Blog on the Run

Here is an experiment to see how good the WordPress app on my iPhone works to write and post a blog post in a time-efficient manner. We’ll see. For some reason my WordPress app likes to crash, and so it has not been as cool as I hoped it would be. Plus, I am on my lunch break from work, and I went out to eat actually. Yay! I get tired of being diligent and always packing my lunch. I try so hard to be a good budgeter but life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, and honestly sometimes you just need to go out to eat.

So, in honor of where’s Waldo, where am I?  Here is a pop quiz. (See if you pass).
Where is Julie???
A. Taco Bell
B. Chick-fil-a at a food court
C. Little Asian place down the street from my office
D. None of the above

Alright, I will answer the quiz at the end but gotta watch my time. So, yesterday I was thinking about how I really missed being a kid.  Life can get mundane, ok that is true. I was thinking about that great cartoon The Jetsons.  I want a dog named Astro. And a robot maid- seriously that is cool!  In all of our technological  progress, we are not flying around in cars yet. That would be interesting. Yay, deep thoughts. 🙂

I remember when I was a kid how exciting it was to watch Saturday morning cartoons.  I would wake up super early on Saturday mornings just to watch cartoons.  We had cable when I was little, and I thought the Cartoon Network was awesome.  Here is a question for anyone reading this- what was your favorite cartoon growing up? Mine was Scooby Doo, but The Jetsons were cool, too.

The other thing I have been missing was when I was a kid and my family would always go to this amusement park in Iowa every summer and have the best time. We would ride roller coasters and go on bumper cars and have a blast. At the end of the day we would always end up in the Bingo parlor (that sold fudge) and we would camp out and play Bingo.  It was great.  Oh, my family would always play against each other in those fun horse race games (the kind where you roll mini-golf type balls into holes in order to move your horse or where you shoot a water gun into the clown’s mouth to increase and pop a balloon, which moves your horse.  Skee-ball was fun, too.  I lost tons of money playing Skee-ball.  I miss that!

Ok, well gotta go. Answer to the pop quiz: A. Taco Bell (It would have been B. Chick-fil-a, but I changed my mind at the last minute.  Also, the little Asian place is closed for maintenance for 1-3 weeks, from what the sign on their door said yesterday.

P.S. Alright, I am really trying to be better with my grammar and actually edit my writing these days…and I couldn’t resist going back and also adding some cute pics of The Jetsons.  Now, I really want to watch that classic cartoon.  Gotta love old school, it is still cool! 🙂

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Things That Annoy Me

Author’s Editorial Note:

This post was originally titled “Things I Hate”, but now every time I look at that title it does not jive with me, so I have made an editorial adjustment.  Hate is a very strong word, and actually it is a word that I am seldom inclined to use.  I am aware, however, that I definitely overuse the word “love”, but that is in specific cases, such as the “I love Starbucks” type…seriously our English language does NOT do justice to the many facets of love that exist (Greek is much better for that), and I am not one that wants to cheapen the word love in its purest form.  Maybe I am more of a lover than a fighter, too (a.k.a. my disconnect with the word hate and preference for the word love).  Finally, there is the fact that we should love one another (whether you think about God or the Beatles for inspiration), and in my life I want to focus more on the good than the bad.  Thus, without further ado, here are “Things that Annoy Me.”

1. Utilization of the Internet for what seems like personal character assassination and slander. (Note: Character shredding in person is also bad, as well as behind a person’s back).  Bullying is the classic example, but I am being far more broad than that.  The internet is an amazing tool, but I prefer when it is used to edify instead of tear down.

2. Facebook being used for engagement news sharing BEFORE the engaged person’s best friends (or family) are even told.  This is especially bad if the best friends and family are NEVER told, and Facebook is utilized in order to take the place of heartfelt, caring phone calls or other personal correspondence.  If people who are NOT on Facebook DO care to hear directly that their close friends or family members are engaged, then this is particularly bad.

3. Facebook being used for funeral and visitation information, when no other type of personal correspondence is utilized.  This one hits close to home this past week.

4. Misunderstandings.  This is one of the reasons that my MySpace account was changed and is currently private.  Also, I hate it when people have pieces of a puzzle, but they are missing crucial pieces (of course, I am being figurative).  However, I find it grossly unfair when people fill in the blanks with incorrect (and thus false) assumptions.  This seems to happen a lot in life.

5. I get annoyed when people assume things based on a category that someone happens to fit in.  For instance, if someone thinks that since I am a Christian, then I am also a Republican, then they would be wrong.  Or, if someone things that because I am a feminist, then I hate men, that would also be wrong.  I think that our society does this all the time (re: incorrectly assume things about categories of people).  Actually, I have many beliefs that do not always co-exist together, and anyone who takes the time to get to know me will realize that.

6. I am disappointed when people are too busy for things and people who really matter.

7. I get annoyed when people break their word and are unreliable.  A few of my friends that I have been friends with for many years fall into this category.  I finally realized that I deserve people in my inner circle who respect me and are people who I can count on in both good times and in bad (whether I am having surgery or they just want to get a relaxing cup of coffee….a close friend should be counted on to be there for either occasion.  Life is more than just good times, and some people are fun friends but not “thick and thin” friends, the latter of which are more meaningful to me at this point in my life).

Unfortunately, when I had surgery last summer, several key friends in my life were not there for me at all or broke their word to me.  I have tried to work on myself to stop dwelling on some of the friend hurts from that time period (and a major one right before that) that really wounded me and were quite painful.  On a BRIGHTER note, some other people stood out to me that I did not expect- some I barely knew at all or I was just on an acquaintance level with (i.e. the mail carrier at my job who asked me how I was doing {after my surgery}, or someone in passing who took the time to listen to me on a down day and was there when I started to cry….that small kind act made the day better and was definitely encouraging…..you remember stuff like that).  Then there was my newer friend, Tisha, from my church, who gave me a sweet surgery pack complete with amazing chocolate and a cute gift bag in my favorite color.  Kindness always stands out to me, and I appreciate it, as well as reliability and people who are friends in any weather (so to speak) in this sometimes roller coaster of life that we all go through. 

8. Lack of grace.

9. Cussing.  Maybe I don’t HATE it, but I am definitely not a fan.  My Mom used Coast soap in order to wash my mouth out when I went through a cussing spell around the age of 15.  That horrible taste just does not leave your mouth.  I still remember that punishment, and it helped me with my foul mouth. (Please note that I am NOT recommending that any parents do that…..not by any means).

Also, in terms of cussing, in PARTICULAR, I hate the “B” word being used toward women and girls.  Many people seem to accept that word as being ethically and morally acceptable (or perhaps people accept that word as being justified,  utilizing “the ends justify the means” type of argument).  Also, I understand that some women use that term for empowerment, as other terms have been used by victimized and oppressed groups in order to reclaim the language.  I am not trying to be the language police, BUT I will say that I previously worked for a year as a legal advocate for abused women.  Every single women was called that word by her abuser…every single one….and, of course, we as women get socialized to think that we “deserve” to be called that, somehow.  (Author’s note: Please note that I am not saying that everyone who ever utters the “B” word is abusive or an abuser.  But, that word can be very unkind and derogatory, and that is something to think about).  Language (written or spoken) is powerful and can be really edifying and encouraging, or it can rip another down and be incredibly harmful.  I am no saint, but I try to use encouraging language, and I also try to apologize when I have been wrong.

Hope: A Poem (The Beautiful Promise of Tomorrow)

Author’s note:

This poem is fictitious and inspired by the author’s imagination.  The only exceptions are that the woman’s name “Maria” was inspired by the name Maria in the musical “West Side Story” (a musical that I like which has many good lessons).  Second, the pink was inspired by pink being my favorite color, and also by my desire to somewhat personify the sunset.  Thus, I gave the sunset  some characteristics that (at times) I possess.  Finally, while I have at times felt like the little sparrow, forlorn and perhaps somewhat broken (which I do not care to elaborate on), this did not inspire the poetic sparrow, nor did any other resemblance to another person, thing, or sparrow, living or dead. (Ditto for the little old man).

 Hope: A Poem (The Beautiful Promise of Tomorrow)

The little old man

with a crooked back

and a kind yet wistful smile

gazes out at the shimmering ocean

beckoning to him in the distance.

Lost in thought

he ponders

simpler times,

days gone by,

and a girl with a pretty smile.

 

“Ah, to be young again,”

he thinks to himself.

Youth is wasted on the young,

as the old saying goes.

 

He has no regrets.

The mistakes he made

taught him well,

but yet

still his heart aches

and at times

he is lonely.

 

He misses his sweet Maria

with an intensity

that sometimes awakens him

in the night.

She was his muse

and his joy

and his love.

His beautiful wife

gone six years now

(My, how the time seems to fly).

But, she was NOT his life,

yet she played quite a starring role.

A good distinction,

the man has always thought,

is that life should be shared

and enriched

but never overtaken

or overwhelmed.

 

Startled,

the little old man’s reminiscing

is broken

by a tiny little sparrow

looking forlorn

but yet brave

with his little broken wing.

The sparrow takes a little hop

along the glistening sand

and looks up with curiosity

at the little old man.

 

“Friend, I know how you feel,”

the man whispers with a conspiratorial wink.

Truth be told, sometimes the man

has been broken in spirit

and broken in his grief.

Yet, somehow,

a tenacious, persevering will

helped the man fight on.

But now,

his frail body

was starting to feel broken,

as age took its usual toll.

(He was approaching age 90,

it is important to note).

The little old man felt an affinity

for the little sparrow with his little broken wing,

and it brought a second smile

to the man’s weathered face.

The sparrow brightened his day

and reminded him to never give up.

 

Slowly, the man’s gaze slide up the horizon.

A sunset was starting

to pierce the sky.

“Where had the day gone?”

the man wondered.

A hint of a beautiful, stunning pink timidly peaked

bashfully

across the horizon.

Skittish

yet hopeful.

The spectacular sight

of the blossoming sunset

caused a hope to spring anew

into the little old man’s heart.

Every day is a gift.

There is the UNKNOWN PROMISE of tomorrow.

Beauty can shine her brightest

even in the darkest hours.

 

Thus, whistling a cheerful tune,

(one I think anyone could recall),

the little old man shuffled off

with hopeful expectation

of a light brighter than any dawn

and the beautiful promise of tomorrow.

More Semi-Random Musings from My World (the Avengers)

More Semi-Random Musings from My World:

1. Marvel’s new Avengers movie rocks!!! ! Yeah, I know, deep thoughts from my world.  I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone who has not seen it, but I think that at this point of the weekend, you may be in the minority if you have NOT seen it yet.  I believe that I read on the internet that it had the second best opening weekend EVER.  (And I read that sometime on Saturday).  So yeah, I saw a 10:15 am showing on Friday (my vacation day), which is kind of “crazy”, but it was to accommodate my friends afternoon work schedules (the Avengers is 2 hours 23 minutes long, but I think that previews were like 21 minutes…..so we got out of the movie at around 1 pm, actually).  For longer movies, sometimes I wish there was an intermission, because you hate to get up and miss anything in the movie in order to run to the restroom or get a popcorn refill.  I polished off my kid’s meal popcorn during the previews (it’s small), and the movie theatre that I was at gives free popcorn refills, but I didn’t want to miss the movie, so it was hard to take advantage of that exceedingly cool facet.  Anyways, it was quite fun to be one of the first of American audiences to view The Avengers, unless you were one of the mass of humanity at the midnight showings around the country.

I loved Joss Whedon’s (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) directing of The Avengers.  He directed it with a human side, which I appreciate immensely, and the interpersonal focus on the characters and their interactions was 100% compelling There is an article on Joss and his directing and The Avengers in my new May 2012 issue of Wired magazine.  The article talks about ‘The Whedon Way”, and I completely saw the part about how Whedon’s characters are quite aware of their own weaknesses and strengths, and they are good at voicing them.  Whedon is quoted as saying, “It’s a flaw in my work that is enough of a virtue that I let it slide” and “I make people ridiculously self-aware because I hate deception.” (May 2012 Wired magazine, page  175).

There was such a depth to the characters of The Avengers, and it was interesting to see the nitty-gritty human side that is often left out of action movies, or under-valued and under-developed in favor of explosive special effects and all the bells and whistles.  I found myself appreciating the differences of personality and giftedness of all the characters, and I saw the theme and importance of unity in order to come together and accomplish great things.  “No man (or woman) is an island”, as the old saying goes, and you know what?  It is true.  Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.  Once the Avengers stopped fighting amongst themselves, then they were able to become a team and achieve the hopes and objectives that Nick Fury has for them.  Also, a human emotional piece in the Avengers that stood out to me was that I saw how Natasha (a.k.a. Black Widow) was somewhat tormented by her past….wanting to erase the “red in her ledger” (as she kept saying at one point of the movie) and obtain a clean slate.  A clean slate is so liberating and so freeing.  Who among us hasn’t desired that at one point of our lives?  I think that is the importance of grace (and, because of my faith beliefs, I think that is the importance of Jesus, redemption, and forgiveness).  This world that we are all a part of is not one that promotes grace, and that old song “What have you done for me lately?” (Jodi Whatley?) rings true in our perfomance-oriented, hurried, and score-card keeping American society.  I can preach to the choir sometimes, and this topic of grace is one that I am still learning, with scraped knees and frustration with myself (and others) along the way.

Also, I need to point out that while I can appreciate characters like Captain America, and his unwavering focus on bravery, rules, and always doing the right thing, and I enjoy Hawkeye’s talent for bow and arrow (he and Katniss Everdeen are single-handedly helping the old school bow and arrow make a comeback), however, I found myself appreciating more the strengths of Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man) and seeing a new side of him in this movie.  Honestly, I didn’t see the first Iron Man movie (just the second one), so this may not be a perfect synopsis or character representation, but from what I can tell (and from his own self-awareness, a.k.a Joss Whedon style), he can be brash, cocky, self-absorbed, and brilliant (and he knows it), but he also has many other sides that are beautiful.  He really comes full circle when he realizes the importance of unity and working with others. He has so much to bring to the table: such strength, smarts, a philanthropy spirit….and in the end he is noble and brave and willing to sacrifice for a cause he cares about.  Quite beautiful, indeed.

Well, I had a few others things that I have pondered lately, but I am actually going to leave this post just with my personal thoughts on the Avengers.  I think that anything else would lesson what I feel led to say, and my other ponderings may just be future posts for another time, or my own introspective musings and self-awareness.

Just call me the Starbucks Promotion Girl (a.k.a. Now that’s my kind of Happy Hour, Frappuccino Style)

You can just call me the Starbucks Promotion Girl.  I absolutely LOVE Starbucks.

Here are some of the vast number of ways I am a fan of Starbucks:

1.  I register my Starbucks gift cards.  I love the Starbucks gift card free rewards program, and I am on the green star level currently where added syrups are FREE (If my middle name wasn’t Anne, then I think that it would be free.  LOL).

2.  My family knows that if they buy me a gift card for Christmas or my birthday, then one of the top gift cards is ALWAYS Starbucks.  I recently had a first for me- I reloaded my Starbucks gift card, because over time I had burned through the 3 or 4 gift cards that I had (like I said, everyone knows that I love Starbucks).  I reloaded the gift card with some money that I had gotten back on my tax return.  Strategically budgetted in, of course.  That is my financial situation, honestly, but all is well.

3.  Last week, I went with my friend to this Working Women’s Expo in my city where thousands of women attended.  I was largely going to find out about cool businesses and things in my area…..plus hopefully get some cool free stuff, too.  Beside playing a fun plinko game (that reminded me of the Price is Right), I also played a game at a dental table where you throw the ring toss on the toothbrush.  And, I missed all 3 times.  Very disappointing, but I am so glad that I found a new dentist, which is the reason that I went over to the table.  Anyways, the nice girl took sympathy on me, whipped out a prize, and it was a $5 Starbucks gift card.  That was a beautiful surprise!

Starbucks

Starbucks (Photo credit: Ivana Di Carlo)

4.  When I meet with friends, we often go to Starbucks.  Second, a Starbucks drive-through is close to where I live, which is quite dangerous for me, especially on my way home from work.  Third, at my old job, we used to sometimes have Saturday night Starbucks runs (since Starbucks was right down the street) where we would take employee orders, then one staff member would run out on a break and get all of us Starbucks. It was super fun, all of us were fans of Starbucks, and it made having to work Saturday nights (for the group of us that consistently had to work Saturday nights) much more fun.

5.  One day, I think that it would be cool to own stock in Starbucks.  In the future, when I have more disposeable income, it would be nice to invest in stocks and do more financial stewardship and investment.

6.  When I think of Heaven, one thing that I have pondered is what while Heaven be like?  It is so hard for the human mind to comprehend, you know.  I want to see my name written in the book of life.  I want to meet Jesus, and hear those words of honor “well done, my good and faithful servant.”  And, on a much less spiritual note, I have wondered random things about Heaven, like what we will do when we are not worshipping….i.e. will we do cool stuff, like fly?  I totally want to meet the saints of old, like Esther and Joshua, and I will be honored to meet people that I never got a chance to meet on earth, like Mother Teresa, who I would have loved to have met before she died.  And, I have wondered if we will eat in Heaven.  But, the Bible mentions eating around a table, so I think we will eat in Heaven.  So, one small slice of Heaven for me would be my own little Starbucks where everything is FREE.  Yeah, that would be super cool!

7.  I have the Starbucks app on my semi-new iPhone.  I believe that it is one of only five apps that I have downloaded so far.  It is in a select group of the best of the best of my favorite things.  I find the app quite helpful when you are looking for nutritional content of their drinks and food, when you are travelling and need to know where a Starbucks is, and hours of operation for Starbucks.  They even have this cool feature for the technically hip crowd where you do not have to actually FIND your Starbucks gift card to pay, but where you just scan the code for it.  Kind of cool.  My friend told me about that, and it seems quite convenient.

8.  Thus, as you can see, I LOVE STARBUCKS! !!  They should pay me to do promotion work for them, I would be quite passionate at it.  I find it FUNNY how I think I am going to write a short and sweet blog (for once), and this piece seemed to be the perfect one for that.  But, then somehow short and sweet turns into elaborate and detailed.  🙂

Some Last ThoughtsI would be remiss if I ended this blog and forgot to tell you that Starbucks is having a Half-Price Happy Hour Frappuccino Promotion beginning May 4, 2012 and lasting until May 13, 2012.  It is only from 3-5 pm.  That is definitely my kind of Happy Hour, and the only one that I am intested in, truth be told.  I tried to copy the code from the Starbucks website for their fun and hip video for this spectacular promotion.  The video showed the diversity of their frappuccinos, and it is a fun little clip.  For some reason, their code for the video didn’t work when you copy it, and also if you try to embed it to Word Press, then Starbucks asks for your blog and your password (which seems like a security issue to me, but I have never claimed to be a tech genius….but maybe I am missing something with the whole embed/post videos thing).  Anyways, check out the video on Starbucks official website if you have 30 seconds:

http://www.starbucks.com/

P.S.  Starbucks very recently debuted a new Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino that is quite good.  It has chocolate whipped cream and cookie crumbs.  Today, my thoughtful and cool co-worker, Molly, went on her lunch break and came back with 2 Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccinos.  She bought one for me in order to bless me, which was so sweet.  Neither of us were feeling that great today, so it made the day better and brighter.  Random acts of kindess are cool.  Here is a picture of the new Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino (Courtesy of the Starbucks Official Website):

One final note.

I am excited to be off work on a vacation day tomorrow.  Yay for having a three day weekend!  I have a list of home stuff to catch up on, but I also organized a friend group that is going to see a matinee showing of Marvel’s The Avengers tomorrow.  I have been eagerly waiting to go see The Avengers for months now, and this weekend it is opening in the American movie market.  It is supposed to be THE Blockbuster of the summer, and it has been smashing world records in the overseas market left and right, from what I hear (according to TheWrap.com and other internet sites).  I definitely like superhero movies (and action movies in general), and I am completely inspired by examples of bravery and courage in film and in life.  But, then of course, sometime between 3-5 pm, I plan to go to Starbucks for the Happy Hour.  Woohoo!!!