Sunday, March 29, 2009

Questions this weekend left me

I spent the weekend at a friend's house enjoying a TV and movie marathon, as well as too much food as is humanly possible to consume in two days. As I sit here contemplating the events of days past, I am left with the following questions:

1. It snowed yesterday. In Wisconsin. On March 28th. Not only is this unacceptable, but it leaves me wondering...will the geese start flying south again?

2. Rather than cook breakfast this morning, we were so lazy that we shoveled off our cars and drove to the Flat Top Grill (of which you can read a review by my friend here). The restaurant boasts a mongolian barbeque dinner by night, and a mongolian breakfast barbeque by day. In other words, they provide you with a host of mixings and you can create your own pancake, french toast, or omelette made-to-order. While the breakfast was crazy delicious (like Mr. Pibb + Red Vines), it left me wondering...can one die from eating a pancake made from an entire bowl of chocolate chips and Reese's peanut butter cups? (the answer is an uncomfortable no)

3. We watched The Shining on Saturday night, because I had never seen it in it's entirety. In fact, the only part I've seen was the kid on the big wheel staring at the twin girls as they said, "Come play with us!" right before the twister took out the drive-in movie theater. Yes, that's right. The only part of The Shining that I saw was the clip shown in the movie Twister. Gotta love that Helen Hunt classic.

Anyway, after viewing that cinematic gem I had to wind down a bit before going to bed. I mean, who wouldn't have to wind down after having their nerves shot by listening to the nails-on-chalkboard shrieking of Shelley Duvall?
Short story long is that I started reading Twilight for the first time. I am now 100 pages in and have already found ripoffs of three major TV shows and movies. My question is this: Does anyone really believe the author when she says she wrote her sci-fi/paranormal love story without knowing anything about the mainstream, pop culture sci-fi/paranormal love stories that came before it? (the answer should be no)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Me on The History Channel???

In the mornings I have a routine (I'm a creature of comfort): make coffee, turn on TMJ4 so I can watch Susan Kim try to hide her hatred for Vince Vitrano's soapbox, and check my email as I wait for the coffee to finish.

This morning was no different, but I found this surprise in my inbox:

SUBJECT: History Channel - Vatican Museum
MESSAGE: Hi there,
I am working on a documentary for the History Channel called "XXXXXX & XXXXXX: XXXXXXX." I am emailing to request permission to include your photos of the Vatican Museum in our program.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Best regards,

Associate Producer
Prometheus Pictures Inc.
XXXX Sunset Blvd. Suite XXXX
Los Angeles, CA 90028

So, yes, the title of the post was just to draw you in so that I can brag about my work possibly being shown on The History Channel for 4 seconds during a documentary. Honestly, I imagine this message was sent to everyone who has photos tagged "Vatican" on Flickr. And while my work may not even be selected, it was a cool way to start the day.

Also, disclaimer, I hope they were only contacting me because they wanted free shots, and not because they first contacted the Vatican and the Vatican denied them access. Because if the Vatican said no, then I may hear about it from my faculty advisor, who happens to work for the Vatican.

Regardless, there's no law that says one cannot share one's vacation photos with one's blog readers. And so, for your viewing pleasure, here are a few fun photos from my visit to The Vatican. Captions follow photos

This tapestry shows the Last Supper being conducted around a square table. Apparently this artist isn't afraid of breaking the fourth wall.

The art in the Vatican Museum isn't relegated to the walls. Every nook and cranny is covered in carvings and frescoes. This is a ceiling panel in one of the ornate rooms.

Quite possibly my favorite room in the Vatican Museum - the Map room. Perhaps it's because I like history, or because I like maps, but this room's gold ceiling may also have something to do with it.

Ah, the money shot. I'm sure I got yelled at for taking this photo (people are not encouraged to take photos in the Sistine Chapel), but I'm also sure I didn't care. C'mon, Vatican Museum Guards, you just made us speed walk through miles of museum corridors to get to what we really came to see, let us take a photo!

You can see the rest of my photos on my Flickr page.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Top Ten Slogans WI Should've Chosen

While I can't take credit for the following hilarity, a poster on Green Bay's Press Gazette website commented on their story covering WI's new slogan. Packerfantimmy posted the following list:

Top Ten Slogans the Wisconsin Tourism Office Should have Chosen:

10. Wisconsin: because 'sober enough' here is 'too drunk' everywhere else

9. Wisconsin: we won't make you eat lutefisk

8. Wisconsin: our size 4 is your size 12

7. Wisconsin: only two out of three serial killers live here

6. Wisconsin: less snooty than Michigan, more drunk than Minnesota

5. Wisconsin: come for the cheese and brats, stay for the world class UW heart clinic

4. Wisconsin: even our band geeks are cool

3. Wisconsin: where you never have to wonder "hey, is it legal to shoot that?"

2. Wisconsin: proudly maintaining our 3-1 bar/church ratio since 1848

And, the number one slogan the state tourism office should have chosen is:

1. Wisconsin: Smell our Dairy Air

I have another to add,

Wisconsin: Nothing tips like a cow.

Any other suggestions for slogans that Wisconsin should've chosen instead of "Live Like You Mean It?"

(Sidenote: Wisconsin's brand is "Originality Rules." The irony? WI's new slogan is or has been used by real estate agents in California, authors, motivational speakers, and Bacardi rum. That neither rules nor is original)

Live Like You Mean It...or else!

It looks like Wisconsin is getting a face-lift, and rather than go with the Cat Lady's style of plastic surgery harshness, the state has opted for a more new age-y feel.

The Journal Sentinel article linked above states that the new logo with the statement, "Live Like You Mean It," is intended to correlate with Wisconsin's year-old brand of, "Originality Rules."

To which all of us Sconnies reply with a collective, "Huh?"

We have a state brand? And that brand, "Originality Rules" was given to Wisconsin??? A state that:

a) No longer seems to support initiatives that boost creativity (WI film tax incentives)
b) Is deplorably behind in 21st Century developments (smoking ban, or lack thereof, which, I guess, could be construed as "original")
c) Is only now discussing plans that will boost the economy by efficiently connecting it to other Midwestern states, cities, and economies (Regional Transit Authority, and high-speed rail lines)

Need I continue?

My point, of course, being that Wisconsin may promote that originality rules, but that doesn't mean actions follow suit.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not bashing Wisconsin. I think we're a great state and I'm proud to call it home. All I'm saying is that I would appreciate it if, after going through all of the trouble and expense of developing a brand, you would live by that brand not only in words but in actions as well. I guess I just think that it's sad that Wisconsin always seems reactive rather than proactive, at least on issues that matter the most to me.

But perhaps I'm completely wrong. Just look at the new logo. Maybe the slogan, "Live Like You Mean It," really just means, "Learn To Walk On Your Hands."

Comments? Any Sconnies out there that think the new logo rocks? Any folks that think WI is off its proverbial rocker?

RAVE: Virgin Mobile

I'm sorry, Internet, for the recent blog silence. I owe a few posts from past happenings, and I shall get to them posthaste (no pun intended). But today I'd like to discuss Virgin Mobile.

Approximately one and a half years ago I was in the market for a new cell phone. I'm not the kind of girl who needs all of the bells and whistles and, in fact, am not your normal girl who talks on the phone for hours on end. Ergo, I was looking for a cell phone provider who would have a cheap monthly plan with unlimited texting and a couple hundred minutes.

Enter Virgin Mobile. While VM's phones are not top of the line when compared to iPhones or other such crazy phones that do everything but bake cakes, they do not require a contract, and users are able to switch between monthly plans and pay-as-you-go phone service whenever they wish.

For my money, they were the best for what I needed, and their coverage was adequate for where I live and travel. Thus, I decided to go with their most expensive phone, the Wildcard, mostly because it had a keyboard.

All seemed well in my world until I charged my new phone in my car. Every time I plugged my phone into the car charger, I noticed the car charger became unbearably hot after a few minutes of use.

Now, with my Verizon Wireless, I was used to keeping my car charger plugged in at all times, and then plugging in my phone as I traveled. With my Virgin Mobile, the one time I tried this, the charger got so hot it started smoking.

Sidenote: I have a Prius, and the charger was plugged into the outlet in my console, which is next to the iPod A/V jack. I was first alerted to the fire hazard when I smelled something burning as I was driving. The smoking Virgin Mobile car charger also burned out my iPod A/V cable, but luckily did not affect either of the outlets.

I thought, perhaps, the problem was due to a faulty charger, and so I finally got around to buying another one last week. I was not pleased to discover the same problem. I emailed the company that manufactures the charger, and Virgin Mobile PR to report the problem.

A few hours later I received a response that the company would look into it (this was last Saturday, the message came from a Blackberry), and today I got another message asking for more information on the issue.

While the problem is not yet solved, and it seems that it could just be isolated to the Toyota Prius, I am impressed by Virgin Mobile's prompt customer service response. When I sent that first email, I fully expected an automated response, someone replying that I should look through the website's FAQ's, and/or some other kind of brush-off. Instead, even though this may be an isolated issue, the company has been very responsive.

Please leave a comment if you've experienced a similar overheating problem with your Virgin Mobile car charger. I'll keep you updated if there are any further developments.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fun with Photography

Originally uploaded by MsQuarter

I like world travel. So much so that I am planning a month in Italy this summer, with a few weeks of excursions in Eastern Europe. The last time I was in Eastern Europe I was living and working in Hungary. I took as many opportunities to travel as possible, and got to see some great places. In a nod to all of the fabulous countries I've visited, and in preparation for my work in Italy, I am introducing a new blog series entitled "Fun with Photography." In this series I will highlight a photo from my travels as a way of telling you, dear reader, a little bit of the history behind the photo and the country in which is was snapped. Hope you enjoy!

This particular photo was taken in Bratislava, Slovakia. My mission organization was holding a spring retreat in Blava, and we had a few hours to explore Old Town. Throughout Old Town, hidden among the streets and squares, you will find a handful of delightful bronze statues. This one, a real eavesdropper, could be mistaken for a real person with that casual stance. If only it weren't for the historical getup or matching bronze-colored clothing and skin tone. The gentleman on the bench must be a little uncomfortable with that guy always looking over his shoulder.

If you ever get to Bratislava, keep an eye out for the bronze paparazzi man, and the bronze sewer worker.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

UPDATE: Movie Recap

You will remember that a few weeks ago I left a little bit of my soul at the Mayfair AMC theater after seeing this bomb of a movie.

My Blogger friend, mcarnold, has completed the recap of the "film's" storylines, and you can read mcarnold's post here where she recaps the Jennifer Connelly, Scarlet Johansson, and Bradley Cooper "love" triangle.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Postcards from the Past #2

I am an excellent pen pal. And so is my best friend, LB. LB, in fact, is such a good pen pal that she sends me postcards that have no rhyme or reason, and would not make sense to anyone unless they were really, very drunk.

Speaking of drinking alcohol, people in Slovakia tend to drink a lot of it. I hate to generalize, but in my experience, Slovaks are likely to offer you several shots of slivovice if you are over to visit for the evening. Slivovice is similar to a schnapps, but, in my estimation, packs a bigger punch. So you can imagine what several shots of it will do over the course of a few hours. All of that alcohol may just make the following postcard make sense.

LB used to live in a tiny town in the Slovak mountains called Tisovec, where she bought this card. She called the store "The Random Postcard Shoppe," and every time she went in to buy something, she'd laugh at the nonsensical postcards and the lady would look at her disapprovingly.

I can't say I know why LB got the disapproving looks, because look at the card. It's silly and nonsensical! We have a dog holding a pistol, dressed in a cowboy bandanna, and wearing my grandma's straw hat. This straw hat has bullet holes in it, which says to me that Cowboy Dog either shot himself or was in a Wild West shootout. Oh, and don't forget the "Wanted" poster next to doggie that has Osama Bin Laden's reward set at $100.

Oh, and don't forget the phrase on the card. It says, "I admire your courage" in Slovak. That's hilarious in anyone's book, and if I were an old lady minding a postcard shoppe in Tisovec, Slovakia, then I would not scowl at Americans who found my cards amusing and nonsensical. The end.