Wednesday, October 24, 2012

If Men Were Like Candles

OK, so I got this idea after reading a friends blog over at Once in a Blue DC Moon.  She talked about a guy she was going on a date with and she pointed out that he was safe and comfortable and kinda like an LED Candle.  I loved the analogy and if you read through the comments you'll see I compared my dream man to a Vanilla Scented Pillar Candle.  Warm, cuddly, likes a good book, a little spicy.  You know the kinda guy I'm talking about.

This spawned the idea that.....if men were candles what type would they be?

Disclaimer:  Forgive me in advance, but there are going to be some gross exaggerations and stereotypes used in the following.  This is intended to be funny only so don't yell at me please.

The Vanilla Scented Pillar Candle Man

Warm, affectionate, likes cats and curling up with a good book.  Spicy when the occasion calls for it but overall similar to putting on a comfy sweater. 

The Red Unscented Taper Man:  

Tall, looks dashing in a suit.  Always shows up for a date with roses and a grin.  Probably drives a sports car.  Slick. Probably doesn't take any relationship serious.  Probably dates multiple women at the same time.

The Black multi-wick Pillar Candle Man:

Dark, brooding, wears a lot of leather.  Maybe drives a motorcycle. Probably has piercings or a tattoo.  Probably good in bed but not the kind of guy you're bringing home to mom.

The Febreze Candle Man:

Friendly.  Good with kids, old ladies and dogs.  Probably wears a lot of polo shirts and loafers.  Doesn't cheat on his taxes, tips well and works a 9-5 job.  I envision the human version of a Golden Retriever.  Always happy to see you, minimal slobber.

The Tea Light Man: 

The love 'em and leave 'em type.  Stylish dresser, probably wears a gold watch.  Checks his reflection in all shiny objects.  Talks to your tits instead of your face.  Burns hot and fast but is gone in about 3 hours.

The Glade Plug-in Man:

Kinda dorky.  Probably good with computers.  Energy efficient and multi-tasks.  Probably doesn't deal well with large groups.  A little socially awkward but cute in an oblivious kinda way.  You'd never have to worry about him lying about where he's going after work which is a bonus.

Cheers,

Ash


Additions:

The Hand Rolled Beeswax Candle Man:

He's your outdoors man.  Woodsy.  Has a beard.  Goes hiking in his spare time.  Wears woolly socks and a lot of flannel.  The kind of guy that you'd call when you need a tree chopped down because you know he owns an ax and a pick-up truck.

The Birthday Cake Sparkler Man:

This guy is your gay best friend.  Your perma-date for your cousins wedding.  The only man who will answer you honestly when you ask "Does this make my ass look fat?" 

The Benefits of Being Nice aka. WTF Happened to Manners People??

Didn't your mother ever tell you that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar?

I know mine did. 

What I've realized over time is just how important it can be to be nice to people.  I'm not talking about being overly friendly, I'm talking about being polite and courteous.

Nowadays everyone is so busy and stressed out and I find that somewhere along the line, we've forgotten how to be nice to each other.

With little to no chewing?  Eaten by what??
How many times have you seen someone not hold the door for the person behind them?  Or not get up and offer an older person their seat on the train?  Not to mention the people that just bash right into you walking down the street and don't even pause to see if you're OK.

Have we really become that rude?  Or are we simply so preoccupied that we don't even notice these things anymore?

In my opinion, part of it is the fact that a lot of people walk around texting and emailing.  Another issue is people walking around with headsets and music blaring so loud that they can't hear people trying to get their attention.  But really?   Is that really the cause?  Or have we just become immune to indifference.

I think honestly, we've forgotten how good it feels when people are nice to us.

Case in point.  You're leaving the grocery store with a handful of bags.  The person in front of you notices your hands are full and holds the door open.  Simple right?  But more often than not it doesn't happen.  But when it does it actually makes me smile, and in turn I WANT to thank them because honestly, too often, simple things like that get ignored.  And who knows, maybe me making a point of thanking them will make them more inclined to do it again in the future?  Maybe people have stopped doing certain things because they think it is unappreciated?

I'm not sure.

Now I hate to sound like a grouchy old lady (come on people, I'm only 28) but I find that the younger generations are getting worse.  We somehow instilled it into a generation of young women that it's insulting if a man holds a door open for you, or offers to lift something heavy for you.  And we've in turn instilled it into a generation of men that it's not necessary to offer to do these things for a woman because it could be seen as insulting.  Last time I checked, being polite had nothing to do with gender.

If I see a woman with a baby carriage coming, I hold the door open for her.  If I see a man with his arms full, I hold the door open for him as well.  It has nothing to do with how old a person is, or what sex they are.  Heck it shouldn't even matter that their hands are full, we should be holding doors open for whoever is coming behind us.

And for all that his holy, say THANK YOU when somebody does.

Cheers,

Ash

This is actually what came up when I Googled "Polite Cat"  This is "Polite Woodchuck" 



































Monday, October 22, 2012

Tissues, Vicks and Bambi Legs aka. Having the flu

There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING worse than being sick.

Today is my first day back out in the world after having spent the last 4 days in bed.  And not for the fun reasons.  I had the flu.  That meant 4 days of fever, chills, muscle aches, sore throat, stuffed up nose, coughing and sneezing.

We're talking the whole nine yards here people.

Now I don't get sick that often anymore.  Usually the sniffles or a bit of a sore throat, but nothing worth missing work for.  But every once in a while, I get nailed with the cold to end all colds.

Last year around this time was Pneumonia.  FUN.

This year, it was the year of the flu.

And the one thing that I never drag my butt into work over, is a fever.

Having a fever sucks.   Not only is it horrible during the actual fever, but the aftermath is almost as bad.

My fever was at it's worst late Thursday/early Friday.  By the time it broke, I felt like someone had hit me with a truck.  Repeatedly.  I pretty much spent all of Thursday and Friday in bed, Saturday I alternated between bed and couch.  It wasn't till Sunday that I actually stayed out of bed all day. 

Now I haven't taken a sick-day from work in just over a year.  And here I was, taking 2 days off plus a weekend to recover.  But man did I need it.  I mean for me to be sleeping, probably 14 hours a day is INSANE.  I was either a lot sicker than I imagined, or my body was simply that run down and being sick was it's way of forcing me to slow the heck down.

Now 4 days in bed, with a fever and very little food can do a number on your body.  By the time I was functioning on Sunday not only did I still feel like I was hit by a truck, but I had earlier made the attempt to do laundry.  I figured, nothing would be better right now than fresh sheets on my bed.  Right?  Wrong.  What would have been better was keeping my ass in bed because after walking up and down the stairs to the laundry room, I felt like a combination of Bambi-on-ice + a little old lady who had run a marathon.  I was actually shaking.  My muscles felt weak, my joints were stiff.  I felt like I was going to pass out.

FROM WALKING UP THE STAIRS.

How scary is that?

Now the up side is that I am drastically better today than I have felt in quite a while.  For once, I'm not exhausted.  I'm still a little sniffly and I have a nasty cough but I don't FEEL sick.  And that's a huge improvement in my books.

The moral of the story is, take care of yourselves people.  If you're sick, stay home.  Don't go to the office and possibly infect others.  Take the rest you need to get yourselves better because nobody benefits from you overworking yourselves when your ill.  Especially you.

Cheers,

Ash

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey and ACTUAL LITERATURE

OK, so we've all established that I'm a bit of a book nerd.  On average I read about 2 books a week, sometimes more if I'm reading fluff, sometimes less if I'm really digging into some heavy non-fiction.

For the last year or so, I've used www.goodreads.com to track my books, read reviews and get a handle on my ever growing "To Read" list.

The cool thing about Goodreads, is that not only do you get great recommendations based on what you plug in and rate, but you get to read the reviews of other users and participate in any discussions stemming from the books you've ranked.

Now I want to preface this by saying, in no way am I a book snob.  I read it all.  Regardless of genre, author or subject matter, if something sounds good, or comes recommended.  I'll read it.

That includes reading things like Twilight, and 50 Shades of Grey.

I want to stop for a moment and give everyone a warning.  If you're rabid fans of EITHER of these series.  Stop reading now.  Because I'm going to rip them to shit.  And if you're fans and keep reading, I don't want to get into a big debate in the comments because I've offended you.  The following is my opinion and I'm entitled to it.

This entire rant was started by me stumbling across a thread on Goodreads that posed the following question:

"Which is your favorite; The Twilight Saga, Wuthering Heights or Romeo and Juliet?"

Now first off, I was highly impressed by the posters proper use of the semi-colon, but then again, this is the type of stuff that I notice.  Then I re-read the sentence and promptly lost my mind.  I mean seriously, I flipped my lid, startled my cat and did a mental double take.

Are you fucking kidding me?

My brain literally rebelled.  How could someone intelligent enough to correctly use ";" come to the asinine conclusion that this question even needs to be asked?

In what lifetime, will Stephanie Meyer EVER be considered in the same class as Emily Brontë and William Fucking Shakespeare?  I mean really.  No offense intended but REALLY?

Sorry, couldn't resist.
Now, I have read Twilight and to an extent I appreciate it for what it is.  I understand the appeal.  It's sweet, it's romantic.  I get it.  But on the other hand, it's poorly written and has a female lead character that is not only weak willed but a horrible example to young girls.  Not only does she declare herself in love with a guy she doesn't know and has barely spent any time around, but when he leaves her to save her own fool life she not only starts to shun her friends and family, but starts to physically endanger her life in order to feel close to him.  How is this healthy?  What are you trying to teach young girls?  That it's OK to give up your friends and hobbies for a boy?  That your life can't continue if that boy is no longer a part of it?  Fuck that.  Don't even get me going on the details of how unhealthy Edward and Bella's relationship is.  Beyond what I've mentioned already here are just SOME of the things that irked me about these books:

- Before they "date" he sneaks into her house to watch her sleep.
- He disables parts of her car so she can't go off to meet other friends because that would put her out of his range of protection. 
-  When he thinks she has died in an accident he tries to KILL HIMSELF. 
- He won't have sex with her before marriage because he basically wants to do as much as possible to keep her soul pure so when she eventually becomes a vampire she'll be less-damned than if they have sex.  This implies that people that have sex before marriage are I don't know.....bad people?  Can I take this moment to point out that Stephanie Meyer is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints (LDS)?  For those of you who aren't up to speed on the various religions. The Latter-Day Saints follow something they call the "law of chastity" that forbids adultery, homosexual behavior and PRE-MARITAL SEX.  Sorry kiddies, it also forbids masturbation and "immoral thoughts".  Guess what that means?  Your porn collection has gotta go.  

But I get it, it's entertainment.  But Shakespeare?  I think not.  

Now the Goodreads comment didn't mention 50 Shades of Grey but because of the controversy and the link to Twilight I figured I'd lump it in.

OK, so once again I'm going to preface this by saying, I've read the books, I am in no-way opposed to romance novels or erotica or anything like that.  What I am opposed to is bad writing, idiotic characters, shitty dialogue and cheesy sex scenes.

People ask me about 50 Shades of Grey ALL THE TIME.  Because I read so much, the either want to know if I loved it like they did, or exactly how shitty I found it.

Lets start with the positives.  These books are cute, at times very funny and yeah....that's all I got.  

For those that haven't heard.  E.L. James wrote these books originally as Twilight fan fiction online and based the characters roughly on Edward and Bella.  There are many similarities but basically she took the gist of it and added a lot of raunchy sex.  Sigh....Stephanie Meyer and her LDS Church buddies must just LOVE that.  But really that's what 50 Shades is, is mommy porn for the adults who read Twilight and really just wished that Bella and Edward would spend more time having hot glittery vampire sex.  Sorry was that too much? Let me get back to my point.

Christian and Ana's relationship is incredibly unhealthy.  I know, I know.  Christian was horribly abused and neglected as a child.  I get the trauma, I really do.  But the fact that he uses BDSM to control women because it's the only way for him to work out his neuroses is NOT HEALTHY.  BDSM is not therapy.  And the fact that he is having sex with and punishing women that REMIND HIM OF HIS DEAD PROSTITUTE MOTHER is fucked up on so many different levels that it just increases how sorry I feel for him.  Like with Twilight let's break down some of the issues I had with the series.  Bad writing and bad dialogue aside, here's what I balked at:

- Never in a million years is a VIRGIN going to not freak out when handed a non-disclosure agreement by a potential sex partner
- Christian's "rules" in their contract include things like what what to eat, how often to workout, what she should wear and how she should behave in public.  Now don't freak out, I know the contract is for a Dom/sub relationship but really.  
- He follows her and has her followed for "her own protection"
- He buys the company that she works for just so he can essentially spy on her.
- He refuses to let her see her friends outside of their apartment and places he deems "safe" without a bodyguard present
- He uses his power as the owner of the company she works for to get finance to reject a request for funding so that she can't go on a business trip with her boss because he doesn't like him and thinks he's hitting on her
 

I think I actually need a full paragraph to fully expand upon the issues with the Dom/sub relationship so here it goes.  He tells her at one point, that he actually wants to HURT HER.  Last time I checked, BDSM was about two consenting adults who enjoy giving or receiving pain.  Last time I checked, it wasn't OK to physically hurt your partner beyond what they have agreed to and are enjoying.  It's also not OK to go into a situation like that when the person in physical control is enraged or angry.  This is not a way for a couple to resolve a "fight".  That's how people get hurt.  That my friends is abuse.  Beating on someone because you are angry about something they did, is not safe or sane.  And in all honesty, a scenario like that has absolutely nothing to do with a sub's enjoyment of pain.  That's punishment pure and simple.  I think the thing that bothers me the most, is that E.L. James has openly spoke about how she did no research at all into BDSM before she wrote this book.  There are women walking around TRYING some of this shit because these books gave them ideas.  There are women talking about how they wish they had a man who took control like that.  That Christians obsessive behavior is just a demonstration of how much he loves her. Are you people listening to yourselves??

Trust me ladies.  If you were dating a man like Christian, his behavior would not be considered sexy.  Trust me when I say that if you were dating a man like that, that you would be running in the other direction.  Especially if you were a 20something virgin.  I'm all for wanting to help him, and I'm all for loving him despite his flaws.  But the man needs therapy and boundaries.  Because in real life kiddies, a man that stalks you and has you followed for your own protection, a man who tells you who you can and can't spend time with, a man who physically punishes you because of some slight and a man that runs to his ex-lover ever time you get into an argument is not the kind of man you would embrace a relationship with.  And in my opinion, touting this as the grand love story of our time is disrespectful to the multitude of women out there that struggle with abusive relationships and are trapped in marriages with controlling men like Christian that don't have the benefit of money and good looks.  I get that it's fiction but let's all take a step back and look at it for what it is.  

*exhale*

Now let's get back to the original question shall we?  Actually no, let's not.  Because when the day comes that Twilight is actually considered by scholars and academics around the world to be in the same category as Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet?  That day my friends is that day I hang up my trusty bookmark.  Turn off my eReader and start repenting for my sins because the fucking apocalypse is coming.  Screw the Rapture, the world is coming to an end people and we're all screwed.  Screwed I say!!

So literature?  I think not.  What this is, is fluff.  But if it were only fluff I could discount it and put it onto it's proper shelf.  But it's not just fluff.  It's fluff that teaches a young girl that her life is practically over if her boyfriend dumps her.  And it's fluff that makes impressionable women think that it's OK to let their lovers tie them up and spank them in anger.  It's not OK people.  And yes, I know, it's just fiction.  But the rabid fans running around preaching that they want to marry Edward or Christian make it more than just fiction.  They make it a source of influence.  And I don't know about you, but I can do without that type of influence.  So when people ask me, I'll pick Heathcliff every time.  Because although he's 50 shades of fucked up himself, I'm sure he could kick Christian's ass any day of the week.

Cheers,
Ash

p.s. I've seen a lot of people online saying stuff related to 50 Shades like, "Why do people think the writing is so bad?"  Two words for you.  Inner Goddess.  I want to smack that bitch upside her head with a two-by-four.  And if Ana called Christain "My poor 50" one more time I was going to scream. I'm sorry but every time I read that, I thought of 50 Cent the rapper and started singing "In Da Club"

"Go shawty, 'cause it's your birthday.  We gon' party like it's your birthday."

Sorry, I actually had to Google the lyrics to get the bad grammar correct.

Some "Inner Goddess" lines that make me want to scream: 

“My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves.” 
“My inner goddess sits in the lotus position looking serene except for the sly, self-congratulatory smile on her face.” 
“My inner goddess jumps up and down with cheer-leading pom-poms shouting yes at me.” 
“My inner goddess looks like someone snatched her ice cream.” 

Seriously?  Her Inner Goddess needs to shut the fuck up and sit in the corner of I'm going to spank her myself.

See? I'm not the only one!!

  Wuthering Heights FTW!!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Stupid People or Stupid Questions.....The Tech Edition

For anyone who doesn't know, a large part of my job involves on-site Tech Support.  We have consultants that are in two days a week and I work very closely with them on the open tickets and priorities.  But as we all know, tech problems don't wait for when the IT guys is available.  They happen ALL THE TIME.

So that means that I end up doing a hefty amount of troubleshooting on my own.  Sometimes with them on the phone, but at this point there's not much I can't fix from a software perspective.  And what I don't know off the top of my head, I Google.  No joke.

Last week was a particularly interesting tech week because not only was I dealing with IT problems at work, but I was fighting with my own laptop at home.

There's nothing quite like spending your day fixing computers, to have to go home and fix your own computer.

All of this made me think about some of the stupid computer questions I've been asked over the last 5 years.

Now I understand that not everybody is good with computers.  But you presume that someone that's worked in a corporate environment for the last 5-10+ years understands the basics of Windows and MS Office.  Sadly, as we all know, common sense isn't all that common.  That being said here is a somewhat humorous list of some of the funniest/worst IT questions I've been asked recently:

These are the one's I get daily that just hurt my head because people SHOULD know how to do these things:
- How do I change my Signature in Outlook?
Add caption
- How do I change my default printer?
- How do I make it print double sided?
- How do I make this text box bigger?

Then we get to the stuff that just makes you scratch you head:
- My monitor isn't working.....it's not turned on.
- The projector it's working.....it's not plugged in.
- My BlackBerry doesn't work.....it's not charged.
- I can't send or receive email......you're not connected to the Internet.
- I can't get onto the WiFi.....typo in the password.
** On that note, best password question I ever got was a guy ignoring a character in a password because he thought that the ! was for EMPHASIS.  I shit you not.

Finally we get to the land of the asinine:
- I'm working on something in excel but didn't save my changes.....can you get them back?  Um....no.
- Someone sent me a Photoshop file, what program do I use to open it? Um.....Photoshop?
- I'm looking for a document in the archive from 2001 but I can't find it.....do you know where we would have saved it? Considering in 2001 I was in High School.....Um.....no!
- I'm trying to send a file to someone but it's too large how do I get it to them? I don't know... FTP site, file transfer tool, flash drive, CD/DVD, carrier pigeon.  Pick an option, any option.
- I lost my BlackBerry, can you get it back? Um....how?

Now like I said, people have very different comfort levels when it comes to technology and I acknowledge that what may be simple for me, may be overwhelming for another.  But come on.  Really?

But let me open it up......post a comment with either a tech problem you need help with, or a funny story about your most interesting tech dilemma.  That way I can either help, or we can all have a good giggle.

Cheers,

Ash

p.s.  Obligatory kitten picture.

There's your problem!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Note on Fear aka. Why I like to scare the shit out of myself.

I am the first person to admit that I'm a huge fan of horror movies.  I mean since I was about 11ish, I've loved the feeling of anxiety you can get when you hear the creepy music and know something is going to happen.

Strange, I know, considering I avoid anxiety pretty much any other time.

But horror movies allow you a certain kind of release.  For me, honestly, it puts things into perspective.  I mean, no matter what's going on in my life, at least I don't have a maniac wearing a hockey mask chasing me in the woods.

See?  Perspective.

I don't know why in the context of horror movies, that people actually enjoy being afraid.  I mean I totally understand the adrenaline rush and the high you get after practically soiling yourself.  

And yet the funny thing is that in real life, fear is, ya know....terrifying.

I mean we can all fear an individual person, but 99% of the time, it's not some crazed lunatic with super strength and a machete. 

The things that we mostly fear are a lot more subtle.  For me heights, spiders, public speaking and failure will all give me the cold sweats and what feels like a mini-heart attack.  For others it's crowded places and snakes.  Not necessarily things that most people would consider terror inducing but ll of our fears are unique to us and partly what make us the people we are. 

Thinking about fear all came to mind when I watched a movie called Dread. This is a badly acted horror film that focuses on a bunch of college students that are doing a film project on fear.  They interview a bunch of volunteer students and ask them to describe their worst fears.  Now of course one of the kids doing the film is bat shit crazy and starts kidnapping people and forcing them to live their fears some of which are truly horrifying and pretty much succeed in breaking these people psychologically.

It made me think about confronting fears.  Why is it so hard for us to do?  I mean fear of specific things are actually a little easier to deal with.  I'm terrified of spiders yet am forced to kill them myself if they wander into my apartment.  But confronting the more intangible fears is much more difficult.

I know that rationally, spiders won't hurt me.  They're small and creepy, but a tiny green little house spider isn't going to hurt me.  I know this logically so it's easier to address by stomping on it using a large boot.  Overkill?  Maybe.  But it's my phobia so I deal any way I can.

Fear of failure is a little different and much more difficult to address because it's associated with deeper emotional issues.  I'm afraid to let people down, I'm afraid of my parents being ashamed of me, I'm afraid of a bunch of different things but it all boils down to ideas of inadequacy.  Things much scarier than a little spider.

But I think confronting our fears is necessary in life because without that, how will we ever grow?  Sometimes it's as simple as watching a scary movie, or killing that little spider in the bathroom.  Other times, not so easy but double rewarding.

Cheers,

Ash   

Spider Image from Hyperbole and a Half if you haven't checked out her comics, do so right now.

Monday, October 1, 2012

You Can't Fail.....If You Never TRY.

I've been thinking a lot about failure recently.  I know, fun thoughts right?

But what I've been thinking about, is that most of the things in my own life that I perceive to be failures, are not failures at all.

I am my number one critic.

After a lifetime of "constructive criticism" from family members, I've trained it into my brain that everything I do is not quite good enough.  That everything about me, could use just a little improvement.  And on bad days everything is probably crap.

I mean, of course, everyone could improve things about themselves or areas of their lives, but thinking of everything as lacking or a failure is destructive long-term.

But one of the things that I've started to realize is that because of my desire to not be criticized or be viewed as a failure, I have essentially stopped trying.  Because if I don't try anything new, I can't fail at it.  You know the thoughts I'm talking about.  Not talking to someone new because you presume they won't like you.  Not learning a new skill because you presume you're not going to be any good at it.  Or worse yet, not trying to improve something about yourself that you are unhappy with because you think it won't make a difference.

What I SHOULD have done, is work on convincing myself that just because something isn't perfect, doesn't make it a failure.  Because if I look at things with that lens, then what I actually have, is a series of accomplishments and a series of learning experiences.  Both are much healthier than viewing everything as a failure.

Easier said than done though.

When people criticize you, it can be damaging to your overall idea of self-worth when done to that extent.  But when you start to criticize yourself that heavily, the implications can be damaging to your entire identity.

So that being said, October is going to be the month for self improvement and self awareness.  When you find yourself being overly critical of yourself or others, think about how your framing those criticisms and focus more on input that can actually result in making a positive impact on your life.

Cheers,

Ash