Almost Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving!  Or happy typical Thursday to my non-U.S. folks!

Do you have any big plans for this annual turkey day? I’ll be eating ham.

See you Friday. uploads-20131121T1630Z_4945d71057ab93cf4b71c66147a68197-762e879ede18b26d73e61ea4bf318b19edit


Things You Should Know About Mount Rushmore

Sure, you should know this stuff. It might just help you win your local bar’s trivia night some time.

FYI: This information, unless otherwise specified, comes from the National Park Service’s Mount Rushmore National Memorial website, as I don’t know a thing about Mount Rushmore. See, we are all learning.

1. Mount Rushmore was created (carved? sculpted? dynamited?) over a period of fourteen years by approximately four hundred workers at a cost of $989,992.32. The original concept was even grander in scale, but funding issues kept it from being completed as planned. Actually, the whole process of creating the project, getting permission for the project, and finding funding for the project was quite complicated and overtly-political in nature. If you are interested in the details, visit the NPS site to learn more.

What do you think – do you like Rushmore better as it was envisioned or as it looks today?

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Courtesy of the National Park Service

Courtesy of the National Park Service

2. President Coolidge dedicated the memorial prior to beginning construction in August 1927 – “We have come here to dedicate a cornerstone that was laid by the hand of the Almighty. On this towering wall of Rushmore, in the heart of the Black Hills, is to be inscribed a memorial which will represent some of the outstanding features of four of our Presidents, laid on by the hand of a great artist in sculpture. This memorial will crown the height of land between the Rocky Mountains and the Atlantic seaboard, where coming generations may view it for all time. . . The union of these four Presidents carved on the face of the everlasting hills of South Dakota will constitute a distinctly national monument. It will be decidedly American in its conception, in its magnitude, in its meaning and altogether worthy of our Country. No one can look upon it understandingly without realizing that it is a picture of hope fulfilled.” You can read his full speech here.

Each president had an unveiling/dedication ceremony as the project progressed – Washington in 1930, Jefferson in 1936, Lincoln in 1937, and Roosevelt in 1939.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke when the Thomas Jefferson portion of the memorial was revealed in August 1936 – “On many occasions, when a new project is presented to you on paper and then, later on, you see the accomplishment, you are disappointed: but it is just the opposite of that in what we are looking at now. I had seen the photographs: I had seen the drawings and I had talked with those who are responsible for this great work, and yet I had had no conception until about ten minutes ago not only of its magnitude but of its permanent beauty and of its permanent importance. . . . What we have done so far exemplifies what I have been talking about in the last few days – cooperation with nature and not fighting with nature.” You can read the rest of that here.

3. Mount Rushmore was named after Charles E. Rushmore, an attorney from New York City who was originally in the Black Hills area around 1885 working with property titles and returned often to hunt. As the story goes, the mountain didn’t have an official name when Rushmore first visited the Black Hills and a local joked they would call it Mount Rushmore. Later, after learning the mountain was commonly called Slaughterhouse Rock (seriously, why?), Rushmore joked that he was there often enough to name it after him and some locals laughingly complied. This fun story could be more myth than truth, but – whatever the story – Mount Rushmore was recognized as the official name in 1930. According to Wikipedia and several other random citations online, Rushmore donated $5,000 to the memorial’s construction.

4. I’m going to pull this fact straight from the NPS website, as it it too fun not to share: “Mountain Goats are not native to the Black Hills. The population can be traced back to six goats, a gift to Custer State Park by Canada in 1924, that escaped from their pens and found their home among the granite peaks of the Black Hills. There are now approximately 200 mountain goats in the area.”

Runaway goats!

5. Gutzon Borglum, Mount Rushmore’s sculptor, began work on a large Hall of Records in the valley behind the presidential heads in 1938. He envisioned this as a museum-like place that would tell the story of the memorial (much like the current visitor’s center does) and some history of the United States. Upset by this refocus of work while the main sculpture remained unfinished, Congress threatened to cut off funding and Borglum stopped work on the Hall in 1939. It was never finished and is currently inaccessible to visitors. The photograph shows the entrance to the Hall of Records.

Courtesy of the National Park Service

Courtesy of the National Park Service

Special Saturday Tacky Husband Review: Sara Lee Pound Cake Slices

My wife brought home a box of Sara Lee Pound Cake Slices. I’ve never met a Sara Lee pound cake that I didn’t like. It’s a good blank canvas for frozen fruit, whipped cream, chocolate, ice cream, etc. I’ve been eating Sara Lee pound cake for as long as I can remember. My parents always had it around the house along with frozen strawberries and Cool-Whip (I would appreciate this more as an adult than I did as a 10 year-old). This is the first time I’ve had it pre-sliced however. There was no noticeable difference in flavor from the typical loaf, though eating it with Cool-Whip and Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, it’s difficult to tell one way or another.

Pre-sliced cake seems like an unnecessary product. I get the point that the slices of cake are measured by weight and constitute a single serving. This is great if you are in the mood for a small slice of cake. I am not, however, the type of person to eat a small slice of cake. Don’t judge; It’s just how I am. So unwrapping two slices, I was made aware of the amount of cake I was about to consume. More so than if I had just lopped off a hunk from the usual loaf.
Lastly, each piece is individually wrapped. Each small piece in its own clear plastic pouch. While plastic can be recycled, it seems like this would generate more unnecessary waste that would, in most cases, end up in a landfill.

I would eat this again, but I’d probably just buy a normal loaf and do the slicing myself. I like to pretend I’m not that lazy…

Disclaimer: I received this product free through BzzAgent for review purposes. Opinions are my own. . . or my husband’s own.]

Let’s Talk About Names

Anyone else think it is interesting to learn why someone picked a certain name? No? Well, you probably won’t enjoy this post then. I have contributed to the naming of two children, several pets, and numerous online profiles and personalities. Here is the break down.

My daughter – [Anonymous].
Is it annoying to be talking about a name I won’t tell you? Her first name was actually a compromise. I wanted to name my child after a fruit, but was overridden from many different directions. My husband and I decided we would name her [anonymous] and the fruit would be the nickname. Unfortunately, she just never was that fruit and my dream died. I didn’t know anyone else with her name when we named her and apparently everyone else thought the same thing; her name is one of the most popular for her birth year.

We had trouble deciding on a middle name and had sort-of a running list going. Sadly, my paternal grandmother died several months before she was born. It became pretty clear then that my daughter’s middle name should be the first name of the great-grandmother she would never meet. My grandmother didn’t go by her first name – she used a nickname – but it still means a lot for that connection to be made.

My son – the little man.
Seriously, the birth certificate just says “the little man.” Don’t believe me?

Okay, truth: Long before my husband and I decided to adopt, we had a name in mind for a little boy and we stuck with that when the little man joined the family. His name is [husband’s stepfather’s last name] [my maiden name] [last name]. His first name is a typical first name, but is spelled differently. Yes, he is going to have to spell his name to people for the rest of his life. Sorry, little man!

Current dog #1 – Leela.
Obviously, dog #1 is named after Leela from Futurama. She came from the shelter named either Cinderella or Princess (there was some confusion. . . I think two different shifts named her different things) and didn’t really seem to know either name. I don’t remember for sure, but I probably suggested several names that were systematically struck-down. It seems likely. My husband decided on the switch to Leela – a name that satisfied both a seven-year-old girl and her parents.

Current dog #2 – Marvin.
Dog #2 came from the same shelter, but only had one name, Marvin. The husband loved it and managed to convince me and our daughter to stick with me. We usually call him Marv unless he is in trouble then, just like a child, he gets the full name treatment. Sometimes I call him Marvington or Marvicle.

Childhood dog – Tasha.
I had an Alaskan malamute growing up that I just loved. When we first got her, I decided to name her Tasha after a girl in school I wanted to be like. She had olive skin – which I found much more appealing than my freckles – and extremely straight dark hair. I don’t know if she would have found it a compliment to know I named my dog after her; that really seems like a weird thing to do. It was a good name though. One that satisfied all ages, much like Leela and Marv.

First AOL – Cybele09.
Ah, the mid-90s when you agonized over crafting the perfect username. I may have had a username before this one, but this is the first I crafted on my own without parental input. I actually chose Cybele09 after the Phrygian goddess (because I was a kid and this is the kind of weird kid-stuff you do). Unfortunately, people in all those popular chat rooms thought my username was inviting them to join me for some cybersex. I got a lot of unwanted attention (unwanted even for a developing teenager).
I ended up using this name well into the 2000s for site-specific usernames – especially since the cybersex confusion wasn’t really a problem by then. A little googling still finds some of my stuff out there, but most of the hits aren’t me.

Later go-to – Lovelyclio.
This was the last non-real name username I used. I used it for my first gmail address too and still pull it out occasionally when signing up for random things online. I chose this name after Clio, the muse of history because I’m fancy like that. I googled this one and didn’t really find a lot out there that was actually me. Apparently, Lovelyclio is a pretty popular name. I’ll take credit for that. I also used Lovelyclio as the username for my Livejournal. Oh yeah, of course I had a Livejournal. I was blogging before it was a thing. **Hipster alert**

Five Things That Make Me Smile

Today I want to share a few of the things that always make me happy. Now, I’m not talking about family, friends . . . any of that sentimental stuff. I mean the kind of things I can see or do that will make me laugh every single time. Make me goofy laugh whenever I need it. Make me feel at ease with the absurdity of life. . . or some other descriptor that isn’t as pretentious.

1. Lois’s appearance on County Law
County Law is a home-grown Cops. It isn’t grown from my home, but I saw this clip with Lois on a world’s blankest blank kind of show and instantly loved her. I know people make fun of her, but she just makes my day. If you watch entire clip instead of the edited version typically shown on television, she comes across much less crazy. We all need some of Lois’s infectious excitement in the face of adversity (in this case, her sister being arrested).

2. Bitches want some pancakes
This one comes from yet another world’s blankest blank kind of show (World’s Dumbest Smartest Inventions, to be specific). Michael Loftus makes the “Bitches want some pancakes? Bitches get some pancakes.” comment in response to the Batter Blaster product. If I’m watching that episode of the show, I start to smile as soon as I see Batter Blaster come on.

3. Hot air balloons
I don’t know why, but I can’t help but feel happy when there is a hot air balloon around. I’ve never actually been in one (honestly, they kind of scare me), so it isn’t thinking about the ride itself. I just love some hot air balloons. I have memories of watching some air-up as a kid and I had a favorite blanket growing up that always reminded me of the balloon patterns. I’ve long contemplated a hot air balloon tattoo.

4. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
I don’t watch it very often, so it’s awesomeness never decreases for me. I think I’m actually going to watch it in bed after writing this (the husband is playing a new video game and the kids are in bed).

5. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life Sing-Along – Monty Python
Confession: I’m not a huge fan of Monty Python. This sing-along is simply amazing though. I like to listen to it if I’m having a rough day (and maybe sing if it won’t be too embarrassing).

If life seems jolly rotten
There’s something you’ve forgotten
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing
When you’re feeling in the dumps
Don’t be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle
– that’s the thing.

On My Television

MV5BMjE4NjU2MzkyNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzUzMjA4MTE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Bound by Flesh (2012)
From IMDB: This remarkable documentary tells the amazing story of Daisy and Violet Hilton, conjoined twins who rose to superstardom at the beginning of the 20th century as sideshow attractions, performing alongside the likes of Bob Hope and Charlie Chaplin. Ruthlessly exploited by their managers, the sisters ultimately sued for their freedom-which they won at a terrible cost. Bound By Flesh puts a touchingly human face on two outsiders who went from the lowest rungs of society to the big time and back again.

My thoughts: This was good, although the subject matter was fairly sad. There seemed to be a lack of footage, so the astute viewer will notice the same sources again and again. It didn’t hurt the film though. The modern interviews – historians, industry professionals, and some acquaintances – are both entertaining and informative.

MV5BMjI2NzQ0MTI1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzMyMDE2MDE@._V1_SX214_AL_Video Games: The Movie (2014)
From IMDB:
Video Games: The Movie, a feature length documentary, aims to educate & entertain audiences about how video games are made, marketed, and consumed by looking back at gaming history and culture through the eyes of game developers, publishers, and consumers. The film is not just another film about the games industry, but attempts something much more ambitious; the question of what it means to be a ‘gamer’, a game maker, and where games are headed. Storytelling and the art of the video game medium are also explored in this first of it’s kind film about the video game industry & the global culture it has created.

My thoughts: This was fun, although very repetitive and superficial. The online reviews are pretty horrendous, but I think it was enjoyable for a lazy evening.

JacketThe Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden (2013)
From IMDB: Darwin meets Hitchcock in this feature-length documentary.
The Galapagos Affair is a gripping tale of idealistic dreams gone awry, set in the brutal yet alluring landscape of the Galapagos Islands. Featuring voice-over performances by Cate Blanchett, Diane Kruger, Connie Nielsen, Sebastian Koch, Thomas Kretschmann, Gustaf Skarsgard and Josh Radnor, this film skillfully interweaves an unsolved 1930s murder mystery with stories of present day Galapagos pioneers (a handful of Europeans, Americans and Ecuadoreans who settled idiosyncratically on the Islands between the 1930s and 1960s). As such, it is a parable about the search for paradise — about what happens when a handful of individualists settle on the same small island seeking their own distinct and sometimes clashing notions of Eden.

My thoughts: Loved it! The story was interesting and overall, the documentary was very effective. Highly recommended if you are interested in these kinds of stories.

Saturday Review: Birchbox Edition

This month I pre-selected the Buzzfeed Holiday Hacks box. The surprise is one of my favorite parts of Birchbox, but sometimes beauty product strategy is more important. I decided to pick this box for three main reasons: 1) I can never have enough sheet masks in my stash. Seriously one of my favorite products. 2) I just opened the last mascara in my possession. I’m always happy to use a sample to delay a full-size purchase. 3) I have – maybe – one day left in my dry shampoo. I only use it once a week or so and really hate buying a big bottle. Sample sizes are great.

So, lets see what I got.
Green Leaf Votive Candle in Silver Spruce ($2)
This smells wonderful. I kind of expected it to be in the glass jar (not sure why though), so I was slightly disappointed to see one single votive.
Mirenesse iCurl Secret Weapon 24Hr Mascara ($14.40)
I haven’t opened this yet, so I can’t comment on its quality or staying power. This was one of the reasons I picked the box though. It is already safety stashed away until I need it.
Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo ($6.75)
This smells good and seems to work well. I’m not a dry shampoo expert – it never seems to work quite as well for me as other people – so take my opinion for what it is worth.
Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips ($2.90)
This one I’m passing on to the daughter who constantly battles chapped lips in the winter. I’ll report back if it sucks.
Dr. Jart Pore Minimalist Mask ($7.50)
Love sheet masks. Love, love, love them. This one smells nice and sticks to your face well (we don’t want one that slides off and becomes awkward!). It left my skin feeling refreshed and moisturized. Small pores? Who knows.

Total cost: $10
Total worth: $33.55

I was too lazy to calculate my own values this time and instead used the numbers from MySubscriptionAddiction.

Overall, I really happy with the box. Best curated box yet.

If you want to sign up for your own Birchbox please be a dear and use my referral link.

FALL Challenge Update #3

New progress:
13) Wear an adorable knitted hat DONE
This was an easy one. I love hats, although I don’t wear them as much as I did before cutting all of my hair off. Last weekend, I had to run an errand after not washing my hair for four days (and by not washing, I mean no dry shampoo or anything. . . I just got new color) and was looking pretty rough so I hid my hair in a fuzzy white hat. Technically, that was my first adorable knitted hat wearing of the year. This past week the temperatures dropped down into the 20s at night, so there were many opportunities to rock a hat. Excellent.

17) Watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! FAIL
I don’t this think fail is really my fault. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! wasn’t available for free streaming on Netflix or Amazon Prime. It wasn’t even available to rent on Prime, you had to actually buy the thing. I did watch Hellraiser I, II, II, and IV though. Does that count? The plots seem pretty similar.
To do:
5) Create a centerpiece with gourds [Coming soon – I’m saving this for Thanksgiving week.]
10) Smores! [Yum. Not skipping this one.]
11) Drink cider [Does hard cider count? I’d probably get around to that faster.]
12) Poke cloves into oranges for another centerpiece [This will come after the gourds.]
16) Make a turkey out of a handprint [Coming soon – I’m saving this one for Thanksgiving week.]
19) Go apple picking [Okay, it seems unlikely this one will happen.]
20) Make an apple pie [Why did I put this on the list? I don’t like to cook.]

Done, failed, or abandoned:
1) Take a drive to look at the changing leaves DONE
2) Drink a pumpkin latte DONE
3) Eat something that really shouldn’t be pumpkin flavored DONE
4) Carve a pumpkin FAIL
6) Visit a pumpkin patch FAIL
7) Go trick-or-treating DONE
8) Buy candy corn, but probably don’t eat it DONE
9) Tell a ghost story DONE
14) Roast pumpkin seeds FAIL
15) Create a fall-themed wreath DONE
18) Make food that tastes delicious, but looks like something scary or disgusting DONE

The Wednesday of my Discontent

So, I wrote this for Wednesday. Then decided I wasn’t going to post it. Then changed my mind when a coworker said something that sounded like it came right out of this.

On Monday I was content. This is rare enough in my life that I feel the need to point it out. Now, not being content is my own fault. I am a chronic over-achiever with a mean perfectionist streak cursed by a bit of an inferiority complex. “Must be better” could be my middle name. Before you get on your high horse and criticize me for this (because we all know that is what people like to do best on the internet), think about the fact that I am aware of this flaw [if you want to call it that – I would argue against it, as these personality traits mean I can get some shit done]. I can usually tell when I am being silly and don’t take it out on my family and friends. Many a conversation with my husband has started with “Okay, I know this is ridiculous. . . “

What made my day pretty damn good? Nothing special really. I woke up on time, but didn’t sleep very well so my husband took both kids to school (we usually each take one) giving me a little bit longer to get ready. I nonchalantly did my makeup and visited Starbucks. After working for a couple of hours, I had a lunchtime board meeting with our local arts center. I always enjoy these meetings and it doesn’t hurt that the food is delicious. I made a good contact and talked about the spark of a possible future project. The weather was beautiful, but – more importantly – the cold front was getting ready to move in. I love this time of year! Back at work, everything went well. There was no extra stress, no redoing other’s incorrect work (a recurring theme lately), no silly drama. Just a normal work day. To top everything off, we had our monthly Junior League meeting. By the time I made it home, I crashed on the couch with a few minutes to spend with my kids before their bedtimes.

See . . . nothing special. In reality it was the 8am-8pm kind of day that could really tire a person out. I felt at my best though and my anxiety was in check. I wish I could bottle that up and keep it in my purse.[ Actually, I would replicate it and sell it at a high price. ::evil laugh::]

I think it all comes down to nonsense. I have a very low tolerance for nonsense (along with irrationality and deceitfulness, but those don’t come into play here). Hooey, mumbo jumbo, baloney, claptrap, poppycock*, hogwash. Call it what you want; I can’t tolerate any of it. Ain’t nobody got time for that was my favorite meme of 2012.

I like to get in, get my stuff done, and get on with my life. I don’t like to clean up your mess. I don’t like to pick up the slack (but I will . . . see that perfectionist thing). I don’t like to listen to people talk in circles. I don’t like to deal with people who just do the bare minimum. Of course, I’m pretty sure if you asked most people would agree they don’t like these things either. No one is going to admit they don’t follow through and get their stuff done, but they sure as hell do. Or don’t. I lost track of my sentence. [blame the glass of wine] Does this qualify as a rant? I think it is getting pretty ranty, so I’ll stop. Be aware of the nonsense, people!

*Does anyone say poppycock anymore? We should bring it back. Try to work it into conversation once this week. Bonus points if you yell it with your finger up in the air.

On My Bookshelf

51usx+Atl+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Boys of ’67: Charlie Company’s War in Vietnam by Andrew Wiest (2014)
From When the 160 men of Charlie Company (4th Battalion/47th Infantry/9th ID) were drafted by the US Army in May 1966, they were part of the wave of conscription that would swell the American military to 80,000 combat troops in theater by the height of the war in 1968. In the spring of 1966, the war was still popular and the draftees of Charlie Company saw their service as a rite of passage. But by December 1967, when the company rotated home, only 30 men were not casualties—and they were among the first vets of the war to be spit on and harassed by war protestors as they arrived back the U.S.

I’ve been reading a lot of Vietnam-related books lately because of a work project. I picked this one from the massive list of titles available because Amazon selected it as one of their favorites from 2014. It was very real and heartbreaking.

Wiest really did his research for this book, including interviews with veterans and their family members. It followed the men from receiving their draft notices to coming home and getting on with their lives in sometimes-excruciating detail. I’ve always had an interest in military history, so I’ve read many a battle narrative. I have never read anything as immersive as this however. It took me over a month to read simply because I could not emotionally handle more than a little at a time.

Highly recommended. Highly, highly recommended.

PFMcoverPacking for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach (2010)
From Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a spacewalk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout from space? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the Space Shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.

This book came out in 2010, but is somehow also one of Amazon’s favorite books of 2014. That doesn’t matter to me though; you know my love of Mary Roach is deep and unconditional. That being said, this book wasn’t on my to-read list sooner as I’m not a huge fan of space. My mistake though. This book was very interesting. It focused on the ins-and-outs of the human side of space travel. Do you know the complex history of pooping in space? I do, now.

If you enjoy space travel, you will probably enjoy this book. If you like Mary Roach’s work – regardless of your feelings about space travel – you will probably also like this book. Recommended!


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