Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hinder Concert

Last night a group of friends/cousins and I attended the Hinder concert at the Shrine Mosque and it was awesome! The opening band was Black Stone Cherry and they did a decent job, but their songs sound 80% better on the CD than they did live. The second band to perform was Finger 11 and they rocked their asses off. They played a great set, I just hadn't heard very many of the songs they played because they haven't had a whole lot of radio time. Except for their new song "Paralyzer" (which I absolutely love) and, of course, their song "One Thing" from their debut self-titled album.

But Hinder definitely stole the show. The whole band had a tremendous amount of energy and the lead singer knew how to pump up the crowd. Plus, he has a really cool voice and they sounded great live. I have been listening to their CD, "Extreme Behavior" for weeks in preparation and I was able to scream along with every song.

The really crappy pictures are of Hinder and were taken with my cell phone. I'm quite a bit older than the average age of the crowd that was there and back in my day, cameras were rarely (never!) allowed into concerts. So, I didn't even think about grabbing mine out of the car. However, once inside I noticed that there were cameras everywhere. I'm guessing that in today's world, where everyone has a cell phone with a camera, there's no way to prevent pictures from being taken so they don't bother trying to stop it. Which means that next time I go to a concert, I'm sticking my camera in my pocket regardless. And hopefully I will be going to more concerts. I seem to average about 1 a year, but I enjoyed myself so much on Tuesday that I really want to make an effort to see several this year.

.....................................Hinder on stage...................................

..................................Hinder during "Lips Of An Angel".........................

You'll notice in that last picture there are two people who are obstructing half of my view of the stage. They stood there through 95% of the entire concert, including during the opening act when things weren't that exciting. There were 3 people in my group who were not able to enjoy the show as much as we could have because of this. However, even though it was infuriating, none of us said anything to them because they paid for their seats and it was their right not to use them. What I don't understand is why they were standing in our way the entire time when they simply could have stood on the floor and not been in anyone's way. If you are someone who likes to stand at concerts, please be considerate of the people behind you.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

It's Official!

Today was the day Bobbie and I randomly decided to head to a travel agent and make reservations for our Disney World trip. We decided to use Great Southern Travel just because they are "authorized Disney vacation planners", they're well-respected and there are so many convenient locations here in Springfield.

We went to the S. Glenstone office first and were told that Saturday's were by appointment only at that location. They very politely referred us to the Great Southern Vacation Center on S. National. So, we headed over there. The parking lot was actually quite full but I really didn't think much of it. I don't spend a lot of time hanging out at travel agencies, so I have no idea how much business is normal for a Saturday. However, when we walked in we realized that today was no ordinary day.

First, I noticed a sketch artist set-up near the entrance doing the most amazing pencil drawings of Disney characters every few minutes. Then I saw there were balloons everywhere, pictures of Mickey Mouse all over the place, people walking around eating popcorn, kids running wild - today was Disney Days! It was perfect timing on our part. We sat down with an agent, decided on the resort we wanted to stay in, added the dining package to our park hopper passes, set the dates, put down a deposit and now it is official.

As an added bonus, everyone who booked a Disney vacation today got a free sketch from the sketch artist. I talked Bobbie out of it, because I'm mean like that, so I got a really awesome drawing of Lady from Lady & The Tramp (only one available). I'm planning on getting it framed and hanging it in my office because the artist who drew it this morning is an official Disney sketch artist who works at DisneyLand in California. In a few days I will try to get a good picture of it and post it here so I can brag about it again.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Grey's Anatomy

I'm really not much of a TV person. Not because I don't approve of it, simply because I am a fairly busy person and I don't really devote a whole lot of time to watching it. But, over the past 5 weeks or so I have started watching this show and have quickly became addicted to it. Maybe because every single week something happens that leaves me bawling like a baby and with me being so emotional lately it allows me some release.

This week's episode was no exception - I cried. The episode dealt with the fact that the main character, Meredith Grey, had fallen into the bay while helping victims of a ferry accident. When she was rescued, she had been in the water long enough to develop hypothermia and was not breathing. At the hospital, all the best surgeons and doctors worked on her endlessly for hours trying to warm up her body enough to get her heart beating again. During that time, we got to see what Meredith was dealing with as she lay on the table dead.

Basically what it boiled down to was that while she was accidentally pushed into the water, she only fought to stay afloat for a few minutes and then she made a conscious choice to give up the fight. She had been depressed about a few things and was having issues with various parts of her life, so she quit trying to tread water and let herself sink. It was only after "spirit-world" Meredith admitted this to herself that she knew she had made a mistake. She realized all the things she would be missing just because she was too tired to fight. She suddenly didn't care as much about her issues. She wanted to live. And, since it is TV and she is the title character, she did live.

As I watched, I thought about the last post I made and how odd it was that I had just talked about treading water and the feeling of sinking. Pure coincidence, but still a bit disturbing. I don't want to wait until I've stopped breathing to realize I should have struggled less and simply gotten out of the water. I'm getting out of the water now.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Treading Water

For weeks now, I have been treading water - emotionally speaking, of course. Suddenly, I'm learning that you can't keep yourself "barely afloat" for an extended amount of time. For some damn reason, eventually you either have to sink or swim. And I assure you, I am sinking very fast. Not only am I sinking, but I am pulling myself down.

Now I have to figure out how to get back to the surface and break free of the waves. Unfortunately, everytime I think I see a shimmer of sunlight above me, I quickly open my mouth and intake more water. How does a cycle like this come to an end? Why am I using so many stupid water references? Is it weird that I suddenly have to pee?

Anyway, I seriously am my own worst enemy these days and it has gone from making things bad to possibly ending a great friendship that neither myself or my friend wants to end. And the more strained our relationship becomes, the more stressed out and psychotic I get. Which in turn leads to my stress causing even more problems in the friendship. I think one of the issues that is having the biggest impact is that I'm a natural-born "wise-cracking" smartass with a dry sense of humor. Have you ever seen those Maxine cartoons? Yep, that's the type of smartass comments I always make. Combine that with the fact that when I feel stress I decide to make a joke out of everything and you can see how that would not make another person feel good.

What I can't figure out is how to relieve my stress. The shift I have to work at my job is what started my spiraling downhill, but I can't change that. My living arrangements currently suck but there's no easy or immediate way to change those. The rest of it all revolves around my best friends and favorite people in the world and there's NO WAY I'm going to change them. Yet, therein lies the problem. Because if I don't change something and figure out how to be my old, normal self instead of a moody, weeping, sometimes raging, always cynical lunatic then my friends are going to decide they don't need to see me anymore.

One thing that might help the entire situation is for me to hire some big, ugly goon to follow me around everywhere and beat me about the neck and shoulders everytime I open my mouth to speak. I say that because I really think that if I would just smile and nod instead of spouting off my "funny" garbage that no one else is amused by, then my friendship wouldn't be as close to the breaking point as you can get. However, I have asked all of the big, ugly goons that I know and they don't like my work schedule either, so they have all refused the job.

So, I guess all that's left to do is to seek professional help. Which is something I swore I'd never do and actually still don't want to do. But, it has been suggested to me strongly several times and what I WILL do is ANYTHING that may fix this before it's too late. If that means I need to do something that I have no desire in the world to EVER do - then I will do it. GLADLY. And I hope that it's not too late.

New Addition

This is a picture of my new, precious baby cousin. Well, actually she's my cousin's baby so she would be my 2nd cousin. She was born on January 21, 2007 and weighed in at 7 lbs 14 oz. We are certainly glad to have her.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Seriously? Britney Spears?

I used to consider myself an intelligent person, but after realizing that I just spent a good 3 minutes writing up a post about Britney Spears, I'm not so sure anymore. Wow, what has become of me?

When I was younger, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would tell you that I was gonna write stories that made people happy. At about 9 or 10 I had decided that I was going to travel the world and write articles for National Geographic. As I became a teenager I still wanted to write stories, but had discovered (and fell in love with) Stephen King's books. So I was determined to write horror novels. In my early twenties I started spewing out poetry really quickly and concentrated mostly on that. Now, in my thirties I can't even maintain an entertaining blog. Not only that, but my un-entertaining posts aren't even written that well. Damn that sucks! Guess it's a good thing I got a computer degree instead of waiting for money to come in from my first novel.

I would love to start working on fixing what's gone wrong with my writing. I really did used to be able to mold words into fathomable sentences and ideas. Unfortunately, I don't really know why it's gone bad. So, I don't really know where to begin to fix it. I do know that I still have my ability to take something written by someone else, such as a history report for school, and make it absolutely amazing. And I'm wondering if that doesn't indicate that my problem is more of an imagination/creativity issue rather than a word issue. Hmmm...I will have to think about that.

Anyway, sorry about the Britney Spears thing.

Britney Spears Is In The News...Again

Yesterday, former/current/wannabe pop star Britney Spears attracted quite a crowd as she stopped by a tattoo parlour in LA. But it wasn't the tattoo of lips that she got on her wrists that was causing people to stare. It was the fact that she arrived completely bald. That's right, she's gone from no panties to no hair. Will she ever not be in the news?

Useless Facts About Walt Disney World

If you haven't figured it out yet, let me warn you now. I am REALLY excited about my summer vacation plans. And between now and July you are going to get sick of hearing about Disney World. So, get used to it.

Covering 47 square miles, Walt Disney World Resort is about the size of San Francisco or two Manhattan islands. Of the more than 30,000 acres, less than one-fourth has been developed, with another quarter designated as a wilderness preserve.

Mickey Mouse himself has 175 different sets of duds ranging from a scuba suit to a tuxedo. Minnie Mouse's wardrobe contains some 200 outfits including everything from a cheerleader ensemble to evening gowns.

Did you know that vomit is called a protein spill in disney world! If a guest or cast member vomits, a cast member is supposed to call a custodian to clean up a Protien Spill. Just one of the ways Disney preserves the show!!!!

More than 50 million Cokes are consumed each year at Walt Disney World Resort. Guests also gobble 10 million hamburgers, 7 million hot dogs, 9 million pounds of french fries and more than 300,000 pounds of popcorn.

There are enough of the famous "Mouse Ear" hats sold each year to cover the head of every man, woman and child in Pittsburgh and enough Disney character T-shirts to put Mickey Mouse's smiling face on the chest of every Chicagoan.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Wolves On The Loose!

Wolves escape from animal park west of Branson
by Marie Saavedra, KY3 News

BRANSON WEST, Mo. -- Two wolves escaped from a wild animal park on Thursday night. The staff at Predator World believes the wolves would try to avoid humans but is looking for helping in finding them.

One wolf is a silver gray pregnant female weighing about 130 pounds. The other is a dark chocolate male weighing about 100 pounds.

The wolves escaped just hours after they were shipped to the facility. Head curator Breck Wakefield says the female is trying to find a comfortable place to have her cubs.

The animals are on the federal endangered species list. Wakefield says the wolves won't attack people and believes they're still close to the attraction. He says professionals with tranquilizer guns have been searching the area, and are being careful not to push the wolves toward highways.

Wakefield believes the wolves will stay together. Anybody who sees them can call Predator World at (417) 272-0411 or the Stone County Sheriff’s Department at (417) 357-6116.

Predator World is near the intersection of Missouri 13 at Highway DD on the south side of Branson West.

Cold, Cold, Cold

I'm not someone who normally minds winter. In fact, I'm usually always hot so I enjoy the fact that winter means I am not dripping sweat from every part of my body. But I gotta tell ya - I'm officially sick of the cold. Of course, it probably doesn't help that this is my first winter "in the city". The wind can really funnel down the street and bounce off all the buildings creating a constant whirlpool of bitterly cold wind that means no matter which way you are walking, you're walking into the wind.

I work at St. John's hospital on National and the wind seems to blow down that street more than most others. Maybe part of it's due to the fact that there is so much traffic speeding by. Either way, it's not like employees get to park anywhere near any buildings. I have quite a hike down the sidewalk from the parking lot which is enough to make your eyes water and then freeze them that way. It totally sucks and I am done with it. Done, I say. I command springtime temperatures to make their way into the region.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Reese's, I Heart Your Hearts......???

What I mean is - I love anything Reese's, but I especially love the theme-shaped versions of their peanut butter cups that come out around the holidays. This time of year it happens to be Reese's Peanut Butter Hearts, but throughout the remainder of the year I will be able to enjoy Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs, Pumpkins and Trees. Awesome! Of course, I would love to see Hershey's develop Reese's Peanut Butter Shamrocks, Firecrackers and Turkeys - but I won't hold my breath.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

My Phone's Inbox

Just in case anyone was curious about how my daily conversations may go, here are 10 random text messages that were sent to my phone this week (typed exactly how I received them):

1. Stop laughing at my baby!
2. Oh no no it is up to you!
3. Sounds like the list i had going. Great minds think alike.
4. Then buy me diamonds!
5. For you im free, but not for anyone else! I heart you, too.
6. I'm having pitch withdrawals.
7. Goodnight (that was in a soft whisper so you wont hear me and i could get the last word. Ha ha)
8. I get 2 go to the concert!
9. U r totally taking all of the seriousness out of this!
10. Someone is going 2 die!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Walt Disney World Or Bust!

The plan:
1. To spend a week of vacation in Orlando this July enjoying multiple Disney World Theme Parks.
2. To stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge during said vacation
3. To save money by driving to Florida instead of flying (2 adults, 1 teenager, 1 child)

The problem:
1. July is a very busy month for Orlando, discounts are not offered for that particular time of year.
2. So much crap to be organized and paid for, I'm not sure where to begin.
3. The money I was going to use to make an advanced payment on lodging, tickets and dining now has to be used for something that came up unexpectedly.

The possible solutions:
1. Win the lottery.
2. Ask my friends and family to donate the change out of their pockets everytime they see me.
3. Move to Florida so I can take advantage of the "resident discount".

The more realistic solutions:
1. Beg people to recommend a travel agent who can help with the planning.
2. Spend the next several months living off of peanut butter sandwiches and ramen noodles.
3. Let the other adult who is going worry about all of the planning and organizing so that I can concentrate on paying for my portion.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Are You Ready For Some ... Commercials?

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to watch football...when the KC Chiefs play. Other than that, I can take it or leave it. So why do I love to watch the SuperBowl every year? It's certainly not to see the Chiefs!

Instead, it's a matter of tradition. An excuse for a party that comes along every year. A day devoted to all manner of junk food and snacks that can be eaten without feeling guilty. A time to hang out on the couch all day, surrounded by family and friends, dressed in sweatpants and t-shirts and being allowed to jump up and down, yelling and screaming while eating in the living room. It's awesome to have that kind of casual, no-worries freedom.

But, for me (and a lot of other people out there) it's a night of SUPER COMMERCIALS! The football game itself is exciting. I love to root against the Patriot's, Cowboy's or Bronco's. I always want the underdog to win. But when I need to get up and refill my drink or go to the bathroom, I will go during a 4th down play on the 1 yard line just to avoid missing a commercial.

There have been some classic commercials. One of my favorites is the McDonalds ad called "the showdown" where Michael Jordan and Larry Bird shoot baskets "over the 2nd rafter, off the floor, nothing but net." And that's just one of many. Pepsi, Coke and Nike are always among the best of the best. But if I had to pick one company who consistently has the best SuperBowl ads, it would definitely be Budweiser. I totally love the "horses playing football" spots that they have came out with for years now. If you are interested in seeing some commercials from previous years, go HERE and click on the different years available on the top right side of the page.

If you want to recap the funniest ones from this year, you can check them out and vote for them beginning Monday by going HERE

I am ready for some commercials. And I also want to mention that I am rooting for both Rex Grossman and Payton Manning, so I guess it doesn't matter who wins the game.

Connect 4, Baby!

Who the heck doesn't love Connect 4? I remember my brother and I spending several hours a week arguing over who was cheating and who got to go first. Now you can recreate the joy of the game without having anyone to argue with because Milton Bradley has a great online flash edition of the game available HERE.

Now there's a whole new way to spend your work day. Enjoy!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Groundhog Day 2007!

Normally I don't pay much attention to whether or not Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow. But this year I am waaay tired of winter already, so I was a little curious about what his "professional" prediction might be. Turns out, he did not see his shadow this year and has predicted that spring is on it's way. WOO HOO! It's times like these when I suddenly begin believing in superstitions, because I desperately want this one to be true.

Branson Giving Eagle Watch Tours

In case you weren't aware of it, the over-abundance of lakes and rivers in the Ozarks area are quite an attraction for the American Bald Eagle during winter months. And Branson, being all about the tourists, has taken advantage of this fact to provide bird lovers everywhere with guided Eagle Watch tours now through the end of February. Tours are available daily beginning at 09:00am for individuals or groups and last approximately 2 hours. You do need to make a reservation at least 1 day in advance.

To schedule a tour, call: 1-417-538-2744
and for more information, visit: Branson Eagle Watching Tours

Table Rock Lake seems to have the highest concentration of Eagles in the area, but there are plenty of places where Eagles can be viewed. In addition to the American Bald Eagle, Golden Eagles can be spotted as well as various other "Birds of Prey" including hawks, falcons, owls and vultures. I have not yet had a chance to take one of these tours (because it's too cold for me....brrr!) but I have been fortunate enough to spot some of these magnificent birds in the area over the past 2 months and I can definitely tell you they are worth getting a look at.