Memorial Day Reminder

What with all of the sales flyers that have filled my mail box this past week and the celebratory posts and invites that have been floating through my Facebook feed nonstop, it seems like many people in this country have forgotten what this day means. The photo below truly captures what Memorial Day symbolizes.

Despite what the car dealers or Macy’s or the party planners would have you believe, it’s not about the excellent deal on that gas guzzling SUV or the 50% off sale on shoes you don’t need or that rowdy beer infused bbq party you won’t half remember on Tuesday at work.

Memorial Day is about giving thanks to our nation’s true heroes as we honor those who have fallen in their service to our great country.  So enjoy your day, most definitely, in whatever way you decide to do so. But let’s just remember those who made it possible.

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The Best Thing Ever

It is of Uber that I would like to speak to you today. Have you ever heard about Uber? It’s a relatively new, and revolutionary, type of car service where average people with cars offer to be chauffeurs to perfect strangers – all for about the cost of gas (unless there’s a rate surge and then you get screwed, but this is a dog eat dog money making world, so what can you expect). But in general, it’s a relatively cheap way to get around. Can you imagine how much that saves on taxi fares? Or on the cost of renting a car, not to mention the stress of dealing with mass transit or the wear and tear on your mind of driving in the city?

Unknown traffic patterns that change seemingly at random, weird one-way streets, exits five lanes over from where you need to be with a gazillion cars in between you with no time to get over there and certainly no-one willing to let you over may not prey on your mind, but they certainly do mine! Big time.

I used Uber for the first time just recently, when my daughter and I went into the city. And it’s a big city. You may have heard of it. We’ve sort of been on the news lately. And not in a good way.

I have a difficult time driving in crowded cities, especially when the road system seems to have been designed by someone with a sadistic desire to torture drivers.  It’s especially nerve-wracking when you have to make split second decisions to get into the correct lane to get to the correct exit if you’re not sure where you’re going.  And if you miss your exist…how the heck do you get back to it? Even with GPS, it drives my anxiety wild.

Because of this anxiety of mine, I usually either re-route our way thru a scenic area (which is never a bad thing, admittedly) or I have to find an alternate way of transport to get there (like the light rail train if it’s the city, but I have to say that that’s not always safe if it’s at night and it’s just the two of us.  And of course they don’t run everywhere a person wants to go).

My other alternative is to rely on people – friends or family – to get wherever it is I need to go, if it’s an anxiety inducing location, and sometimes that involves people I’d really rather not have to rely on.

Well, enter Uber. This is the greatest invention since sliced bread. It’s like having a friend with a car on call willing to take you anywhere for the price of gas and maybe a pizza. Did I mention that it’s way cheaper than a taxi? And they’re only like 3 minutes away at all times. It’s, quite simply put, perfect.

I tell you what, there is just no holding us back now! On our trip back from the city, Sarah and I were conspiring on just where we were going next! We plan on using the hell out of Uber now that we’ve tried it the one time! And with promo codes galore online, my frugal little heart is in heaven.

Sure, I suppose I have some gung-ho readers who think I should just bite the bullet and work my way through my anxiety of driving in hectic, jam-packed cities, but to you I say…well…no, I won’t say it. Unless you want to pay my insurance when it skyrockets due to an accident caused by either my road rage (just barely under control at the best of times!) or bad split-second decision-making skills while being harassed by hundreds of other drivers who’ve never heard of the “courtesy of the road” and expect everyone to know where they’re going at all times.  Believe it or not, road rage notwithstanding, my driving record is pristine.  I’d like to keep it that way.

Uber – you are my hero!

Once Upon a Time There Were Rhinos

Hang your heads in shame, patriots. The hunt is on. Remember my previous post about Corey Knowlton, America’s poster boy for wildlife conservation? Well, he’s finally gotten approval from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to bring back—as a trophy—the critically endangered black rhino he paid the Namibian government $350,000 to wipe off the face of the earth. It’s basically the US government giving him the thumbs up for helping to annihilate a species.

Of course Mr. Knowlton (so tough to type out his name, my fingers start to ball up into fists when I get halfway through) isn’t going to prance around in a black mask and black cape and tell you he’s a horrible, rotten, no-good villain. He’s still trying to desperately spin his bloodlust into some positive PR routine so that people will believe he’s actually helping the conservation efforts of the rhino. Uh huh. Killing to save lives, you say? Who would fall for such a ridiculously hypocritical stance? Oh, our government. I kid, I kid. Truth is our government wasn’t fooled by Knowlton at all, they were simply bought. Apparently hundreds of thousands of dollars can buy just about anything these days.  As if we didn’t know that already.

I know Knowlton says that the money he paid for the hunt is for aiding the anti-poaching and conservation efforts, but my original question still stands:  Why not just donate the money? I wish someone would slap him up side the head tap him on the shoulder and tell him his money is still good, even if he doesn’t kill something critically endangered just for the chance to hang its head on his wall.

click photo for info

click photo for some actual facts on the whole mess

My Son (or Paul Bunyan Redux)

A carnival gypsy once told me that the love of my life would be tall, dark and handsome.  Somehow she failed to mention he would arrive on the waves of excruciating labor pains.  Now, 23 years later to the day, my son can legally buy alcohol, towers over me, and resembles Paul Bunyan.    He’s out on his own and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Still, whenever we talk, I oftentimes offer unsolicited advice.  No, really, I do.   Other mothers do this too, right?  Right??  Well of course Jake’s response is usually one borne of frustration because, according to him, I’ve not kept up with his birthdays all these years and therefore don’t know just how old he is.  My response is one he will never understand until he has kids of his own – he’s always my baby regardless of how old he may be.  Or how tall.  Or how thick a beard he decides to grow (I mean really, you do own a razor after all Jake!).

And many times during these mutually frustrating conversations, a mental picture of him will pop into my head.  Like when he and I went outside to play in the yard like maniacs during a freak midnight snowstorm when he was 4.  Or when he was a very convincing snowman in a school play at the age of 5.  Or as a 6 year old on a trip to Luray Caverns….which is actually a pretty cute story and one that I go to often in my mental rolodex of memories because it never ceases to make me smile.

We used to make the trek to Luray Caverns every year, sort of a family tradition.  These trips were always a great time.  For those not familiar with the area, near Luray is another set of caverns touted as “The Endless Caverns.”  To me, that sounds sort of horrible. The idea that you could possibly get lost and never find your way out of the dark, stone tunnels, eventually succumbing to starvation with your body going undiscovered for maybe centuries didn’t fill me with a great amount of intrigue.  Sort of like an “always erupting volcano” or “constantly snowing tundra.”  Okay fine, maybe that’s a bit melodramatic….but hey, it could happen.

Well, on this particular trip when we passed one of the billboards emblazoned with “Endless Caverns” Jake asked just what “endless” meant.  Remember, he’s only 6 at the time so he was still trying to figure out the intricacies of the English language which can be tough on anyone.  Being the vocabulary nut I am, I was thrilled to explain to him “Well, Jake, endless means that something doesn’t have an end…. never-ending.”

This is where I have to take a small sidebar and let you know that my husband’s running compliment for me at that time was “hot.”  It could also be interpreted as a running joke.  And having the goofy mentality that my husband did he was always coming up with a “you’re so hot…” comment.   As in “You’re so hot you make lava look cool.”  I know, I know….but what can you do?  I married him anyway.  Not sure what that says about me, all things considering.

So, back to the story….as the meaning of “endless” registered with Jake, he perked up and said, “Oh, so it’s like you. You’re hotless.  Never-ending hot.”   Why yes, Jake.  That’s exactly what it means.

To this day I hold that small, innocent remark in my heart as one of the best compliments I’ve ever received.  Not because it’s true and certainly not because Jake fully understood “hot” as it related to women,  but because it came straight from his beautiful, ever loving six year old heart as meaning something special.  Jake will never understand that when I look at him, I still see that wide-eyed, precocious boy who stole my heart the day he was born.   I don’t think that will ever change.  And quite frankly, I hope it never does.

Although seriously…. a razor wouldn’t hurt now and then.

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jake pier

jake and shaylee

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