Aug 30, 2008

Hair Beauty Tip Experimentation

1) On a regular basis, nearly every single women's magazine on earth will include a tip in their beauty section: you don't want to wash your hair every day. I realize that the oils in your hair are good for maintaining it's health; I know that having a little dirt/grease in there makes your hair much more manageable; I know that people famous for beautiful hair do it this way. But it's hard to not think about how gross my hair would get as a teenager if I went more than a day without washing it: grease city. I have always been a regular hair washer. Until now. I decided to finally give it a shot and have only washed my hair twice in the last week. And I'm a believer. Within just this week, my hair feels several times stronger and more managaeble. It holds curl better, it's softer, and it makes for a much faster morning routine. If there are any other skeptics out there, I highly recommend you give it a shot. (Note: not washing your hair everyday does NOT mean don't shower everyday.)

2) A very popular look these days is beachy wavy hair. I have tried without a ton of success to achieve this look with varying hair lengths and varying techniques. I was reading hair tips online yesterday and read that a lot of people have had success getting this look using sea salt spray. The method I used: 1 tbs sea salt, 1/2 cup water, spray bottle, semi-damp hair, scrunching. Nothing. At all. I don't know if my technique or formula was off or if it's just not a good method all together. I'll probably try to work with it a little more before signing it off, but my first reaction is: worthless. (P.S. If any of you have suggestions, I'm open to experimentation.)

Aug 26, 2008

How a Certain Part of Our Country Thinks?

The sign in front of the discount firearms and pawn shop near my house says "Buy your guns before election day!"...awesome.

Aug 25, 2008

Joe Biden, come on down!

Maybe it's just something weird in me, but I don't feel like the campaign has truly begun until the bumper stickers have two names on them. So here he is, finally: a new character in presidential news. This is good because it's the same thing over and over again (note to the media: this does NOT mean that I care about Brett Farve), and we need a new character to spice things up. (The previous sentence was originally something about how Derrick and Meredith keep doing the same thing over and over again and we need Addison to show up...but it didn't seem appropriate at all when proofreading).

My first thought when it was announced Sen. Biden would be the vice presidential nominee was: "oh, one of those old northeastern senators", but I've done a little research now. Upon reviewing my own blog archives, I discovered that during a certain debate I was impressed with Biden's knowledge. Which means he's perfect. While they never say it, the Obama team's goal is to be the anti-Bush. Displaying knowledge/intelligence is key to this.

The biggest plus is the experience factor, though. The biggest argument against Obama will always be that he's too inexperience (which makes him too idealistic, etc.), but by teaming up with Biden, he shows that he's smart enough to surround himself with experienced people, which is exactly what he will need to do if elected president. If I did my math correctly, Sen. Biden has been in Congress for 14 years longer than old-timer Sen. McCain. Plus he's better looking (which shouldn't actually be a factor, but let's be honest, it effects us all to some degree).

And I think it's cute (maybe not the right word, but I couldn't think of a better one) that Sen. Biden was once a young senator (even a young senator running for a presidential nomination in 1988). It just gives all these warm fuzzy feelings of the mentor. Most of which probably aren't founded on much, but you can't help it.

About the New Job

I started a new job last week. It's 25 hrs/wk and will work well with my school schedule (school starts on Wed), so that's decent. And it's located in Pleasant Grove, so that's decent. And it's the cleanest, best-decorated, most professional office I've ever worked in, so that's decent.

The weird this is, though...nobody talks. I'm not kidding you. I will work there for five hours straight and not speak to a single other person in the office. It's so bizarre. When I first started working there and asked those preliminary questions (who I tell when I'm going on break or who to call if I'm going to be late or who to ask if I need help), the answers were essentially: "nobody cares when you're going on break, just keep track of it yourself," "just make sure you mark on your time card if you're late," and "I guess you can ask whoever is around, but you seem to be doing just fine." And that was about it for human office interaction. Now, I talk to people on the phone all day, so it's not like I feel broken off from the world, it's just the office dynamics are weird. I'm not even sure who my boss is. I have three suspects, but few clues. Normally I've worked in offices where everyone's chatty and good friends with each other and there's music playing and fairly heavy supervision, but I am just a lone worker here. It has its advantages and disadvantages. The jury is out on whether I like it or not.

The work itself is kind of dull, but not bad. The company sells/installs/fixes SAP Business One, business management software designed for small businesses. My job is to call as many small businesses as I can in our area of six states and find those that are unhappy with their current software. When I find them, I put them in touch with the sales people. And that's it. Really easy.

When they interviewed me, I remember they kept asking questions about how I handle rejection or rude people on the phone and that sort of thing, but I haven't really run into a ton of that. My perspective is probably skewed, since I've worked in the collections industry for the last two years of my life, but nearly everyone I've spoken to is quite polite, especially since I'm calling businesses. I've only had maybe two rude phone calls in the five days I've worked there so far. Practically nothing.

The only trick is to have the right attitude about the position. I'm not trying to convince anyone or push anyone or any of that. Just sifting through the haystack of small businesses for potential needles. It's 100% a numbers game. The more people I call, the higher likelihood of finding someone who's looking. I'm currently averaging 103 calls per lead (I would assume this is about the same for the other two lead developers, but it's not like I talk to them or even know what the male one is named). So it's not like having someone not be a lead is discouraging.

I get bonuses for leads found, so that helps keep things more entertaining. I used to think that working for commissions/bonuses would be horrible, but then I worked for Heritage and made so much money off commissions that I'll never think that about a job again. The base pay is enough to make the job worth working, but the bonuses make the job exciting. I like having how hard I work directly effect my pay. It's terrific.

Also, there's free hot chocolate in the break room. The office is freezing cold, so this is definitely a plus.

Aug 22, 2008

Also (in case a certain person named Emilee Haines isn't convinced)

I have a pet in WoW. It is called "Silver Tabby" and it looks like this. That's right...exactly like a baby white tiger. If I let him out of his carrier, he will follow me all over the world. Thank you, crazy cat lady in Elwynn (a forest that in my mind is named after Ellie Wynn)! I owe so much to you.

Now I just wish that when I write emotes like "Andiera rubs her face in Silver Tabby's tummy while he purrs," that it would actually happen on the screen, but I guess you guys at Blizzard don't think this is an important enough emote to have a function for. I mean come on guys, if I write "Andiera waves to Cleona," it actually happens, and that's far less important than making sure your pets know how much you love them. Maybe you could add it when Wrath of the Lich King comes out? Please? I said "please", dang it! What do you mean I should be playing Sims or some game that cares?

Aug 18, 2008

World of Warcraft Explanation

So now that it's out there, I thought I'd try to justify myself to the world.

I have never been a video/computer game person. Until I was about 20, about the only gaming experience I had ever had was a) the games that come standard with Window (Minesweeper, Solitaire, etc.), and b) humiliating myself as an elementary school student playing Mario Kart at Kim Baur's house on a couple occasions.

Then I met Trevor. It began with Super Smash Bros Melee. It was a major activity in Stadium Terrace apartment 36, where I spent most of my time. All the guys there were very understanding of my incompentence and allowed me to play with them. At first, I would die really quickly (normally from killing myself on accident, but occasionally from someone killing me which would generally be followed by an apology), and would go and clean their kitchen (which was repulsive 100% of the time) until the next round because there was nothing else to do. But I slowly got better. I remember with pride the night I was playing with Trevor and Tylor and Trapper and someone said "Okay, we got to stop ignoring Andrea; she's killing people." Many happy hours were spent with the game: me as Peach, Trev as Ganondorf, James as Dr. Mario, Trapper as Samus, Hefe as Pikachu, Travis as whoever is the cheapest character in the game. Good times. This continued once I got married, and grew even more intense with the release of Brawl.

Somewhere in here was that couple months of my life where Trevor, Trapper, and I would play Rock Band pretty much all night, pretty much every Friday. My repertoire of video games was building.

Crucial to my development was Zelda: Twilight Princess. This was the first time in my life that I dedicated a significant amount of time to a game that wasn't played with others. The game starts out kind of slow which was perfect for me, as it was really difficult at first to know how everything works. I honestly loved that game. I loved how everything was designed to build on what you had learned previously. It was really well-designed that way, in my opinion. By the time I beat it (several months and over 100 hours of play time later), I was Link. I had saved freaking Hyrule, and nobody could take that away from me. I shed tears when at the end of the credits I finally got to go home to Ordon. It was emotional to have finished such a grand adventure.

Trevor, in the meantime, had started playing WoW. This is mostly because of the influence of Mike, an old friend of Trevor's who we started to hang out with a lot around this period of time. Michael Coe is the biggest WoW fan I've ever met, which is amazing because he's a well-groomed, socially-capable guy with a beautiful wife and friends and everything. Trevor was skeptical about the game, but once he started playing, he found he really liked it. So we would spend happy evenings with Trevor playing WoW and me playing Zelda. We'd share our accomplishments with each other ("Look at this new mace I got from a quest, baby. It nearly doubles my crit percentage. It would hurt so bad to get hit with this thing." "Well I just got this spinner thing in a dungeon. I can like jump from wall to wall with it. Come watch me use it for a second; it's so cool."), share our trials ("Aagh! Doesn't this level 60 undead rogue have something better to do with his time than camp my body all day!" "Well I cannot beat this boss. I know what I have to do, but I've been trying for the last hour. I can't get the timing for the clawshot."), share the love. It was really pretty fun.

I had made a couple WoW characters during this time. Because it's fun to pick their hair and face and everything at the very beginning. Obviously all the characters I made were either humans or blood elves, because they're just far better looking than the other races. But I didn't actually play the game for quite some time. Well, I think I got one of my characters to level 3 or something, so I played a little and figured out how gameplay works from that, but that hardly counts, as you can do that in less than an hour.

However, at a certain point in my life, it became inevitable. I had watched Trevor play for some time. I had lost my job and couldn't find a new one and it was too late to go to school during summer term, so I had quite a bit of free time. I had beat Zelda, and didn't have a ton of options for mindless entertainment. I was ripe for the picking. The only challenge at that point was figuring out how to spell the account name to log into Trevor's account. This took longer to accomplish than I thought. You see, I couldn't just ask as it was important to start playing without anyone knowing. So I'd purposely hang around the computer when I knew Trevor would be logging on and figured it out.

And that's that. Time moved on. I played. I have a level 40 human warlock. A warlock because I liked the red dress that warlocks wear at the very beginning better than the starting outfits for any of the other classes and that was the only deciding factor (see fig.1 for dress). However, I'm glad I picked that class because I really like playing with a minion. I don't have to get my hands dirty at all, just shoot spells and let the minion do the physical damage. People familiar with the game try to explain to me that my minions are enslaved demons doing my bidding only because I am more powerful than them. But I insist that it's different for me. I hug my minions after a good victory and tell them what a good job they are doing and we work together out of friendship (except one of them):

1) I love the imp because she (I decided mine's a she, get over it) bounds through the grass behind me like a kitty. Sure, she looks kind of scary (see fig. 1 for imp), but I always told her she was beautiful. Her personality was what matters anyway and I think they act adorable.
2) As far as the voidwalker (fig. 2) goes, I imagine he's kind of like the genie in Aladdin because he kind of looks that way. Sure, he sounds like he's not happy to do my bidding when he talks, but that's just how we play; he likes to tease me. And when he says "As you wish," we all know that what he really means is "I love you."
3) I never ever play with the succubus (fig. 3). We are bitter enemies in the high school teen movie kind of way. She's the cheerleader one who hates all other females in the school because they threaten her power, but it doesn't matter because I'll end up getting lead in the musical and she'll end up being embarrassed in front of the whole school or some such worthless teen movie ending. She just thinks she's hotter stuff than everyone else. She has the same personality as Paris Hilton, but doesn't have the money. I just hate her.
4) And the felhunter (fig. 4) is the nicest German Shepherd ever. We play fetch and he wags his tail when I summon him because he's so happy to see me. And he's handy against magic users, just like a German Shepherd.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4
I suppose I'd also get the minion-effect if I were to play a hunter. Hunter's have pets that really are supposed to love their masters, so that would be nice. But the huge drawback of that is this: most hunter-friendly outfits are pants and a vest or something like that, and the warlock-friendly robes are far more feminine. I remember one time, very early in the game, when there was a time that a tunic and pants was better outfit and I put it on for the higher armor but missed my robes. And my hero Aglarel (Trevor's character) bought me two dresses because I complained to him about it. And Trevor was so cute when I got home that day, all excited for me to log into the game and see what he had done for me. It was really tender. He's just a sweetheart.

My main complaint with WoW is you never win. You can level up to 70, but then you can always have better gear and always have more pvp (player versus player) victories, etc. I had a problem with this in Zelda even, as even after I won, I knew there were things left unfinished in the game. There were still some empty spots in my bug collection, and I'm sure there are some chests with heart containers in them that I never found, and I never got past the two heavily-armored knights in the Cave of Ordeals, and these may just be side quests, but dang it I want to finish everything and wrap it up neatly. World of Warcraft is like this but on the biggest scale possible. It's horrible. When I first started playing, I decided I would just tell myself that you win once you get to level 30 and then I would be done. Then Blizzard changed it so you get your first mount at level 30, and I wanted to ride my felsteed (because she's a legitimately beautiful black fire horse) (only complaint: I wish there was an option to ride her side-saddle, because that would be such a ladylike picture), so I continued.

You see, how I look in a game is one of the most essential parts of it all. I am still the girl I've always been. I always played princesses (meaning my choices were Peach or Zelda) when playing Super Smash Bros, and that still sums up my gaming personality. Actually, I didn't even play Zelda in Melee, because she was too ugly in that game, but once Brawl came out I think she's pretty, so I'll play her now. I never use her to turn into Sheik, though. I don't like that part of her personality. She should be proud to wear a dress and look like a girl. Also, in Brawl, does it bother anyone else that she's a brunette as Zelda and a blond as Sheik? Peach will always be my favorite for two reasons: a) she's the only one who fights in heels, and b) she gets to hit people with frying pans.

And that comes to the gist of it: I like playing video/computer games. I didn't mean to, but it's a fun time. The way I think and the reasons I play are somewhat different than your average gamer (especially the males), but I have a fun time with it. It's a hobby I share with my sweet husband and I just want you all to stop judging me. I still bathe, for crying out loud.

Aug 12, 2008

Musings on McDonald's

My husband and I eat at McDonald's fairly often. It's delicious and cheap and fast and I don't care if you judge me because we're both pretty healthy, so whatever. The great thing about living in the United States is, you're never farther away than a five-minute drive from a McDonald's. It's just convenient all around. We love going to have our "pies and fries", a term coined while thinking "this will be a great little family phrase; oh, how our future children will love having 'pies and fries' at McDonald's after going to the pool or as part as family home evening or some such." But in reality, we don't need children around to get excited about it. Oftentimes we'll be sitting around contemplating what to do with our lives and "Can we please have pies and fries?" Trev will ask me in his cutest voice. "Pies and fries! Hooray!" I will yell with glee. And we're speeding down the street with grins on our faces. Oh the happiness that can be purchased for $3!

However, I've noticed something fishy about their drink prices of late. They are as follows:

Small - $1.00
Medium - $1.44
Large - $1.69
Extra Large - $.99

I don't think there's much excuse for this kind of pricing behavior, but was willing to forgive them, because the extra large drink is so economical. It's low-price to begin with and then take into account that it easily satisfies two people, and you're looking at a terrific deal. A beverage for a mere $.495 is pretty decent (granted, you have to have someone around you don't mind sharing germs with, but that is what husbands are for).

However, my forgiveness for ridiculous pricing was squashed yesterday when I had the following conversation with a McDonald's employee:

Me: Would it be possible for me to have an extra large drink in a medium cup?
Employee: I'm sorry, that's not possible.
Me: I just want the cheaper price, but the extra large drink is huge.
Employee: Would you like a medium, then?
Me: No! I'm not paying an extra 45 cents for less product.
Employee: I'm sorry, we're just not allowed.
Me: Well could you maybe give me an extra large drink for 99 cents, but only fill it up halfway?
Employee: I don't have a button for that...hold on let me ask someone.
Me: Don't worry about it, just give me the extra large drink. No ice. Thanks.

I always order no ice because the beverages come out plenty cold and I don't want to waste the precious paid-for cup space with ice. I didn't realize until later that worrying about that is kind of absurd. I drank maybe a third of that drink.

Aug 11, 2008

Economic Downturn

For some time now, the economy has been a major story in the news. Inevitably in these stories, the news presenter will interview an economist for his take on things. The economist will usually say something like this: "Well, gas prices and unemployment are up and a lot of houses are being foreclosed." Thank you expert, we didn't know. So what's causing this? "Well, oil prices continue to climb, the job market isn't as robust as we've seen in the past, and people are having a hard time paying their mortgages." Oh, thanks again expert, you are very helpful.

When asked what to do about it, our economist will mumble something about the Fed or Congress or banks or some such and then mention that the economy hasn't behaved quite like this before (even though the way they describe the situation it always sounds to me exactly like the stagflation of the 70s, but I probably just don't know enough about it). He never admits that he has no idea, but gets that message across fairly clearly.

I won't pretend to understand the complexities of economics (I did just fine in the one semester high school economics class that I took in 2004, but that's all I've got to work with here), but it seems to me that economists are the medieval doctors of our century. Their biggest help is to make us feel that something is being done about the problem. They may even know a few tricks that can help diagnose and treat a problem (based on knowledge of humors, prayers, leeches, herbs, astrology), which may or may not help somewhat, but the fact of the matter is our economists still don't have much that can help or explain what is going on.

Wait, let me amend that: Macroeconomics people are the medieval doctors. I can understand the way that microeconomics people help in a corporation or whatever. But people that try to explain the big picture generally don't know much more about what's happening than what the current symptoms are. Why things happen, where they are going, and what we can do to fix problems: all a mystery.

Now again, I may just be ignorant. Maybe these economists just know more than I do and our country would be a lot worst off if the Fed and other financial powers weren't working their magic. But honestly, can you think of a single time in history that a government's meddling in the economy actually fixed the market? I guess maybe in ancient times when people passed laws requiring the use of uniform currency or something like that, but can you think of a modern capitalist example? I can't. Even major economic projects like the New Deal really didn't do a ton (mostly just brought hope, which I suppose has its merits, but let's be honest, WWII ended the Depression and not the efforts of FDR and a progressive congress). Have/will things like the economic stimulus package or raising minimum wage help anything at all? I really don't see it.

The market fluctuates; it has its bad times and its good times and it's just as natural as the changing weather (which we also can't control...aside from reducing global warming, I suppose, but that's another huge topic that I could ramble about for some time). At least that's the way I see it. I really don't think there's a ton that we can do, except being smart about our individual finances.

Semi-related side thought: Remember how stagflation and all that made Jimmy Carter one of the least popular presidents at the time but nowadays he's a very well-respected man and even freaking won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002? It's amazing how much the economy effects the way we look at our president, who really has very little to do with it. The question is: what if something similar to this happens to George W. Bush? How much of your disapproval of him has to do with the fact that we're paying too much at the pump or whatever your particular gripe with the current economy happens to be? History has a funny way of painting its figures in a different light then their contemporaries would expect.

Yeah, I don't see it happening either.