Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Why I Love Spoiler Alerts

Hey there, Friends.

Do you know what I really love and appreciate? Spoiler Alerts. I know, that's kind of a random thing to be keen on, but I am. Even if it's just a description of a video so you know what's in it and can avoid seeing it if you want.

I know I might be in the minority on this one. I understand that there are a lot of people who are super passionate about things -- an artist, music, a movie, etc. -- and want as much information on it as humanly possible at all times. I get it. You're excited about it and want to share that excitement with other people. You can geek out with like-minded people and have conversations that make it even better. I feel you, I honestly do. I'm the same way about some things quite often.

Here's my deal, and it might make me sound like a cranky old grandma who needs to get with the times and get over herself and realize that it's just the way the world works nowadays.

I don't ever skip to the end of a book or a story. If there's a movie I want to see I try not to have it ruined by seeing the entire plot or the ending posted somewhere online ahead of time. I buy all of the music I want to listen to. I know that there are songs out there in existence that were leaked, but I haven't ever listened to them. If the artist who created them wanted them out there in the public realm they would have shared them. Maybe he/she wasn't happy with it, or it wasn't the final product. I'm sure there are many reasons it didn't get released. Somebody leaking it and posting it all over the place is tantamount to stealing, in my opinion.

To be brief: I want to experience whatever it is the way the artist intended it to be. A lot of time and effort was put into creating whatever type of work it may be, of bringing it into existence. Sharing music before the creator wishes, or giving away an entire plot line before most people have had a chance to see the movie, is a pretty shitty way to express your appreciation and gratitude for all of their work.

The internet makes things more complicated.

I follow very few fan accounts. I try to make sure the ones that I do are legit. Do they tell you what they are posting? Do they give credit to the source of pictures/videos? I can only hope that also means they asked permission to share them, but that might be me being hopefully naive. I'm not cool with people swiping pictures and videos from private accounts. I mainly follow other fans. Normally it's people who somehow found me first, and when I look at their account they seem like good much as that can be judged by anything on the internet. At least they don't seem like a bot or a creepy stalker.

Let's talk about music, specifically. I follow the official accounts -- the band, maybe a few specific band members, etc. I don't follow people's family members, their friends, their significant other. That's just a little too creepy/stalkery to me. Everyone deserves their privacy. I don't follow all of the family members of my friends, so why in the world would it be any of my business what people somehow associated with an artist I like are doing?

Here's the thing about music. I know that the artists must know that once they perform a song live it's going to be out there on the internet getting shared, whether they are ready to release it or not. I get that. The cat's out of the bag, so to speak.

Maybe they encouraged everyone at the show to shoot video and post it. Free publicity and a way to get people more excited about hearing the new music. I've seen it happen, especially with bands that don't have millions or even thousands of followers. Make that social media work in your favor and get some new fans! I've also been to shows where the artist has specifically said no pictures or videos, and security will kick your ass to the curb if they catch you doing so. Most of the time nothing is stated either way and you can do whatever you wish.

So here's my moral quandary, and feel free to tell me I have a stick up my ass and need to chill. After a concert there are always a ton of pictures and videos being posted and shared around. For those of you who actually take the time to label it -- New Song! -- I thank you. I'm probably going to skip watching it. It's not that I'm not curious and dying to hear it, but I'd rather hear it in person myself for the first time or when it is finally released. I don't want to hear it for the first time through a video of dubious quality. Maybe the artist is cool with it, maybe they specifically asked not to have that shit posted, or maybe they have resigned themselves to the fact that it will be online before they ever leave the stage.Whatever the case, I'm going to skip it, and I love that the person posting it took the time to give a warning as to the content.

What annoys the hell out of me are the videos posted with no context whatsoever. Where is this even from? I've already explained I'm not okay with people posting things from private accounts, and I also think you need to give credit to the source. The part that really frosts my buns is when it's new music. I'd prefer not to have the first time I hear something be via a retweet of a repost of an Instagram story made from a video posted god only knows where of a concert held some unspecified place that has been manipulated a bunch of times and has the shittiest audio quality in the world. I don't know what the hell I'm watching at first, and it takes a second to realize it's new music. And yes, I realize it's partially my fault for not turning off autoplay on videos. It doesn't make me want to hear the song more. I'm already curious about it. It does make me wonder how much of it is the craptastic quality of the audio by that point, and how far removed it might be from what it originally sounded like. There comes a point when what is being shared is probably not something the artist would be happy about. I'm not a musician, but I feel pretty sure that no one has the goal of saying, "I hope this video that sounds like absolute shit gets spread all over the place! I totally want people to think my new song sounds like crap before I even release it, or maybe they will think I just can't perform live and decide it's not worth coming to a concert!"

Yeah, this kind of turned into a rant. Sorry, Friends.

I realize there are many more important things going on in the world that deserve attention. I've just seen too many spoilers for too many things in recent days. I've about reached my breaking point. Just know that if you post a spoiler warning or even a brief description of what's coming I appreciate you to no end. Every one of us is different and likes different things. I might not want to see or hear something, but that same thing might make other people giddy with excitement and even more stoked about what's coming. To each their own.

So yes, you are free to tell me I'm cranky for no reason. That I need to accept that anything and everything is up for grabs and to be shared on the internet these days. That everyone has the right to determine for themselves how to navigate through the moral quagmire of what should and shouldn't be posted. You already know how I feel.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Coffee Talk

Hey, Friends.

I was running errands on my lunch break today, and I decided I really just wanted coffee and a nice toasty bagel with cream cheese for lunch. It was cold and damp outside and that just seemed like the most perfect lunch I could imagine. Dunkin was calling my name. I decided to just stay and eat it there because: 1) I would have to eat it super fast if I took it home, and 2) I was not about to go back to work that early. I made the right decision! If I had left I would have missed out on hearing this glorious conversation.

I fully admit to people watching. I also admit to people listening...or eavesdropping, which sounds much less nice. I might look like I am ignoring you and messing about doing something on my phone, but odds are pretty good that I'm also paying attention to what is going on around me. The conversation these two guys were having today? I took notes. It was that amusing.

Let me set the scene:

I'm eating my lunch, checking Twitter, and generally minding my own business.  These two guys sit down near by, and start talking. My guess is that the one guy was less than sober, or maybe really hungover and in desperate need of his coffee. At least I hope he was for his sake. What follows is a reconstruction of their conversation as best I could manage from my notes and from memory. It's 100% not verbatim but close enough that I hope you find it as amusing as I did.

Guy 1: Wouldn't it be amazing if you could actually feel what other people are dreaming about you?

Guy 2:  What the hell are you talking about.

Guy 1:  Like, if someone was dreaming about having sex with you right now, you could just be sitting here and suddenly WHAM! Totally feels like you're having sex with some hot chick!

Guy 2:  How do you know it's a hot chick? Do you also get the ability to see who's dreaming about you?

Guy 1:  No man, just the feeling. **wiggles around in chair to make his point**

Guy 2:  So it could be anyone then. It could be a dude, or an old lady, or that goat in the petting zoo that seemed way too fond of you.

Guy 1: It doesn't matter! You get to feel everything, and you can imagine it's whoever you want. It would be like constant bliss. All those dreams and you'd get to feel them all!

Guy 2:  Wow. You think way too highly of yourself. No one is looking at you and constantly wanting to fuck you.

Guy 1:  Shut up!

Guy 2:  I think you're still gonna have plenty of down time where you're not busy with dream sex and can actually do work.

Guy 1:  Fuck you!

Guy 2:  No way. And you clearly haven't thought this through.

Guy 1:  Yes I have! It would be awesome! And you could imagine it's whoever you want and by thinking about them you spread the joy, and eventually everyone feels the love.

Guy 2:  And then what? The world ceases to function? How would anyone ever get shit done, or safely drive a car?

Guy 1:  Well..maybe it only works when you are sleeping. That way everyone could still get shit done during the day.

Guy 2:  So at night you would feel whatever anyone was dreaming about you. That's your final idea?

Guy 1:  Yes. Everyone would have such sweet dreams.

Guy 2:  Not everyone. And I still don't think you really want that to happen.

Guy 1:  Dude, what the hell? Why deny me my dream?

Guy 2:  What about that woman in the movie theater 2 weeks ago?

Guy 1:  What about her?

Guy 2:  You were annoying the hell out of her.

Guy 1:  Nooooo, I was flirting.

Guy 2:  I bet her dream that night involved stabbing you in the eye with the straw from her soda.

Guy 1:  Hahaha. It wasn't that bad. Asshole.

Guy 2:  But if she was, you're saying that you would suddenly wake up in an insane amount of pain, feeling like someone was repeatedly stabbing you in the eye with a straw?

Guy 1:  Yeah. *pause* Well, that might not be good. And why is she stabbing me multiple times now?

Guy 2:  You tend to piss people off. A lot. You'd probably get your ass kicked every night.

Guy 1:  Yeah. *pause* You're such an asshole! Couldn't just let me have my damn sex fantasy dream idea.

Guy 2:  Or I'm saving you from repeatedly getting your ass kicked every night. Forever.

Guy 1:  You're a shitty friend.

Guy 2:  Or the best friend you ever had.

Guy 1:  Shut up. Jerk.

Guy 2:  You're welcome. 

The End.

At least that is the end for us, Friends, because I had to leave to go back to work. They were still there when I left, so who knows where that conversation went after that point.

All in all, today was pretty darn good. Not only did I get to hear this wonderful conversation, but I also got my Girl Scout cookies delivered at work, and I finally won HQ Trivia tonight!  $5.07 winner -- go me!

So, if anyone would like to do something to make tomorrow equally as awesome, be my guest. Let's all try to do something nice for another person and spread a little joy around. I think it will work much better than the dream theory in the conversation above.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Welcome to the Dream Time

Hey there, Friends.

I had a weird dream last night. I just need to write down what I can remember of it before I forget it completely. I figured I might as well share it with all of you. Maybe you can provide some deep insight into the inner workings of my brain, or maybe you'll just feel better about yourself because your dreams aren't as strange as mine. Whatever works for you, kids. This is going to be long, and probably ramble a bit. Just warning you now in case you want to skip this and come back later, or maybe not bother with it at all. Totally up to you.

Let me start by suggesting a tune for you to listen to while you get your read on. I hadn't listened to this in quite a while, but for whatever reason it was the first song that popped into my head when trying to think of a song about dreams. Could I have chosen a different one? Yes. I'm just gonna go with my gut instinct here and share the one that popped to mind first. Feel free to ignore the suggestion if it's not your kind of jam.

Friends, you can totally ignore the fact that it's from the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack. That has nothing to do with my least I don't think it did.

Okay, moving right along to those vague details I do remember before they are gone into the ether forever.

In my dream I was looking for someone. I have no idea who I was looking for now. Guy? Girl? A friend or relative? A random person that I don't actually know? I've got nothing now that I'm awake. I only remember that it was definitely a person I was looking for, not an object, and in my dream it made perfect sense that I was the only one trying to find this person.

I don't think the person I was searching for was actually lost, either. There were all sorts of other people wandering around in my dream and none of them gave a shit or were even the slightest bit concerned that I was looking for this person. They were polite when I asked them if they had seen him/her/whoever, but that was it. It wasn't chaotic like someone had been kidnapped or a child was missing. I've had that moment of panic with my niece and nephew -- when you're in a crowd someplace and you lose sight of them for a few moments and start to freak until you realize they just wandered off a bit and are totally fine. There was none of that in my dream.

It was like the most laid-back search, Friends. I can't really explain the vibe other than to tell you what it was not. There was no sense of urgency. You know that feeling you get when you've misplaced your car keys and you have to leave so you aren't late for something? Like, your keys aren't where you always leave them, and now your wracking your brain trying to remember where else you might have put them and getting frustrated -- like the keys moved on their own just to screw with you? You get annoyed at yourself for misplacing the keys, pissed at the keys for daring to be someplace other than where they are supposed to be, and cranky because now you are going to be late for the stupidest reason ever. None of that. It wasn't even on the level of having misplaced my phone. You know what I mean, Friends. You put your phone down somewhere and don't see it immediately, so you try calling it but you have it on "silent" so now you are stuck calling repeatedly, listening for vibrations and looking for the screen to light up as you wander the house looking. 

Do you ever have something important that you put in a "safe place" for later? Maybe it's a memento with sentimental value, or important paperwork -- like car insurance -- that you might need at some point in the future but not right away, or a present that's perfect for someone but their birthday isn't for several months. I tuck those things away in a "safe place". I know I have them and they are around if and when I need them. It was kind of like that. I knew the person I was looking for was around someplace and perfectly fine. I couldn't find them at the moment, but it was okay because whomever-it-is would turn up eventually. I hope that made sense because it's the closest approximation I can give you. There was no urgency, or panic, or looming time deadline. 

Let's move on to where this was all going down in my dream. It started in a generic downtown area of a city: businesses up and down both sides of the street, cars parked along the curb, people walking around and going about their lives. I don't know where it was supposed to be, but I know it wasn't any place local. I knew there were stores and offices along the street but the names were kind of blurred out. It was a sunny day, and I'm guessing it was Spring or Summer since it seemed to be warm out. No one paid any attention to me unless I asked them if they had seen whomever it was I was looking for. Everyone was very polite. Some of them had no clue who I was talking about, others said they hadn't seen the person recently, and still others said they had to be around somewhere and to keep looking.

I didn't go into any of the businesses or stores along the street. I don't know why. I walked down the street occasionally asking people about the person. Eventually the street came to a dead end with a big stone building in front of me. In the dream I remember deciding that it meant I should go in. I recall thinking that logically the person must be in there since they hadn't been anywhere else. I don't know how that makes any sense since I hadn't bothered to go into any of the other stores or businesses, but that's how dreams work.

I walked inside the building and was greeted by a reception desk. I asked if the person I was looking for was there. The receptionist told me that she didn't think they were in at the moment, but if I wanted to take a seat by the windows she would let me know in a few minutes. I took a seat in a super-comfy black leather chair and started people watching out the window. I don't know how long I sat there waiting, but eventually the receptionist told me to take the elevator to the fifth floor and someone there could help me.

I wandered over to the elevator, which was there waiting, and took it to the fifth floor. The door opened and I walked out onto sand. I was at the beach, I think along the ocean. I walked away from the elevator a bit, turned around and saw that the elevator was gone. This didn't phase me in the slightest. I assumed it meant the person I was looking for was around there. There were a few people walking along the dunes, others jogging along the water's edge. I walked down toward the water and headed to the right. It was definitely later in the day -- not quite sunset, but late afternoon or early evening. I don't know where the beach was supposed to be, but wherever it was the weather was warm. There was a guy jogging along the water in shorts, no shirt, with this earbuds in and wearing sunglasses. Black shorts with white stripes down the side. I didn't recognize him and didn't talk to him so I don't know why that detail stuck in my head. I ambled along the edge of the water, thinking how nice the warm breeze felt on my skin, looking for seashells and meandering my way down the beach. 

I saw an older couple walking toward me up the beach with their little dog. I stopped to pet the dog and asked the couple if they had seen the person I was looking for. They were very nice and told me they hadn't seen the person recently, but I should be sure to check out the beautiful grotto a bit further down the beach. They said it would make the whole trip worthwhile even if I didn't find the person I was looking for in this location. I thanked them and decided that I was going to head for the grotto and check it out. Maybe I'd find the person on the way there.

I kept walking, and eventually the beach curved and there was a rocky outcrop in my path. I remember being a bit confused that I hadn't noticed  that the beach came to an end earlier on - like this had sort of just appeared out of nowhere. I decided that I must have walked further than I thought and been too absorbed in enjoying the beauty around me to have noticed it. I figured that the grotto the couple had told me about must be on the other side of the rocks and proceeded to climb over them. 

The grotto was on the other side, kind of in its own secluded little inlet. I remember thinking that the couple had been right -- it was beautiful and totally worth the walk to get there. The stones were all shades of a sandy brownish color, some darker and some lighter.  There were some shaped like arches and some like separate spikes of piled up stones. I remember wishing I had my phone with me so I could take a picture of it. I wandered around for a bit exploring, touching the stones and feeling how warm they were from the heat of the sun on them all day. Eventually I realized there was a tall but shallow cave up on the beach. It seemed to line up and have a perfect view out over the water looking through one of the stone archways. Since it was getting even later in the day and I was really hot from walking so much in the sun, I decided to check out the cave. I sat myself down in the mouth of the cave and decided that I'd just rest for a bit, maybe stay long enough to watch the sunset over the ocean through the arch because it would be a pretty spectacular sight. I closed my eyes for a bit, just listening to the waves crash on the beach, feeling the last rays of the sun warm on my face, and enjoying the breeze.

I wasn't kidding when I said there was no sense of urgency in my search for this person, Friends. I seemed to have no problem deciding that I would just chill for a while on the beach.

Again, I'm not sure how long it was in dream-time that I was sitting in the cave. When I opened my eyes again it was much later and I had missed the sunset completely. It was twilight now, and I realized I could hear what sounded like running water and not waves on the beach.  

I walked out of the cave wondering how I was going to manage to climb back over the rocks in the dark only to discover that I was no longer at the beach. I left the cave and was now in a forest alongside a babbling brook. There was a dirt path that ran from the cave and along the edge of the brook. And there were fireflies everywhere. Tons of them! Even though it was getting dark I could see well enough to know that it was a very green, lush forest. It was peaceful and serene, almost like something from a movie as it seemed a little too perfect. There was no sense of danger, like a wild animal lurking nearby or anything. It was like someone's version of a forest idyll...which I guess would make it mine, since it was my dream.

I hung around watching the fireflies for a bit, and then I started walking down the dirt path. I didn't know where I was headed, but clearly the person I was searching for wasn't around. Hopefully I would bump into someone along the path, or find a clue about where I should be heading.

I walked on for a bit, the path seeming to get wider and more heavily traveled. I still hadn't come across anyone else but I wasn't worried about it. It didn't seem to be getting any darker out -- it was still the same purpley-blue-black of twilight, and everything had kind of an ethereal greenish glow from the light of the fireflies reflecting off of the brook and the leaves of all of the vegetation. I had time before I had to worry about finding a place to sleep for the night.

Eventually I came to a fork in the road, and there was an old wooden signpost with arrows pointing in each direction. How cliche of me. The brook and the more heavily traveled path curved off to the right and I could hear voices off in the distance. Maybe a town of some sort was over there? The path to the left was much narrower, more like a footpath. I don't think there was anything written on the arrows like a destination point or distance, or it was too faded to read. I decided to go to the left because the person I was searching for values their privacy and wouldn't want people in the town to know they were around unless they wanted to be seen. 

What the hell. That makes no sense whatsoever thinking about it now. How in the world was I ever supposed to find someone who didn't like to be seen unless they wanted to be? 

Back to the dream...

I headed down the trail to the left. I had magically acquired a lantern on a chain at some point as my firefly friends had gone along the brook in the other direction. So now I'm walking along carrying one of these:

The lantern gave off plenty of light to be able to navigate the trail, and there were little glowing purple flowers around the base of some of the trees.

I walked on for a while before the trail eventually opened up into a giant meadow. The grass was very tall - almost up to my waist - and was swaying gently in the breeze. It was surrounded on all sides by the forest, but there were several openings in the trees around the edges which I knew had to be more trails heading in different directions. I was glad I had on my hoodie because it was a bit chilly now. Yeah. At some point I had acquired a hoodie, and I also noted that my lantern was now gone. When it had disappeared I wasn't sure, but I didn't need it as there were so many stars in the sky lighting up the meadow. I don't know if it was a full moon or not as I didn't see the moon in the sky at all. 

I looked around, trying to figure out which trail I was supposed to take next. There was a shape out in the distance, off to the right toward the other side of the meadow. I couldn't tell if it was a person or a statue, but I needed to find out what it was. I headed over, wading my way through the tall grass.

It was a statue of a person. It was grey, or at least it appeared grey in the night. It was old and weathered so the features were indistinct. It was definitely a person with short hair, or the hair had been weathered enough that it blended into the rest of the statue. It was standing there, one hand hanging loose down by its side, the other pointed up and out as if in the direction of something over the tree line, and the head was tilted back as if it was looking up toward the sky. 

I circled around it a few times, trying to figure out if I was supposed to be noticing something above  the tree line. I couldn't see anything and was debating whether I should attempt to climb up and stand on the pedestal with the statue when I saw something white in one of the hands. It was a crumpled piece of paper that had been stuck into the space to rest in the hand. When I unfolded the paper it turned out to be a note. It said, "You're on the right track. Remember -- you never know who is watching or the influence you may have on others." I knew it was from the person I was searching for, and without looking around any further I decided to head off in the direction that the statue was pointing. There appeared to be a break in the trees there, so there must be a trail.

And then I woke up, Friends. That's all there is to it. I wish I could give you a better ending, some sort of resolution after reading all of that. I wish I could give myself some resolution. I didn't find the person I was looking for but seemed perfectly content to keep going.

I tried looking at some dream interpretation websites, but I didn't get much that was very helpful. A lot of it was about searching for lost or missing things or objects in your dreams. I wasn't looking for a thing, I was looking for a person. Also, they weren't actually missing.  They just weren't where I was looking, but it wasn't that I had lost them or he/she had been taken away.

One very popular theory is that it is anxiety manifesting about something in your life. I can't stress enough how laid back and peaceful this entire thing was. There was no anxiety, or panic, or worry involved at all. I don't think it applies in this scenario. 

Another popular interpretation is that it means you are missing that "special someone" in your life because they are away and you haven't seen them in a while, or you regret a recent breakup. I have a couple of reasons why I don't think this applies: 
  1. I am very single. I don't have a "special someone" to be missing, nor do I have a recent breakup to be hung up on.
  2. I should hope that -- whether it was an ex-boyfriend or a family member or friend -- I would remember who the hell I was dreaming about if it was really that important to me.
The third most common answer was that you are searching for the person because you idolize them and wish you could incorporate certain aspects you admire about them into your own life. That might well be true. I have no idea why I wanted to find this person. Also, it's hard to figure out what characteristics I might appreciate when I don't know who the mystery person was.

I didn't really get any helpful information is the point of all that.

This is what I'm taking away from it all:

--I need to stop eating bananas any time remotely near when I am going to bed. I know that kind of came out of nowhere, Friends. It's true though. Maybe it's just me, but if I eat a banana a couple of hours before going to bed I tend to end up with some strange dreams. I had a banana around 9 pm last night, went to bed a little after midnight, and wound up with this mess.

--I really hope there was a point to all this and it wasn't some banana-induced vision quest to give myself a pep talk via a note in the hand of a statue. And while we're on the subject of the note, that shit is a little creepy now that I think about it. You never know who is watching you? How the hell was my dream-self total cool with that and didn't even look around to see if anyone was watching?

--I really would like to know who the person was that I was trying to find. Is this supposed to be a deep moment, like "The person you are trying to find is yourself"? Is it some kind of message that I need to check in with a friend or family member because they miss me, or are going through a rough patch and could use a friend? I would love to do so, if only I knew who it was. Honestly, with my luck it wouldn't surprise me if I find an interpretation claiming it was a message from my soulmate or something, and I just screwed it all up and remain clueless because I cannot remember who he was.

Let me know if you have thoughts on the matter, Friends. At least let me know about the banana thing even if you don't want to weigh in on the rest of it. If you actually read this whole rambling, convoluted mess then give yourself a virtual hug from me. Thanks for reading my babbling and wasting precious minutes of your life on my nonsense. I really appreciate it. 💗

**I'm sorry if this is a hot mess, or gets a little confused at points. I did read it over several times to try to make it somewhat coherent. There was a good 10 hour gap between when I started writing this all down this morning and when I finished it tonight. The first half was written when it was all still fresh in my mind immediately after waking up, and the second half was based off hurriedly scribbled notes I made before going to work. A lot of it kind of faded from my mind over the course of the work day. Maybe tonight my dream will pick up right where it left off. Who knows? I am out of bananas though, so I doubt it will happen.**

Saturday, March 24, 2018

March For Our Lives

Hey, Friends.

As I'm sure you have all heard by now, today is the March For Our Lives. We had our own march here in the Hudson Valley. I had mentioned it to my Mom, and she wanted to go with me. This would require some planning.

I have the worst luck when it comes to events happening all on the same day - practically at the same time. I always do the Heart Walk every year. I've done it in the snow, the pouring rain, the freezing cold, etc. What event just happened to be this morning? That's right, the Heart Walk.

Luckily for me the team walking for the library today consisted of 3 people: Me, Tonka, and her sister. That's it. We discussed ahead of time that I also wanted to do the March For Our Lives if possible. Heart Walk started officially at 10:30, and the March at 11. That wasn't going to work too well.

We got there early. I was there a little before 9 am when registration started. I registered us, we met up, and then we just went. The routes are all mapped out and signed already. We opted to skip the opening announcements and warm ups and just went on our own. He had finished our laps around the route on Marist's campus and I was ready to leave just before the walk was going to "officially" start. I'm glad my walking buddies were willing to come early to make it all work out.

Finished. Jumped in the car and drove to my parents' house. Parking was going to be hectic for the March For Our Lives, so my Dad was going to drop my Mom and I off near the starting point, and then we would call him to pick us up when we were finished.

We got there about 10:45 and joined the large group waiting. Since we got there early, we thought that was the beginning of the group forming. The event was supposed to start at 11 am. We did not move from that parking lot, and the ever-growing crowd, until almost 11:30. Could not figure out why they were waiting to start.

They hadn't been waiting.

By the time we got from the gathering place to the actual entrance to the Walkway bridge? There were already people coming across from the other side, also in March. The entire Walkway Over the Hudson, in both directions, was all people there to do the March For Our Lives. (And a couple of random joggers who were probably very frustrated by so many people in their way.)

I really can't wait to find out how many people attended. I hope someone was counting!

I'm not going to ramble on about political views, or give you a bunch of stats. I was there to participate in the March For Our Lives. Think that makes it pretty clear how I feel about the topic. I am going to share some pictures.

Sticker says 2020 voter

If you won't save us, we will save ourselves.

They were chanting so loud and so long, I'll be amazed if they can still talk.

They were playing music and singing the entire time we were waiting

Check out the banner being held by the ladies at the end of the video clip. I thought it read it wrong at first. Their group is "Old Lesbians Organizing For Change."

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Keep It Poppin'

Hey, Friends.

How was your week, Friends? Mine felt like it took an eternity to get through. I got out of work last night, went to my parents' house to take care of their cats (and eat a sandwich for dinner, which I think is a fair trade for cat-sitting duties), ran some errands, and went home to collapse on the couch in a puddle of exhaustion. I got home, fed Jazz-kitty, and I'm pretty sure I was in my pajamas on the couch before 7 pm. I could lie and say that I was resting up to do some epic St. Patrick's Day partying today and tonight, but that would be a dirty lie.

Before we go any further, I think I should take a moment to welcome the new Friends joining us here, because I think we have some of them. You see, while I was very busy being a lethargic lump on the couch last night, I decided to check the stats on my blog. I don't bother to do so very often since I'm not making money off of this thing, but when I do the stats always surprise me. Some of you went deep, and I mean deep -- like finding old posts from 2014 and 2015 that haven't been looked at or linked to in ages. I hope you enjoyed them! You picked some lovely examples of the kind of ridiculous misadventures and problems I tend to write about. You should have a pretty good idea of what you will find here at this point.

Where were we?

Right. I was in my pajamas on the couch, very busy being an inactive heap at an incredibly early hour of the evening. I did nothing productive with myself -- checked social media, watched some YouTube videos, read a book. Around 9 pm or so I started to feel a little peckish. I kind of wanted a snack, but I couldn't really decide what it was that I wanted, and I was too lazy to drag my ass off the couch and go look in the kitchen to see what options were in the house. It took almost an hour for me to finally be hungry enough that I was motivated to do something about it.

Now we've reached the actual point of this whole post, Friends. I bet you were beginning to think that I didn't have one this time around. Fooled you!

It was too late to try and do real cooking and eat an actual meal. Plus, I wasn't that hungry. Popcorn would do just fine. Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks. I've been known to skip a meal before going going to the movies just to make sure I can fully enjoy the deliciousness of movie theater popcorn. And then I remembered: I bought a fancy, new-to-me, microwave popcorn at the grocery store the last time I was there. How could I have forgotten?

The rest of this post is going to be about a particular product, Friends. I am not being sponsored by them, I was not given this stuff for free, and I'm not getting anything out of it. I bought it at the store, and my payoff is getting to eat the popcorn. I am not trying to influence your opinion about it one way or the other. Are we clear? If you want to go more in-depth down this path, feel free to click right over here and read all about that time someone asked me to be an "Influencer".

I needed musical accompaniment for this. Something to do with popping, since this is all about popcorn. I'll give you the two options that sprang to my mind. You can pick which way you want to go, opt to skip it all together, or choose your own musical adventure. This part of our story can be powered by your own imagination, Friends! Just know that whatever song you choose, I was bopping around in my kitchen, singing one of them to myself while watching the microwave do its thing. I'm not telling you which one -- you can decide how big a dork you think I am.

Option 1: Cute, sweet, classic.

Option 2: A different kind of classic

By now you're probably wondering a lot of things, Friends. Hopefully the biggest question is something along the lines of, "What the heck kind of popcorn got her so excited that she transformed from energy-depleted couch lump to a half-assed dance routine in the kitchen?" because that's the one I'm going to answer.

This one. This would be the popcorn in question.

Was that a bit of a let down? Sorry. We all know there are a bunch of different brands of microwave popcorn that claim to be movie theater style. I've eaten many of them, and while they are quite yummy they do not taste the same as the magically delicious popcorn in the theater. But this one? You get to pour the butter on yourself? I was intrigued. 

How was this not going to end up a gloppy disaster?  I've got a hot air popper. I've tried melting butter and pouring it on myself. It never ends well. Some pieces don't get any butter, others pieces melt into little mush balls -- like Dorothy throwing a bucket of water on the Wicked Witch of the West. And you wind up with a congealing puddle of goo in the bottom of the bowl. That was the reason I decided I should document this. Maybe it would turn out perfectly, maybe it would be a total mess. Let's find out together!

I opened the package and took out one packet with a bag and pouch inside.

You so know it's the "other natural flavors" part that's going to bring the magic

Not having tried this particular product before, I decided that I would actually read and follow all of the instructions. It's a novel idea, I know. It's not like I hadn't ever made microwave popcorn before, but now I had 2 pouches to contend with. Maybe double pouches meant you did things differently.

Poor popcorn button. It has one job that it wants to do, and now it will be denied the opportunity.

I followed the directions and left my poor little popcorn button unused, just sitting there on the microwave feeling neglected and hurt that it had been brushed aside for the more popular numbers. I listened attentively for the popping to slow. 

Okay, so I listened semi-attentively. I was also in the middle of my impromptu song and dance number.

Why yes, that is the beautiful decor on the bowl I chose to use

I chose to use a Halloween bowl. Don't judge me. I thought it would be the perfect vehicle for this event: it's wide and not too deep. I was going to have to pour butter "with other natural flavors" all over this popcorn. A wider bowl would allow me to cover more territory quickly. I figured that the faster I could pour, the less chance there was that I would end up with a gloppy mess. 

Besides, I had another job I had to do at the same time. I had to knead the butter packet. That's right, I was dancing, singing, and massaging my butter packet. And I was documenting this process! That's some serious multi-tasking right there, Friends.

No wonder they said knead. "Massaging my butter packet" sounds kind of dirty.

Okay, popcorn had slowed it's popping. Time for the next step.

See? Knead the topping pouch.

First of all, they are not joking when they say that the steam is going to be hot! I picked the bag up as directed and pulled from the corners. That steam still was hot enough that I ended up letting go with one hand and almost dropped the whole thing on the floor. Should I have let it sit in the microwave for a minute before attempting to open it? Probably, but I wanted the popcorn to be nice and warm and buttery when I finally got to eat it.

I don't want to brag, but as inattentive as my listening may have been, my popcorn came out pretty damn perfect. There was still steaming coming off of it when I poured it into the bowl, and not a single kernel left un-popped.

I have skills

Time to pour on the butter "with other natural flavors" packet. This was the moment where it could all go horrible wrong. Had I "kneaded my topping pouch" well enough? Was I about to ruin my perfect popcorn and turn it into a shriveled mess? Only one way to find out. 

Here we go!

No way! It really is like movie theater popcorn! There is no shrinking, nothing shriveled up as I poured the magic topping pouch onto it. This is nothing like trying to pour melted butter on popcorn. I mean, it's not that I expected that Orville Redenbacher had lied to me, but I also didn't really think it was going to work so well. 

The directions said to mix it well. I didn't want to use a spoon because that would just break the popcorn into pieces. I decided to go with the shaking method.

They totally shake it when they put butter on at the movie theater. I'm just copying the professionals.

Did it taste just like the movie theater? Pretty darn close! Bonus being that I didn't have to leave my house and pay for a movie to get it.

Even gives you that oily need for a napkin

I've got to say, I'm pleasantly surprised. I'm glad I've got another packet/pouch combo in the box so I can have it again at some point. Good job, Orville Redenbacher! I don't know what kind of butter-related sorcery you did to make this work, but I appreciate it. I suppose I could read the ingredients, but that would take away from the mystery of it all.

And thank you for reading this if you made it this far, Friends. Did it make you want some popcorn? I'm serious. You know how you don't realize you want popcorn, but as soon as you smell someone else making it you start craving it? Maybe that's just me. I might like popcorn a little more than the average person. (But really -- tell me if it made you want popcorn. And I suppose even if you do that healthy no-butter version I'll still count it. I'll question your taste judgment for sure, but I will accept you as a popcorn-loving friend.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sunday Explorations

Hey, Friends.

This past Sunday was a pretty nice day here, so I decided to go out and do a little exploring. Keep in mind that a nice day in early March in New York means that is was a balmy 41 and sunny outside. That might not sound too great to you, depending on where you live, but since it came after two big snowstorms with another storm looming on the horizon? It was pretty damn nice.

Daylight Savings Time pretty much kicked my ass. After a morning of lazing about and drinking coffee to try to feel like a functional human being again, I decided I should try to go out and enjoy the nice weather. Where to go? I didn't want to go anywhere I had been too recently -- it gets boring after a while. I wasn't sure exactly what trails or parks would be clear of the recent snow, either. The rail trail looked okay in some places -- the warmer (warmish? Probably still counts as too cold to be outdoors if you live someplace where it's perpetually 70 or the like.)  weather had melted a lot of the snow on paved surfaces. So...maybe someplace where there is some pavement would be okay.

I decided to head out to the Roosevelt Farm Lane Trail because I remembered a lot of it being paved.

Apparently my memory is for crap, or I really overestimated the melting abilities of the sunny days after the last storm. This is what I found upon my arrival:

Well that's more snow than I was expecting.

You can't really tell from the picture, but off to the right is the path. Clearly other souls braver than I had already been there and had hiked right on in. They probably also had the foresight to wear something other than sneakers when they set off. I did not make such a wise decision. Hiking around with cold, wet feet for a couple of hours was not on my list of things to do that day. This was as close as I got.

I got back in the car and started driving. I didn't know where I wanted to go, so I figured I would just decide on the fly. It makes it more of an adventure, right? I'm so glad we agree, Friends.

I was headed South when I saw the sign for Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel. I drive past this sign fairly frequently and always mean to stop but never do. Let me fill you in on the background.

I have been there exactly one time. A friend was having her all-in-one "Get Saved" Baptism/Communion/Confirmation celebrated there. I had never seen it done that way before, but it was for an adult so maybe that is how it works. My family always went to Holy Trinity and we had done theses things in stages: Baptism as a baby, First Communion when you were little, and Confirmation in high school. My point, and I do have one other than discussing religious ceremonies, was that I remembered the chapel being very pretty. It also had a really cool area where the Stations of the Cross were outside. I know, you might not find that to be something that should be qualified as "cool". Personally, I had never seen the Stations of the Cross anywhere other than spread out along the walls inside of a church so my mind was blown. 

Back to the original exploration story.

I saw the sign and decided that it would be a perfect time to stop and see the chapel. They have mass there, so I assume everything will be plowed and clear. 

I should probably mention that the chapel is on the property of the old Hudson River State Hospital, a former psychiatric hospital that has been abandoned for years. You can find some shots of the interiors of the buildings right over here and here. Added bonus: there are also rumors that the place might be haunted.

Feel free to call me a dumbass, Friends, but I kind of forgot about that part of it. Yeah, the place had been closed for years and the buildings abandoned, but I wasn't planning on going in to any of them. I was just going to drive through a little bit of the campus to reach the chapel. Shouldn't be anything too bad, right?


So very wrong, and I'm glad I had this idea in the middle of a sunny afternoon. That might have made it worse, honestly, because I could very clearly see that there was not another living soul around.

This is one of the first buildings you come to on the campus:

Rather obvious that no one has been here for a hot second.

It gets even better when you get a closer view. Yes, I did get out of the car to get a better look.

I kinda feel like the zombie apocalypse might start in a building that looks just like this.

Not just abandoned, but condemned! If the big red X doesn't give you a slight case of the heebie jeebies, then the orange sign denoting some kind of danger ought to do it. I didn't feel the need to explore any closer than that at the time. A big red X generally translates to "It might fall on your head". I've also read way too many books about such uplifting subjects as the Black Death and other plagues, so my brain dredged up the fun fact that it could also denote that there were bodies inside. I know that's ridiculous and far-fetched. Doesn't stop my brain from acting like some sort of demented Filofax.

Hindsight being what it is, that little white area on the right-hand side of the door intrigues me. I didn't really notice it until looking at the picture on my phone once I was home. I honestly can't remember if that was a hole in the door and you can see inside, or if it was the only bit of shiny metal on the door and it is reflecting a shadow.

Back in the car, and the drive through the campus continues. There are plenty more abandoned and boarded buildings. You turn right and go past an area with a bunch of low buildings, and that was probably the creepiest part to me. They were far from being in the worst shape -- much better than Pilgrim Home in the shots above -- but it felt like there should have been lots of people around. 

I kept following the signs for the chapel, and on the next turn the road runs along a stone wall with a gate in it.

Gate to Nowhere

I don't know what's on the other side of the gate. Maybe it is private property. Maybe it's a cemetery. It might be a whole lot of nothing. All I could see were trees. I will note that the gate seems to be the sturdiest part of the wall, as most of it looks like it may tip over at any minute.

The road goes down a fairly steep hill, and eventually you get to the entrance to Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel.

Hello, Angel! I'm so glad you look less creepy than the rest of the property!

Continue down the road to the final curve, and you are greeted by a statue.

This is good. I feel like I could definitely find sanctuary here if zombies should come busting out of that first building I saw.

The chapel looked beautiful, situated among all of the trees. I really don't know why I didn't take a picture of the chapel itself.

Unfortunately, nothing beyond the parking lot itself seemed to have been cleared. My seasonally inappropriate choice of shoes had once again thwarted my plans. I would not be getting a close look at the Stations of the Cross on this day. This was the best shot I could manage.

You can kind of see them, along the wall in the back.

There was also a small shrine. I'm assuming it is to the Virgin Mary, since they usually are. Again, snow thwarted my attempts to get closer.

I didn't notice until I was turning the car around that there was also a big crucifix outside on the other side of the chapel. That part was still covered by snow. Clearly I will have to return again on a day when there is no snow on the ground.

I headed back up to Creepy Land and my exit from the campus. It almost felt like some kind of warning when exiting and seeing the angels' backs.

You're on your own after this point, kid.

You can sort of see the low buildings I was talking about in the background of that shot. 

This would also be the time when I realized that, at some point, I had turned off the radio in my car. Why? I have so many reasons.

-- Even though you are absolutely allowed to go to the chapel and it is open to the public, it still kind of felt like I was trespassing on the drive down there. I don't want to get busted by driving around with my radio blasting.

--It felt disrespectful. Not just to the chapel, but to the whole area. It was totally quiet beyond the sounds of traffic from the major roadways nearby. That shouldn't be a surprise since the place has been abandoned for years. It seemed wrong to disrupt that stillness with my radio.

--I don't know about you, but I always find myself turning down the radio in my car when I'm following directions, especially near the destination. It's not like music is suddenly going to impact my vision and make me unable to read road signs or numbers on buildings, but I do it anyway.

--I want to know if something is suddenly going to pop out at me. It could be wildlife scampering across the road, a security guard telling me to get the hell out of there, etc. (Like zombies! Cause that idea hasn't left my brain since seeing the first building.)

After leaving the campus and returning to civilization, blessedly filled with traffic and living people, I decided to head home. That was enough fun for me on my Sunday.

So what did we learn today, Friends?

  1. I really need to learn to wear appropriate footwear on my adventures.
  2. Abandoned buildings can still give off a creepy vibe, even in the middle of the day.
  3. My imagination is more than happy to assume the zombie apocalypse could start at any second given even the slightest provocation.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

I Didn't Say It Was a Good Decision

Hey, Friends.

It's been a while. I didn't really have much to say, so rather than bore you all to tears I just didn't post anything. You didn't miss much. We had a storm here in the North East at the end of last week. You might have heard about it. I lost power for about a day, which is nothing in the grand scheme of things. I have friends who still haven't gotten their power restored yet. I consider myself lucky that mine was restored so quickly. I think it also helps that I live in a more heavily populated area near major intersections that need functioning traffic lights. There are some pretty terrible drivers on a good day, but it gets much worse when they are free-styling how to deal with a busy intersection.

And now it's snowing again. It's supposed to be a pretty bad storm according to the forecast. The library even closed for the day, although I already had the day off since I have to work Saturday.

What's the point of my rambling? I'm getting there. Just chill out, have a cup of coffee (that's what I'm doing) and relax.

My parents are away for a few days, so I have to go and take care of their cats -- both indoor and the feral cats that hang out in their yard. I stopped by last night and loaded all of them up on food in case the roads were too bad to get over there this morning. (Don't worry about the outdoor cats, Friends. My parents have built them little houses in various parts of the yard, complete with warm fuzzy blankets inside to snuggle up and keep warm.)

I woke up this morning to see the alert that work was closed. I was more than a little surprised to look outside and see that the roads looked perfectly fine. Less than an inch of snow, and that was only sticking to the trees and grass. This was great though because now I could go and feed the cats at my parents' house again. I still wasn't thrilled that it was snowing again, but at least no shoveling was involved at this point.

This is my "not happy about the snow" face, taken in my parents' drive way. It's also my "I'm not putting on makeup just to go buy coffee and feed the cats" look.

All the little fur babies were happy to see me. The indoor cats were all lonely and wanted to be cuddled. The outdoor cats were stoked to see me and met me at their food bowls. One of them was giving me a look that said, "You're late. Breakfast was expected much earlier than this."

I went home, and the snow kind of tapered off to nothing. Not that I want to get all of the snow that was in the forecast, but what the hell?

I got distracted by the internet, and a couple hours later I noticed that it was snowing again. Maybe the storm is arriving now. Let's go look outside and see what's happening! I can at least fill the bird feeder. (I make my own fun. And it might be of the boring variety. Sorry if you're just figuring that out right about now.)

Nothing. There is a whole lot of not very exciting things happening.

And then the coffee kicked in and my brain decided to start coming up with ideas. Enjoy my inner monologue, Friends.

The roads still look perfectly fine. Maybe the storm is just arriving a little later than expected. It's not snowing that hard right now...and I'm kind of bored already. I'll be stuck in the house later if it gets really bad out, so why not take advantage of the situation and go out and take some pictures? That is an awesome idea, brain! But where to go? Don't want to go too far just in case the storm suddenly kicks in to high gear...but some pictures with the snow would be really pretty. Rail trail, maybe? It should still be clear and passable if the roads are clear, right? Worst case scenario it's not and a different destination will have to be chosen. Decision = made.

So I threw on some boots and a coat and headed off to one of the trail heads. In what should be a surprise to no one, I was the only person crazy enough to be there today. Shocker.

It was snowing a bit harder than when I left, but nothing too bad. I figured it would still be fine to walk around for a while and take a few pictures.

Looks fine, if a bit desolate. 

The creek looks pretty

I had just finished trying to get the above picture when I noticed that the snow had started to change. No longer was it the little flurry it had been when I left my house, or even the bigger flakes that it had been when I arrived. It had now progressed to little freaking pellets that were bouncing off of my coat and everything else. I decided that was my cue to leave.

I hadn't gotten very far on my walk at all, so it was a short trip back to my car. I tried to get a picture of the little ice/snow pellet things that were sticking to my hair and coat. It looked like some had dumped little Styrofoam balls all over me. 

The picture came out weird, Friends. That's the best description I have for it. I don't know if it's because I was wearing mostly black and everything else was very light colored. Maybe the camera (I use my iPhone, kids) couldn't focus well on the little white pellets falling in front of the white picture on my hoodie. Maybe my hand was a lot less steady than I thought it was. It came out with this white foggy thing going on in the picture -- not quite a double image, but not really a continuous streak like my hand was in motion. I have no idea what the hell I did to make this happen, and probably couldn't do it again if I tried.

Look at the little pellets!  Also, the rabbit on my hoodie might be possessed. 

I'm happy to report that even with the little pellets falling and my hoodie looking like it has it's own ghostly aura attached to it, I made it home without a problem. 

Was it the best decision to go out and try to take pictures during a snow storm? Probably not. Don't be like me, Friends. Stay inside where you are probably nice and warm. Watch the snow fall and drink a cup of hot cocoa or something.

**2:15 update**

It would seem that storm has finally decided to get serious about the snow. Good thing I headed home when I did. 

I learned nothing from my earlier adventure and went outside to shoot this for you, Friends. And then I proceeded to shut the back door hard enough on the way out that the lock flipped, and I had to trudge around to the front door to get back inside. Again, don't be like me. Stay the hell inside and take pictures from the window. I should really listen to my own advice.