wZandria - Keep Up With Me
Age 23 * Richmond, VA * full-time college student * part-time call center * love to read and write * skeptic * quiet * thinker * independent * VISIT MY PHOTO WEBSITE


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wTuesday, November 26, 2002


Well, here I am! I've been in Richmond for a few days now, and I'm having a great time seeing everybody and being at home. Devin has learned to read since I've been gone, he read me this book the other day called "Are You My Mother?" Absolutely too cute. For those who may not have noticed, I added an icon to the upper left side of this website, called View My GuestMap. It'll open up to a map of the U.S. and you can choose an icon and post a message to show me where you're signing on and reading from. So do that when you get a chance!



posted by Zandria at 7:08 PM


wSaturday, November 23, 2002


WAITING

It's almost 4:30 here. Cathy and I aren't leaving for the drive to LAX until 8pm because I don't fly out until 11:15 (it takes a little less than an hour and a half to get there). The traffic shouldn't be bad since it's a Saturday night, so hopefully no bumper-to-bumper in our near future. The time is going slowly this afternoon. The bags are packed and ready to go...packed the long-sleeved shirts (wearing a tank top right now)...People magazine (just arrived in the mail this afternoon) is handy to pull out while waiting in the airport (or the plane if I can't sleep)...cell phone is charged. It's funny (or not?) when you have an evening departure how the time just draaaaaags until it's time to leave. Nothing really gets done except things that are trip-related anyway. I'm amusing myself by reading stuff on the internet (hence my previous entry with the new Web Picks). I wish it was time to leave. I want to see my family...less than 24 hours to go.

The next time I post I'll be doing so from Richmond.



posted by Zandria at 7:26 PM


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WEB PICKS: FASHION SHOW WOES, TRIPPIN’, STYLIN’ DOGG

With everything going on in the world, and important injustices that could be railed against, why is there such a huge brouhaha over the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show? Airing this past Tuesday on CBS – opposite the first half of the 2 hour "Bachelor" finale – I’m still hearing stories on the news about women’s rights groups that made a big fuss. Don’t get me wrong, sure the supermodels make girls everywhere reevaluate what a normal body type should look like, but I would hardly agree that it warrants being called what these people have dubbed "soft porn." I only caught the last ten minutes of the show, more out of curiosity than anything else, but it seemed like harmless entertainment to me. Watch it if you want, tune out if you don’t, the same as any other show on television – it’s not like it’s a weekly occurrence. And as Mark Morford wrote in his most recent column, aren’t there more important causes that people could speak up about?

Linda Tripp has a new business venture, her first since the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. It should generate some customers just on the curiosity factor if nothing else…

So there’s this new show on VH1 where a famous individual in music goes into a fan’s house and redecorates a room as a surprise (another spin-off to cash in on the popularity of "Trading Spaces" perhaps?). This funny article in the LA Times describes Snoop Dogg’s turn, including some behind-the-scenes information about the amount of time (or lack thereof) actually spent by Snoop helping out with this room transformation.



posted by Zandria at 6:52 PM


wFriday, November 22, 2002


HAPPY BIRTHDAY JEN

Yesterday was Jen’s 23rd birthday, so I drove to L.A. last night to celebrate with her, Amber, and Amber’s sister-in-law Melanie. Before we left, Amber bought out this cheesecake that she’d gotten as a surprise (with 2 candles at one end and 3 at the other, it was really cute). And OH MY GOD it was delicious – it had a chocolate graham-cracker crust and a layer of caramel, then the cheesecake, and chocolate shavings sprinkled on top. Who says that a birthday cake needs to be something standard?

We took a taxi to this bar called Tuscadero on the Sunset Strip where we stayed for a few hours, then finished up the night at Madisons. Amber’s brother Lee (Melanie’s husband) has been the manager there for a few years, and just recently entered into a partnership with another guy to buy the place when the owners decided to sell. Melanie was wearing this gauzy, peasant-style, off-the-shoulder blouse last night when we went out, that had elastic completely around the top to hold it up. Oh, the woes of women’s clothes (and an example of improvising)…when we got out of the taxi in front of Madisons she discovered that the elastic band had broken. Luckily Amber was able to gather up enough material to tie it into a knot at her back and get her through the rest of the night.



posted by Zandria at 10:48 PM


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ROCK ON!!

The Baja 1000 race is still going but Jeff’s team has already finished. The entrants are a mix of dirtbikes (specially suped-up with racing engines so that they’ll go faster), regular trucks, trophy trucks (they can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars because they have this phat suspension that makes it seem like you’re riding on a giant marshmallow even on rocky terrain, among other things), quads (four-wheelers), ATCs (three-wheelers), dune buggies, Baja bugs (remember when I wrote about those when I saw one for the first time back in San Bernardino?), etc. You can come in 1st, 2nd, 3rd in each category of vehicle, and they also have the Best Overall finishers where it just matters WHEN you finish and not just what you’re driving. The teams come from all over the world and this year they had over 400 entrants. Jeff and his team finished FIFTH OVERALL, a pretty amazing feat!!!!! Congratulations!!!!!



posted by Zandria at 10:46 PM


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TO DANA AND TERESA, MY HARRY-POTTER-LOVIN' FRIENDS (Hey Teresa, too bad you've already graduated and missed out on this...)

Seen on a Los Angeles news station tonight: Cal State at Long Beach is now offering Harry Potter 101. A professor named Wilhemina Hodgkiss has a class of 24 students, apparently they get involved in lively discussions about the plots and characters, and also compare the books to established fictional classics like "The Lord of the Rings" and the "Chronicles of Narnia" series. What will they think of next?



posted by Zandria at 10:44 PM


wThursday, November 21, 2002


FERRETS

I saw a ferret today on television. I hate ferrets -- to me they look like oversized rats with abnormally long, mutated bodies. And they stink! It doesn't matter if they're clean or not, their fur has this perpetually funky odor. I’ve hated ferrets with a passion ever since a friend that I knew well when I was growing up had one, and then a good friend/roommate had one when I first moved to Richmond in 1997. The ferret that I actually shared an apartment with belonged to my friend Christina, and she named the ferret Angelica. Angelica was with us for a good 5-6 months or so, then one night somebody left the sliding glass doors to our apartment open and she escaped. I made the mistake of cracking a joke about her finally being gone and good riddance -- "poor thing, squish! under the tires of a car" -- (I was only 17 years old at the time, forgive me!), and Christina got mad...hmmm, wonder why? She was the only one of us living in the apartment at the time that actually liked that ferret. I don't think she spoke to me for a good couple of hours, she was so mad. I just can't help it though, ferrets just give me the creeps. Some people have nightmares about being chased, or falling, etc. All joking aside, I occasionally have nightmares about being attacked by a ferret.



posted by Zandria at 2:25 AM


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WEB PICKS: RITZY PRESCHOOLS AND PALINDROMES

One of my last web picks was about the craziness involved with rich NYC parents getting their kids into the "right" preschool. Today Mark Morford wrote a column about this very phenomenon, including the new parent craze with "tummy time," and I think you'll appreciate his always-sarcastic view...LOVE it! His take is that the ritzy preschools are more of a status symbol and have more to do with the parents being able to brag, then them really caring about their kids.

This is a funny piece from a USA-Today entertainment columnist about palindromes. (Palindromes are words or phrases that read the same backward or forward -- for instance, "Hannah" or "Sit on a potato pan, Otis.")



posted by Zandria at 2:19 AM


wWednesday, November 20, 2002


COMIN' HOME

I fly out of LAX on Saturday night, arriving in Richmond Sunday morning. I'm looking forward to it even more now that the time is drawing closer, it'll be nice spending the week of Thanksgiving with my family and friends. Mom has promised to cook me a pot of collard greens (yeah, of all the things I could request for my mom to cook and I ask for greens -- everyone may think I'm weird, but I don't care, I love them!). I'll get to sleep in my iron bed...miss that. Oh, and the room has been repainted since I've been gone -- Elissa sent me a piece of the colored cardboard that you can get in the store when you buy the paint, just so that I'd know in advance what it looks like. :) What will I miss in California? The fact that it's been in the 70's during the day all week...DEFINITELY can't ask for much more than that in November. In certain parts of L.A. it's actually been in the upper 80's and low 90's the past few days. Now it does get cold at night, the temperature will drop to the 40s overnight and early morning, but during the day I'm still wearing the short-sleeved shirts that I came up here with. Still haven't worn any of my sweaters! Guess I'll have to pack some in my suitcase for next week though....



posted by Zandria at 2:10 AM


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WEB PICKS: SIMS, PRESCHOOL, BACHELOR

Ever heard of the computer game "The Sims?" If playing against the computer wasn’t enough, starting in December you’ll have the opportunity to pay a $10 monthly subscription fee and play against fellow fans of the game online. Personally I’ve never understood the lure of the game, where (from my limited knowledge of it) you control characters in a simulated environment, and I saw a commercial for one version where you could build an elaborate amusement park. I suppose the creativity could be seen as a plus, but I’ve heard of (and also witnessed people myself) that could play this game for HOURS on end (this article addresses this fact too). And now that you’ll soon be able to go a step further and play with actual live people…no thanks, I think I’ll pass.

Curious about the lengths some parents will go to get their kids into the "right" preschool? This article explains the rigorous application processes and interviews that kids have to go through to get in, having to get influential people to put in a good word and then – once accepted – the costs of these places can sometimes be as much as you would pay for a year at COLLEGE.

The Bachelor -- harmless entertainment? Or degrading to women (as "NOW" says), a threat to all women have accomplished? I definitely wouldn't go that far, but I haven't watched one single show of the craziness from this second season.



posted by Zandria at 1:50 AM


wSunday, November 17, 2002


Disclaimer: I’m not mad at anyone. This is just me getting some things off my chest!!

ON LAZINESS


I was speaking to someone on the phone Friday afternoon, and about 15 minutes into the conversation this person happened to mention another person we mutually know that had asked about me (both people shall remain anonymous). The question was something along these lines: "So do you know what Zan’s up to in California? Is she up there being lazy or what?"

It threw me for a loop at first, because how do you respond to that? The person telling me about the comment didn’t think it of course, I could tell, and the original comment could very well have been meant in a joking manner, but at the time I didn’t know how to answer. I think I was quiet for about 10 seconds, not really knowing what to say – it’s not something that you particularly prepare yourself for in advance. I’m aware of the fact that some people must be saying (or just thinking) stuff like that, because if I were still back in Virginia, and a friend or family member that I know had gone to do the same thing that I’m currently doing, then I might have those same questions and feelings. Having to get up and go to work every day, thinking about that person not having any current responsibilities (other than continuing to pay not only my own bills, but my half of the household bills that I share with my sister). I’m sure there must be jokes, and maybe wishful thinking – both the good and bad kind. From "Wow, Zan’s so lucky, I wish I could go somewhere else too" to "Who does she think she is? She’s been gone for over two months now!"

The truth is, I know that I’m not accomplishing anything particularly "worthwhile" at the moment. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I were responsible for someone back home, or if I had too many debts not to be able to stop working, or especially if I didn’t have family that has so generously offered to house me for as long as I feel like staying. I’m fully aware of these factors, and it’s not like I don’t feel bad about not "accomplishing" things, though what that may actually be I’m still not fully sure. In fact, that’s why I left in the first place. I didn’t really know what I was doing. And I still don’t. But you know what? Without going into the particulars of my head and what I have discovered/realized so far….this is what I needed. I don’t regret anything. People that have regrets (seem to me) to be the ones that are unhappy, or that didn’t take advantage of the chances they may have had to do things in their past. And that’s exactly what I didn’t want for myself, ten years in the future to look back at myself at the age I am now, and wish I’d taken the opportunity to do what I’m doing. I’m glad I’ll be able to say "this is what I did at this time" rather than "yeah, I stayed where I was because it was safe." There are always times where it’s the right thing to do to play it safe, but then there’s also times in your life where you may want to see what else the world has to offer.

Yes, I wake up some mornings and know that I don’t have anything else to accomplish other than things that could probably wait, like driving around on errands, or cleaning the house, or writing -- you know, all that "non-worthwhile" stuff. When I could in fact be getting up and going to the same job that I’ve had for over four years, doing the same thing, generally being unhappy but not quite being able to put my finger on why.

It’s not like I enjoy being lazy and not having anything to do. I admit, the first few weeks were nice and it was what I needed. Recently I’ve been getting antsy and the days that I DO have something definite to accomplish are the most rewarding days. Time goes by faster and my mood is better because I know that I have a goal and I’m working towards it. Believe it or not, I know that my mood is better when I’m busy. But until I make a decision about what I want to do, I’m enjoying myself and taking this time to think through things. Is having the opportunity to clear my head worth not working for this period of time? Seeing as how I couldn’t accomplish it when I was doing the same thing day after day, I would have to say that hell yes, it’s worth it. One day soon I’ll get back into whatever "swing of things" that I decide on, but until then I know in my heart and head that I’m doing the right thing. No regrets.



posted by Zandria at 11:01 PM


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WEB PICKS: CONSUMERISM, INVASION OF PRIVACY, SCARY CEREAL, RETURN TO OZZ, & "MR. RESIDENT"

For everyone who agrees that the holidays come around earlier and earlier every year (I’ve heard online reports of Christmas music in stores while shopping for Halloween candy!), my fave journalist Mark Morford has penned this article. He also addresses America’s passion for consumerism (he calls it our new "national pastime"), like how it becomes almost impossible to buy a winter coat in winter because the stores are already making way for the "spring collection."

So how much do we really know about this Homeland Security bill? I’ve heard about it here and there on the news, but until reading this I didn’t know that it would basically be giving federal agencies the right to spy on whatever Americans READ, WRITE, AND BUY online (plus just our general "web-surfing"). The bill has already been passed by the House of Representatives and is waiting to be approved by the Senate.

Care for some drugs in your cereal? Can we really not trust any of our food to be safe anymore?

Return to Ozz – This article comments on the Osbourne’s popularity and if it’s possible for them to have the same level of interest on the upcoming second season, since the initial "shock" has worn off. You can visit the official website on mtv.com here.

Mr. Resident – This is an interview with Al Gore by a journalist with the Washington Post, the first prolonged one he’s done since conceding the presidential election in 2000. (Get it? Not "Mr. PRES-ident," but "Mr. RES-ident"….right.) He’s supposed to let America know whether he’ll be challenging George Dub-ya in 2004 by December. An interesting read if you have some time on your hands, this is the longest article I’m linking to.



posted by Zandria at 10:55 PM


wSaturday, November 16, 2002


HOLLYWOOD PARK AND HARRY POTTER

Last night I spent the night in L.A. with Jen and Amber. I left Lancaster earlier than I did last time I visited, hoping to avoid some of the crazy rush-hour Friday traffic, but it was to no avail. The temperature hovering around 75 degrees, I inched along the 405 with my windows down and radio station tuned to Star 98.7 ("The Ride Home" with Ryan Seacrest and Lisa Fox). I mention Ryan Seacrest for those of you who followed "American Idol" and know that he was one of the co-hosts on the show, even though I'm definitely not ashamed of the fact that I only watched the show maybe three times all the way through. Speaking of radio stations though, have I mentioned yet that when you reach the city of Los Angeles there are at least as many (if not more!) Spanish-speaking stations than "normal" ones?

Both Jen and Amber have been to the horse races at Hollywood Park several times, so I decided it would fun to go along with them since I’d never been before. (Here is a picture of Jen that I took before we left their apartment last night.)

Hollywood Park is a pretty straightforward structure, ticket entrance gates ($7 per person, but they didn’t check our ID’s there nor the first of two times that we went to the counter for drinks), outside bleachers, and a huge track where the races take place. The differences are that the bleachers are only located on the side of the track where the finish line is located, and there are booths on every level where you place your bets and collect any winnings. The middle of the track was filled with landscaping and water and fountains, along with gigantic screens announcing odds on a particular horse, and the current 1st, 2nd and 3rd places of the pack currently racing (the same as they do with car races). Jen explained to me the general premise of what to do, but it seems to me something that’s quick to understand but would take a long time to really learn. You can bet on a horse to win, or these horses to take a certain place, but unless you know what you’re doing and understand odds and all that, you’re pretty much just guessing. Regardless, it was fun and something different to do.

I came back to Lancaster this afternoon before Jen and Amber left to watch the USC homecoming football game at a bar. I was invited, but I decided I’d rather leave and spend some time by myself (Cathy is playing bingo – here is a picture that I took of the bingo room at San Manuel recently). Plus they were also planning to see the second Harry Potter movie that just premiered yesterday; I never saw the first movie or read any of the books so I figured it was pointless for me to go...coupled with the fact that I’ve never actually had the desire to read any of the books or see the movies.

I don’t have anything against Harry Potter per se, in fact I think it’s great that the books have encouraged so many kids (and adults!) to read. What I don’t like is the commercialization. Who can fault author J.K. Rowling for cashing in on the success of her books and selling the movie rights, along with products such as toys, games, and more I couldn't possibly imagine before I saw this link today? After all, who in their right mind would give up such an obvious chance to become fabulously wealthy? It’s just hard to stomach when that "angelic" face with the round owl glasses is staring out at you everywhere you look.

I don’t like when cute merchandising is used to shape kid’s ideas of what they want, especially when it’s advertised as supposedly healthy. Like "Mommy, I have to have that box of pure-sugar fruit snacks just because it has Harry Potter on the front." (Cartoons such as Spongebob-Squarepants are just as guilty, in no way am I laying all this blame on Harry.) "I don’t care that the only fruit involved is artificial flavoring and that the sugar will train my taste buds to just want more of it, rather than real bananas and apples and kiwi. If you do agree to buy them for me, I also don’t care that the colorful box costs twice as much as the generic brand. I have to have the ones I want because all the kids in my class are similarly brainwashed and will show up to school tomorrow with these Harry Potter fruit snacks and if I don’t have them then I will be an OUTCAST." Okay, I admit that I’m exaggerating here, but this product placement and directed advertising shown to 3-7 years olds on Nick Jr. and Disney and Toon does exist. On TV, supermarket shelves, Wal-Mart – unfortunately it’s not escapable if you plan on living in the modern world.



posted by Zandria at 7:19 PM


wThursday, November 14, 2002


BARBIE – MEMORIES FROM CHILDHOOD

Don’t ask me why, but recently I was thinking about certain things I remember from my childhood and I thought about Barbie. My older sister Elissa and I played for many years (until I was 10 and she turned 12, then she announced that she was "too old" – I stopped playing soon after that myself), and as we got older it became more involved. We’d talk in advance about what the "story line" would be (we didn’t call it that, but that’s basically what it was), and if we couldn’t think of anything interesting then sometimes we just wouldn’t play at all. You may not believe this (!), but I could be a brat when it came to playing with Barbies – thinking back, I don’t know how Elissa put up with me for as long as she did. She must have either really wanted to play (or else was just used to giving me my way) because I had some specific demands.

Most notable was the fact that my favorite Barbie had to be "The #1 Richest in the World." In all fairness, we alternated after that (her favorite Barbie got to be "2nd Richest," then I had "3rd Richest," etc), but I had to be #1 and that was it. I remember that my favorite Barbie (that was "#1 Richest in the World") was named Kelly McLeod. I don’t remember now exactly where the last name McLeod came from, but I’m sure I must have read it in a book because I was a huge bookworm growing up. Now here’s the funny part – it wasn’t until YEARS later that I found out that McLeod is actually pronounced "Mc-LOUD." The entire time that my Kelly existed in Barbie-land, I pronounced her last name "Mc-LEE-UD" (in essence – and in my own defense – the way that it looks).

An older Barbie, a "DownHead," was delegated to be Kelly’s maid. What is a DownHead (a term coined by Elissa and myself of course), you may ask? Well, that’s simple – a DownHead is a Barbie whose head somehow got disconnected from her body, and then couldn’t be successfully reattached no matter how hard we tried. Sometimes Mom could perform "surgery" and get the head to go back on the little plastic ball that connects the rubber head to the plastic neck, but after a few times this method no longer works. So you have to do away with the little plastic ball that no longer works and sqqquuishhh the head back on the neck. This method, successful enough in that you can continue playing with the doll, makes Barbie look suspiciously like she has Down’s-syndrome. So poor, squished-head-on-neck is delegated to the awful status of DownHead.

So anyway, let me get back to what I was talking about – Kelly’s DownHead maid. I don’t remember ALL of my Barbie’s first and last names, but a few of them I do. The maid’s name was Charlene Hamilton and her husband was Charles Hamilton. Charles was the first Ken-doll I ever owned and was unfortunate enough to start losing paint flecks from the top of his painted plastic head – they didn’t have the "beautiful" fake hair like the Barbies did, at least not back then. Don’t ask me where I came up with these names, but other ones included Sylvia, Joanne, Carolyn, Jessica, Harold, and Alice. Elissa and I never thought that we had too many dolls, but as our collection accumulated our Dad would start to lay down the law on birthdays and Christmas: "No more Barbies! You have too many already!"

Elissa and I never wanted for clothes, we had boxes and plastic containers filled with them. Not only did we have the ones the dolls would come dressed in and some we’d buy in the store, but our Grandma (my mom’s mom) would sew them for us as well. We’d learn certain things after a while – such as if you pulled Barbie’s hair back into a braid or ponytail for too long, then when you went to take the synthetic hair down it would never really seem to lie flat against the head ever again.

Have I embarrassed myself enough tonight? I just thought I’d lend some amusement at my own expense!



posted by Zandria at 2:39 AM


wWednesday, November 13, 2002


FUNNY COMMERCIAL

This is a commercial that I saw on a local southern-CA tv station the other day: A man walks into a coffee shop wearing a cell phone clipped to the waistband of his pants, and orders his coffee of choice. As he’s waiting, he accidentally leans against the counter and (unbeknownst to him) the phone dials 9-1-1. The 9-1-1 operator picks up and asks what his emergency is, at the same time that the coffee-shop girl hands him his paper cup. The man takes his coffee and immediately starts yelling "Oh! Oh hot! It’s burning!" while theatrically switching the cup from hand-to-hand and hopping from one foot to the other. Coffee-girl is looking at him with eyebrows raised, while in the meantime the 9-1-1 operator dispatches fire trucks, thinking that this dude on her line is burning alive in a fire. The next shot shows the man walking out of the store with his new cup of (cooled) coffee, smiling and oblivious, while sirens ring through the air (fire engines dispatched to his soon-to-be previous location by some cellular tracking service). Then we see a final shot of a different man speaking directly to the viewing audience, telling us that more than half of 9-1-1 calls are made by accident, so please use the key lock on your cell phone when it’s not in use! Commercial paid for by the CHP (California Highway Patrol). I thought it was funny, obviously this must be a big problem if the CHP would pay to have this commercial on the air. I'll admit that my phone has accidentally dialed people that I didn't find out about until later, but luckily it wasn’t 9-1-1!



posted by Zandria at 5:34 AM


wTuesday, November 12, 2002


NEW PHOTOS AVAILABLE FOR VIEWING

There are some new pics to be seen on my Yahoo Photos website under the folder "New Uploads." This will be where they can be found for the next week or so, then I'll put them into more permanant folders. Only the last 2 of 18 total pictures are recent, the other 16 were taken of family and friends during August and early September.



posted by Zandria at 1:02 AM


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"BAJA 1000"

Jeff left around 4:30am this morning (he refers to the time of day as "dark-30") for Mexico, where he’ll be for the next fifteen days. I’ll be writing more on this topic soon, but basically Jeff’s part of a four person team (all professionals and previous winners of other races) that will be racing the Baja 1000, an annual dirtbike race. It’s 1000 miles in length (hence the name), and also why they need four guys to race it – they split up the route in manageable chunks of anywhere between 100-300+ miles at a time since they’re racing in the desert. He’s going down two weeks in advance of the actual race so he can pre-run the course, which means he'll be familiarizing himself with the particular routes he’ll be racing. All (or at least most of) the riders do this, so that they won’t be riding the route for the first time when the race is actually going on.



posted by Zandria at 12:46 AM


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WEB PICKS: MOLASSES DISASTER, DEEP-FRIED TWINKIES, A CALL FOR RESTRAINT, & "THE PARTY'S OVER" FOR SELECT VIRGINIA FARMERS

This isn't "new" news, but something random I came across: did you know that back in the year 1919, twenty-one people died in a molasses accident? Boy, the things that you don't read about in the history books...

As if Twinkies weren't already bad enough for the public -- Brooklyn, NY restaurant owner Chris Mullen is the proud inventor of the Deep-Fried Twinkie. Apparently he was bored one night and experimented with frying various food goods: interested in some of his other concoctions if you get bored with Twinkies? How about Snickers, 3 Musketeers, or Milky Way? He offers those as well. Regular Twinkie calorie content: 150 calories. Estimated calorie content after being chilled, rolled in flour, dipped in batter, and fried for 90-120 seconds: 425 calories. Enjoy...

Just in time for those contemplating enjoying that deep-fried Twinkie: Anti-obesity crusader Kelly Brownell sets his sights on what he calls a 'toxic food environment.' This interesting and informative article follows Mr. Brownell as he points out how large corporations and the media negatively influence our need to eat well.

And finally, something I remotely recall hearing in the past but learned more about recently: crops of tobacco and peanuts are in peril in Virginia because of the federal government. It's a good possibility that they'll be doing away with a program in place since the Depression that caused tobacco and peanuts to be immune from the rules of free market pricing. This could cause a wave effect not only from farmers that may have to go out of business (some already have), but manufacturers that supply them, people they employ, and also revenue in excess of billions of dollars that Philip Morris provides to the Virginia economy.



posted by Zandria at 12:42 AM


wMonday, November 11, 2002


BRAGGING RIGHTS

My nephew Devin is one smart cookie, having started kindergarten this fall he’s already excelling. This could be due to a number of factors: previous experience in pre-school and learning his entire alphabet plus an impressive amount of numbers, playing with educational learning toys, my sister reading to him every night before bed…and of course having good genes doesn’t hurt either. :) His entire kindergarten class was tested recently and he ended up with the second-highest grade out of 22 children. He and a small group of other likeminded peers will be having a separate teacher come in a few times a week for special tutoring and more in-depth work than the other kids. Devin’s a stubborn, headstrong 5-year-old, but you can tell just by looking in his eyes that he’s smart and that he processes more things than you might think in that head of his. He’s very observant and has a fantastic memory – he’s been known to bring up people/places or events that happened far enough back that you wouldn’t think there would be any way that he would remember. Devin, may you always love learning...



posted by Zandria at 1:25 AM


wSaturday, November 09, 2002


IT'S RAINING....

You know how we say in Virginia that people drive stupid in the rain? Especially when we have a few weeks or even a month or two without it, like this year during the drought? Well, just think about how it is in southern California – they’ve had less than a measurable inch of rain in the past YEAR. Since I’ve been here the skies have been cloudy but it’s only sprinkled for the most about thirty seconds at a time, just enough to cause dirty streaks through the dust on my car!

When there’s definite rain in the forecast, people here get EXCITED. On the local news last night, the first fifteen minutes was devoted to where it was currently raining, where it would be raining, how MUCH rain was expected, etc. The weatherman on Channel 4, KTLA Los Angeles, was reporting outside in the rain rather than being in the studio, stamping his foot in a puddle that was flowing down a street gutter to show the amount of water on the road. Another reporter stopped pedestrians on the sidewalk and even some people sitting in cars -- once he held up a microphone to the driver’s-side window with a woman inside: "So what do YOU think of this rain?"

"Oh, I think it’s just grreeeaaat," she breathed enthusiastically, looking up wide-eyed and smiling to the reporter as he leaned into her car. "We haven’t had rain in sooooo long." Either this woman was genuinely ecstatic about the rain (which I guess is possible, since they see less rain than Virginia has snow in the winter – in other words, not very much), or else she’s another one of those aspiring L.A. actresses hoping a casting director was watching her on the 6 o’clock news!

Apparently when they do get a lot of rain here, it can change the landscape pretty drastically, especially here in the high desert where it’s mostly dirt. About five years ago it rained all winter, and when spring rolled around there were wildflowers and foliage EVERYWHERE. There’s actually a poppy reserve about fifteen miles outside of Lancaster (called the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve), but unless it rains they don’t bloom – I’ve seen pictures of them (SO beautiful and amazing, bright oranges and yellows all over the place) and they just take your breath away. Remember that scene in "The Wizard of Oz" where Dorothy and her pals are headed to either Emerald City or the wicked witch’s lair (I can’t remember which), and they walk through that immense field of poppies and Dorothy falls asleep? It’s like that.

It rained on and off all day today, and this evening Cathy and I helped her friend Rebecca move four truckloads of stuff from her storage unit to this house that she’s moving into (only two doors down…pretty convenient to have one of your best friends living so close huh?). The rain mainly held off during the period of time that we were moving everything, but there were like hurricane-force winds blowing through. It reminded me of those shots you see on the news of pre-hurricane weather in Florida, when the palm trees whip and lash around...that's what it was looking like. Even sitting inside tonight I can hear the wind gusting, it's still pretty powerful.



posted by Zandria at 12:07 AM


wWednesday, November 06, 2002


A SOCIETY OF CONVENIENCE

There’s this place down the road called Drive-Thru Dairy. It’s like a convenience store, kind of like the 7-Eleven stores where you can buy necessities (but not gas), except this place is strictly drive-up. You pull right up to the side and they have guys that work there who ask what you want, get your items, then take your money and make change without you ever having to leave the comfort of the driver’s seat. (There may be chicks that work there too, but the couple of times I’ve been there or driven by I haven’t seen any.) We were there the other day picking up a gallon of milk for another of Jeff’s sisters, Linda, who has SEVEN KIDS living at home (five of them hers, the other two from her husband’s first marriage). They are some heavy-duty milk lovers…they go through THREE GALLONS of milk a day on average. Also, her youngest son just turned a year old and has recently switched to drinking regular milk himself, so it looks like that number may be climbing.

So back to those one-stop-drive-up-and-go stores, I have an opinion on those. Which is this – PEOPLE ARE WAY TOO LAZY. I can understand the argument about the convenience and the quickness of service, whatever. Starbucks has become so popular that many of them are adding drive-through service, as is Subway in some areas. Can’t anyone park and walk inside anymore? It’s bad enough that we’re buying the junk they’re selling, but now we don’t have to expend any additional energy to burn off whatever it is we’re buying. With all the sitting most of us do all day at our jobs you would think people would want to make an effort….Guess not.



posted by Zandria at 10:41 PM


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WEB PICKS: TONYA, CHRISTINA, & BBQ KITTY

Did you know that one enterprising fellow has been sued by Tonya Harding's lawyer? Apparently he made a hot sauce with a special label humorizing Tonya's past predicament/legal troubles. I wouldn't buy a bottle for the $5 he charges, but he's sold 2000 bottles, so to each his own...

The next two articles were written by Mark Morford, a fun columnist to read at the San Francisco Chronicle. Gotta love the way he speaks his mind! This one is about Christina Aguilera's new image and new album, the radical change from her first album to this one, and how she tries so hard to be sexy that everything she does is just OVERdone and screams of trying too hard. I've never been a fan of hers but this article is very well written.

Remember that incident a few months back where that guy got in trouble for putting a kitten on a barbeque grill? Mark Morford wrote an article back during that time about it, I bookmarked the site and just recently came across it again and decided to include it here. He has some interesting opinions that may make you think, even if you don't always agree with everything he says. Leave me a comment below if you have any thoughts...



posted by Zandria at 1:58 AM


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ONLY IN L.A.? I’M SURE THIS HAS HAPPENED ELSEWHERE, BUT THIS IS THE FIRST I’VE HEARD OF IT….

Uncle Jeff has a younger sister whose name is Elaine; she’s just moved to this area from Long Beach (near where they had that horrific traffic accident on the freeway over the weekend), which is about an hour and a half away from Lancaster. She’s married to Mike and they have two boys (Jeffrey and Gavin) and one girl (Cameron). This past Saturday we helped them move their things into their new house in Palmdale, which is a neighboring town to Lancaster. I felt at home right away, since they’ll be living at the intersection of Carolyn Drive and Ben Place (no joke!). Elaine is a very likeable person, peppy and high-energy most of the time (she waves her hands around a lot when she speaks), and she talks with the voice of a Valley girl that’s grown up. I commented on Elaine’s voice to Cathy after the first time that I met her, which Cathy thought was funny because apparently Elaine has lost a LOT of her original Valley accent that she had as a teenager (I’m talking the total "Clueless"-speak here, you know the high-pitched "oh…my GAW-ed!").

So Elaine told us a story about going with a girlfriend recently to L.A.’s fashion district to look for fabric (this girl was raised in a Mormon household, the 7th of 8 children, and was raised knowing how to sew – my Uncle Jeff is the oldest of the 8). When they got out of her van, there was an African American male standing next to her parking meter, with his girlfriend beside him. He was dressed in a red t-shirt, red shorts, and had a red bandanna on his head – his girlfriend was dressed in a matching ensemble. He had what looked to be a paper clip in his hand, and was jimmying the parking meter with it. "Look," he said, smiling, as Elaine rounded the van with quarters. "It’s as simple as that…the meter’s registering $1.00 already." AND THEN HE PROCEEEDED TO ASK HER TO GIVE HIM THE DOLLAR THAT SHE WAS GOING TO PUT IN THE METER, since he’d saved her that much in meter fees!

"What are you talking about? I’m not giving you a dollar!" Elaine exclaimed at first, but then the man and woman hastened to explain that this was how they earned extra money while waiting to get their "check" (aka welfare) in the mail. "At least we’re not out stealing," was one of the woman’s arguments (yeah sure, other than stealing from the local government that collects those meter fees!). So Elaine ended up giving them the dollar – better than standing there arguing about it I suppose….



posted by Zandria at 12:30 AM


wMonday, November 04, 2002


POSTING COMMENTS

So get this everybody -- until tonight I didn't even know that people had been leaving comments for me on that "NEW -- POST A COMMENT!!!" link that I had on the left side of this page. I made that page and then a few days later I discovered how to get the comments link under every post that I make, so I figured it would be easier for everyone to do it that way since you wouldn't have to go to a separate website. Thanks to Dana, who wrote me an email today and asked if I was planning on putting the link back, I found out the reason that NOBODY HAS BEEN UTILIZING MY COMMENTS LINK. This entire time I thought that you guys were just reading and exiting (or maybe not visiting at all), and it was my dumb butt who didn't realize I was just looking in the wrong place.

I decided to put the comments link separately under each post so that if you link to one of my websites that I recommend, or read something interesting on one particular day, you can just click on the comments link really quick and shoot me a line like "Hey, cool website, I didn't know that was going on in the world" or "Hey dummy, we've all heard that already, tell us something we DON'T know!" When I had one post on there for almost a week before I posted a new one, I talked to a few friends that weekend and they asked why it was taking me so long to put on something new...perfect opportunity for someone to have left a message under that post saying "Hey, enough of this already! We're tired of seeing this post!" That way I would have known that people had been on there. So I guess that's it...I just wanted everyone to know that I finally (!) got everyone's messages and I appreciate you taking the time to do that. Now put them in the right place from now on!!! :)



posted by Zandria at 11:50 PM


wSunday, November 03, 2002


PHOTOS ONLINE

Here is the website to my Yahoo! Photos account, where I recently uploaded some pictures taken with my digital camera. More to come, and I will post updates when new ones can be viewed. And once you have a look, let me know what you think....



posted by Zandria at 6:28 PM


wSaturday, November 02, 2002


ERRANDS IN NEEDLES

Of course when I mention "Needles" I’m referring to Needles, CA where my Nana lives. We spent this past Monday through Wednesday afternoon there, finishing up things that needed to be done after my Grandpa’s death and also making preparations for Nana’s upcoming move to live near her daughters in Georgia.

BAD WATER: Apparently the water in that area isn’t good to drink, so everyone uses bottled water for drinking and cooking. The town has water stations set up in different locations, where you can take your own plastic containers and fill up with clean, distilled water (0.25 for a gallon, .50 for two gallons, 1.00 for five gallons). You just put your container under this special spigot, insert your quarters, and pull down on the handle…voila! Some of the water stations are outside supermarkets and are basically the size of soda vending machines, but the one we went to yesterday was in the parking lot of a convenience store and was shaped like a small tower with a windmill on top (called, appropriately enough, "Windmill Express"). Pretty cute…but I’m glad I don’t live in a town where I have to bother with going out to get my water. Cathy was trying to lift a box that had about six gallons of water into the back of her truck, it slipped from her grasp and about four of the caps snapped off, spilling water onto the pavement. Luckily we righted them pretty quickly, and only had to refill one of the jugs after consolidating the water from it into the other containers (SEE IT HERE). Hey – all you can do is laugh!

FedEx: Nana had a package of papers that needed to be sent to Georgia, an application for the place she’ll be living once she moves. They knew of a FedEx drop-off box, but when we reached the location the pickup time said 1:00pm, and it was already 1:45. "Hold on! Look over there!" Cathy said, gesturing across the road. I turned to see a FedEx truck parked in front of a Taco Bell, the driver on the pay phone outside. "Oh no," I said. "You’re not really going to go over there and give him this package are you?" Nana turned around in her seat to look at me, smiling mischievously. "Why not?" she asked. "We’ve done this before!"

And not only had they done it before, but when we pulled up in front of the Taco Bell they found that they recognized the driver (who was still on the phone)…it was the same one who had taken their envelope in the past! Cathy jumped out of the truck, mouthed "Can I leave this with you?" to the driver, and when he nodded went up and gave it to him. Hey - why not?



posted by Zandria at 12:08 AM