Category Archives: Uncategorized

Be A Better Person: A Slightly Political Rant

I feel that there has been a steady influx of terrible things happening in the world. And with the current political climate, America is shamelessly displaying the hatred that courses through the masses. People aren’t even trying to be tolerant anymore. The state of this great nation of ours is not so great. Sometimes there is so much ugliness in the world that I can’t see the beauty anymore. And that sucks. Is there anything that can be done? Or is this the world? Take it or leave it?

We are once again in a situation where we are going to be voting for the lesser of two evils during this presidential election. And one of them will be taking over and either adding to Obama’s good work, or completely undoing it. I do not think either candidate is offering any kind of hope for a better world.

But back to the topic at hand – the sad state of our country as the presidential election has truly brought out the worst in so many people. And I think that there should be no question that one of the candidates shouldn’t even be considered because he is using hatred and fear to fuel his campaign. Blatant racism, discrimination, sexism, and bigotry are once again becoming not only acceptable, but encouraged. How can anyone talk about making America great again when our country has spent so much of our history preaching about equal opportunities in one breath and suppressing rights of anyone that isn’t a white male practicing the appropriate religion? Would America be great again if women’s suffrage had never happened? If segregation was still a thing? When rights were not a given, but something that had to be fought tooth and nail for? Was that greatness?

Personally, I like having the right to get a credit card without my husband’s permission. I like having the ability to vote. I value that if I were in a bad situation I could choose to safely get an abortion. I can buy a car. I can have a voice. I can get a job. I have these rights and I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit quietly and let hatred go unchecked. We do not need another holocaust. We do not need another führer. What we really need is for conservatives to get the fuck out of progression’s way. Stop trying to suppress basic human rights and worry about making the world a better place.

I don’t know what is going to happen on Tuesday. I know what I hope will happen, or more so what I hope will not happen. But either way, what I’m really trying to say is this – be a better person. The only way to counteract all the hatred and all the bad in the world is to try to put out extra good. Send out good vibes. Be nice to a stranger. Be there for a friend. Be a friend. Pay it forward. And maybe, just maybe, we can make this the kind of world that we want to give to our children. Maybe we don’t have to accept the world at face value. Maybe we can make a difference – however small – and bring a little hope back into the world.

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Never Challenge a Trash-Picking Bibliophile

Oh man, I am so hype right now! We just scored an awesome trash pick – a big, wide, sturdy bookshelf. Part of my excitement stems from the fact that we found such a treasure. And part of my excitement stems from the way that I obtained said shelf.

After enjoying a delicious dinner at our favorite bar (burger night!!), we walk outside with plans to go home. The sun has gone down, but there is still a little light in the sky. The humidity of the day still drapes over the city, but the air is cooling. Walking hand in hand, my husband and I stroll down the sidewalk discussing how early it is and whether or not we can fit in a movie before bed.

And just like that – it appears. At first glance, an ordinary piece of furniture that someone is getting rid of. Upon further inspection, it is a big, wide, sturdy bookshelf – the kind of trash picks that a bibliophile dreams about. Well, I had to have it. The obstacle being my husband’s reluctance to first acquire and then transport such a large piece of furniture. So, seemingly to deter my interest, my husband says that I can have the shelf if I can load it into the car by myself.

Challenge accepted.

I scooted the shelf back and forth, carefully and slowly as to minimize any damage. Once I approached the curb, I placed my hands underneath one of the shelves and scooted the shelf sideways towards the street. Closer and closer to my goal – I asked for my husband to back the car up a bit, and the nearer it came, the more realistic my goal became! I persevered, put down the car seats, opened the trunk, moved all the junk that was in the way, and finally worked the shelf into the car. Success! And only with a tiny help from my husband at the end to get it all the way in the car.

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I now am the proud new owner of a big, wide, sturdy bookshelf. It just goes to show – never tell a bibliophile that they can keep the extra bookshelf if they can move it themselves. Challenge will be accepted and beat because BOOKS!!!

 

In Honor of Grandma: Official Rules of Black Mama

 

Today is Grandma’s birthday, it would have been her 101st. I have many fond memories of her, she was such a sweet lady. The time we’ve spent together frequently included playing cards. In fact, when playing cards Grandma would often lose that sweet demeanor and, while frowning at her cards, mutter “shit” when she got a bad deal. This happened specifically when we were playing our family card game “Black Mama”. This is a game that is played by everyone in my family. Generation to generation, we play this game and teach it to our friends and younger generations. I thought that in honor of Grandma on her birthday, that it would be nice to share the rules of this game. I think it would make her happy.

Official Rules & Regulations – Black Mama

At minimum, you need two people to play Black Mama. You can have as many people in a game as you’d like – just add additional decks of cards as needed. Personally, I think six people is a good-sized game. The deck of cards should include all fifty-two AND the two jokers.

To start, each player is dealt eleven cards and one card is flipped over for the discard pile. At the beginning of each turn, you must pick up either from the deck or the discard pile. You can only pick up from the discard pile if you have two of a kind or one of a kind and a wild card. For example, if there is a 3 in the discard pile and you have two 3’s in your hand (or one 3 and a wild card), you can pick up that card. You must play that card right away and any cards on top of that 3 are yours to keep as well. At the end of each turn you must discard.

In order to get points and get rid of cards, you want to put cards down. This can only be done during your turn; each turn must begin with picking up a card. You have to have three of a kind to put down. So if I have two 3s and pick up a third 3, I can put that down. Or I can have a wild and two of a kind. You cannot use two wilds and one of a kind. During your turn, you can put down as many cards as you are able. So if you’re dealt three 3s, three 4s, and three 5s, you can put all of those down during your turn. When you pick up at the beginning of your turn, you can add to any cards that you have down already. So if I put down 3s during my last turn and I pick up a 3, I can just add that to my pile. You can also add wild cards to your pile if you are trying to gain points and get rid of cards.

How to win: The ultimate goal is to have the most points at the end of the game. Whatever you have down counts in the positive and whatever you have left in your hand counts in the negative for you. Games are usually played to 500 or 1000 points.

When there is an even amount of players, you can opt to play teams. Your teammate sits directly across from you. The advantage of playing partners is that you can pass cards. So if Grandma and Dad are on a team, and Grandma puts down 3s, when it is Dad’s turn, if he has cards down, he can pass any 3s he has to Grandma. You cannot pass cards to your partner unless you already have cards down. It is polite to ask your partner if they’d like to go out before doing so, but it isn’t required. Your points are counted together, so it is nice to check and make sure they’re not holding the Mama and getting stuck with that many points in their hand.

If you’re playing and run out of cards in the deck but the discard pile is still there, just flip the discard pile over and continue playing. Alternatively, you can end the game there and just count the points you have. (Humbug).

Point Breakdown

Queen of Spades (aka the Black Mama) – 100 points

Jokers – 50 points

Deuces (2s are wild) – 20 points

Aces – 15 points

Kings, Queens, Jacks, 10s – 10 points

9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4,3 – 5 points

 

Experiencing Technical Difficulties

 

Some of you may know, but I have been out of commission for a few weeks post-knee surgery. The doctor told me that surgery couldn’t have gone better, so that’s great, but knee surgery still means recovery time. On Monday, I went back to work after being out for three weeks. I was excited and scared, worried that I wasn’t ready, stressed out that it was pouring and water makes canes slip, but I was going stir-crazy at home, so there was definitely some excitement.

I get to the office, and the first thing I notice is there is a HUGE FUCKING MILLION-LEGGED BUG!!! Not the welcome I was expecting. But the inner door was locked, so I called one of the guys and asked him to let me in and if he did bugs. Luckily, he did and that problem was soon handled. While I was waiting to be saved however, I tried to login to my computer and found my mouse was not working.

I don’t panic, after all, my husband used to work for Geek Squad and I have a certain degree of technical knowledge. So I turned my wireless mouse off and on again. Still not working. No big deal. I hobble to the kitchen to put away my lunch and get my teapot and mug and on the way there, run into BBE (best boss ever). I mention to her my problem and she says the batteries are probably out. I hobble over to MJ’s office to get batteries out of her locked cabinet, but I couldn’t find the key! After searching for a few minutes, I decide to ask BBE for help. Of course she found the key right away, but the result was successful retrieval of new batteries. I put the batteries in and try again. Still not working. Turn it off and on again. Still not working! We unplug the little fob from the usb port and try it in the second port. Still. Not. Working.

At this point, we’ve spent probably twenty minutes on this and so BBE goes and grabs a wired mouse and plugs it in. After restarting my computer by being savvy on the keyboard, it finally works. I login and start catching up on my emails when I realize my second monitor wasn’t working. What now?! Then, well… then I realized that the monitor wasn’t on…and guess where the mouse fob was plugged in? Yep, on the monitor. Once that was on, everything started working! Amazing, right? It was a classic ID-Ten-T US-Three-R error.

Have Any of You Ever Felt Personally Victimized by Regina George? I mean, Government-run businesses?

So. I got married, right? And I decided to change my name. And that’s when everything went downhill. If you’re unaware, changing one’s name is probably the hardest thing to do. And I’m pretty sure that these different places that I needed to go to change my name decided to fuck with me and make it the worst experience ever.

The first thing you need to do is change your name with the social security office. I checked online, found a place, went there, waited in line for over an hour, and was told that I needed to go to the social security office by my house. Awesome. So I looked online and was told to go to this one location. I called and spoke with someone and was told to go to the same location. So I went to that location and despite being reassured that they would be open on Black Friday, they were not. I went the Monday afterwards and after spending about two hours in line, was told that I needed to go to a different location. Awesome. At this point, I was beyond exasperated and so I decided to mail in my forms. This meant putting my ACTUAL passport in the mail. Very uncomfortable – but I got a call from the social security office a few days later and learned that I sent it to the wrong office! Awesome. Luckily, they forwarded my stuff to the right office and a few weeks later, I had my new social security card. That actually was awesome.

Next step, get my license and passport updated. Yesterday I went to the DMV. The first place I went to was supposed to be open at 8:30am. They weren’t. I stayed for 45 minutes and they still weren’t open. I’m guessing that they decided to close because of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. But that is on Monday, and the post office is open today, so why the fuck would the DMV be closed? But this was a revelation I reached later.

After this mess, I called The Crazy Lady and she gave me two other addresses of places that would be open on Saturday to update my license. So the first one I went to, found it, parked, walked over, and the sign on the door said they would only be open the first and last Saturdays of each month. HELPFUL FUCKING INFORMATION. At this point, I’m determined. I’m going to get this taken care of. So I go to the other address Crazy Lady sent. And they don’t open until ten, so I stop at a café across the street to get some breakfast. The empty stomach was only increasing the likelihood that I would stab someone. After chatting with the guys at this place (who may have brought something besides tea back from Colorado) they recommended a blended herbal tea that was amazing. It was soooooo delicious that it almost made the madness of my morning worth it. I enjoyed a pretty tasty breakfast sandwich too. After eating, I went across the street, brought my paperwork up to the desk and was told that I needed to bring my social security card with me. AWESOME! More determined than ever, I go home and get my social security card and drive back. I get there, wait a little while longer, and then am told that I can’t actually do all the stuff at that location because they’re an outside vendor, not the actual DMV and they can process my paperwork and get me a camera card, but ultimately I would still need to go to the DMV. So the guy I was working with told me three times that if it were him, he would go to the DMV to do it all at once. Never being one that had to be told to take a hint, I decided to heed his advice.

So my name has been officially changed, but my license doesn’t reflect that at the moment. Or my passport. Or my registration or my bank info, or so many other things. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel like someone out there is messing with me. Am I being personally victimized? It seems quite probable…

Dog Walking 101

I am of the opinion that if you get a dog there are certain responsibilities that go along with that. Obviously, you need to do the standard feed and shelter the dog. If possible, you should walk the dog twice a day. But more importantly, you need to clean up after your dog. This seemed obvious to me, but given the amount of dog shit I see, maybe people need to be reminded that cleaning up after their dogs is an important part of owning one. Yes, poop is kind of gross and especially picking it up right after it has been evacuated from the dog and it’s warm is not a pleasant experience. But changing diapers is no picnic either, so suck it up.

Because of my knee nonsense, I haven’t been the primary dog walker like I was before. But my husband works late some nights and I can’t make the dog wait. A few weeks ago I was walking Ranger after all the leaves had fallen – one of the biggest challenges when picking up after the dog. So he squats down and I go to grab a bag from the dispenser we keep on the leash and it was empty!

What do to? I couldn’t just leave it. That’s not okay. Should I knock on some neighbor’s doors and ask for a baggie? That might be weird…I wasn’t too far from home, so I decided I should just go get more bags. The challenge would be to find the dog shit again. So I found a stick and pushed it into the ground in front of the shit. I walked back home, got the bags, went back, found the stick and the shit, and cleaned up after my dog. Because that’s what you do.

So yes, I am extremely judgmental about cleaning up after your dog. I’m not saying everyone will go to those lengths to clean up shit, but you should make an effort! When there is dog shit on the sidewalk – well I don’t know who you are, but I send a wish out. I wish with all my heart that you will get explosive diarrhea in your pants in the middle of an important meeting. That’s all I ask. So the next time you decide to not clean up after your dog, don’t be surprised when you get hit with karmic shit at the worst possible moment. And you’ll deserve it too.

Thanksgiving Boycott

What does Thanksgiving mean to you? To me, it’s a day to eat a lot of food. I have some good memories around Thanksgiving and some that aren’t awesome, but overall I look forward to the holiday. After all, the most important part of celebrating the holidays is getting to spend time with your family. I don’t know about everyone else, but I love my family. And it doesn’t hurt that the Crazy Lady cooks like no other. It’s easy to overeat when the food is that good.

Lately however, it seems like Thanksgiving is becoming less about spending time with your family and more about shopping. And I don’t get it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy shopping – especially when there are great sales going on and even more so when books are involved. What I don’t like is missing out on spending time with my family because of shopping. This happened to me once, back when I was working retail. As far as I can remember, it was the first year that stores were opening before midnight on Thanksgiving. So I had to be there early, so early that I was unable to attend Thanksgiving dinner with my family.

It wasn’t like I had a choice either. Everyone had to be there. And why was that? Because of you. Yes, I’m calling out everyone that goes shopping on Black Friday and especially those that go shopping on Thanksgiving. It has gotten out of hand. Stay home and spend time with your family! It’s precious. The year I missed was one year that I didn’t get to spend with my Grandma. She’s gone now and I’ll never get that time back. And why? So that you could get a good deal on some fucking merchandise that probably was poor quality and unnecessary. Was it worth it?

Maybe before going shopping on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, you should stop and think about what that means. First of all, you personally are missing out on time with your family. Secondly, you are forcing other people to work. The unlucky retail workers, the ones you barely see when you are shopping. They’re real people with real families and they are missing out on the holidays and everything that goes with them. They’re being forced to work at ungodly hours when they should be sleeping. So that you can get some crap at discount.

How do we stop this? More and more stores are opening their doors on Thanksgiving. This is because they know people will show up. The more people that venture out to get the deals, the more stores will open. And more employees are forced to miss out on time with their families. My advice? BOYCOTT!! The ONLY way that this madness will stop is if everyone stops shopping on Thanksgiving! If you don’t show up, the stores will end up losing money because they are paying workers to be there and not selling anything. So do me a favor, do all retail workers – past and present – a favor and boycott shopping on Thanksgiving. It’s the decent thing to do and the only way we can stop this trend. We need to take Thanksgiving back and remember that it is a time when we are supposed to be reflecting on what we are thankful for. I’m thankful for my family and I intend to spend the day with them eating way too much food and relaxing. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about. Well that, and a ritual sacrifice.

Well…shit

So, in case you haven’t heard, I got married! It was the best wedding ever!! I’m so happy with my husband, he is amazing and I couldn’t be more excited to spend the rest of my life with him. I guess I need to come up with a new nickname for him since FH stood for future husband and we are now official. I’ll have to think on that.

However, this post isn’t about the wedding or our marriage but rather our honeymoon. We decided to have a bit of a ‘stay-cation’ for a week to recharge after the wedding. I’m looking forward to being lazy with my husband. Since we decided to not go overseas for our mini honeymoon (currently we’re planning on a longer honeymoon in February somewhere tropical) we thought we should find a pet-friendly place to rent so that we could bring our puppy. Yup, we’re those people. He was a little confused about everything that was happening and he stayed with one of our neighbors for the wedding, so things were already out of his usual routine. Ranger is a good puppy, and we packed him up and all our stuff and headed off to Delaware.

It was a long drive, about 2 ½ hours. It’s not too bad and luckily we had the Preston & Steve podcast to listen to on our way. After driving through the middle of fucking nowhere, we finally made it to the rental office. It was closed, of course, but luckily they left the keys that we needed in a box for us and we were able to get them and get into our place. As per usual, when in a rental, FH and I wandered around and checked everything. Before we did this, I took Ranger on a walk around the area so he could do his thing. When I brought him back, we let him wander around. This turned out to be a mistake. Although he is well trained, when Ranger gets sick, he doesn’t always communicate well enough that he needs to go outside. So we didn’t realize that he needed to go out. He has had a few stressful days and also had some treats given to him that he wasn’t used to, so it wasn’t surprising that he wasn’t feeling well. What was a bit surprising was when I was walking between all the rooms upstairs and realized that there was shit on the floor…And I had stepped in it. And kept walking around. So, yeah. That’s kind of how our honeymoon started. Us on our hands and knees cleaning up dog shit from the floor and our shoes. Not the best way to start our vacation.

On the plus side, FH really stepped up to help with the mess. I feel like it is a good sign to marriage. Instead of blaming the pup, or refusing to help, he stepped right up, got down on his hands and knees and helped clean up the shit. He’s a good man, my husband. I am lucky to have found him. We fell in the mutual weirdness called love. And a little shit isn’t going to put a damper on our honeymoon.

Unnecessary Goldfish Bribes: The Kindness of a Stranger

This past weekend I traveled with FH to Chicago to watch my best friend get married. I was very excited to celebrate with her – especially because I initially did not think we would be able to make the wedding. It’s not cheap to fly somewhere, but thanks to the assistance of a guy at the airline, the tickets were going to cost us $200 total for both of us round trip. TOTAL! This awesome deal led to FH agreeing that we could attend their wedding. Yay!

All last week I went through and mentally planned out the trip – what our timeline would be, what needed to be packed, what we would do with the cats, and who would be watching the puppy. Ranger got to go on vacation too and spent the weekend with my brother, his wife, and my three adorable and energetic nieces. Ranger is still exhausted. Since we were only going to be gone for a little over a day, and cats are pretty low-maintenance, we decided to give them extra food and a few extra bowls of water. We had a pretty good grasp of how the weekend was going to play out and what we would be able to do during the trip, so the timeline was under control. The only thing left was to pack all our stuff so we could catch our flight the next day.

Well… we didn’t end up packing the night before. Our flight being at 1:30pm, I let myself talk myself into not packing on Thursday. So we woke up on Friday and I was rushing from room to room, trying to deal with that AWESOME trait that I inherited from Dad where I feel physically ill at the thought of leaving the house for an extended period of time. (Thanks Dad). We got everything packed up and managed to leave the house on time with only two bags, one to check and one carry on. Traffic wasn’t bad, we got there with plenty of time to spare, and we got in line. And waited. And waited… and waited. And even though we got there and were physically standing at the airport an hour before our flight, we didn’t get checked in until 40 minutes before. And you need to have 45 minutes to check a bag apparently. I have never heard this rule before, it wasn’t listed on their website, and it wasn’t like we weren’t there… we just were stuck waiting for 20+ minutes because there were two people working the desk and one of them was stuck sorting out some issue with someone else.

So we started off our trip a little annoyed. The lady told us that we couldn’t get on our flight with our bag and that we would have to wait for the next one. It was only an hour wait, which wasn’t too bad… but because we had to switch flights we were all the way in the back of the plane and we wouldn’t be sitting together! I know it’s not a long flight, but I was very unhappy at the prospect of sitting with strangers, especially because I’m not the best flyer, particularly during takeoff and landing. I like to clutch someone’s hand, and I feel like strangers rarely are okay with that. We were told there wasn’t anything to do but ask people to trade seats. Awesome.

We found our gate and discussed what we should do and the option of bribing someone came up. We realized we actually had many items to barter with – apple slices, goldfish crackers, and even tiny bottles of alcohol (yup, you can get those through security as long as they are less than 3.4oz under a certain proof, and can fit in a clear quart-size bag) – so we went into the situation feeling like a seat change was quite possible. Once our plane started boarding I began asking different people around us if they were in aisle 32. We found one guy that was, but he was on the ABC side and we were on the EFG side. He told us that the goldfish crackers would work on him, but again, there wasn’t much point switching with him.

It was beginning to look like we actually would be stuck sitting apart. Then we get down to our row and the guy I was going to be sitting next to was already in the seat. So I ask him if he would mind trading seats with my fiancé so that we could sit together. And he asked if FH had a window seat. We looked at our tickets and our hearts sank. We both had middle seats. Who would option for a middle seat when they have a window?? I explained to the guy that no, FH’s seat was a middle seat… but that we could offer him some alcohol, goldfish crackers, or apple slices if that could persuade him. I gave him my very best pity-me-because-we’re-not-sitting-together-but-I’m-a-nice-person-and-maybe-you-could-be-nice-too smile. And shockingly, this stranger agreed to trade seats with us. He ended up refusing all my bribes. I thanked him profusely, and I think he was actually a little embarrassed about it, but it is so rare that people are NICE. The goldfish bribe ended up being unnecessary; it was just the kindness of a stranger that helped us out on Friday. So, on the off chance you are reading this stranger… thank you again.

Why Yes, I Did Go Shooting in a Tiara

Last night was my bachelorette party. My head hurts a bit and my stomach is kind of so-so, but I had a blast, so that is what counts. My phone is also rather sticky due to a spilled margarita – it happens.

As I prepared for the party I struggled with what to wear. On the one hand, as a bride-to-be, I feel like I should wear white. But the first thing planned for the party was to go shooting, so I thought white might get dirty. But I still wanted to be fancy, so I put on my new blue dress and topped it off with my tiara. Yup, I headed out to go shooting in a dress and my tiara. Once I arrived, I had to take off the tiara in order to put ear protection on, but it’s the thought that counts. I did learn that wearing a low cut dress is not the best idea. This revelation came to me after a hot shell fell down my shirt. Plus I got a little dirty in the boob area…lesson learned.

Shooting was a lot of fun. I haven’t been for a while, so I decided to start out with my P22, which really is an adorable gun. I did a few mags on that one, and then tried out FH’s PK380 – which was okay for a bit until it stopped firing. This was something FH warned me about. He suspects that the ammo is the cause, but I didn’t want to take a gun apart and clean it out at the range, so I switched to another gun. I bought a box of ammo for FH’s .45. That was a lot of fun, it’s totally a hand cannon. But I did not get punched in the face! Yay me. I also tried out my brother’s .22 handgun (which I suspect he never cleans because it jammed on me over and over) and his .22 rifle, which was fun. My other brother lent us his shotgun. And oh man. My shoulder is killing me today. I did three rounds and my little brother was going to show me how to load more, but I told him I had had enough with that gun. It was really powerful and awesome, but I’m definitely feeling it. I’m kind of glad I didn’t take the guy up on his offer to let me shoot a machine gun. Maybe next time.

After shooting we hung out at the house for a bit before dinner and then afterwards we went to karaoke, which was a blast! As a group we sang Bohemian Rhapsody and later on, Under the Sea. I was given a shot on the house, which I probably shouldn’t have done, but it was my party and I’ll puke if I need to! (Side note – I actually didn’t throw up once, I’m very proud). All in all, I had a great time and I’m so thankful that I was able to celebrate with my sisters and brother and my bestie! And if anyone wants to go do more karaoke or go shooting again, I’m totally up for it. I might even bring my tiara.