So This Happened

I’ve been expecting the renewal stickers for the plates on my car. So, after getting home from work and picking up my daughter, I checked the mail even though I had to dash right back out again.

I found no stickers. Instead I found this:

AARP1b

That’s right. It’s my first AARP Membership letter. Just in time to be almost a week early for my birthday.

I am not effing old enough for AARP thankyouverymuch. Do not rush me.

As I gaze at the stark black & white of the envelope, I’m struck by the bold arrows along with “From” and “To” on the outer envelope. Apparently in case I am already senile and easily confused they are going to help me understand that, yes, this is special just for me. Golly, thank you AARP. You even spelled my name wrong.

Inside, I found a form with faux computer pin-feed holes. Because I guess my generation should be able to relate to pin-fed paper. And our eyesight is going, so we shouldn’t notice that those are not actual pin holes, but instead are little gray circles.

Also, included was a bright red sample card and a reminder that I haven’t yet registered for the valuable benefits of being old. I mean, the valuable benefits of AARP Membership even though I am quote “fully eligible” for said benefits.

They lie. I will not be fully eligible until next week. So there.

As if that wasn’t blow enough, I dashed out to our last night of pinball league at a place called Red Zone Grill.

I’m pretty bummed that this location will be closing. While the food was meh. And the floors pretty icky, the people were great, it had pinball, and it was only about 6 miles away from home which meant I could get there in time for league.

There will be a new location, but it’s about 5 miles farther which means I may or may not get there on time. It may require additional juggling. (Which I am getting pretty good at, but I still drop too many balls.) I already found it tricky to get to the old location on time. Traffic may well be the deciding factor.

The good news is that the new location sounds nicer, with better food, and cleaner floors all of which are big pluses in my book.

As the saying goes you’re only as old as you feel. Some days I feel it. Some days I don’t. I just want to have fun! But my schedule is bonafide crazy right now. I’m not sure how January 2018 came and went so quickly. Combined with other changes it is all giving me an unsettled feeling like I just clumsily dropped a glass, and I’ll need to catch it or it will shatter. I have caught them before. I can do it. But will I?

Until it hits the ground, I plan on having fun practicing the juggle that is life until I either get it right or die trying. Wish me luck.

Happy groundhogs day!

 

AARP2b

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General-Leia Updates and Other Teas-es

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the passing of Carrie Fisher. She can be seen in her last big roll as General Leia Organa in the new Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. Jedi has been pulling in big bucks at the box office but has a hugely mixed reaction from Star Wars fans.  One thing is fore sure, it’s great to see Carrie Fisher in her roll of Princess Leia, now as General Leia Organa. I would have loved to know what she thought of this as her final roll.

The movie itself seems to spark love or hate reactions, and I’m feeling a little of both. Overall I really liked it and thought it was a fun movie. Lots of entertainment value there! Adam Driver goes shirtless and other stuff. There are really only a few scenes and plot twists that I have problems with. I can deal. (But I would fix those if I could.) Overall, I think it depends a little on which of the previous Star Wars movies are your favorite.  Folks who love Return of the Jedi probably really like The Last Jedi. Folks who love original Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back or even The Force Awakens may have a few problems with it. But it’s going to vary based on personal tastes and expectations, so just go see it for yourself.

I saw it on opening day, December 14, at an AMC Theater where we paid extra for the Fan Event. “Fan Event” really just translated to get-to-see-the-movie-one-hour-earlier-than-other-people, get a small popcorn, and a pack of three “collectible cards.”  Plus there was a few minutes of film on the music of John Williams in Star Wars. We didn’t know exactly what to expect. The description was pretty vague.

When we purchased these “special” tickets I really pictured this as being more of a fan event. Like perhaps they would have something special going on. And at the time of purchase we knew we’d get a “concession stand offer,” but didn’t know what it would be. Previous fan events have had large popcorns and drinks included. The John Williams film was advertised as “special content.” Plus I pictured something more substantial for the collectible cards. We’re used to Magic The Gathering card packs where you might get 15 cards in a pack plus a foil, etc. So overall, this Fan Event seemed more expensive than others we’ve read about and with fewer goodies. It felt like AMC was trying to take advantage of big Star Wars fans. I’ll think twice about doing another Fan Event with AMC and will explore other theaters in general for that matter. AMC grabbed enough of our movie money for a while thankyouverymuch.

That said we enjoyed the actual theater where the fan event was held. It was a Dolby Cinema theater with laser projectors, great sound, and comfy reclining seats. I would see a movie in a Dolby Cinema showing again. That part was nice and worth a few extra bucks. The only down side of the Dolby Cinema was that we had middle-of-the-row seats, so when everybody else was reclined with their feet up, it was nearly impossible to squeeze down the row to our seats. I let the family sit while I went back out to get our popcorn. There was a break in the rows right behind us, so I just climbed over the backs of the seats. It was faster and inconvenienced fewer people.

Fast forward a bit and Christmas 2017 has come and gone. I don’t know how it manages to come and go faster each year, but it does. We had a nice Christmas split between home and visiting my mom.

I got to see Santa very briefly as he exited an elevator I was entering. He’s our favorite mall Santa and was returning from his dinner break. A few minutes later I saw that he was saying “hello” to the kids standing in line. I waved and told him how many years of photos we have of him. He was kind enough to pose for a selfie with me, but my phone died before I could take the picture. Ugh.

I searched high and low for an Etch-A-Sketch for my daughter for Christmas. Ya know, red plastic rectangle and turn the white dials to draw a picture? One dial for vertical, one for horizontal. We had these as a kid. They could be fun and frustrating. It was super easy to draw a staircase! Not so easy to draw a circle. Modern kids can see Etch-A-Sketch featured in the Will Farrell movie, Elf. My daughter is one of them. So she wanted one for Christmas. I think everybody else must have felt this way too because I could not find one anywhere. I visited no fewer than six Targets! Walmart! Craft stores! And two regular toy stores and asked many questions of employees along the way.

But it was like gremlins visited each store right before I arrived. I searched online websites to see who might have them in stock before I visited each store, yet they disappeared by the time I got there. Amazon had them for a while, but reviews were mixed, so we worried about quality and cheap knock-offs. Yet I would have purchased from Amazon if I knew it would be so hard to find them in an actual store. In the end, I was only lucky enough to find two mini-Etch-A-Sketches that we’d have by Christmas. These will have to do. One is the “World’s Smallest” and one is a little larger with a clip that allows it to be attached to backpacks, etc. My daughter liked both and appreciated  tales of the Etch-A-quest. I braved traffic, quicksand, and the darkest asphalt jungles!

Along with a lot of other holiday shopping I visited a Teavana tea store a couple of times. If you like Teavana, then know that some stores will close by December 31, so they are having clearance sales. Those stores now have EVERYTHING in the store 75% OFF!  Tea and tea ware is selling very quickly at these prices! I got a great price on some really good Oolong a few other things.

Some Teavana locations will remain open into February and possibly March. Those locations may have some sale prices, but not everything 75% off. Those locations will, however, have a much larger selection of tea and tea ware for now. So if there’s a favorite that you really want then visit a location that is scheduled to remain open longer. You should be able to call stores to find this out. If nothing else, visit the closest Teavana and ask them questions. There are some great deals in tea! But I’m still a little sad to see Teavana leaving.

That’s it for now.

May The Force Be With You … Always! And Happy Holidays!

 

 

Good Bye Teavana

Like the death of an old but dear friend that I kept meaning to get in touch with … and then boom they’re gone. That’s kind of what I feel like. (Only a lot less personal.)

Starbucks purchased the Teavana tea chain a few years ago. A lot of Teavana fans wondered then if that was the beginning of the end. Starbucks: Teavana killer.

This past July Starbucks announced they would close all 379 retail locations of Teavana — news that flew under my radar (probably because I’d stocked up on Teavana at their last seasonal sale and didn’t need to buy more).

Two days ago I received the normal sale email from Teavana only instead of “normal” it was a EVERYTHING is 50% off because WE’RE CLOSING TEAVANA.com SALE which shocked me. But I still didn’t buy anything right then. I wasn’t sure what I needed and it was busy week. Plus the Teavana.com website was never the best — especially for sale tea because they had a pretty bad inventory system. Teas you thought were available to purchase would change to out-of-stock after you placed your order, so that you then had to hope for a timely refund.

The email claimed that Teavana.com would stay open until December 15, so I figured I had time. Then boom, yesterday, December 1st, I received another email from Teavana saying, “oh sorry, our bad, we’re closed now.”

Done. Finito.

All (or nearly all inventory) sold out in only two days! But the email suggested I visit their retail stores which were still open.

So yesterday night I visited the nearest Teavana store while my daughter was in her Friday-night dance class. Thankfully, the mall was fairly empty by that time even though it’s the holiday shopping time of year. Crowded shopping malls are so not my favorite. But there were a couple of Teavana favorites I wanted to check for, and I generally wanted to see what they had in stock on sale. Yay, sale tea! Their normal prices were always on the high side. It’s the time of year I drink a lot of tea. I’ve been filling my Teavana tea tumbler with tea every morning.

Well I visited Teavana so late in the day, that they were already out of all the brewed sample tea they usually have, so bummer. But I was happy to find our Teavana store are still open, and learned two things.

1.) Not everything is on sale at the stores. (At least not yet.)

2.) They are already sold out of some items.

I grabbed a few favorites like Jasmine Dragon Pearls and Darjeeling de Triomphe, a new Oolong, a bit of on-sale, new-to-me fruit teas that smelled excellent like Strawberry Daiquiri and Mandarin Mimosa, and an extra Teavana Perfect Tea maker along with two of the measuring spoons emblazoned with “Teavana.” I misplaced my old measuring spoon, and it makes a nice Teavana remembrance. I love my Teavana Perfect Teamaker, and now I have an extra (and prettier) one for if mine ever breaks.

Most of the teas are currently 50% off in stores except the seasonal teas like White Chocolate Peppermint which are still full price. That may change, but they usually sell quickly. A few clearance teas are 75% off. The Perfect Tea Maker was only 30% off, but that’s still pretty good.

There are many excellent places to purchase tea both in person and online. But Teavana was convenient for me, the staff was always friendly and fairly knowledgeable, and I liked that I could smell and often taste the tea in person. I’ll visit again before it’s completely gone, but I’ll miss that little tea oasis at the mall called Teavana.

Vote

Just a quick reminder — if there are elections where you live then vote! 

People fought wars, got arrested, went through many hardships to gain the right to vote. Don’t take it for granted! 

Voting tells our government and politicians that we care and we’re paying attention. It’s not a big presidential election year, so lines shouldn’t be huge in most places. 

Just do it!

On This Day

In seventh grade I moved from a suburb of Chicago, Illinois to what I thought would be a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee. A lot of things weren’t quite what I expected.

First, the area we moved too — an outer section of Mount Juliet — was not exactly suburbs. It would be better called a rural area with some subdivisions.

We had to drive about 25 minutes to get to the nearest grocery store. No traffic, just winding roads and hills. We had a few convenience marts / bait shops closer than the grocery stores. So you could grab soda pop or toilet paper if needed. But any real shopping would have to wait.

From our new home’s balcony we could see Old Hickory Lake in the distance and lots of land and trees and a few sections with houses. The view was spectacular! There are a lot more houses and subdivisions now.

Our yard was large, dotted with trees, and edged in wild-growth blackberries and weeds. And snakes. We had snakes.

The bus and new school scared me. The sound of my alarm in the morning seemed cruel and unusual.

There was culture shock and more culture shock. I got called a Yankee more than once. I mean, really, how many years ago was the Civil War?

But eventually the shock wore off.

I found friends and food  I liked. Dear friends and yummy food that I still love to this day.

Me Too, Brave

If you spend any time on social media you’ve most certainly heard of Harvey Weinstein, sexual harassment, and the hashtag #metoo. Some of you may feel like you’ve heard enough. Many of us have HAD ENOUGH.

My own #metoo.

I’ve experienced multiple instances. I think most women have to varying degrees. Some we may forget. Some we don’t. I have a pretty good memory. So here’s the first instance that I can clearly remember.

I was about six years old. A strange man tried to get me in his car. As I’m pretty sure he wasn’t enticing me to a game of hopscotch, I’ll venture to guess what might have happened if I actually got in the car.

Teachers and parents warned us kids many times — don’t take candy from strangers and don’t take rides from strangers. We’d seen filmstrips even! This man did not offer me any candy. I was confused. If there was no candy did that mean he was okay? He didn’t fit the mold of child abductor or even seem strange, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to do … except to not get in the car.

Thinking back, what he said to me was clear manipulation. And harassers manipulate. He told me that he knew my dad and that my dad had asked him to give me a ride home that day. (I think he even knew his name.) He told me that my dad would be mad if I didn’t get in the car. Fucker.

I stood staring at the man. I didn’t want to make my dad mad at me. This man looked like any upstanding man or dad in our neighborhood. He was dressed in a suit and drove a nice, four-door sedan.

I didn’t always walk home alone, but I’d stayed at school a little later that day. Having a ride home would be nice. Did my dad know that I was walking alone and send a ride for me?

I froze — neither getting in the car nor running. That small bit of doubt in my head was holding me in place. If the man was telling the truth, then my dad would be mad if I didn’t get in the car. I was always told to tell the truth. I assumed most people told the truth. But I was also faced with all those warnings, “Don’t take a ride from a stranger.” I didn’t know this man.

I stood on the sidewalk several feet away from the car. The man had the passenger-side door open, and he sat in the driver seat. To get me in the car he would have had to have gotten out and grabbed me.

He finally gave up and left saying, “your parents told you not to take rides from strangers, didn’t they?” And I nodded. He told me I was a good girl for listening. (Did that make me bad if I had gotten in the car?)

I walked home as quickly as possible. It stuck with me that being alone made me an easy target.

I wasn’t sure if I should bring it up with my parents. But I actually doubted myself for not getting in the car. Would my dad be mad? I quietly, nonchalantly asked my mom if Dad had sent somebody to give me a ride. She said, “no.”

Afterward, I kept trying to forget. I mean, really, actively trying to get it out of my head because while nothing bad actually happened, the event made me feel creepy and bad. So I’d forget for a while. And then I’d remember again. And sometimes, I was mad at myself for not running away — right away.

And no, that wouldn’t be the last time some man made me feel like that — made me feel bad — not because of something I did but because of something bad they did or tried to do.

Ronan Farrow broke the story about Harvey Weinstein in an article in The New Yorker. Brave job, Ronan Farrow!

When all those women that Harvey Weinstein harassed or raped had a hard time coming forward. I could relate. At six years old, I promise I was not wearing sexy or provocative clothes. So when women are asked what they did to provoke an attack, I have no reason to believe that the women did anything other than be female. Yet when so many of them doubted themselves … wondered if they had done anything wrong to bring it on themselves … I can relate. Those women are brave!

How is it that society has allowed these actions to continue?  How can the Harvey Weinsteins of the world not realize that what they are doing, what they have done, is so wrong? Just because a man is sexually attracted to a women, does not mean that she wants to attract him or have anything sexual to do with him. And manipulating women into those actions through candy, power, or threats is wrong.

Woody Allen called the situation “sad.” He spoke even more words to say, “You also don’t want it to lead to a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.”

How can the Woody Allens of the world worry about a “witch hunt” over the physical safety of women and children?

Witch hunt. Let those words sink in. Instead of saying, “Mr. Weinstein did bad things.” And that maybe people shouldn’t do bad things. Allen brings up images of … of … witches. When many people think of witches, they think of women who practice evil. Nice to know what’s on your mind, Mr. Allen.

The Salem Witch Trials — where women were falsely accused of evil that resulted in trials that lead to the deaths of innocent women, men, and children … and Woody Allen worries that winking might get men into trouble because of the Harvey Weinstein situation —  Harvey Weinstein, a man who is not innocent, has admitted guilt, and is guilty of some pretty nasty things. Maybe Mr. Allen should blame Harvey Weinstein for any negative fallout from Harvey Weinstein’s actions. Instead Mr. Allen seems mad about the publicity and article.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t nice, good men out there. Thank god! There are nice men! Men who know boundaries. Men who can find a woman attractive, but who don’t assume that their own attraction automatically gives them license to touch or force women into actions. 

Trust me. Most of us women know when a wink is just a wink. (And really, maybe, winks are best left out of the workplace anyway.)

If you aren’t sure how to act in a way that will ensure that you don’t get accused of sexual harassment, then you might be interested in The Rock Test: A Hack for Men Who Don’t Want To Be Accused of Sexual Harassment. Feel free to share it. The Rock himself even endorsed it on Twitter. (Makes me kind of love the 3D, 7-11, souvenir Slurpee cup featuring The Rock that I’ve been using to water some of my plants.)

Women don’t want the nice stuff to go away! We even like sexy stuff too (under the right circumstances). But if a person must be coerced into something sexual that they don’t want to do, then that person is being sexually harassed or worse. We will usually be happy to tell you if we do or don’t like something. Amazingly, we have brains, and we’re interactive too.

Unfortunately, sexual predators are a lot like terrorists. Most people are not terrorists. Most people don’t want to hurt others. But it only takes that one terrorist to cause a lot of damage to many people. One of the biggest problems with sexual predators is that people don’t seem to like to bring the instances to light. Women who do are often more punished than the man who commented the act. 

Brave women and men who come forward to clear away the terror and stop predators are heroes.

 #metoo

Aside from sharing actual experiences and opinions, this was also written as a response to the WordPress: Daily Post’s Daily Prompt, Brave.

Summer 2017

In 2016, and all the years prior, the school year started the day after Labor Day. That would have been today if our county hadn’t changed the start date this year making it one week earlier. So today my daughter starts her second week of 10th grade.

I don’t know where the summer went. It was a good one! Just short. Really short. I really would have preferred longer.

We visited Pittsburgh twice — once for my cousin’s wedding and once for Pinburgh and ReplayFX.  Both were wonderful, amazing experiences (especially the wedding which was really a one-of-a-kind event). ReplayFX and Pinburgh, a pinball tournament, will be there again next year. But it was gobs of fun! Some people go to the beach, we go to Pittsburgh. (Okay, we like the beach too, we just didn’t fit that in quite yet. Hopefully it will still be there for a while.)

In August we visited South Carolina both to visit my dad and to witness the total solar eclipse.  My dad lives in an area that would have been about 99% eclipse but not quite total. We drove a little over an hour southwest landing us in a delightful town called Newberry, South Carolina. I am SO very glad we drove the extra distance to see the total eclipse. It is a different animal — the difference between a partial and total eclipse is literally like night and day. (Really literally.)

Partial eclipses aren’t that different from each other. Granted 99% is going to be more impressive than 85% but you still get a tremendous amount of light from a tiny sliver of the sun. We were impressed at how light it was even when the sun was almost entirely covered.

Moments before totality


During a partial eclipse, it still looks like daytime, but with a large enough occlusion it’s a dimmer daytime with sharper shadows. It looks strange, and it’s pretty wild!

Totality is like somebody hit a light switch and turned the world to night for a couple of minutes. The crickets chirp. The air cools. Some people can see stars and planets. We saw Venus! There is a glow around the entire horizon that looks like the last few glimmers of sunset before pitch blackness. But the sun itself is still overhead and covered by a black disk that is the moon.  The corona radiates from that sharp black disk. It is mind boggling! I want to do it again.

Totality – removing the eclipse glasses.


Between the fun out-of-town events, my daughter had several camps. Like many previous summers, this year I spent many a lunch hour driving her to or from camp and then drove back to the office. I love that she gets to do some fun and educational things like her orchestra camp and dance camp. But it makes for a busy, tiring day with less time than I’d like for things like eating or breathing. And there’s scant little time for blogging or even for visiting the pool. I want more summer! I guess it will be back next year.

So that’s about it for this update.

One more thing, I maybe had like 1.5 seconds of “fame.” Saturday, I went to a new eye doctor because I really needed new glasses (I haven’t gotten real, new glasses in YEARS), and I had some flex spending to use. When I gave the receptionist my email address she asked me if I blogged. Yes. So I asked if she’d just Googled me. She said, “no,” that her sister-in-law (or somebody like that) blogs, so she reads a lot of blogs and my email addy rang a bell (my email is similar to my blog name). So I guess that’s like a second and a half of fame, maybe, right? Though I’m still not convinced that she didn’t Google me or look me up on Yelp to see if I write reviews. Regardless, the eye doctor got me in that same day, I found frames I really liked and was able to get a reasonably okay deal after a little haggling. I’d have gladly gone to Walmart if their price was too high, so there’s that. Still waiting to get my new glasses… but I just had to share. It feels kind of weird, but maybe kind of good too.

The glow of the horizon during a total eclipse.

Happy 40th Anniversary, Star Wars

May 25, 1977, Star Wars was released in the United States. 

I first heard of it was in class in elementary school in Wheaton, Illinois. Our teacher mentioned it. I think one of the dads of the kids in my class worked for an advertising firm, and they were trying to promote it. So she heard of it from him (possibly through his son). And before it was even released, the teacher (who wasn’t really my favorite for a variety of reasons) mentioned it to the class. I think it was something like, “there’s a new movie coming out this summer called, Star Wars, and it’s supposed to be really good.” (With this, she redeemed herself some … )

So we saw it sometime after school got out (though I don’t think it was the first day …) Looking in the newspaper, I saw those bold black letters in the movie listings and show times, and I remembered the mention in class. Newspapers were needed to see show times back them. No online listings or apps.

We went. I sat mesmerized. I barely moved I was so captivated, and with my brain so alive with spaceships and laser (blaster) fights and lightsabers, my foot fell asleep. It blew me away! 

I’m pretty sure there was an extra scene in the very first showing that I saw — one where Luke throws th grappling hook and misses the first time as the storm troopers are trying to capture Luke and Leia. Later, he makes the shot on his first try. Maybe there are others … or not.

I saw it many times after that first one. It would be the first movie that I’d want to see multiple times. And at the end, seeing Darth Vader spin away in his damaged TIE fighter (not dead), I had hope that they would make more movies to continue the tale of Luke, Leia, Han, C-3PO, R2D2 and the others …

The rest, as they say, is history. 

Happy 40th Anniversary! 

May the 4th be with you!

Somewhere … sometime … a long time ago … in a galaxy we’re in right now, somebody noticed that, “May the 4th,” sounded a lot like, “May the force,” and thus Star Wars day was born. So may the 4th be with you … always!

I have a lot of catching up to do on this blog. We’ve been busy. Sometimes super busy! And it meant that I had to lighten up on something or I’d just fall down exhausted and become a blob. Actually, I did become a blob and exhausted, so I guess I should say that I would have been a worse blob. So the blog got lightly set aside. Sorry, blog. Sorry, WordPress.

I’ll do some catch up in the coming days and weeks … things we’ve been doing … are doing now … and stuff that may be yet to come. Subjects covered with include Science, Robotics, Apatite, Salad Surprise, Dance, Balcony Gardening (Herbs and Plants that Survived the Winter), and more!

I hope you enjoyed the rainbow I posted on May 2. The photo was actually taken on May 1. Rainbows may be a little cliché in some ways, but they are still so amazing when they show up in all their spectacular glory. It was a really impressive start to May.

May the 4th be with you, and may it be a good one!

Rainbow 

Yesterday evening we had this spectacular show of sky and color and general awesomeness. 

Rainbow


 

We all dashed outside when my daughter noticed the light coming inside through the window looked a little strange. It is probably one of the most beautiful rainbows we’ve ever seen. 

If you look a bit to the left of the main rainbow you’ll see a faint second rainbow. And we even saw a little third rainbow that was quite unusual too — it was right next to the main rainbow but the stripes were thinner and maybe the colors were reversed. So possibly it was like a reflection of the first rainbow? It was really hard to capture that in a photo. But Dave got a close up where you can kind of make it out. 

The way the light reflected off the clouds just made it that much more amazing. The photo here is right out of my phone with no Photoshopping. It doesn’t do it justice. I might try to bring out the other rainbow in Photoshop, but you just can’t really capture the feeling on “film.” It was huge. You could see the rainbow stretching over so much of the sky. Amazing! Photos are just souvenirs of this rare and spectacular show. They will have to do for now. 

Same rainbow but on the right side of the sky.

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