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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Keeping The Dream Alive

Last night, NBC aired what very well may be the last episode of one of the best series out there, American Dreams. While the decision may already be in the bag, I still say we shan't go down without a fight.

Below is a copy of the letter I sent to the following email address: AmericanDreams@nbcuni.com The subject line should be: SAVE OUR SHOW. The body of the email can be whatever you want it to be, assuming it's about the show of course. Otherwise, that would just be really silly.

If you don't watch American Dreams well then you might be the reason it could be cancelled then, can't you? The only way you can make up for this is to make it your duty to find someone who does and pass this information along to them. It's really the only respectable thing to do.

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to express my concern regarding the possible cancellation of a favorite show of mine, the exemplary American Dreams. Since the show began in 2002, it has been a Sunday night favorite in my household. In fact, once the show moved from Sunday to Wednesday nights we too moved along with it.

Shows like American Dreams are a rarity and a true find. There is a richness that comes along with American Dreams. It's casting is authentic, it's situations rooted in historical preservation. American Dreams is the "perfect marriage" of an educational experience set to an entertaining and effective musical backdrop. It's poignant without being preachy, comical without being insulting. Most importantly, it's truer to life than most so-called real life programs on the air today. To let a show such as this go without a fight is out of the question.

I hope that NBC surprises the viewing public and does the honorable thing in keeping American Dreams on the air. It would be easy AND expected for NBC to cancel even the best of shows citing ailing ratings. But it would speak volumes to everyday viewers like myself if NBC listened to the fans and kept American Dreams alive.

Sincerely,

Janet Branagan
aogbgirl@yahoo.com
Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Where Art Thou?

Recently I watched the Sunday morning news program, aptly titled, Sunday Morning. They did a segment on the ever elusive question, What Is Art? that I found interesting.

Basically they questioned how one could call one painting an artistic masterpiece and another complete and utter junk, fit to be sold at a garage sale. In order to do this they had say, five works for five "artistic experts" to fawn over. Once they had examined each piece, they were to determine which were decidedly of value and which were not.

While this ain't no Pepsi Challenge, the results were still intriguing. Because sprinkled amongst the "classic" works of art were seemingly haphazard drawings done by kindergarten children. Although I admittedly can take or leave a good painting, what I love about this study is that the experts were, in a sense, punked. All they needed was Ashton Kutcher enthusiastically bouncing out from behind the Mona Lisa and they would have been good to go.

As I'm sure you can predict, the so-called experts dubbed the kindergarten art as the examples of talent, identifying key elements they look for which I simply cannot elaborate on here because I had no idea what they were talking about. Ironically, apparently neither did they. When the show revealed that the works of art were more likely created at a Gymboree than in some reclusive artist's studio, the experts stammered and stuttered. One even went as far as to say that perhaps this was just the work of a great artist in the making. Yeah, nice save.

They tried to explain their determinations away but they couldn't. Just think, all those years taking Art History and Art Appreciation classes only to have the wool pulled over your eyes by a 5 year old. I know I'd feel like a pretentious, misguided ass, but maybe that's just me. All the talk about certain lines and shading and whatever else really amounted to a hill of beans. Because if the child artist just happened to master these "skills" either that means they aren't hard to master at all or that art, is what most have been saying all along, completely objective.

For instance, some people love to wander the halls of museums, pouring over classics done by Picasso and Monet while others are completely happy with a happy green tree created by Bob Ross. Or what about the avant garde work of revered artist, Andy Warhol? He took a Campbell's Soup can, changed the colors and the world dubbed him an artistic genius. Meanwhile there is some guy out there who created the original Campbell's soup design that nobody knows the name of. Is one artist really more worthy than another? More importantly, does anyone YOU KNOW really care?

Most people don't need expensive art to be shipped over from foreign countries to prove they are cultured, and those that do usually have far too much time AND money on their hands anyhow. This is not to completely discount the works of great artists of yesteryear. All I am trying to do is reitorate the fact that art, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I believe the same theory holds true for all artistic expressions: music, theater, film, etc.

In the end, it all comes down to personal taste. For many, your daughter or son's work, hung proudly on the refrigerator by a magnet saying "I Love Mommy" is the best masterpiece of all. And that, as Stuart Smalley once said, "is ok".
Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Tell It To Me Tuesday: "Da Nile Is Not Just A River In Egypt"

Ok, I want to see a show of hands. Who thinks they have an addiction? And by addiction I mean something you can't live without, that only you and Peter Cetera can refer to diplomatically as a hard habit to break.

For instance, I currently have an ongoing fascination with Terra Chips and a recent discovery of Thousand Island dressing, though not paired together.

So...

1. What is it you're addicted to and why?

2. What was the defining moment wherein you first knew you were addicted?

3. What is your current treatment for said addiction?
Sunday, March 27, 2005

It's Not Easy Being Silver Green

After reading all of your suggestions, and considering some of my own thoughts, I decided I simply had to see all eight colors live and in person before making my decision. I was leaning towards the red, but factored in that it might not age as well and might be a ticket magnet. I liked the black, but didn't want to be cleaning it incessantly. I thought the light grey was cute, but so does 90% of America apparently. Then there was a midnight blue, which I didn't post because it wasn't in the running, until I saw it and then I considered that color, too.

But the one color that was nowhere to be found was the Silver Moss Metallic showed below:





I didn't know what I wanted to order, I just knew I had to see it before making my decision because I'm annoying that way. So I started calling dealerships. Some told me that it's a popular color that moves quickly and has to be ordered from Japan, and that can take up to 12 weeks. Another dealership told me that color wasn't even out yet. Obviously, I told them.

While going without a car for another 12 weeks wasn't a feasible option, checking the car color out was. There were apparently TWO in the entire state of New Jersey to look at, one being about a half hour away. So I called first, headed over there and checked it out.

The instant I saw the color the words of Aretha Franklin and George Michael's duet rang in my head: "I knew you were waiting for me". It just made the car for me. Unfortunately the picture above doesn't really do it justice so I'm going to have to try and take a better picture of my own, should the sun ever come out in New Jersey again, ever. Basically the color is grey with a hint of green, just like the name says. In fact, on the key my car is listed as green which is weird.

But the journey wasn't over. Oh no. My dad and I had decided to cut out the middle man and go through CarsDirect.com or even Costco or Sam's. This way you don't have to haggle and you have less hassle. But then we saw this color, this rare color, and realized that we were going to have to talk turkey whether we wanted to or not. We also had to play our cards close to the vest and not let them know that this color was so important to us.

After a careful skilled game of Let's Make A Deal, played by both sides, we arrived at a number. Is it the best number? I don't know. But all things considered, I do think it was meant to be.

So now I am the proud owner of a Honda CR-V in the highly rare Silver Moss Metallic. I guess there simply aren't more out there because most people just take what's on the lot and this color is usually not. In fact, I challenge you to find one on the road. I've been playing a fun game of I Spy myself the past few days.
Friday, March 25, 2005

Old School

A few months ago I received an invitation to the inevitable event every twenty something dreads: The 10 Year High School Reunion.

No matter what movies like The Breakfast Club tell you, 10 years later it doesn't matter if you were the jock, the nerd, the cheerleader or the basket case. All that matters is that it is indeed 10. YEARS. LATER. Suddenly you wonder, where has all the time gone?

Let me preface this by saying that I didn't like high school all that much, and that I liked my particular high school even less. My town is very 90210. We had full length mirrors in our hallways and over spring break, kids went to places like Cancun and plastic surgeons, though not necessarily in that order. In fact, I've often wondered if my high school experience would have been different had I gone to a different high school. Of course, I'll never know, but one can dream.

In high school, I was a lot like I am now and only very few people knew the real me. I attribute this to my childhood. I was a rather happy child overall. But as we all know, kids can and will be cruel. I once heard that childhood is the period of time you spend the rest of your life trying to get over. I'll give an amen to that.

In elementary school, I had my fair share of ridicule. Some of the kids called me the ever so creative, "pig nose". My hair was also a bit of a problem. It was unruly a la Tina Turner. Only problem was I wasn't a hip African American lady with a killer bod and a good set of pipes. Hairdressers far and wide had no idea what to do with it. By middle school, a few kids took care of that. They would throw things in it to see if they'd stick. Oh and did I mention that I was a chubby 12 year old? Yes, middle school was full of fun times.

But then 8th grade rolled around and I had decided I had had enough. So I put myself on a diet, and got a haircut that was decent, given what God gave me to work with. I was coming into my own. By the time I reached high school, you wouldn't have even suspected I was ever a victim of finger pointing and name calling. But the problem was that I knew I was.

If you've ever been the subject of mockery you know that you ALWAYS hold that with you. No matter how much weight you lose, how many friends you have or how much success you've acquired, part of you still sees yourself as that awkward preteen. I don't know when, if ever, we outgrow this. If I'm around in twenty years, I'll get back to you on that.

So, while I believe I was a happy, well adjusted, outgoing child up until the age of about 7, high school was spent trying to make sense of both 7 year increments of my life, both on complete opposite spectrums.

By high school, I was pretty comfortable in my own skin, but as a result of the previous 7 years, I was very, very quiet. Of course, I was not quiet around my own friends. In fact, they scoffed when people said that about me. So high school became a bit of a blur. I wasn't made fun of, but I wasn't popular. I was shy and thus, I was unknown which, in the cruel battlefield that is high school, is really not the worst place to be.

The best part about being "the quiet girl" is that a lot of times people would have conversations around you that wouldn't normally have otherwise. I guess they just mistake your silence for just not caring or being just plain deaf. Either way, you hear a lot of juicy info by pretending to see and hear no evil.

It wasn't until my senior year that one of the "popular" girls started to notice me and how "cool" I was. It was ironic too, since this girl and I had been friends years prior, before our paths of coolness went off into different directions. For whatever reason, this popular cheerleader had decided I was worthy. She even nominated me for Shyest Student for the yearbook. Of course, I didn't win. Winning Class Shyest is hard to pull off if you truly are "the shyest" cause people don't actually know you, thus the title of "shyest". Duh.

So now, it's 10 years later and these strangers are inviting me to mingle over chips and dip to which I must, politely decline. In my case, it's not a matter of reconnecting, as there never was an initial connection. I mean, who are we kidding? For the most part, reunions are not about seeing how other people are doing because we care. It's about seeing how other people are doing in comparison to you. 'Cause I believe, if we truly cared, we'd still be in touch with these people.

In high school, success was measured by things like how many friends you had, how many paties you were invited to, and how many name brand items you owned. But you're kidding yourself if you don't think success is still measured. Only the ingredients have changed. Nowadays, success is measured by things like marriage, kids and high paying corporate jobs. If you don't have all three, you might as well save your 60 bucks and the agony of reliving that feeling you got when you stood on the playground as kids taunted you. Sure, I'm a teensy bit curious about how some of these people turned out, but I guess not enough to sacrifice a whole Saturday evening because of it.

Still, there is one souvenir I am proud of from my high school years. That is the quote I chose for my high school year book. It encompassed my experience completely and, over the years, it has sort've evolved into my an overall philosophy:

"Cools, nerds, your side, my side. Man, it's just bullshit. It's just tough enough to be yourself."- Can't Buy Me Love

Decisions, Decisions

So I took all of your thoughts into careful consideration when deciding which car to get. Of course, I did calculate a bit of my own preferences into the mix too because, despite how it may seem, I do occassionally have independent thoughts. No, really I do.

That being said, I need your opinion.:) You'll be happy to know that I'm heavily leaning towards a Honda, as many of you suggested. Only I think I am going to "spice it up a bit" and go the small SUV route. So I'm on the verge of ordering a Honda CR-V. Now comes the hard part. I've narrowed down the choices a bit. But the big question still remains...Which color to choose?

Should I go with...


Nighthawk Black Pearl?


Satin Silver Metallic?


Silver Moss Metallic?

or...


Redondo Red Pearl?
Wednesday, March 23, 2005

We Have Nothing To Fear But Things That Are Downright Scary

When I was growing up, No Fear apparel was all the rage. Girls, boys it didn't matter. No Fear was an equal opportunity motto worn by the fat and thin, young and old. I'm sure that wasn't the intentional target market of No Fear designers in the beginning, but once the money started rolling in, who were they to complain?

But while No Fear clothing is a trend, the credo itself is not. In fact, the concept of having "No Fear" has actually caught on fire over the years. Now we have shows like Survivor, The Amazing Race, and even the aptly dubbed, Fear Factor that attempt to put people in fear based situations and see how well they meausre up.

On shows like these though, the environments are controlled, the outcomes almost certain. Can someone starve to death on Survivor? Sure. But is it likely? Not really. Can a mysterious force really come back to haunt you a la The Ring? Are you going to have to save the world from unscrupulous aliens as in Mars Attacks? If you answered yes to any of the above, please join me for an ongoing panel discussion I'm having with my third graders on fact vs. fiction.

Still, every once and awhile, a movie is made that takes a real life scenario that could really, truly happen and, in the process, succeeds in scaring the hell out of you.

Take for example the movie, 28 Days Later.... Now this movie my friends, is scary.First of all the ... alone just screams OMINOUS! This movie is about a powerful viral outbreak that spreads quickly and kills nearly the entire human population in a matter of days. 28 days to be exact. Left are only a few, scattered survivors who have the insurmountable task of trying to continue to live, despite knowing what exactly to live for. If you've seen this one, try Stephen King's The Stand or Outbreak on for size.

These movies are scary for one reason and one reason only, this could totally happen. Think about epidemics such as flu outbreaks and pneumonic plague. In fact, ponder for a second the AIDS virus, which is really, when you think about it, just 28 Days Later... in more significant multiples. All it takes is one mixup, one uncontrollable variable and POW!, this blog would mean even less than it does now.

Along the same lines is another natural disaster flick, Alive. Now Alive succeeds in being very scary for the simple fact that it already happened. Some based-on-a-true story stories are lameass, Lifetimeesque tear shedding, Valerie Bertinelli starring, excuses for entertainment. Alive is not one of these movies. And before you say it, I know what you are thinking. Why watch Alive when you could watch ABC's Lost for one hour every week? While Lost is a healthy substitute it is no match for the real life terror that the crash survivors of Alive endured. The next time you think Lost is depicting something real, you better check your lip gloss wearing, no armpit shaving, cannibalistic tactics nowhere to be found at the door, ok?

A movie that picked up what Alive put down is Open Water. Forget Jaws, Open Water is where it's at. Sure in Jaws had killer sharks that were reeking havoc everywhere they went, but for every stray shark, there was some dumb ass pansy who decided to swim out in the water despite warnings of otherwise. I'm sorry, but I have a hard time feeling bad for these people. No, in Open Water these folks are just on vacation, minding their own business, taking a snorkeling tour and are left behind due to incompetence. Have you ever put your life in someone else's hands? I'll bet you have. I'm also willing to bet you've put yourself in the hands of a pimply faced teenager who controls rides like the Log Flume at Six Flags once or twice. In other words, this could have been you. Or even you or you.

But movies like these really have one common denominator: they all succeed in making us bigger hypochondriacs than we already are. If you thought you were afraid to fly before, wait till you see Alive. If you were OCD about washing your hands, avoid pressure cooker films like Outbreak, The Stand and 28 Days Later... If you were a bit squeamish about the ocean, you'll be thankful for the pee in the kiddie pool after Open Water.

In summary, real life is scary enough without the real life "depictions". And yet, I find I'm mysteriously drawn to the what if's.

All I can hope is that watching films like these will come in handy should I ever be in a natural disaster scenario. And if not, at least I'll have good, relatable stories to tell.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Tell It To Me Tuesday: "Because Rocky And Ally McBeal Shouldn't Have All The Fun"

We all know Barry Manilow writes the songs that makes the whole world sing, but that's not important now. No, what I wonder is what song makes you think of well, you.

What song do you identify with and why do you relate to this song above all others?
Monday, March 21, 2005

Make Your Mark Heavy And Dark

Well, the good news is the dreaded TEST is water under the bridge. Now it's a game of hurry up and wait. Apparently the scoring can take some time, so it might even be as long as till next year before I hear back on the results for my class from this year. That system, of course, makes total and complete sense.

In the meanwhile, there's, "nothing to do but go back and review" since nearly everything that is necessary for the test is touched upon BEFORE...the test.

That's not to say that the kids can't use the review. I mean it's not like they're all masters, far from it. In fact, most days it's like Groundhog's Day, since you repeat yourself over and over but to no avail.

No, perhaps the biggest issue in my class is that they are smart, but in a different way. See these kids are street smart. In fact one thing you can trust is that many of these kids simply cannot be trusted.

For instance, there's my newest student who has been with me for a few months now. Instantly when he got there he had that "one of these things is not like the others" vibe about him. At first I thought he might have just been bilingual and not understanding me. It made sense since his brother, who was in 4th, was placed in a bilingual class. But then, as it turned out, he was not bilingual, just really, really low.

Test after test the kid was bombing. And then there was the behavior. Suddenly there was another kid who could just not stay in his seat, not to mention the stories of cursing. Cursing? My kids didn't curse! What is up with this new kid corrupting my poor, rather surprisingly innocent third graders?

Then I met with mom and the picture suddenly became much, much clearer.

Mom doesn't speak English so in these cases, a school interperter is available to help out. But his uncle came along as well, and he did speak English so we were good to go. Mom was unresponsive about his behavior and his grades and only said that he had "some" problems in his old school. But at this school some had quickly turned into many. On top of everything else, he was taking on his uncle's identity by signing his name as his along with forging and signing his paper's with his uncle's signature.

To me it was shocking that this kid had started forging so early. Then, when we called him in the room, I was even more shocked when the kid showed no remorse. NONE. Quite the contrary. And mom and the uncle? Said nada. He actually had a smile on his face the entire time. This my friends, is the stuff future serial killers are made of.

Adding insult to injury, his paperwork had yet to come through from out of state. If my school had a helpful guidance counselor on the case this could have easily been resolved. Oh we have a counselor alright, but she ain't too keen on actually "guiding" anyone anyhere, so it was back the drawing board. Then, a week before THE TEST she finally gets in touch with someone at his old school who confirms that not only is he a troubled kid, but that he was also, in a self contained special ed classroom.

For this, I had 2 immediate reactions:

1. I was right in thinking something was amiss all along.
2. Now what?

Unfortunately, there was no real answer for number 2. I was told we had to wait until his paperwork came through from the school to see if it was enough to not have to reevaluate him here. But like I said, we had the little matter of THE TEST to contend with. Well, as it turns out, he won't count anyhow because he entered our district after July of 2004. Don't ask me why that's a rule. It just is. And finally, a damn good one at that.:)

As I continue to get the runaround about his future placement for the last 3 months of school, I have another little liar blooming in my third grade garden. This girl has been involved in a few altercations throughout the year but has been able to fly just below the radar because otherwise, she's a well behaved kid. But after the episode with sneaky #1 let's just say I got hip to their dishonest ways.

The other day, after THE TEST this girl had an extra math manipulative on her desk after all the shapes had been collected. As usual, I had at least 10 kids trying to get my attention at once, so I heard her, but hadn't gotten to her yet. That's when, out of the corner of my eye, I see her reach over and "plant" the shape in the girl's desk next to her. She then proceeds to tap that girl on the shoulder and tell her she sees a shape in her desk. Girl #2, unsuspecting and innocent, raises her hand to hand me the shape. That's when I called out Girl #1. At first she didn't even admit it, which is the worst after you've already been caught, red handed. So I had her stay in for lunch detention, writing a letter to her parents about why she was there. Often this is a very effective method, even if the parents speak Spanish. I guess they see
"please sign" and can fill in the blanks from there.

But when the letter came back, I started putting 2 and 2 together. I broke out the only signature I knew for sure was mom's, the one on the emergency card. It looked like a close enough match, but I found it weird mom always wrote in pencil. I mean it's not unheard of, at least not in my district. So I had the parent coordinator/interpreter call her just to make sure. Suddenly, mom wanted to see me at 3pm that afternoon. Why? Because she hadn't been seeing and thus hadn't been signing, any of the papers that had gone home THE ENTIRE YEAR.

Now, don't get me wrong, mom has a right to be frustrated, but as an educator, I do too. It's almost April and you're telling me you haven't seen anything, good or bad and you don't question that? Don't you want to know how your child is doing? Wouldn't you somehow, someway think that was odd and contact the teacher? Again, maybe it's just me.

So although it was afterschool, the child was still in the building. The mom didn't want me to call her out of clubs though. She said her and her husband would deal with it privately but that I should still talk to her on my own, which just seemed silly to me. Why make the kid relive it twice, especially if getting her upset is your main concern, as she said it was. Still, I respected the mom's wishes because in education, just like in business, the customer is always right.

I went back upstairs after the meeting and called the girl out of clubs to talk to her privately. I offered her one more chance to fess up but she still insisted it was mom's signature on the papers. That's when I went in for the reveal. I told her that it was not mom's signature and I know because I had just spent the last 30 minutes with mom. For a brief moment, I had a glimpse into what it must have felt like for Angela Lansbury's Jessica Fletcher. You know, when she confronted the wrongdoer in the last five minutes of the episode? I had a few seconds of satisfaction, which were quickly washed over with pain at the sight of this girl who, after the shock wore off, completely broke down in tears.

In between her uncontrollable sobs I asked her why she did it. She said that she couldn't tell her parents anything bad because if she did, she'd get hit. This was the answer I dreaded. I know a lot of parents still hit their children and while I by no means condone this, there is a big difference between being hit for doing something wrong and being beat. So I carefully tried to say this to her without giving her any ideas because, after all, we are dealing with a girl who has a long track record of twisting the truth. If she did tell me anything we could very well have a classic, "girl who cried wolf" situation on our hands.

So I told her what I felt was best at the time. I said to come in and tell me what happened, good or bad and that we would take it from there. Then I went home and just prayed it wouldn't be bad and that I wouldn't kick myself for my decision. I also dread this scenario because it's such a delicate situation that you simply cannot plan for, no matter how hard you try.

The next morning she came in and I pulled her aside. She said that nothing bad happened and that her parents just sat her down and asked her why she did it. They told her to never do it again. No hitting took place. In fact, they told her that she should know by now that no matter what she does, they will always love her just the same. That's sweet.

Once I realized that she wasn't in any danger, I had to ask if she had any punishment. She said she couldn't watch tv that night.

That night?!

Well come on now. I didn't want the kid to be beat but hell, lying for a whole year only got you a punishment like that!?
Sunday, March 20, 2005

It's Not Whether You Win Or Lose, But How Well You Blog About It

And now the end is near, and so I face my final curtain.

In other words, The King of Blogscontest is coming to a close.

By the untrained eye it might seem like AOGB is in the lead. After all, one quick glance at the poll shows this to be true. But unfortunately, this is not the only factor that goes into winning the coveted title. If you didn't vote by the way, don't feel bad. My own boyfriend didn't get around to voting for me either. My I'm laying it on thick today, aren't I?:)

As for the other factors. Well, there's trackback, which I've worked dilligently on this past week, but to no avail. There's also the two posts in which the writer was judged, It's All About The Wheaton, and a submitted post of my choosing. I chose You Wanna Be Startin' Something? because it had a lot of comments which I thought translated to, "it had a good beat and you could dance to it." The remaining factor was overall layout design.

According to at least one of the three judges I failed inspection in every area.

Clicking on the link not only brings you to the judges comments, but it also lets you view the competition if you haven't already done so. I'd love your honest comparisons. It woud be interesting to hear the thoughts of people who read me from day to day because they, for some God forsaken reason, actually want to.:)

Still, after looking over the criteria for judging more closely, I realized I was sadly amiss in three major areas.

1. Llamas-No, I'm not kidding. Apparently without llamas, you ain't nothing.

2. Kissing Up- I admit it. I linked to the judges and I visited their sites, but I didn't pay homage to them in any of my posts this week. At the risk of making, "the dog ate my homework" like excuses, I could say I was distracted, which is the truth considering I had major car issues and the NJ ASK back to back. But if the real truth has to be told, I'm just not that kind of blogger. If I'm going to best of anything I'm going to be it cause I just am, not because I kissed ass to get there. That would make me no better than well, 98% of Hollywood.

3. It's Like, A Prayer
- After reviewing the sites involved I realized that many of them had one common denominator, religion. While many people have mistakenly stumbled upon this site assuming it might be about religion given the title, they quickly realized it's not. In fact, it's not really about any one thing. This makes some people mad. This, in turn, makes me laugh.

So there you have it, should I still, somehow emerge the winner after this thing is all over, I would go back into the ring to defend my title against two new, worthy opponents, just like in Star Search's semi-finals. But if I don't make it, it's ok. I don't think Justin Timberlake wowed McMahon back then either and just look at how that turned out.

Update- I didn't win. As it turns out, none of the judges liked me. Who knew? Oh well, I guess I'll just take my ball and go home.:)

Post update to the update- Wil Wheaton. Boy was that post lost on you people. And here I thought all this time you were right there with me on the sarcasm...
Friday, March 18, 2005

Good Things Can Come In Small Packages

Ok, so like, are you sitting down?

Of course you are. You are at your computer after all. Unless you do your blogging while standing which I gotta say, is highly irregular and not the best idea on your part.

Anyway, my car? Guess what I'm getting for it? Go ahead. I'll give you a few minutes. (Imagine the Jeopardy theme playing in the background)

$8,790.

You can stop rubbing your eyes. You read it correctly the first time. Apparently everything extra ups the price a little more. Just imagine what I could have gotten if I had a sunroof and leather interior. I know I have.

In other news, my dad said he's going to "park" his Sable on the same on ramp and try to make some magic happen.

Remember, voting continues for me over at King of Blogs. I believe there isn't a real limit, assuming you space out how often you vote. Voting goes all the way up until at least Sunday night. So, in other words, vote infrequently but often. It might look like I'm winning right now, but only 1 person trackbacked to the post. Come on guys! Someone out there has to know how to trackback and can hook a girl up! This could make or break the competition for me. Don't assume I'm "safe" the way so many people did for poor Nikko.:(

And just think, if I win this thing, we get to do it all over again next week!:)
Thursday, March 17, 2005

It's All About The Wheaton

As per the King of Blogs contest, I had to answer a challenge question. The question is below. Immediately following the question, you can read my response.

"You are going to have dinner with 3 different people. One is a fellow blogger, the next is a famous person currently alive, and the last is someone from the past not currently alive. Who are they and why did you select each."

There are so many bloggers I would like to meet, all for very different reasons. Some are big time, some small time. All of them have one thing in common: they take up MY time.

Still, that being said, I have chosen the man, the myth, the legend, Wil Wheaton as my blogger of choice.

Now some of you might be wondering, Why Wil Wheaton? Meanwhile, others of you might be wondering, Why not Wil Wheaton? Interestingly enough, the latter part of you are no doubt, affiliated with the man himself, if not indeed are actually him.

You might recall Wil Wheaton from his child actor days, most noticeably for his role in the eighties classic, Stand By Me. For those of you who still need a refresher, he was the kid who didn't get messed up in drugs and/or reinvent himself into a hot stud for the ladies. I can just see the light bulbs turning on over your heads as I type this.

Of course your next, logical question would be, Whatever happened to Wil "Stand By Me" Wheaton? Well the answer to that, along with much, MUCH more is provided at www.wilwheaton.net.

You want to know where Wil will be appearing? Check the blog. Do you want to purchase the latest Greenday album but really would like Wil's take on it first? Consider it done. Do you want to read about everything from odd attempts at recapturing glory days gone by to family cat emergencies? It is all one click away. In fact, from day to day Wil talks about things you and I might normally click past had we not invited this person into our living rooms all those years before. Just face it. Wil had us at hello.

One might think most people would not care about a guy now that most did not care about all those years ago to begin with. But it is amazing with twenty years of nostalgia will do to a fellow. Now Wil is retro and therefore, that makes him cool by default. Trust me. Blogrolling alone has 877 unique links to the man.

877!!

Those are more fans than Wil had back when he was famous, period. Hell, he even got nominated as best Big Name Blogger, but that is not really fair since there is only him, Zach Braff and a lame weblog created by Al Roker to speak of.

So the fellow blogger has been chosen. But meeting one famous person who is still alive? Now that is really tough. Ahh, who am I kidding? No it's not. It would also be Wil!! Mainly this is because I am a big fan of the kill two birds with one stone theory that all the kids go crazy for.

Mainly, it is the little things. It is because he uses phrases like by popular demand in regards to himself, without a trace of sarcasm to be found. It is because he manages to garner, on average, 100 comments a day all the while he can't get one legitimate callback. It is also due to the fact that Wil scores with fellow bloggers without any flashy design to speak of. For these reasons alone the man is in a word, intriguing.

Which brings me to the person I would most like to meet who has since passed away. Once again, this honor goes to Wil Wheaton. Now before you cry foul play, let me explain. To many, many people Wil Wheaton is in fact, dead. Some folks mistakenly think he died years ago, while big Hollywood agents simply treat him as if he died years ago. But through the powers of the Internet, Wil has been born again through blogging. Now, all the throngs of girls who scoured over their Teen Beat magazines day and night can get their fill of all things Wil, 24/7.

And with that, my post comes full circle.

Lucky for me, Wil manages to fit the criteria for all three categories and thus is quite the cheap date. There is less to buy, less mess and more time…with the guest of honor.

So you see, Wil is the perfect choice because he is once, twice, three times the blogger, to me.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005

You Make Me Feel Mighty Real

King of Blogs. Please vote for me on the left hand side of the blog. Trackback to THAT post, I get votes. Voting is all week long, thus the reminders. I know I'm annoying. I'm sorry.

Although I have watched my fair share of reality TV, I have witnessed the backlash you people bring for my doing so. I, along with many Americans, have this weird "car wreck like" fascination with reality television. I watch it, but admittedly I don't always know why I am doing so.

Everyone has their limits, including me. There are reality shows where I simply draw the line: The Simple Life, Nanny 911, Wife Swap and Fear Factor for example, just to name a few.

But for every reality show I don't watch, there's another one that I do. But the more reality shows I watch, the more I find one common denominator: a lack of any actual reality. In fact, I challenge you to bring it on. Give me a reality show, any reality show, and I will find the spin doctored loop hole. Yes, over the years I have grown to be quite the reality show conspiracy theorist.

Take The Bachelorette for instance. There are 25 supposedly equal footed guys vying for the affection of one big hearted girl. But early on it becomes quite apparent who you should root for and who should be given the boot. In fact, everyone can see this, except for said Bachelor/Bachelorette. This is why every season has it's token "psycho" who always manages to hang on a few weeks past his or her "sell by" date. Meanwhile, you sit there, screaming at the television, "Aww come on! Why did she keep HIM?!" She kept him, my friends so that you would do precisely that, rant and rave and of course, tune in to finally see him get the much deserved kiss off.

On shows like these, and even on The Amazing Race and say, Big Brother there are obvious "good guys" to root for. Maybe there is one clear good guy, maybe 3 or 4. But do you honestly believe these people never did anything wrong? No. One word and one word alone describes how these people can come across as perfect in every way: EDITING. Case in point, Bob Guiney. He turned the world on with his smile, got the coveted title of Bachelor, made out with lots of girls and THEN the world turned on HIM. You're kidding yourself if you believe Bob wasn't always that way. They just chose not to accentuate that side of him because THAT wasn't what America wants to see in their everyday heroes.

On reality shows there is a lack of any actual script, but that doesn't mean their lives can't still be scripted to a certain extent. They are given places to go, problems to overcome and people to meet. This isn't reality. Reality would be watching other people sit on their couch and watch reality tv every night. But that's not exciting. So producers "create" a reality for these contestants to live in, which, wherein lies the irony, considering the second you create reality, it's no. longer. reality.

Then there are shows people love to hate like American Idol. You might think, well what's to control there beyond what they wear and maybe sing? Well my friends, the answer is A LOT.

One thing I can only take in small doses about AI is the audition process. Other folks love it. They love watching horrendously bad auditions. In fact, they even added EXTRA episodes of that this season! But this girl is not buying it. In the case of really bad auditions I think either one of two scenarios come into play: 1. These people were hired and/or are playing up how bad they are just to get on tv or 2. These people are so bad and that's precisely why they got through.

Come on, do you really think that they don't sing at all before they get to the judges? They do. And yet, so many horrible singers still get through and get on air...hmm. Then of course, you can take it even one step further and believe that through the magic of, say it with me, EDITING, they are never in the same room with the judges at all.

And while we are on the subject of judges, that too is, I'm afraid, staged. Everything down to the casting of said judges is premeditated. You've got Paula:Good cop. Simon: Bad cop. Randy: In the middle cop. They each have very distinctly different roles to play. Yet, it's been said not to be fooled by the amazingly rude Simon Cowell as he really truly, is a teddy bear. To this I say, will the real Simon Cowell please stand up?

Finalists are carefully selected in an effort to create a harmony of styles, shapes and skin colors. And when the formula messes up (i.e. last year when there were many more worthy girls than guys) they tweak it a bit. They might not be able to choose who actually stays and who goes, since America supposedly decides, but can't they technically vote right along with us? Or they do the magic act of creating new rounds where the ones that got away have to come back so they can save face and not take their ball and go home.

Then, once the finalists get through, Simon often hurls amazingly insulting remarks at the contestants. Did that make you mad? Mad enough to vote over and over and prove him wrong? Hmm, I thought so.:)

So I suppose the big question you all have (if you've made it to this point) is that, now that you know that I know, why do I still watch? That is a question I'm still trying to answer myself. For me, I think half the fun is figuring out the angle. Figuring out how they think they are going to trick me this time. Reality shows are like a giant rubix cube where I have to solve the formula. Ok, rubix cube may be a little too high brow, but you get the idea.

Still, they can lead this girl to the television, but they can't make her believe.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Tell It To Me Tuesday: "Who's Gonna Drive You Home Tonight?"

In case you haven't heard the news, I'm in the running for King Of Blogs! Go there and vote for me in the poll on the left hand side. If you link to the hyperlink in this post in YOUR blog, I get points. If you come out supporting MY blog on YOUR blog I also get points. It's like taking candy from a baby. Not that I would condone that. Cause no, I wouldn't. Unless of course the baby is teething or the kid in question is hyperactive. In these cases, the kid shouldn't have candy anyhow.

No one commented on this yesterday. Then again, I always knew the role of "whore" never really suited me. Not to say that's a bad thing.

Moving right along, here's the latest in my, "On The Road Again" report:

The adjuster came out on Monday and lo and behold, sided in my favor. Yeah, I was shocked too. No real fuss or muss was needed. Now he assessed the damages at OVER $7,000 which made the car, totalworthy. It's a wee bit scary the mechanic's estimate was close a $1,000 lower, but whatever. No word yet on what the exact amount I will get will be. If you recall, the mechanic had said my car was estimated at $8,100, but then again, as we all have quickly learned, this guy has said a lot of things that haven't held much weight, period.

So my friends, we've won the battle, but not the war. There's still the teensy little matter of "insurance", "rates" and "fault" to contend with. But that's not important now.

Which brings me to Tuesday March 15th's question, one I couldn't have even planned for this time last week. Since I am suddenly in the market for buying a new car, what do you think I should buy?

What you should know:

1. I don't like really big cars.
2. I don't like really small cars.
3. I like my vehicles to be juuust right.

What I Wanna Know:

1. The Good- What car(s) can you recommend?
2. The Bad- What car(s) would you steer me (no pun intended) away from?

Now. Does anybody know what happens if you can't find the title to your car?
Monday, March 14, 2005

If I Were Queen For Just One Day

They say every cloud has a silver lining. The silver lining this week is that I have been contacted by Nick over at King Of Blogs to be part of there next tournament. The tournament starts today and the rules are simple.

The Cliff Notes version:

1. Normally, there is a reigning king/or queen in my case, to beat each week. BUT ast week's reigning King won 3 times, he is now undefeated and he is now retired. So this week is a new round with three new bloggers vying for the crown.

2. You are judged on three main bits:
A. General blogginess (site design and so forth)
B. Creativity (the legendary challenge question)
C. A submitted post they select to be judged

3. The winner from each week moves on to the next tournament, and must place the winning button on their site within 48 hours of victory or forfeit the crown.

4. There will be a poll on the top of the page starting late Sunday
night that will have each of the blogs listed. It will end Friday
night. Whoever gets the most votes will gain 3 extra points, second
most votes will get 2 and third most will get 1. Drive the masses to
vote for you and you will be a little closer to the crown.

5. Ask other blogs to trackback to the main tournament post (it will
be up late Sunday night also) and mention their support for your blog
to win. Whoever gets the most trackbacks gets 3 points, second most 2
and third most 1. No trackbacks= no extra points. You trackbacking to
the post from your blog doesn't count. If you run multiple blogs those
other blogs don't count either.

So I had to decide upon one, special entry to catch the judges eyes. I had no idea how to go about this. My posts are like my children. Of course, I'm referring to the children I don't have. But, if I did have children, I'd love them all the same.:) If I had more time, I would have had you, the readers, vote on what I should submit. In fact, while I'm on the subject of the judges, you can read all about them here:

Ogre's Politics & Views
News From The Great Beyond
Smarter Cop

Apparently, since this is a game, all is fair in love and blogging. Therefore, you can visit the judges and leave polite comments of praise for yours truly. You can even make baked goods if that's your thing, only I'm not sure how perishables will hold up when traveling.

The following are the actual hints that were provided for me by the host, Nick Queen. Nick Queen. Come on, isn't that the most fabulous game show host name, ever?

1. As in any attempt at a crown bribery and backstabbing may be used.
This tournament is meant to be fun and if you are contacted by the
host in midstream asking questions be sure to play along. You are not
trying to win a beauty pageant, but a crown. Read The Prince and batten
down the hatches.

2. Humour works. Also reading and trying to know the judges well, as
well as the hosts and commissioner, may be a good strategy. Flattery
is permitted, and encouraged. Gratuitous linking, and self-linkage has
been known to go a long way.

3. Have fun. The rules are there to keep this running smoothly, but we
aren't going to be blowing a whistle and throwing a flag every few
seconds. We want this to be a success, and your blog to do well. Even
if you lose you are getting feedback, and links. Go with the flow,
wipe the mud off your face and return with a bigger army next time.

Once again this is a game. Let me stress: A GAME! Don't take
everything seriously except for the judges critiques. They have been
known to give great advice mixed in with humour and snarkiness. Have
fun, and laugh. Whining is not permitted, and whiners will be thrown
in the tower, and the royal key will be locked away.


So, in summary:

Flattery for the judges and hosts = good
Voting for me in this poll = very good
Trackbacking to me = overflowing in goodness

I just hope trackbacking works after Muzikdude pointed out that it might not:( In fact, truth be told, I don't even completely understand trackbacking and its importance. I think it's like the backwashing of blogging but I'm not certain.

By the way, I realize I ask you guys to vote for me a lot lately. This one doesn't have any nudity though, unlike some Blog Awards contestants I inadvertently lead people to, so already, there's a plus.
Saturday, March 12, 2005

You're In Good Hands With All State My Ass

At the risk of this blog turning into a daily tirade about my recent vehicle mishap, I must let you all know how the plot has suddenly thickened.

Friday morning I called and asked about the specifics in regards to the damage. The guy said the majority of the monetary damage was actually caused by the spinout, not the monstrosity that slammed into me. He confirmed that there was, in fact, no damage to the frame and said over and over how the car would be replaced with Ford parts yadda, yadda. Then I read all of your comments, voting for my springing for a new car along with a comment from The Delawarean that said the Ford Focus does not have a frame, it has a uni body and that would most likely have incurred some damage regardless of what the dude says. Honestly, it's all Greek to me.

So I took a little more time to weigh my options. I went to work and bounced a few ideas off of people there too. A few co-workers made the point that the car was this close to being totaled, but that we all know the mechanic isn't going to actually total it. Instead he'll most likely turn around, fix it up and resell it or turn around and sell the parts. So they said to play a clever game of Let's Make A Deal. If I said to the mechanic, listen, if it's that close to being totaled, can't it just be totaled, I get my 7 and you get to keep the car? It was a longshot, but it was worth a shot.

Of course, he said it didn't work that way. To briefly translate, it doesn't work that way because I don't know him and he isn't going to do that favor for me. I don't know the specifics, but as far as I can tell, either way it's a win win for him. I fix the car? He gets a check. I total the car? He will, eventually, still get a check. You're kidding yourself if you think otherwise.

He then starts to go on about how the car estimate is "not close" to $7,000 at $6,366. Suddenly, the repairs are no longer $6,0000 but really are over $6,000. Now while I realize we are not within the $7,000 figure within a few hundred dollars, I also realize that there are next to no items that would be under $500 to fix on a car anyhow. In other words, all I really needed was one more thing wrong with the car to push me over. Interestingly enough one of the things he said was wrong with the car was that it needed 3 new tires. Now I ask you, what idiot is going to replace 3 tires and leave the 4th one alone?! And there my friends, you have your $7,000.

Also he tells me that after the $500 deductible, I would get a check for $5800. I told him that I was just trying to figure out if it was worth it considering the car wasn't worth THAT much before the accident anyhow.

Then he tells me the figure the insurance company is quoting: They valued my car $8,100 before the accident. Sha! Yeah right! I said there was NO WAY I was going to get $8,100 for this car, period, especially now. He mumbled something about low mileage pushing it over. Oh but it gets better. If the car had been deemed totalworthy, I wouldn't have gotten a check for $7,000 but I would have gotten a check for the car's "worth", $8,100. If this is true, suddenly it became crystal clear why my car was just under the wire for getting totaled, like totally.

So again, I hemmed and hawed, and then finally called him back to say essentially, you can take this car and total it. Upon saying this, intially there was silence on the other end of the line. I had 2 options. Obviously I chose the one he didn't expect NOR did he want. Well tough nuggies! He starts in with his rant again about how it would replaced with Ford parts while I'm thinking the whole time, "dude, enough with the Ford parts already!" I said all the same, I think it is in my best interest to cut my losses, take the check and start over. Reluctantly he said ok, and that the next step would be to call the insurance company. So I said ok, I'll do that. He abruptly said no I'll do it. Right now the check is coming to him and he has to stop payment on that check. In the meanwhile, I asked when I could make sure all of my stuff was out of the car. He was totally vague in answering whenever. Silly me was asking what their actual hours were. As it turns out they are not open on weekends. So I asked if I could come and get my stuff on Monday. Once again he said he didn't care.

Lovely.

The only other thing I mentioned was that the stereo in the car was one I bought on my own and that I would like to keep it so that before it is totaled, I want the stereo taken out of the car. He said that was fine, but that I might have to "get a guy" to come in to do that. Gee thanks. Otherwise, he said he can "try" to take it out, but makes no promises. Now not that the stereo is important in the grand scheme of things but come on people. If my car is going down, I don't think it's necessary my precious little car stereo go down too! I mean really. It's just an innocent bystander in all of this.

So we hang up.
The decision has been made.
The weight has been lifted.

Or so I thought.

I call my dad a few hours later to tell him about what I had decided. Only the insurance company has already called my house in the meantime. Apparently they are "suddenly" saying I never had the option of choosing between the repairs or the check. In other words, if it can be fixed, it will be fixed, period.

By this point, I'm MAD. I'm mad because I spent all this time going back and forth only to come to a decision I was truly comfortable with and now this. I'm also mad because something smells fishy. How could the mechanic, a guy who does this for a living, get something so simple, so wrong? Why tell me I had a choice if I didn't have one? That isn't exactly the kind of thing you want to get wrong. And if it changed all of a sudden, why? Did something transpire between the insurance company and the mechanic in the phone call that HE had to make?

Now suddenly, the decision rests in the hands of an adjuster and it could take up to 4 days to get that estimate. I find it funny that if I had decided to fix the car, no one from the insurance company had to come out and see it, but the MINUTE I decide against fixing the car, the damages become their concern. It's good to know I'm a valued customer and not merely just another claim number in all of this.

So now it's a case of hurry up and wait. My guess one of two things will occur next:

1. The car will be assessed and it's worth will suddenly go down, along with the check I would be getting.
or
2. They will assess it at under and I will still be told it's a fix or nothing at all.

So while I appreciate your concerns and comments, I might need something else in the coming weeks, your blessings. That is if I am forced into driving what is quickly becoming known as, "the car that should not be fixed".
Thursday, March 10, 2005

And The Hits Just Keep On Coming

First of all I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has stopped by and sent well wishes my way. I am trying to catch up on all things blogging, but crashing your car is surprisingly unsettling. Who woulda thunk it? I also tried to stop by many of your blogs today, but many Blogger blogs would not let me "make the dropoff". If you happen to be one of those people who I couldn't swing by, be forewarned, my visit is just a matter of time. Blogger time, but time nonetheless.

Now, on with the news. The damages to my car were estimated at $6,000. Now for those of you who don't know (which was me up until 5 hours ago) $7,000 is when they total it. So now I have what I think is a hard decision to make. If it had been 7 the decision would have been made for me but noooo. Now I have to decide to fix or not to fix, that is the question.

Right after I crashed my car I had a zillion questions, the big one being how bad would the damages be. My dad told me not to worry about it. He also was taking care of the calls for me because it's extremely hard to do those types of things from school, especially the week before the BIG TEST. So I gave him my number at school to keep me in the loop.

Only he never used it. So I come home and he tells me about the damages. He also tells me he originally told them to go ahead and fix it, since he knew that was what I wanted. But he called back and told them not to. Only problem is, the guy already had ordered the parts. So now he told the guy he'd tell him by tomorrow morning.

I know he had the best of intentions but now I feel like it's ROCKMEHARDPLACE. With a decision such as this, I really wanted to have a little bit of time to think it over. If I took the cash payout and put it towards another car, what kind of deal could I get? BUT if I got the car fixed, would it be worth it? I mean what specifically was wrong with the car? Dad said there was a list of things: the fender, the tires, the hood, the steering column...but he doesn't think the frame. Doesn't think. Well, I think doesn't think doesn't cut it. I want to know. I want to know so I can make an informed decision.

I feel like I'm on a game show where I have to make the split second decision between door number 1 and door number 2. If they would only give me a weekend to decide, then at least I'd have a little bit of time to digest it all and put it into perspective.

Here are a few facts for you.

My car: 2001 Ford Focus
Mileage: about 36,000
Condition before accident: Excellent
Feeling you get from driving on an open, dry road: Priceless

So, what would you do? Take the 5,500 and put it towards a new car or take the money and get the old one fixed?

Consider it an emergency Tell It To Me Tuesday if you must. Only don't feel offended if I don't take your advice. I will, however, be willing to take your money. Just kidding. Eh, no I'm not.:)
Wednesday, March 09, 2005

I Chose The Road Less Traveled And I Got Screwed

It was a day that started like any other day. I got up at 5:45 am. I made some coffee, took a shower and checked my email. I laughed as I watched the news of delayed openings flash across the bottom of my television screen. Delayed openings are good. You get to have half the day with none of the guilt.

So why did I laugh? I laughed because I knew better than to look twice. See, my district is not like other districts. Oh no. My district doesn't believe in delayed openings. Oh sure, we have a delayed opening procedure, but it's kinda like the fine china your mom keeps in the breakfront; it's there and it looks nice, but it's never been used. Regardless, delayed openings are given to days when the weather is bad, but not bad enough to warrant an entire day off. So I got in my car and headed off to work, slightly muttering about why I didn't work for one of those "other" districts.

The roads were fine or they seemed fine to me. Then I got onto the on ramp I get onto every morning to merge onto one of two highways I take to work. But as soon as I got on, I realized things were off. The ENTIRE RAMP WAS COVERED IN A BLANKET OF ICE. I had this realization at the same exact moment I saw the car in front of me start to lose control. So I did what any person driving on an ice rink behind someone who just almost skidded out would do.

I panicked and hit the breaks.

Now anyone who has ever driven on ice knows you really shouldn't hit the breaks. Of course, I wasn't even going fast to begin with. What would have happened had I not hit the breaks we will never know. Cause I did. And I did. Go. Spinning.

I've never been in a tailspin before but I'm here to tell you that all the cliches are true. A million things really do flash before your eyes and you also forgot all of them instantaneously so I can't really write about them all here. All I do remember was hoping I would stop and that it would be a good, 4-wheels-on-the-ground,car-still-on-the-same-road-and-not-slammed-
into-another-car-type-stop.

Luckily, I did stop and I immediately put the car in park, hoping it would stay there. At this point my car was half in the snow, half on the road. This wasn't the worst place to be, but it wasn't the best. The snow itself ended up being a lifesaver because it kinda held my car in place. The bad being I was still half on the road, a road, that I might remind you is surprisingly icy.

2 other guys who were behind me stopped right along with me. They (and their cars) were ok, but they were concerned about me, which was really, really nice. They also waited with me in the blustery cold until my dad (who was literally 2 miles away) arrived. One of the guys said it might be a good idea to move the car off the road but I was too shook up to drive and too afraid I'd push it off the road completely (there was a little drop off to the side where I was stopped)

Then the one guy said, "In fact, I wouldn't even wait on the driver's side of the car. I'd move over here." And so I did.

And thank God I did.

Suddenly I saw my life as one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books I read when I was a kid. Choose one page, you saved the princess, but you choose another page, and the princess is history. Really, when you think about, life is really one big Choose Your own Adventure book. We are making choices everyday, some that seem little, some that seem big, but no one knows in the long run what the seemingly small or big choices will bring down the road, no pun intended.

Within what had to be 3 minutes of moving from standing on the driver's side of my car to the other side, a car came barreling down the ramp. A big car. A RAM or some other monstrosity like that. It doesn't really matter. All you had to know was it was big, it was spinning and it was headed for my car.

Not knowing where big boy (or my car for that matter) would end up we ran cause even though we were on the other side of the car, mama didn't raise no fools. Pre crash my car needed at the most, probably 4 new tires. Post crash my car needs probably at the least, four new tires.

Now being that I am an accident virgin, I am by no means savvy in the ways of accident etiquette. Some people pointed out to me that I should have gotten information from the gentlemen that helped me because they are witnesses. Others said I shouldn't have brought my insurance company in it at all until I see if I could payout of pocket. But the police had already been called anyhow so that's a moot issue. Still I have to say, these are not the sort of things you are thinking about after an accident. At least I wasn't. Instead I was trying very hard to think about what all the things I should be thinking about and in the process, I came off like Hilary Swank that time she forgot to thank Chad Lowe at the Oscars. In other words, some might say I forgot to do the obvious.

So now comes the fun part. The car has been towed. As I write this I do not know yet what the damage will be. I do not even know what the insurance company will decide in terms of fault. There is a chance it will be no fault, but payout will be 50/50. I even have grand thoughts of damning the man and suing the state for not cleaning the road to begin with. A road, which, by the way I found out after the fact had been closed the whole night and only reopened right before I got on it, untouched by plows or salters. Or is that saltees? I know it's not saltines.

The worst part is just the reliving of it all. But of course, at the end of the day what I really am is lucky. I was lucky that the car spinning out of control didn't turn me over, spin me into oncoming traffic or off a ramp onto an entirely different road below. I was doubly lucky that I moved away from the driver's side moments before the other car hit mine. Someone at work (yes I went in, I couldn't just sit home and relive it)said I should go out and buy a lottery ticket. Someone else said I must have had a good guardian angel. All I know is that I really need to pause and be thankful for what I've got. Sure, cats may have 9 lives, but today I had two.

Start Spreading The News

The following are friendly reminders:

1. Judy and I are hoping to have a real life blogger get together, hopefully sometime in June. It would be in the Central/Southern Jersey/Philadelphia area. If you haven't added your name to the VIP list, post a note of interest in the comments or email me directly at aogbgirl@yahoo.com

2. While I'm on the subject of Judy she is still looking for brand, spankin' new blog design. She has some ideas, she's just waiting for a very cheap designer who, out of the kindness of his or her heart, is willing to help bring them to life. And yes, I swear I have other friends besides Judy, she's just my only real life friend who also happens to blog. Shut up.

3. I've linked to the latest Blog Awards. You can enter and vote by clicking this hyperlink or you could click the button on the left hand side of this blog. You don't have to vote for me, though a vote my way doesn't cost anything.:) I would explain this in more detail, but I'm afraid I don't really understand how these awards work. In fact, if you figure it out, let me know, k?

4. The March game is still going on. Get in on it while the gettin' is good.

5. And last, but certainly not least, Miss Cav is rallying for a very good cause over at her blog. Do stop by and help her out. For once I won't be ashamed if you say Janet made you do it.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Tell It To Me Tuesday: "In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb"

Well kids, it's just about that time again. Time to change my bulletin board that is. If you've been around awhile, you'll remember the bulletin board I currently have hanging up. If you haven't, or simply need a refresher, you can read all about it here.

I think I've milked it as long as humanly possible and although it was a clever idea, I didn't factor into the idea that so many of my students simply would not memorize their facts.

So now, with the new season rapidly approaching, I need a new, fresh bulletin board idea, but between the NJ Ask, St. Patrick's Day and Easter, I can't wanna do it. This is where you guys come in.

I'm asking for detailed bulletin board ideas. The criteria is simple. It should be something springy that showcases student work. The simpler the better because although it's time consuming to come up with the idea, it's even more time consuming to actually make it happen.

The winning idea (should this thing take off) will get credit on here, of course, along with a picture of the final product for all of the world to see. Ok, not the whole world, and not even the whole blogging world, but anyone who comes here, which is better than no one seeing nothing, k?
Monday, March 07, 2005

A Top 40 Turn Of Events

The following is a retelling of actual events. I am currently kicking myself because I can't find the actual transcription of some of this story.:(

When I was in college, I spent a hefty amount of time keeping in touch with my high school friends who were scattered across the country. I found, like many, that the cheapest and easiest way to do this was through email. So I had my school account, spending many afternoons banging away at the keyboards in the labs. But these were also back in the days when I used AOL as a source of keeping in touch with friends on campus when I was home. What can I say? I liked to keep abreast of any changes that weren't happening.

Growing up, I also always prided myself on finding new music before anyone else. It's not like I always set out to do it, usually it just happened. One of the musicians I loved was a man named Jude Cole. For those of you who don't know Jude (and who am I kidding, that's probably most of you) simply imagine a singer/songwriter whose along the lines of John Mayer before John Mayer was doing John Mayer and there you have Jude.

Anyone who has ever used AOL knows that the cornerstone of AOL's addictive nature is it's IMING feature. While I don't miss AOL itself, I do miss the member search and the ability to call up a list of people with random, common interests in less than 30 seconds. You wanted to find someone who collected Barry Manilow 45's and who lived in the tri state area? Consider it done. I know there are places that offer similar services these days, but none have managed to capture the good ol' days with AOL.

But just as it was easy to find other people with common interests, they could just as easily find you. Most of the people who "found" you were probably people you'd rather stay lost, but for every crappy height/age/weight request you got, you would receive one that managed to make you smile.

One day, I received an email complimenting me on my member profile. My member profile on AOL was a lot like my profile for Blogger, only with slightly different tidbits given that time, unfortunately does march on, though not as many changes as you'd expect give that time DID march on. This person went to tell me that I had "great taste" and that he had to contact me because not only did he feel we shared said great taste, but that we also in fact, shared a birthday. This person then signed their email as none other, than Mr. Jude. Cole.

Of course, when I read this, I assumed it was a fake. Why would Jude Cole be emailing me? I mean come on! He's a semi-famous singer/songwriter who must have so much going on that emailing a random 19 year old would be out of the question. So I responded, cautiously asking why, if he was really Jude Cole, would he be emailing yours truly.

His answers were honest, and convincing. He said that while he was flattered that I saw him as a "star" that he was far from being that well known. He said that he was bored one night and admittedly, the narcissist within got the best of him and he decided to search for himself in the member profiles. He came across me and was intrigued because we also had the same birthday.

As if that wasn't enough, he was further intrigued by the fact that I was a fan of the actor Ethan Embry. Not only did he know who Ethan Embry was, he knew Ethan Embry! Since Jude was an obscure, middle aged singer and Ethan was an obscure, teeange actor, he was amazed there was someone out there who actually liked both of them, at the same time. He even told Ethan about this, which, hello? blew my mind. To imagine Jude and Ethan sitting, somewhere discussing ME was, as The Black Crowes once said, too hard to handle.

Still, all of this alone wasn't prove, right? I mean he could still be a she with a penchant for playing with random, teenage girls minds. It didn't seem likely, but never say never. So he went on to further prove his identity. He explained his screen name, for one (it traced back to an obscure liner note on one of his albums) and then, admist our correspondence, he told me he also had recently found a real live letter, from me.

(Cue flashback within a flashback)

A few years before I had been in high school, working on a project. I had this cool, hippyesque English teacher who let us do whatever we wanted in the name of "art". So I started a research project of sorts on rock n' roll. Naive enough to believe it would work, I sent out letters contacting random artists, asking for their contributions to an earnest high school girl's rinky dink project. Amazingly, no one responded, at least not directly.

Here it was, a few years later, and I had come across this chance meeting with the may be Jude. He tells me that when I sent the letter, he was in the middle of a move. A lot of mail got lost in the shuffle and stayed on the backburner for sometime. He only happened to come across my letter around the same time he came across me. By this point, we were both sufficiently freaked out.

Jude and I went on to talk off and on many times over the course of a few years. No we never met or eloped in Vegas or anything like that. Sorry but this is not THAT type of story. Then, somewhere along the line, we lost touch. While on one level I was just another fan that connected with Jude and his poignant lyrics, I was lucky enough to be able to actually connect with the man behind the lyrics. Overnight, an admiration for an artist I never thought I'd meet turned into some semblance of friendship. He said he liked talking to me because he saw me as "an old soul". I liked talking to him because well, I was talking to Jude Cole.

I haven't heard from Jude in sometime, personally or professionally. If you're out there Jude, I'd love to hear from ya. I mean, it happened once, which, in my opinion, was the really strange part. So, it could happen again, right?

Now. Don't even get me started on the time I "met" Michael Ian Black.:)
Sunday, March 06, 2005

Sorry Excuse For A Post

I don't normally do this because I think it's lame to write a post and just link to other sites, but it's Sunday morning and after the heavy duty post you see below, I figured y'all would appreciate if I chilled out a bit.

For everything you wanted to know about the songs you like but were too afraid to ask, go to this website about song meanings.

If you were a child of the '80s, I'd visit Retro Junk. They have tons of old commercials, movie trailers and theme songs.

But if a good chuckle is what you're after, I strongly suggest going here and taking a gander at some of the worst album covers, ever. If this wets your appetite for more, head on over to Show and Tell Music for hours of amusement.

P.S.- This one is my personal favorite. :)
Friday, March 04, 2005

You Wanna Be Startin' Something?

A week ago, I wrote a post about an idiosyncrasy my parents had. But as you well know, whenever you point the finger, there are really two more fingers pointed back at you. A few of you processed my gripe, but instead decided to focus on what I considered to be a tiny, minuet detail that I will repeat here:

My name is Janet and I still live at home with my parents.

There I've said it.

Actually, to the tell the truth, I've said it before. I never hid it, but after reading some of the comments, something tells me maybe I should have.:(

I admit it, I'm a very sensitive soul. So when I read comments like "You still live at home with your parents?!" I end up feeling like a little girl, which is ironic, considering the situation.

But after feelings of sensitivity wash over me, my next instinct is to come to my own defense. So this post is an attempt to be an explanation to the shock and horror that any of you might have unncessarily experienced after reading this revelation.

I graduated college in 1999 with a degree in Communications. There are people who make jokes of the "you want fries with that?" variety about Communications majors. As it turns out, they are right. Before Communications my major was English but with that I said to myself, what are you really going to do with an English degree, teach?

Yes, I am literally overflowing with ironies.

Truth be told, I always wanted to be a writer. But that's another post for another time. Still I always liked the drive and ambition it came to make it in the cutthroad world of journalism. I wanted to write about what I wanted to write about, when I wanted to write about it. I didn't want to write for writing's sake. Plus I didn't want to work in NYC. So begrudingly, I moved back home while I tried to find a job that utilizied my hard earned degree.

Unfortunately, if you live in Central Jersey and don't want to work in the city, you are extremely limited in the corporate arena. So here I was, fresh out of college with a vague degree that offered few options and a geographical location that only further distilled said options.

So I entered the wonderful world of temping and started temping at the local college. They liked me there. I even made a few friends there. Of course, they were almost all the over 60 retired sort. So when I would apply to full time jobs at the school and not even be considered, the women told me to consider it a blessing in disguise. They assured me a secretary at a community college was no place for a twenty one year old college graduate like myself. Plus, the college was cheap and paid their workers far less than they deserved. But when you added all of these factors up I think that's what made the blow of not getting a job there sting all the more. Suddenly, I wasn't even good enough to turn down jobs that were "beneath me".

After temping for a few months I finally stumbled upon a job at a local insurance agency. My job was in underwriting although I knew nothing about actual underwriting. As it turns out, you didn't have to because everything at this company was made up as it went along.

At first when I got that job, I was ecstatic. Finally a real job that had benefits and allowed me to (semi) use my degree. The starting pay was $22,500, with a raise after 3 months. It's amazing to look back on it now and realize how sad that is. What was even worse was it was the best that offer I had. Seriously.

You know how people who have been in a really shitty situation can diplomatically look back on something and politely refer to it as a learning experience? Well my time at the insurance company was one of those, "a learning experience". I had fun there, despite the fact that I was working for the mob. While I can't prove this, and I certainly didn't know this when I got hired, there are just some things you sense.

What made matters worse was that this was a small, independent company ran by two, self indulgent rich Italian men who gave everything to themselves and nothing to their workers just because they could. In big time corporate America one often wonders who is minding the store. Well, in small time corporate America, this is true tenfold.

A few weeks after working there I began to sense a pattern to the people they hired. The girls in accounting and underwriting were a lot like me: some were college graduates, some weren't. All were hoping for more. But the kicker, all were hired because of their looks.

Once I found that out, things just went from bad to worse. Here I thought I had finally gotten a job on merit alone and as it turned out, it was on my sense of style, among other things. Compounding this was the slow realization that I really didn't need a degree to do what I was doing, AT ALL. They called it underwriting, but really I was just a customer service rep dressed in sheep's clothing.

There was a whole other, seeded underbelly to my time at the insurance company that revolved being part of the token interoffice romance. But again that's another story for another time. All you need to know is that my time there ended because I ended it. My co-worker, and boyfriend, ending it the same exact day.

From there I had a bit of trouble finding another job, but a few months later I stumbled upon a position as a Print Production Assistant at a Marketing/Advertising agency. Initially, I was thrilled to have this job considering my degree was in PR/Advertising and I upped my pay (I think I was up to $27,000 or so) But projects were few and far between there. In fact, I wish I would have had blogging in my life at the time as it would have made clockwatching a lot easier. I was there when September 11th happened and saw the already crawling workload come to a nearly complete stop. Before long, the writing was on the wall. Four and a half months after working there I was part of my first ever layoff.

Back on unemployment once again, I began exploring my options. You might think my story involves a run of bad luck, but most of my friends were in similar situations. Longevity in a career was like finding gold. All of my friends who were in my major in college were doing everything from waitressing to working at a candy store. In fact, my only friends that were happy and in stable professions, were teachers.

So I began hesitantly exploring going back to college. I would get my Master's in about 2 years, if I attended summer classes and worked while I went to school. Still on the fence about it, I accepted a job at a real estate company as the company copywriter. Finally I had a arrived. It was a growing company, offering $28,500 and it was a job involving WRITING!

But after working there a few weeks and comparing my experiences, I realized that corporate America was really a lot of smoke and mirrors. Either that, or this is the reality of the profession and I was just naive to think otherwise. It quickly occured to me that my copywriting, although described as such, would not involve the writing of catchy logo's (although I did and got no credit for them). No. Instead my copywriting was something along the lines of this:

3, bdrm, 2 1/2 bath, EIK, Pergo flooring. Backs to wds. Priced to sell!

I did this. All. Day. Long. I lasted 6 weeks. I was running out of options and graduate school was looking more and more appealing.

I went back to grad school at night for teaching and worked in education during the day for experience (which is also another post for another time because this one is already too damn long). But as those of you who have gotten a degree know, higher education can be damn expensive and a private school (which was the only local option) can be even more expensive. Luckily, my parents helped me out a bit, and the job helped keep me afloat otherwise. I also have always been very fortunate in being a great saver, despite not really having all that much to save.

So there you have it. Most of you didn't ask for it, but there it is anyway. Now you more than you ever needed to know about why a girl like me still kinda, sorta lives off of mommy and daddy.

And just think. All you had to do was not ask.:)
Thursday, March 03, 2005

On The Oscars, From A Grouch

A belated approach. 'Cause really, who are we kidding? The first and last 10 minutes are really all that matters. The rest are just details.

1. I feel bad for Chad Lowe. He spent his entire life living in the Marsha!, Marsha!, Marsha! like shadow of his brother, Rob and now this.

2. Note the dude who really wrote that song from The Motorcycle Diaries acceptance speech. He came up and proceeeded to sing an excerpt from the song, trying undo in 30 seconds or less, all the damage Antonio Banderas had done earlier that same evening.

3. At 74 and 67, respectively, Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman are cooler than you and I will ever be.

4. Someone seriosly needs to sit Johnny Depp down and tell him that he is not, in fact, an actual pirate.

5. Note to Dustin Hoffman: nobody, and I mean NOBODY, pulls off a drunken stupor at the Oscars and gets away with it. Except of course, Nicholson. In that case, it's a prerequisite.

6. Who else wanted to see the two old guys from The Muppets spice things up a bit and stand next to stuck up starlet, Scarlett Johansson in that balcony?

7. Why, why do we need to see all of the nominees standing in a row as if they are about to sing Kellerman's theme from Dirty Dancing? Seriously guys, the show is 77 freakin' years old. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

8. Wacky Sean Penn was a barrel of laughs, as usual.

9. Looks like it's back to Plan A for Lowell from Wings. Sorry but, lightning just does not strike twice.

10. From where I was sitting, Chris Rock, at the risk of sounding cliche, rocked.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005

That's What They Say, But Who Are They Anyway?

First things first: My friend Judy is in the market for a makeover. I'm not talking about some Queer Eye for the Straight Girl type thing, I mean a blog makeover. If you have any advice or input whatsoever, go visit her, pretty please with a cherry on top.

A select few of you may recall the game I proposed at the beginning of the month. I say a select few because that's about the amount of people who actually played. To that I say, shame on you! Games are no fun if no one is playing along. Just ask your everyday house cat.

So I'm giving you a chance to redeem yourself. Throughout the month of March, I want to hear from YOU about THEM. In this case, them is the unknown; the fabulous bloggers out there who have great things to say, only I don't know that they've been saying them because I don't them.

Rules of Conduct:

1. You can pick as many new blogs to introduce me to as you want, as long as you have valid reasons to support your claim.
2. You can post the blog(s) here in the comments or send any suggestions to me via email @ aogbgirl@yahoo.com
3. You can do so throughout the month of March (of course, once March is over and you find a site worth visiting, I'd still be much obliged).
4. The blog cannot currently be a part of my blogroll. This isn't meant to be cruel. It's just that if it's already there, I already know about it. Duh.
5. Yes, you can recommend yourself. If your not blogrolled that is. So if the shoe fits, blog about it.

What I Need To Know:

1. A little background info on said site (url, author, anything else of interest that might make it stand out)
2. Why you recommend this site(s).
3. Why you think this site would fit in nicely with the wacky sidekicks of AOGB.
4. Why I should listen to you, anyway.

The winning blog(s), depending on how many entries there are, will get a big screen plasma TV.

Sha. Yeah, riight!

No, seriously, the winning blog(s) will get added to my blogroll. They also will get a featured post, along with the blogger who made me go there, but in a good way. You might be thinking, "boy, this doesn't sound like a lot". You'd also be right, but unfortunately, it's all I've got.:(

So go ahead. Go get them and bring them to me. And while you're at it, tell them "everyone" is doing it.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Tell It To Me Tuesday: "Blog is a 4 Letter Word For Nothing To Lose"

Lately, everyone's been getting their panties in a bunch over blogging privacy. It seems every few days, another case crops up against some blogger somewhere. At first, it seemed a reasonable enough concern, say if your blogging interferes with your serving the food at Denny's. But then seemingly innocent bloggers, who were minding their own business also got the shaft.

So this is my three part question to you, this Tuesday, March 1st.

1. Should there be rules about what a blogger can and cannot write?
2. Should there be rules about the where's and the when's a blogger can write?
3. As a blogger, are you ever afraid of being "caught"?

 

 


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