Thursday, November 28, 2013

Top things I’m thankful for in 2013

1.     The money I save on haircuts
2.     Not running into creepy lurkers at decaying buildings
3.     The ending to the TV show Chuck
4.     Little golf pencils
5.     It not being a Presidential Election year
6.     The fact that fantasy football is like stock trading
7.     Savory scones
8.     Friendly dogs
9.     The unintentional comedy of people who think too highly of themselves
10. Candied walnuts on salads
11. Odd pronunciations of common words
12. Free food
13. Willpower when around free food
14. Temperature changes, plus or minus
15. Ninjas vs. Samurais
16. Passive aggressive blog posts
17. Lists

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Adventures in Corporate Morality

There are currently two cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Affordable Care Act, its coverage of birth control and the rights of corporations to exercise their religious beliefs. You read that correctly: the right of a for-profit corporation to exercise ITS religious beliefs. Not a non- or not-for-profit entity. What a country! One of these corporations is Hobby Lobby, which is openly Christian and goes so far as to close on Sundays.

This Thursday is the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s a holiday that celebrates the coming together of people of different backgrounds and faiths at a communal table. For as long as I can remember, Black Friday was the big shopping day of the year, with all sorts of “door busters”. Then, over the past few years, more and more corporations started opening earlier and earlier until the sacred midnight hour was recently breached. Now, a significant number of retailers will be open Thanksgiving night and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were open the entire day next year. For the record and from what I can tell, Hobby Lobby will be closed on Thanksgiving and will open at its normal time on Black Friday.

So I wonder: which is worse? Is it worse to work for a corporation that imposes its religious views on its workers, but observes holidays as they were intended? Or is it worse to work for a corporation that may not impose any religious views, but fails to observe national and state holidays?

The answer is that our government should stop dicking workers around and start protecting them. Duh.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My 2-day Juice Fast (Or how I learned to love to urinate. A lot.)

When I feel myself getting into a rut, I like to mix it up. If I have too much coffee, I switch to tea. If I watch too much TV, I get outside. If I’m outside too much, well, then life is pretty good … or I’m lost in the woods and someone needs to send out a search party.

For the past two weeks, I’ve had a nasty cough. Just disgusting. Green phlegm. The works. And the result was that I was limited in my workouts and activity level. So instead of jumping right into exercise, I thought I’d lose a few pounds first. One way would be to slowly increase my activity level over time. That’s not the way I went.

I went the “investing in sub-prime mortgages sounds like a great idea” route. I decided to do a two-day juice (and tea) fast. This is what transpired.

Sunday (Day Zero)
To get ready for my juice fast, I needed juice-friendly fruits and vegetables. Luckily, I have a juicer from when I was more ambitious about making prison cider in my basement. And I found an article on a rudimentary juice fast with a recipe I could follow, more or less. So it was off to the grocery store to purchase organic versions of the following:

1 part Kale
2 parts Apples
4 parts Celery
1 nubbin Ginger Root
1 liberal splash Lemon Juice

Immediately, I learned two things: Organic Kale is way overpriced and you really don’t get a lot of blood from a turnip. But I juiced and juiced and set myself up nicely for both breakfast and lunch the following day. Then I ate half a pizza.

Monday (Day One)

7ish AM
I awoke feeling a bit nervous—would I have enough energy to last the day? Would I be okay without a cup of coffee? Was the Hunger Games based on a true-life juice fast?

Putting my fears aside, I realized I didn’t actually feel all that hungry. So I guzzled down my liquid breakfast, grabbed my moss-green liquid lunch and headed to work.

9:30 AM
To combat the coffee routine, I switched it up and drank caffeine-free tea—which I realize sounds insane. But you’ve read this far. Who’s the insane one, really?

11 AM
This was when I first felt doubt about the whole experiment. I still wasn’t ravenously hungry, but I wasn’t sure my lunch would do the trick. I eyed the snack bars in my desk drawer …

What was I so worried about? That lunch was delicious and I still didn’t feel too hungry. I thought, “I’ll go for a walk”.

1 PM
Hello, sugar crash. I’m not sure if it was the quick bit of exercise or the massive influx of sugar, but I was dragging in my post-lunch meeting for what felt like 10 minutes or so. Made it through—I’m a pro—yet it was still a surprise.

4 PM
Would someone stop beating on my head, please? My head was pounding and my eyes were sensitive to light. If this was a small taste of withdrawal, my sympathies go out to all the heroin addicts out there. No thanks.

6 PM
My headache subsides a bit when I have a few sips of my dinner. I juice up my remaining stores for the next day and even add a banana, which smoothes out the lemons’ bite.

8 PM
Had some chamomile tea to warm up. Felt surprisingly not hungry.

10 PM
Headache passed and I didn’t feel particularly hungry. Day one went better than expected. Also, I can see F-O-R-E-V-E-R ...

Tuesday (Day Two)

7 AM
Woke up feeling great. Seriously. Felt a bit hungry, yet full of energy. Downed my breakfast and noted that the banana was a great addition. Me is genius.

9:30 AM
Tea time was just as effective as the day before. I get it now, Britain.

Decided to follow the routine from the previous day: Lunch and a walk.

1 PM
Felt sluggish, but not nearly as much as the previous day. Progress!

4 PM
Didn’t have a headache this time. Did have some cravings for food and noticed food on banner ads on websites more often. No I did not lick my computer screen just now!

6 PM
Bought some pre-juiced organic orange and carrot juice at the store. Juicing is best left to the professionals and I fear my skin will soon be tanning salon orange.

8 PM
Why are there so many food plotlines on TV??? And the commercials??? Actually, I felt pretty good and didn’t really feel all that hungry or tempted. However, I noticed that if I was craving something, it was more out of habit than hunger.

11 PM
Day two was even more of a success. Dare I do a day three? No, no I don’t. I want solid food again. I go to bed dreaming of cupcakes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

An abandoned Aviation school in East St. Louis.

When it comes to red flags, this one is up there with overnight haunted penitentiary tours. But a group of seven brave and intrepid urban explorers were up to the task. Our rewards were many, however, my favorites were the works of rudimentary art on the dormitory walls. Enjoy them from the safety of your distant screen within your comfortable walls.
Shows promise

Much like the Mark IV, but 89 times better

Uh ...

Somewhere on someone this exists as a tattoo

Tower, we have liftoff

I like what you've done here

From the dream journal

Friday, November 1, 2013

One corporation's guide to being passive aggressive

Henry Ford has been famously quoted as saying about his new Model-T car, "You can have any color, as long as it's black".

Apparently, someone at Yahoo! was listening*. Their corporate policy, in regards to their free Fantasy Football app, is, "You can make any choice, as long as it's the one we want." I say this because I get two prompts whenever I open the app.

The first prompt invites me to take a survey. I mean, REALLY invites me; you can practically hear the cheerleader's voice in your head. And, as should surprise no one, I have a firm policy of never clicking on any button, link or email involving an exclamation point! Free! Boobies! Millions! No.

Guess which choice they'd like you to make.

Also--another policy**--I don't like to take surveys. Would you like to waste your time for no benefit to yourself but to help us make more money? No.

This one intrusion would be all well and good if the prompts stopped there. If, in my naivety, a corporation would actually respect its customers***. 

But like a kid eating greedy handfuls of Halloween candy, Yahoo! doesn't know when to quit. Not only do I get another prompt, cheerleader voice and all, it doesn't even matter.

No ladies. Only tigers.
Would I mind? Yes. Does clicking. "No, Thanks" work? No, because this whole mess starts up all over again, seemingly at random.

I get the irony here. It has taken me longer to write this post than it would take to fill out the survey. And by posting this I am inadvertently providing them with feedback, albeit on their survey prompts. But the difference is I chose**** to write this in my own way and on my own terms. And I got to work in the term "boobies", which wouldn't have been an option on a formal survey. Ya got that, ya marketing boobies?

*Via timemachine, duh. 
**What am I, an insurance agency???
***Corporation, from the Latin, meaning Screwus Youus.
****Psychologist could argue Yahoo! manipulated me with their incessant prompts and my choice to respond in one form or another was inevitable and therefore no choice at all