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NaNoWriMo: What is it?

Put the ice queens, princesses, witches, monsters, pirates, Doctors, and whatever other costume the kids wore away.  Halloween is almost ove...

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Resolutions for 2015

It's New Year's Eve and most are likely getting settled in to enjoy ringing it in.  This is a holiday unlike most others and for the Gregorian Calendar occurs on December 31st while January 1st is the start of the New Year, so let me first type you all a "Happy New Year's!"

Now that that's out of the way, everyone has different traditions.  Some go out to party; others stay in.  Of those going out, some only go to a local hangout spot like a bar or bowling alley, or perhaps to a friend's place.  Other's will go to public displays ringing in the New Year, like Madison Gardens or their town bash (Greenville, IL has it's bicentennial kick-off party tonight and some will likely celebrate the New Year thusly.)  Some will watch various shindigs on TV or some New Year's special like what occurred for Christmas.  But they are all either following a tradition or trying to start a new one.

Of all the traditions out there, only one have I heard or seen regularly perpetuated (besides staying up to midnight) and that's the New Year's Resolutions.  I actually have a memorable year where I was determined not to have any resolutions because I wouldn't keep them, and I knew it.  I failed.  So this year, I'm going to share a few of my resolutions here.

#1) Keep up with my blog.
I know it's only just started, but my goal was to blog a minimum of once a week, sometimes more, not once a month.  I managed barely to keep to my Sunday Updates during NaNoWriMo, but otherwise my blogs are severely lacking and for that I must apologize.  Hopefully 2015 I will be able to follow my original plan.

#2) Project Noah
This was something that interested me because it's goal is to document wildlife around the world.  I like to travel and maybe one day I'll be able to visit more places, but as it is I don't know what everything is.  I think it would explode my head if I did.  Not only can I upload pictures of local flora and fauna, getting pictures of squirrels outside my window or a bird's nest in the mailbox(yes this did happen.  I never got a photo of it which saddened me,) but if I don't know what it is, I can ask for aid in it's identification.  It's not just for plants and animals either.  There's remains, eggs, larva, and nests available to be photographed and identified.

#3) NaNoWriMo
It'll be my third year this year and I'm determined to win this time.  Let's hope my determination is still there come November!

#4) FanFiction Uploaded
Yes, I read and write fanfiction and tend to do most it while playing with Harry Potter.  I know, I should probably try something else, but sometimes it's just a bit easier to play with known issues.  I have two works currently published and still in progress on FanFiction.Net, but I also have numerous more sitting on my computer or in notebooks.  Some of these include (but are definitely not limited to: Harry PotterXCharmed; Harry Potter time/dimension travel; Harry PotterXCircle of magic (Tamora Pierce); Harry PotterXLa Cordo D'oro; and Harry PotterXYu-Gi-Oh(two of these, one where Harry is Seto; the other one - Harry is Joey.)  I'll reread some of them only to get mad at myself because I can't figure out how to keep it moving.  Sometimes they're dry-runs for an idea for something else.  Most of the time, they are what-if scenarios that are fun to let run wild.

Well, that's all I can think of currently.  Got any resolutions you're willing to share?  What are your New Year's traditions?  Remember to be safe out there tonight and have fun!

Viruses during the holiday? Mostly scam.

I know it's been a while.  Between Thanksgiving, finishing (or trying to finish, anyway) my NaNo, my birthday, Christmas and now the New Year I thought I wouldn't be putting anything up until the New Year, but then as I reading before bed on my Kindle Fire a fanfic on Fanfiction.net, I dozed off.  I may have had a random show on Hulu as well...

Anyway, I shake myself awake and check where I'm at in the story only to find I've been locked out and have to pay a fine or wait until an investigation by the FBI is finished, but there are no dates and my desktop and husband's (who happens to be at work) are both fine.  It didn't make sense that I could still download items to my Kindle, but I could not even pull up the last webpage I had looked at, so I took to checking into ways of figuring out what had happened.

I could barely manage to look at my history to figure it out that way or rather clear the cache, hoping that would help.  It didn't.  Finally I shut it down while I put in because of the website and alleged crime "is porncheck a scam" on my desktop's search engine.  Turning the Kindle back on and choosing to go to the web again, It gave me the option of restoring tabs.  Of course I did, not thinking and had the same issue, so I shut it down again.

Upon turning it back on, I did not restore the tabs.  It seems to have cleared the scam out.  Part of what made it so suspicious is I know someone that was accused of child pornography on his computer.  Heads up, they don't lock the device remotely in the middle of the night.  Just informing.  Hopefully this helps if someone else has an issue, but at least it didn't happen when I came down with the flu.  Talk about a disastrous end to an epic D&D session!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

NaNo Update 5/5

Today was the final day and while I technically still have just over an hour left, I'm throwing in the towel.  Not because I'm giving up, no, but because I'm falling asleep at my computer desk after spending the day doing everything except work on my novel.  Go figure.  Even after adding in my NaNo updates and the little bit I did on a few other stories, I wasn't able to hit the 50,000 mark.

Luckily, I don't honestly aim for such a lofty goal.  No, what I do is set my sights for a much lower number and then increase in increments of 5,000 as I continue on.  I'm happy with myself.  I managed to reach 10,000 words.  Even with all my procrastination and avoidance of this particular story I managed to hit 10K!  I think I deserve some hot cocoa before bed.  Well night, all.  Hope you managed to at least start a novel during the craziness that is NaNoWriMo!

Monday, November 24, 2014

NaNo Update 4/5

No excuses for this being a day late.  Absolutely none.  I am sorry.  I haven't much more to update on my story.  Yes, I know a few names for my characters, but I'm not even at ten thousand words and again I have no excuses.  At least it's more than a big fat zero on the page, right?  I'll be spending time working on my Nano story whenever I'm not at work or outside the home, well better get back to it!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

NaNo Update 3/5

Almost 20000 words behind, but at least I hit that first five thousand and have been working on my novel, right?  I know I'm a little behind...okay a lot behind, but is it really so bad for me?  I write when I can and when I end up being the one to take the dog out because my husband can't take the hint to take her out...Let's just say that I might have had a few thousand more words written if I weren't trying to ignore the fact that my husband and dog conspire to keep me from doing things that I may want to do, or listen/watch what I want...

Thankfully I have tomorrow off from work as well as Thursday so I can hopefully spend the bulk of that time working on my novel.  How about you?  Are keeping with where you want to be or are you like me - lagging by the tens of thousands?

Oh!  I figured out the final victim of the main female character's first name - Jasper.  It came to me as I was doing this past Wednesday's write-in!  Just as one of her coworker's names did...Val, as in Valerius.  Seriously.  He wanted a name that started with V and wouldn't tell me until I threatened to write him as a Vernon.  He quickly revealed his name after that.  Still don't have my main female's name, though I now also now her "soul mate's" name...as I can't really call him anything else without referring to a thousand others in that world.  Oh well.  At least I've gotten somewhere with it, right?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

NaNo Update 2/5

At this point in time, I'm still around 12000 words short of the daily goals, but that's partly due to my inability to type quickly, without correcting mistakes, and with only one hand.  Each of the write-ins I've listened to (listening to the ones from yesterday at the current moment) have been incorporated into my story if I chose to write for the write-in.  I know it's still not much of an update, but at least it's something right?

Oh! I almost forgot!  I have two names for the story determined for certain.  There was a list that included random names of the main female character's past lovers while speaking with a man that she's interested in, but some of the names are likely to change.  The name of the Man-Eater's first victim was decided as it came to me suddenly and The Voice keeps giving me inspiration for this story.  If it didn't keep giving me the perfect pieces of inspiration, I'd probably put a stop to watching it until NaNo's done.

The reason why I have to say that is that while the Jolene duet gave the premise for the start of the story, it's singers are the inspiration at least look-wise for the first and last targets to be "stolen" from.  Then Gwen gave Craig a make-over and it was perfect for the final "stolen" man.  I almost determined his name at that moment.  Of course it's only their first names, so there are still a lot of names needing to be determined, and some that may change.

How about you?  How far along are you in your NaNo goals.  Do you have information that just isn't forthcoming from your characters or hit a roadblock already?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

NaNo Update 1/5

So this is my first NaNo Update as promised.  With only two days of working on this story, I'm already behind on the word count and still have no names for my characters or a title for the story or even a cover, but I have it started.  Seeing as I had to work on day one of the writing marathon and then slept most of today, that's better than I thought I would do.  Now I've given the first update about my NaNo novel writing work, I'm going to return to my story.  trying to hit 1500 before bed tonight, because I've got a nice little list of things I was going to do today (including write for an hour) that just didn't get done, thanks Dreamworld!

For those who are also attempting NaNo, I seriously hope you're doing better, and if you aren't, then get to writing!  It's not that hard if you don't edit, except to add in descriptions, anyways.  Besides, it's only just begun.  There are still twenty-eight days to try to reach 50,000 words and with the virtual write-in on Wednesday, who knows what new things could come out!

Friday, October 31, 2014

NaNoWriMo: What is it?

Put the ice queens, princesses, witches, monsters, pirates, Doctors, and whatever other costume the kids wore away.  Halloween is almost over and now it's time to get ready to perform a phenomenal feat.

At exactly midnight, several people of varying ages around the world will stop with a majority of the rest of the world with one goal in mind - to write fifty thousand(50,000) words by midnight on November 30.  They only have from the moment Halloween is officially ended to write or type up the story they've chosen to focus on.  Why?  Because everyone has a story to tell and the world can always use another novel.  

So a nonprofit organization was created and titled National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo for short.  The goal of the organization is to inspire and motivate writers to complete a 50,000 word "novel" in thirty days.  There is no cost to try and in joining their website there's no telling how many writing buddies you may make if you go to write-ins and follow the virtual ones.

Since writing is such a solitary occupation and can often take the place or at least interfere with real life, this organized yet flexible way to connect with writers around the globe is pretty awesome.  For more information on NaNoWriMo itself, check out their website.  Otherwise, I will now inform on what few plans I have involving NaNoWriMo for the month of November.  

You can check out my page and add me as a writing buddy if you so choose for more detailed information.  So far I have a general idea that was inspired by the duet of Joliene done by two members of Team Gwen on the Voice.  Then, as I was walking to do some shopping, I started thinking about how envious we all are which lent itself to further aiding me in planning the story out.  My biggest issue is likely not losing all these ideas when they hit during NaNoWriMo what with Thanksgiving and birthdays and work and getting ready for winter and the rest of its holidays.  Don't worry though.

I've committed myself to complete this story even if I don't have names for my characters or a title for the novel and am conspicuously missing a cover image for same said novel.  In fact, I picked up a Caliber brand Memo Pad complete with pen at CVS for only $5 and made certain I have a recording device on my phone.  

Every Sunday I plan to type up a "NaNo Update."  This means there will be five.  There likely won't be much in the way of information on the first one.  I will, however, inform on general story breakthroughs (the character based off the song, whom I've been referring to as Joliene, has claimed that that is "so totally not my name in any way shape or form" which in a way is a good thing since I hope my niece by the same name doesn't become a man- or woman-eater!) as well as if interesting events occurred during write-ins.  Hopefully these blogs will help keep me on track!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hallow-WHAT? Why Halloween is loved by all, or at least most...

Halloween.  All Hallow's Eve.  Samhain.  All of them occur on October 31.  They are all based or happen to be a celebration of the dead.  Samhain is the Wiccan New Year's Eve.  The end of the previous year.  A start of the dead season.  All Hallow's Eve later became Halloween thanks to making it easier to say.

Why is it so popular though?  The month of October becomes a tribute to the scary, creepy, and unholy.  Things that go bump in the night become the stars of the month and if you can terrify your friends - bonus points!  It's the only time you really get away with terrifying complete strangers.  It's the only time that you can expect to have nightmares after getting candy.

Speaking of candy, that's only the best thing about it for the kids.  Well, maybe not all of them, however, houses don't just give out candy.  They give away toys, cereal, school supplies, rings, apples, caramel apples, and the list continues.  It's not always the small stuff either.  Sometimes they give away the really big candy bars, you know, the share size packages that you only find at the gas station and your mom, dad, or other parental/guardian unit refused.  Yep, those are handed out to the kids.

These kids and sometimes (usually) their parents (because who wants to disappoint their young by refusing this fun pastime?) are dressed in some costume.  Now an episode of So Weird? from the Disney Channel (back when they actually played the series) actually had a town that did this every Halloween because of a pact with the local dead.  All the Phillips gang had to do to keep from being taken to the "other side" for the next year was dress like they were dead.  They disguised themselves as the dead.  Some kids will use Halloween to dress as their favorite TV character (this year, we expect to see a lot of Frozen related costumes.)  Adults indulge their inner child and in some cases inner kink.

Either way they get to play dress up.  They get loads of candy.  If done well enough, Halloween will scare the shit out Trick-or-Treaters.  This brings me to a thought that actually has started to tick me off more and more every year.  Yes not everyone wants to be scared.  Yes there are going to be those who don't decorate their homes for the scarefest that is what makes Halloween in my opinion so great.  I live in America.  I've heard of or read several who are claiming that folks decorating their homes with gravestones is too scary.  They seem to believe that Halloween is a night for playing politically correct(PC) dress up and getting free candy for children in middle school or younger.

These people seem to believe that sexy costumes are perfectly fine, but gross or scary is against the rules.  (I must reiterate though that most of these instances related are based on hearsay and I may have what they meant to have relayed in their words incorrect.)

To these people, I suggest that for the month of October, perhaps you should hibernate at home.  Halloween is a holiday I have looked forward to since I was a kid living in South Carolina.  That does not mean that I want you to destroy the main reason I love it - to get the living shit scared out of me.

To wrap this up, for all of you going out to Trick-or-Treat for Halloween, be safe as you try to be scared and get your bags full of sweets.  Happy Halloween, everyone!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Envy, Pity, and Why?

I've always been envious of others.  I freely admit that I succumb regularly to this sin.  I won't however do anything towards freeing myself of those envies.

My older sister was a straight-A student.  All of my siblings were more popular.  My brother was a boy.  Other girls' hair didn't tangle as quickly.  One of my sisters was a blonde.  Those I call friends were always more open than I or had family members that actually cared about them.  Others were more athletic.  They had better stories to tell or juicy gossip to entrance others with.  They knew exactly what they wanted in life.  They were better looking.  They had better brains.  They had a defined talent.

Then, between Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood(FMAB) and Criminal Minds, I realized something: everyone is envious of something.  We grow up in a society where we are told to be happy with ourselves but can see those whom we look up to long for the hairstyle of someone else.  We are taught that being of a certain look will automatically make one better socially or targeted for social homicide.  Being smart wasn't always so great.

As a matter of fact, even during the nineties early two thousands, being so into a piece of fiction like Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Supernatural, or Sherlock made one the perfect target for bullies.  But we are informed that it's okay to be whom we are even if it is some overzealous stalking fan who may eventually kill.  We are taught that going to the extreme of killing someone is wrong.  Sometimes, as an adult, I envy today's children.

They will likely not be raised to Sabrina, the Teenage Witch; Matlock; Diagnosis Murder; or Power Rangers the way I had been.  But the teasing and dissing of what they enjoy won't be as bad either.  They'll easily find others who enjoy the same things as them due to social media online, but they'll lose that face-to-face interaction that brings about local book clubs and coffee dates(though I despise coffee!)  Children of today's world aren't raised with the story lines we had.  The shows for younger children seem almost above intelligence for their age, and then for the teens, below intelligence levels.

With how we've become severely"do not offend" and "keep things politically correct (PC)" at least in America, it seems our entertainment is taking it to one extreme or the other, and that's not always a good thing.  It just feels as though things aren't the same, and while that's good, on the whole I am not as envious of the next generation as I had thought.

Sure they've got awesome paraphernalia for their fandoms and more ways than ever to keep themselves entertained, but now the corporations are able to connect all of the ways you keep information electronically which makes it a hell of a lot easier to target a person for identity theft.  I've already seen instances in folks my own age trying and failing to do the simple math problems like 29-14 that we had drilled in our heads so much that we could answer thirty of them in a minute without a problem.  They can't walk on their own even down the street for fear of the various types of human predators instead of animal and if they want to stay at a friend's?  Forget it unless they have all manner of ways to immediately be reached by the parents/guardians.  Yes they might have a more tolerant future, but what kind of future is it when they've become slaves to their electronics?  They may not know what a picnic is or enjoy a walk in the woods listening to the lake it surrounds.  They might not be able to enjoy a trail ride or swim freely at the beach.  It's for those reasons that I don't envy them.  Because one day, there might not be parks to walk through, beaches to sun on, or woods to wander, I actually pity them.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Facebook Friends, Requests, and Games

A friend of mine has had her Facebook account for several years now.  She opened one after receiving requests from other friends to join them.  She also had a MySpace account at the time.  Mind you, she wasn't on either regularly back then because she found other things more interesting than playing some random game or poking friends.

Yes, Facebook got its start as a gaming platform.  All those friend requests to play one game or another?  That was how Facebook began.  Between Vampires vs. Werewolves, before Twilight and Pirates vs. Ninjas to Vampire Wars and Farm Town, some members have been playing their games and sending said requests to friends since before they were able to leave more than short messages on a friend's wall.

Why did I start ranting about this particular subject?   My friend regularly plays certain games.  She also regularly ignores her notifications and game requests unless she decides she wants the headache of trying to deal with thousands of requests.  Some games are easier to keep from sending requests to friends who don't play the game than others, but it's actually relatively easy to keep from seeing said requests...It's called Hide All Posts From [enter name of game here.]

She just happened to be going through her wall posts, something she rarely does or ever really did.  One of her friends wrote a post "threatening" to remove friends who keep sending her game requests.  She then asked if said friend forgot that Facebook started out as games, not a media outlet for the depressing shit that keeps appearing on walls or for fandoms to reach out globally to each other.

While it started out as a gaming platform, it has changed.  Events and news stories are commonly pushing aside the games and it seems as though even though the games want to try to keep relevant they demand too many friends that play the same game and expect players to spend a majority of time playing the game.  If someone spends more time removing friends because of game requests than taking the time to remove said game from their accepted notifications list, then perhaps they aren't spending enough time in the real world catching up on other things.

What do you think?  Should someone be removed from a friends list just because ssaid friend is receiving game requests from them?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Deadlines

I meant to put a post every Sunday when I first started, but then real life got in the way.  I just didn't feel like posting or I couldn't decide what I wanted to write about.  Sometimes I'd know but not be near my computer to type it up for a post.  I knew a long time ago that I had an issue with deadlines.

In fact, it was this issue that made me ecstatic when I found the Helium.com back in 2006.  Then in 2008 it was bought out by a bigger company.  This was great until recently when after changing the set up and original website, they decided to close down the site.  This left several writers looking for new sites to write on.

I started on Helium because of its lack of deadlines but set areas to write for, including specific topics.  It had a system that allowed its members who wrote within a specific category to be the same ones to rate others without rating their own for consumption by others who might have looked into the same information that had been written.

Helium had fact-checkers to be certain that information wasn't bull-shitted just to add to a writer's possible income based upon reader traffic.  The reason given for the close-down of the website?  There wasn't enough traffic to the site.  This is all fine and dandy and Helium has given it's members plenty of time to get their articles back from the site and remove them.   The only problem with that is that some of these articles are considered to be creative writing.  Reworking one of these, especially the poetry pieces, for a different site so as not to be plagiarism is not as easy as one would think.

I rarely failed to meet school-imposed deadlines, however self-imposed ones are harder to keep.  When writing, my interests vary and I rarely seem to care while I'm typing about what's going on.  Case in point, my husband is currently watching Criminal Minds on Netflix and I happen to be listening to it while typing this post up.  However when my attention leaves I hunt for something else entertaining.  When it comes to writing it's a bit harder.

The muses take over my imagination based around things that interest me.  Sometimes stories change as things within change.  I do have a couple of stories on Fanfiction.net and numerous more in the works.  Among those, a few have taken turns that were not expected.  I even have a Yu-Gi-Oh Harry Potter crossover in the works that wasn't supposed to have certain characters involved in the story at all that suddenly included said characters in ways I hadn't planned.  This is why when NaNoWriMo comes around, I try not to plan.  Planning things for my writing never turns out the way I want, so I would rather not set myself up for disappointment because the story derailed from the original and I can't find inspiration to continue.

So even though I had set up in my mind that I would do a post every Sunday, I knew even when I started them that I would not be able to keep up with my self-imposed deadlines.

Friday, August 15, 2014

SoBe and Harry

So here I am reading a Harry Potter fanfic on AO3 and open a SoBe green tea.  I don't know if you've ever had a SoBe, but the lids always have some sort of saying on them.  I've gotten some that were just ironic for what I was doing or what our party in D&D were doing or things that were funny.

We also had a rule in one of our D&D campaigns.  If you had either a shirt or SoBe lid or some other item that could be associated with the current campaign it was an automatic temp bonus to the stat that aided your character most.  I must admit my d6 earrings paired with my SoBe lids always seemed to gain me a better temp bonus than others...Then my short range fighter was regularly paired with a long range druid and was best friends after spending almost a millennium in a time loop with the party's cleric....The druid and I were nigh unstoppable, nothing seemed able to beat us!

Anyway back to the irony of tonight's SoBe cap.  Here I am reading a Harry Potter fanfic when I open my SoBe green tea and read "YER A LIZARD HARRY".  I am not joking.....Maybe eventually I will edit this post by adding the pic of the lid...Although if you drink SoBe you've probably seen that one.

Do you have any ironic SoBe cap stories?  Go ahead and share them!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

County Fairs

Okay, so I meant to write like two weeks ago, but I decided to host my own pity party since I couldn't go to San Diego for Comic Con or Nerd HQ.  Then I was mad at myself for not writing, but seriously, the only thing I could have written about was what I was missing.

I mean, they have so much every year and even if I hadn't been working, I'd have had no money to go.  Then last weekend was the county fair where I live.  Now I've been to county fairs and they've always been disappointing for me.  In the beginning we just didn't have the money, but as I now can spend money that I want on what I want, I find little that I actually want.  I know that sentence is most likely a run-on, but I don't feel like fixing it.

I find the shorter town "drunk fests" or festivals are often better thanks to the parades, a better variety of both games and rides, and, sadly, the entertainment.  I've heard that my current county's fair tends to be better than the last one I would go to, but I was even more disappointed by it.  Between a lack of prizes for older generations as well as the lack of rides for the elder fair goers and the lack of interesting booths and events for those who would go later, even though they had a parade (which I had to work during), I felt that it was a let-down.

I like to think I'm rather easy to please when it comes to enjoying my time out.  I don't complain that often and am more than willing to bypass things that I want to do in favor of something someone else I'm with wants to do.  Having said that, I couldn't find anything that really appealed to me.  Games like Pop the Ballons and Ring Toss had poor prizes if one were to win, and almost every single ride was more for the younger children, not even teens, but children than anyone else.

This isn't to say that county fairs don't have some awesome draws for them or that they are all the same.  It's just one of those things that I remember TV and books making them seem so much more interesting and to have so many more attractions than what they seem to have nowadays.  I still go for funnel cakes, but other than that, what happened to what we were brought up as believing to be the county fair?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bigheaded Stars?

So, last Sunday I just didn't have any inspiration, but this week?  Last night one of my friends' significant other was working when a band just happened to pull into the gas station.  He mentioned that he was a fan and was offered an autograph by the lead singer.

I should probably inform you at this point that this friends' significant other is very similar to my husband, just as my friend and I are very similar.  We all happen to like the band that pulled in and offered him an autograph.  It wasn't surprising when he turned them down.  See, he had been asked to work a shift when he's usually sleeping so he work his night shift which he was supposed to work tonight.  This meant that my friends had to put off their plans for homemade BBQ chicken that she was going to make when she got home.  On top of that, he works at a gas station.  What was he going to have them sign?  Their receipt?  His arm?

So apparently, his refusal of an autograph, which he would have been ecstatic to get if he and my friend were attending the band's concert when offered, prompted them to possibly doubt the fact that he was indeed a fan of their music because they apparently asked him for one of his favorite songs by them.  Now as I previously mentioned I'm a fan of the band as well as is his significant other and my own husband.  When I was informed of this my mind literally drew a blank as to any of their songs!

However I recognized the band as one I enjoyed as I looked them up on YouTube, where I realized rather quickly that they were the band for some of my favorite songs.  Now it's not that I don't know the songs because when I listen to them or watch a well created amv(anime music video) that was created to the songs by them I don't always realize who the artists are.

This brings me to my point though, are celebrities getting to expect too much out of those who claim to enjoy their work?  I can't tell you the name of every actor or actress and all of their performances that I enjoy.  When I say I enjoy something and then get quizzed to prove that I know who or what I'm talking about, it makes me start to hate what I enjoyed.  I can enjoy an artist's music but despise the artist.  I hate hearing people say they won't listen to something or watch something because a person they don't like is the one performing it or even in it(and yes there are people that refuse to watch something because of a specific actress.  My mother-in-law hates Lindsay Lohan.)

Why are we expected to be able to list what songs or movies or performances those that we enjoy have to their name?  Why are fans expected to have at all times a list of things to put proof to their fan credence?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fourth of July or Independence Day

So in America we are raised knowing that the Fourth of July is a holiday.  When we start school we start to learn why it's a holiday.  The really thought provoking part about it, for me at least, is that if we were to tell a non-American "Happy Fourth of July," will they understand why?

Other countries have an Independence Day, but it's not always the same date and for some nations, they may celebrate something completely different or call it by another name(Bastille Day).  It's like how Britain celebrates Guy Fawkes Day and the only reasons Americans even know it exists (unless they watch British TV) is because of calender notations and history classes, if they paid any attention.  So sometimes I start to think, what do tourists who hear "Happy Fourth!" while visiting America think.  Then I start to wonder what else should we say?  I was talking with a customer where I work about it on Thursday night and we thought about Happy Independence Day, but we ran into the same issue, would tourists understand?  Finally we jokingly said goodbye with "Celebrate your independence."  I think this is actually a very fitting greeting for around this time of year.

Now, I live in the Midwest, more specifically in the St. Louis Area.  I have to admit that when I think of Independence Day, yes the Will Smith movie comes to mind, but after that it's extreme heat, barbecues, fireworks in the country, and pools.  So this year when the weather was so gorgeous with no rain and no extreme heat, it was practically perfect.  I will admit that once the sun was down, it a tad chilly for me in shorts and a tank top, but it was still a gorgeous day.

The actual fireworks were a bit of a letdown, though.  It may be just because I'm getting older or because of the state of Illinois' laws on certain types of fireworks, but after watching for a mere fifteen minutes, I was beyond ready to go home.  The highlight was the smiley face that was actually upside down.  Was the firework made like that or was it set off incorrectly?

After we got home (I should probably inform you that I have a dog that had already scratched my legs up profusely) I mistakenly believed the rest of the night would be rather quiet.  One of our neighbors must have had some fireworks they wanted to set off.  I didn't go to look because I suddenly had a lapful of dog and when she doesn't want me to move she becomes extremely heavy.  This usually happens when she's terrified.  Typically, she is only scared of noises that she can't find the source of.  Thunderstorms, she wants to look out the window.  A couple of years ago, there was ice and snow on the roofs that was melting.  As these sheets fell on some of the buildings it would sound like heavy furniture being dropped out the window, if you can imagine that sound when you live on the top floor of your building.  One day we saw it occur and heard the accompanying bang as we were walking.  This allowed us to see the cause and she didn't have an issue with it.  She's even fine around guns(My husband hunts).

Fireworks, however nice to look at, she refuses to listen to at any distance.  In fact, once we were far enough away she couldn't hear them, she enjoyed watching them from our truck window.  I digress though.  Between that neighbor setting off their fireworks in town and the memory of a picture on Facebook of a man putting a sign in his yard that read, "Combat Veteran Lives Here," or something similar, it made me think of a few reasons folks who live within towns, or cities, or have close neighbors, should go out of town to set off fireworks.

The first one was illustrated through my own dog's reaction.  How many dogs completely freak out when the Fourth roles around?  I only ever met a total of none.  Every dog I've ever met hates fireworks.  There have been some that are more tolerant, but they have all been older dogs.  The second was triggered in a way by a memory of an episode of Criminal Minds.  I don't remember which one but a man was caught in a PTSD episode, triggered by a construction zone.  How many veterans of war, gang incident survivors, and others who suffer problems due to loud sounds can safely listen to fireworks at a close distance?  How many in towns or cities who erroneously set off fireworks even think about the possible consequences?  As a child, I never really cared about the sound.  It was just a part of the show, but now I start to wonder just how bad that sound is to not just us, but others as well.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Real Life Masks

So, I've been trying to think of what I wanted to talk about this week and I have to say that the only thing that really stuck out in my mind was how things have changed.  It's not just that I've grown up or that I've had more "real world" experience.  No, it's about how things have changed as time has gone on.  I grew up mostly in less urban, more rural areas.

I grew up in the '90s.  No, I didn't get into drugs or going to parties all the time where alcohol was a staple.  I also never really worried about being labeled.  I was teased enough by my cousins about my mud-like hair, though my sister's hair was the same and they referred to it as "more chocolatey", my lack of being normal, and my inability to be as they thought I should.

I loved playing basketball and the school I attended at first was very encouraging.  Then we moved.  This new town had basketball teams, but as I aged I learned that it was more a male's sport and the girls were supposed to cheer or play volleyball.  If they wanted to play basketball, they needed the money to be allowed the privilege at a local community center.  At ten years old, I didn't really understand, nor did I want to.  I had moved to Illinois from South Carolina.  In S.C., I had learned to keep my differences hidden as much as possible and that I was likely to be blamed for things that went wrong.

Anything against the rules was my fault, according to my baby-sitter and her son who was my age.  If I tried to tell my mother or dad what happened, they didn't have time to listen.  In fact the only times I really got praised was if I managed to keep quiet and out of the way.  Then as I got older I was expected to anticipate what the adults, whether it was a teacher, relative, or someone else, expected out of me.  At one point I was proud of my school and tried to keep things clean.  My family never realized it, but I despised messes.  Clean was queen.  The problem? I became the scapegoat.

No, seriously.  I was the scapegoat.  Lily* has a tantrum?  Ency caused it.  Janine's* dolls are missing?  Ency hid them.  Michael's* being chased by a hammer-wielding Ency?  She's in a bad mood again.  Sylvia's* hair's been cut?  Ency did it while she was sleeping.  The girls' bedroom is a mess?  Ency trashed it.  The kids were late for school?  Ency took forever to get ready.

They forget about the reason behind the behavior.  Lily didn't get her way, because the toy she wanted was mine and I was playing with it.  Janine misplaced her dolls or hid them so no one else could play with them.  Sylvia cut her own chopped off hair and refused to get in trouble for doing such a bad job.  The really bad thing, in my opinion, is the things that were forgotten even by my siblings.  Michael had chased Sylvia with previously stated hammer, before I could wrench it out of his hands.  I only chased him because he wanted to end it there without apologizing for terrifying Sylvia out of her mind.  I never threw our toys or books around the room.  Cards, sure.  I'd be playing fifty-two card pick-up because neither my siblings nor cousins wanted to play with me.  The reason I took my time?  The one morning after being ready for school I got the nerve to ask my mother if we could go to school early(I really wanted to play on the jungle gym!) she asked if I was ready.  I told her yes because I was.  She told me I was allowed to go early.  I got in trouble upon arriving home because I went without Janine or Lily.  What does that tell a girl?  I was excited, but I wasn't allowed to go to school because my sisters couldn't decide on the outfit they wished to wear.

I could get really good grades on a project, and win the project to take home, but even after promising to showcase it, it always paled to anything my siblings did.  Now things have changed.  I still get treated differently, but it's because I have no children or driver's license.  It's because I don't have a college degree and my dreams that I thought I once had no longer exist.

These changes aren't new.  Things I once loved like family and conservation, became my family members focus when I finally stopped trying.  I took pride in my family, once upon a time.  Now, I distance myself and avoid them because they were never there when I needed them, but expected me to drop everything and do what I could for them.  Sure my husband and I lived with my mother for a few years when we couldn't stand staying with our hypocritical friends any longer.  But she still expected way too much out of us when I barely kept myself sane as it was.

Everyone has masks.  This statement, no matter what anyone says, is true.  Even a baby has a mask.  It's the mask of innocence.  The inability to communicate their needs and wants using the words they will one day learn, unless they happen to be mute.  In my case I have multiple masks that all change as time goes by.  I can guarantee that most adults whom are no longer in the teenage years have at least three masks to cover who they are.  There's the them they present to family.  This one conforms to what is expected by what they have constantly repeated.  These expectations have been reinforced by things family have done or said over the course of the person's life.  In my case, it's to be strong, emotionally, and violent.  I can't be right about anything except spelling and the little nuggets of information I have in my head are inconsequential.  When it comes right down to it, I don't matter as much as others in my family or even my husband.

Then there's friends.  It started with the first impression and rumors, things they knew not to trust but until they could prove that they would be there through thick and thin, they had to expect.  It's also the things you believe they think because of the way they were raised.  For me, it's once again violence and emotionally strong.  There's also a strange humor and a willingness to say whatever I feel though tactfully.  A leader willing to follow until the need for a leader becomes so strong my willingness to be patient runs out.  It's pretending to enjoy something I hate because my friend's friend, whom I have never before met, has just been through a nasty break up.  It's a second mask.

Then there's the mask you use in the face of strangers and for first impressions.  Mine happens to be very friendly.  No violence is required unless in defense.  It's outgoing and all smiles.  Sometimes it's an annoying facade since even a remotely bad mood is noted.  However it can usually also be noticed by the observant that it's a false smile.  There isn't anything wrong with it, after all "smiles go for miles," but sometimes a person just needs to cry.  Sometimes they have a bad day and don't wish to speak of it.  Sometimes a person doesn't wish to deal with strangers.

When I was growing up, each of these masks were started.  They kept getting refined to the point that I no longer knew who I was or what I wanted.  That period of self-discovery most teens go through?  Yeah, I skipped.  In fact, I went from a joking conversationalist in preschool who did everything they could to protect others against cruelty(Think you can tease the black girls?  Ency will scream you out.  Think you can throw ice at Lily?  Ency will get even with you for her, and you'll have the marks to prove it.  I was a big believer in the only do unto others as you would have done to you.) to someone who stopped believing in the good of humanity but managed to pretend and keep herself busy.

Anyway I better stop there as I'm getting tired and need sleep.  My next rant will likely be related to America's Independence Day, the Fourth of July.  Hope everyone has a happy Fourth of July!



*Names are changed to protect the actual people portrayed.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Stereotypes on Father's Day

Last Sunday was Father's Day.  I missed posting my Sunday rant thanks to real life (hereafter in any rant RL,) but there was an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that caught my eye. This was supposed to be last Sunday's rant.  Defying Stereotypes was the headline which I thought was cool then I read the subheading: Study shows black fathers are just as involved as other dads in parenting their children - even when they live apart.

Okay...so I never heard anything about black fathers being less of a dad than mine, nor did I hear derogatory things about other races' male parental figures.  Then I thought what is a stereotype?  According to the Merriam-Webster website a stereotype is "to believe unfairly that all people or things with a particular characteristic are the same" or "an often unfair and untrue belief that many people have about all people or things with a particular characteristic."

So essentially, our nation is based upon stereotypes and trying to outrun them.  We've had the prohibition era which was full of stereotyping.  We learned about the "savage" Native Americans.  We even learned about "evil" Nazis and how their main goal was to rid the world of Jews (which is a religion, not a race) using stereotyping(Jews weren't human, brown hair and eyes was Jew, etc.).  

Even our entertainment includes stereotypes.  In Harry Potter, it's symbolized by the house partitions in Hogwarts.  Tamora Pierce emphasizes it in her Circle of Magic series/set with a noble, thief, tradesman, and nomad.  Then she does so in her Tortall set stories with the men vs. women issues.  And she shows it through both knights-in-training and police force.  She also shows the stereotypes about different areas that they travel amongst.  From the Lower City of Corus to the Scanran raiders to the north.  In Twilight (which honestly I don't like) Stephanie Meyer throws most of what is known about werewolves and vampires out the window.  Perhaps she did her research to find these different kinds of creatures, but hers aren't the stereotypical which had caused arguments to spawn across readers and movie-goers about whether the stories were any good.

Then there are the stereotypes about items.  One that I personally tend to agree with is when a book is made into a movie, the book is always better.  That however isn't always true.  Sometimes they are just as good, my biggest book to movie adaptation let-down?  The Harry Potter series.  The disappointment began all the way back with movie number one.  I was looking forward to the logic problem scene.  That and Hermione's impassioned speech about how there is more to life than books and cleverness.  The third movie in my opinion was the largest let-down, of course my expectations weren't nearly as high after that for the rest of the movies, so for me the disappointments weren't nearly as devastating.

Although Ella Enchanted, I thought, was well done.  There are likely others that don't fit the proverbial mold.  The fact that we still allow ourselves to follow stereotypes managed to upset me.  I fit numerous stereotypes without actually fitting them.

Yes, I game, but I'm not a hardcore gamer.  Yes, I know random trivial facts, but I don't follow any particular trivia type.  Yes, I watch drama and chick flicks.  I have my favored actors and actresses, but unless it relates to what they are doing next in their careers, I don't really care.  The whole Lewinski thing back in the late nineties, why did it matter if it didn't affect his job?  I mean I could understand if Clinton were say a priest or minister or an advocate for monogamous relationships, but why was seemingly everyone so concerned with whether or not he had had sexual relations with Lewinski?  Then again the fact that he lied while under oath?  That was a felony.  We've gotten to a point where if we hear someone is a politician, we automatically don't trust them quite as much.  I can't tell the number of times I've heard the phrase "No such thing as an honest politician."  Isn't this just another stereotype?  

How about the abused will become the abuser?  I know a fair few people who have been either abused or neglected as a child and never had the help we claim they should have had.  They've been doing just fine.  So how is it that when claiming something like defying stereotypes the article only focuses one particular stereotype?  Not just any stereotype either, it's the the stereotype of black fathers being less fatherly than others.  So why is it that stereotypes are so much a part of our lives and society?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Tyranny through Shame for what we Read?



I had a different rant planned for my Sunday regular, but I recently read a certain article that just kind of annoyed me. So I started this rant and by the time I was done typing it up, it was Sunday morning.




Ze Frank's video about yucking one's yum is spot on for more than just a response to Ruth Graham's article telling adults that they should be ashamed of reading Young Adult (YA) fiction.




I am 27 years old and read Agatha Christie back in third grade. I also read Mary Higgins Clark back then, and while they were great to read, I have yet to reread any of them. I love Lillian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who series and pretty much anything by Christine Feehan, Sherrilyn Kenyon, or Tamora Pierce. Now, Tamora Pierce is considered YA. Sherrrilyn Kenyon has a series that is a shoot-off of some of her others and is considered YA. I was 11 when Harry Potter was released in the US where I live. I stuck with it to the end and while the first book or three is geared more towards the younger YA, books 5, 6, and 7 can really pull the feels from you, though 6 was rather slow...




Anyway, to me the gist of Graham's article was that we do not have a thing known as free will (which is something that is actually kind of big in Pierce's Tortall set books). As a child that was kind of known (at least for most kids) to be odd, it was very upsetting. As a child, one's parents tell you what you are allowed and discipline you. However, they also let you know that as an adult, you have control of your life. Perhaps it's society that says that however, seeing as I know some people still live by their parents' edicts.




The biggest thing they warn against is giving in to peer pressure. And isn't that what Graham is saying one should do? "Adults should feel embarrassed about reading literature written for children." she claims in her article. It might be taken a little out of context when I ask if parents should be ashamed to read to their kids, as I believe she meant it for their own personal reading, but still it's a form of peer pressure.




I hated Twilight. I read them, found that while it had its moments, I couldn't understand all the changes Meyer made to what essentially made a vampire. I mean it's one thing if she did the actual research about them and found it, or if she, as several authors have done in the past, created her own version of a vampire, but it didn't feel like she had more information about them. It doesn't mean I told people they were stupid for enjoying it, but I did admit that I thought it was a waste of time. And yes I would have loved if Jaden would just destroy them or Simi would barbecue them. Perhaps one of the Carpathians could take them out.


Sadly none of that would happen. While I haven't been able to bring myself to read or watch Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, or even The Fault in Our Stars, I'm not going to say that people should be ashamed to have read them because of their genre. I was reading Harlequin novels in the fifth grade, and wasn't ashamed to admit it. I loved fantasy novels when I found them, and though my mother didn't want it in her house, yes, I played D&D (Dungeons and Dragons). I didn't do it because my friends did, nor because I was a rebel. For as long as I could remember I had been fascinated with mythology and fantasy, magic and folklore. So these were great for me. When I found The Circle of Magic series and Protector of the Small by Tamora Pierce, my mother got me Magic Steps for Christmas. I was ecstatic. That was better than even the suitcase of Harlequin novels that I had previously envied my older sister for getting. It was never really a competition though for which books we liked who would get what.

 
I mean I read the Couples series as well as the required high school reading (and absolutely hated the ending of Lord of the Flies, but thoroughly enjoyed Great Gatsby) and Isobel Bird's Circle of Three series. It became a joke that I had read our local library and those of the Inter-library loan program's entire stock of books! But I didn't hide what I read. I tried to read various westerns and science fiction and had a hard time with them, but I loved A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.
As we grow our likes and dislikes change. I have four siblings and my younger ones always had a hard time meeting the school requirements for reading. I don't think it was because they had a hard time reading the books they found either. It was because the subject matter didn't appeal to them. While I loved reading literally anything I could get my hands on, my other siblings and even most of my friends couldn't. In fact the only books I had to force myself to read or stopped reading because I couldn't get into them were The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Hunchback of Notre by Alexandre Dumas, and Les Miserables by Victor Hugo and it wasn't because I wasn't satisfied with their endings.


She even states, "But even the myriad defenders of YA fiction admit that the enjoyment of reading this stuff has to do with escapism, instant gratification, and nostalgia." I can't help but wonder if she's read anything by Mercedes Lackey, Tamora Pierce, Cate Tiernan or Lynne Ewing. Only one of which I have to search the fantasy section for. I know what I want when I find a new book to read or show to watch.


Should I not watch kids and teen movies or TV series because I'm an adult? Should I be ashamed that I enjoyed Frozen when I finally got around to watching it? Should I only listen to the music I grew up hearing? As I previously mentioned, people's tastes change as they age and experience new things.
Of course people use YA for escapism, anything that is read or watched that is fiction has always been an escape from what our lives are like. People read to have adventure, romance, and mystery in their lives that they know will have a fairly happy ending, at least most of the time.


Don't get me wrong, there are some things that probably should not have happened (Titanic the Musicals, for two), but does that really give someone the right to tell someone else that they must be a slave to whatever stereotype or peer pressure thing is being pushed upon them? Should we say that because someone is a brunette and has brown eyes, they should not exist or that those of Oriental decent should not live in a certain country? How about those of a certain color or size or orientation or faith? Because if so, hello, welcome back to some of the worst things in history: WWII, American Concentration Camps, and slavery. It may seem extreme, but that is exactly what it ends up leading to.

 
No, I don't have a degree from any college or university, yet, but even I can see that as long as we're willing to tell people what they should and shouldn't do when it's harmless and not illegal is in an obscure way a form of bullying. I'm not saying her opinion doesn't matter or that I think she's an idiot. She has some decent points in that "There’s room for pleasure, escapism, juicy plots, and satisfying endings on the shelves of the serious reader...But if they are substituting maudlin teen dramas for the complexity of great adult literature, then they are missing something."


My bookshelf isn't just filled with YA, there's paranormal romance, paranormal mystery, mystery, romance, and even some historical fictions on it as well as numerous pieces of nonfiction. My DVD collection and what I watch on Netflix and Hulu are even more varied. I may not be huge in the things that are mainstream, but I loved Transformers as a kid and superheroes though I never really "geeked out" to them. I can't make myself watch Star Wars or Star Trek unless somebody has already started it. I religiously watched So Weird, Xena, Diagnosis Murder, and Sailor Moon. I tried with Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Captain Planet, Digimon, and Dragonball Z. That was as a child. While my tastes have changed and some of them I now find childish, it doesn't stop me from enjoying the main storylines from them. Even The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne is interesting to me. I even kidnapped my brother's Alex Rider books written by Anthony Horowitz from time to time. I enjoyed them, but they happen to be YA as well. Those of us who were eleven when the Harry Potter books started and stuck with it to the end were in our twenties when the final book was released. Does that mean we should be ashamed?


It's not just the books that it seems to me we are supposed to be ashamed of. To me it feels as though Graham is saying that whatever you are labeled is the stereotype you should stick with and you should be ashamed of yourself if you break it. I might be reading too much into what she wrote, but as I said if we start to let others dictate to us with the simple things like what we personally should enjoy, then where are we going to draw the line in what we allow them to tell us.


I didn't fit into a stereotype, and luckily, I didn't care if I did. I was in band, loved basketball (and until I broke my ankle tried to play every chance I got!) was in various debate clubs, was a co-founder of our school's debate club(which after about five years was removed because the president of the time felt she couldn't handle the duties and didn't even try to find a replacement before telling the sponsoring teacher) in the recycling club and Planeteers, was a member of JILG (Jobs for Illinois Graduates) and much more. I had also been in FFA, French and Spanish Clubs/classes, and Chorus. I know it's not really a lot of clubs to spend any combination of time of my high school years in, but for me, I felt I shouldn't apply for jobs and then I couldn't get my license (which I still don't have!), and in general couldn't do much outside of them. I kind of gave up on sports after I couldn't get on my middle school volleyball team after my ankle healed, in part because I'm too lazy to force myself to do proper work-outs. I never had to before. I wasn't a straight A student or teacher's pet, but neither was I the class rebel or clown. Trust me, our class knew the majority of our classmates and with a class of over two hundred that's pretty good when you don't see the majority of them daily and you know the names of several other schoolmates (band and choir, only about sixty or seventy grade mates and about seventy-five total in both, and this is over the course of four years.) So I never really could be stereotyped. I wasn't gorgeous or rich or popular in the normal senses of the words, but sometimes I think I did it on purpose.

I could put make-up on properly if I tried, I just didn't care. If I had applied myself to my classes I could have been valedictorian, possibly, at least I'd have been high honor roll, but I didn't really have a place I felt comfortable doing schoolwork and I preferred reading to doing that work. I'd already become an expert at sitting right in front of the teachers and reading a random other novel, working on another classes work or writing something other than my notes. I managed to stay just under that radar of stereotype, yet most of my classmates likely remember who I was.


Not because I gave in to them saying I shouldn't read the books I wanted or calling me names to make me ashamed ( I hated my hair back then, this curly, knotty mass of brown, much like Hermione's and one of my friends even gave it a name, which we sometimes refer to it as.) that never really worked.  I chose the things I liked and stuck with them, at least until my tastes had changed.  I had already tried to conform once and found reading to be my escape and as I read, I learned conforming just wasn't right.  School talked to us about peer pressure and I learned about slavery and eventually I understood.

I didn't figure it out overnight though.  It took me a few years before I realized that I should just do as I wished, everyone else be damned.  So as I finished school I realized I had become rather proficient at hiding what I really felt.  No one, absolutely no one had ever realized about several of my darker feelings and days.  If I had done as Graham claims and been ashamed for reading things that were interesting to me, I never would have picked up Tamora Pierce's novels or Harry Potter.  I don't want to live in a world that tells me I should be ashamed because I have free will.  I sure as hell don't want any of my nieces, nephews, or future children (if I ever have any) to have to feel ashamed because of who they are, what they like, or what they do.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Poor Service at a Buffet?

I went to one of two local Chinese buffets for lunch today, and I, for one, don't care for Chinese.  However this one time I really just wanted some decent Chinese.  Hell, I would have settled for slightly better than mediocre!  The place I went to though, let's just say they used to be a lot betterand I'd have been better off making it at home.

First, I should say this rant isn't a review about the place though it was a barely mediocre meal.  No, the fact that it's a buffet means that one would except less than stellar service, however when the place is dead, the tea tastes weeks old, and you have to stare at a random server for several minutes before getting service, I doubt you can really say that it was the best experience.

No, the fact of the matter is that it was a horrible experience that I would fear repeating.  I don't care that the employees were obviously more comfortable in a language other than English.The fact that my husband had to wait for several minutes before getting his drink refilled is wrong.  This isn't the first time either and I've worked in a luncheon place before.  Yes keeping up on refills can be hard if it's busy and they are doing more than just clearing tables, doing busywork, seating people and taking their drink orders.

Apparently when a person has their kids with them at work in this place it's perfectly okay to ignore the customers, you know who those are don't you?  Customers are the people who make up the whole reason you have a job that lets you pay the bills.  The tips they leave are based upon the service they received.  It's not a definite thing, but when those whose pay is supplemented by tips which are based upon performance, it usually leads to a better experience overall.

If the service or fare is bad why should a person leave any kind of tip much less return for a repeat performance?  I can't tell the number of times that I've needed a refill and not gotten one at buffets!  And it's not like they happen to be swarmed at that moment either.  In fact every time I've been to Golden Corral, things have been busy and I've only ever had to track down someone for a drink refill once.  I'm twenty-seven years old and have four siblings, most younger.  I don't remember ever having issues when we'd go to Ponderosa either.  In fact, it's been rare, but when it happens and starts to seem a regular thing it gets annoying.  Then a couple came in after us and when we were beyond ready to go, they get their check, but we were still waiting for ours!

Is the really good service reserved for families and those who look they'll tip extremely well?  If so, maybe it's a good thing we rarely go out, because we usually give a decent tip.  Always a minimum of ten percent unless the service and fare are so bad as to upset us terribly.  I've been on both sides and yes I look at just how busy the place is before giving them the benefit of a doubt.  If it's extremely busy, then yes, I give quite a bit of slack, but when there's a total of five tables at a buffet and the servers are staring right at you and even ignore when you ask for something specific (like no ice in soda or extra sugar packets), well in that case you really don't deserve my repeat business.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Zoo in the Summer

So, I love going to the zoo.  As a kid, my grandparents used to take us every summer to the St. Louis Zoo and it was totally AWESOME!  Even if we didn't see all the exhibits we at least walked over the entire zoo before eating lunch at Forest Park and then going to Carlyle Lake where we would eat dinner or returning to the zoo before going home.

Last year, in an attempt to get some animal pictures for My Project Noah(which I have yet to post!) my other half and I tried to spend the morning in the zoo.  I say try because while we got there just as they opened, it was mid-July and we had gone on a Friday morning.  It was a stop on our way to Chicago for our first ever trip to Medieval Times.  We had a pretty decent parking spot, within sight of the entrance.

I had forgotten about how busy and loud it can be, though!  Not only that but I'm no longer a child more intrigued by what's going on around me than annoyed so when children are blocking my view of the perfect picture of a random reptile or fish I would get aggravated.  That's nothing though when combined with the screams of babies, parents calling for their kids, and the most annoying: children making demands of not only their friends, siblings or cousins, but their parents.

Now don't get me wrong, I love kids, most of the time.  I have approximately ten nieces and nephews and don't get to see them nearly often enough.  I also know that the zoo is a great cheap if not completely free (you have to find a way to get there when you don't live within walking distance.) all day activity for kids.  I loved learning about wildlife of all kinds growing up though I am horrible at knowing what is what specifically.  I even rewrote informational texts from encyclopedias and had those wildlife cards (though I do believe I stole most of them from my older sister's collection.  She only kept the ones she didn't already have a copy of or that she liked.) when I was young.  Wish I still had those wildlife cards!

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Anyway, I found that even though they've done some awesome things, like the underground section(which reminded both of us of Willy Wonka) on the train and the Sea Lion Sound Cove, it's a horrible idea to go there during the summer because the crowds are enormous, the noise level is as bad as any concert and trying to see the exhibits?  Well, let's leave that to the children!