try on, because not all fashions look good on everyone. This is also a great time to reveal to you one of my firm beliefs: JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN, DOESN'T MEAN YOU SHOULD!). So I really don't want to buy my drying rack online. I have checked prices online, I have researched which brands to stay away from, and which ones are okay. Neither of the drying racks was the one I was looking for. They were both decent brands, in a decent price range, that got decent reviews, but not the one I was looking for. Not the one I got excited about. That's right, I got excited about a new drying rack. Don't judge me.

I decided to go with my second choice, which, luckily, was one they had. I am glad to have a new one, but I was still disappointed that it wasn't the one I wanted.

Nevertheless, I did get it, and went home and continued to do laundry. I even took care of some the more delicate sweaters that require a drying rack. I laundered and laundered and set up the drying rack and laundered some more, and thought about what surprises next week's episode of Glee will bring. It's back, finally. I love it. It's a musical that changes every week, but you still know all the songs. What's not to love?

In short, my day has been an emotional roller coaster. Because I get wrapped up in mundane details that other people don't even care about (like what dryer rack they want to get) and I get really excited about the little things (like my favorite show returning). Six Flags has nothing on my Tuesday night.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Dark Ages Via Twitter

I was watching a documentary on the History Channel about the Dark Ages while I was reading my Facebook newsfeed, and then I checked the BlogHer Chatter. As I clicked and watched, watched and clicked, I began to wonder. What would the Dark Ages have been like via Twitter?

It is a truly random thought, I know, but I am the Queen of completely random thoughts.

Really, though, what would they say?

@OutoftheHabit: "I decided this whole nun thing wasn't for me and tried to leave. They told me I was possessed by the devil...."

@Viking899: "Just pillaged a small village. Good times."

@Crusader1: "It is hot. And this armor isn't helping."

@Villager25: "The Vikings just showed up...again....crap."

@FranktheFranc732: "Who are these Moors and why are they calling me 'Infidel'?"

@PeasantChild: "I'm hungry, Mother. I'm hungry."

@BenedictMonk: " "

It's been a weird day.

That is all.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Don't Get Too Far Ahead of Yourself

It is mid-September. I don't have Halloween decorations out at my house yet because, well, it is mid-September. To me, Halloween is an October only kind of thing. Somebody forgot to inform some of the major retail stores.

I have been starting to notice an abundance of Halloween themed decorations and whatnot in stores for a little while now. It didn't start until after the back to school craze settled a bit, but it happened not long after.

Last weekend, though, I went to a few stores and noticed that Halloween decorations are giving way to Christmas decorations. I repeat: IT IS MID-SEPTEMBER.

I know that my family is starting to gather ideas about what to get each other for Christmas, so I do not frown upon early shopping at all. In fact, I support it. It's the decorating that needs to wait. You shouldn't start buying giant inflatables for the front yard that feature Santa, Rudolph, a snowman, or anything else yule-related this early in the fall. Actually, you really shouldn't buy giant inflatables ever. EVER. No, really.

Now, of course the general superstores (Wal-Mart and Target) are still in Halloween mode (with just a little bit of Christmas creeping in), but even Costco is down to just a couple of Halloween items while displaying three aisles of Christmas decorations. It's a little ridiculous.

I'm just sayin'.

Unrelated side note: WALL-E might be the most adorable movie I have ever seen.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Good Boy

So we went back to obedience class today. Major had been fed dinner, he had been walked, he was in good spirits and we were ready to make a splash.

Or at least I was.

He was ready to watch horses and stare down other dogs. He remembered their scathing looks from last class. He remembered the snickers and laughs. I was ready to rise above it, but he was holding a grudge.

He was so distracted, he forgot to show them all the progress he has made.

At least initially.....

We came to a point in the class when it was time to learn a particular new command: "down". Now, Major has done this particular command for food for a while now. It was finally his turn to shine. The female teacher (her husband also teaches part of the class) was demonstrating how to get the dog to follow the command. She looked her dog in the eye and said "down", and that is just was Major did. He got down on the ground just like the lead dog. It was marvelous. The teachers saw him and both giggled a little. There was even a comment of "oh, come on, that's cheating." It was glorious. He finally did it, he showed them all.

And you know what? He did it over and over and over again. Perfection. And he enjoyed the positive attention so much that he did wonderfully for the rest of the class. From that moment on he was the first to pick up on each command. He was head of the class. The teachers were both stunned. They both commented on how well he is doing and how much he has improved.

Darn Skippy.

He might be stubborn. He might be easily amused. He might run head first into the front door by accident sometimes, but he is a good dog. And today, he finally showed everyone else.

Good boy, Major. Good boy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Schadenfreude is a word of German origin that defines as "satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune".

It sounds cruel when you first hear it, but the truth is that the concept is not at all new. In fact, shows like America's Funniest Home Videos are based on it, sites like YouTube were practically built on it, and you know you have seen someone fall or slip at some point and giggled at least a little.

I know I have.

But I have stated before that it is possible that I am a little mean.

I try, really I do.

Schadenfreude is actually part of human nature, so I am told, which reminds me of a song in the musical Avenue Q (not recommended for children - even though it is performed with puppets and some of the same cast who works/worked on Sesame Street and the Muppets). The song lyric, if I remember right, goes a little something like this, "Sorry, Nikki, human nature. Nothing I can do. It's schadenfreude. Making me feel glad that I'm not you."

Of course, that does not mean that those little moments when you experience Schadenfreude are not going to end up on the Jumbotron one day.

But the next time you have a chuckle at the sight of someone else doing something remotely embarrassing (if not a little painful), you will know. It's schadenfreude.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Time of Remembering

I did not write a blog on Saturday. It was September 11th. I really didn't know what to say (a first, I know). I couldn't find the words to say what I felt needed to be said, so I just felt it. I think that was best for me at the time.

I did a lot of remembering that day. I remembered more than the horrendous tragedy that took place nine years ago. I remembered something far more selfish. I did spend time remembering the fallen of that tragedy, the brave, the lost, those who never saw it coming, and the families that waited for each of them to come home, only to find heartbreak and sorrow.

I did remember them, but I also remembered the tragedy that shaped my own life.

My mother was murdered when I was seven years old. She died in November. I turned eight years old that December. She passed away over a decade and a half ago, and part of me still misses her.

I miss her, but I have trouble remembering her. Without looking at a photo, I can barely remember her face. I cannot remember her voice. And I am slowly losing the memory of the sound of her laugh, which I have cherished for so long.

My older siblings and my father tell me things about her, stories about moments that she and I shared, but most of them I cannot conjure from my own memory.

I was very fortunate to be blessed with a stepmother who loves me. I have grown to love and truly appreciate her. I am honest when I say I have grown to do so, because she married my father when I was thirteen and I am not sure that I loved or appreciated anybody at thirteen. I had a lot of anger back then. I think a lot of thirteen year olds do, but I was mean. Not to everybody, but certainly to her. She never tried to replace my mother, and I don't think I thought she was trying to. It is entirely possible that I was just mean.

I outgrew it...mostly...sort of.

I'm working on it.

That is something I can do, work on myself. What I can't seem to do is regain my failing memories of my own mother. Or to shake the questions I still find myself asking in the still and the quiet.

Would she be proud of me? How would my life have been different if she was still here? What would she have said to me on the night of my first date? Prom? Graduation? My wedding day?

One day she and I will meet again in Heaven. Then maybe all my questions will be answered. Until then there is only the struggle to remember.

Unrelated side note (I don't want to end on a sad one): "Merge" and "Stop" are not interchangeable. If you don't know how to drive, don't get behind the wheel. I'm just sayin'.

Friday, September 10, 2010

X Marks the Spot

Disclaimer: Nobody paid me to write this blog...or be this nerdy.

So I am currently reading Lost Treasures of American History by W. C. Jameson. It is fascinating. I had no idea so many treasures were already identified in the United States, but still in their "hiding" places.

The book describes more than one treasure that is known to exist, but it is either too dangerous or too difficult (or both) to retrieve. I am riveted. It makes me want to go find some of the places the book talks about.

There are just few problems.

I am out of shape, and this type of expedition, I would imagine, would require one to be at a decent fitness level.

Also, I hate snakes, spiders, and scorpions.

I also really treasure my creature comforts. Like enough clean water to stay hydrated.

Am I really willing to give that up to go after a treasure in a place that is either in a desert with conditions that have killed many, or in a more forgiving climate, but guarded by a group of Native Americans that have been known to kill to defend their sacred land?

Probably not, but it sure is fun to read about! This would have made my American History class in high school far more exciting.

I can't wait to finish the book. It is like watching National Treasure over and over and over again, with different outcomes each time.

It is also a plus that I found on the Bargain Priced shelf at the bookshelf. Big adventure, small price! Score.

Wait. Is it ironic that I am thrilled about saving money on a book that is all about treasure beyond my wildest dreams located right under our noses?

Only me.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The F Word: Feminism

First, it is a true testament to how much I appreciate my followers that I am blogging during halftime of the Mississippi State v. Auburn game. Please know that I am grateful to all those who stop by my blog and take the time to "hear" what I have to say, no matter how mundane or random.

Ok. No more mushy stuff.

I have said before that I am not an up-in-arms style feminist. That does not mean that I am not a feminist at all. It has recently been brought to my attention that women of my generation have come to think of feminism as a label best to be avoided. But why? Why would we not want it to be known that we strive for equality? Why would we pretend not to care?

It appears that some women believe the word feminist is associated with bra-less unshaven women who carry picket signs and hate men. I just don't think that is true, don't get me wrong, it is entirely possible that those women are out there. But there are radicals in every group. Some of us wouldn't dream of leaving the house without proper undergarments, are quite well acquainted with our razor (or wax), and not only don't hate men, but are married to one of them (GASP!).

I believe in equality. Equal pay for equal work and an equal partnership in a relationship (which is really a sign of equal respect).

A study was published recently, which was written up in an article with a respected news source (I currently cannot remember whether it was the New York Times, or some other news source that I read stories form on the Google News Feed, and I apologize for not being on top of that), that argued that women are now being paid more than men. There is only one catch. The only group of women that applies to are those in their early to mid 20s, unmarried, and living in a major metropolitan area. That is a small percentage of the female population, the rest of which still earn less, on average, than their male counterparts.

Besides, I don't want "more pay for equal work", that makes no sense. Why would I want that? That still means there is an inequality of pay, it is just in my favor. That isn't the answer. I want equal pay for equal work. Granted, "equal work" probably also means similar education and experience levels. I have no problem with that. If someone has ten years more experience than me, they are probably much more well versed in what they are doing. If they are not pulling their weight, however, that is just a whole other story.

I don't see striving for equality as a bad thing. It is not something to be feared or avoided.

My husband has always valued my opinion and my work ethic. We may not do the same chores around the house, but we do an equal amount of them...most of the time (sometimes he is nice to me and does a few of my chores while I blog, therefore giving me a creative outlet which I love and appreciate). Equality and respect are a big part of our relationship.

So I say let's stop hiding from the F word: feminism. Being a feminist is not so terrible. You are welcome to disagree, but I will not shy away from such a designation. Equality is the name of the game, people.

And that's my soap box.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Randomness Part 2

It is time for random thoughts. Prepare yourself.

1. Is this cooler weather going to stick around and take us right into a warmer winter with less snow than last year (which was about eight times the average for the area)? Or will it be warmer and drier? The weather channel and its website claim the latter. However, most of the old wives tails say the former. Which is it? Only time will tell.

2. Why are spies so big right now? Even before the relatively recent spy bust, spy movies and shows were multiplying. I like some of them, don't get me wrong, but I think it is time for another plot line.

3. I heard that they are making a Yogi Bear movie and a Smurf movie. Please don't screw these up. They are classic cartoon icons.

4. Did you know that the Smurfs were created by a French cartoonist and their actual name was the Schtroumpfs (or something like that - it is a nonsense French word, cut me some slack). Why someone felt a need to change the name to Smurfs, I have no idea.

5. The trees on my way home from work are already starting to change colors. The new shades are beautiful, but I feel like it is still a bit early for that.

6. I do not have a particularly sophisticated palate. Many of the dishes Alton Brown takes the time to make from scratch, I would probably not eat. I am not hopeless, though. I am slowly broadening my culinary horizons.

7. I find history a lot more fascinating now that I am not required to study it and can choose the topics I want to focus on, than I ever did when I was required to read it out of a textbook. I like to read books that give me a more in depth understanding of things that I have previously only skimmed the proverbial surface of. Also, the History Channel is awesome.

8. As an update, Major is doing very well with his obedience training. He does not have class tomorrow, but next week he will be the best in class. Unless, of course, he is distracted by the horses again. Can you blame him though? Wouldn't you be distracted if something five times your size stood just beyond the pavement and the only thing separating the giant from you was a flimsy looking wooden fence?

9. I am glad Major does not have class tomorrow. That means I will not have to miss a minute of Mississippi State vs. Auburn. GO DAWGS!

10. I should not be trusted to go into a bookstore alone. At least not if I am going to pass the "bargain priced" shelf. I went in for one book, and came out with four. They were good bargains, though. And I have already started one of them and it is interesting so far.

That is all. Goodnight.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bulldogs and Tigers and Tailgates, Oh My!

Labor day weekend was quite glorious from where I was sitting. My beloved Mississippi State Bulldogs laid the smack down on the Memphis Tigers. I ate classic tailgate food until my heart was content and my stomach was just short of rioting, and I rang my cowbell with gusto. It. Was. Awesome.

Also, my alma mater's nemesis, Ole Miss, lost in overtime. It is not that it brings joy to my heart to see them suffer so. It's that it makes me giggle after all their off season trash talking. Plus the ensuing jokes are too funny. For instance, someone posted this on Facebook (but attributed it to a message board): How many batteries does it take to shock Houston Nutt? Just 1 AA.

After all the football, or in between rather, since it never really ended, I got to watch Glee reruns with some friends and family members, and I had time to read my book. It may not sound exciting, but it was a really good weekend in my book. Fantastic even.

At least, apart from the mislead radio broadcaster I listened to for a short time on the way home. He was arguing that since college football players bring in so much revenue for the school, that they should be paid. I would like to take this moment to point out that they ARE BEING PAID. THEY ARE RECEIVING A FREE EDUCATION. And a damn fine one, if they care enough to take advantage of it. Depending on where they attend/play, the monetary value of that education, simply based on tuition costs alone, is quite a raise for a lot of people.

Do they have to devote a lot of their time to it? Yes. Is it hard work? Yes. But there are students out there who work that much for much less and never once get put in the spotlight for it. Students who will be paying back student loans for a decade or more after graduation, when scholarship athletes get tuition, board, books, and some meals paid for from the get go. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE VALUE OF THAT.

Make no mistake. They are being paid. Maybe not in a conventional, steady paycheck sense, but they are. And any of them who would like to complain about it are more than welcome to be in charge of repaying my student loans. I'm just sayin'.

And that's my soap box.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Except Maybe The Boxer

So today was the start of obedience classes. Major loved the concept, but he was having trouble staying focused. This is not a big surprise considering his attention span, but it probably didn't help that the teachers had to point out, repeatedly, that he was different from the other dogs.

"Most of you won't even need to use slip collars," he said, referring to the choke chain the class requires during initial training, "except maybe the Boxer."

Major looked up at me. I could easily read the look in his eyes. Moi? No!

And so the class began. The first task? Getting your dog to acknowledge you when you call his name. Major was only so-so at this. He does fantastically at home, but come on people. There were horses just beyond the training area. He was mesmerized.

Next up, sitting. Again, he was distracted and did terribly. What did the teachers have to say as they scanned the class to watch the progress?

"Your dog wants to please you. They need you to work with them and teach them what to do. They are not being stubborn...except maybe the Boxer." Really?

And just for the record, he was doing much better than the Collie next to us. No, really. I am not just trying to defend him. Compared to that Collie, Major was perfection.

Next? Stay. Major has NEVER been good at this, but he did improve tonight. Score.

And last, walking. Just plain walking. On a loose leash. We were instructed to speak to the dog as we walked so their attention stayed on us, and then back up and give a little tug and get them to walk back to us so we could turn around and return to our starting point.

"Just give a tug and call their name. Just a little tug. They don't need anything more...except maybe the Boxer." This no longer hurt his feelings, because, I assure you, by now Major had checked out mentally and was scanning the arriving members of the Advanced Class. He was so over this.

Later, at home, I caught a glimpse of the face that he had made in class when he looked at me. The Charlie Brown-esque "why is everybody always picking on me?" look. Don't believe me? Let me show you.

It's okay, Major. We will work on it together. And next time, we will show them. You will be the most obedient dog there.

Yeah, sure.

His big sad eyes said it all. They never even gave me a chance. Well, then. We will just have to prove them wrong.

The upside is that he really is making progress. He just needs to learn how to focus a little. We'll get there. And I think we will get a lot out of this class in the end...ESPECIALLY the Boxer.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

History Lessons

I love learning the history of historic places that I visit. I love hearing the local folklore about things. It is always interesting, if not always easy to believe.

One of my friends just went to Natchez for a few days. She called me with a crazy story about something that happened at King's Tavern, one of the oldest buildings in town.

Let me back up. For those of you who don't know, Natchez, MS was founded by French colonists circa 1716 and is the end point of the famed Natchez Trace, which began as a foot trail used by Native Americans when following the migration of Bison. After colonization of the area by Europeans, the trace was used as the quickest way to the area of Nashville, TN (444 miles) where the Cumberland River was easily accessed. But I digress.

Anyway, Natchez is really old. Any place that has been colonized that long is bound to have some interesting stories. King's Tavern, owned by Richard King and family, has just such a story. Richard, the proprietor is thought to have had an affair with a serving girl there named Madelyn. Why are his extra marital affairs and personal indiscretions relevant here? Good question.

In the 1930s, during some renovation and expansion of the tavern within, a small space was found in the wall near the chimney. Three skeletons were found stuffed into that wall space, along with, some say, a bejeweled dagger. One of those bodies is believed to be that of Madelyn. It is unknown who the other two skeletons were, at least as far as I know. And the dagger? It is believed to have belonged to (and utilized by) Richard's wife, who was none too happy about her husband's activities.

Madelyn is said to haunt the place today. The tavern also has several other tales that fall in the category of "ghost story". Tourist attraction? Maybe. Interesting tale anyway? Heck yes.

Do you know of any folklore that you would like to share? I am always up for a good history lesson.

It Shouldn't Be This Difficult

It's late. Or maybe it's early. I don't care. I am tired (but devoted). I had a busy schedule tonight and didn't get done working out until about half an hour ago. Tomorrow is going to be rough.

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about it is my iPod. I love my iPod. It's several years old now, and it is not a phone or a pad, just a pod. It still works and it does what I need/want it to do, and seeing how it was a gift from my parents, it didn't even cost me anything (thanks, again, for that!). It's an old school nano that won't do a lot of the fancy stuff the new versions will do, but I don't care. So why am I sitting here gushing about seriously depreciated mechanical wonder smaller than my palm? It's so I don't feel bad when I say the rest of what I am going to say.

Steve Jobs, I'm sorry.

A few months back my computer was stolen (along with several other things - I'm still holding a grudge about that), and along with it went some very valuable files. Along with several documents that I am still scrounging to recover from old emails, or to just rebuild from scratch (like my work in progress of a book), my music and my photos were gone. Gone. As in With the Wind.

Say it ain't so!

It's true. Luckily, the Apple support team was able to actually give all of my iTunes purchases back. Even those songs that were not on my iPod at the time of the theft, the ones I thought were gone forever (or until I downloaded them again). I was thrilled.

A few days ago, though, I remembered that many of my photos are actually on my iPod as well. I don't really remember why they were on there, but approximately 400 photos, amassed over a span of several years, were on my iPod. SCORE!

But wait, I don't know how to get photos from the iPod to the computer. So I did what any information age being like myself would do in my situation: I googled it. Software links dominated my screen. The how-tos all spoke of downloads and licenses. Surely there is a simpler way.

Nope. Even the Apple support forum has a response pointing the user toward third party software in order to retrieve such photos. Really? The company that makes all that crazy technology that can do just about anything can't figure out how to give me my pictures back? You're kidding me right? Wrong.

Oh, there are ways to get them back without extra software, IF you A- know what the mess you are doing, or B - remembered the all important "include full resolution" button BEFORE you loaded the pictures on your iPod. That would have been nice to know way back then, and it sure helps now, let me tell ya.

Well, I found a well reviewed (by trusted sources) and free software download that would solve my problem. My pictures, though, will never again be any bigger than the thumbnails they were stored as on my iPod.

I scoured the internet, downloaded the software, transferred the photos back to my computer and I still only get the thumbnails? Super.

There has got to be a simpler way to do this. And based on the number of people who asked questions about it online and in the Apple forums, it is a common problem, so you think Apple would have found a way to include any needed code or whatever in their latest version of iTunes that would actually back transfer of photos back to the computer possible. But no. FAIL. EPIC FAIL.

Not really, though. I mean you are still make more money than I will probably ever see in my lifetime. But Still! You want some positive PR and know you have the BEST product on the market? Anticipate your customers' needs and give them the little things. You know, little things, like a heads up on the full resolution photo thing, or the ability to transfer back without additional software.

All those smart people working at Apple and not one of them has thought to work on this? I don't believe it for a second. Someone wanted to move on to more profitable ventures. That makes sense, but you can't abandon the original mission of the company - to make a product that was superior in quality and user friendliness than the competition. Never forget your roots.

All I wanted was my pictures back. In a normal size. Is that so much to ask?

Apparently it is.