Friday, January 31, 2014

Sweat in Your Sweatpants

 
I don't know if you watch Saturday Night Live, but they are KILLING it this year. Other than some really weird bands, they have had way more than their usual share of really good sketches! However, my absolute favorite so far this year, is...
 
 

I can't stop laughing, no matter how many times I see this! (ok, so maybe the sack part is a little inappropriate/over the top, but holy cow! Bruce Willis! Dance moves! Facial Expressions!)

Fauxtogs

Disclaimer: I am not a professional photographer.

Second Disclaimer: This is a pet peeve of mine.

Third Disclaimer: I wouldn't normally call this out, but the Living Social is showing up in my inbox every day. It's driving me bonkers.

I have a pretty good eye, my composition is pretty good, but I don't have the skills or the time to become a professional photographer. That being said, I know what's good, and perhaps more importantly, I have a number of friends who ARE, in fact, professional photographers. They've gone to school, they work really hard, and they know what they are doing.

However, they have some pretty serious, albeit crummy, competition, in fauxtographers.

Yep. Fauxtographers. Those deluded folks who paid a lot of money for a camera, and perhaps, like I did, took a class or two in photography.

They aren't that hard to spot, however. In fact, there are whole websites dedicated to identifying fauxtography. The hallmark elements of fauxtography include lousy composition, out of focus central element, bad lighting (shadows where they don't belong, overexposure, etc.) and just general sloppiness professional photographers would have caught.

I recently saw some engagement photos taken by what was obviously a fauxtographers. This person then posted them on Facebook with the lines "I loved shooting this couple!"

Terrible. Every one of them. Muddy, grainy, out of focus, just plain bad. One was taken in a forest in what was obviously late-afternoon, with long shadows almost entirely obscuring the couple. Ugh.

There has been a fauxtographer lurking on Living Social. I say lurking because this person has put up a coupon for their services no less than eight times, and uses the same bad photo every time. What may be saddest is that they obviously don't know about this:


The poor father-to-be is out of focus! Is the mother-to-be experiencing morning sickness, because she kinda looks like she could puke. I know that's her knee poking out, but it kind of looks like she has a tumor under there. Why crop the photo so you can see exactly 1/2 inch of leg? The shadows on M2B make her look mottled and molting, with one really point shoulder. What's with the background? Dying tree? That man's shirt should not be split so much at the bottom because it highlights that he's both pudgy, AND that his shirt is choking him! And WHY is he barefoot in what is obviously an abandoned lot with an overgrown anonymous grave in it!?! He's going to cut his feet on glass and heroin needles!

I went to this fauxtographer's website. The rest of the photos on her site aren't very good. However, what I think can be deceptive, is that her prices are incredible. Something like $500 for an entire wedding.

Don't hire a fauxtographer.

A good photographer doesn't hire out a wedding for $500. Their time is worth more than that, their equipment is uber-expensive but delivers, and for your special day, you deserve better than point-and-shoot Polly. The price might be right, but you will be disappointed with the results. If you don't have the money for a photographer, that's ok, but then just get the free photos your friends are taking.

Ditto on the preggers shots. In the meantime, someone get that poor woman a glass of juice. She might pass out.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Colorado Winter Weather

So, being newer to Colorado, the weather here never ceases to amaze me. Ok, so I grew up in Michigan, where the state motto was practically: "Don't like the weather? Wait a minute, it will change."

But seriously, out here, it may not be a "minute" but the extremes in a DAY are incredible.

Monday, it was -3 when  I got up. No, not a polar vortex, we just call that winter. It snowed.

This was Tuesday.

Pike's Peak from Fox Run Regional Park. Note the tracks. They are mine (some of them.)
On Tuesday, there was enough snow on the ground that I threw my cross-country skis and gear in the car, and went out to the park after work. I skied until I couldn't see anymore (ok, the other thing about living in the mountains is that it gets dark FAST! There is very little lingering twilight... more like "bam!" gone.)

On Wednesday, I had Physical Therapy after work (tendonitis in my knee. Stupid knee.) Because my PT says its ok, I went running after I got home. In the dark (again, with the darkness) but there are street lights.

I ran in a long-sleeve t-shirt (my fun, new, car-stopping, neon green one) and pants. It was 45 degrees and a warm breeze was blowing.

Wednesday night, that "warm breeze" turned into gale force winds. Despite EAR PLUGS, the wind blew so hard that it woke me up seventeen million times, at least one million of those because the house was shaking so hard it shook my bed and the bathroom door.  At one point I seriously thought, "this wind is going to knock the house off the foundation and Eric is out of town. What do I do about that?" Ok, so it was a serious, if not totally rational, thought...

Today is Thursday, and its cloudy, but in the 40's. I guess that means it should snow, and we'll be at 65 by the weekend???

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

I discovered this verse, which has since become what I guess some people call a "life verse"  (ok, I don't really know what that means, but I'm taking a guess) when I was 18. I was pretty sure, like most people discovering something for the first time, that I was the only one who had ever read this verse. It was transformational. I knew that God had put this verse in my life and that He was speaking straight to me. The timing just "couldn't" be coincidental. I was going off to college soon, right?

Three weeks later, my high school boyfriend broke up with me.

I was devastated, in a way that ONLY a teenage-girl-in-love can be. If you're wondering, this one turned out to be the failure to launch mentioned in another post. In retrospect, good riddance, but tell that to the over-the-top drama queen at the time.

At some point in the first act of my one-girl-show, I remembered this verse. And it gave me hope. Let's be honest, it didn't stop the tears and wailing, but it told me that God had other things in store.

Four weeks after that, I met the guy that I would eventually marry five years and three months later.

"Plans to give you... a future." Huh. Sometimes God IS literal.

We celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary on December 31.

I now know that I'm not the only one to have read this verse, not the only one to have revelation of a kind from God, but that doesn't make that time any less special, or that those words didn't speak to me in such a real and profound way, although I couldn't guess the reasoning at the time. I couldn't have guessed what meaning this would have for me in my life, or how this verse would be played out over, and over again.

Like the time I sunk my Civic Hybrid in the river after spinning out on black ice, and hitting a tree on my way down the embankment. I hit the tree like I was in slow motion, ran it over (it wasn't very big) and landed in the river facing the opposite direction I was driving in, feeling like I was surrounded by pillows. Within minutes, an Air National Guardsman stopped and helped me out of my car, filling with water, that I couldn't get out of on my own because of the angle (read: had to open the passenger side door like a hatch cover.)"Plans not to harm you..."

Like feeling dejected at jobs, then being hired to the right next job just at the moment when I began to feel that a job search was fruitless. "Plans to give you hope..."

I don't know what the plans are, shoot, I have never been able to make a five-year plan for myself, and every time I think about it, five years later I'm doing something radically different than plan. But God knows. I don't want to get preachy or over spiritual, this isn't that kind of blog. But this is the a part of who I am, a verse that's been written not just on my heart, but across the pages of my life in indelible ink. I forget its there, way, WAY too often, so its important for me to reflect on it from time to time.

"I know the plans I have for you," DECLARES the LORD.

Now THAT's a declaration.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

SOTU

I have a degree in Political Science, among others. I have no idea if that influences my joy of the evening, but the State of the Union address is like watching the Oscar's for me!

Eric is gone, off to Chicago for YFC Midwinter. That means that I get the television all to myself, which translates to my own unfettered, in the moment, response to the State of the Union, the commentators, and the official response to the State of the Union! Out loud. With no one to ask me t stop talking. Whee!!!

I've already started. I happen to have CBS on now, but that may change. I just corrected the commentator, who said that the Constitution requires that the president provide an update to Congress annually. This is inaccurate. The language of the Constitution is actually, "From time to time, the President shall..."

I may even follow along with this exercise game: http://www.washingtonpost.com/express/wp/2014/01/24/the-state-of-the-union-exercise-game/ (reprinted  below.)

Do a jumping jack every time you hear the words “health care,” “jobs,” “middle class,” “immigration” or “Edward Snowden.” It could happen. Maybe.

Hold a plank for 30 seconds after you hear the phrases: “My friends across the aisle” or “Let me be clear.” We never said this was going to be easy.

Hold a squat position for the length of each standing ovation. You can clap, too, if you want. Or look angry.

Do situps or crunches for the duration of a story told about someone in the audience. Feel the burn.

Do a lunge every time House Speaker John Boehner doesn’t clap while other people do. Feel free to make it a walking lunge. Maybe to the kitchen to get some water.

Do 10 pushups each time the camera pans to Michelle Obama. Envision arms as toned as hers.

Do a high kick each time Vice President Joe Biden smiles and winks at someone in the audience.

Run a marathon if Biden also adds a high kick to his smile and wink. Start training. You never know …

Hilarious.

If I think of it, I'll post some of my best comebacks to the television. If, that is, I don't pull a hammy.

7:23pm: Holy crap. A few minutes in an I'm already breathing hard. Opps, time to squat.
7:30: Dude! That Supreme Court Justice is asleep!
7:32: Hey! We need more alternative energies, not more use of limited resources!
7:33: Yea! Protect more federal land!
7:36: Yea! Climate change is a fact! Suck it Boehner!
7:something o' clock: EQUAL PAY! EQUAL WORK!  EQUAL PAY! EQUAL WORK!
7:55: Boehner, you don't have to look so skeptical and smirky about health care. Its the law!
7:58: Yes, everyone deserves to know where you stand. Pass my law! (post coming later!)
8:11: Dude! You just called Iran "less powerful." It may be true, but don't piss them off!
8:29: Ow, ow, ow, ow... great standing ovation, but I might be dead.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Oh Two

We were up in Breckenridge today, to see the International Snow Sculpture competition. We were walking around Breck, and realized.... I can BREATE up here!

Breck is at 9,600 feet (those t-shirts you see with Breckenridge: Elevation 12,998 are referencing the top of the ski hill.) We were here visiting from the flatlands several years ago, and huffing and puffing like the big, bad wolf. Today, not so much. We were walking around like we were at home, and the friends we were with were laughing at the Oxygen Bar on the main strip.

Yea, buddy. We are surviving, nay, thriving, at 7200!

Oh, and the Snow Sculpture competition? Knock your socks off awesome. Totally amazing that these teams can carve a block of snow into art.


Team Mongolia working on carving ice Friday Night.



The competition sponsors got their own ice sculptures, plus this bench we sat on. Anyone else think its weird that the sponsors had ICE sculptures and not SNOW sculptures??


 




 
Wow.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ribbit, Ribbit


This is totally uncharitable to say... but I need somewhere to say it...

Stop posting photos of your frog baby! If they are underweight, any way you photograph them naked, it will NOT be their best side.

Think about limits. If you are posting 10+ photos of your child on a daily basis, you may have a problem. There's a 12-step program for that.

Stop telling me every time he/she poops!

No one wants to know about endless "baby blowouts" and the number of outfits your entire family went through, because apparently you used your child like a spray gun and everyone was victim.

Post about milestones. Milestones are not hourly updates on what toy said child is playing with/chewing on/throwing/shoving up the dog's nose at the present moment.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The One That Got Away

Do you ever wonder if someone out there thinks about you as "the one that got away?" One of my good friends is the "one that got away" for a college boyfriend. The funny thing is that he broke up with her. Yet, on at least two occasions, I have had late-night Facebook conversations (alcohol infused, I suspect) wherein the gentleman in question (married to someone else now) has asked lots of questions about my friend, asking if she's happy, etc. A decade later, and there's still some weird torch, "what could have been," and "if onlys" that obviously plague the guy. Ugh.

For me, if I were the "one that got away" its probably for someone I never dated, or even thought about as anything more than a friend. I was loyal as a retriever, and couldn't even think that anyone else was interested in me back then. Unfortunately, that resulted in getting yelled at by a boy I stopped by to see at his university when I was visiting some other friends. Holy cow, was he mad. Mad that I didn't know how he felt, mad that I didn't feel the same, and mad that being friends with him was interpreted as wrongly held hope. Wow. There might have been a little temporary crazy there. I could be that guy's "one that got away" but it would be more like "ran away screaming."

Not to say that somewhere in there, my teenage self doesn't sometimes think that it would serve an ex or two right if they found me on Facebook and realized that I was "the one that got away." (Ok, more likely their mothers would find me and think I was the one that got away. I was a pretty wholesome high schooler!)

Not that I care about any of them anymore (seriously, old memories, now devoid of emotion and, thank God, teenage drama.) The reality it that some of them are doing well,  (ok, one took a really, really long time to move out of his parents' house, and I suspect is still a little failure to launch.) I wouldn't, however, have wanted to end up with any of them. None of them were right for me, no matter how desperately I wanted that to be true at the time. It feels good to have my personal "right one," and not have to worry about the "one that got away."

I'm glad I don't have that kind of regret. And that fact may be better than being anyone's "one that got away." (nah, nah.)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Super Heroes

So, I harbor this secret fantasy that someday, I will develop super powers. I don't know which super powers they would be, flying, ability to move large object, telepathy... but I think I would like something akin to levitation, at the least. Sometimes, I get excited and/or irritated enough to think that it is quite possible that I would lift off the ground. How cool would that be - to rise up, move around...

When I was a kid, I used to dream I could fly. It was a recurring dream, and it was always on a beach (I assume, that since I grew up in Michigan, it was the beaches of Lake Huron) at sunset. I would sort of flap my arms, and start moving up and swooping around. Awesome.

Several years ago, I noticed this thing on my back. I removed it, with care, but it came back several times.

It might be best described as a quill.

No kidding.

It was this thick, bright white, hair that seriously hurt and was sticking STRAIGHT OUT of my shoulder blade. Seriously, it looked like a quill, or at least the start of one.

Dang it. Of all the super heroes, I get to be Porcupine Girl?

Crap.

What good is that super power? Quills? What, when confronted with a villain, I can... curl in a spiky ball?

It eventually went away and has never come back, but seriously?!?

There's probably a good reason we don't have superpowers...

Monday, January 20, 2014

The American (Idol) Delusion

I saw that the television show, American Idol is back on this week. I haven't watched much of that show in years - I remember Kelly Clarkston winning the first season, and Rueben Studdard and Clay Aiken facing off in the second. I think I was pretty much done with tuning in on a regular basis when Carrie Underwood won, and I'm not sure I could pick any of the winners out of a lineup after that...

Eric's favorite part of the show however, has always been the auditions. He laughs and wonders how anyone could believe that their terrible performance was Idol-worthy. He thinks it is a set up.

In part, I do too.

However, I know that some of those poor people are sincere. I know that some of them truly believe that they sing well, and that they have star potential.

Why?

Because in the fourth grade, I started taking violin class. From there until I graduated high school, I was in orchestra. I also did stints in honors choir, honors orchestra, regular choir, show choir, jazz choir, one year in the band, and several trips across the boards in various costumes and getups in the theatre. I loved performing.

It didn't mean that I was always good.

I remember the accolades, from very early on. "You were great!" "That was terrific!" At first, I believed all of them. Then, one time, I went back and saw the tapes of those fourth grade performances with a bunch of other fourth grade virtuosos.

Cats. Cats in heat. Cats in heat in a room full of rocking chairs.

See, no one tells you when you suck. No one tells you when your shirt is too tight, or you are off key, or, seriously, this is not a career line for you. Nope. They lie. They all lie with good intentions, but they lie none the less. They want you to feel good, but what often happens is that feeling good leads to a sick sort of self-delusion that allows you to ignore that niggle in the back of your head that is saying that your performance wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

Sometimes you are good.

By then, however, at least for me, I have no idea how to judge if other people think so. The lies happen so often, that it's impossible to know when someone really thinks you were good, or you look good, or if they themselves are completely delusional (lulled into psychosis by the yowling cats, no doubt,) or if they just don't want to hurt your feelings.

I have a fairly good sense of perception (or, if in comparison to reality television, am incredibly self-aware!) I know when I suck and when I don't. I know when I'm calling it in (see: Monday morning work outfit and hair) and when things are going well.

So what then? The problem is that I, like most others, like validation. However, unlike the contestants on American Idol, I saw the tape. Crap smells, and my nose works. False validation on a pretty constant basis has translated into a severe skepticism of any positive validation, and as a result, a pretty severe case of self-doubt. Add in a dose of generally heightened anxiety, and you have one overthinking, neurotic kitten in this corner of the world.

I think I need to be buddies with Simon Cowell.

Maybe I can't take that level of brutal honesty...

Maybe I need to go back to sleep, because I had yet another dream of singing backup for U2 last night, this time at some summer festival on a college campus... man was I good!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

NASA, or "They Aren't Out There"

Back when I was working for the Court, I got a call from a local county official (read: jackass who was skittering on the edge of irrelevancy) questioning my budget. Not that it was any of his business, as my work came exclusively from grants and not from county tax dollars. I think once I told him that, he had to do some back peddling on his veiled accusations and went on and on about how his constituents are complaining about property taxes. Which got me thinking.... if I were an elected official, what if anything, would I cut?

NASA.

Ok,  know its a beloved icon of America, first to the moon and all that crap. However, at its core, we're really talking about looking for aliens and conducting research on dead rocks. No one really expects that our exploits to the moon and Mars will result in finding an area on one of these aforementioned big dead rocks that will sustain life. In fact, just the idea that Mars MAY have sustained life the size of small single-celled organisms 6 million years ago makes the news and people get all atwitter over it. THAT's what you're looking for? THAT's what we are spending 6 billion dollars to build a space shuttle for?

Let's face it. They aren't out there, and they aren't coming. If we are really that paranoid as a planet about the possibility of alien invasion, I might suggest to things. 1) Stop reading Orson Wells. 2) create a multi-national space monitoring initiative run by the UN that everyone funds, rather than each country (and by that I mean primarily the US and Russia, followed at great length by China's, who's ego is getting in the way of good sense) creating their own science fiction, I mean scientific protocols. This proposal would also keep track of meteors, solar flares, etc., which are in fact the more useful if less glamorous purposes of NASA.

Another thing. Time and time again, we have learned on an international level that the best scientists do NOT work for the government, and that the most scientific progress has been made in the private sector. Example: privately funded scientists cracked the human genome code 18 months before government funded scientists even began to figure out what they were looking at. Einstein did not get funding from the German government to study relativity - in point of fact, they kicked him out because he was Jewish, but that's another rant for another day. I could go on, but the overarching point is that while this may not be the biggest government program, its still costing money and for what really purpose? To satisfy the American ego that we can go back to the moon if we want to, even though we've already done it and haven't repeated the feat in more decades than I've been alive? To give our top military pilots something to fly after they come off active duty?

I would propose that we should turn over this whole space exploration and research thing to the private sector, who can raise the funds from interested parties.  Instead, refocusing the (albeit few, relatively speaking) dollars that we just now eliminated from the extravagant waste that was the NASA project to the thoughtful revamping of social services and funding of prevention programs might actually do some qualitative good for future generations. Granted, they won't have the joys of childhood that I did watching the space shuttles take off on television, but then again, that's what the movies are for.

Beam me up, Scottie. Megs out.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Optional Body Parts

I wrote this back in 2007, when I had a MySpace account:

"I just have no relationship with my uterus.

You know, I just never think about it. It's like a pancreas, or maybe a gall bladder. I know I have one, but its not like I think about what I use it for, or really have any real connection with it.

However, apparently, many others are concerned about the state of my uterus, and well, its lack of productivity. Never mind you that no one ever really bothers to consult me if I actually have a desire to use this particular organ, everyone just assumes that since I have one, I should be using it. Sort of like TiVo, I guess, like, why bother having one if you aren't going to use it? Since we've been married for 4 1/2 years, and last year bought a larger house, it shocks people that we do not have children, are not "trying" for children (like the lottery?), and have no real plans for children. Therefore, the look I get every time I answer "no, no kids," especially to people I don't know well, is that look that says "oh... poor dear, she must not be able to have children." Except, of course, they can't actually ask the burning question "oh, so is your uterus broken?," so instead, they dance around it, yet persistently dig into my reproductive life and ask if we're going to have some soon, planning on it, etc. Then launch into the inevitable diatribe on the wonders of children, how your life changes once you have kids (as if I was living on a cave on the moon and hadn't noticed), and wish me luck. One woman even put her hands on me and told me she would be praying for me to have babies. Holy crap! Literally.

What people (especially conservative Christians living in the state of Indiana) do not seem to realize is that my husband and I may actually, (hold all shocked inhalations of breath here) be choosing not to pursue the "miracle" of parenthood at the present time. Additionally, we, myself in particular, do NOT feel like our life is reduced, limited or unfulfilled in any way by NOT utilizing the uterus available to us.  And yes, we assume that my uterus is available, and NOT broken, so sympathies are likely misguided here.

I know this may come as a surprise, but we didn't actually purchase a bigger house in order to fill it with our progeny. We purchased our wonderful home in order to have space available for others, but not necessarily those that share our DNA. We enjoy entertaining and taking care of other people and feel blessed that we have a large home in order to do that. The fact that people have taken a tour of our home and picked out the "nursery" bedroom (seriously, this happened this weekend), doesn't mean that we're actually going to use it as a nursery. I just haven't gotten around to taking down the cloud wallpaper yet - the hideous Vera Bradley wallpaper needed to go first.

It amazes me that people do not seem to have any respect for this decision - it occurs to them only that they had children, and that is what married couples are "supposed to" do. Further, they seem to fail to understand that this is OUR decision, not anyone else's. They make it their mission to convince me that having children is wonderful, and just wait until we have them... oh and don't forget that I'm 28 and "still have time," as if I've never looked at my biological clock to note the hour.
I and my husband are OK with not having children yet, and additionally have considered the possibility that we may never be ready for children - if they happen to show up at our door wrapped in newspaper and looking for a home, we aren't going to send them back, but if they don't, that's ok too. Why is no one else OK with this decision? Why should I be forced, cajoled, shamed etc., into using all of the equipment I have? Do they? Honestly, like, when is the last time anyone used their appendix? Why not, you have one, you should use it! It gets to the point sometimes where I start to feel bad, like I'm wrong for not longing for and desiring to have children to raise at this very moment. However, I can't change my feelings on the subject, and certainly am not going to because some virtual stranger gives me the joys of children monologue... so I guess the next time someone asks, I'll just have to question their use of their appendix... or maybe launch into a lecture on the value of wisdom teeth. I wonder what would happen then?"

You know what, all of the above is pretty much still true. Except, now I think about my uterus. Mainly because now, at 34, my biological clock is ticking, loudly. LOUDLY. I'm also fairly convinced that those same people that I complained about back in 2007 can HEAR said clock, and if I let them, they would probably provide it with a megaphone, just to make sure that I can hear it.

I really don't think anyone else gets this. I like my life. I don't want to change it, and I'm pretty sure a baby would do that. I like kids, but lately, this whole "you're getting older, shouldn't you have a baby" mantra that rolls through my head on a pretty constant basis, has me feeling so guilty I don't want to be around kids (even the ones I love), and start feeling ridiculously uncomfortable passing the children's clothing section of Target.

All this to say, I don't need anyone else reminding me (like, oh say, yesterday) "See, you're good with children." Like all I needed to do was realize that I know how to hold a child and that would miraculously change my mind?? I was good at science in high school, but that doesn't mean I should have embraced being an engineer. Dude, I have enough guilt going on here, but I'm absolutely positive that's a crappy reason to have a baby.

Let's return to a discussion of your pinky toe, shall we?