Things That Freak Me Out: Unsolved Mysteries Edition

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The show below FREAKS me out. Everything about it makes my stomach turn in knots. The man's voice gives me nightmares. The theme song sends shivers down my back. And the fact that the majority of the cases have yet to be solved provides me with a very unsettling feeling. Thank goodness that this show is no longer on the air, because when it was I would go into a panic the second I saw it (or heard it for that matter) and immediately scream for the clicker to change the channel... or I would simply run out of the room.

          

Things That I Find Interesting: Horoscope Edition

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Over the years I have become less and less of a fan of Cosmopolitan magazine, but once again I have managed to accidently prolong my subscription for another couple of years. So, even though I don't really like the magazine, there is one thing that they publish in their January issues that I always look forward to... their "Bedside Astrologer" booklet. This booklet is Cosmo's version of a quickie yearlong horoscope guide. In college my roommates and I used to keep a copy of it on our coffee table at all times, right next to the dream interpretation dictionary... because one never knows when they may need some heavenly guidance. And while you may laugh, these books often proved useful at cheering us up after a bad day. The situation typically went something like this. 

We'd come home for lunch (usually with food from the Skellar... which meant something fried, or something oozing with sauce and cheese). We would then plop on the couch and let out a sigh of relief, only to then rant about how "bad" our day had been. At this point one of us would usually jump up, and rather excitedly say "let's read our horoscopes!". Because honestly, when isn't it a mood lifter to think that your destiny might involve meeting the man (or woman) of your dreams by the end of the week, only to be whisked away by them on a romantic dinner, where you will also learn that you have just stumbled into some huge fortune (which you will obviously use to buy all those new clothes you've been coveting). However, a bad horoscope was bound to pop up every now and again. I mean a dream date is great, but losing your friend to a jealous coworker, and then getting blamed for a spoiled group project, not so much. So if this was to happen, we simply went to plan B... the dream dictionary. If horoscopes failed to brighten our mood, then surely discovering the truth behind our dreams would. Because, how can you not get excited to learn that dreaming about flowers actually means that your newest crush might just bloom into a new relationship, if tended to properly (I totally just made that up... but it sounds good right?).

So this morning when I finished glancing over my 2009 horoscope in review (as dictated by Cosmo) in my handy dandy "Bedside Astrologer", I was reminded of a conversation I had a few months ago with a friend of mine. We were standing in a bookstore, and while he was searching for a specific book, I was browsing through a very detailed and quite nice horoscope book. He found what he wanted, glanced at me and said "you don't really believe in those do you... because you know you may not be the sign you think you are?!". Uh, oh! What?!? OK so I don't really believe that my astrological sign dictates the way I will behave. Also, I certainly don't think that what my horoscope says will really happen to me. AND it does make total sense what my friend was saying, because it is true that the stars are not in exactly the same positions now as they were when the original astrological chart was designed. BUT none of that takes away from the fact that I find horoscopes, and astrology, to be extremely fascinating. I won't go into detail about my intrigue in this subject, due to fear of sounding like a fruit loop, but I will admit that when he said I might not be the sign I thought I was, a little part of me was let down. To me it's sort of cool and mysterious to think that my future could already be predisposed to something, based on the way the stars were alined when I was born. But, NO... now my friend is telling me I may have been "reading" someone else's future this whole time. So as soon as I finished reading my horoscope this morning I quickly did some research, and GASP... I am not the sign I thought I was. All my life I believed I was a Taurus... turns out I am supposed to be an Aries. Oh dear... what to do now!?!  

Things That Make Me Happy: Mele Kalikimaka Edition, Part 2

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas (or Mele Kalikimaka as they say in Hawaii!) everyone. I hope you all have a wonderful day surrounded by family and friends... and filled with oodles of love. 



Things That Make Me Happy: Mele Kalikimaka Edition

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

December 2005, A Hawaiian Christmas Eve
(Morgan and Jonah)

Things That Make Me Confused: Kumon Edition

Kumon, oh Kumon. What is Kumon you ask? For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Kumon world, let me introduce you to the "coolest" way for a kid to learn, and enhance their math and reading skills. Kumon is a learning center based on a method of teaching that was created by some Japanese man who was disheartened by the fact that his son was struggling in school. Apparently Kumon has been around for about fifty years, although I had never heard of it (or seen anything relating to it) until about five years ago, but anyways. They also have bunches of workbooks available, if for some reason your child feels like doing even more work... for fun. I'm not quite sure when the Kumon bug hit (or if it is this popular in other parts of the country), but around where I am from it is all the rage... and thus this is where I start to get confused. In general, as a concept, Kumon makes a lot of sense... and I am pretty sure it probably works too. Kids even get excited to learn, as they are rewarded for every aspect of their progress with stickers, trophies, and prizes. However, around here Kumon is not exactly used to help improve your child's skills, it is really used more as a tool to catapult you into the cool category. If your child is in Kumon you are somehow a parent God, belonging to some strange group of "cool" parents. Parents seem to be jumping on this bandwagon not because their child is having math or reading issues, but because they want their child to be better than their friend's and neighbor's children. Kumon is popular for all the WRONG reasons, and it is like a cult... I kid you not. It starts when you join, and you are immediately welcomed into the club with the above pictured Kumon box (designed to hold all of your daily Kumon work). This box will stay with you for the rest of your Kumon life... or until you reach the much coveted level G (the levels go through the alphabet starting with A, and if you get to G you are on your way to genius-hood) when you will be presented with a blue and silver box so that you can then brag to all your Kumon buddies. As a child in the program you will be forced to do daily pages of work so that you will get the basic ideas of math and reading drilled into your head. You will hate being forced to do extra work on top of your school homework, and in the end you will become resentful of your parents (while I can't prove this I am pretty sure it will happen). The thing is, you will then become so good at your math and reading that you will outsmart all the other non-Kumon kids in your class, and then what is your teacher to do when you are in the 5th grade, but you are on highschool level math. Seriously, our school systems can't be that bad that it would warrant such a big surge in Kumon goers simply because no one is learning how to read and do math. I get it, if you are struggling in these fields, which many are, then Kumon WOULD be a great way to help your child grasp these concepts. But what many need to realize is that by applying to the cultish version of Kumon you are creating a child SO good at their math and reading skills that the child then becomes oddly displaced. The child becomes too advanced to be helped by their teachers (and often times their parents as well) and is so far ahead that they probably aren't getting too much out of their schooling either. Sure, I bet it is pretty exciting to be able to say that you are 10 and doing algebraic expressions, but honestly how much of it are you actually grasping due to the fact that this skill relates to NOTHING in your daily life at home or at school. OK well now that I have gone off on this subject (and could for a lot longer it appears), I seem to have forgotten what my actual point was in blogging about Kumon, so I will simply leave you with an apology... for boring you to death with my ranting (thanks for reading though)! 

Things That Make Me Happy: Fireplace Edition

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What a great way to stay cozy and warm on a snowy, cold, grey, or dreary day. So sit back and snuggle in. While you're at it why not make s'mores, put on some good music, or watch a movie... just enjoy the peacefulness of it all, and relax.

I love fires in fireplaces.

Stories That Make Me Laugh: Hawaiian Santa Edition

Saturday, December 20, 2008

So there isn't exactly a story that goes with this post... it is really ALL about the picture, but here is a little background information to help set the stage. Three years ago I spent Christmas in Hawaii with the family I was nannying for at the time (the adorable five children I have mentioned in some of my previous posts). Christmas Eve we went to a really nice restaurant for a great dinner, and while we were there eating Santa Claus stopped by for a surprise visit. Morgan, who was about 3 at the time, was totally excited for Christmas. However, she was also very confused and worried as to how Santa would find her in Hawaii, since she wasn't at her real house. Well at dinner that night Morgan took one look at the Hawaiian Santa and FREAKED out. She proceeded to jump under the table and hide for her dear life, all while crying and screaming at the top of her lungs. Of course being the fabulous nanny that I am, I managed to capture this HYSTERICAL moment... so that I could torture her for years to come!

December 2005

Of course once Santa left the room Morgan pretended like the whole thing had never happened... and that her hiding was her being SO excited to see Santa!

Things That Make Me Happy: Schenectady Edition

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hmmm... OK, so you may not know it but Schenectady is pretty cool. Hehehehe! Yeah... maybe not so much, but one can dream. Anyways, I did spend four years of my life there, thus leaving me to have some sort of connection with the place. Typically my conversations of Schenectady go somewhat like this.

Person: "Oh, and where did (or do - depending on the time frame) you go to college Victoria?"
Me: "Um, Union College."
Person, with a look of utter confusion on their face: "Oh, where is that?"
Me: "Eeeee. Oooooh. Yeah. Schenectady, New York."
Person: "HUH? Where is that?"
Me: "Upstate New York, near Albany."
Person, pretending to have a clue (or at least feign interest): "Oh." But obviously this person is still confused, and really just focussing on the town's name "Ummm. How do you spell that? And oh wait... how do you say it again?"

It goes something like this S.C.H.E.N.E.C.T.A.D.Y! And it is pronounced like this sken-eck-ta-dee! Give it a try... it's kinda funny actually (but not so much when you must repeat it over and over again because that is where you live!). So anyways, due to the fact that this town has a CRAZY name, and I went to school there, I sort of get excited when I hear it mentioned in something dare I say... famous (well maybe not famous, but something mainstream). I actually sort of feel an odd sense of pride. Not because I love Schenectady, but more like because I lived there for four years... and lived to tell the tale (and yes... that I am proud of). In reading the list of the cool things "our" town (and by our I mean us amazingly awesome Union peeps) did I discovered that Schenectady has a weird tie to Christmas! Who knew? It turns out the GE plant's zip code is 12345... and I guess many a child (misguided I may add) send their Santa letters to this zip code. Let me tell you wonderful children of the world... Santa most definitely does NOT live in Schenectady New York!  


An example of "our" coolness!

Things That Make Me Annoyed: Word Game Edition

Monday, December 15, 2008

Being an only child I usually snatch up any chance I get to play a board game. It may sound weird, but the only reason I didn't like being an only child is that I never had someone (i.e. a sibling) to play board games with me 24/7, and they simply don't make a ton of single player board games. It's not that my parent's didn't play board games with me, because they did, but honestly no grownup wants to play Candy Land ten times in a row (trust me, I've done it... it's not pretty)... especially when they need to be making dinner. So like I said, I typically take up anyone on their offer to play a board game... EXCEPT that is if that game is a word game. I am AWFUL at word games. I much prefer puzzle or logic based games. I am a pretty smart individual (at least I think so), and I have a pretty good vocabulary (I mean it's certainly not in the genius range, but it does show that I had a very good education). The problem is, when I play word games (especially Scrabble... which I pretty much loathe) my brain seems to revert back to that of a first grader's. I suddenly forget what the simplest words mean and how to spell them, thus leaving me to look like a complete idiot. I refuse to play Scrabble with my parents, due to the fact that they always beat me by at least 75 points by making words like qat and zephyr, and managing to place these on triple word scores. I meanwhile am lucky if I make a word like pillow, or manage to place at least one of my letters on a double letter score. Thus as a requirement, I usually need at least one cocktail before I can be convinced to play Scrabble... at ALL... with ANYONE. 

Things That Make Me Happy: Christmas Book Edition

Sunday, December 14, 2008

In keeping with the Christmas theme, since it is that time of the year, I decided that I would share my favorite Christmas book. After much googling last night in an attempt to find a link or a summary or something about this book to share in this post, the only thing that I discovered, much to my sadness, is that this book seems to no longer be in print, and it is now sort of a "collectible". It's too bad they don't publish it anymore, as it's a really cute book. It's a very simple story about a lady named Maud, who lives on Beacon Hill in Boston, with her two dogs and her cat. Maud LOVES Christmas time because she gets to spend it cooking, decorating her tree, shopping at Filene's Basement, and attending fancy events at the Museum of Fine Arts. Maud also LOVES to make lists, and even though she saves everything until the last minute, she always has a great time whatever she is doing. The thing that I always loved about this book though is the illustrations. They alternate between black and white (with red accents) and bold and colorful pictures. The illustrations are a bit wonky, but in a cutesy "it's like a child drew them" sort of way. There are also tons of funny little details, and lots of characters to check out, and every time you read the book you are sure to notice something new. Every Christmas I still love to read this book, even though my copy is now old and worn... with a cover that has been lovingly taped back together (no doubt by my mother, who also kindly penned in my name on the front cover, for fear of it getting lost on the occasions that I brought it in for show and tell at school).  


A sampling of illustrations.

Things That Make Me Happy: Disney Christmas Special Edition, Part 2

Saturday, December 13, 2008

OK, so I just realized that the version of the Disney Christmas special that I found on YouTube (and that I posted for your viewing pleasure earlier) is missing a couple of very good scenes. I have these scenes on my old childhood version, and they are just too good to not share... so here they are.




And my personal favorite is the Donald Duck clip below!


Things That Make Me Happy: Disney Christmas Special Edition

I have been on a YouTube kick these past few days, and I just discovered one of my favorite Christmas videos on there. When I was little I used to have this Disney Christmas special on a VHS that my mom had recorded for me (back when this was some new and cool technology, and it was like a miracle to be able to tape your favorite things off of your TV). Every year I would watch this movie come the holidays. Over the years though the tape quality got worse and worse, and eventually it was packed up, and sent to be buried under piles of boxes in our attic. Since I haven't seen this movie in several years, I was just a little too excited to find it on YouTube. So once again I have modern technology to thank for allowing me to enjoy this classic Christmas special... and now you can enjoy it too!









Things That Make Me Happy: Old School TV Edition

Friday, December 12, 2008

So this morning I went to my favorite coffee place to grab an iced coffee, and well... all the employees were dressed up as fictional characters (yes weird, but they often randomly get dressed up in various assorted garb). Anyways... my favorite coffee server was dressed up as Brad from Hey Dude... which then led us to reminisce about all the great old school television shows that we used to watch growing up (Nickelodeon had some of the best, if I do say so myself).

  video

So of course Hey Dude led us to remember this other fine gem of a show.

video

Then, once I got home, all of the reminiscing made me think of some of my other old Nickelodeon favorites.
 






Thanks to Retro Junk... for indulging me in my little trip down memory lane!

Stories That Make Me Laugh: Frat-Feet Edition

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

So I had originally had another idea in mind for today's post, as the kiddies get out at 12:15 today and I had been planning on blogging about my annoyance at the school half day, and how it really interferes with one's schedule... BUT THEN... I got inspired by something else.

In blog commenting with Molly this morning we reminisced over one very specific aspect of our college experience... that of frat-feet. I'm not too sure that a "real" word exists for this condition, but I will be sure to explain in great detail what we mean by this phrase. So at our school the social scene was primarily attending a fraternity party. When attending said fraternity party it was important to choose your shoes wisely. 

High heels were never a good choice as you tended to look a bit silly and out of place, and everyone usually stared at you with the "Oh my God I can't believe she wore those... HERE" sort of look. 

Shoes of any real monetary value (or sentimental value for that matter) were also never a good choice, as they were sure to get tromped on and wind up caked in layers of mud and beer sludge. This would then leave them with a slightly dingy, sticky, and yet shiny glean. 

Sneakers were usually fine, unless a cup of beer got spilled on your foot, which was a strong possibility. If that was to happen then you were left with a slight smush in your step when you walked, and a sopping wet sock for the rest of the night... not to mention a shoe that then reeked of beer for the next few weeks. 

So the usual choice, and by far the BEST choice, was the flip flop. Flip flops were a great choice for a party because they are simple and go with everything, not too mention they are comfortable, so you can dance the whole night long. But the best thing about them is that you can very easily clean them (or replace them), and they look pretty close to new again, and this is something that you can't really do with any other type of shoe once a fraternity party has had its way with them. 

However, there was one BIG drawback to the flip flop... frat-feet. By the end of the night one's feet were always COMPLETELY DISGUSTING! So much so that when you took your flip flops off it basically looked as though you were still wearing them... just now in a nice flesh color. And the thing is you never really knew exactly what this mixture of "stuff" was on your feet, nor did you want to even attempt a guess. You knew your feet were filthy, and covered in beer sludge, and literally black, but you never truly wanted to know just how horrifically gross they really were, because if you actually thought about what might really be on them it would probably make you want to throw up. 

So every night you would simply walk back to your dorm... choosing to ignore your frat-feet and pretend they didn't exist, and crawl into your bed. Maybe you would wash your feet, usually not, although the thought would always cross your mind, but it would always seem like such a BIG effort. Sometimes on a rare occasion though you may actually decide to take the effort to wash off your horrible frat-feet. Problem is though that lots of times it wouldn't always go so well, because let's just say beer + small tiny sink (or shower, but that is way worse) + water + slippery soap = HUGE wet dirty MESS! So like I said lots of times you would just go to bed, placing your horrible frat-feet on your "clean" sheets. When waking up the next morning... in a slightly different state of mind... you would then think to yourself "AHHHHH GROSS. I can't believe I went to bed without washing my feet!" However, you would then go out that night and do it all over again. 

So with this pattern of yucky frat-feet, and crawling into bed with them unwashed, one might think it would make you want to wash your sheets more often. Because let's face it they are really not all that clean once you've put your frat-feet on them (because even though you don't want to imagine what is really on your feet, you do know that you have now just transfered some of that onto your bed... oh yuck!). But... we were college students, and let's face it laundry was a pretty low priority on the to do list. And when laundry was done quarters were precious, and clothes came first... especially the jeans and tank top you wanted to wear to said fraternity party... so obviously sheets came last... if at all. Once again... YUCK! But totally true... and we all did it too. 

So this got me to thinking, and now I am totally wanting to go scrounge the blogosphere to see if I can find any other people's ridiculous stories about frat-feet... because surely Molly and I couldn't have gone to the only school were frat-feet were an issue.

Things That Make Me Confused: Fat Joe Edition

Monday, December 8, 2008

Lately several of my local radio stations have decided to play this song on heavy rotation, thus leaving me slightly confused.

         

I don't really mind too much the fact that this song has suddenly reemerged on the radio because, although I am totally embarrassed to admit it, I actually enjoy this song (I am pretty sure I even have it on a mix CD somewhere). However, this song is just not popular anymore, in fact I think it is about 5 or 6 years old at this point. So I am just really confused why all of a sudden this one random song is being played ALL the time. Did I miss the memo that said this song is the new "it" song all over again. I mean I am sure there are some people out there who have never heard it before and when they do they think "oh this is a fun new song!", but for me I hear it and think this:

2000

Far too many lonnnnngg nights at Chi Psi... dancing... like an idiot (as pictured above!). And oddly many of these nights ending with me walking home in my wonderful friend's (and housemate at the time) shoes, because after all night dancing she just couldn't bear to walk back to our house in her high heels. Since I would usually wear sensible shoes like flip flops, it just somehow always seemed like a "great" idea to trade shoes with her in order to get us home. Let me also just mention the fact that her shoes were only about three sizes too small for me. Yet at the time it really did seem like the best thing to do. Yes... sometimes I am a genius! 

Things That Make Me Happy: Everclear Edition

Sunday, December 7, 2008

2000

As I mentioned before, my college freshman year roommate Lindsay and I had very dissimilar tastes... especially when it came to music. She preferred the alternative rock genre while I was drawn to basically anything that could be heard on Dawson's Creek. So needless to say this difference made for some very uncomfortable moments in our room when one of us insisted upon listening to their music without headphones. However, there was always one thing that could quickly remedy this problem. What was this thing you ask? Ahhh, it was none other then our, yes I repeat OUR, Everclear CD. This particular CD, So Much for the Afterglow, was the ONLY music that we both loved, and would agree upon happily listening to together... without headphones. The only argument that would then arise after our decision to play this CD was made, was whose copy we would use. So much of our freshman year was spent listening to this CD on repeat, because many times we just couldn't be bothered to attempt to do our homework, clean the room, and talk to each other all with a pair of headphones on. Our mutual love of this CD didn't end at freshman year though... instead it came around full circle, and capped off our senior year as well, in some bizarre twist of fate when Everclear actually came to play at our school's Springfest. While I'm pretty sure the rest of the campus was a little disappointed in the fact that this was who was headlining Springfest (as Everclear wasn't exactly popular anymore at this point), but... Lindsay and I basically felt like we had just died and gone to heaven. 

For your listening pleasure... a song off of that fabulous CD!

Things That Make Me Annoyed: Rolling Backpack Edition

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I like rolling suitcases, I also really like backpacks. However, all I have to say is that the person who decided to combine these two ideas has obviously never been around children, which is odd since the target audience of the rolling backpack is children. It seems like a sensible invention... until you add the child that is. For starters, I strongly believe that a backpack should not be three times the size of the child carrying it, and the rolling backpack (no matter who the manufacturer is) is always gigantic. Secondly, I also believe that at least until you get to highschool your backpack should never be so heavy that it requires wheels to transport it from point A to point B. Thirdly, since the majority of the children using these rolling backpacks are under the age of 12, the "drivers" of these bags are sure to be self absorbed and not at all aware of the general public, and the personal space that these individuals need. And lastly, I just don't understand why the inventor of the rolling backpack didn't realize that when the backpack was being rolled that the handle would obviously become a weapon of some sort, like a sword or a bat... thus allowing the child to cause even more chaos with the already annoying backpack. So with all of that said, I warn you to always watch out for the rolling backpack trailing behind a child, because you never know when you will get whacked with it... or get your toes run over. 

Things That Make Me Feel Old: Dentist Edition

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I don't consider myself to be old. However, there are sometimes moments in my life that happen when I am forced to reference something from my childhood, thus making it seem as though this was a lifetime ago. This morning was one of those times. 

I was taking the oldest of the three kids that I take care of to the dentist's office for an orthodontist appointment, and as we near the entrance she looks at me shocked and says: "Oh, you knew this is where it was."
Me, thinking that she was amazed by my skills in directions (which I actually completely lack) and impressed that I didn't need her to tell me where the dentist was, replied: "Yup... this is the same place where I used to come to get my teeth cleaned when I was a kid."
Amazed she looked at me and replied: "Oh... this place has been around THAT long!" And then she went into denial over the fact that this is how I knew the way to her dentist. 
I looked at her and said: "What do you mean this place has been around for THAT long? You make it seem like I am ANCIENT!" 

Her response... a devilish smirk and then laughter. Gee thanks... I am NOT that old!

Things That I Find Interesting: FOUND Edition

Monday, December 1, 2008

My mom recently introduced me to the FOUND magazine website, and now I am addicted. The website in and of itself is a very simple concept, it is simply a collection of stuff (usually drawings, photographs, and notes) found by people in random places. The content of the found stuff ranges from sweet and charming to humorous and ridiculous. What truly makes this website amazing though is all of the comments that people leave behind, it is almost as if the objects take on a whole new life than that originally intended by their creators. The above picture is my absolute favorite from the site. As a wannabe graphic designer I am amazed at the pure emotion portrayed in this very simple illustration. You may not view the picture the same way I do (as there are several different ways it could be interpreted), but the truly unique thing is that no matter how you view it, this is a picture that causes a reaction... and it gives you something that you can identify with.