Monthly Archives: January 2010

A lot has been going on…

And that’s not the half of it.

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve put a post up.  I’ve had the spring semester start at UNLV and there have been some other developments that have kept me from writing more consistently.

Let’s get the light stuff out of the way so we can wade through the heavy.

This semester’s courses are Journalism 100 and 100D, all the “D” stands for is the discussion group that is the accompanying lab to Journalism 100.  The other course I’m taking this semester is World Literature, 231 to be precise.  Literature from antiquity and forward from there.

School has been going well for the most part.  I’m really trying to figure out what they will give exams on in Journalism 100, because I’m not really seeing any hard facts come out of the course.  It’s mainly theory with no common usage so far.  The lab I’m even further from impressed with the materials, there’s nothing really of substance and we have to read from sections of NewsU.org

What was funny to me is that the whole beginning of the semester in my Journalism Discussion Class has been all about ethics.  Those who know me will get a big laugh out of that one, because I used to teach ethics in my Photoshop class in There.com.  If you’ve not seen my ethics lecture, here, let’s let you have a look.  As you can see, it’s a list of things to consider, but rest assured, there was plenty of discussion during class on each and every point, enough to fill an hour and a half of class time.    Now, what I taught was on developer ethics in There.com, meaning that I tried to make people understand what good ethics were for a person developing 2D and 3D content for that online world. If you’ve ever sat through my ethics lecture, you’d probably rather pull out your fingernails with hot pincers rather than do anything unethical. But what a 2D or 3D artist does is very different in comparison with a print journalist.  The tightrope is a lot tighter when you deal with broadcast or print media, lots more people to offend and many dangers lurking around each corner to ruin your reputation and career.    So basically, I’ve had to spend close to 4 hours reading over just the ethics section of NewsU.  I have a response due just for that section due on February 3rd.

World Literature, however, is a treat.  Lots of fun there.  I signed back up to do the tour de force of the ancient world with my favorite english professor Doc T.  Oh how I love that man.  He is such a phenom when it comes to really bringing those dust covered, thousand year-old texts to life.  We started with the Epic of Gilgamesh.  Not my favorite.  Then we’ve just finished the Odyssey.  Ok, I’m going to go on the record and explain my absolute revulsion at the mere mention of the name Odysseus.  You’re going to guess, I know you are.  Ok, let’s just be Captain Obvious, the reason I hate Odysseus so much is because the Ex had an e-mail account named none other than Noble_Odysseus.  Ok, let’s get things straight.  There’s nothing really noble about Odysseus in my opinion.  The guy is horrible and I’m not referring to my Ex either.  Let’s just get the very annoying out of the way…Odysseus, while on his trek home from Troy sleeps with Calypso and Circe and he has no remorse or regret about cheating on his wife Penelope.  Ok, get the drift now?  Yeah, I hate Odysseus’ guts.  Book 11 of the Odyssey is supposed to be the most important because it shows Odysseus having an epiphany about the horrible things he’s done and how it is his rebirth.

Rebirth my ass.

Books 12 and 13 have him battling Scylla and Charybdis.  (You know, the two monsters from the Odyssey that are featured in The Police’s 1987 hit “Wrapped Around Your Finger”.)  He passes The Sirens and he’s such a tool, he plugs up his crew’s ears then has them lash him to the mast of the ship so he doesn’t throw himself overboard, but he listens to The Sirens anyways.  What a greedy jerk IMHO.  If I could slap Odysseus in the mouth, I’d have no issue doing so because not only has he been whoring around with Circe and Calypso, but then he’s seduced by The Sirens song as well.  The whole reading made me keep going “Odysseus, DUDE, keep the stallion in the corral, pal!”  Gods, that guy is just a tool.  But, his section is over with and Odysseus, that foul bastard, won’t be darkening my doorstep again.

Ironically, the Ex bought me a copy of the Illiad and the Odyssey for my 30th birthday.  That sucker is so dry, all it takes is one page and I’m out like a light.  I’m just glad my school textbook has a more palatable and easier to read version in it.

Next week I get to read front to back the play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare, another fella who couldn’t keep his fly shut.  What is it with men who make it their mission in life to be nothing more than a stereotype?  Robin Williams said it, “Men have two heads but only enough blood to run one.”  Oy veh.  I know for some guys, it’s the furthest from the truth, but the sheer number that outnumber those good ones is staggering.

By the way, I’ve turned in 3 papers so far in World Lit and out of a 20 point scale for each, I’ve come back with a 19, 20 and 20.  Right on, I love perfect scores.

But enough of my kvetching about The Odyssey.  Let’s get on to other things that are very relate-able to what I’ve been studying in class.

My Ex lost his job.  Now for some of you, this is no surprise.  I personally wondered how long it was going to take the high-ups at the place he worked to get rather annoyed at being treated like they were stupid.  The man cut his own throat.  I’m sorry, but you don’t tell the 3rd most powerful person at your office that they’re wrong about everything, that they’re stupid and have no idea what they’re talking about.  DUDE, any moron who does something like that deserves to get fired, I don’t care how good they are at their job.  BUT, that does leave me in a very sticky predicament.  My apartment, car, school, everything is tied directly to him.  And oh does it pain me to say that.  I’ve spent years sending out resumes for what I do and never even got a nibble back, all the while being told, “you don’t even think of taking a front line job again, I don’t want you doing it, so don’t even consider it”…blah blah blah.  When after he bailed he told me, “You didn’t even try to see if there were some shifts you could pick up at the local Best Buy”…I sat there with an astonished look on my face going, “weren’t you the guy who said…”

Seems as all my efforts were ignored by the ex because he used me not having work as an excuse to bail out.  Oh, I don’t give a shit at this point whether he goes and pisses up the nearest tree or why he’s doing it.  His girlfriends parents (supposedly very well off) are giving him a room in their basement while he builds himself back up again.  OK, if you’re 46 years old and living in your girlfriend’s parent’s basement, oh that is a very just reward for all the skanky crap he’s pulled.  It’s downright humiliating for him.  (Insert evil laugh.)  I went so far as to ask if her parents knew that he was still married and he said “yes”, somehow I seriously doubt that.  The man has no shame.  But, it does put me in a very shaky position.  I’m still sending out resumes without a nibble (not surprising in today’s economy), and putting my all into school.

So after school yesterday, I went grocery shopping (who knows when the money will run out so I’d like a full pantry), and picked up chicken from which I made Chicken Spaghetti out of (very yummy casserole), filled my cupboards with all sorts of food from luncheon meats to veggies and fresh fruits.  Then, I cooked my dinner and while it was in the oven baking, I did my dishes, then lit all the candles in my apartment, relaxing into my big leather sofa to enjoy Iron Man on DVD along with my delicious dinner.  When I finished eating, I looked around my clean apartment and took in how wonderful it is now that I live alone and there is no one else here to mess it up (as the ex did so frequently, gods the man was a slob).  I’m looking at clean counter tops, clean dishes, enjoying the smells of pineapple-mango candles and wishing days like this could last forever.

But, no wonderful day could be complete, it seems, without bad news.  After I finished dinner, washed my plate and put it up, the phone rang.  It was my mother.

On the way back from the grocery store, I called my mom to check in, which is the norm these days with the Ex pulling all of his boneheaded shit.  So I call and find out that Mom and Dad were getting ready to take Linda to the Oncologist.  Ok if you don’t know what an oncologist is, it’s the cancer doctor.

It seems as Nan has a gene that only occurs in 25% of human beings.  She’s got some sort of gene that says that she might relapse and have more cancer in her body.  So, they said she could wait 5 years and see if anything happens, or she could be aggressive in her treatment and opt for Chemotherapy.

Now, we all know the story of Linda’s back, and the moron doctor who said she had cancer when she was 14.  What did I freak out the most about?  Linda’s hair.   Now, let’s just get it straight right here and now…I want you to see my sister and how beautiful she is:

 In the car on the way to Ryan’s wedding:

This is Linda with her boyfriend Carl
To me, my Nana is one of the most beautiful women in the world.  She’s opted for Chemo.  And it’s the kind they administer by IV.  And it’s all to eradicate a gene that makes it so she can get cancer.  Damn it.  I thought she was in the clear.  Her spirits have been wonderful since the mastectomy.
Here’s a picture of us together about 3 weeks ago, celebrating what we thought was Linda cancer-free at the Hofbrauhaus here in Vegas:
Disclaimer:  I don’t photograph well.

My mother, after hearing the news and trying in vain to collect herself, she called me last night at 8pm in tears.  She’s torn up.  Linda, as should be expected, is handling the news as best she can and me, I sat down and even now as I’m writing about it, I can’t help but cry.  She’s so wonderful, nothing like this should have happened to her.  It’s not fair.  But when is life ever fair?  So here we are again, back where we started on December 31, staring headlong into another rough patch.  When is enough, really enough?  How much more can be piled on? I want to know!

But, I’ll be damned if I give up.  Linda’s not giving up, she’s plowing headlong into Chemo, she’s got herself up by her bootstraps and she’s determined to beat it.  It just breaks my heart to see her go through this.

Anyhow, I’ll keep posting when I can with all the rah-rah that’s going on.  It’s real simple.  I’ve got to keep moving forward.

A rant, a diatribe, and why? One of my favorite stores keeps taking away the good stuff.

Ok, here we go.  Now, I know lots of you are curious about my sister.  She’s doing good.  Came out of surgery well and now she’s recuperating.  I saw her wounds and let’s just say that Helena Bonham Carter would be so jealous!  It seems as Tim Burton was her surgeon and left what remains of her breast area as a costume from A Nightmare Before Christmas.  She has staples across both sides.  At first glance it reminded me very much of an 80’s jacket with the very noticeable silver zippers.  Ok, yes.  I’m making light of it.  Why?  Because, her left breast came back with no cancer cells to be found and we’re waiting for the test results from the right side sentinel node to come back.  For right now, I’m just thrilled she’s alive.  So for me to make light means at least I’m not crying or freaking out.

Anyhow, if you haven’t already, go get your mammogram.   Help Linda fight breast cancer.  Get on the team!  Care for your moms, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, girlfriends, daughters and the rest of the women in your life!  Let’s kick Breast Cancer’s butt!  Please contact me directly if you’d like to send Nan some Pink Gerbera Daisies (daisies are her favorite) to show her your support or for a list of her favorite Breast Cancer Awareness groups.  My sister is NOT a statistic!  She’s flesh and blood and she’s fighting cancer.

I’m on

 Won’t you join me?

Back to other news:

Ok, so I’m out in the mall today. *cringe* (I hate hate HATE shopping.)  But I was at the mall for a couple of good reasons.  First, I had to go get my eyes examined and the local Lenscrafters seemed to be ok to handle that.  After I get done getting fitted for new contacts, I tackle my next mission, Nan needs a surprise of some sort.  Candles have been a family tradition for years!  So, after coming out of my eye exam with fresh new contacts in my eyes, I make a bee-line for Bath and Body Works.  Here in Vegas at the Meadows Mall, our Bath and Body Works is very similar to every other one in the country.  One half of the store is bath supplies, with a doorway in the dividing wall that leads to the home supplies and candles. 

I walk into the candle side of the store and a really sweet girl immediately comes to help me out.  She was really cute how she pointed out how some fragrances were exquisite, some interesting, and some peculiar (she pointed out that one scent, when you get down to it smells like Play-Doh).  She made me laugh.  On one of the shelves I spied something I had been searching for for quite a while now.  It’s a candle in the scent “Lilac Blossom”.

Ok, let’s get into this because here comes the rant.  First off, why is Lilac Blossom so special?  Because, every single candle I’ve ever smelled that was supposed to smell like Lilac has always smelled like carnations.  No one ever got it right until Bath and Body Works came out with Lilac Blossom.  Secondly, my mom is from Germany and one of her all-time favorite smells from back home is lilac.  She has lived in the United States now for over 40 years, and she’s never lived in an area of the U.S. that has lilac growing naturally.  The look on her face when she smells that candle is one of sheer joy.  Let’s put it this way, my mother has not had an easy life any way you slice it.  To give her a moment of joy is worth it’s weight in gold.  So for her to have something that gives her that much joy, you know I’m going to make sure she has it.  However, here comes the clencher.  Bath and Body Works has discontinued Lilac Blossom.  OH am I MAD!  The one thing I find in countless years of searching for something to give the world’s hardest person to shop for, and they discontinue it.

But Lilac Blossom is not the first time Bath and Body Works has pulled this stunt, discontinuing my favorite scents and replacing them with ones I wouldn’t wish on a dog.  First came Seaspray, a light, oceanic fragrance that was clean and fresh.  I loved wearing it.  I go back for refills and what do I find?  Discontinued.  Then came Strawberry Lemonade, then Juniper Breeze, then Coco Cabana, then Pearberry, then Country Apple, then came the killer, I ground my teeth when I found out they had discontinuted Freshwater Cucumber.  Every single one of them…DISCONTINUED.  Wait a second, how is this fair?  The scents I really love are being replaced by ones that smell synthetic and just outright nasty, such as one called Vanilla Noir.  I mean what exactly is Vanilla Noir?  Direct Franglish (Quebec slang: French/English hybrid) translation = Vanilla Black.  I smelled it and yanked it back from my face so fast it wasn’t even funny.  Another one, Irresistible Apple…ok kids, B&BW missed the boat on that…the Irresistible Apple is definitely resistible.  It smells horrible.  The real deal apple scent was Country Apple and they discontinued it.  Nan LOVED Country Apple.  Now I can’t get it for her as a surprise unless I order it online which takes a week to get to me, and if I’m lucky, the bottle won’t have popped open or broken during shipping.  They’ve labeled  most of the discontinued ones as “Classics” and guess what, they only land in the stores every once in a great while because they’re cleaning out their stock.  Otherwise, you have to order it online.  But, most of the great scents that I’ve loved have vanished, never to be seen again.

While in the store, I went through shelves and shelves of stuff, I find my favorite stand-by, Coconut Lime Verbena, just as it should be, in production.  Thank the gods, ONE they haven’t discontinued YET (don’t worry, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop on that one and for it to land in the ‘discontinued’ list.)  Black Raspberry Vanilla was there too. (Wipes sweat from brow with a WHEW.)

What’s funny is that right now the majority of fragrances that line the walls of Bath and Body Works are ones that I’ve smelled and passed by because they didn’t strike my taste.  Currently, on their list of 25 available fragrances, I only care for four of them.  4!!!!!  Out of 25??  I’m sorry but for a shop to make money off of my sense of smell, I would hope they would try to make at least 50% of what they offer as broad a range as possible to appeal to us so they could sell more products!  Currently out of the 21 that I don’t like, they all smell synthetic, or are only appealing to specific demographics such as a fragrance called Moonlight Path which I consider a “mature” fragrance.  Brass tacks, it appeals to my 66 year old mother.  Get the picture?  I’m 38, how could I be expected to wear that and pull it off?  It’d be like asking me to wear the perfume “White Shoulders”, a favorite of my grandmother.  I’m not that old yet, thank you very much.

The girls who worked in the store that I spoke to heartily agreed.  They shrugged their shoulders when I asked why Bath and Body Works always discontinued their most popular scents.  Time after time, they said they had asked the head office to reconsider, but since they worked there, the powers that be deemed that their opinion wasn’t one of the consumers that shopped in their stores.  Now who the hell are they kidding with that mindset?  Who do you think recommends the products and are the first ones to buy the really fantastic ones?  The people who work there!  Gods!  They don’t trust their own staff and their senses of smell?   Those would be the FIRST people I would listen to.  They’re on the ground on the front lines, they’re talking to the target audience all the time about what’s good, what sucks and what smells like Play-Doh.  They know!  When a customer asks for something fruity and light, who’s going to tell them besides the people who work there?  No one!  They’d be left to burn out their noses on so many different scents that they couldn’t tell one from the next!  That’s why you have staff in the stores!  They know what everything smells like and can suggest things.  When Bath and Body Works discontinues scents, the shop staff are the ones who have to contend with the shoppers disappointment, railing as I did at the loss of a fantastic treat for my mother and the rolling of my eyes when I couldn’t find something suitable for my sister.

With the loss of Lilac Blossom, I’m officially on the warpath.  I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with one of my favorite bath supply shops discontinuing fantastic smelling products and replacing them with things that smell horrible!  Worse yet, I walked out of  Bath and Body Works for the first time without a gift for my sister.

So, I’m now going to ask all of you, my faithful readers, to take up arms with me!  Help me tell Bath and Body Works they need to bring back Lilac Blossom! 

Here’s the address:

Bath and Body Works Customer Service

Give them a piece of your mind!  Just type in a single sentence, “Bring back Lilac Blossom!” and hit send!  Tell your friends!  Have your friends tell their friends!  The olfactory tyranny must end!