Dollar Daze – The Bomb Diggity!

29 Mar

dollar daze logo

I’ve been doing Dollar Daze for a couple years now. We’ve had some successes, we’ve had some total (like, complete and utter) failures, and we’ve had some meh items.

But today, my Zillas? Today I have found the product to end all products. The Dollar Tree item that is so far beyond worth it, you need to run- not walk -to your nearest store and snatch these up. For reals.

But first, a little perspective.

See this?

stylus cat toy

This is one of those laser pointer cat toy thingys. We like to use it to torture Hazel.
stylus laser2

We bought the laser toy in the pet section of the grocery store for $5.99. Which at the time, seemed like an awesome deal, because I still remember the days when a laser toy for your pet was about $20.

See this?
flashlight

This is a flashlight. Not anything fancy. Just a plain ol’ run of the mill flashlight that we keep around in case of power outages and use in the summer while we’re camping. I think this puppy was between $5-10.

Finally, check this out.
stylusThis is the stylus section in electronics at Target. If you have a smart phone or a tablet, you know how handy a stylus can be for saving your fingers and wrists from getting carpal tunnel. These aren’t super fancy styluses. Okay, maybe the zebra one’s a little prettier than the others, but their only purpose is to help you navigate your screens. No bells or whistles, just a foam tip at the end of a cylindrical case. Check out the prices on those puppies. And actually, those are cheaper than they used to be. When Andrea first got her iPad, we bought one for $25. So getting one for under $15 is a steal.

Well not now, my friends.

Meet the Holy Grail of Dollar Tree merchandise

stylus1

I wish I could insert sounds so you could hear the “Ahhhhhh” of angels singing as you gaze upon this magnificent device.

Did you read the description on the box? This lovely little object is a laser pointer, stylus, and flashlight ALL IN ONE! For a dollar. I’m sorry, what did you say Nagzilla? I couldn’t possibly have heard that right.

Oh yes, yes you did. This little all in one stylus was just $1. Seriously. I shit you not.

I’ll admit I had my doubts.I mean, how good could any part of this be if it’s only a dollar? But it’s AMAZEBALLS. The laser is just as adequate at taunting the cat as the high end mousey shaped laser.
stylus laser

The flashlight works just dandy, and in some ways is actually better than the big one because I can focus the light on the item I’m looking at. Not sure it would work for a night hike in the woods, but for reading in the dark or lighting up the lock I’m trying to enter it’s very functional.

And the stylus? Oh, the stylus. It’s awesome. The tip is super sensitive, so I can use it on my iPhone without worrying about hitting the wrong thing. Most days, it’s better than using my own hands because I can avoid Fat Finger Syndrome® which accounts for about a third of my incorrect answers on Trivia Crack. Or at least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

I worried that the tip would wear down and rip, which was a problem we had with some of the expensive styluses we used to get for Andrea, but I’ve been using this for two months now and have had no problems. It also doesn’t leave a mark or residue on my screen, like one of Andrea’s did. Using it was like having black soled sneakers on a gym floor. But not this lovely. It does its job without leaving skid marks. And it’s a little longer than some other styluses we’ve used, which I appreciate.

My only quibble (and really, this is so minor as to not be of any consequence) is that I don’t see any way to open it to replace the battery. I was a little concerned that it would go through the battery rather quickly, but like I said, I’ve already been using this for two months and haven’t had any issues with the power supply. And really, even if I could replace the battery, it’s probably cheaper to just buy a new stylus/laser pointer/flashlight because batteries tend to be pricey and this thing was only ONE DOLLAR! Hell, even if the battery only last two weeks, that’s still a good deal.

I honestly don’t know how Dollar Tree can possibly top the quality and usefulness of this device. I’m rather amazed that this thing can be purchased for less than $20, much less going for the bargain basement price of $1.

I just hope I don’t start a run on the 3-in-1 stylus, because I’d be really unhappy if I need one and y’all have bought them up because of my recommendation. You know what, never mind. Don’t listen to me. This thing sucks.

Big Theme Reveal Day!

23 Mar

Well, that crept up on us pretty quickly, didn’t it? In one lowly little week, it will be time for April A to Z, and I’m not quite as prepared as I had hoped. Shocker, amirite? But I do have a theme for this year!

When I first participated three years ago, I just went with whatever random crap popped into my head. The last time I joined the fun (two years ago), I played with a specific theme. My last series was “Nagzilla’s Favorite Things” and all my posts revolved around things I loved.
favorite things header
There are advantages and disadvantages to choosing a theme for the month. On the one hand, it’s hard enough to find Q, Z, and U items to write about as it is. You really want to narrow the field of topics by choosing a theme to have to stick to? On the other hand, a theme can help you focus your energies. For people like me, who get a little overwhelmed by having too many options, having a narrower focus can help make it easier to decide what to write about because you have to stay within the confines of your set theme. Having limits also makes you do more with less. When asked why he limited Twitter to 140 characters, creator Jack Dorsey replied that it forced people to be creative. In the tradition of creativity, I have once again decided to throw caution to the wind and write within a specialized theme.

I initially had some trouble deciding what to do. I even asked my Zillas on facebook for some input, but it was over the holidays (because what better time to plan out a series during the month of April than during Christmas?) so I initially didn’t get much of a response. I did have one of my Zillas suggest doing an all Dollar Daze A to Z, but I had already settled on a theme at that point, so I think we’ll work on that for 2016. And I thought Q and Z were hard now? Wait ‘til next year. In the end, it was my Awesome Assistant Andrea® who gave me my inspiration. I think I need to give that kid a raise.

So what is this year’s theme? Drumroll please…..

 

Nagzilla’s Nerdgasm.

Check out it- I'm even working on a little logo sometin' sometin'!

Check out it- I’m even working on a little logo sometin’ sometin’!

I often talk about how I’m a nerd/geek (and I do use those terms interchangeably, even though they are distinctly different), and I’m using this opportunity to highlight things that get me way (WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY) more excited than they should. And since I registered as an AC (Adult Content) blog for this year’s challenge, may as well make it worthwhile. If you followed me two years ago, there were some issues with some folks getting dinged for using PG-13 language without indicating that they were doing so. Since I do say fuck from time to time, I figured I’d better put the R warning out. So if I’m going blue anyway, may as well have fun with it.

Someone needs to buy me this sticker for my car.

 

Feel free to speculate on what I’ll be featuring during my A to Zs. You can comment here or go to my facebook page if you want to guess what I’ll be posting. Some of them will be obvious, some not so much. And believe it or not, I think I only have one potential repeat from a previous year. I promise I won’t just repost the old version. I’ll figure out cool new shit to say about it. But I’mma still make you try and guess what they are.

So sit tight, my Zillas. April 1st is just a little more than a week away. Then let the chaos begin! Mwah hahahaaaaaaaaaa!

Four Years Later- Yet Another Reflection on the Tohoku Earthquake

11 Mar

I know this is becoming an annual thing for me. If you’ve read this before, feel free to skip it. Not sure I’m actually bringing anything new to the table, but I don’t think I’ll ever let March 11th go by without remembering. Remembering where we were, remembering what is was like, and remembering all those who were lost in the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami.

 

Just two hours before our world was rocked, both figuratively and literally.

Just two hours before our world was rocked, both figuratively and literally.

We were so lucky. I can’t even begin to tell you how lucky we were. There were so many coincidences that conspired that day to put me and my family where we were when the earthquake hit. I’m not arrogant enough to think it was divine intervention, because if I think that way, then I have to consider that there were 19,000 others that did not have someone/something looking out for them, and I’m not okay with that. That’s the hazard of thinking you’re special or you’ve been saved by some divine force; it means that someone else was not. Luck, coincidence, right place/right time- I am much more comfortable giving credit to serendipity than to acknowledging that a god of some sort was willing to save me, but not others. It’s one of my never-ending spiritual struggles.

Hotel lobby full of people waiting for access to our rooms. It was eight hours between when the quake hit and when we were allowed to go up.

But there were a lot of should’ves that day. Jason should’ve been working and unable to go to the museum with us. We should’ve been in either Mitaka or Asakusa on that day and time. Both easily accessible by train, but when the subways went down, at least Asakusa would only have been a two hour walk back to the hotel, assuming I would have been able to navigate us back. Mitaka, sans train, would have been a four hour hike. Either way, we would have no way to contact Jason and let him know where we were or if we were okay, because phone lines were jammed and inaccessible for at least eight hours.

We were in the subway when the big one hit. It took the car half an hour to stop rocking before we could pull into the station. It was significantly more crowded the day of the earthquake. This empty car was a rather rare occurrence.

We were lucky we were in Tokyo, and not further north. We didn’t have to worry about the deadly tsunami that devastated the northern part of the country. We were far enough away from Fukushima that we didn’t need to worry about radiation, at least not right away. By the time we left, there were rumors that the embassy was starting to ask Americans to start taking iodine tablets, but we flew out before we had to take those kind of precautions.

Scene on the street immediately after the quake. Everyone had to walk because the trains were shut down until noon the next day.

In truth, for us there wasn’t much beyond some inconveniences that we had to deal with. Travel was restricted due to the cycling blackouts of the trains, some businesses and tourist attractions were closed because of damage, and toward the end getting food and water at the convenience stores was challenging because they were out of everything as people stockpiled, but overall we didn’t feel like we were in danger. The near constant aftershocks were a bit unnerving, to the point we actually had sea legs when we returned to solid ground. It took us three days after we returned home to stop feeling like we were moving. Truthfully, it wasn’t until we returned and saw videos of rocking buildings and subway cars that we realized that there was the potential for harm. At the time (and how I hate to admit this) we thought it was an adventure. Midwesterners getting to experience their first earthquake, and for your first one to be a 9.0 that shifts the earth’s axis?  How exciting! A story for the ages. Looking back now, I am sick to my stomach over how naïve we were, not realizing the damage that our exciting “adventure” wreaked on the people who lived there.

Waiting in the lobby- around 11:00 PM a tired and stressed out Andrea attempts to sleep on the floor.

I still feel guilty for some of the reactions we had to the tragedy around us. We were in such a little bubble, not realizing how bad it really was, occasionally breaking down because of the stress of the situation, when in all reality we were so, so lucky. I know I shouldn’t minimize our own feelings of loss and stress, but in the grand scheme, we were nowhere near as challenged or harmed as those who remained.

Subway tickets

People often ask me if I would ever think of going back. Every. Damn. Day. Despite everything that happened, the people, the country, the entire experience was amazing. I will never, ever forget the kindness of strangers, particularly immediately after the earthquake hit. The woman in the subway station who let us know what was going on and that the trains were down. The man on the street, who helped direct us back to the hotel. The hotel workers who gave us blankets and water as we waited for them to check the structure of the building before allowing us up to our rooms. And countless others who made us feel at home in a foreign land, despite the strenuous circumstances. It’s one thing to be hospitable when things are going well. To show that same hospitality when the world is literally shaken and falling down around you is commendable.

By Sunday, this was a common sight. Empty shelves where food and water should be.

Yes, despite everything, we would go back in a heartbeat. I feel like we somehow owe it to them to come back. For all they did for us, and for all they’ve been through. March 11 will forever be a reminder of the trip of a lifetime, and a reminder of how fragile life is and how everything can change in one moment. And a reminder to be grateful for everything.

 

Dollar Daze – Glitter Craft? This Can’t Possibly End Well

9 Feb

dollar daze logo

 

As a child of the 70s and 80s, I could not escape my childhood unscathed from the influence of Lisa Frank. Those bright colors, those cute kitties and unicorns, glittery rainbow everything…how could any preteen girl resist? So when I saw these at Dollar Tree, I knew I had to try them.

Cute puppies and kitties...

Cute puppies and kitties…

...adorable fairies? Sign. Me. Up.

…adorable fairies? Sign. Me. Up.

Of course, I had to enlist my Awesome Assistant Andrea® to help me out. Since there were two kits we each got one.

She looks thrilled to try this. Little did she know...

She looks thrilled to try this. Little did she know…

First we took everything out of the box so we could see what all was included. Lots of little packets of glitter, the artwork, a weird stick thingy, and a frame for your finished product.

image

The kits worked a lot like a color by numbers page. You peel off the numbered paper for the color you’re using to expose the sticky glue, shake on the glitter so it sticks to said glue, shake off the excess, then start again with the next color. Andrea has used a kit like this before, so we were familiar with how it worked. Even though we knew how to do it, we still read the directions. Good thing, too. Because even though I know that glitter is the herpes of craft supplies, I still didn’t think to put down something to catch the glitter. Not that it helped that much; we still had a crazy mess when we were done. I’d hate to think what it would have looked like if we hadn’t used the plates to catch the excess.

image

They make it sound so easy. Deceptively easy.

image

I can’t even begin to tell you how many things are wrong and misleading with this.

So we started crafting. First, let me point out that the helpful tool? Not helpful at all. It was really hard to pull the paper from the sticky parts, and when it did, it often took other sections along with it.

image

You can see how detailed and complicated the design is. Made it very hard to separate the numbered sections.

There were lots of teeny tiny details, and it was very hard to pull just those parts. And once the paper came up off the glued backing? There was NO putting it back on. So if you accidentally pulled off a star or heart or part of a butterfly wing? Too bad.

Andrea trying to use the tool to get up the paper. I found I was using mine primarily to hold down parts that shouldn't have been exposed yet.

Andrea trying to use the tool to get up the paper. I found I was using mine primarily to hold down parts that shouldn’t have been exposed yet.

Andrea was going rogue and not following the numbers, so I figured I’d try to do the picture as directed. That was a challenge, especially since I had a hard time getting up the pieces that were numbered one. It was so hard, I started with five, because that was most of the background and using my fingernails I could use the edge to get between the paper and the glue. I want to point out that five, being the background, had the largest area that needed to be covered. If we look back at the supplies picture, what do you notice about the blue glitter?

Huh. The one that covers the greatest area is the smallest tube. Awesome.

Huh. The one that covers the greatest area is the smallest tube. Awesome.

The more I tried to pull off the tiny bits, the more I realized that the perferations were not very well cut, making it impossible to keep the edges clean, if you even left edges at all. Some of the design elements were completely unrealistic.

image

Looking at the eyes, the only thing that went through my mind was, “Are you fucking kidding me?”

One of the other challenges was that the glue was sticky, but not sticky enough to hold the glitter, so as I was taking off the next section, glitter from the previous section was flaking into it, or coming off my hands as I was trying to pull apart the paper.

Putting on the pink. Even though the pink was one of the bigger glitter packets, it still wasn't enough to adequately cover its sections.

Putting on the pink. Even though the pink was one of the bigger glitter packets, it still wasn’t enough to adequately cover its sections.

Andrea appeared to be doing pretty well…

She was luckier pulling pieces off than I was.

She was luckier pulling pieces off than I was.

…but it wasn’t more than ten minutes later when she threw down her stick and said, “Nope.”

This is her "You've got to be kidding me" look.

This is her “You’ve got to be kidding me” look.

I couldn’t blame her. Between the weird inconsistency with the glue and the ability of the glitter to stick to it, to the nearly impossible to remove sections, I was ready to give up as well. But I continued, because I had to see what a hot mess this artwork would become by the time I was done.

image

Wow. Just, wow.

Notice that, unlike any of the examples on the front of the box or the directions, there are no black lines to help with picture definition. It’s not like with a coloring book, where you can tell what something is supposed to be. Ugh.

Let's compare their version to my finished product, shall we? Yup. Nailed it.

Let’s compare their version to my finished product, shall we? Yup. Nailed it.

And the mess. OMG, the mess.

Bits of shredded paper, glitter everywhere. This is a scout leader's dream project, amirite?

Bits of shredded paper, glitter everywhere. This is a scout leader’s dream project, amirite?

I like to think that Andrea and I are pretty crafty people. I mean, our watercolor projects were pretty successful. But this? Height of frustration. Based on our experience, I was curious to see what age group they recommended for this project.

The second time this evening I found myself asking, "Are you fucking kidding me?!?"

The second time this evening I found myself asking, “Are you fucking kidding me?!?”

Four plus? Four plus?!? Yeah, if you want endless temper tantrums. I can’t imagine any child under the age of twelve having the patience to do this. Hell, I didn’t have the patience for this! Andrea outright quit, and if I had been PMSing, I guarantee there would have been tears.

image

The frame makes it so much better. Just kidding. It still sucks.

So sadly, we have a fail of epic proportions. Seriously, I don’t know how this could have been any worse. I think the designs they chose were way too complicated for the media they chose, and (I can’t believe I’m actually saying this) they didn’t include enough glitter to adequately complete the project. There was not a single part of this that either of us found enjoyable. I think I would have had more fun if I’d just taken all of the paper off and randomly dumped glitter on the page. Sorry, Dollar Tree. This one gets an F. I never want to do this again.

The dead eyes on Andrea's animals represent the deadness in my soul after having to endure this.

The dead eyes on Andrea’s animals represent the deadness in my soul after having to endure this.

At least it was only a dollar. If I’d spent real money on this, I’da been pissed.

50 by 50 #4- Meet George Lucas

5 Feb

This one’s kind of a double edged sword, really. Because on the one hand, OMG I WOULD LOVE TO MEET GEORGE LUCAS! He’s my hero, and basically has been since I was seven. On the other hand, knowing that he’s been my hero for most of my life, I know how I’m going to react should I ever actually grace his presence.


Embarrassing for all parties involved, I’m sure. I’d like to think I would be calm, cool, and collected, but I know better. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I would not be able to contain the maelstrom of emotions. I’d try, but I have a feeling I’d be a miserable failure. Both Jason and Andrea would attest to that. They’ve both seen me meet celebs who are further down the Richter scale, and while I handled it okay, I definitely get a little overly excited. And those weren’t people who informed and shaped my existence. That would, I’m sure, result in fangirling that is off the charts.

I met a lookalike at a convention once. I was nervous to even go up and ask HIM for a picture, and he only looked like the guy.

The other reason I’m hesitant to actually try and meet him is because I’m so worried that he would be a dick. I really don’t think my worldview could handle it if he ended up being a complete asshole. I don’t think that he would, but there’s always the possibility. I’ve met folks before that I admired who were douchebags on not one but two occasions, so it’s a legit fear.

So why is this so important to me? I go back and forth on whether this is touching or weird, but I can honestly say that he was the most influential male in my life when I was growing up. I mean, I had Pa as a father figure, but he was pretty detached and didn’t talk much. He did teach me how to change a tire and change the oil in my car, but that was the extent of the knowledge I received from him. When I saw Star Wars in 1977, my whole worldview changed. Now mind you, I went to a lot (like A LOT, a lot) of movies when I was a kid, and not one had the same impact as Star Wars did. It was my everything. And it influenced so much of my life, both as a child and in my adult years. Because of Star Wars, I played French horn in band. Because of Star Wars, I developed a love for Joseph Campbell and that opened me to a whole world of mythologies and traditions. Star Wars music was incorporated into our wedding, and a belated honeymoon included going to a Star Wars convention in Los Angeles. Star Wars was my gateway drug into the world of nerdery, which I don’t think is a bad thing.

 

Me and Jason at the convention with Stormtrooper Elvis. Because that was a thing.

I would even say that Star Wars influenced a lot of my feminist leanings, which would probably surprise a lot of people. For the most part, people hammer Star Wars for being sexist because it only has one major female character. Fair enough, I’ll cede that point. But what a badass mofo female character she was! Princess Leia was fearless and stood her ground with some pretty intense situations. She was a leader of the rebel alliance. Although initially she had to be rescued from the cell block, who got them out of there by going through the garbage shoot? Damn straight. Some would even say, “But Luke still had to rescue her by blowing up the Death Star.” Yes, but think on this. She was the major leader of the alliance. Thinking logically, if you knew there was the potential for the place you’re using as your headquarters to be blown to bits, wouldn’t you be evacuating the key leaders to ensure that the rebellion would continue? Leia stayed in the control room, monitoring the progress throughout the entire Battle of Yavin. And those are just a few examples of how Leia was a badass.

The other part is that my childhood was not the greatest, and Star Wars was my refuge. To this day, if I’m having a bad day or struggling, I can escape into one of the films and be transported. There are so many ways that my basic existence was influenced by Mr. Lucas’ creativity, I really do want to personally thank him some day. I know it’s dumb, and there are millions like me who share the same feelings. I also really do sometimes look at the idea that a celebrity shaped my experience, or that a movie had that much influence on me, and I feel like I must be off my nut. But I can’t deny that it had a major impact, and if not for George Lucas, we wouldn’t have Star Wars. So whether it makes me a sad loser or just a grateful fan, I still wish I could just say thank you for all that he’s given me in the form of escape, entertainment, dreams, and life experiences. I say with all sincerity that I don’t think I’d be the person I am today without his influence.

I don’t know how realistic this goal is, but I had to put it on there.

The Day the Music Died

3 Feb

I grew up in a town that was famous for two things. The first was our annual Fourth of July celebration, although that fame was really limited to Iowa. Clear Lake’s other claim to fame is that it is the town where The Music Died. Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens performed their final concert at Clear Lake’s own Surf Ballroom. That pinnacle event happened 56 years ago today, on February 3, 1959.

I went to a lot of teen dances here during high school. (photo credit: Surf Ballroom)

It’s a classic tale of love and loss… okay, not really. For the uninitiated (or really, really young) the three artists in question performed at the Surf for the Winter Dance Party. They were supposed to ride the bus to their next gig, but because of the extreme cold, a heater on the bus not working correctly, and some sick (like literally sick, not “dude, that’s sick…”) performers, they decided to charter a plane. This would allow for quicker travel and healing time.

Well, that didn’t work like it should have.

The event was immortalized in Don McLean’s magnum opus “American Pie” and the rest, as they say, is history. For as long as I’ve been alive, we continue to capitalize on our infamy by recreating the Winter Dance Party every year. A number of years ago, they even put up a memorial in the field where the plane came down. And much like the Field of Dreams (also in Iowa), if you build it, people come. Serious numbers of people, holy cow! When I was a server at the local Perkins in high school, you wanted to work the weekend of the Winter Dance Party because, A) we were the only thing open after 10:00 at night (aside from the truck stop), B) those folks were excellent tippers, and C) you never knew from where in the world people would have made the pilgrimage to the Surf. Seriously, people from all over the world descend on the town for a cold ass weekend in February. I remember one year I waited on a couple from Australia, a family from London, and another couple from Germany. It was bizarre.

Aside from being steeped in the mythology of the event thanks to growing up in the town, my family actually had some personal connections to the Day the Music Died.

Even though she was only nine years old at the time, my mom did go to see the final concert. Typically the audience was 18+, but since my mom’s best friend’s dad was the manager at the time, he let mom and Shelly come to see the show. No backstage stories or pics or anything, but just the fact that my mom saw the show was pretty cool. It’s like my coworker who actually went to Woodstock. By osmosis, you get to touch a moment in history.

The second connection is that the field where the plane crashed is just a few miles from my childhood home. I originally thought it was only a mile from my house, but after looking at the map it’s more like five miles. Still within walking distance, but truthfully not as cool as I had originally thought. Even though there’s a legit memorial there now, it’s still tricky to find, as evidenced by this post directing people on how to get there.

Yeah, that's a bit of a hike...

Yeah, that’s a bit of a hike…

The third, and probably most (fascinating, gruesome, fill-in-the-blank-with-your-preferred-adjective) connection is that my grandfather was working for the local funeral home at the time. Guess what Pa had to do the next morning? Yup, Pa had to go help pick up the bodies. And there’s my claim to fame, y’all. I’ve tried to look at some of the old photos of the crash and see if I can identify him in any of the pics. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, because of all the coats and hats I can’t tell which one is him. And some of the pics are gruesome- today’s journalists do not have a lock on inappropriate dead body/wounded people pictures. They are simply carrying on a fine tradition.

The guy on the left with the jumpsuit kinda looks like him, but not enough I could say definitively.

As with most things, Pa never talked about it much. Truthfully, if Grandma hadn’t told me about it, I would never have known he was out there. I remember asking him about it once and the only thing he said was, “The Big Bopper was a heavy son of a bitch.”

You can see where I get my tact and class. Must be genetic.

The only other thing I was told, which after doing some digging on the interwebs makes me wonder if it’s even true, was that when they were picking up the site, Pa found Buddy Holly’s watch. He said he considered pocketing it, but decided better of it and gave it to be returned to Holly’s widow. I remember a couple years ago hearing that they had auctioned off the watch for around $60,000. According to Pa, he found it that day, but one of the stories that is told online is that it was found after the spring thaw and the sheriff personally presented it to Holly’s wife. So not sure if it was found the day of and they held onto it, or if Pa’s story is just part of our family legend and not entirely true. Guess we’ll never know.

 

I’m Not Abandoning You Again, I Swear!

26 Jan

A Dollar Daze will be coming either later today or tomorrow. I’ve been down and out the last week with a nasty stomach bug that made it impossible to do anything but eat soup and curl up in the fetal position and cry. I tried reading, but my mind couldn’t concentrate well enough to do that, much less write. I even had trouble watching Doctor Who. Doctor Who, y’all! You’d think I would take a week off at home as an opportunity to binge on that shit, but I could only get through a couple of episodes before my feeble brain wanted to go lay down again.

 

So bear with me. I’ve crossed the river into human land again, so more posts are coming very soon. Stay healthy and safe, especially you East Coasters who are about to get hammered. This Minnesotan sends best wishes to a speedy blizzard recovery.

50 by 50 #3- Get Under 200 Pounds

14 Jan

I was trying to decide how far to delve into this topic, because to be honest it’s pretty loaded. I have a pretty long history with weight issues, and I could write a book about my journey. In the interest of keeping this shorter, I’ll just focus on the specific topic at hand and not go into the gory details. It is definitely something I’ll explore more at another time.

001

When I was a child, I thought I was fat, but looking back at pictures now I so clearly was not. Athletic, yes. Healthy? Absolutely. Fat? Nope.

 

I feel like I’m caught in between two sides, which of course means that I piss off everyone. Much like my agnosticism has the ability to piss off both Christians and atheists, my position on my weight probably makes both sides unhappy. I follow a couple of bloggers and have friends who are very active in the Health At Every Size movement. And I think that’s great. I really do. You shouldn’t have to subscribe to cultural pressures to be thin or assume that hitting some magical number will all of a sudden change your life so everything’s butterflies and rainbows. I applaud them for loving themselves for the way they are, haters and popular culture be damned. I wish I had that level of fortitude and bravery.

002

Still not fat.

 

But I’ll be honest. I don’t.

004

Still not fat. Damn, look at those arms! My 45 year old self is jealous of those 13 year old arms.

 

It’s not that I hate myself for being fat. I think that’s completely the wrong approach, because when you get into the hate/fear category, it just perpetuates more hate and fear. I don’t agree with the concept that if you hate yourself enough, you’ll change. In the history of the world, I don’t think that has worked for anyone ever. Or at least not long-term. Maybe it can be a short-term solution, but it’s never going to make for lasting change.

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I wish I was as “fat” as I was in high school.

 

I don’t hate myself, but I do recognize that when I have been at a lower weight, or when I have been active (which always results in lower weight), I feel better. For whatever reason, I don’t feel as tired all the time, I don’t have physical pain as much, my depression gets under better control, and I find it’s easier to do the things I love, like dancing or hiking. Or, you know, ascending a flight of stairs without getting winded.

3 hiding baggy

Me now. I hide a lot under baggy clothes.

 

I also know that I use food as a crutch. I acknowledge it, and have no problem acknowledging it. I know HOW to lose weight. I just don’t. If I’m given the choice between a salad and chicken strips, dammit, I’m eating chicken strips. If I’ve had a bad day, I have no problem eating a pint of Chubby Hubby for dinner to soothe the raw edges. I may be pissed at myself once I see the bottom of the container, but in that moment of instant gratification, it’s all good.

3 baggy

And I may be the exception to the rule. I know there are people who have conditions that make it impossible to lose weight. Either they have thyroid issues, or PCOS, or one of many autoimmune disease that hinder their ability to successfully reach their goal. I am not one of those people. I just make poor choices. I know I do. If I ate less shit and moved a little more, I’d be lighter.

3 with cow

So I’m not begrudging anyone, but I know what is valid for me. And I’ll be honest, at the age of 45, even if I worked out for three hours a day and ate only kale I doubt I’d ever reach my “ideal weight”, whatever that is. At this stage of the game, I don’t want to be thin, although I remember a time when that was the dream. My goal by 50 is to get under 200 pounds. I’ll still be heavy, but I’ll be closer to wearing clothes I can buy outside of expensive specialty stores, and carrying around 30-40 (it was 30, but then holidays…) fewer pounds would make a big difference in my ability to do things, like dance. Or do the 5K, paddleboarding, and hiking long trails goals that are further down the list. Hell, losing some weight would probably even make #1 easier, if nothing else because I’d fit into a wetsuit. Ideally, I’d like to get to a size 12 or 10 so I can buy cute clothes anywhere, but I don’t know how realistic that is.

#3 me now

So hate me for being fat, or hate me for not accepting myself at this weight. Haters gonna hate, no matter what you do. Either way, I’ve got a goal and we’ll see where it leads. But it’s my decision, and that’s probably the only thing that really matters.

Dollar Daze – Watercoloring with Cousins

12 Jan

dollar daze logo

 

 

We had family time over the holidays, so I took that opportunity to enlist some additional help in trying out this week’s Dollar Daze entry. This week’s experiment takes me back to my own childhood with painting sheets that had the paint included.

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I remember liking these as a kid. They were like an all-inclusive resort, so I didn’t have to dig out the watercolors and the brushes and the paper. All in one, AND this one included a paintbrush. Whee! Now, who should I recruit to help me out? These children look like good candidates.

“Ugh! I’m a surly teenager and I hate hugs from my cousins!”

 

My nephew Kaden was more than willing to help me out.

Say "Hi!" Kaden!

Say “Hi!” Kaden!

There were several pages to choose from in this farm themed coloring pack,

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So many options. Sorry the lighting sucks. A professional photog, I am not.

so Kaden chose a barn…

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…while I picked a lovely beehive landscape.

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Just because I have help doesn’t mean I’m not going to have fun too.

Since the set only had one brush, we borrowed Andrea’s brushes. That turned out to be a smart plan, because it wasn’t long before Kaden had grown weary of the brush that was included. It didn’t spread well, and the bristles were sticking out a lot.

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So strike one for this activity. Additional brushes are required.

Eventually even Andrea joined in the fun. Because let’s be honest; if it involves art in any way, shape, or form, she’s going to participate.

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Kaden didn’t just color the sheet for me. He also provided some commentary about the quality of the product. He said it was fun, but there wasn’t enough paint (he ran out of blue and green) and the brush that was included was hard to work with.

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Kaden showing his finished artwork. It was a fun activity for a winter afternoon, since it was too cold to go outside.

We did take a quick break for some kitty snuggles.

Andrea and Kaden were both distracted by Callie.

Andrea and Kaden were both distracted by Callie.

Okay, Callie. You've had your moment. Now let Andrea get back to work!

Okay, Callie. You’ve had your moment. Now let Andrea get back to work!

Eventually all the artwork was finished.

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One thing I will say, just as with regular watercolors, if you have knowledge about technique you’ll get decent results. Andrea agreed with Kaden that considering most of the pictures had lots of sky and trees, the blue and green did run out pretty fast. I also noticed that the paper that the “paint tray” was on tended to start shredding when you were getting toward the end of a color, which gave your painting a more textured look. Not sure if that’s a benefit or a drawback.

And now, close-ups of the finished artwork.

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Kaden’s masterpiece. You can tell where he used the kit brush because of the lines.

 

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My ducks and bees. I tried to use some shading to give it a more realistic look. Didn’t turn out too bad.

 

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And Andrea’s offering. I really like her bunny and flowers.

I think this product deserves a good solid B. It was a great way to burn an hour or so, and it does allow for the artist to use their creativity to make the picture their own. But there were definitely some shortcomings, mainly the brush and the amount of watercolor paint that was actually available. Despite the challenges, we were still able to make some pretty pictures, and it wasn’t so frustrating that we wanted to give up. A fun time was had by all. And I even sent Kaden home with the remaining pages as a thanks for his help. Another Dollar Tree win in the books.

 

 

50 by 50 #2- Put Two More Stamps in my Passport

9 Jan

When I was originally making this list, I started thinking about all places I wanted to visit. As I was writing things down, however, I realized three things:

  • If I kept it up, 50×50 would consist of only my travel dreams,
  • The reality of going to that many places (unless I win the lottery) in five years is highly unlikely,
  • This is a five year plan, not an actual bucket list. Which, random side note, I need to come up with a real cool name for the concept. Because “five year plan”? Sounds mega lame ass.

I would love to be able to take a year and just see the world. Even if I don’t do that, just being able to see a variety of new countries and cultures would be awesome. I have a serious case of wanderlust, and always have. Realistically I could, within the next five years, go couple of new places. It could be knocking off two in one trip, like going on a cruise or exploring a couple of countries during a trip to Europe. Leaving it open to just a number doesn’t limit me to have to go to London if there’s a good deal on Jamaica. Or feeling let down because I didn’t make it to Paris this time around. If nothing else, by saying I’ll put two more stamps in the passport, if I’m getting really close to the end and haven’t accomplished anything, I can take a quick hop up to Canada and a jaunt down to Mexico and done. It doesn’t mean I’ve given up on my dream of going to Australia someday, or going back to Japan, or checking out any number of magical foreign destinations on my actual bucket list. It just means that I’m not confining myself to a limited travel box and/or unrealistic expectations. And I think that’s a pretty good plan.

So what are some places that I’d like to visit?

Australia- I’ve had a pretty much life-long obsession with Australia, and someday I WILL take my childhood fantasy dream trip, which consists of a week in Sydney, a week in the outback with a trip to Ayer’s Rock, snorkeling or scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, and then checking out either Tazmania or the western side of the country. Yeah, pretty much going to have to be a month long adventure, but if you’re going to go, make it worth it, amirite?

London/Britain- How can you not want to visit the birthplace of Doctor Who, Duran Duran, and the Beatles?

Ireland/Scotland- Either or both, because I have ancestry from there and would like to check it out. And, yes, I know they are two different countries/cultures. And yes, I know that they would probably be offended by being lumped together. But growing up I was told my heritage was Scotch/Irish, so there we go.

Germany- Another ancestry thing. Jason’s family name is actually the name of a town, so it’d be cool to check that out. And despite my current agnosticism, my lifelong education of Martin Luther compels me to explore some of that history.

Venice- Not sure why the canal thing fascinates me, but it does. I’d blame The Vampires of Venice, but I wanted to go before that, so…

South Korea- I’ll admit prior to 2011 I had zero interest in visiting Asian countries. But after visiting Japan (and subsequently learning more about South Korea), I definitely want to check it out.

Tunisia- Go ahead and laugh. Because I will freely admit that the sole reason I want to visit is to see the places they used to film Tatooine in Star Wars. Dude, you can actually spend the night at the Lars homestead!

China- Yeah, touristy Great Wall shit. But still.

Machu Picchu- I dig history, and this just fascinates me.

Japan- Yes, we were already there once. But it was amazing, life-changing, and I want to go back and see a bunch of the stuff we missed the first time around.

Galapagos Islands- I think it’d be really cool to check out all the different critters found there.

Something Caribbean- Seriously not picky about where, although probably not Haiti. This is one of those, “let’s knock off a whole bunch of these on a cruise” kind of thing. I’m just thinking warm sandy beaches and water sports and exotic locales. I’m not sure how much actual culture I’d get, because from what I understand the places cruises take you are really touristy and nothing like real local experiences. I suppose the same would be true for a majority of the places on my list, but from what I hear the Caribbean that resort/cruise tourists see is very different from legit island life.

Paris/France- I absolutely want to see Paris, but from what I understand the French countryside has a great deal to offer as well. I’d be open to both.

Iceland- I don’t know what the appeal is, but I hear that it’s a hidden gem. Besides, it’s cool to say Reykjavik.

Sealand- Because I can purchase a title of nobility or knighthood, I want to visit my principality.

Of course, since this is passport related, all of these are foreign locales. Good heavens, if I added all my domestic travel yearnings, we’d be here all day. And this is just the short list. I haven’t included anything in western Asia, Scandinavia, or South American destinations. Just put me on a plane somewhere and let me explore. It’ll be cool. Not sure I’d find my way back, but you’d send a search party for me, right?

 

What else should I add to my dream travel list? Where would you want to go?

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