Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Thoughts On The Royal Wedding

1. If you are a guy and you don't understand what all the fuss is about, let me explain in the best way I know how. This is like the Super Bowl of weddings. This is kind of as big as it gets. Crowns and titles are involved. It's a big deal.

2. I loved the dress. I loved its classic, timeless look. It was formal, but not matronly. It wasn't revealing, but it wasn't stuffy. Loved it.

3. I don't like this English tradition of dressing the bridesmaids in white.

4. I felt like the actual ceremony was done backwards. Anybody else?

5. I LOVED the "All weddings are royal weddings" message. Just loved it. I would print it up and frame it, if I could remember it word for word. It was beautiful.

6. I think the Queen could have picked a better color than yellow. Nobody looks their best in yellow. But when you're the Queen, you can wear whatever you want, and she owned it. Plus, she's so adorable she can almost make it work. Although, can anyone tell me why she carries a purse? It's not like she needs to carry cash or an ID. So what exactly is she hauling around in that thing? Is it just for kicks and giggles?

7. Kate rode to the wedding in a white dress and a maroon car. Somebody send that girl a Mississippi State cowbell, she may just have what it takes. I do believe that carriage she departed in was also maroon. I'm just sayin'.

8. What was with the dirt road? Is it usually cobblestone and they covered it in dirt to give it a smoother ride for the royals? Because I figure there aren't usually dirt roads in the middle of London.

9. The dress and the formality of the event, coupled with the majestic sounds of the choir made the whole event reminiscent of scenes from Disney's Sleeping Beauty and also Disney's Cinderella. My desire to see a sure enough, live, grown-up fairy tale has been satisfied.

10. If you are going to be up in the middle of the night to watch a wedding with your friends, you have to do it right.

Meaning that wedding dress beer cozies from the Dollar Tree are the only way to go. I mean, you gotta make it classy. I'm kidding, of course. But for fifty cents, it was fun. It was actually sold as a gift card pouch, by the way. We just improvised. There are members of my family who will read this and become thoroughly embarrassed that they are even related to me. I say this in response: don't pretend like you haven't done embarrassing and stupid things before just for kicks. You're not special.

11. That "official kiss" was a joke. You made people wait an hour to see that? It was a hen peck, like the kind that really awkward pre-teens give each other during games of spin the bottle. I'm not advocating a full on make-out session, but make it look like you're still happy that it's your wedding day.

12. I'm glad I got to see it. But I'm really not into being up at 4 AM.

13. Apparently, the new thing to do, in honor of the wedding, is to discover your own "royal name". You take one of your grandparents' first names, and your surname is the combination of the name of your first pet and the name of the first street you lived on (Example: Lady Emily Fido-Jackson). I will not state mine here because many security websites are now warning that posting such a name is basically helping hackers get into your email account and other online accounts because you are freely offering up possible answers to your security questions. Just a heads up.

14. Overall, I enjoyed the festivities and I wish the couple all the best.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Where Do I Even Begin?

When I posted last I was preparing for a trip down to my own alma mater to see a dear friend graduate from vet school. She has now said that she waited seven years for this, but I would venture to say that it has been a lot longer than that. Well, at least the event was memorable.

Perhaps I should explain.

The night before her graduation, she and I sat together in her apartment, watching one of our favorite shows as waves of bad weather tormented the areas around us. We were safe, though, and had power, and our friends and family were safe so we thought little of it. The truth is that the weather has been pretty bad off and on in these parts for a while and sometimes you can get a little...desensitized.

Spring is generally thought of a a season of new life. The flowers and trees come back to life after a long, dormant winter. The grass turns green, the animals come out of hibernation or return from migration and the world is once again full of color and animation. In our neck of the woods, though, the season can be deadly. You might think it is ironic that the season of new life can so easily bring death. Right now, though, those of us around here are a little too shocked and heart broken to contemplate the irony of such things.

Anyway, she and I had a great time together that night. We lived together as undergraduates and it was nice to just hang around like those days, not many years ago, when we would relax this way after finals were over. Yes, the weather was terrible, but again, you get desensitized after a while (near where I live there has already been destruction and flooding due to storms this year). When we separated for the night, I had trouble sleeping. Don't we all sleep a little less soundly when we are not in our home environment? I wasn't in my bed. I wasn't in my home. It wasn't really working for me.

I got up when the storm got bad enough that the thunder began to shake the windows. I watched the weather reports for a few hours until the storm calmed down and the area I was in was no longer encompassed by those dreaded little red boxes that indicate a tornado warning. I was so tired by then that I was able to slumber until the sun came up over a beautiful day.

Fast Forward.

The ceremony was going well. The lights had flickered and surged a couple of times and I could tell that the sun had long since been obscured by clouds, but I wasn't focusing on it. The graduates had been hooded, speeches made, and just as they were to recite their veterinary oath, the place went dark. Several hundred people, some in graduation robes, in an auditorium that suddenly had no air conditioning and no lights brighter than the emergency exit lights. The graduates took it in stride. They recited their oath in the dark and their degrees were conferred in the same manner. It was memorable, to say the least.

As we exited the auditorium the weather began to worsen. I won't bore you with a detailed play-by-play, but many of us ended up in the basement of the campus library, waiting for the tornado sirens to stop. It was humid. It was hot. It was dark.

Then, as suddenly as it all began, it was over. The sun peaked out one last time, the sirens quieted, and we were free to go. The power, however, wasn't coming back just yet. In fact, we spent the rest of the night without power, and with very little knowledge of what was going on beyond our own area. For a while we could get preliminary reports of events from the news headlines on our phones, but when the signals weakened and the network got busy, even that became difficult. The entire town was without power and would remain so through the night.

The next morning, long before dawn, the power returned. When we (I slept on my friend's couch so that neither of us were entirely alone during the outage) awoke, we were more appreciative of electricity than we had been in a long time. Then we turned on the TV and saw the footage.

I almost want to stop there. We complained during the night that it was too hot and that the weather, despite the sirens, never even got that bad. But now, we saw the truth. We were spared. But the storm cell that passed us was not so kind to our neighbors to the east. Less than an hour down the road in Tuscaloosa, AL, the storm that had been merely inconvenient to us had destroyed them. The footage of the debris was almost unbelievable. These were places I knew and intersections I had traveled, but now it was completely unrecognizable. I knew what I was looking at, but at the same time, had no idea what I was seeing.

They were not the only town hit. Many along the way, including towns even nearer to us were not spared. We immediately began calling our loved ones to do head counts. Is everyone okay? Is everyone accounted for? Is anyone not responding? So far, so good...for us. There were people who had lost everything, though. And not all of them were just faces you see on a television screen talking to Jim Cantore. Some of these places, some of these homes, they belonged to people I once knew. I had gone to high school with these people, we had teased and mocked each other during our, uh, friendly rivalry in college. Suddenly, though, we are no longer rivals. So far I don't think any of my old acquaintances that were in Tuscaloosa are unaccounted for, but some of them have lost almost everything they owned. And what they didn't lose personally, they lost as a community.

There a places throughout the southeast that will be without power for days, or even weeks. There are those who lost their homes, their possessions, or even their family and friends. I complained about a power outage. I didn't even know how lucky I was. I do now.

My thoughts and prayers are with those who are salvaging what they can in order to rebuild their lives, both literally and figuratively. If you would like to donate anything to the victims of the storms, I know the Red Cross and the Salvation Army are already involved in relief efforts.

I drove home today, after staying to watch the royal wedding with another friend. On the way home I saw grain silos that once stood tall along the highway that leads back home that had been ripped to shreds and strewn across multiple fields. The pieces were easily recognizable, regardless of the their newly diminutive size. It was a small representation of what had happened while we weren't even looking.

For those of you wondering, yes, I will post my thoughts on the royal wedding. It just seemed inappropriate to do so in this post. While this wasn't all heartache and tears (we do have a brand new vet among us!), I felt like the tornado victims should come first and not be a secondary headline. At least not here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Good Week, Even in Bad Weather

I hope everyone enjoyed the Easter weekend! I know I did.

The last time I posted, it was about our Chicago trip. That post was written on Maundy Thursday. On Good Friday, my husband and I went to a church service in which we walked around the sanctuary to see depictions of Jesus in the various stages of His crucifixion. As we went, we read the scripture that related to each depiction. It is more than enough to make you cry. That He would do that for us...there are really no words to express my appreciation and wonder.

On Easter Sunday we attended a fantastic service that talked about the events on the day that Jesus rose from the grave. Even in celebration, He can move me to tears.

After the service, there was a gathering a friend's home that we attended. It was so wonderful to share the day with friends, especially since our families live a little too far away for a lunch date.

And yesterday, my husband and I celebrated our anniversary. He brought home two dozen roses to surprise me. Our trip to Chicago was really our gift to each other, but he always manages to add a little something extra special into the mix. He makes my heart happy.

It was also nice to see roses so bright and colorful, after looking at such an ominous sky all day. Once again, we had sever weather come through yesterday. It started at about 5 AM and got worse throughout the morning. The first wave of it was over by about 2 PM, but another round arrived about 11 PM. We managed to get through it relatively unscathed, although the power did go out for a while this morning.

I am told that we are in for more storms today, and possibly a few more tomorrow. While I am certainly not a fan of tornado warnings, sirens, hail, or anything else that tends to accompany these types of storms, I refuse to let it ruin the whole week. Especially not since I had such a great week last week, and so wonderful an Easter weekend.

I started off this week with a wonderful anniversary, one of my best friends graduates tomorrow, and there is royal wedding on Friday. Don't judge me for being kinda pumped about this whole royal wedding-palooza, either. This is like a Disney princess story for grown-ups. Sort of. Or at least I can pretend. I mean, Kate Middleton is no "rags to riches" story, but today she is not a princess, on Friday she will become a princess, and she'll do it in a beautiful gown (at least I hope, since I don't actually know what it looks like yet). That's really all I need.

If you would like to watch the festivities, but (like me) are in a time zone where everything will air at a really inconvenient hour, fear not. The highlights will, of course, air throughout the day on just about every channel, but check your local listings because a couple of channels are replaying all the events later that day. You can even watch at your leisure, because YouTube will feature much of the coverage.

So a great anniversary, a graduation ceremony, and a royal wedding? It's gonna be a good week, even if I have to keep an eye out for terrible weather.

This week's round of storms should be over by Thursday morning. I will try to remember to post something later this week so that you know I didn't get blown away. Until then, think happy thoughts and say a little prayer for all of us facing sever weather this week!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Whirlwind Trip in the Windy City

My wonderful husband and I just returned from a quick trip to Chicago. It was our first trip to the Windy City and I must say, I had a fabulous time. I would love to tell you every amazing detail of our adventure, but I think our story is better told with pictures.

The crazy fun started with dinner. Upon arrival we headed straight for that which defines Chicago: deep dish pizza. Now, as I understand it, there are two schools of thought when it comes to who prepares the best pizza pie in town. You must choose between Pizzeria Uno and Lou Malnati's. Our first taste test was at the former.


And it was delicious. And I have never been a deep dish fan. I usually prefer thin crust. But this may make a believer out of me.


After we devoured some local deliciousness we realized it was a little late, we were full, we were cold, and we were being blown about in the wind like sailboats on the waves, so we called it a night and decided we would get a bright and early start the next morning.

And we did.

We got up bright and early and took a little stroll (and a short bus ride) to breakfast. Along the way we saw a few landmarks and stopped for a photo-op.


We had breakfast at Lou Mitchell's. I would show you the pictures we took of the place, except we were a little too busy, what with the stuffing our faces with the free, fresh-baked donut holes they waved under our noses the second we walked in the door. There are no words.

They sat us at a long table that was full of other people. We met some wonderful people while we feasted on the fare. That would actually prove true at just about every place we stopped. Almost every time we sat still for more than five minutes, locals would strike up a conversation and we would make new friends on the spot. Friendly folks.

We continued viewing the city, but we did take a detour for a White Sox game that afternoon. It was sunny, though a bit chilly, and it was another experience we just couldn't miss out on. As you can imagine, much like there are two schools of thought about deep dish pizza, there are two sides to what really constitutes Chicago baseball. This was our first experience.



The stadium was great. The game was...okay, so Sox got their tails kicked. But it was fun.

Next stop? The top of the city, of course.



The ledge at the Skydeck at Sears Tower (it is now actually named Willis Tower, but nobody really calls it that) is a glass box (there are actually four of them) that you can step out into. You can look straight down, over a hundred stories, to the streets of the city below. If you have even the slightest phobia of heights, don't even bother.

After our grand view of the city, we headed back towards our hotel. We had to get cleaned up for dinner. We had reservations at a steakhouse. We still caught a few sites on the way back, though. There was no sense on wasting travel time, when there was still more to see.



Dinner was so delicious, I would love to show you a picture of the big, thick, juicy steak I had, but it didn't last long. And the camera was the last thing on my mind as I savored every flavor filled bite. We asked around a lot about which steak house to go to, and just about everybody had a different answer, at first. And then, all of a sudden, the overwhelming majority of the people we spoke to said Joe's. So we ate at Joe's.

We didn't see any celebrities, though it is rumored to be a hot spot, but our wonderful waiter did provide us with a free slice of pie for dessert. Key lime pie. It was good, but I didn't mind taking out the camera to take a picture, because I didn't really have room for it anyway. I did take a bite, though. Delicious.


Our adventures continued the next morning. We had a fantastic breakfast at the Ohio House, where my husband loved the special. It was two eggs, two slices of bacon, two sausage patties, and two pancakes, all for less than five bucks. Did I mention that his metabolism is a thing of wonder? It never really ceases to amaze me.

My French toast was wonderful, but I was really in awe of the gas station sign across the street. I don't know about ya'll, but things haven't gotten this bad (yet) where I live. And this just made me want to never get behind the wheel of a car ever again. Thankfully, even though we drove to Chicago, we didn't have to stop at this station...or any in the city. We stopped for gas in little farm towns where the prices were much more reasonable.





Next up? The Art Institute.



I must say, I have been to art museums before and I was not expecting to spend so much time completely glued to everything I passed. Even the staircase (pictured above) is a work of art. It has a speech written on the steps with glowing lights. It reminds me of the Lite Brite toys that were popular when I was young.

We took so many pictures. And those were just in the exhibits where photography was permitted. I would have taken more. I won't post all of them here, though. You really have to go see that place for yourself. I couldn't bear to spoil it for you. But when you go, make sure to schedule a large block of time. I could have spent all day there. Unfortunately, there was more to see and the clock was ticking before we had to get back home and back to our normal routine.

And since time was running out, we had some unfinished business we had to take care of.


We had to stop by Lou Malnati's to compare deep dish pizza experiences.



I must say it was a close race. Both places were delicious. But in the end, I think Lou's might have won out. It's the buttercrust. It makes a difference.

Now on to the famous Navy Pier!



We were told that one of the best ways to see the city was to catch an architectural boat tour, and at the pier there are a ton of options for just that sort of thing. Usually. Unfortunately, since it was cloudy, and close to freezing, most tour companies weren't even bothering to try to lure in passengers. We chose one that had opted to brave the elements.

I'm glad we did. And the sun actually came out for a little while during the trip. It clouded up again before the tour was over, but we got to see some pretty awesome stuff. Like this:



This site is historic. What is this building? I'm not even really sure. Our guide mentioned it's current purpose, but I didn't retain that info. What I did retain was that he told us that this building and also the one next to it (191 N. Wacker Drive, the bottom part of which you can see in the edge of the picture - the gray part), were once the site of the "Wigwam". It bears historical significance because that is the site upon which, in 1860, the Republican National Convention officially nominated Abraham Lincoln for president. So these two buildings, this brick one, and the glass covered office building next to it, bear much historical significance.

Like with the Art Institute, I won't share all of our pictures from the tour (although some of them are really cool) because I don't want to spoil it. You have to see it for yourself. And when you do, take a good look at Marina City. That building reminds me of where the Jetsons lived in the old cartoon.

Anyway, when we got back to dry land, we just had to go on the giant Ferris Wheel (named for the man who designed the first of these contraptions). It was a rite of passage. You can't go to Chicago and NOT ride the giant Ferris Wheel. So we did.

Did I mention it was subfreezing temperatures when we did this?

Eh, still worth it. It was a great view even on a cloudy day. Again, though, if you have even the slightest phobia of heights, don't bother. It's 150 feet high. The real kicker? It is modeled after the original Ferris Wheel built in Chicago for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, and that one was even bigger. A lot bigger. It was 264 feet high and could carry over 2,000 passengers at once. It was destroyed in 1906...in Saint Louis. It had been moved there a few years earlier for another Exposition, and after the festivities were over it fell into neglect and was then destroyed by dynamite blasts, if I remember the story right.

This one, however, is plenty big enough for me. And yes, the wind does make the car swing a little bit at the top.



Once back down on the ground, we made a beeline for Wrigley Field. We still had some baseball to see. And though the famous ivy was still dormant due to the cold weather, it was still as awesome as I thought it would be.

Don't get me wrong, the White Sox game was fun, but the Cubs game was different. It was Wrigley Field. It was baseball. And to top it all off? They won. And we got to hear legions of fans sing their traditional victory song at the end of the 10th inning (that's right, we went extra). Very cool.

Well, not just cool. Cold. Freezing.

Snowing even.


That's right. We watched the Cubs wins in extra innings at Wrigley Field in the snow. I'm not a Cubs fan, but I like baseball. And it was Wrigley Field. It was historic. Even the scoreboard.



You know I had to love it, or else I would NOT have stayed for extra innings in the SNOW.

True story: I got a little sunburned at the White Sox game on Sunday, and then snowed on at the Cubs game on Monday night.

Luckily, my sunburn is already healed and I have a nice tan tint now, and I managed to not get hypothermia at the Cubs game. Mostly because they gave out souvenir gloves on the way into the game for the first 20,000 fans. Thank goodness we got there when we did. Those gloves may have saved my fingers. Cold.

I did find it funny that while sitting in the freezing cold at Wrigley Field, many of the locals around us who chose to strike up a conversation were part of the SEC family. It's true. They were Chicagoans who went to SEC schools and when they asked us where we were visiting from, we were greeted with smiles and the nodding of recognition. The schools represented were Kentucky, Alabama, Ole Miss, and Tennessee.

There was a Michigan fan sitting in front of us, too. When we mentioned we were grads of Mississippi State, he hung his head a little. But then he thanked us for helping get rid of their football coach. Nice guy. He even taught us the victory song later. It wasn't hard to learn, since it consists of four lines that repeat. We let him teach us anyway. It's not everyday that a Michigan fan gets to sing a victory song in front of Mississippi State Bulldogs. Even if it was for the Cubs.

Naturally, after that we had to visit the Billy Goat Tavern for dinner. For those that don't know, the Billy Goat Tavern is named after a guy called Billy Goat. He was Greek, I think, and he once tried to bring his pet goat into a Cubs game with him. They told him the goat wasn't allowed to stay. He then proclaimed that the "Cubs ain't gonna win no more". And they haven't won the World Series since. That's the Billy Goat Curse.

To try to break the curse, they let the goat in during a post season game some years later. They won the game and thought the curse might be broken. But then they refused to let the goat back in again and the "curse" resumed.

All this fuss over a goat and a restaurateur? We had to check the place out.

Decent burgers. And yes, this is the place that was part of an SNL skit back in the day. "No fries, chips."


The next day, our last full day in Chicago, we spent ALL day at the Museum Campus. We visited the Shedd Aquarium first. Thanks to our City Pass (which I highly recommend) we got to skip the long line outside in the pouring rain and go right in.

That place is awesome. We saw sharks, whales, dolphins, iguanas, and we even found Nemo. I would love to share all our pictures, but there are really too many, so instead I will show you just one.



Super cute, right? Just down the hall from the penguin exhibit they were selling t-shirts that said "Save the Earth. It's the only planet with penguins." I chuckled.

Next on the list, the Field Museum.

Meet Sue, the world's most complete T-Rex.



And that was just inside the front door. There were so many cool exhibits and we took a ton of pictures. We even got to see a few mummies in the Ancient Egypt exhibit.

Unfortunately, we were so enthralled that we walked around the museum until almost closing time and completely missed the opportunity to see the Adler Planetarium. We decided that all that means is that we will have to plan a return trip in the future.

Since the museums closed early, we still had time to do a little shopping on the Magnificent Mile. And so we walked around and went through a few stores. Although, the LEGO store was definitely my favorite.



This entire scene is made entirely of LEGOs. They had books about LEGOs, computer games, video games, board games, and, of course, LEGO sets. They also had a six foot Woody Doll (from Toy Story) made of LEGOs, and a life-sized Darth Vader made entirely of LEGOs, too. And while it was in typical mini form, they had a LEGO set that builds the Death Star, complete with cross section to show the inside. It was nearly 4,000 pieces and it costs almost $400. We didn't buy it, but we stared at it in awe for a minute. No, really, this thing was detailed and intricate. Even as someone who is not a Star Wars geek, that thing was kinda cool.

Anyway, we had to go home the next morning, but not without one last stop. The Museum of Science and Industry.



This place had exhibits, attractions, and hands-on activities for all ages. Inside these walls you can stand before a forty foot tornado (and I'm not talking about a video screen or a hologram either), you can see a giant Tesla Coil make lightning, you ride a simulator to see what it's like in the cockpit of a fighter jet, and you can see a World War II German Sub. I'm not gonna lie, it's pretty awesome. I would go a lot if we lived anywhere near the city.

We didn't get to see the John Hancock Observatory because of the weather. With the exception of the one day we went to the Skydeck, it was so cloudy that going up that high would have only put you in the middle of the clouds, without much of a view.

But even though we missed out on some stuff, that was a fantastic trip. It was crazy fun, and I would do it over again in a heartbeat. Good times.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Awesomely Bad

I'm in a good mood today. Not just a good mood. A Dr. Seuss, nonsensical, giggly mood. Yep, giggly, like a middle school girl. Which might help explain the rest of this post...

Thanks to services like Netflix, and for that matter YouTube, when I am at home doing chores on a day like today, instead of watching whatever mindless drivel is on TV during the day, I can watch whatever I want.

Side Note: I've never liked daytime TV. Not even soap operas. Although, there are members of my family who watched All My Children and One Life To Live and would talk about the show to each other, as if the characters were real people ("I can't BELIEVE she had the nerve to say that."). So I still feel the slightest twinge of sadness that they are being canceled. It's like when you were little and one of your friends would move away. You know, before Facebook and text messaging, or cell phones for eight year olds, so when someone moved away, that was pretty much the end of it. On the other hand, since I never watched the shows myself, I get over it pretty quickly.

But back to my point - I can fold laundry and watch shows that I liked when I was younger. I enjoy it. It takes me back. I can watch shows that I haven't seen since I was somewhere in the neighborhood of about twelve. It's all the fun of being that young, without the frizzy hair, braces, and self-esteem issues.

Some of the shows stand the test of time. Others don't. The ones that stand the test of time aren't necessarily great shows, but they are still fun as a guilty pleasure. I do find myself thinking pretty much the same things, no matter what show from that time period that I am watching:

1. Aw, I used to love this show.

2. Wow, this show is poorly written.

3. And the acting is terrible.

4. But it's cute.

OR

I can't sit through a whole episode of this. It's just awful.

5. Aw, I remember when that was THE hairstyle to have. I couldn't wear it because my hair would frizz out like a poodle. I wish hair straighteners were as common then as now, I could have used the help, y'know.

6. I am so glad those (insert piece of clothing or accessories here - anything, shoes, earrings, pants, shirts, jackets, etc) went out of style. I always hated them. They look terrible. I guess I'm not one to talk, though. I almost hate to look at the pictures of what I wore back then.

7. I thought that actor was so cute back then. Although, seeing him now, I can't for the life of me figure out why.

OR

I thought he was so cute back then. He is on such and such now. Time has been good to him.

OR

I thought he was so cute back then. He looks terrible these days.

OR

I thought he was so cute back then. Too bad he went off the deep end. I wonder whatever happened to him, anyway. Is he even still alive?

8. They should totally bring back the WB as a channel. This CW nonsense ruined everything.

9. Where are their parents? If I had stayed out all night on a weeknight (especially on a regular basis) at that age without calling home (or really, even if I did call), I wouldn't have seen daylight again for weeks. Weeks, haha. Who am I kidding? I would have been grounded until graduation day.

10. Here comes the moral of the story. Cue the slow, sappy music and the poorly written monologue. And no, you didn't learn your lesson. In fact, if I recall, you make the SAME mistake two seasons later. Script writer fail.

Of course, during all this I am also having flashbacks. Like a war veteran, only instead of hearing bombs go off and the sound of gunshots and yelling, I hear the Spice Girls and see N'SYNC posters on the wall. So instead of being traumatized and psychologically scarred, I mostly just feel a general sense of shame. But then I smile. It's a rite of passage after all. Every age group has that group/person/style that they can be ashamed of, but still laugh about. New Kids on the Block, acid wash jeans, disco, c'mon fess up. There was something in your past that you are a little ashamed to admit that you were totally into, but if you spied the clothes in a box in the attic, or heard the music on the radio, you would still smile a little. Go ahead. I understand. It might be bad, but to you it was once awesome. So it's awesomely bad.

I think another reason that I like to watch some of the old shows is that it helps me appreciate being an adult. It is easy to get bogged down by work, bill paying, grocery shopping, laundry and other household chores. It can make you miss being a kid. I mean, I did have to do some laundry and some chores, but I didn't have to do it all. I didn't work, except to baby-sit (which I did. A Lot.) and that was pretty fun sometimes. I didn't pay any bills. I never went to the grocery store. Good times.

But then I watch a show (or even just hear a song) and I have the flashbacks. I remember the terrible awkwardness that comes with that age. And then I start to think of the great things I have now. Thanks to modern technology, I can have somewhat decent looking hair. The braces are long gone. And I haven't grown an inch since then, so I have had plenty of time to get comfortable in my own skin, without any of those pesky growth spurts getting in the way. And I think of another thousand little things that makes growing up worth it.

So, yeah, sometimes being an adult really sucks. It makes us all miss those days when we didn't really have to worry about much and all the tough decisions were basically made for us (to a degree, anyway). But when you give yourself a chance to reminisce, and you actually get far enough down memory lane to start remembering the things about being a kid that weren't so awesome at the time, you start to be thankful for the stuff you get to have or do as an adult.

There are things about being an adult that are awesome. There are things about being and adult that are really bad. So, really (I think you know where I'm going with this. So say it with me), it's awesomely bad.

Monday, April 11, 2011

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Or so I've been told. While we do have some pretty colors suddenly appearing in our yard, we also have a fair number of weeds that I thought I had killed off last year that have come back from the dead. Boo that. Zombie weeds are not cool.

Anyway, it's been a rainy, somewhat uneventful Monday around here, so I thought today would be a list day. Who am I kidding? With me, everyday is a list day. I can't help it. I like it when things are organized. So if you must judge my particular brand of OCD, at least do it in a well organized fashion.

1. Major's results came in today. My vet was right all along. It's ringworm. It's a weird strand of it and he is having an abnormal reaction. My vet actually said that he wouldn't have believed it if he didn't see the results himself, but that lab tests don't lie, so he gave me some stronger meds to give to Major and said we will monitor his progress closely. All things considered, this might be the best case scenario here.

2. I made the trip down to MSU for Super Bulldog Weekend this past weekend. It was crazy fun, but it would have been more so if the baseball team could have won the series. Oh well. It was still a great weekend. I would have some good pictures to share, but my camera batteries died, and I saw no reason to give up good time out in the sunshine watching MSU sports to go buy more.

3. It rained all day today. Again. What is it with Mondays and bad weather lately? Not a fan.

4. When I went to the vet's office today, while I was waiting to see the vet about Major's results, I saw a bulldog who was being picked up, after waking up from anesthesia. The poor thing walked out like nothing was wrong and then just kind of fell over. It was kind of funny, in an endearing "awwwww" kind of way. That is, until his owner began to become a bit hysterical because she was convinced he couldn't breathe. She was immediately assured that he was fine and he was, indeed, still breathing (as was evidenced by the movement of his stomach for all the world to see). The dog was adorable, but the owner should have been sedated.

5. I am participating in Relay For Life event this summer. I will have a full post on it soon, but if any of you would be interested in getting involved by making a donation to the team I'm on, I wanted to give you a heads up.

6. I love scented candles, sometimes.

And I'm looking forward to all those May flowers.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Holy Government Shutdown, Congress!

Ah, politics. I don't like to write about them much, because the truth is that I can get a little hot headed on the issues. I admit this about myself. Of course, maybe kicking all the media to the curb, locking the doors, and having a good ol' fashioned screaming match is exactly what this country needs right now. At least, it might be better than the rumor spreading, he said/she said, junior high drama queen tactics now in play. Of course, I don't know why I would expect any less, as a politician your life's work is essentially about winning a popularity contest. And when it comes to the art of war, at least in the case of a popularity war, middle school girls practically wrote the book.

Anyway, this is the second time I have written this post today. The first time I ended up going on a bit of a rampage, so I decided to delete it and start over. That's the beauty of writing. I have the option to erase it all, start over, and determine to be more civil this time around. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a bit hot under the collar so some of the things I say may not be pleasing to everyone. And by "may not" I mean "certainly won't". Just to be clear.

Now, in the spirit of trying to be more civil this time, I thought it best to change tactics. Instead of writing paragraph after paragraph about my outrage regarding certain issues, I'm just going to make a list. It's a list of all the things I would like to tell the people in Washington. All of them. Not just one party or the other. Oh, and I would be more eloquent, but I feel the time for eloquence has long since passed. They stopped debating and started pointing fingers in front of the television cameras long ago, so when it comes to eloquence and civility, I suppose that ship has sailed.

1. Stop your freakin' bickering. You're a disgrace. The world is watching you like some sort of cheap, laughable soap opera and you're making a mockery of this country. This country that you claim to love and whose people you are supposed to be serving.

2. Of course you can't agree on anything serious. You can't even agree that the sky is blue.

3. If you complain that you are at an impasse because one side won't budge, guess what, that means YOU AREN'T BUDGING EITHER. So stop pointing your fingers. You're at fault, too.

4. If one side is claiming that problem is the amount of money, and the other side is claiming that the problem is where the money is going, then one side is lying, both are lying, or you are so far gone that you aren't even talking about the same issue anymore. Now, due to the precedent set by politicians across the world since before the Fall of Rome, hell, I half expect you to lie. I don't like it, but I understand that, to a certain degree, asking for an honest politician is a little like asking for a hot frozen popsicle. The concept is so out of reach that the request doesn't even make any sense. But, please, at least be arguing over the same issue.

5. If the government shuts downs, military personnel will be paid for this week's work, but nothing after that until the issue is resolved. This is not just a crying shame, it's a joke. Those soldiers are still doing their jobs, which is more than I can say for most of you. They are servicemen and women. You know, serving, like what you are supposed to do on behalf of them and the rest of the American people as PUBLIC SERVANTS. So since you're not doing that, you should donate your pay check to helping pay the military.

6. Part of me almost hopes that most of what you say to the media is a lie. Because I have seen better organized, better constructed, more sophisticated arguments at high school debate team competitions. And based on your general propensity for almost undecipherable double speak, how any of you ever passed a public speaking class is completely beyond me.

And those are just the non-partisan things I have to say. If I start letting my personal beliefs get into it, I might be here all day. Besides, that is a whole post all by itself, so it's for another time anyway. For now, I will lay my seething aside and leave you with this quote from Fried Green Tomatoes, "Are you a politician or does lying just run in your family?" Great stuff.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Looks Like Somebody's In Trouble....

So I received the following "news" update via email today. I like it for so many reasons, the least of which is that it totally makes my point about paying college athletes with a free education, even if it does so in a tongue in cheek sorta way. So without further ado:

Butler Hoops Team Under Investigation - AP

INDIANAPOLIS-- Butler 's run in the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship Game may be tarnished after reports surfaced today that all 13 players on the roster are being given good educations in an effort to help them find good jobs after they leave the school. "It's important to remember that right now these are only allegations -- allegations that we are looking into," said NCAA president James Isch, "But, obviously, if true, this would be very disappointing. The NCAA has certain expectations and standards. It's not fair for players at one school to be given good educations while athletes at other member schools receive basic, remedial instruction that is worth essentially nothing." According to documents seized from the school's registrar's office, Butler players have received an education worth $38,616 per year totaling more than $150,000 over a four-year career.

Compare that to player at a school like Kentucky , where tuition is set at $4,051 -- but with an actual value far below that. “We don't want to say too much until these reports are confirmed," said Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari. "But we're talking about almost $140,000 difference in education per player -- and that's even if my players stayed four years or graduated, which many of them do not. Then these Butler players are reportedly stepping into good jobs after graduation while my kids, if they don't make the NBA, have absolutely no job prospects or life skills. It's far from a balanced playing field. They are buying the best players by giving them a high-priced education."

In addition to the allegations that they were given an expensive education, many Butler players have been spotted around campus holding books, studying and engaging in interesting conversations. Others have been seen with people who are known to not be tutors. Butler point guard and Kentucky native Shelvin Mack, who is reportedly a secondary education major, denied allegations that the Bulldog program is cheating. "The discourse on this matter is fatuous and inane," he said, implicating the program further.

I don't honestly know where the "news story" originated, but I kinda think it's priceless. However, before this gets googled and brings forth a flood of hateful, angry comments from some random person out there who has absolutely no sense of humor, I should probably add a few disclaimers. So here goes.

I didn't write this. I don't know who did, but if I did, I would certainly give them credit.

Also, my personal feelings about John Calipari and some of his players aside, I don't think Kentucky is a bad school, or one of "remedial instruction", at least not for all students. However, if an athlete chooses to fill their class schedule with courses that are something akin to underwater basket weaving, or the history of Mickey Mouse, then yeah, they are probably not receiving a top notch education. Especially if they can't even be bothered to show up to even those classes. I have said it before, and I will say it again, it is just as easy to squander an education as it is to squander money.

I know the aforementioned educational issue is not one that is specific to the University of Kentucky. Nor do I think it is specific to basketball players. I assure you that I am not so naive as to think that it isn't a much more common problem than it should be. However, Kentucky Basketball is what is referenced in the "article", so get over yourself and have a chuckle with the rest of us.

'Cause really...priceless.

Unrelated Side Notes:

1. Congratulations to the Huskies. I was hoping Butler would pull it out, but since that was the most choke-tastic National Championship Game I have seen in a long time, I'll take what I can get.

2. Major's blood test came back clean. So we still don't know what he has, but it's a step in the right direction, and I'm sure it can help rule out all sorts of stuff.

3. As you may have guessed, I survived the severe weather that tramped through my general area yesterday. In fact, I was lucky enough to be with power all day, which is more than I can say for a lot of people. Please pray for those who lost power, because the storm brought with it a serious cold front, and temperatures got pretty low last night. Also pray for those who are picking up the pieces, literally, of their homes or businesses. I saw footage of one home, in a community south of me, that had an extremely large tree laying in the middle of it.

4. I have found my people (Sorry, I just really didn't want to end on a sad note...or an odd number. Don't judge me.). I met some friends recently who also fall into the category of "bottomless pit of useless information," and aren't ashamed of it. We may, or may not, be planning to join forces and monopolize all local trivia competitions.

The End.

Monday, April 4, 2011

In The Dark

It's a crazy Monday in my neck of the woods. Our local meteorologists have my full attention for the next hour or so, because we have some crazy weather going on. Thunderstorms, hail, and tornado warnings, oh my! The power has blinked thrice (that's right, thrice. Consider it the word of the day) and I really don't want to have to sit in the dark all afternoon.

The good news, though, is that I got Major to his vet appointment and back before the weather got bad. Thank you, Lord. It wasn't even raining during our travel back and forth. That was definitely a blessing. I don't know if you have ever been stuck in a car (no matter how short the trip) with a wet dog, but it isn't pleasant.

We had to go to the vet this morning, because Major's weird looking ringworm spots look different than they did before (they turned kind of black) and have stopped responding to treatment. I thought we would go in, the vet would look at them, and give us something stronger. That's not what happened. Our vet, God Bless Him, was so patient as he examined my dog, who really didn't want to be examined. Major LOVES to go to the vet because he loves all the people he gets to be around in the waiting room, he loves the attention he gets, and he loves everyone who works there, but he HATES the examination table. He thinks it is all fun and games until we make him get up on the metal table, then he buries his head in my stomach and refuses to look at anyone. And he tries to sit down before they can get to him with a thermometer, but can you blame him? I wouldn't be down with that, either.

Anyway, as I mentioned, his spots have changed in appearance and aren't getting any better. The vet looked at him, felt the spots, got closer, invited a couple of vet techs to help me make my dog lay down and roll over (which he does with no effort at home, but refused to do on the examination table, of course) so he could examine the spots some more. He wrinkled his brow and took a skin scraping and went to the back lab for a few minutes. He came back and took blood and sent it back to the lab, too. Major (who still wasn't happy, but was SOOOO complacent and cooperative for the blood taking part) forgave him as soon as he petted his head for a minute and gave him a couple of treats. The vet is doing all these tests because he has decided, that while the spots showed signs and had symptoms of ringworm in the beginning, that it's not ringworm after all. So, he took some skin scrapings and blood to test, and Major has to go back in for a biopsy of his biggest spot on Wednesday morning.

It is concerning to me that our vet doesn't know what Major has. I asked if he could tell me what he thought it might be, and while he tried not to give me reason to panic, his answer was no. He says he is pretty sure it isn't ringworm, and it doesn't have the symptoms or signs of mange (Thank you, God), but that he isn't sure what it actually is. Our vet is easily in his 70s, so for him to stumped by something is rare, for him to have not seen something like this before, ever rarer. So rare, in fact, that it's kind of disconcerting. Of course, he could just not want to tell me what he thinks it is, but that thought is even more disconcerting. But, he is good at what he does, and he has some extremely competent and qualified colleagues at the practice, so I trust that everything will get figured out, but I feel bad for my poor puppy. He must be miserable. And, while he is like my child, I do worry about the cost of it all, too. I mean, our vet's office is always so great about providing services without charging an arm and a leg, but they have taken blood, done skin scraping and have to biopsy a spot on Wednesday, so this can't be cheap. But, I trust them and I certainly don't want to let whatever this is get worse, so I'll deal with it.

I'm supposed to know the results of the blood test by this afternoon, but since they also handle large animals (as in cows, horses, and the like...including a mountain lion at one point) that they have out in a pasture, and there have been several funnel clouds spotted at this point (yes, if I get a little choppy and incoherent it's because as I write, I have one eye and one ear on the television so I can stay updated, and the other ear is listening for the local tornado siren), I figure they might be a little busy right now.

But that's what's going on in my dog's life right now. Because I'm sure you are all dieing to know.

On a happier note, the National Championship is tonight and we plan on watching with some friends. The weather will have passed by then, and provided we don't all get blown away, we are going to gather together for some game watching fun. My own dear SEC does not have a dog in the fight anymore, since the University of Kentucky couldn't pull it out (mostly because it's like they forgot to play during the first half, so way to go, guys), I will cheer on those Butler Bulldogs. Blue 2 is too adorable. Love that dog. Also, I kind of like Coach Stevens' coaching style.

So it's been a worrisome day, so far, but there are still things to look forward to! I am determined to remain up beat and in a good mood today. Having said that, a good mood doesn't mean I have to be stupid, so I'm gonna wrap this up and go batten down the hatches, so to speak, because the tornado sirens just started going off. I hope you are in a safe place if you're also in the path of this storm! What a Monday!

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools' Day

So, when I sat down to write this blog today, I decided to look up the origin of April Fools' Day and share it with you. There was just one problem. Nobody is really sure where it came from. It seems like everybody has a theory, but nobody actually knows. I will, however, share with you the most widely accepted theories.

The first theory revolves around the change of calendar. Circa 1582, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal edict in February declaring a change in calendar. This would, of course, come to be known as the Gregorian Calendar. Anyway, the Gregorian Calendar would celebrate the New Year on January 1st, whereas the previous calendar, or the Julian Calendar, celebrated the New Year on April 1st.

It is rumored that France was one of the first countries to adopt this new calendar, and since news didn't always travel very fast, those who still celebrated the New Year on the first of April were declared fools and made fun of. Today in France, school children tape paper fish to each other to celebrate the day and scream "April Fish!" when it is discovered. I'm not really sure when, why, or where the fish became part of it, but in France it is April Fish, not April Fools.

The holes in this theory are that there are references, obscure as they are, to April Fools' Day before the Gregorian Calendar was even announced. Chaucer's Canterbury Tales has a reference to an April Fools' Day joke, but does not actually call the day April Fools' Day. The translation of the line actually says "since March began, thirty days and two", and since March has 31 days, that means April 1st.

Also, England did not officially adopt the Gregorian Calendar until sometime in the 1700s (that is not to say they didn't use it before then, but it wasn't OFFICIALLY adopted until then), but there is reference to April Fools' Day in English literary works in 1686.

On a side note, did you know Scotland celebrates April Fools on two days? One day is specifically dedicated to jokes involving the backside of one's body. It is rumored that the "kick me" prank can be traced to this tradition. I don't know anyone from Scotland that I can ask to verify this little piece of trivia, so I am taking it with a grain of salt, but it's still kinda funny.

Anyway, the second theory is that the day is in reference to a holiday from Ancient Rome called Hilaria. This festival began when winter turned to spring, in late March and was a time of great celebration and even crazy antics. It was supposed to celebrate the changing of the seasons, new life, to honor a Roman god, and to kinda let people get the crazy out of their system after being cooped up all winter. Can you blame them for that last part?

Anyway, over time and as Christianity spread, the festival of Hilaria interfered with the Feast of Annunciation. So the antics of Hilaria were simply moved to April 1st, so as not to get in the way with the much more solemn Christian celebration.

There are a few other theories out there, but these two seem to be the most widely accepted, although neither can be verified. It still seems, though, that it still serves as a good time to let all your crazy out after a long winter, no matter what the holiday's origins actually are. So, embrace the day, have some fun, and let your freak flag fly. Happy April Fools' Day!