Monday, August 22, 2011

Music Monday - My Top 5 Picks

Some older, some newer, here's my Music Monday picks that set my mood (uh, keep in mind I'm home sick today...) :

No one sounds better than Adele...

but Stay from Sugarland wins the melancholy beauty award...

and then there's Red Hot Chili Peppers...

You can't help tappin' your foot to the Lunabelles - too bad there's no official video yet...

and last, but certainly not least on my list, proving there's life after "Crazy Heart"...

Get 'em all at Amazon. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

5 Things I Learned This Week - May 22

I started a new job (yay!) and have been in training for the past two weeks EVERY DAY. What is it about being locked in a windowless classroom that saps every bit of energy out of you? << That was definitely rhetorical..., but also my big excuse for not getting a blog post out sooner, so here's my 5 Items for the Week:

  1. I learned if you have student loans - PAY THEM. Trying to deal with defaulted student loans really sucks. Trust me on this one...  in fact, if you need inspiration, read my latest article 10 Things That Can Happen If You Don't Pay Your Student Loans
  2. I learned studying for certification tests can turn your mind to mush... have no fear tho', mush brain goes really well with Facebook games, like my two favorites: Ravenwood Fair and Frontierville. If you haven't played them, give it a try. Maybe it's just that I'm easily entertained at this point, but Ravenwood especially has one of the funniest audio tracks. Nothin' like a little forest creature exclaiming "Awesome!" or the background soundtrack that includes the Thunderbox outhouse er...flushing, to make me chuckle.
  3. I learned Amazon is open 24-7! Okay, I already knew that and have shopped online for years, but it's amazing what you can order all under one roof. Because my goldfish are complaining about their less-than-crystal-clear tank, I ordered this handy Mag Float Floating Magnet Aquarium Cleaner
    No more green glass and no more sloshing. It is a seriously strong magnet and scrubs the algae right off (but don't use on an acrylic tank - it can scratch).
  4. I learned that good things (and fairly good sound) comes in really little packages. I ordered one of the iHome mini speakers for my laptop an MP3 player from Amazon too. It's so cute! ...and purple...and about the size of a yo-yo. 
  5. And lastly, I learned that some companies DO actually pay for experience. Hence the reason I'm currently starting at a wage that is $2 an hour more than the 20-something obnoxious "dude" that I've been in class with for the last two weeks. After endless interruptions, remarks about all of us over-35 being OLD, constant disregard for our instructor (he and his friend played Pac-Man and texted constantly) I kinda considered it positively karmic to find out that I had a higher wage due to my overall experience in the business world. There is a God...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Top 5 Reasons Job Hunting Sucks

For the last 3 1/2 years I've been a freelance writer and personal/business assistant - two things that barely supported me living in Orange County, CA...then I moved back to Tucson for a business venture that fell apart almost as soon as it started, which means I'm stranded in the desert - literally. No car at the moment (which REALLY makes job hunting o' so fun) and a job market that's probably mirroring the majority of the U.S. is making life in the Old Pueblo less than stellar. So... just in case anyone else would like a seat on the pity boat leaving the harbor, here's my top 5 reasons job hunting sucks:

  1. Redundancy - Fill out the online app so you can attach your resume so you can get an interview with a staffing specialist, where you fill at an app before you can proceed. Wouldn't it be better to allow someone to actually just fill out the header portion of an application and attach the resume?? How many trees could be saved?
  2. Qualifications - Speaking of staffing far I've been told I'm overqualified for entry level positions (I am), that being self-employed can be seen as a negative to prospective companies, and since I HAVE been self-employed for a few years, my non-consecutive "real jobs" are causing a gap that is an "issue". I'm ready to say I took three or four years off to join the Peace Corp, take care of a dying relative or have kids. Maybe I could join Witness Protection and then my past could be wiped clean.
  3. Competition - People keep saying "You're not alone." Well, duh! There are thousands of us right now that are all vying for jobs below our "pay grade" or skill set... I know, because I've met a few filling out apps and sitting at the bus stop.
  4. Logistics - I thought it was so unfair when I saw so many job listings that said "must have reliable transportation", until I actually attempted to use the public bus. In a nutshell: Nightmare.  Tucson is an every-sprawling city in which the bus system has yet to catch up to the newest outlying business parks, and because of budget cuts, it's cut its service hours... alot. On the weekends, the two bus stops closest to me run only once an hour. The nearest mall is across from the transit center, which I found out runs its last bus around 8:30 at night. That's super special since the mall is open till 9. Yesterday I got off the bus with 5 minutes to spare on my way to an interview only to find out that a construction crew had ripped out the sidewalk and the nearest crosswalk would make that little round trip to get to the other side almost a mile. Yes, I want a job. No I'm not willing to walk in open trenches in a dress and slingbacks.
  5. Humanity sucking vortex - (I saved the best for last) I love the convenience of technology most of the time, but when it comes to job hunting, it has an ugly side... the side where "professionals" have forgotten to be humane. We live in a world where initial face-to-face contact is shielded by virtual means, so much so that hiring managers and staffing peeps seem to forget there's a human being on the other side. I can't tell you how many times I have submitted my resume, made a follow up phone call, sent a cover letter etc. that has been met with nothing more than the sound of a large vacuum.  *sigh*

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Five Headlines I Wish I Hadn't Read This Week

Tim Hetherington, Photojournalist and Director of Restapo Killed in Libya

Tim Hetherington photo courtesy

His video collage, Diary (2010) is profound, haunting, intriguing... and in his own words “was made as an attempt to locate myself after ten years of reporting. It's a kaleidoscope of images that link our western reality to the seemingly distant worlds we see in the media.”  Well worth your time to view. RIP Tim Hetherington. We are better humans for having seen parts of the world through your lens.

Orlando Gas Station Charges $5.69 a Gallon - It’s bad enough that gas prices continue to rise, but this station is situated near the airport and [allegedly] is targeting people in a hurry to gas up their car rentals before returning them. By contrast, the average gas price at other stations in Orlando is almost $2 per gallon cheaper.

Probe: ATF Urged Legitimate Gun Dealer to Sell Weapons to the Bad Guys The ongoing investigation surrounds a number of emails between the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives and a legitimate gun dealer in Arizona that expressed his fears that his guns were falling into the hands of the bad guys, mainly south of the border.

Blue Bloods Creators Exit Series - Hey! I like that show! Tom Selleck as the patriarch of this very engaging “law and order” clan sits well with me, as does the rest of the casting. Hope the next headline we see isn’t Blue Bloods Cancelled.

Snooki’s Diet Plan: More Exercise, Less Clubbing (I’m not even adding a link to that one- the fifteen minutes of fame has got to be over, isn’t it??!) I really wish I hadn’t read that headline...I just wish that these types of “celebrities” never made the headlines. Period.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Earth Smiles In Flowers

So no big plans to travel...yet. I've been stuck in about a 6 mile radius from my home for about the last 5 months now (having no car at the moment). It sucks on a few different levels, but it is what it is. However, to put a positive spin on 5 things:
Desert Sunrise Digital Watercolor Poster print
  1. I am once again reminded that Spring is the time for the Earth to flowers. 
  2. Even here in the Southern AZ desert, things are a bloomin' - which for me means even the crappiest of days can be a little brighter. 
  3. While other people I know are still dealing with snow, tornadoes and other unfortunate weather, we're into blue skies, 80+ degree temps and dots of color every where I turn.
  4. I can feel less guilty about the lovely weather and Spring blooms knowing that said people will be enjoying much milder temps than I in a few more months when we have multiple 100+ degrees days.
  5. Slideshows of said desert blooms = happiness to share...(took my camera out for a walk over to the U of A Extension gardens over the weekend .)

    Looking for a little outlet for your creative writing?

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    Wanderlust: The World of Vacation Travel

    Every day is a winding road... Greeting Card card

    I've been itching to take a trip somewhere... a vacation travel destination maybe by train, or a cruise ship or go back to Ireland... I don't really have a set plan, just wanderlust! I don't know if it's good or bad that I've been writing quite a few travel-related articles lately, both for un-named clients as well as under my own byline, but I'm sure researching all the different options for vacation travel is feeding the wanderlust - hopefully it's been feeding the creativity as well. Here are 5 Travel Items that may feed your wanderlust or sense of adventure too!

    1. How to Be a Good Houseguest
      Sure, there are some hosts who throw open the doors and tell you to "do whatever you want", but if you aren't 100% sure that you can take that statement literally... proceed with caution. Here's a few tips to make your stay pleasant for both you and your hosts, and get you invited back again and again!
    2. The Top 5 River Cruise Lines
      The popularity of river cruises has increased over the last few years. Here's a list of the most popular river cruise lines. Viking River Cruises tops the list...
    3. Vacation Island Getaways
      If sandy beaches and tropical islands feed your wanderlust dreaming, here are five of the top island getaways to consider.
    4. Green Hotels - Travelocity
      If one of your requirements is booking an eco-friendly hotel, Travelocity makes it easy.
    5. Top 5 Adventure Destinations 
      If hiking backroads, whitewater rafting, or kayaking off the Big Island sound appealing, check out these top 5 U.S. spots.
    A friend and fellow writer has also written a few tips to consider if you prefer to feed the wanderlust via a group cruise!

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    Born To Be Wild, Born To Be Free

    I'm happy to say my first blog post concerns something dear to my heart: the protection of endangered animals and their habitats. And so with that, here are 5 items of note regarding those that were Born to Be Wild, Born to Be Free:

    Born to Be Wild (2011) IMAX 3D movie to be released tomorrow, April 8th by the folks at Warner Bros. The 40 minute documentary is narrated by acting legend Morgan Freeman, and tells the tales of two animal "fairy godmothers" who have dedicated their lives to the rescue, rehabilitation and protection of orangutans and elephants. For more info, check out ABC New's coverage of the film and the women behind it: Born to Be Wild, A Tale of Two Women and Two Orphanages

    Born Free Foundationan international wildlife charity working throughout the world to stop individual wild animal suffering and protect threatened species in the wild through a number of worthy campaigns and programs. The foundation is involved in projects around the world intent on preserving populations of African elephants, lions and other big cats, wild gorillas, the Ethiopian wolf, and marine animals like the orca, dolphins and turtles.

    The World Wildlife Fund
    is a giant among the foundations who are dedicated to protecting endangered animals and habitats around the world. Corporate sponsorship from Bank of America and Visa as well as celebrity involvement from Leo DiCaprio and others,  have helped to keep the organization in the spotlight. DiCaprio is a spokesperson for their Help Save the Tigers campaign.

    Wildlife Conservation Society is an organization with three basic goals: Save wildlife; Save Wild Places; and Address Conservation Challenges.

    World Land Trust is dedicated to preserving the lands of the Rainforests that contain more than 400,000 acres of habitats in South America, Asia, Central America and even the UK.

    For each of the five notable foundations I've listed here, there are probably 500 more that are doing works worthy of your support. Do you support these five? If not, whose efforts to keep animals free and wild do you support?  Feel free to leave any info in the comments section.

    The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but rather, "Can they suffer?"  ~Jeremy Bentham