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Friday, August 31, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (4)

Conversion Diary Link

(1)

Blogger shows me the keywords people use in search engines to find my blog.  I took a picture of some of this week's keywords so I could share them with you.  I was disappointed to see that people are cheating at the Burger King Family Feud game.  It is unfair to those of us who won our free chicken wraps with integrity.

Also, for the record, strippers can be doctors, and I haven't found
onlinebootycall women to be misleading at all.

(2)

My friend James asked where he could go to read the poem I mentioned in last week's quick takes.  The winner's list can be found here, but not the entries themselves.  Therefore I will now post my poem, which is short and to the point.  Ahem.

A Wino's Triolet

He took another drink of wine
And laid down on the street.
The master of his own decline
He took another drink of wine.
A quiet voice inside his mind
Said ‘Get back on your feet!’
But he took another drink of wine
And stayed down on the street.


(3)

This past weekend Scott and I went to Black Sheep Burrito & Brews for brunch.  The fried potatoes you see pictured below are coated in sugar and cinnamon and dreams and magic.



(4)

My dad had spinal surgery on Monday.  He is back home and doing really well.  I figure the biggest issue will be getting him to sit still long enough to actually heal properly.

Who can manage to look handsome even immediately
following a spinal surgery?  This guy!

(5)

I started adult ballet this week.  As anticipated, I'm awful.  My arms and legs refuse to do what I tell them to, and I am about as flexible as a concrete block.  I'm serious.  My school gym teachers had to estimate my score in the sit-and-reach test because I couldn't even reach the ruler.  But, the instructor and my classmates are really nice and non-judgmental (which is especially fortunate for me as I was sporting a Gryffindor shirt).




(6)

I am giving the downstairs bathroom a makeover.  This includes spackling/sanding the walls, repainting, putting in a new sink top and faucet, taking out the old toilet, putting in a new one, bleaching the shower grout, re-caulking the tub, and redoing the floors.  My fear is that my improvements will be worse than the original.  Like in the case of that lady who meant to restore a 19th century Jesus fresco, but instead turned it into a creature bred from an Ewok and the Ohio State mascot.

+
=
It's simple math.

(7)

Finally, I saw this on a friend's Facebook wall this week and it made me laugh so I am sharing:

Friday, August 24, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (3)

Conversion Diary Link
(1)

I recently discovered the "rant and rave" section on the local craigslist.  It is a great place to check out reviews of local restaurants.  For example, here is an insightful critique of Mama Rosa's Pizzeria that was posted just this week:

"Okay on being fare I got to this restaurant at 2:pm the buffett closes at 2:30pm, Buffet cost 7.50 it has salads,and a Itlalian theme,why pinto beans on it still trying to figure it out,by the time we got there it was dried up,so not much but they did make a new lasagane for me and to be honest it was very good, Now the bread sucks ,wait staff was ok but there new and there making there way,but they have to get there act together real quick,before they hit game time"

Another eye-opening review discusses the quality of the food at Barboursville's Tudors Biscuit World:

"Worst breakfast I have ever been served! 1st. everything was cold except coffee. 2nd. ask for crispy bacon and got half cooked limber fatty kind. 3rd. one egg looked like it had already been eated once and other was cooked hard. Your cook really needs a lesson on kitchen skills.  I guess when you have a monopoly there thats how we are treated. Hello McDonalds!"

I'm thankful for the heads up.  I hate half-cooked limber bacon, and I absolutely loathe once-eated eggs.  

(2)

I am going to Salem, Massachusetts for Halloween with my friend Sarah and her in-laws.  I have been working diligently on my costume, which is supposed to represent what I want in the new year.  We are currently trying to decide which Halloween ball to attend.  If you have been to Salem for Halloween before, please give us some suggestions!

(3)

It's official.  My new favorite dessert is Baskin Robbins's turtle pie.  Its name is misleading, as it has little to nothing to do with turtles, but it is simply delightful.

She's my turtle pie, cool drink of water such a sweet surprise
Tastes so good makes a grown man cry, sweet turtle pie.
(4)

I won first honorable mention in the WV Writer's short poetry contest for a poem I wrote titled "A Wino's Triolet."  It's a start, right?

(5)

I love it when people take charge with plans.  No indecision, just "Hey, this is what's going on.  Wanna come?"  My friend Emily is excellent at doing this, as can be seen by our texts below:

What?  Games and Revelry.
When?  Saturday night.
Where?  Her place.
Bam.
(6)

My niece, Lola, is starting 2-year-old ballet.  Her little leotards are almost too cute for words.

Precious!
(7)

Speaking of Lola, I will close with this, a video of her flirting with another toddler using her stellar dance moves:

video

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

And The Winner Is....

Thank you to everyone who entered my contest, and to those of you who comment on my blog regularly anyway.  I love and appreciate each and every one of you.  The bards will sing of your praises until your children are grown, and their children after them.  Every man, woman, and child will know who you were.

Sorry.  I'm still on a Game of Thrones kick.

Anyway, there have been 97 comments on my blog, so I used a random number generator to pick a number between 1 and 97.

Number 15 is the winner!  Wait, what does that mean?

Commenter number 15 was Jackie A.  Congratulations Jackie, for you have won the grand prize!  It will be my honor to make you a stuffed something of your choice.  What shall it be?  You can be as vague or specific as you want.  All I ask is that you send me a picture with your new stuffed animal once you receive it!

Congratulations again and thanks again to everyone who participated!

Friday, August 17, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (2)

Conversion Diary

(1)

My Olympics Make Me Feel Inadequate Sweepstakes is still going! Comment on any blog entry to be entered to win a custom-made stuffed animal of your choice!

(2)

I saw this sign above the bathroom door handle at Subway.  "Push in only to lock."  I'm afraid I'm missing something obvious, but why was this sign necessary?  What might my other goals be when pushing in that little button?

"I tried to push that button for assistance when I fell in your bathroom,
but no one came to help me.  Expect a letter from my lawyer!"
(3)

I saw someone in a Sonic the Hedgehog t-shirt this week at Walmart and it made me think.  I never really bought into the idea that Sonic is a hedgehog.  He was the wrong color entirely, and from my limited zoology knowledge currency has no effect on the hedgehog.  It certainly wouldn't entice one to spin through roller coaster hoops.  Still, Sonic the Hedgehog sounds much cooler than Sonic the Blue Creature.  Why am I even talking about this?

(4)

I played hearts on the computer the other day for the first time in years.  When I was little, I would play  on the family computer and name the other 3 competitors after my current crushes.  Whoever won was who I would marry.  I knew I wouldn't win, because I suck at hearts.  If I wasn't happy with who won, I would play again.  It was like flipping a coin to decide something and seeing if you are disappointed with the outcome.  It turns out that my hearts game was not accurate at predicting my future romances.  Thank goodness.

(5)





This week I got to spend quality time with two of my favorite girls in the whole world:  My niece, Lola, and my pug, Penny.

(6)

I got a letter back regarding an article I submitted to a magazine in North Carolina.  It is a rejection letter, but unlike the other two rejections I've received this month, it really motivated me.  This letter did come with boilerplate language that said "Thanks for sending us your submission.  We're sorry to say that it is not right for our magazine.  We rarely respond personally to submissions as the number of manuscripts we receive makes this difficult.  Please know, however, that we've read your work and appreciate your interest in our magazine."

However, the manuscript reader also included a handwritten letter that said the following:

"Hi Jenna!  Thank you so much for sharing the story of your mother's illness in your article "Cancer in III Acts."  Your mother sounds like she was an extraordinary woman, so lively and ready to look on the bright side.  I especially loved the "pee party at my place" part of the story.  I am very sorry for your loss.  Although this essay isn't quite right for this particular magazine, I appreciate having had the chance to read it, and have no doubt you will find placement for this piece.  Good luck with your writing!"

I know a rejection is a rejection, but it is nice to know that these places are actually looking at my work, and that someone enjoyed reading it.  I'm continuing to send out manuscripts, and keeping my fingers crossed for an acceptance letter.

(7)

I think my sister-in-law, Brandy, and I are going to take an adult ballet class.  I have horrible balance and zero flexibility, so obviously this sounded like a swell idea.  If nothing else, it should lead to some embarrassing stories.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The "Olympics Make Me Feel Inadequate" Sweepstakes

Watching the Olympics always makes me feel old and unaccomplished.  I will never win a medal, because in the world of the Olympics, I am already a senior citizen.  It is eye-opening to see people more than a decade younger than me representing their countries as experts in their sports.  The closing ceremony for the London games was on Sunday, which means I must wait 541 days for the winter games in Sochi before I can once again live vicariously through Olympic competitors.

In an effort to come to grips with my inadequacy, and to curb my current Olympic withdrawal, I thought, "I shall have a contest of my own."

To enter my contest you must simply leave a comment on my blog.  The contest starts today and will end Tuesday August 21st at 11:59 p.m.  I will assign each comment left on my blog between now and then a number, and at the end of the week I will use an online random number generator to declare a winner.  Comment on any post you want, and as many times as you want.  The more comments you leave, the better your chance of winning.  Remember to leave your name in the comment; if it says "anonymous" I won't know who to award the prize to.  Also, in appreciation for those who have already been commenting on my blog, I will include your past comments in the contest.

Obviously, this contest needs a prize, and I can't afford a gold medallion.  While brainstorming ideas, I asked myself, "what is the best gift I have ever received?"

For my 11th birthday, my friend Olivia handmade me a stuffed animal from felt, sponges, shoulder pads, and buttons.  It was a "square head wren," based on a drawing I used in lieu of a signature when I passed her notes in class.  She attached the jester's hat from her childhood halloween costume, probably so I would stop digging it out of her closet and asking her to wear it when I went over to her house.  Here is a picture:

Now that's one good lookin' bird.
So, in honor of the Olympics, and Olivia's generous gift, I am offering to make a homemade stuffed animal for the lucky winner of my contest.  The winner gets to choose what type of stuffed animal I make for them (animal, vegetable, amoeba, dinosaur, video game character, it doesn't matter; if you win, I'll make it).

I will announce the winner next Wednesday, and I will post a picture of the prize once I finish making it.

May the odds be ever in your favor.


P.S. Olympic medalists are also invited to play.

Friday, August 10, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (1)




-1-

Every Friday, my friend Anna does a blog entry called "Seven Quick Takes Friday."  Anna got the idea from a blog called "Conversion Diary", asked me to join in, and here we are.

-2-

One of the greatest things about Huntington is its abundance of festivals offering delicious food:  Chili Fest, Greek Fest, Hot Dog Fest, Oktoberfest, Pumpkin Fest.  Each has its own speciality dishes, and I try to honor each festival by partaking of its edible goods.  This weekend, however, Huntington will honor barbecue sauce, pulled pork sandwiches, smoked ribs, and brisket.

My friends, Ribfest is upon us.

Scott and I went to the riverfront last night to pay tribute to the Carolina Rib King, and to listen to Get the Led Out, an incredibly talented and spot-on Led Zeppelin cover band.  The festival is going on through Sunday, so if you're in Huntington, you should check it out.






-3-

I am pleased to announce that today I was the proud winner of a Burger King Crispy Chicken Wrap.  This game combined several of my favorite things:  Family Feud, eating Burger King, scratch off tickets, and winning!

Survey says... give me a chicken wrap!

-4-

I have been watching Game of Thrones, and I just started Season 2 yesterday.  It is a really good show, but I wish they didn't kill so many horses and babies.

-5-

This fake mustache fad has gotten way out of control.  There is now a line of greeting cards at Target called "rock the 'stache."  Each card comes with its own unique fake mustache.  Admittedly, I'm probably just irritated because I have been trying to come up with discrete ways to rid my upper lip of hair ever since my hair stylist asked me if I wanted her to wax it.  I don't need a fake mustache to remind me of my real pain.


-6-

I have finished the first draft of my book, and several of my friends are editing it for me.  In the meantime, I'm sending some of the chapters in to newspapers, magazines, and journals.  I will keep you posted as I hear back from them.

-7-

While grocery shopping at Kroger this week, I saw this apron on display:

It reads "pampered pooch."
It is too big for a dog, so the only logical conclusion is that this apron is intended for adult women.  This baffles me.  I don't want to label myself as a dog, pampered or otherwise, while I'm in the kitchen.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

International Feasts & Man-Skirts

This Saturday I attended a 12-hour-long international themed feast in honor of my friend, Billy, who is starting a master's program in International Peace and Conflict Resolution this fall.  He recently got out of the Army, where he served as an officer for several years, and did tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  Perhaps most notable about Billy is his impeccable taste in women, as he married my best friend Sarah (see my prior entry on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for more information on this wonderful woman).

Anyway, since the feast was international, I cooked my mom's famous Cuban-style garbanzo bean soup.

I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, but here is one
of the mess I made in preparation.  Use your imagination from here. 
 
I wore my only international clothing, a kilt I bought during my study-abroad in Scotland (I feel pretentious even typing that sentence; I'm sorry).  Upon arriving at the party, I realized I was the only one who dressed up.

This here is my kilt.  I forgot to bring my kilt pin with me,
so I had to hold it together with a  giant baby diaper pin.
Later that afternoon, however, a partygoer named Jake showed up wearing a man-skirt.  Jake is an outdoor enthusiast and purchased his skirt from an sports shop (the most similar one I found was this REI Mountain Hardwear Elkommando Kilt).  I was previously unaware that skirts were being transitioned into male wardrobes in western culture, so I did a quick Google search when I got home.  Apparently sports kilts are used by male hikers, especially in the Northwest.

Others see skirts as the newest trend in men's fashion.  See this Forbes article on men in skirts or one man's personal experience in wearing skirts.  My favorite part of the last article is the author's response to how he got started wearing skirts.  He states:

My wife came up with that first and said it is a shame that you have to hide your beautiful legs always in a pair of trousers. They are looking like a model. First she ask me to wear one of her short skirts which I didn't. Then she ask me if I would wear a men's style kilted skirt and I agreed with this not knowing what does it mean to me.


Jake and I traded party attire because, as luck would have it, we wear the same kilt size.  I now know that not only are men's razors better, but their skirts are more comfortable.

Gender equality?  I will feel equal when my skirts also feel 
as comfortable as spring air, and my legs are given the same 
consideration by razor companies as a man's face.
Anyway, the party was a big success, despite the fact that nearly every person present inexplicably cried at some point.  We enjoyed international food and drinks, pretended to be Olympic badminton players, and played the slowest game of cornhole I have ever seen.  This was one for the books.

The lady folk
Sarah, Jake, and the most comfortable
article of clothing ever invented.
Kyrstin demonstrating proper cornhole form to Ryan.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Harry Potter World: One Girl's Spiritual Journey

Allow me to address a few housekeeping matters before I regale you with tales from my trip to Florida.

My office space is finished, and I now have several court-appointed clients.  I had my first hearing the other day, and I loved it!  Just being back in the courtroom did wonders for my self-esteem.  Here are the office pictures I previously promised:

My conference table.  Flowers courtesy of my friend, Sarah.

Built-in shelves that I will fill with leather-bound books.

My stately desk and office chair.
Last week my friend Olivia came to Huntington from D.C. to attend a training seminar with me on the West Virginia child abuse and neglect system.  It felt good being around people in a professional setting again.  I got to wear big-girl clothes, shake hands, and act accomplished.  More importantly, I learned a lot that I can apply to my cases.

Here I am with my conference tote, as excited to learn as I was on my 
first day of preschool.  Come to think of it, I had a tote then, too.

And now on to Hogwarts!

Two days after the conference, my friend Sarah and I went to Florida to visit Courtney, go to the beach, and finally make the mecca to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Our flight to Orlando was an interesting study on human behavior.  Airplanes have a way of bringing out the absolute worst in people, and in a way, I understand.  Large numbers of nervous people are confined to tiny spaces next to complete strangers.  They are stressed, uncomfortable, and bored.  But I maintain that riding on an airplane does not give you license to be rude.  Especially when said flight is only an hour and a half long.  Before our airplane even took off, I witnessed a complete asshole parade.

First, the airline accidentally assigned the same seat number to two people.  The flight attendant asked one of the passengers to sit temporarily in another seat while they figured out the problem.  She assured the passenger that there were enough seats for everyone.  People began bickering over seats during the 2 minutes it took to resolve the issue, resulting in conversations like:

Entitled passenger 1:  "Get out of my seat."
Entitled passenger 2:  "The flight attendant told me to sit here while she figures out the problem."
Entitled passenger 1:  "I bought this ticket like a month ago.  Move so I can sit down."
Entitled passenger 2:  "Well, I'd better get a discount from the airline."

As the flight attendant was rushing around trying to deal with the Great Seat Debacle of 2012, another woman stood up and tapped the attendant on the shoulder.

Entitled passenger 3:  "Excuse me.  I just wanted to ask you, am I an idiot for assuming that all of the seats in row 7 would be directly beside each other?"
Exasperated flight attendant:  "No ma'am.  You are not an idiot."
Entitled passenger 3:  "Well then why aren't the rows parallel?"
Exasperated flight attendant:  "I'm not sure.  Aircrafts are each built differently."
Entitled passenger 3:  "But I wanted the seats in row 7 to be parallel. Am I going to get a discount?"  The million dollar question.
Exasperated flight attendant:  "No."

I'm sitting quietly in my seat without causing a disturbance.  Do I get a discount?

I was assigned a middle seat, creating what I refer to as a Jenna sandwich.  A middle-aged woman in a white halter top collapsed into the seat to my left, drunker than a waltzing piss-ant.  She moaned loudly, took off her tennis shoes and dirty socks, and threw them on the floor.  She then wrapped a stained duck-shaped blanket around her neck, and dropped her purse beside me onto my seat.  Several empty miniature alcohol bottles and some miscellaneous trash fell out, but she didn't seem to notice, as she was already alternating between sending text messages (even during take-off) and slipping in and out of consciousness.

The saving grace on my flight was the passenger to my right, Gary, who was flying to Orlando for a Subway convention.  We bonded after sharing exasperated looks at the behavior of our fellow passengers.  We ended up talking like old friends the entire flight.  Thank you Gary for being my lifeboat in that sea of rudeness and negativity.

The trip itself was amazing.  We spent our first day in Orlando at Universal Studios.  I watched a wand demonstration in Ollivanders, bought sweets from Honeydukes, and perused the merchandise in Zonko's Joke Shop. 

Hogwarts Castle, where I will one day raise my children.
The ride inside the castle was amazing,
though not for people prone to motion sickness.
Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, including
favorites like boogers, vomit, earwax, and soap!
My chocolate frog keychain that ACTUALLY
SMELLS LIKE CHOCOLATE.  I'm still smiling.
Extendable Ears from Zonko's
Sharing a round of butter beer with Courtney and
Sarah in the Three Broomsticks.
After seeing everything there was to see in The Wizarding World, we moved on to the rest of Islands of Adventure.  I loved the Spiderman ride, and the Popeye river rapid ride, mainly because it was 97 degrees outside and it cooled us off.  Around dinnertime we went to Pat O'Briens at Universal CityWalk to have a quick drink.  We ended up staying for several hours, singing loudly to the live piano music.  I love piano bars, and that might have been my favorite part of the day.









Sarah and Courtney enjoying Pat O'Briens' signature drink, the Hurricane.

After we left the piano bar, Courtney continued to sing loudly, but limited herself to songs from The Lion King.  The following pictures demonstrate my transition from being entertained to slightly embarrassed.





On Saturday we drove to Ponte Vedra, Courtney's hometown.  Her parents kindly let us use their beach condo while we were there, and it was a great end to the trip.

View from the Condo.
Most of our time at the beach was spent riding waves on a giant gator float.
Sarah, after shredding a wave.
Gazing out to sea after an exhausting day.  You're the man, gator float.
The rest of the beach portion of the trip was spent eating seafood, drinking fruity beach drinks, and lounging around watching the Olympics.  Cheers to a successful trip with amazing friends!