Just in case you were wondering….

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I work tech support. This is what I do in my downtime between phone calls and emails from customers.

Halloween
2 spooky 4 me

As you can see, I’m putting my English degree to good use here.

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On Reading

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I was chatting with a friend on Facebook today about reading and somehow ended up on a tangent about how I feel about Kindles vs. Books. As an avid reader, this is a debate I’ve become all too familiar with over the years. In the interest of full discretion, I am a proud Kindle owner. I have owned three Kindles in the past 4 years (and, as with many of my physical books, I have passed on my old models to friends and family who don’t have Kindles–gotta spread the love!).

I’ve decided to repost that text here a) because I’m exhausted today and don’t feel like coming up with a completely different way of saying the exact same thing and b) it reads like one of my blog posts anyway:

I love real books, but nothing beats the portability/storage/book light aspects of my Paperwhite. I love that I can literally lug thousands of books around with me without worrying about the pages/covers getting ripped or bent. I love that I can read at night without bothering Anthony and running out of batteries for my booklight (since I never let my Kindle battery die). I love that I can switch between books at will or look up words I don’t know without having to bring an extra book and a dictionary with me. And I love the savings I’ve gotten by switching almost completely to Kindle.

Still, the Kindle doesn’t have the beautiful smell of leather and old pages (despite the beautiful burnt leather cover* I’ve put on it), it doesn’t have handwritten notes from years ago in the margins, it doesn’t have lovingly-dog-eared pages and a well-worn spine from countless hours of reading, and it doesn’t have the same sense of nostalgia that comes with a favorite book.

I don’t understand why there needs to be a never-ending debate about this subject. Both Kindles and books deliver a unique reading experience that has merit. I think books are the greatest inventions in human history (sorry Kindle, electricity kinda beats you into the second-place spot after books, followed by the wheel in 3rd…you’re in the top ten, okay?).

Books are amazing. Books are life. I love books. I’ve had literally thousands of them over the years. I love that I can pass on a book to a friend to breathe life into its existence again; much like people get excited about new books, I think books get excited about new people (note: it’s an abstract idea; I don’t actually believe books have a consciousness). That’s the amazing thing about books: they don’t just tell their story once and go off to die; they can tell their story over and over and over again, to multiple people who will each experience the book differently and, hopefully, talk about those experiences and invite others to join them.

That being said, in today’s tech-driven world, Kindles are a natural, necessary, and greatly appreciated progression from regular books. As much as it pains me to admit it, how many children do you know who would choose an iPhone over a book? Be honest. The fact that the Kindle can take something as amazing and beneficial as reading and turn it into something that appeals to today’s youth is invaluable. When Anthony first got an iPad, one of the things that appealed to me most was the idea of interactive “pop-up” books–instead of having the same old, three-dimensional, cardboard characters pop up out of the book, the iPad had virtual characters that could make noise, move across the page, dance, and more, just simply by touching them (shoutout to Loud Crow Interactive Inc and their PopOut! Squirrel Nutkin app). Can you imagine how blown your little four-year-old mind would be if you got to see that when you were a kid? It’s like Reading Rainbow a) on crack and b) without LeVar Burton (which would be a bad thing, because LB is an awesome guy).

When I was in kindergarten, I shocked the pants out of my teacher in my entrance interview by not only speaking in complete, cohesive sentences, but by telling them a story about how I got an apple down off the kitchen counter. The fact that most 4 years olds these days can’t do that breaks my heart. 

This is why I want to get my Masters in Library and Information Sciences. This is why I want to research the advent of digital media in our analog world and help make its influence even greater. This is why I want to get iPads, Kindles, and books into every classroom, every home, and every child’s hands. I want every parent to read to their kid. I want every kid to read to their parent.  I want reading to be considered an integral act of life, up there with breathing and eating. Instead of avid readers being considered dorky or nerdy, I want them to be like, “Yeah, I read, what can YOU do??

In conclusion: books are awesome. Kindles are awesome. We can all get along. Now go read a book (in whatever format you want).

*In case you were wondering, I got my awesome burnt leather Kindle cover from Oberon Design, who make many gorgeous things out of leather–check them out!

Gettin’ Healthy

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First of all, THANK YOU SO MUCH for those of you who liked my Facebook page!! If you haven’t done so already, here’s the link:

https://www.facebook.com/shortfatandsassy

Invite all your friends! The more the merrier (and I’m not just talking about the size of my ass)!!

I’ve also had my first International visitors! If you’re reading this, my readers who popped in from Ireland and Great Britain, hiiiiii! I love your countries and wish I lived there.

Alrighty, onto business!

Anthony has been on a health kick lately. He’s been more conscious of what he eats and is cutting a lot of sugar and excess crap out of his diet. He’s lost so much weight that his pants are too loose and his wedding ring was so big that it kept falling off his fingers. I’m really proud of him!!

That rat bastard.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and anything that makes him healthier is awesome, but because he’s being so good, now I’m falling into better eating habits too. Which means I can’t gorge myself on Chili’s chicken crispers and Little Caesar’s Hot’n’Ready pizza without feeling guilty.

I digress.

In the interest of being healthy, I walked to the Cosi around the corner from my work. I only have a 45 minute lunch, so I was walking at a bit of a brisk pace. I made it there and back in 30 minutes, but now my body is like:

WTF Cat

It feels good though. As much as I like eating crappy food and being lazy, I get an endorphin rush after exercising and my body overall feels better after eating a good, healthy meal.

I’m hoping that this will help us save money and help me slim down for Jacquie’s wedding next year–while I don’t necessarily have a problem with being overweight, it’s not necessarily how I want to be the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong–I’ll always be what society considers “fat,”  but if I can change my jean size from a 24 to a 16 (or even a 14 or 12), I’ll be a happy, happy camper!

Part 2 of my not-so-Great-Adventure

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When we last left our heroes, they were making their way out of Six Flags Great Adventure…let’s find out what they’re up to now…

So after riding our last rides for the day, Jacquie, Jason, Anthony, and I left the park. Great Adventure decided to bribe us all with candy, so we were each handed two mini bags of peanut butter M&M’s (this will be important later). We walked back to the car, got in, and prepared to go home. It was 5:33pm (I know this, it was burned in my mind). We drive to the end of the aisle of cars, got in line, and waited for the line to move. We waited. And waited. And waited.

After 15 minutes, we were getting antsy.

After 30 minutes, we were bickering.

After 45 minutes, we were pissed.

After an hour, we were on the warpath.

We literally sat in traffic, commiserating with other drivers around us. Someone told us that there was an accident near the entrance of the park that was preventing everyone from leaving. Some people heard a rumor of another exit, so they turned their cars around and started driving in the opposite direction (a misguided notion, since Six Flags refused to open a service exit for us). After an hour and a half, we had run out of M&Ms (we rationed one mini bag to stave off the “hanger”). At some point, people had gotten out of their cars and wandered around–some went to go find out the scoop from the people in the front of the line, some wandered off into the woods to pee, and someone else was awesome enough to blare the Cha-Cha Slide and Cupid Shuffle from their car stereo to entertain people.

The Ocean County Sheriff’s Department and Six Flags security drove by no less than 3 times during this whole ordeal (and we have no idea where they came from–probably the aforementioned service exit that we were denied access to), but they refused to stop and answer our questions as to why we were essentially being held hostage in the parking lot. Jacquie tried calling the Ocean County non-emergency line to find out of the rumors of a car accident on I-195 were truel, but was told that was a state road, so she’d need to contact the State Troopers. When she called them, their phone system promptly hung up on her.

There were no bathrooms, no food (a bad thing, since I hadn’t eaten since 8am because there wasn’t any food in the park either), and no communication. It was one of the worst experiences of my life.

Three hours and two line dances later, we were out of there.

Three days ago, I was asked to take a survey on my Six Flags experience. Let me assure you, my review was nothing less than scathing. The only positive thing I had to say was about Ashley O., the employee who entertained us for an hour on the safari ride.

What was our compensation for all this mess? An apology email and a coupon from the president of Six Flags good for free entry to Fright Fest for me and a friend on either October 3rd or October 10th. Awesome, right?

Yeah, no. I don’t do Fright Fest and even if I did, I’m not going to schlep all the way down to Jackson to use it on a Friday night after I’ve been at work all day–when I get home, all I want to do is cook dinner, veg on the couch, and then go to sleep. Not only that, but it’s tied to my season pass, so it’s non-transferable.

So yeah, I lost a whole day of my life and I got a coupon for free shit I can’t use!!

If I didn’t have a season pass, I wouldn’t be going back to Six Flags anytime soon. As it is, I may only visit one more time to get the “value” of my pass and then never go back. I can’t fit on my favorite ride, so there hardly seems to be any point. I told Jacquie that I’d work my ass off all winter (literally) so I can fit on Nitro, because it’s my favorite roller coaster in all of creation, but after I meet that goal, I don’t know that I’ll even want to go back.

Moral of the story: Six Flags Great Adventure, while in and of itself is a good park (and a good alternative to Disney for someone who lives so far away), suffers from shoddy management and a severe lack of communication or concern with and for its guests.

More Flags, More Fail; Six Flags!! Part One

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Yesterday was terrible. Well, no, I shouldn’t say that–the events of most of yesterday were terrible. The company was awesome, but the day itself kinda sucked.

Yesterday was supposed to be a joint birthday trip with my best friend from high school/”sister” Jacquie (whose birthday is actually today–Happy birthday!!!), her fiance Jason (my best guy friend from high school), and my husband (Anthony). Jacquie and I were adrenaline junkies in high school, so we spent a large portion of our time at Six Flags parks, our favorite of which is Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. The fact that we live so close to our favorite park is awesome–a trip to Jackson in high school required a lot of planning and a three and a half hour drive each way; now it’s only 45 minutes from each of us, so YAY, right?

Wrong…oh so very wrong.

We got to the park an hour after opening (because Jacquie is perpetually late; I love you hon, but it’s true and you know it), around 11:30. Anthony and I were activating our season passes (because it pays for itself in a day and comes with free parking, w00t!), so we had to wait in line for a good 20 minutes just to get into the park. This was the first of many clusterfucks we’d encounter throughout the day. Once we got into the park, we waited in line for guest accommodation passes because two people in our party have issues with physically standing in line. By the time we got those, it was 12:08pm (I know, I looked at the clock).  We hoofed it over to Kingda Ka and the new Safari Offroad Adventure to get our return times (they write down your return time on you pass; you wait the same amount of time as everyone else, but you don’t wait in the standby line). Those times were both 2 hours away, so we decided we were going to go wait in the standby line for El Toro, since it was relatively short.

After waiting for about 45 minutes in line for El Toro, we were about to be let up to the loading area when we hear an announcement:

“May I have your attention please. El Toro is experiencing some minor technical difficulties. We do not know when they are expected to be fixed, but you are welcome to wait in line or go enjoy one of our other attractions, such as Nitro or Kingda Ka. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Being the coaster fanatics that we are, we figured it’d be about 10-20 minutes until the ride if back up, so we thought, “Hey, no big, it’s 1:15pm, there’s no time to go wait in line for anything else before our Kingda Ka return time; we’ll just sit and wait.” Meanwhile, a whole bunch of other people are getting out of line and badgering the attendant as to when the issue is going to be fixed.

10 minutes go by, we hear another announcement:

“May I have your attention please. El Toro is experiencing some minor technical difficulties. We do not know when they are expected to be fixed, but you are welcome to wait in line or go enjoy one of our other attractions. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Okay, still the standard announcement, right? We slowly notice that none of the other rides in the area that we could see from the El Toro queue (Kingda Ka and Bizarro) were running. “That’s strange,” we think, “Looks like the power’s out.” We hear whispers of a car accident outside the park shutting down the power.

“May I have your attention please. Once again, El Toro is experiencing some minor technical difficulties. We do not know when they are expected to be fixed, but you are welcome to wait in line or go enjoy one of our other open attractions or food options. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

It’s 1:45 now. Jacquie gets on her phone and discovers that yes, there has been some kind of accident/power outage and the power company has not yet arrived on scene to fix the issue. They estimate the power will be up by 4pm.

“May I have your attention please. Once again, El Toro is experiencing some minor technical difficulties. We do not know when they are expected to be fixed, but you are welcome to wait in line or go enjoy one of our shows, such as the otter show or the dolphin show. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Oh boy, they don’t even know the names of their shows. We’re getting hungry, so we decide to jump ship and go get some lunch before Kindga Ka.

….yeah, there was no power throughout most of the park, so there was no food available in the area we were in. We aren’t sure if they couldn’t cook the food or if they couldn’t process credit cards or what, but the food stands were shutting down. At this point, it’s time for the safari, which is (as far as I know) the only ride that can run without power, since it’s not on a track; it’s an off-road adventure in gas-powered safari trucks (for my Disney people, it’s exactly like Kilimanjaro Safaris, except there’s no storyline). It was fun, it took up about an hour of our day, we all laughed a lot because our tour guide was great (shout out to Ashley O!)

We get off the safari and Anthony and I decide that we should go process our season passes since there’s nothing else to do (the process is that they scan your online voucher and give you a plastic card. It takes 45 seconds), so we schlep over to the other side of the park, passing through the Boardwalk themed section (which conveniently, houses all the midway games that cost extra  money and, also conveniently, had power). There were food stands here that were working, but at this point, we just wanted to get the passes processed and go home. Thank god we decided to get the season passes–the line for refunds was about 4 hours long and people didn’t actually get refunds, they just got a voucher for another day in the park.

So Anthony and I wait in line to get our passes processed (it took about an hour, which was irritating, but whatever) and Jacquie and Jason go off and get something to drink and a wait time for Nitro because things in the park are slowly coming back up. Once we’re done, we met up in a central location and waited for that wait time. I get us a wait time for The Dark Knight indoor coaster. We head over to Nitro for our ride time, find out that my thighs are too big to fit in the molded seat and have the safety bar close (which is motivation for me to lose weight because DAMN, I LOVE NITRO). Jacquie and Jason ride Nitro, Anthony and I go ride The Dark Knight, we meet up again, and we head out of the park to go home.

Altogether, the four of us got to ride two rides each. Yeah, you read that right: we were in the park for 6 hours and we got to ride TWO RIDES.

And the fun isn’t over yet!! Stay tuned for part two, where we enjoy the seventh circle of hell (aka the Six Flags parking lot).

Fall

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I love the in-between seasons. Fall is special to me–I like when the temperature hovers around 75, the breeze blows by, and the light hits the changing leaves juuust right. I see beauty in that change. My ideal fall activity includes wandering around a cemetery, making up stores in my head about the people who are lying still beneath my feet. Fall, to me, symbolizes change and death, whereas spring is about renewal and rebirth. Fall is a time for quiet reflection and introspection. It’s very poetic.

More importantly, fall is about pumpkin spice.

If you aren’t on the pumpkin spice bandwagon by now, then damn, you  must be living under a rock. Pumpkin spice is a godly concoction. I have no idea where it started, nor do I care. Call me basic, but I love me some pumpkin-y, clove-y, nutmeg-y goodness (hey I’m from CT, nutmeg is in my blood). There is nothing like a hot pumpkin spice latte to get your day started or as a pick-me-up in the afternoon.

That being said, the trend is getting a bit out of hand:

baked goods
EAT ALL THE BAKED GOODS

popcorn
Does anyone have any idea what popcorn has to be thankful for?

 It looks like pumpkin spice is trying to (unsuccessfully) hop on the hashtag trend–they forgot #blessed. At least they know who their audience is?

I’m gonna eat the shit out of that popcorn tonight. I’ll let you know how it is.

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I have so many good things to post, but I’m sick and going to bed now, so you’re just gonna have to wait until tomorrow. Don’t worry, you’ll get over it.