Winter. My most hated time of year. Specifically, that long stretch of winter after the fun of the holidays is gone, until it's possible to comfortably wear short sleeves outside again. That depressing, draining, drawn out second half of the season, when there aren't even any work holidays to break up the monotony. (Oh, I know some of you get MLK Day, Presidents' Day, Good Friday even... I don't.)
I get depressed at this time every year. And I hate when people ask why or tell me I don't have anything to be depressed about, because that's not what depression is. It's not being sad about something. It's your brain not processing stress correctly, or focusing on every little negative thing in your life and making them all seem a hundred times worse than they are. It's chemicals all out of balance and making you sad, angry, mean, forgetful, super sensitive... sometimes all at the same time, and with no apparent reason. When someone asks you why, you just burst into tears because you honestly don't know why.
I've come to know myself well enough to recognize what is happening, but that doesn't necessarily give me the power to do anything about it. The only cure is the onset of spring: the warmer weather leading to more time spent out of the house, leading to more sunlight, fresh air, and social interaction. But there are a few things I can do to help myself cope on the really tough days.
One of my favorite things to do to get out of my head is to sing. I love to fire up Singstar on the PlayStation 3, pull out my professional microphone stand, and just sing my heart out, pretending that I'm up on stage in front of thousands of adoring fans. In that moment all I am thinking about is the song I'm singing, and everything else just disappears. I honestly think that belting out my favorite karaoke tunes produces endorphins just like exercise does for most people.
They say laughter is the best medicine, and it is definitely up there for me. Our TiVo is set to record plenty of comedic TV programming, and sitting down for a good dose of humor almost always makes me feel better when I've had a rough day. My all-time favorite giggle-fest is America's Funniest Home Videos, but I also get a kick out of Jay Leno's "Headlines" segments and lots of other shows, including The Office, Community, The Middle, and 30 Rock.
My third pick-me-up is similar to the second, but instead of TV, the entertainment comes from my two dogs, Brooskey and Vixen. First, each of them is wildly entertaining on their own. Just last night, Brooskey gave me one of the heartiest belly laughs I've had in a long time. He likes to chase the beam of a flashlight or laser pointer, and he also likes to steal both items, not seeming to realize that if he has it in his mouth, we can't aim it for him to chase. We've often remarked how much easier life would be if he could just aim it and entertain himself. So last night, when he decided to steal the flashlight, Chris got up and turned it in his mouth so that it was pointed forward, and Brooskey actually started chasing the beam around with the flashlight in his own mouth! It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. (Don't worry, we didn't let him do this for very long, for both his safety and that of the flashlight.) But anyway, a whole new dimension of entertainment comes into play when Brooskey and Vixen interact with each other. They can be comical, and other times downright precious, because they love each other so much. Either way, everything they say about pets being good for your health, and good for your soul, is true.
(This post is my entry for yesterday's 3x Thursday: Pick-Me-Ups.)
It's kind of fun to dig back in my blog and see how things have changed over time. For example, this meme I did about five years ago, where one is supposed to go through the alphabet and see what comes up first in their web browser's auto complete list for each letter. I don't even remember some of those sites! (And many of them no longer exist.)
Not only have my web browsing habits changed drastically in five years' time, so has the way auto complete works in modern browsers. Here's today's list.
- A: American Greetings
- B: online banking for the bank where my accounts reside
- C: online banking for the bank where Chris' accounts reside
- D: my DailyBurn nutrition log
- E: Ebates
- F: Facebook
- G: Joe's Goals
I use this site to keep track of how many days I have succeeded in staying under my daily calorie limit. It hasn't been used much lately.
- H: Holey Donuts
Don't worry, these are low fat, low calorie donuts. Expensive, but delicious. You'd never know they were diet friendly.
- I: Instapaper
A tool for temporarily saving web pages you want to come back to later. I always forget to go back.
- J: Rhode Island Holiday Tweetup 2009 (#jollytweetup)
An event I went to in December to meet some of my nearby Twitter friends.
- K: an accounts payable spreadsheet on my work Google Docs account
- L: Logical Media
This is one of the affiliate networks I belong to.
- M: my Movable Type dashboard
- N: Netflix
This might not stay on the list much longer, considering their poor decision to make a deal with one of the major movie studios to refrain from renting that studio's DVDs for the first twenty-eight days after release. The studio thinks this is going to make people buy the DVD instead of renting it. They are going to find out that they are sadly mistaken.
- O: Outbrain
The power behind the little star rating widget you see at the bottom of every confoozled.com post. Which, by the way, I wish people would use more!
- P: the same spreadsheet triggered by K
- Q: a budgeting spreadsheet on my personal Google Docs account
- R: Google Reader
- S: SwagBucks' shopping page
- T: Twitter
- U: the administration site for my employer's healthcare plan
- V: Google Voice
- W: the login page to pay Chris' car payment
- X: that accounts payable spreadsheet again
- Y: YouTube
- Z: Zenbe Lists
A list making site where I make up our shopping and chore lists, which can be synchronized to both of our iPhones.
Want to play along? Post your list to your own blog, Facebook (be sure to tag me), or here in the comments (if you include links it might get snagged by the spam filter, but be patient and I will rescue it). If the result for any particular letter is private, obviously don't post a link, but at least give a vague description of what it is, like I did for a few of mine.
suggested by Spelling Search"How important are spelling and grammar in the world of blogging? Is it the thought that really counts, or does lack of formality destroy the message?"
First, I think there is a difference between "lack of formality", and bad spelling and grammar. I don't write this blog in a formal style, but I still make every effort to spell correctly and make my writing as grammatically correct as possible. I don't think a blog has to be formal; there's nothing wrong with using slang, internet acronyms and smileys. But at the very least, correct those red underlined misspelled words (What? Your browser doesn't do that? Then it's time for a new one!), and if grammar's not your strong suit, have someone read your writing back to you and make sure it makes sense. You don't have to write like an English major, but at least make sure you haven't skipped any words, doubled any words, or just plain used the wrong word. There's no excuse for it. When I encounter a blog post like that, no matter what the message, my eyes will glaze over and I will move on to the next item in my feed reader.
I've ranted before about people who don't bother to spell and/or write correctly. But the bottom line is this. Half of a language is its written form. So if you can't write your native language correctly, then you really don't even know one full language. And that's pretty sad.
Here's a fun little writing challenge. Write a haiku to summarize the last movie you saw. Remember the rules of haiku.
First, five syllables.
Then there's seven syllables.
Then there's five again.
So, without further delay, here is my haiku about 21:
Need money for school.
I guess I'll try counting cards.
Better not get caught.
Post yours in the comments here, or on your own blog (don't forget to leave a link!).
For this week's "Ten on Tuesday", here are ten things on my to-do list this week. Some of them are already done.
Order refills of Brooskey's and Vixen's flea / tick / heartworm medication. 3/31
Send my sister Lacey the CDs I've been promising her for too long. 3/31
- Use my accumulated Big Fish Games credits and cancel my monthly subscription until I'm ready for more games.
Update Rewards Network with current debit and credit card numbers. 4/1
Take photos for an upcoming post series here on confoozled.com. 4/1
Add new content to the confoozled.com sidebar. 4/?
- Clean off the "battery charging center" in the (home) office before it all comes tumbling down.
Tally up March online earnings and post them along with a goal for April. 4/2
Find a birthday gift (or gifts) for my niece and nephews. 4/? Draw a winner for the special prize for participating in the confoozled.com survey. 4/1
Those are in really random order - I just typed them as I thought of them. I'm going to aim for completing two items per day (the two that are already crossed off I did today).
I'm joining Ed today in answering these five completely random yet oddly related questions about myself.
1. What's your favorite frozen heat-and-eat food?
The only ones I eat these days are Lean Cuisine entrees. Of those, my favorite is the Thai-Style Chicken.
2. How sensitive are you to cool temperatures?
Extremely. I hate them. I was meant to live somewhere tropical.
3. How many ice-cube trays are there in your freezer?
I think we have three, but they're not in the freezer. We use fake ice cubes instead, which don't melt and water down your drink.
4. What aspect of your life seems to be frozen in place?
Just like Ed said, work. I'm not going into detail, because once I start I might not be able to stop, and depending on who happens to see this it could get me into trouble.
5. What's your favorite blanket like?
I have two favorite blankets. The first is my electric blanket, which has been working overtime this winter. The other is my "World's Sweetest, Softest Nap Blanket" that Chris gave me last Christmas. It's thick, heavy, and supposed to be soft but thanks to the dogs it's usually filthy so the softness kinda goes away. The only problem is it's not quite long enough to both cover my feet and tuck under my chin.
The album cover for my Wikipedia-named band.
There's something I really need to write about, but I'm waiting for someone to help me find something first. In the meantime, here's a little game
I borrowed from Neil:
1. Hit a random article from Wikipedia. The article title is your band's name.
2. Generate a page of random quotations. The last four or five words of the last quotation on the page are your album title.
3. Go to Flickr's "last 7 days". The third photo is your album cover. (The third item for me was actually a video, so I skipped it and went to the next one.)
If you've got some graphical know-how, you can put them together as I did here, or just show us what you got. For those who can't see the image, my band name is Military Police, album title is Nothing Endures But Personal Qualities, and the photo is this one of Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
Okay, yeah, that's a pretty strange combination.
Indigo at That's My Answer asks:
Have you calculated your tax returns yet? Will you be getting a refund, or do you owe? Do you try to equal out at the end of the year, where you don't owe and you also don't get a refund?
I e-filed my own return the day that the W-2s came in at work - two days before the IRS even started processing them. I had my federal refund in my account on January 30. My state return was mailed, because I wasn't going to pay $30 to e-file for an $88 refund, so that refund has not come in yet.
Chris had to wait a little longer for his W-2 and the mortgage statement, but finally got his returns filed last weekend. His federal refund should be deposited February 20.
We aim somewhere in between breaking even and getting a refund. It's all well and good to say you don't want the government holding onto your money all year, but in case we ever have some kind of unexpected income which isn't pre-taxed, we don't ever want to end up owing. Plus it's nice to have that bit of extra cash once a year to spend on something we might not have had the discipline to save for otherwise.
This year most of our refunds will go toward paying down debt, but we'll probably make a few small purchases of things we've needed for a long time. One of those, which we've already ordered, is vertical blinds for our living room window. We might get our carpets professionally cleaned, too, especially now that we've gotten rid of Brooskey's crate, and the area underneath it is disgusting!
Today I'm participating in 3x Thursday, and this week's theme is Down Time.
1. Do you have any hobbies? If so, what are they? If not, what do you do with your down time?
These days I guess my hobbies are spending time with my dogs, PC and video games, and TV and movies. Our entertainment system is our one major luxury - other people buy boats, we buy a souped up entertainment system (which has actually come together over a long period of time). We have a high definition DLP television, the size of which I'm ashamed to say I can't remember right now. A 5.1 channel surround sound system, a high definition Series 3 TiVo, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and PlayStation 3. And yes, we spent a lot of money on it, so we spend a lot of time in front of it. We are avid followers of too many television series to count (thank God for that TiVo and its dual tuners), and during lulls in the TV seasons we turn our attention to our massive Netflix queue - something which has thankfully become easier now that we have the ability to stream movies instantly via both the Xbox and the TiVo (the TiVo does a much better job, FYI). In addition to the game systems we have in the living room, I also play games on my Nintendo DS, my iPhone, and of course, my home PC.
2. What do you like to do for fun?
I actually had to come back to this question after answering the one below, to see if I could come up with anything that doesn't already fit into #1 or #3. The verdict - no. So see above and below!
3. Do you go out much? Where do you like to go? What kinds of things do you like to do?
The one place away from home and work where both Chris and I spend a lot of time is the bar right around the corner from my job. No, we're not alcoholics - the place is just convenient, super friendly, and dirt cheap. Apart from that, we've cut way down on other eating and drinking establishments, since we're trying to both save money and lose weight. The only other places we "go out" to often is our friends' houses. We have a few friends who really know how to entertain, and an evening at any of their houses is sure to be a good time.
I was unusually loud and opinionated last week, so this week I'm going to try to keep it a bit lighter. I thought I would seek out some memes I've never participated in before. Today, it's Manic Monday.
What do you do to make yourself feel better when you are sick?
Shhh... I haven't been sick yet this winter, and I'd like to keep it that way. It's actually pretty amazing, considering the awful winter we are having. Seriously, if it snows one more time I might slit my wrists. Oh, so anyway, to make myself feel better I get as warm as possible under my electric blanket, or my big fuzzy blanket on the couch. Doggie snuggles are always a plus. Chris always makes me some of his amazing homemade chicken soup. I eat a lot, as the general feeling of soft, warm food going down my throat is extremely soothing. And I take the most powerful over-the-counter drugs I can get - and that means the ones you have to show ID and sign your life away for. All of these new psuedoephedrine-free formulas are worthless... and half of them replaced the pseudoephedrine with diphenhydramine, aka Benadryl, aka something Carly is deathly allergic to.
What is the most amazing weather you've ever seen?
This winter has been interesting, with temperatures going from single digits to 60s and back down to freezing in a span of two or three days. But the most amazing weather I've seen is probably some of the thunderstorms I've experienced here in Rhode Island just this past summer, as well as the freak storms we saw in Florida the year before, which would give way right back to beautiful sunny weather within minutes.
Do you listen to music or talk radio in the car?
If it were my choice, it would always be music. Talk radio makes me want to cut my ears off... a bunch of ego-inflated know-it-alls who in reality usually don't have the first clue what they're talking about. But Chris always turns on sports talk radio in the mornings on the way to work, which wouldn't be so bad if they would stick to what they know. On this particular station, however, the morning conversations always turn to politics and current events, and these guys are even more clueless than regular talk radio hosts. (Disclaimer: I'm not saying all sports commentators are clueless, just these particular ones on this particular station.) I'm not talking about simply disagreeing with their opinions, either. They can't even get their facts right, and without accurate facts it's impossible to even take their opinions seriously.
Heh... so much for lightening up.
Today is Delurking Day 2009... that means anyone reading this must come out of hiding and make yourself known! Whether you're reading on confoozled.com or on Facebook, please post a comment and let me know what you like best about my blog, what you'd like to see more of, or just say hi and let me know you're here. Pretty please? It makes me feel like my efforts to write something every day actually matter to someone. Thanks so much for playing along!
I talk about Chris a lot, but I haven't ever told you all that much about him. So how about I borrow this hubby meme from Tina? I'll try not to embarrass him too much...
He's sitting in front of the TV: what is on the screen? Football, golf, or a video game. Assuming he's there by himself, that is.
You're out to eat. What kind of dressing does he get on his salad? Italian, or Caesar.
What is one food he doesn't like? I have to pick just one? LOL. Okay... bananas.
You go out to the bar. What does he order? Lately it's been Bacardi & diet, because he wants to lose weight. But he also likes the Sam Adams seasonal beers.
Where did he go to high school? Right here in Warwick, at Pilgrim High.
What size shoe does he wear? If I say I don't know, does that make me a bad girlfriend?
If he was to collect anything, what would it be? The only thing he collects is tech gadgets.
What is his favorite type of sandwich? Steak and cheese.
What would the Husband eat every day if he could? Pizza. And I'm a once or twice a month pizza eater, so it drives me crazy.
What is his favorite cereal? Sugar Smacks (gross!)
What would he never wear? I can't picture him in a sweater vest...
What is his favorite sports team? The Red Sox and the New England Patriots.
Who is his best friend? Joe.
What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn't do? I toss and turn in bed and end up either pulling the covers off my side or pushing them off his.
How many states has he lived in? Two... Rhode Island and Oregon.
What is his heritage? His dad was adopted, so he doesn't know for sure.
You bake him a cake for his birthday; what kind? He prefers ice cream cake.
Did he play sports in high school? He wrestled, until he shattered his forearm his senior year.
What could he spend hours doing? Sleeping - he'd be happy if he was asleep the rest of his life!
Sorry to bore you with another meme (yeah right, according to my stats you love them!). Angela at mommy bytes combined an e-mail meme with similar questions she found on four other blogs into a massive four things meme.
Four Jobs I've Had (not including your current job): This is going to be a stretch because I haven't had four real paying jobs, even counting my current one. For actual paying jobs, there's data entry clerk for the hometown school department, and temporary/seasonal sales associate at Electronics Boutique (now known as GameStop). Quasi-jobs include March of Dimes poster child (ick), and student aide for a couple of teachers in high school. I wasn't a kiss-up, I only did this for the cool teachers. One of them was a typing class, and it's where I was inspired to teach myself touch typing in a way that works for me (something the school didn't want to attempt because they thought it was impossible). I memorized the keyboard along with the class, and then spent tedious hours learning just the right distance to move my arms to make the three usable fingers reach all of the keys. The result: three-fingered touch typing speed that rivals those using all ten. Anyway, getting a little sidetracked here...
Four Movies I Can Watch Many Times: A Christmas Story, The Land Before Time, The Matrix, and Flight of the Navigator.
Four Places I've Lived: The only four: Los Angeles, CA; Eugene, OR; Hood River, OR; and Warwick, RI.
Four Places I've Vacationed: Canby, OR (where I used to go to summer camp); Rhode Island before I lived here; New Hampshire; and Orlando, FL (Disney World).
Four TV Shows I Love(d): I agree with Angela on Providence and Ally McBeal, but will try to come up with four more. Or rather, trying to limit it to four seems to be the bigger challenge. Okay, we'll start with the series return I'm most anticipating right now: Lost. Most unfair cancellation (twice): Jericho. Long time favorite I'll be sad to see go: ER. Favorite semi-new show: Eli Stone.
Four Novels (or Series) I've Enjoyed Re-Reading: Afraid I can't answer this one... don't think I've ever re-read anything.
I'm playing along with Tina at mummifiedtimesfive.net; here's a list of 100 things, with the ones I have done in bold. Feel free to grab the list and play along, and don't forget to post a link back here!
Super big thank-yous to Grandy for hitting me back
with the Super Blogger award! I'll pass this one on to a few of my reads which may have gotten overlooked last week
, mommy bytes
, Neurotic by Nature
, What Lies Within the Mirror
, Google Tutor
, Mama's Bloggin
, and Spaghetti Harvest
. Pass it on if you like, or don't... I'll understand. I know some of you have received and given so many blog awards that it probably starts to seem meaningless after a while. It's new for me, though... after six long years my blog is finally starting to be recognized by people other than my relatives and close friends, and that's pretty cool!
I also need to set aside some time, if and when I ever get my home PC running again (a long story for another day), to check out some of the many other blogs Grandy recommended, as well as clean out some of the dead blogs from my subscription list.
Tina from MummifiedTimesFive
has given me
the "I Love Your Blog" award! Thank you, Tina!
The rules say that I'm supposed to pass the award on to seven blogs that I love, so in no particular order, here they are:
Abbie's Party Place
This is Chris' goddaughter's blog and it is chock full of adorable photos and videos of arguably the cutest baby on the planet. If you want to see evidence of the proudest mama in the world, visit Abbie's Party Place.
Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords
Robert writes about what it's truly like to be a parent to a child with a disability, without padding it with warm and fuzzy BS. His daughter Schuyler is an awesome kid who I really hope to be able to meet in person someday. I also find myself in complete agreement with almost everything Robert has to say that's not related to Schuyler.
Neil Turner's Blog
Even though he doesn't update all that often, I'm almost always interested in what he does write. Neil is slightly more geek than me and I feel like I can learn from him. Not to mention he is one of the very few on my feed reader who are using Movable Type like me, so I have to send him some love for that!
Unlike Rob at Fighting Monsters, I often find myself in disagreement with what Jane, aka Mamacita, has to say. But she expresses herself so well that I always feel compelled to read it all the way to the end anyway.
Of course I can't leave out Lincoln. One of the only blogosphere-only friends I have added on Facebook (for me, social networking is usually reserved for people I know in real life). Ever since Lincoln discovered my blog and became my biggest fan (honestly I don't know what he saw in me!), I feel like I do know him in real life.
Grandy's blog is just fun. She's real and she's funny. Her semi-third-person writing style always makes me giggle, and reading her blog always puts a smile on my face.
Monkey Fables and Tales
I'm not usually all that impressed with humor blogs, but Monkey has a way of making a person spit their drink and pee their pants at the same time... a truly rare talent. He writes in a stream of consciousness sort of style which I imagine probably closely resembles the actual thought process of most men.
Okay, so technically you're all supposed to nominate seven blogs of your own, but if you've received this award before and done the whole nomination thing already, I won't make you do it again... unless you want to! Maybe you've discovered seven more great blogs you didn't know about before?
I haven't done any silly posts in a while, and I could use some silliness in my life right now, so I'm borrowing this A-Z meme from Krississippi.
A. Attached or Single?
B. Best Friend?
I have all different kinds of friends and it's not really possible to classify any one of them as the "best".
C. Cake or pie?
I like both but I think I go for cake more often. (Krissi said brownies, and I think that would fall under the cake category.)
D. Day of choice?
Duh. Saturday. Or the occasional Friday holiday.
E. Essential item?
LOL. Krissi said her iPhone, and I'm in total agreement, but that wouldn't be very original. Um... how about TiVo?
F. Favorite color?
Still purple. Don't see that changing, ever.
G. Gummy bears or worms?
I like the worms. They make a great garnish on an Oreo "dirt" dessert dish, too.
I spent a lot of time on site layout tonight and just don't have the energy left to write anything. So, here's a meme I snagged from Grandy over at Functional Schmunctional: What Is Your Name's Hidden Meaning?
Instead of the name given to me by my parents before they even knew me, I used the name I chose for myself to represent me on the internet. I think a name one chooses for oneself tells a lot more about a person than a name given to them.
What HelloKit Means
You are truly an original person. You have amazing ideas, and the power to carry them out. Success comes rather easily for you... especially in business and academia. Some people find you to be selfish and a bit overbearing. You're a strong person.
You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone. You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together. At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.
You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow. You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily. Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is.
You are well rounded, with a complete perspective on life. You are solid and dependable. You are loyal, and people can count on you. At times, you can be a bit too serious. You tend to put too much pressure on yourself.
You are a seeker of knowledge, and you have learned many things in your life. You are also a keeper of knowledge - meaning you don't spill secrets or spread gossip. People sometimes think you're snobby or aloof, but you're just too deep in thought to pay attention to them.
You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing. You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long. You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.
You are a seeker. You often find yourself restless - and you have a lot of questions about life. You tend to travel often, to fairly random locations. You're most comfortable when you're far away from home. You are quite passionate and easily tempted. Your impulses sometimes get you into trouble.
Okay, color me impressed. Especially when I tried again with my given name and the results couldn't have been more inaccurate. This is pretty dead on. There just might be something to my theory after all.
If I keep entering these contests, maybe I'll win one someday... This time, contest blog Blog Paradise is collaborating with Contest Whiz, another blog full of contests, to bring you the Whiz Your Way to Paradise Contest!
The prizes are:
- A year of web hosting
- 5,000 Entrecard credits
- A six-month subscription to SKY.fm internet radio
- A one-month ad spot on Blog Paradise
- A one-month ad spot on Contest Whiz
There are lots of ways to enter, and the contest ends July 4. Good luck!
John Chow dot Com is having another great giveaway. This time the prize is a bag of goodies from Market Leverage worth over $500! The bag includes an assortment of Market Leverage marketing apparel, plus: a flip video camera, a $200 American Express gift card, a USB pen drive, and a custom-engraved iPod Nano.
To enter, you can do two things. Leaving a comment on the contest post (not here!) will get you one entry into the drawing. And posting an entry on your own blog telling your readers about the contest is worth five entries. But don't enter... I don't want you hurting my chances of winning!