eReaders Are Great But…

I finally broke down and bought a wireless reading device. I won’t divulge the brand to keep this article from turning into a review or advertisement. I’ll just say it is one the most popular eReaders on the market. Okay, I bought a Kindle.

I was enticed by the convenience of not having to drive to my local bookstore to buy new releases. Now, all I have to do is point and click and within thirty seconds a bestseller is downloaded to my eReader. If I’m feeling too lazy to turn on my computer, I can download titles directly from the eReader as it has an Internet connection. Again, just a scroll and click then poof – the title is downloaded and listed on my Home page. I love the ability to purchase books, magazines and newspapers anytime I want. I love having my library in one place and not having to choose which book to take with me to read on lunch breaks and extended trips. The technological advantages alone make the somewhat steep price of the eReader well worth the money, especially if one averages around a book a week like I do. As much as I like the eReader, I do have one problem. I miss the traditional reading experience.

The eReader has a no-glare screen that mimics a book page but, to me, it is not the same. I miss holding a hardcover in my hands and the sound of the pages turning. I miss reading jacket blurbs and seeing the author’s picture. I even miss the smell from the pages of a recently purchased book. While I don’t regret buying my eReader, I can’t help but to hope that the device’s rise in popularity doesn’t render traditional books obsolete. For my part, I still plan to buy a hardcover every now and then just for nostalgic reasons. Perhaps I’m being too sentimental?

Don’t Let Bullies Ruin Your Life – Part 2

A while back, I posted an article titled, “ Don’t Let Bullies Ruin Your Life.”*  In it, I shared my past experiences with bullies and offered coping advice for those being bullied.  The recent spate of teen suicides contributed to relentless bullying has spurred me to continue this discussion with the hope that at least one child will find it helpful and beneficial.

For those who think of bullying as a childhood rite of passage, please change your way of thinking.  The type of behavior that is causing young adults to take their own lives goes beyond friendly joshing and teasing.  It is a deliberate social exclusion during a time in life when being accepted means everything.  It is devastating when that feeling of acceptance is taken away.  Add camera phones, viral streaming and social media and a bullied child could feel there is nowhere to turn or hide.  If you participate in bullying, stop right now.  It is not right to harass a person who seems different.  It takes more courage to get to know someone than it does to fall in line with others.  Break away from the crowd.  You just may find true friendship based upon you as a person and not your ability to follow the leader.

To kids and teens experiencing bullying:  I cannot stress enough that one’s junior high and high school years don’t last forever.  I know because I survived them both.  For me, high school and junior high were an emotional and sometimes physical torture.  I was too skinny, too ugly, too weird, or just too whatever. I know how horrible the loneliness is.  I know how it feels to be excluded from conversations and group activities.  I’ve sat alone in the lunchroom.  I’ve been denied a seat on the school bus, pushed off a seat on the school bus, completely ignored when speaking and laughed at simply for being myself.  Sometimes, the only way I slept at night was from sheer exhaustion after crying over some mean remark or cruel prank.  And, sadly, I, too, began to think the world would be better place without me in it.   I am glad I never gave in to those feelings and I pray, that you never do, either. Don’t rob the world of the brilliance and talent that only you possess.  Life gets better.  I know that has been tossed around so much that it’s becoming cliché. And I also know that it’s little comfort when you are in pain today.  But it’s true.  If you can’t find anything else to believe in, at least believe the words of someone who has experienced and survived the same situations you find yourself in.  Please seek help from your parents (they understand a lot more than you think) or another trusted adult.  Seek comfort and guidance from your faith.  Always remember that you are loved and valued and needed.  There are more people in your corner than out.  I am definitely in your corner.  God bless you.

*http://hubpages.com/hub/There-Will-Be-Brighter-Days

As Seen On TV – Buyer Beware Edition

Works as advertised but too expensive.

I was recently involved in a car accident.  Nothing major but not a minor fender bender either.  In addition to being without my car for a month, I was left with persistent lower back pain that made it difficult to stay asleep.  While lying awake during the wee hours of one morning, I came across an infomercial for BackJoy – The Back Orthotic and bought it after watching thirty minutes of testimonials.  My main reason for purchasing the BackJoy was because sitting in my chair at work was becoming unbearable.  The BackJoy promises to ease lower back pain and improve posture.  I am happy to advise it worked as advertised.

So why am I including it on a blog with the title Buyer Beware?  Two reasons. One:  the price.  Although the product works as advertised, I feel it is overpriced for the quality of materials – $39.95 plus s11.95 shipping and handling.  Kind of steep for what appears to be a simple piece of molded plastic with a soft covering.  Two: to receive the full effectiveness of the BackJoy,  you have to condition yourself to sit in it properly.  Packing materials include a link to a YouTube clip showing the correct way to sit (with it under you) and position (“skootch” to the back of the chair).  Although the instructions are not difficult, it is cumbersome to remember this every time you sit down.  There are cheaper alternatives that provide the same level of comfort.

The second item I am reviewing is the Mister Steamy dryer ball and it will be short and sweet.  Buy this product only if you dry your clothes on high heat and don’t expect all wrinkles to be released. Unfortunately, I dry my clothes on low heat (I’m not trying to shrink my shirts and pants) and I did expect all wrinkles released and not just less noticeable.  For me, buying this product was a waste of money, time and energy.  After a couple of uses, I have resigned myself to promptly removing my clothes from the dryer and sweating over an ironing board.

FAIL!

Have You Ever Just…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog.   Life came at me like a 100 mph fastball and, to paraphrase the late Ronald Reagan, honey, I forgot to duck. Only those over the age of thirty will understand that reference, but what the hay.  No one under thirty or over thirty reads my stuff anyway.  Oh, but I’m not throwing a pity party.  This depressing fact has a silver lining –  I am free to write about subjects in any manner I want without the fear of alienating my “readers”.

A while back I posted about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  It was so freaking excellent, I read the rest of the trilogy – The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.  Only Hornest’s Nest disappointed and that was because I knew it was the end of the series.  I really, really hate it that Steig Larsson passed away.  He was a truly talented writer who had me Googling all things Sweden so I could understand the references in his novels.  I never before cared about Sweden. I had nothing against the country and its citizens, but, admittedly, its history and culture were not prominent in my thoughts. That is,  until I read the The Girl trilogy.  Now, I dream of visiting the country.  That’s the power of a good book.

Unfortunately, this trilogy will be getting the Hollywood treatment.  Praying Hollyweird will not screw it up and turn it into a lighthearted romantic comedy because “test audiences” responded negatively to the dark undercurrents of the original.  You know they’ll do it.  Hollyweird is a business.  Business is money.  Studios care about money.  They sometimes care about money so much they’ll replace quality with crap if they feel it will make a profit.  Note to Big Name Studio:  Please stay true to the trilogy.

Speaking of Hollyweird, LiLo (that’s Lindsay Lohan to you) did a brief stint in jail and rehab.  For her inconvenience, she has been rewarded with magazine cover shoots and six figures for interviews.  Never one to miss an opportunity no matter how pathetically attention-grabbing, Paris Hilton has been arrested for cocaine possession.  Wonder how much she’ll be offered when all is said is done.

Combat missions in Iraq have been suspended.  OK, that’s good, but 100K troops are still there assisting the government with taking the reigns.  This mission will be done when ALL American troops are home.  Period.  As long as there are troops there, there is the possibility of combat.  I don’t think the extremists care if the troops are just there in a supervisory role.  Keep praying for them and for those stationed in Afghanistan.

I’ve come to the end of the post.  I’ll try to post more if for no other reason than to blow off steam.  Have you ever just felt rhymes with witchy?  Well, that’s me tonight.  Enjoy your Labor Day weekend.  Have responsible fun.

(Texas) Politics As Usual

President Barack Obama will attend a Democratic Party fundraiser in Houston, Texas next month. However, the state’s top Democrat, former Houston mayor and current gubernatorial candidate Bill White, won’t be attending. Instead, White is choosing to spend the day campaigning in Dallas.

Are you kidding me? For those not familiar with Texas geography, there are approximately 300 miles separating the two cities. By air, it takes about 40 minutes to travel from Dallas to Houston and vice versa. Commuter planes depart every hour between the two destinations. Certainly, White could hop one of those planes, make an appearance with Obama at the fundraiser then return to Dallas and continue stumping.

Rick Perry, the current Republican governor of Texas, hit the nail on the head when he suggested the real reason White is choosing to snub the fundraiser – President Obama’s waning popularity nationwide and his practically non-existent popularity in Texas.

“This guy is trying to shut the state down with EPA regulations, cap and trade,” said Texas Governor Rick Perry. “Obamacare, I’ve got to think, is not the most popular piece of legislation to come out of DC. I understand why Bill White doesn’t want to be around him.”

To be clear, I don’t support Rick Perry at all. I’ve always viewed him as nothing more than a talking bobble-head. But, in this instance, I appreciate the fact that he did not ignore the elephant in the room (no pun intended). This move by White proves to me that, underneath it all, he is no different than Perry and the majority of politicians out there. Jump on what’s hot, shy away from those who are not, and win, win, win by any means necessary.

Memo to White: If you really want to separate yourself from the wolf pack, be the individual you claim to be. Don’t continue with politics as usual while hiding behind a reformist’s stance.

Perry doesn’t care much for Obama’s policies. In this respect, he voices his opinions and stands by them. Don’t think that I don’t realize Perry would most probably do the same as White if the tables were turned. The difference here is that Perry isn’t running a campaign stating he cares more about the state’s long-term future than the next election.

Houston Democratic State Representative Garnet Coleman countered that White’s decision to stay away should not be an issue. He is quoted as saying, “Somebody is trying to make it disrespectful, but the reality is he needs to run his race to be governor of the state of Texas.”

The only person making this disrespectful is White. Not just to Obama, but also to the voters of Texas for pretending to be something he obviously is not – a leader championing real change.

Long Time, No Post

Carmelo and LaLa - LOVE the wedding dress.

It’s been a long time since I’ve last posted. I’m sure I am the only one who noticed because I am the only one who reads my blog. So humiliating yet liberating at the same time. Anyway…..
There must be something in the water in the land of Celebritydom. There have been a slew of weddings as of late: Carmelo and Lala; Paul Pierce, Carrie Underwood, Martin Lawrence, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, even that dude from The Office (I kid, I kid, I know his name is…um…..). Lindsay Lohan is going to jail tomorrow. Hope she hasn’t suddenly remembered that she has a prior  commitment in Europe, jets off then gets her passport stolen. Again. The

Get it together, girl!

President took his family on a three day vacation and PO’d some folks. I mean, how dare he take THREE WHOLE DAYS to spend quality time with his wife and children. Who does he think he is? George W.? (To the three other people who read this post: yes, I’m being sarcastic) BP finally placed a cap on the gushing well in the Gulf. Yeah! Hallelujah! Wait, premature ejubilation – the well is now “leaking”. Really, no one finds it odd that this big oil conglomerate is having so much trouble successfully capping this well? Where are the conspiracy theorists when you need them? And last but not least, it is hot as h-e-double hockey sticks all over the country. No, that’s not last. Congrats to John Krasinski and Emily Blunt on their wedding last weekend. He’s that dude from The Office.

I know who he is....

Until next time….

Hurricane Alex

This storm's reach spanned over 400 miles. Amazing!

Wow. Hurricane Alex made landfall approximately 450 miles from Houston yet it has rained buckets here all day. Flood watches have been enacted along the coastal lines. I’m so glad my little car made it through the high water on the way home from work. As frustrating as all the localized flooding has been, it pales in comparison to the damage in northern Mexico as two people are now confirmed dead with some reports indicating the death toll may reach five. My prayers and thoughts are with their loved ones.

As a survivor of Hurricanes Alicia and Ike and seeing the utter devastation of Hurricane Katrina, I can tell you these are not just bad thunderstorms. Living through the howling winds and torrential rainfall is hard enough, but living in their aftermaths is equally tough. No electricity for days, no food, no gas, waiting in long lines for bags of ice to salvage your perishable items, malfunctioning street lights – it definitely tests your character, patience and endurance.

One Year Ago Today

Still hard to believe

One year ago today, at around four in the afternoon, I was riding on a shuttle bus at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. I called home to inform my loved ones that I was on my way home after a daylong business trip.  Right before the call ended, I was asked, “Did you hear that Michael Jackson died?”

“Michael Jackson who?”  I asked.  Certainly not the King of Pop, I was thinking.  Michael Jackson had existed my entire life, either as a member of the Jackson Five, the Jacksons or a phenomenal solo artist.  He was embarking on a series of 50 concert dates at London’s The O2 arena. It had to be a cruel hoax or he was mistaken for another individual with the same name.

But, of course, it was the Michael Jackson.  It was the man whose legendary performance on Motown’s 25th anniversary special mesmerized me as a child. The man whose videos I had watched repeatedly and whose dance moves I clumsily attempted to master.  It just didn’t seem real.  Yet, when I made it to the terminal, the television monitors were tuned to CNN and groups of people had gathered beneath and were staring intently at the images of his body being wheeled into an ambulance.  It was real.  Michael Jackson was dead.

There are those today who will remember Michael Jackson for many reasons – his eccentricities ad his legal troubles to name a few. I, however, plan to focus on his dazzling career, historic accomplishments and volumes of songs that have stood the test of time.

RIP, Michael.  Thank you for the years you dedicated to bringing joy to your millions of fans worldwide.

What’s So Bad About Obama?

Enough.
Why do some people have an issue with President Barack Obama? I’m not referring to his handling of national or international crises. As a Gulf Coast resident, I have not been pleased with his response to the BP oil spill. I’m also not referring to any of the issues he’s championed. Hey, if you really feel healthcare is a privilege and not a right and don’t want the government involved, more power to you. Take a stand for what you believe in.
I’m referring to the segment of society that disrespects the man as president. You have the Birthers and their assertion that the President Obama is not a United States citizen. When did Hawaii secede from the America? There is the minister in Arizona who says he prays and instructs his congregation to pray for the president’s death. Unfortunately, he is not the only minister practicing this abomination. There are the right-wing commentators who pounce on every single word he says and spins the information to suit their own agendas. There was the extremely disrespectful representative from South Carolina who yelled, “You lie!” during the State of Union address last year. Now, there is an Iowa congressman making news because he feels the president favors blacks or whites. Really? The Republican stated he is offended by the “posture” of the president and Eric Holder, the attorney general who is also black. In an attempt to legitimize his claim during an interview on G. Gordon Liddy’s radio talk show, he cited erroneously that in a 2009 speech Holder asserted whites are more cowardly than blacks when discussing race. In actuality, Holder stated as a NATION “in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.” The operative word is WE; Holder is not taking himself out of the equation. The representative also states the president took the side of the black Harvard professor when he was arrested by a white police officer for breaking into his own house. The way I remember it, the president facilitated a meeting at the White House so both men could have a civil discussion about the incident. Both men, not one.
No one wants to pull the race card because the race card is tired, overused and, in some instances, abused. However, one has to wonder if his race is not the true reason why certain segments of society denounce every speech, proposal and goodwill gesture the president makes. You don’t like him? OK, don’t like him. I certainly haven’t liked every president our country has had during my lifetime. But, respect the position. For Christians praying for Obama’s death, please reacquaint yourselves with 1Timothy 2:1-4. For those who want to recite quotes from the president and/or his appointees, make sure you quote in full context and not spread inaccuracies and outright lies. Let’s start being Americans and let go of all the Republican, Democrat, Tea Party, Birther, left-wing, right-wing, conservative, liberal labels. Stop twisting personal agendas into national platforms. You may temporarily exalt yourself, but you will also undoubtedly aid in the unraveling of our country’s moral fiber.
Enough.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

OK, I admit it. I am coming on-board late to the first novel in the popular Stieg Larsson trilogy. But better late than never. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is one of the best thrillers I’ve read.

The novel, set in Sweden, centers around investigative reporter Mikael Blomkvist who is recently convicted of libel against corrupt financial magnate Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. While waiting to serve a three month prison sentence, he receives an offer from Henrik Vanger, the head of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families: investigate the disappearance of his niece under the guise of writing a Vanger biography in return for information on Wennerstrom and his double dealings. Unable to refuse the chance to redeem himself, Blomkvist accepts the offer and, with the help of tattooed computer genius Lisbeth Salander, uncovers dark and twisted truths that certain members of the Vanger clan would kill to keep from being revealed.

Mr. Larsson, who sadly passed away after delivering the manuscripts for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the two additional novels in the series – The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, was a gifted writer and storyteller – a combination that is sorely missed in modern literature. I am currently reading The Girl Who Played with Fire and will post a review once I am finished.

Haven’t read the book yet? See below to get your copy.