Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ode to Brie

Oh, Brie, how beloved, and yet so disdained,
How sad to behold thy shame-faced pain.
Is't thy fair skin of mildew that turns them away,
or the taste of shoe sweat that keeps them at bay?
And how could you not gain the cheese connoisseur
To defend at your side with the greatest demur,
When opponents sidestep thy creamy delight
For something more banal, like muenster in white?
Yet Gruyere out won thee, when placed on his tongue,
And thy glory for one connoisseur fell unsung.
Oh, Brie, so beloved, and yet so disdained,
The masses shan't love thee while embracing mundane.

This is an original work (no, really?) dedicated to the Pop, Cheese Connoisseur in (almost) every respect.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The B Gs

My niece B and nephew G visited this weekend. As one who never had any aunts or uncles who took much interest in me as a child, it's so much fun to be an Auntie. My nephew is truly a kindred spirit. As a child I asked so many questions that my mom locked herself in the bathroom to get away from me. I just consumed knowledge like Biggest Loser contestants used to consume food. I guess I still do. I can pick any boring ol' topic out there and my nephew eats it up!

G turn eight last year. In church, I handed him a piece of paper so he could write on the back of it. The front was covered with scriptures from my last lesson, and those words with footnotes had printed out in blue. At one point I glanced over and noticed he was flipping back and forth between the front and back side of the paper, and writing down a list of letters. When I arrived home later that day I realized that he was trying to decode a secret message hidden in the first letter of those blue words. He is a deep thinker in the highest form of nerdity, just like his Auntie; a true analyst. Below are a few snippets of conversation this weekend:

G: Look! The Moon! But that’s not all of it!

Me: Do you know why we can’t see all of it?

G: Because there is a shadow over part of it.

B (my niece): Because pieces of it fell off.


G: John Wilkes Booth, John Wilkes Booth.

Me: Do you know who that is?

G: The man who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.

Me: Wow! That’s right!

G: You’re very welcome!


G: So, would a computer engineer build a robot?

Me: Well, it would take a team of people. You would need a computer programmer, a designer, an electrical engineer…

Much later...

Me: So G, do you remember who could help build a robot?

G: Computer programmer, electric engineer...


Me: People who make pictures with computers are called Graphic Designers. Can you say that? {B & G repeat}

G: Um. I am thinking that the word Graphic means pictures.

Me: That’s right!

G: And designer means a guy who creates things, so a Graphic Designer is a guy who creates pictures.


G: {Examining with our Spin Bike} Does it go anywhere?

Me: No. It’s for exercise.

G: Then why does it have a wheel?

Me: There is a band around the wheel that you can make tighter so that you have to work harder.

G: {Spends every spare moment of the next two days examining every part of that bike}

In addition to our two little visitors, we received a temporary bird buddy for Kawi. Unfortunately, the new bird (we called Koko) turned out to be the tag along little brother that Kawi never wanted. In fact, if Koko was not in the same room as Kawi, he screamed bloody murder, so we spent the next few days keeping them together, and Kawi spent the next few days running away from Koko. Kawi got really creative today when he coaxed Koko down onto a ledge behind the couch, and once Koko climbed down, Kawi burst back up to the top of the couch, leaving a rather immobile Koko trapped on the ledge below.

Today Koko went for a trial home at our neighbor's home. We'll see how it goes. In the meantime, Kawi is back to his old spoiled self.

Friday, February 19, 2010

First Life vs. Second Life

First Life was not so kind to me today. It was a bumpy, crazy, emotional ride. I came home from work and thought, if I go in the house and sit down I will probably cry, so I tucked my little bird in my coat and went shopping at Costco. I bought fruits, veggies, and Valdosta, and while I did not eat any Valdosta, I somehow felt comforted by having my comfort food at hand. I desperately needed to study, but when your head is all full of crappy stuff, you can't very well program, you know. I did the dishes, cleaned out the fridge, de-boned a cooked chicken (because you just never eat it if the bones are there), and made an impromptu whole wheat pasta dish with mushrooms, onions, diced tomatoes, frozen corn, and a few other ingredients, including a splash of Splenda.

It was experimental. I tossed an entire box of whole wheat elbow mac in a cake pan, tossed in a bag of frozen mushrooms, corn, tomatoes, a little cheese - it was a pretend version of a goulash, I suppose, which is why the sugar substitute was necessary. I know if something is good or not when C eats it. I know, how picky can the guy be? Nevertheless, he still won't eat what he doesn't like. I wasn't sure the pasta would cook, but foiled at 400 for an hour did the trick, and how's that for simplicity?

I ran this morning while I watched the latest Grey's episode on my laptop. I think for years I have had trouble enjoying exercise because my endorphins never kicked in, but what a great feeling to have that happen now! How I ever made it through my marathon, I'll never know. I think it was the thrill of the achievement.

In my Second Life yesterday, I explored my professional world via an avatar. I am doing some community research at work and considering that there is this group of professionals in my profession who meet online, I needed to understand this space. May I first say that I cannot in good conscience recommend Second Life to anyone for any reason. It is so riddled with questionable and red-light district material, that I was a bit shell-shocked. Of course I had a specific reason to be there, and had objectives to meet, but just the same, something as simple as dressing your avatar is certainly an adventure.

Scenario:
Show up as girl next door, but since I am letting my fellow professionals know who I am, I want to look professional and not like a teeny bopper.

Go to a mall to "buy" hair. While there I edit my person and in an attempt to change my shirt, I accidentally take off my shirt. I am now looking at a bare-breasted, life-like avatar. EEEK! And to make matters worse, I can't figure out how to put a shirt back on because apparently I don't have one, don't know how to find one, don't have any money to purchase one, and while I am sure there are those who stroll around SL with no clothing, it is not my thing.

You see what I mean? Not something I can recommend to anyone. After a few shocking moments I remembered that someone gave me a shirt when I arrived, and so I was safe. I showed up to my meetings on time, and how cool is this: they had a live PowerPoint presentation! Well, I still have no money in SL. I can't eat Valdosta in SL. I can't run in Vibram Five Fingers in SL.

What is it with this anonymity piece, anyhow? This punk showed up to our professional meeting to sexually harass the group and just solidify that fact that I absolutely COULD NOT recommend to my organization that we should have a presence there. The disparity between the risks and benefits are just too great. The benefits are oh, so minimal at this point, and even if you aren't looking for bleak and black things, they so easily find themselves to you.

Well, I do apologize if some of you are SL fans. Before I went to bed after my first day in SL, my good husband asked me if I liked my Second Life better than my First. Not a chance, babe! Fascinating place, I must confess, but even with a crappy day like today, I will take my First Life, thank you very much.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Answers to #10-12

Here is the card: So cute!

10. T/F Anyone may find out my mother's maiden name - This one is tricky. Obviously there are many ways one may get this information. There are also these online personal information pages that associate your name with past addresses, and then match up that data with others who lived at the same location the same time you lived there. This is one way to match up personal associations you have had, or possible family members. Don't forget about obituaries, that very helpful family member who loads onto the Internet your family tree, including the living family members, and a hundred different alternate possibilities.
I guess the main reason I include this question is to get people thinking about personal security. What question are you asked when you call the bank? Try, "What is your mother's maiden name?" This one backfired on me years ago. I had a family member with my SSN, my mother's maiden name, and enough information to create some financial trouble for me. What did I do? For starters, I told my bank a different name. Nothing says you have to give them your ACTUAL mother's maiden name, so I made one up. Technically, no, this information SHOULD not be accessible at first glance, but then, if someone knows where THEY were married...
11. T/F Anyone may find out my parents' first names - As mentioned above, once someone has your maiden name (if you are female) and knows where your parents were married, well, it doesn't get much easier than that. If you are the oldest child in the family, that sets a marker for the time period in which one should search for your parent's marriage license, give or take a couple of years. Once they know your last name or maiden name... it all depends on other known data.
12. T/F Anyone may find out how much money I spent on my home - True. Land records are very accessible. This is how title companies work with title insurance. They stroll down to the county courthouse and start searching. Land records are often available online, too. Now, let's jump down to question 14.
14. T/F Anyone may find out if I obtained a second mortgage - Also true! Along with the land records are records of who technically owned the house and the purchase amount. This may be easily located again, either online or at the courthouse.
Okay, now for #13. Doesn't everyone dread this question? How safe is your Social Security Number? Well, this depends on you and a whole lot of other people. Have you ever given blood and had then ask for your SSN? Have you ever had your SSN on your health insurance card? Have you ever tossed an old health insurance card in the garbage? Is your SSN on your Driver's License? Who sees it? Fact: The Red Cross does NOT need your SSN. Your SSN does NOT need to be on your insurance card. Your SSN does NOT have to be on your Driver's License.
Unfortunately, we are so used to handing it out, that we just do it without questioning why. You may request a different number be used to identify you on an ID card, and you may refuse to put your SSN on your license. SSN's should not be on identification cards in the first place, for everyone to see. Obviously these are needed for reporting income, financial purposes (credit, banking, etc.), and for employment. Obviously, there are a hundred other ways to get SSNs, but refusing to hand it out when unnecessary may help.

Bad Credit Hotel

http://www.controlyourcredit.gov/

Here's something that the government came up with that is entertaining AND helpful!!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Waist Not, Want Not

Today I suffered from Jillian's Revenge. If you don't know what Jillian's Revenge is, you apparently have never done a Jillian Michael's workout. Jillian's revenge is the inability to bend without experiencing pain two days after a workout. Eventually this subsides after consecutive Jillians, but I have just been doing wimpy stuff like running on the treadmill for an hour.

Saturday, I finished one of those, hair-dripping-sweat, too-tired-to-wipe-it-out-of-my-eyes-workouts. Yep, you guessed it: Jillian. Who cares about the bad PR for pills garbage. I don't believe in pills for weightloss, but hey, Jilly, you do a mean workout. If you want to feel productive in a workout, download a Jillian from iTunes, and feel the pain. Just be prepared to shuffle around like an old lady after the first one.

Speaking of fitness, bear with me as I take a little journey in female body image. While I am generally satisfied with my body image, and have no intention of alteration through any other means than exercise and diet, I have, through years of study, noticed that not all females are created equally. We truly are not built the same, and therefore cannot really compare our figures and physique to other females. It is literally the apples to oranges comparison.

Unfortunately, fashion is not always kind to all body types. I have struggled for years with this fact. The ideal measurements for models are 34-24-34. That last measurement (hips) has been my dilemma for years. If I was purchasing a skirt that depended on the size of my waist rather than my hips, I ALWAYS have purchased a much smaller size than my pant size. My waist and ribcage size are ideal, but my hips are wider than I prefer. I finally took the initiative to find out what this meant.

Apparently wide hips are not (necessarily) due to being overweight. They are due to a broad pelvic bone. This would account for my normal weight, despite. While I don't subscribe to every little philosophy out there, I did stumble across an interesting study done on the most attractive ratio between waist and hip. It is calculated thus: divide waist size by hip size. The resulting number is ideally attractive for females somewhere between .6-.7, depending on where in the world you live. The ideal male ratio is .9. As it turns out, I fall smack dab in the middle at .6585. Don't we all love the study that makes you feel just a little more streamline?!

On a little cheery note, for V-day, C gave me the BEST card EVER!!! Tomorrow I will add a pic and get back to the privacy questions.

But tell me, how was your Monday?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentines Day Gifts for YOU!!!!

Dear Followers (Kyle, Jennifer, and Apryl),

Happy Valentines Day! I took the liberty of creating buttons for your blogs as a Valentines gift for each of you. You may not love them, but since I created more than one for each of you, I hope you will find at least one you like. I also included the take-a-button code for you to add them to your own blogs.

If you don't like them, it's fine, just create a new image, and change the url (address) after "src=" and between the quotation marks after the equal sign with the address to the image/text you want to appear. You will need to first upload the images to Photobucket or another online photo storage site, and then copy the direct url into that spot (after src=" your photo address here ") to change what it looks like. To add them to your blog, you will need to click "Customize" on your blog, "Add Widget", and then add an html widget to your page. In that widget box, copy the code I gave you for your buttons, and they will appear on the side bar. You may look at them here first to decide which button(s) you want to use.

Enjoy!
C&A

P.S. If you want create your own image for the button with text, use PowerPoint, add an image, add a textbox, group the two together, right-click and "Save picture as" and then upload to Photobucket. If you want to change the shape and add a bevel, click on the grouped text and image, then click on the red "Pictures" tab at the very top of the page. There you may change the shape, add a bevel, etc. You may also use Photoshop or another editing program to do the same.

Rap music has never made me cry before...



OR

Forgive me, but how in the world did Vince Vaughn get in on World25 among all of those music megastars?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Where it All Began

Once Upon a Time, there was a strapping young man who lured a pretty young girl into a tower far away on an island. Up the winding staircase she ascended until she found herself alone with him in the tower, and embraced in his strong arms, she found herself captured by love's first kiss.


Four months later the pair married, surrounded by family and friends, and full of excitement for what the future would bring.


They found a tiny cottage in the woods, where together they made their first little home. She baked everything from fresh homemade raisin bagels to delicious veggie lasagnes.

(These pics show what it looks like ten years later - photo above: window on right = tiny bathroom; window on left = tiny kitchen; extended area = where the fridge dwelt. A single tiny sink in the kitchen for dishes, where C had to stoop lest he hit his head on the cupboard above. )


They owned a table he built with his own hands, and sat on wood boxes for chairs. The only piece of furniture in the tiny living room was a big orange chair. (see where the non-opening door is, and then the seam? That is where the bedroom ends and the teeny-tiny bathroom begins...)


He worked hard every night sanding, staining and refurbishing an old oak bed as a wedding present for her. They owned a few sparse dishes from their college days, but despite their meager belongings, they were happy together. And they lived happily ever after. But that is just the beginning... (window on the left = tiny bedroom; window and door on right = tiny living room)

Happy Valentines Day!!! (And here's wishing a happy one for all those who are still searching. True love doesn't come until the heart breaks and mends oh, so many times, but the heartache will soon be forgotten.) Read more on love.

Share your story below, even if you aren't on the happily ever after page in your book:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Answers to 6-8

6. T/F Anyone may find out if and why I spent time in jail. See below.

7. T/F Anyone may find out if and why I spent time in prison.
Six and seven - true. In fact, in many states, there is an online database into which you may type a name and locate anyone incarcerated within the past few years. Here is where you really need to keep your wits about you. If you have a reason to search for someone, be careful, because there are a LOT - ahem, A LOT of companies out there just feeding off of ignorant individuals who don't know that they can get this information for free or for a reasonable fee. In fact, most of the other information I mention that is public falls into that same category. To obtain certain public domain records, you don't have to contact a company like Vital Records dot com or online investigation companies. Instead, you may simply request a copy from the entity that created it, keeping in mind that often there are copies of the same records available from more than one such entity. See below for details.

8. T/F Anyone may find out when and where I was born. Now births are a highly protected class of records. Good gravy, and when it comes to adoptions, it gets even more complex!!! I will save that discussion for another day, however. Birth records are often protected for about the same number of years as census records are protected, and even then some states (or countries) require you to state your relationship to the individual. If someone was trying to obtain your birth certificate without your permission, it is highly likely that you might be contacted and informed of the query.

That being said, there are situations where vital record departments have made digital or microfilmed copies of records and the repositories for these records may not extend the same protection over those records. These instances are rare, but even I have stumbled across modern record sets that were not protected like they should be. On a positive note, for historical purposes these copies may mean that rather than paying the Vital Records or Health Department $20.00 for a certified copy of an ancestral record, you may be able to go to the state archives for a $.50 copy of the same thing!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

For Big "D" - Updated

I have amazing nieces and nephews, and since some of them live so far away, I will do my best to accommodate them. This post is for my nephew, who would like to see some vids of little Kawi, so rather than sending him to all of the past little snipets here and there, this one's for you, Big "D!" For those who aren't familiar with Kawi, he got his name because C drives a Kawasaki ZX-14. We brought Kawi home when he was two months old, and while searching for names, I suggested Harley. C shouted from the other room, "Well, how about Kawi!" So Kawi it was.

Well, let's just get this one out of the way. We trained our little bird to "eliminate" on command. Yep, that is a toilet. Wait for it, or fast-forward to the middle of the video:

video

Kawi loves to mimic us, so here he is mimicking C with his little yawns.

video

When we walk through the door Kawi calls and calls for us until we take him out of his cage, so when we are home, he is almost never in his cage. We've had him since he was two months old, and he is a very social little bird. He recently started throwing little temper tantrums when we put him back in his cage when he doesn't think he should be there. This involves taking out his aggression on one or more sets of his toys, now appropriately called his "anger beads." (He actually goes to bed pretty quietly, though, since cockatiels are supposed to get 10-12 hours of sleep each night.)

video

Kawi loves to have his head scratched, but only on his terms. Usually he decides he wants "loves" when you are really busy, like writing a paper for school, so he comes down off of your shoulder and sticks his head under your fingers. If you ignore him, he will use his beak to lift your fingers onto his head. When he is done getting "loves," he makes it very obvious, as you can see at the end of this next video. Don't let that submissive attitude at the beginning fool you. He won't do anything he doesn't want to without a fight.

video

Kawi loves driving around in the car with us. This was the day after Christmas, and we were dropping off items at charity, so Kawi came along. The flapping bags in the back of the truck were a bit of a distraction, but in addition to Kawi's squeak-toy medley, you actually get part of Raiders of the Lost Ark and a smidgen of The Addams Family at the very end of this next clip. If you listen carefully, you also get a "Hi Bird," in there, too. He talks only when he wants to, but ALWAYS greets C with a friendly, "Hey Buddy!" He talks a lot when he is in his cage by himself and doesn't think we are home, but he loves singing to us.





Kawi's be-bopping can be pretty fun, too.

We occasionally take Kawi to the pet store where he loves to visit with his brothers and sisters. If cockatiels are not adopted while very young, it is difficult to get them trained like we have been able to train Kawi, and they will turn wild. These wild birds are often used for mating, or sold as cage pets to people who probably won't be able to handle them very much unless they work with them for a long time. Still, they are very smart and social creatures and love to interact. I didn't catch it on video, but when we walked away with Kawi, this caged bird started screaming for him, and didn't stop until we came back for them to finish their conversation:

video

Here is one of Kawi's better performances of Addams Family. Sometimes he gets really sweet and decides to sing to your ear, your thumb, or your neck.





Kawi loves to preen himself. As a joke, some of C's employees purchased a "Hooters" chicken wing kit for him for Christmas (he's a very non-Hooters kind of guy, which is the joke). I included this video because it's so funny to hear C reading the chicken wing instructions while a tiny little bird is tidying his feathers on C's shoulder. At the end of the vid C makes some new noises, which Kawi loves. Kawi lets you know he wants you to repeat the noise by bobbing his head. (Non-bird lovers, skip to the last 4th or 5th.)

video

Kawi gets into adventure-bird mode where he gets an idea into his head and won't stop until he achieves his goal. To keep him from eating the tile grout (containing polymers and chemicals) we placed a pencil cup in the way. As you can see here, that wasn't about to stop him. You get a little snapshot of his attitude at the very end, but believe me, that's nothing. He may be little, but he has a lot of sass.



Kawi loves to play fight. When he wants to fight he will climb down onto C's hand and say, "Get it-get it!" and then he'll nibble at C's fingers. When you get to see how grumpy this bird really is, and how easily he will really bite you if he feels like it (not play biting like in this video), this means a lot more. If you try to make him do anything he doesn't want to do, he screams and bites, or runs away.

video

Here is a little short vid to show how Kawi asks for a scratch.

video

Kawi fixates on things, as shown above and sometimes has a hard time giving up, even when it means things aren't looking so good for him. Case in point: Silk plant. He is trying to stand on the back of C's laptop while using the other foot to pull down the silk plant close enough to pull the little purple balls off of the fake lavender. It doesn't end so well for little Kawi, and you get to see a little glimpse of his indignation.

video

This last video is one I took while he was in his cage by himself. You will hear him say some of his favorite phrases, including, "Come here, come here!" "Show us your wings!" "Dooo, Flap, flap, flap, flap, flap flap." Fake sneezes (he mimics us), "Take a drink! {slurp, slurp}," "Come back here!" "Whatcha doin'?" "Hey buddy," "Hi Pretty Bird," "Hi Kawi Bird!" "Hi Bird!" "Hi There!" "Kawi's such a GOOD Bird," Kawi's such a bird," "You're such a good bird. Yeah." Cricket noises, kissing noises, and some funny little laugh he picked up that sounds more like a machine gun. You will also hear the Queen's Aria from the Magic Flute, the Raiders theme.

We always leave music playing when we aren't home so that he doesn't get lonely. After watching this, I noticed that he started tapping his perch during the times when the kids on the CD are clapping.



Monday, February 8, 2010

Short and Sweet

In case you missed the first three answers at the end of the previous blog entry, here is a heads-up. The next three are included below:

3 . Parking violations - absolutely available to anyone. If an employer wants to double-check your driving record, they can do so in a round-about manner by visiting justice courts individually and asking if there are any dockets containing information on you. It's a long process, but I happen to know that military recruiters frequent courthouses for that very reason. While you won't get a warrant from not paying a traffic ticket, you may certainly wind up with a warrant by failing to pay a traffic ticket. That means that you get to pay a lot more money, and you could get taken in if you show up at a jail to visit a friend. If you can't pay a ticket, show up, ask the judge for more time, and make payment arrangements. If the judge asks you to do something you can't handle (pay fines you can't afford, etc., just respectfully ask for an adjustment.

4. Law violations I had prior to age 18. - Juvenile court records are highly protected except in situations where you are tried as an adult. These would be some pretty serious situations, but for the most part, the law gives adults the benefit of the doubt when it comes to dumb things we do as kids. Nowadays kids can wind up in detention for something like toilet papering a house. Wow! That's something we did as kids for fun, and my dad even gave us permission! There are a few situations where juvenile records can come back to bite you, including certain federal positions, but for the most part, False. These records are only available to a very few.

5. Law violations I had after age 18 - Some may think that law violations are much more protected than something little like a traffic violation, however, this, too is public information! Law violations are available to the public. Just stroll down to the courthouse, have them search for a docket for a specific name, and locate a court case number. Sometimes these are even available online for free. Anyone may find out about these. Historically newspaper writers visited courthouses to publish marriage licenses, and word-for-word details on court cases. Today, news reporters may do the same. Thank goodness they are so interested in making a big splash, so the majority of individuals are safe! True.Well, back to programming, folks! I hope this information has been helpful!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Funeral Flowers are Fading

Is it possible to live such a wonderful life that when you depart, you leave smiles of gladness on so many faces that it outweighs the sadness? When Mother Teresa died, did she leave the world mourning, or a little better for the years she spent in service?
Grandma was one of those individuals who loved to serve others. She told myself, my sister, and two of my aunts that she wanted a bagpiper at her graveside, so a bagpiper it was. I have included a short video to give you a taste. Everyone loved the bagpiper. video

C woke up yesterday with a head cold. When he came home from school, he sat on the couch with Kawi, cuddled up under a down comforter and fell asleep. In over ten years of marriage, I don't think I have ever seen him do that on his own. We were invited to a party last night, so I went alone (and had a great time, I must admit) and told him I wouldn't be gone long. Around nine I started back home, and about two minutes before walking in the door, received a text from C, wondering where I was, since he knew how eager I was to get home to do homework. He'd tidied the kitchen and started the dishes for me while I was gone, so I am not sure how much rest he received after I left. What a trooper!

When I took the cover off of Kawi's cage this morning he showed me his wings, a ritual usually reserved for cagetime when he wants to look super cute so you will take him out again. Considering that in the morning he usually tries to ignore you so that you will let him sleep longer, it was obvious he was ready to get out. I then sat down to type, and he was very hoppy. Not a type-o. He plays a game where he hides behind the computer to play peek-a-boo, and when you ask, "Where's Kawi?" He bounces out with such vigor that sometimes he face-plants. Then he runs behind the computer and waits for you to ask where he is again. Sometimes you can actually feel him tremble with excitement. It's pretty funny. One of these days I will catch him on video.

Okay, rather than answer ALL of the questions about privacy at once, I will do a few at a time. Otherwise that would be one LOOONG blog post!

1. Telephone Bills: This one is tricky, so bear with me. While this is not the type of information anyone may pull up on the Internet, telephone bills are often used as evidence. A few examples this might include evidence that you were on the phone or texting at the time you got into an accident or got a ticket, spending excessive time on a phone at work (say, your job is to supervise at a jail and two inmates kill another inmate while you are on a personal phone call), or to help identify a connection between two individuals. Yes, certain government entities may get access to these records, but anyone may ask for them as evidence in court, and they must be provided.
Answer: False, unless there are legal proceedings involved, and then the answer would be True.

2. Marriage Records: True. Marriage records are public domain. When we purchased our home, there was a strip of land bordering our land that had questionable ownership. This brings me to #9.

9. Divorce Records: True. Divorce records are also not in the protected class, similar to Marriage records. Back to my story, I could not locate the individual who owned the land using my usual methods, so I contacted the county courthouse and asked about a possible divorce. Yes, a divorce took place after this person purchased the land, but the land was still in the name of that initial marriage. Next I searched for a second marriage for this individual, and found the second marriage. I then used my usual search methods and found her to discuss the land in question. Answer? True.

Well, more to come on the privacy records!

And how was your Sunday?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What is Your Public Info IQ?

Some information really is private, and some information is public, but I think many individuals fail to understand the difference between the two, and how this can relate to their personal state of affairs. As one who dabbles in the investigative arts, I find that that the key to finding information is first imagining that it exists. Historical information may be readily available, but what current information is available for the world to see?

25 Questions about Your Privacy:
1. T/F Anyone may have access to my telephone bill.

2. T/F Anyone may find out when and where I was married.

3. T/F Anyone may find out if I had a parking violation.

4. T/F Anyone may find out about law violations I had prior to age 18.

5. T/F Anyone may find out about law violations I had after age 18.

6. T/F Anyone may find out if and why I spent time in jail.

7. T/F Anyone may find out if and why I spent time in prison.

8. T/F Anyone may find out when and where I was born.

9. T/F Anyone may find out details about my divorce.

10. T/F Anyone may find out my mother's maiden name.

11. T/F Anyone may find out my parents' first names.

12. T/F Anyone may find out how much money I spent on my home.

13. T/F Anyone may obtain my Social Security number.

14. T/F Anyone may find out if I obtained a second mortgage.

15. T/F Anyone may find out where I live.

16. T/F Anyone may find out how many children I have.

17. T/F Anyone may find out when I am out of town.

18. T/F Anyone may find out where my children attend school.

19. T/F Anyone may find out if I am a sex offender and where I live.

20. T/F Anyone may find out what grades I received in school.

21. T/F Anyone may read text messages I send.

22. T/F Anyone may read e-mails I send.

23. T/F Anyone may see what I am looking at on the Internet.

24. T/F Anyone may listen to my land-line phone conversations.

25. T/F Anyone may videotape me without my consent.

I have thrown the gauntlet down and will await your responses before posting the answers. You may try to find the answers online, but some of them don't exist online. Feel free to respond anonymously if you choose, and then stay tuned for the answers!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Super Power

Women have a Super Power. Not all women have it in the same strength or intensity, but it is there. You know, Spidey can sling webs. He doesn't have to morph or anything, it is just there. Superman has the same situation, only he just changes into his costume much faster than Spidey because, well, Spidey just slings webs, see?

There are some super heroes that are called that just because they have developed a special skill, but let's be real here. That is just a SKILL; not the same as a power.

Now, there are some super powers that are hidden. Maybe someone appears to be normal, but they have the ability to go invisible. That one falls into the morphing powers category. I would consider Wolverine's ability to be sort of morphing because his claws come out when he is angry. He is, in some ways, sort of like the Hulk. That Hulk looks all normal, and then WHAM! Suddenly he is a big green dude. Suddenly he gets this superhuman strength and has a lot of difficulty reigning that it. It just sort of happens.

Now the super power that belongs to women is not too different from the Hulk. It is the ability to experience a wide range of emotions without being able to identify their source. It just sort of happens. Today, my superpower made itself manifest. C picked me up after work, and suddenly, the superpower kicked in, "I feel depressed. I don't know why."

C looked at me, and I continued. "You know, I feel all negative. Every thought is negative. Ick. I hate it!" And so I did what any reasonable super woman would have done in those circumstances. I opened my iPhone and started playing Kung Fu Fighting (Biggest Loser version), but that wasn't enough. It just wasn't loud enough, therefore, C switched the radio off and found the song on a CD, and then it was blaring over the car stereo system.

Now, when you find yourself in a situation like this, you have to start car-dancing. C is an expert car dancer. I am a mediocre car dancer. I think everyone on the freeway was staring at us, boogieing down the road. A mini-coop stopped to take a look at our dancing-with-the-stars-worthy performance, and I am pretty sure he giggled. I couldn't hear him, but I am pretty sure.

I also wanted to stop to get something naughty to eat. When you want to eat something naughty, you quickly have to think of something tasty that will act as a healthy substitute, so I announced out loud, "I need peanut butter Puffins." And suddenly, there we were, at the grocery store, and I was buying PB Puffins! And Cuties oranges. And a Dragon sushi roll. And whole grain artisan bread. And then this herbed Brie was on sale, so it had to come along with me, too!

We ate the Dragon roll with chopsticks on the way home, and do you know that I felt better by the time we walked through the door? Amazing, those super powers! C ran to the gym while I settled down with a bowl of PB Puffins and soy milk, and Kawi serenaded me while I worked on some programming. Later I attended Yoga, but SO was not there! Bummer! It was still a great class, and much needed. C was very encouraging and glad I went, and so was I. Tyran had a great class and almost 30 students of every age! It was great! To bed, now. My snuggle-buddy and car-dancing partner calls.

What Does it Mean to be an American?

Here are some facts gathered from our last census that speaks volumes about what it really means to be an American. I LOVE the Puerto Ricans squeaking in at #15! I had NO idea! Enjoy!
America’s Top 15 Ancestry Groups**
German 42.8 million
Irish 30.5 million
African-American 24.9 million
English 24.5 million
Mexican 18.4 million
Italian 15.6 million
Polish 9.0 million
French 8.3 million
American Indian 7.9 million
Scottish 4.9 million
Dutch 4.5 million
Norwegian 4.5 million
Scots-Irish 4.3 million
Swedish 4.0 million
Puerto Rican 2.6 million
**Source: US Census Bureau, Census 2000 special tabulation

2010 is the Year of the Census. This is the year that a group of enumerators divide up the people of the nation and count them, one-by-one. U.S. Marshalls used to do the counting, which must have been an interesting experience in the 1800s. Later, literate individuals were hired to collect this information by hand, going from house-to-house. Apparently the term "literate" was open to interpretation, based on some of the resulting census enumerations.

Today, census data is carefully guarded and protected with enormous fines and serious consequences for violating those laws. Individual census data is protected for 72 years, which means we will finally get detailed access to the 1940 census data in 2012. Census data is used to determine how much political representation each state will receive at the national level, so each and every soul must be counted. There is even one evening that is dedicated to searching for homeless individuals and counting them while they sleep during the wee hours.

I think one of the most fabulous things we learn from the census data is how diverse America really is. It is the fruit of sheer ignorance, in my opinion, when I hear someone comment on someone born in another country or of a different race and suggest that they "leave" because they don't belong in America.

To say that someone does not belong in America because of their former nationality or their religion is a sad state of affairs. I want to look them in the eye and say, Have you ever attended a naturalization ceremony? Have you ever heard that thick accented voice pledging allegiance to the flag, and singing the national anthem? Have you ever seen the tears in their eyes and the smiles on their faces as they accept their certificate of naturalization, and could finally proudly state that they are no longer THEY, but are just as much WE as we are AMERICANS, and citizens of the United States of America? There is very little that echoes patriotism so loudly.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

2009 Movies in Review

There are some entertainment events that are worth mentioning, and a whole lot of them that wind up being a huge waste of time. If you didn't get the chance to watch some of these films, here is a glance backward at some noteworthy entertainment experiences.

January: Taken - absolutely worth the adventure. Liam Neeson is such an engaging actor, and easily carries this show without making you feel like he is pulling a Will Smith-solo-act on you. Not for the kiddies. If you haven't seen his non-musical version of Les Miserables, there is another must see.

February: Push - lots of action, but nothing you should worry about missing. I do have to give a plug for chick-flick, Confessions of a Shopaholic. Great message about taking responsibility for consumer debt.

March: Duplicity - don't bother. It was a twisty-turny, trying to be clever, but I was not impressed. As for Watchmen? We watched the edited version, and my, talk about dark and bleak even when edited! The final message was okay, but again, you didn't really miss anything here.

April: earth - amazing cinematography, but the propaganda turned me off. It is worth renting just to see the funny little birds' mating rituals, and is kid-friendly. Obsessed - definitely one of those movies that makes a man want to avoid messing around. It was pretty interesting, I must admit. Reminded me of "I won't be IGNORED, Dan," nonetheless forgettable. Dragonball Evolution was pretty good, even though it was force-fed to me while on a plane ride. I totally didn't think I would, but I really liked 17 Again. Last one for April, I REALLY liked The Soloist. Maybe that is because of my interactions with schizophrenics. Wow, Denzel. Nicely done, and as always, Robert Downey, Jr.

May: The Brother's Bloom was surprisingly engaging and funny. I would recommend that one. Wolverine was pretty well done as well, and surprisingly, no loose ends when trying to make it fit into the other movies! I can always find mismatches. Terminator Salvation was ruined for me by Christian's unbridled rantings spread across the Internet, and he was just not on his game for being totally believable. It was also very predictable, but maybe that's what the audience required. Star Trek was a visual feast for sci-fi lovers, and anyone who enjoys a good adventure, while Night at the Museum was the biggest disappointment ever. The ultimate pick for the month of May, and the entire year, was UP! I don't care how old you are, this was a fantastic show.

June: My Sister's Keeper was written about a very engaging topic, and this one included a really engaging story as well. Yes, I would recommend this one. Transformers was, well, Transformers. There are two reasons people watch Transformers movies: Special Effects, and Megan Fox. Need I say more? DON'T watch the Proposal. Trust me!

July: Harry Potter is not really my thing, just like Twilight is not really my thing. I didn't really see anything I would highly recommend, I guess.

August: Julia and Julia even kept my hubby's interest. Did Meryl Streep just nail that one, or what? Amy Adams is likewise and engaging actress. I recommend this one.

September: 9 and Surrogates were both very interesting, out-there topics. Obviously the former was more out there, but Surrogates really tackled the issue of physical self alteration, and hyper paranoia, which I found very interesting. It took virtual interaction to a whole new level. Since social networking and virtual interaction are such a major part of my work, I really appreciated this fresh perspective, even if it was far left-ish. Carriers was well done. You will want to wash your hands raw after watching that one. +1(plus one) delivering that film in a very timely manner during H1N1 paranoia ordeal.

October: I was so excited to see Amelia, and while it was very well done, and the acting was fabulous, the story line was disjointed and, well, speculative. As a historian, there were too many attempts to fill in the gaps without actually filling anything in at all! Either go historical, and stay true, or embellish and make it really interesting, and neither happened for me.

November: The Blind Side was a FINALLY!!! show for Sandra Bullock. Wow. After so MANY stupid shows, she finally came out and redeemed herself! Nicely done, even though the football star actor was picked for his size more than for his acting ability, but that was sort of a rags to riches story as well, so more power to you.

December: Avatar visually amazing, but was so full of propaganda (military is evil, tries to destroy everything in its path, Americans are destroying the earth, etc..) that it ruined it for me. It felt like I was watching Terra or Fern Gully. Sorry, folks. FINALLY, however, we ended on a fabulous note with Sherlock Holmes! A++!

And there you have it, a year's worth of movies, and only three MUST sees in my book. So what say you? I didn't see them all, obviously, so what would you recommend that I see and why?

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