Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas is over (or: a little bit of quiet "urban" exploration)?

Well, not quite. Some people are still sleeping, while others are in to tomorrow already (we call them "future humans).

I for one, am glad all the Christmas music can finally slow down to finally stop, and the decorations can be put away for another year. I may sound like I'm rushing "one of the more important holidays of the year", but sorry (not sorry) for those who celebrate; I don't. Although I did make my little journey out this morning for the annual holiday pictures.

Clouds were looking a bit on the snowy side for Florida. As I keep telling people, the minute we get snow down here, Hell has officially frozen over, ten fold. It is what it is, I suppose. Places this week are having weird weather patterns - I heard on one of the radio news stations yesterday morning that "the big island of Hawaii" was under a blizzard warning and advisory. The mountain region was expected to get blasted by snow... a bit unusual to hear or see, I gather. I don't know much about the area, but from talking with other people at dinner last night, the island shouldn't see snow? Also heard on the radio: one of the tornado belt states got a few twisters to drop down and do some damage. They allegedly get cones all year round, but to do it on (or near) Christmas hasn't been done in quite some time. Most of the day (yesterday), main drags in Boston were under flooding waters, as high tide and warm air brought way too much water to a part of the city. Thanks to global warming, we've got an awesome century in front of us!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Gotta love freebies!

I have a neighbor who loves to repay me with things. Although I don't like taking anything from her when she asks me for help with something, I generously accept any bounty she will give me. One day it was local veg from the farmer's market for taking a photo of her and her family for their holiday card... another time it was a coffee chain gift card for walking her dog... this time, it was two bags of grapefruit for showing her how to use her computer.

Mind you, the grapefruit weren't store bought. Given that we are in one of the citrus capitals of the United States, Florida thrives in fruit. 

Known as the Sunshine State, Florida creates copious amounts of oranges, grapefruits and lemons. That Tropicana juice you're drinking with your daily breakfast? Grown and packaged up in Bradenton, Florida. 

Closer to home, there's a harvest company, oddly enough, called "Sun Harvest Citrus". Not only can you walk in to this facility and smell like you're walking in to various groves, you can watch the workers pack the fruit in crates to be shipped all over the country. Citrus season changes with the months, so one minute we may get bins of grapefruit, when 4 months later we can get oranges. It's one of those places where you just want to go in every day just to sample the fresh juice... which is squeezed on site. They also sell fresh jellies and wines that are made with various Florida citrus. My friend visited me in England this summer, and she went home with almost 100 dollars worth of alcohol, jams, sauces and candies... all provided by naturally grown products. This store is a stop worth visiting when in the area (spring training is coming soon.... why not swing in before a Sox game?).

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The power of technology

I was at a friend's for turkey dinner and got to thinking:

Most people these days have upgraded their poor dumb phones (the flip phones) into smart phones (the tablet style flat bricks that can do everything but sometimes make an actual call). In the process, the user has become poor, as the new bells and whistles phone is way more expensive than it needs to be.

As with everything these days, newer technology comes new advantages in "do it yourself" photography. Proof in point: The Square Jellyfish brand of tripods and mounts easily fit on to existing tripods or on their own pocket sized ones. I like it because yes, I have an iPhone 5. Yes, it's pretty easy to just grab something as tiny as the mount and tripod, but, it honestly doesn't give me the same satisfaction as a normal camera and stand. Grab and go / convenience has replaced the lugging around of back packs and trunks full of gear. Call me old school in my ways, but nothing beats the ordeal of setting everything up and making an impatient family gathering turn into a pretty swell picture. Sure, the new phones take great moments in history, but I still like to be able to hook my Canon EOS Rebel T3 to a basic tripod and shoot away. There are pros and cons to the whole setup, and nothing is ever immune to the swaying of the positive and negative gauntlet. To play nicely with everyone and appease the masses (my family and friends... group photos, etc) I've got the Square Jellyfish products in a snack baggie in my Case Logic TBC-307 SLR Camera Backpack, as they really don't take up any more room than stashing them in your pants pocket for easy travel. Trust me, I've just taken the Ziploc baggie to events where my DSLR would be too cumbersome. All the more reason that in certain situations, these little guys kinda rule photography right now.

However...

I used the same DSLR camera for this morning's posts and I shall continue to use it until it completely dies (I hope not). I read somewhere that there is a rumor it is already a discontinued model, so I shall be forced to upgrade to something more stylish and fashionable, I suppose. More "oomph" and money for what I really want, but this T3 does the trick for me.

There wouldn't be a post if there weren't pictures to prove it:

Basic Kodak tripod
Square Jellyfish mount
iPhone 5




























Lamp close up from the use of a macro kit





















Cheers & enjoy the turkey;



See also:

iPhone 5 and accessories

Otterbox iPhone 5 cases





Not a cloud in sight...

While everyone is scouring the internet for Black Friday deals, I'm sitting at home, taking pictures of the beautiful morning we're having in sunny Florida. There is not a cloud in the sky (unless you could the lazy two that decided to leave now for their turkey feasts), and it's a balmy 52 degrees out. Warm by New England standards, cold by Floridans. Just like the meme "Floridians be like 'its 65 degrees; get out the winter coat!'", it is hoodie weather right now, but it should warm up by the time we all start eating.




































Saturday, November 15, 2014

Just...need...a...breather...

Can we please have a few days to breathe, before Christmas starts?

Right from the last sale of the Halloween costumes and candy, stores were packing that stuff up and displaying Christmas Items. Swear to anything beyond logic and means, a few of my local retailers were boxing up all things spooky on November 1 and setting up early Jesus items.

Why can't we have Thanksgiving first? Must we delve right into the birth of a carpenter before we learn the Pilgrims might have made a mistake by landing in Massachusetts? I thought JHC was born in December, not November.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Reading

I'm an avid reader, or at least I try to be. My current 9-5 job doesn't allow me the opportunity to sit and read for 30 minutes, however, I've been trying to get through a new book on weekends.

The Thing Itself: On the Search for Authenticity by Richard Todd is that "new" book I picked up a few months back, but am still working on it. Only 52 pages in, it seems like it's been worth the investment.

Mr. Todd uses the pages to question what type of value we, as a general society, put on items that we come across in our daily lives. It can range from the little trinket you may see and buy at a thrift store, all the way up to the prospect of trying to figure out a world renown painting's reproductive worth (where I am now in the book). He pulls examples from his past and mixes them with current situations (or in the case of the paintings, uses names people may know).

The main question he keeps asking is why do we value objects so keenly and are gutted when we can no longer keep them in our possession (either by way of selling or throwing it out)? One man's trash is another man's treasure, only to hoard enough of specific items that we start telling ourselves it's worth it. In the end, it can be put in a closet, in a barn, stored away that we forget about it and it disappears from our minds for a while. It's of no use hidden away, but of worse use when we talk ourselves into wanting it. Original owners sell it for a reason, why does the buyer think they're getting a 2 million dollar object for 2 dollars?

Even if you, the reader, aren't guilty of wanting little pieces of glassware or CDs, you know someone who is. Personally, I've accumulated a few things in my lifetime, enough that when it comes down to yard sales, I have to really push myself into selling it. There comes a point where I see someone interested in buying it, I talk up the item like it's worth its weight in gold. I also have friends that have done similar things - collect the tchotchkes from places and display them like it's the proudest accomplishment of the week. I can definitely see Richard Todd's points he is making in the book, just based on situations in my own life. Again, we as a general society, put value on things that may or may not be beneficial to our lives in the long run. How will the fifty cent cell phone holder help me 20 years from now, when I may not have a phone? I love the alien shape of it - he seems to be hugging my phone, but will I still love it when he's destroyed? He's held up for a decade already... how much longer will I need him?

Grab this book while you can... very good insight into why we do what we do with objects. I can't wait to finish the rest of the book.. what else will I learn?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

If (social) networking is key…

… Why don’t any of the doors unlock?

I’m a constant job seeker – always looking for “the one” job where I would fit in (and ultimately like). I’ve spent time temping in one place, working full time in another; getting a sense of what’s out there.

Throughout my college years, we were told to always network with people, no matter where you are or who you’re with. Be the social butterfly of a political figure – shake hands, kiss a few babies, but don’t run for local office. Sure; I can do that. I ended up getting a degree in communications and worked (primarily) in radio – so I shook hands with the figureheads of my town and made smiley faces with their entourage. However, with the analogue equipment going digital, it’s hard to stay “in tune” with the new formats, let alone do avid meet and greets. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Halloween...

...is apparently fast approaching and it's only the end of September. Most stores have by passed fright night and are putting up Christmas. What happened to Thanksgiving?? What happened to enjoying one day at a time and not rushing through the work week?

However, I got an email about 2 weeks ago from Pinterest, suggesting I should make a Halloween pin board because "people like that". It's kitschy, it's funky, it's the one time of year where you get the shit scared out of you for fun.

While trying to figure out what to pin, what not to pin, what looks cool, I was reminded of years ago when a friend would do a yearly haunted house.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mm... beer

I did a little baking the other day. I decided to use the box of Larry the Cable Guy Beer Bread that was sitting in my cabinet, and a bottle of Kirin Ichiban beer and make beer bread.

Out of all the alcohol I've made with this bread, I think the Kirin Ichiban adds a solid flavor to the mix when eaten within 24 hours (and man, can you easily eat it in a day).

I've tried Shock Top Lemon Shandy, and it was okay, but not "gotta get me more of this!" good. Blue Moon was tasty, as well as Sam Adams. In a way, you can get technical and say it's "alcohol abuse" by baking it in bread, but it's a good way to get rid of the bottles that are weeks away from being skunked.

The bread makes a good party favor, as everyone ends up wanting another piece. Mix your favorite brand in it, pair it on chili night (game night, perhaps?) and you've got yourself something to always whip up at last minute. It only takes 55 minutes in the oven, so it's not a whole day wasted.

Pictures or it didn't happen:






Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I want her to say "uhm", "you know" one more time

I happened to stumble upon the Huffington Post article / video of "Anna Paquin Brilliantly Schools Larry King On Bisexuality".

Someone knows Paquin from somewhere .. as early as 1993's The Piano or 1996's Fly Away Home (Special Edition). Even Marvel comic nerds and geeks will know her as Rogue in the X-Men (Widescreen Edition) series. HBO now whores her as Sookie, in the True Blood series, based on the Charlaine Harris "Southern Vampire Mysteries Series" (aka Sookie Stackhouse / True Blood).

Larry King has been around long enough, that even a simple Google search will tell you who he is. Great interviewer by all means, and knows how to keep guests talking.

The HuffPost's headline happened to get my attention. I'm not a frequent reader of the site, nor do I really say I am in the know about the things they share, but the fact someone "schooled" Larry King about sexuality, got me watching. There's no meat of an article, but for an excerpt of the interview:

During a lengthy interview this week, King seemed a bit confused by Paquin's self-identification as bisexual despite her monogamous, opposite-sex marriage.

King: "Are you a non-practicing bisexual?"
Paquin: "Well, I am married to my husband and we are happily monogamously married."
King: "But you were bisexual?"
Paquin: "Well, I don’t think it’s a past-tense thing."
Larry King: "No?"
Paquin: "No. Are you still straight if you are with somebody -- if you were to break up with them or if they were to die, it doesn’t prevent your sexuality from existing. It doesn’t really work like that."
                                          Source here

She does raise a good point - you break up or divorce someone, maybe your partner dies, are you still straight? What makes you un-straight? It's actually a common question I've heard through out the years, but to hear someone ask that to Larry King is kind of funny. Almost like she's being a bit naive, but in the most serious sense.

Aside from that, I seriously had a hard time staying on the webpage. Getting to that point, and then continuing made me squirm. She definitely was acting her hair color and kept doing a subconscious Valley Girl type of movement. Hence the reason I just want her to say "uhm" and "you know" one more time, because she obviously couldn't say it enough. How can someone school her, on proper interview techniques?

Cheers;

Friday, July 4, 2014

Time has been f l y i n g!

I can't believe I completely missed anything in June! Here we are, on the American Independence Day, and the last post I have listed is from May, talking about The Overton Window. Time passes too quickly these days, for sure.

Being the Fourth of July, my camera is all set up for the festivities tonight. Will I end up going out to shoot fireworks in the bug infested complex? Who knows. But for now, my Canon EOS Rebel T3 and Canon Remote Switch await nightfall.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

If you read it, they will too?

Lately, I've been on a book kick. Perhaps the whole reason I've been vacant here. Aside from the craziness of work (why aren't the snowbirds gone? What's with all the people all of a sudden?), I have been biding my time between paperbacks and hard covers.

The recent addition to my collection has been Glenn Beck's The Overton Window. As much as I'm not a flag waving, Faux News supporter, I have to give Beck credit. He's a really good writer. You hear that, Dante? I'm read Beck! I'm not going to sit here and tell you I'm now a convert to The Blaze movement, but I can admit that the book had it's moments.

Aside from Mr. Beck mentioning in the forward that the book is contrived of multiple genres, he states that his is a ""faction" - completely fictional books with plots rooted in fact, and that is the category I strived for with The Overton Window" [sic]. He "intentionally" wrote this book to make the reader feel like it's happening now. That it really can be any point in history post September 2001. Or, as one gets deeper in to the book, that's one of the points realized, as it is mentioned a few times, due to the nature of the book itself.

The Overton Window could be classified as a cheat sheet for high powered public relation firms, as one of the main (people) characters, Noah, works for his father's PR company. This company, located in the heart of New York, does business for everyone that is willing to pay a price to get their point across. Whether it be a bottle water company or a financial institution, Noah's family has had their hands in every campaign available. Noah is the type of guy that you'd see on the street and know he's a richy rich boy that gets all the girls because of his money. Or, he gets them when he says he gets them.

Kind of case in point: there's a girl who works in the mail room in his building, Molly. She's a flag throwing conspiracy person. Not so much conspiracy, as they never call it that, but she belongs to a group called "Founders Keepers", where they base their protests on the works of the founding fathers. Nothing these people do lacks ambition and proof. Well, Noah and Molly end up bumping in to each other when Molly is posting an information sheet about a forthcoming "event" (protest meeting) at a bar later in the evening. The two talk, she urges him to join the cause, he has his reservations. Needless to say, he ends up going, only after having a seemingly shitty day to get there. Where some things would fail that you don't want happening, they come at full blast. Others get a slow boil until they erupt.

I think for the first half of the book, Glenn Beck catches your attention. It's a page turner, because you want to see how Noah's father, a great and powerful asshole, can turn water in to wine and sell ice to Eskimos. Noah picks up on his father's cues and can manipulate the data, but he has the heart of a saint. More reason to follow a pack of not so clear headed theorists into a burning fire. The second half of the book takes you out of the fire, but it's predictable. It puts the salve on the burns and tells you you're going to be okay, even though you've got third degree spots you know damn well you shouldn't have. You laugh at some points, you tell yourself "I can see that" or "good point", and you end up telling your friends you just finished this book. Ashamed or not, you look up some of the bullet points Mr. Beck gives at the end, just to appease the curiosity.

As mentioned in one part of the novel, you can take the information and run with it, open your eyes, and start your own thinking, or you can leave it be and continue living the thing you are calling your life. Question is, isn't this what all main theorists believe?

Cheers;




see also:
David Icke via Amazon

Glenn Beck via Amazon

Alex Jones via Amazon

Michael Tsarion via Amazon

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dead in the water

I'm starting to lapse in posting again. Haven't we seen this before? Haha.

I guess I should do a review on what I saw the other day. We rented The Book Thief, the movie based on the Markus Zusak book.

To be honest, it wasn't all that thrilling, as a visual time waster. I mean, the people who made it, tried, but I felt they over tried in some places. The book itself was great because you could picture every word happening to that little girl. But as the movie, it was weird. Yes, they did follow the story, but they were trying to add too much life to what is supposed to be a fictionalized account of a piece of history.

For those unfamiliar, the Zusak story is a telling of a little girl named Liesel who is living in Nazi Germany in 1939. She and her brother on their way to being fostered by a set of people outside Munich, when her brother dies. After burying him on the side of the road, one of the gravediggers drops their handbook. Liesel sees this, snhatches it, and ultimately becomes what the title of this story is - The Book Thief. This starts a love affair with the attempt to learn to read. Through out the story, however, you not only see life in the eyes of a child, but it's narrated by Death, who has a strange fascination with this girl. He, in a way, doesn't let her die young, even though there is a point where her new neighborhood gets bombed during the war. She outlives everyone she knew and Death realizes humans will always be trivial to him.

The movie is worth renting, just to see what Hollywood can do to another "based on history" book (and a 2 hour and 11 minute time waster). However, I would really suggest picking the book up. It's one of the few I keep recommending to people.

Cheers

Friday, March 7, 2014

A bit of an employment conundrum

I get a (somewhat) daily email from Monster, letting me know about places that are hiring in my area. It spans a 50 mile radius.

Today's round goes to a "company confidential" in the Naples area. I would apply, as it's for an administrative assistant position. My only beef is the fact the advert states "*Please DO NOT reply to this ad if you have no experience".

The contradiction to this?

Job Type
Part Time
Years of Experience
1+​ to 2 Years
Education Level
High School or equivalent


It's being promoted as a 30-35 hour job, basic secretarial functions. HOW , if you only need one year experience, should you not apply if you "have no experience"? Do you work for a construction company for a year or two, quit, and then apply to this one? It makes no sense.

I receive this ad every other week, and each time, it boggles my mind. I don't have experience in the construction field, but that doesn't mean I lack the minimum requirements for sorting the mail and answering the phones. Can we maybe ask for this to be re-worded? Like, "Please do not reply if you have less than 5 years experience" and make the Years Of Experience "5 or more".

Sounds legit to me....























Cheers;





Back to House of Cards. Peace out.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A view of a skylight

Good books tend to last me a week, once I start reading them. Those kind of paperbacks that just pull you right in and make you not get up until you read the very last punctuated sentence on the very last page.

That is how it was for me and Room by Emma Donoghue. Although it took me about six days from start to finish (I had to work, unfortunately), I couldn't put it down.

Quick research, the author stated she did some heavy research of her own - drawing inspiration from national headlines and other stories based on the subject (see here). The premise of the book is a young (26 year old) woman, held captive for seven years in an 11 by 11 square foot room. After two years alone, she bore a son, Jack. Jack is the narrator of the story, and ultimately Ma's hero. Living his whole life in this tiny space, Jack doesn't know any different. He can't go out and play, he doesn't have friends (except those he makes on the TV - Dora and Diego, among others, including real life Ma), he knows little of "Outside" and thinks it's Outer Space. This doesn't mean he's being raised stupid. Ma gets books for him once a week, if she asks right, from the man who captured her, Old Nick. Old Nick is one of those sleezeball tricksters, who was able to kidnap Ma at the right moment in time. When he's not sexually abusing her at night, he is leaving them alone during the day. What he doesn't bring in reading materials, he brings in real basic necessities - food, drink, clothes, hygiene materials (soap, toothpaste, brushes, etc). Unfortunately, Old Nick likes to keep them hidden, so the only way little Jack knows about the world is through a skylight and what he sees via bunny ears on the television. Ma tells him things about how life used to be for her, but she sugar coats it. In the end, the pair survive a harrowing ordeal that puts both of them in danger,but ends up putting Old Nick away. Having enough of Jack and his questions, Old Nick's abuse, Ma sorts out a plan to escape. With Jack being the spry one to pull it off, they get out, and Jack learns about the real world. Story ends on happier terms than it should be, although you do find yourself rooting for the pair the whole time through.

While reading Room, I really could imagine this happening. We're taught from a young age about strangers with vans or walking... offering candy or help finding their lost puppy. Unfortunately, it happens all too often in life, and with Room being fiction, Donoghue really hit the nail on the head in making the characters feel like it's true. Using pop culture references, sure, it can happen in the early 2000s, but how prevalent is it in any generation? I remember growing up in the 1980s, hearing stories, being told "don't talk to strangers", "always find a policeman", etc. I think this novel really deserves the accolades it has gotten, and will get. A must read, for sure, and book to not pass up.

Cheers;








See also:








Friday, January 31, 2014

All I want is someone to help me

I recently bought a new car. As I was looking at different models, brands, asking questions and taking test drives, I noticed one major theme among the automobiles: they all have satellite radio.

SiriusXM now comes as a standard three month trial. No matter what car you're getting, there's a button for that celestially magic station that gives you news and music from all around the world. Of course, you pay the price - not only the cost of the car, but then it ends after 90 days and you have to pony up a minimum of $10 a month (or $120 a year) to get "mostly music" (about 80 channels). If you want everything - be that greedy guy in the $35k BMW, you get the $19 a month (or $200 a year) all inclusive plan. It saves you $29 a year versus the monthly plan and you get the whole kit and caboodle - to the point you can stream online. You also get over 175 channels. Who needs that?! I'm lucky if I can listen to 10 minutes of normal radio in my car.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Excuse me while I retake the test

...and go back to a four year college, study hard, and raise my GPA.

I'm always looking for new work. Especially after a mishap yesterday, leaving my hand looking like I got attacked by an angry clawed animal. It's not as bad as you think. It's just five shallow cuts on my fingers. Could have been worse; I could have cut my fingers right off.

But I didn't, and I'm still looking for a way out.

This morning, I get the recruitment emails - job links for sales execs, production managers, administrative assistants. One desk job caught my eye and I went to see what was needed. Yeah, let me apply when I become smarter. This particular company is looking for someone to not only be their office manager, they want someone who's toeing the Mensa line.

Job Requirement:
* MUST have a Bachelor degree (with minimum College GPA of 3.5 (or higher)
* MUST have at least a 600 out of 800 on SAT's

Seriously? This is a desk jockey position. Sure, you're on the front line; meeting and greeting people, ordering supplies, but it's not rocket science. Especially if "Finance experience is not required" and "Candidates from all academic backgrounds are encouraged to apply". Forget about racial discrimination (requiring one to be bilingual to apply / work for the company), this place of business is creating a profile for educational discrimination.

Playing devil's advocate, let's say a person in their 60's wants to apply. They may have gone to and finished college forty years ago, received a bachelor degree in something, but walked away with a GPA of 2.9. Not a complete dummy, but not as bright as this job wants them. What if they don't have a record or remember what they got on their standardized test? They can't apply? Surely forty years of experience can trump a poor SAT score...

Seems like we're becoming a culture where certain "must haves" are becoming the norm and any type of experience or knowledge is taking a back seat.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sickness enthralled

It seems like it's that time of year - everyone's sick. No matter where you live, it's winter. Out come the germies. With most of the United States under severe cold (even Florida is suffering), the germ warfare is out to get us.

I'm ready though: I've been feeling a little icky lately, so I've stocked up. Between the Emergen-C packets (although I must admit, the Acai Berry is pretty tasty), a bag of Ricola, Zephyrhills water for the Emergen-C and a box of Cold-Eeze... I'm ready to make the cough and cold go away!








































Plenty of tea helps too... my favorites: Celestial Seasonings Herb Tea, Bengal Spice, Celestial Seasonings African Tea, Madagascar Vanilla Red (see here for a neat recipe), Twinings Earl Grey Tea (the K Cup version has a bit of a lemon after taste... which is nice) and Twinings English Breakfast Tea (classic).






































I'm sure a little sun won't hurt, but when it's 53 degrees out and the wind making it feel 45, you just don't want to do anything. I feel bad for my friends up north, where it's minus something, and they've got feet of snow out side. I guess the view I've got isn't half bad?

Take care, be well, and get warm!

Cheers;