[Resolutions] – There’s Good News & Bad News

The Good News: I learned something new. This week went MUCH better than last week.

The Bad News: I only learned one thing. And, as usual, I had planned on overwhelming myself with things to learn – my new camera, WordPress, Lightroom, driving a stick shift… Unfortunately this was not the week to be an overachiever since I’ve had plans every day.

I did sit down over the weekend to take a look at the book I bought to help teach myself my new DSLR. You guys, I LOVE this book. In the first chapter alone I learned so many new things. It’s written to be a supplement to the Owner’s Manual, so it doesn’t cover the basics about what the buttons do and how to change the battery. What it DOES do is tell you what you should change your settings to and why, and then it shows examples of photos taken using different settings, lighting, lenses, etc.

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This was totally perfect for me because I still had no idea what aperture really even was. The book not only explains it, but tells you when to use which f-stop (no, that’s not a dirty word) and why. I also learned enough about white balance to take this picture:

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And turn it into this:

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Look! I made a cat disappear!! This camera is totally worth the money.

Just kidding. What I really did is change the settings so that the indoor lighting doesn’t make the photo have a yellowish glow to it. Probably basic, boring stuff to those of you who are far beyond me in the world of photography, but I was pretty excited! I got through the first 3 chapters of the book, but I plan on finishing it in the next few days and taking some much better pictures!

I also watched the first half of a documentary on Netflix called Hungry for Change. I learned a few things here too, but we already know my attention span when it comes to movies and anything over an hour. I can sit and watch 5 episodes of The Walking Dead at one time, but I think that has something to do with knowing that each one is only about 43 minutes? I hit the 43 minute mark on this documentary and then I lost it. I think subconsciously I may have been freaking out over what I was learning.

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More Good News: According to this, I am an Above Average American!! Wait, that’s NOT good news? Crap.

[Resolutions] – The New is Not Getting Old!

Time for a new week! The current week has been about Learning Something New, and the next week is continuing with the “new” theme, except now my taste buds are involved.

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I know one thing I’ve been wanting to try for quite a while now – kale chips. Has anyone made them? They don’t look very appetizing, but I’ve heard good reviews from a few friends and I certainly love my salty, carb-filled snacks. I’ve never met a pretzel I didn’t like, but now that I’ve started having them for breakfast with cheese on them (it’s like a bagel, right??) I’m thinking maybe I should search for healthier ways to curb that craving.

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I may also try a new restaurant and a new recipe or two. Have any ideas for me?! Preferably nothing with meat or seafood. I’ve already tried those things and there is not enough ketchup in the world for me to smother it in and make it taste better.

[Resolutions] – Electricity is Partly Positive, Right?

I don’t even know what happened this week. I think the dog ate my homework. And then something must have eaten the dog because I don’t have one of those either.

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It was no secret that I was bored with this one before I even began. Didn’t I come up with my own resolutions? Yes, I did. (Thanks for asking!) Apparently I thought I needed to throw in some vague, run-of-the-mill resolutions, or maybe I just had trouble coming up with 52 of them? I don’t remember. But I didn’t like this one. Having a bad attitude about completing a resolution is probably not the best way to start off any week, but when it’s the week that your goal is to Think Positively….yeah. It didn’t go well.

My main problem this week is that I’ve gotten used to FUN resolutions where I get to DO something (like use lots of CAPITAL LETTERS). I’ve really enjoyed most of those, and it’s helped me to complete a lot of projects or things I’ve been wanting to try. So when I learned that all I had to do was think positively, I was a bit unenthusiastic. Which is sort of the opposite of positive.

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But then a friend of mine sent me The Joy Dare and I was motivated again. I liked the idea of “searching” for things throughout the day and it gave me something to DO again. I picked all non-religious challenges, but you could do it either way. Basically it’s somewhat like a gratitude list where you try to recognize “gifts” in your daily life. How is that for positive?
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I didn’t go by the calendar, I just randomly chose a few that interested me, so on Day 1 my goal was to find 3 gifts on paper. That was the day I got my electric bill in the mail. Not much of a gift, but imagine living without it?! I also received a great thank you note from a high school friend’s mother whose 60th birthday party I had attended recently. I get sort of unnaturally excited to get mail in the first place, so when it’s something nice like that, I certainly appreciate it. My last “gift” was sort of a non-gift. I had gone to check my mailbox at work (where mail is NOT fun) and….there was nothing in it!! I know they were supposed to be on paper, but this lack of paper was joyous as well. For any coworkers reading this, let’s keep that one going.

My 2nd day I was to find 3 gifts in conversation. Here’s where I started going downhill. I felt like I was trying to force something into a conversation so that I could say it was meaningful. And then I forgot to pay attention to conversations until I was home alone at night. At that point it was either talk to the cats, or call someone on the phone. I hate talking on the phone so my cats got an earful that night, but I’m afraid none of it was very meaningful.

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My 3rd day? It was pretty much the same as my 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th days, except on the 3rd day is when the actual giving up occurred. I sort of resigned myself to taking a week off and trying not to feel guilty about it. Because being guilty is not positive.

The thing is, I’m not really a negative person. I know some of you may disagree, but I see myself as more of a crotchety old woman who knows what she likes and doesn’t like. I also am extremely fluent in sarcasm and that may come across as negative sometimes, but all-in-all I know I have a good life and I am thankful for that. I look forward to a lot of things and I enjoy many things. So maybe this week was difficult because nothing negative happened for me to think positively about?

And hey, that’s positive, right?

[Resolutions] – Look!!

I normally only post Resolutions on Wednesdays and Sundays, but this was too cool not to share. Also, I can’t stop talking about it, so before any of my human friends and family want to shove a sock in my mouth, I figured I should bring the story to my internet friends and see if they will listen.

Remember when I sent that package to the airman in Afghanistan last week?

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As the website suggested, I included a 1-paged (front and back) letter with it that had my email address on the bottom.

He wrote back today!!! With pictures!!!

I could not be more excited. What a great surprise! Here is an excerpt from the email. I call it an excerpt but really it’s just about the entire email because I can’t seem to leave any of it out.

I wanted to email you personally and thank you for the wonderful gift of both the items you sent and of your time. The guys deeply appreciated the margarita drink mixes lol. It was a thoughtful way of buying 10 of us a drink!! I have included a few photos of the team here. We are not all from a single unit but instead each selected and many volunteered for the opportunity to come here as Advisors for the Afghan Air Force in our respective career fields. We have two aircraft that we support here. The C-208 cargo aircraft that is a modified single engine Cessna that gives them small limited transport capability and the Russian Mi-17 helicopter. After a three week familiarization class on it our experts assist them in maintaining and flying these aircraft focusing on building their ability to take over the mission of maintaining them in the long run. It is a great mission!

I come from a small town in Kansas and my exposure to other culture was minimal until I joined the AF and it has become one of the greatest experiences to immerse myself in a new culture and enjoy its oddities. For hobbies…I am a professional SCUBA diver so I enjoy traveling or living where I can take advantage of warm water and exploring the underwater world. I have been hundreds of feet back into caverns in FL, dove the remote islands off of Okinawa Japan, dove a German Sub from WW2, spent time with Whale Sharks, Sand Tiger Sharks, Carribean Reef Sharks, and many other crazy creatures that exist under the surface. I also do underwater photography to capture the amazing things I get to see. Other hobbies are snow boarding, sky diving, rock climbing and anything else that reminds me I am alive with a little danger lol

Again, thank you for taking the time to be an amazing supporter of the great Americans I have the fortune to lead. You are always welcome to check up on us here and see how things are going.

I think it’s really amazing that he took the time not only to thank me but to share some things about himself and his team as well. Also, I’m pretty sure this officially counts as a penpal now.

Here are some of the pictures that he included:

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Those are two of the Mi-17s that his group maintains.

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Real life GI-Joes!

So exciting!!! I can’t wait to write back!!

[Resolutions] – What Will Week 12 Teach Me?

So this post is going up a little later in the day than usual, but we have been out celebrating.

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I did pick my resolution for the coming week however. My goal will be to Learn Something New. Since I already did a week where I had to take some classes (2 of which were cancelled due to $#%& – that 4 letter word starts with ‘s’ and falls from the sky), I’d like to learn a different way this time.

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Here are some of my ideas:

  1. Since the camera class we wanted to take was cancelled, I bought a book to teach myself about my new camera instead. That was probably about a month ago and I haven’t opened it yet. This week will give me reason to sit down and do that.
  2. Have Dan teach me Photoshop. Kind of depends on how #1 goes.
  3. Find someone with a manual transmission and see if they will give me a lesson?
  4. Learn how to use WordPress (via the internet, videos, and books) so that I can eventually move this blog over.
  5. ?????

Do you have an idea for me? Something you would be willing to teach me a few things about? Leave them in the comments and I will let you know what I choose!

p.s. Think Positively week? It’s going very negatively.

[Resolutions] – Week 10 Complete! San Fran Here We Come!

Quite possibly my favorite week yet. I’m really enjoying most of these resolutions because it’s giving me the push I need to finish a bunch of projects that have been on my to do list for about….infinity? Infinity weeks.

Neither Dan nor I have ever been to California, so we’ve always talked about heading out west for a vacation. When we first started planning it, we looked at LA, San Francisco, AND San Diego. For a week’s vacation. You know how in cartoons when a computer or a robot gets overloaded it starts shaking uncontrollably and eventually starts steaming and blows up? That’s just about what happened to me.

Now that we’ve narrowed down the trip to just San Francisco, it’s a lot more manageable. It’s also a lot cheaper, especially since Dan has a cousin there who is serving as our tour guide, airport shuttle, and hotel for a few days (thank you!!!!!!). I’m really looking forward to this trip because for once we won’t have to stand in line at Customs, calculate exchange rates, or figure out how to communicate with people back home.

We have a lot of things we want to see while we’re there, including the Redwoods, Pixar Studios, the Disney Family Museum, The Golden Gate Bridge (of course), and Alcatraz. Can someone please notice the fact that I managed to type that entire sentence without mentioning Ghiradelli?

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So Week 10 is essentially complete – plane tickets have been booked, Alcatraz tour has been reserved, and we even have someone to watch the brats.

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I mean cats.

[Resolutions] – The Little Resolution That Could

Ok, I have to admit, I’m a little bored with the resolution I just picked for the coming week. All of my recent ones have had me DOING something, like cleaning out my closet, taking a class, and planning a trip. For Week #11, all I have to do is Think Positively.

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Because of the resolution itself, I have to believe that it’s going to be interesting and fun. Like I actually have to or I fail at it. And if I fail it, I will feel miserable, and then I will eat a pound or seven of ice cream, and then I will be obese, and then I will have trouble getting out of bed, and then when there’s a fire no one will be able to carry me out, and….

It’s going to be a long week. I mean – it’s going to be a great week!! GREAT!!

[Resolutions] – That Time I Almost Became an Indian

Ok, I need a favor. I need you to pack a bag, or really your entire house, quit your job, and move to Italy. Once you get there, could you please send me a letter? And maybe a slice of pizza? I think that is the only way I’m going to find a penpal.

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I tried Interpals, but it seems to be more of a dating site, or even a mail-order bride site, because within hours of signing up, I got this message:

WILL YOU MARRY ME? IN INDIA ON WEDNESDAY?

I said no, because honestly Thursday worked better for me.

The website shows a little green dot when you’re online, which to men browsing the site must look like a flashing, neon “creep me out NOW” sign. Every time I logged in, I was treated to something like this gem:

hello, i am an electronic engineer, i like sci-fi and junk food. i dont drink and dont smoke either, my favorite characters are Batman, Spider-man, Darth Vader, and Spock. I once drank 4 litters of coca-cola. I collect comic books, dvd and action figures.

Now that I’m reading that one again, I think I should pass it on to Dan. They sound like they have similar interests. I don’t know if Dan has ever drank a litter of anything though. Maybe our cats have?

I messaged 6 girls on that site, joined a Facebook group, and messaged 2 other girls on another site simply asking if they wanted to send letters back and forth, but no one ever replied to me, and frankly I don’t blame them because the whole thing just seems weird now. With all of the sites I found, you either have to pay money for people’s addresses, or deal with the nonsense.

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So basically, I failed this one, which drives me insane, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. I tried a few different sites and sent 8 sad messages. I do still have one last option to try thanks to a friend who already has a penpal from Europe. We shall see…

Honestly, I’m not really looking at this one as a fail because I’m actually really excited about something that I did come across. Tomorrow I am mailing a letter and a few small things to an Air Force airman stationed in Afghanistan!

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I went through AnySoldier.com and got the address along with a list of items that the men and women need or want. Mine specifically asked for snacks & drink mixes, and I threw in the magazine hoping a funny story would brighten someone’s day.

Can we just talk about how hard it is to write a letter to someone who is risking their life for the sake of your country while you’re sitting at home on your own couch, in comfortable clothes, watching stupid reality TV? That was kind of a humbling experience. There’s not much to say that doesn’t make you feel like a complete idiot.

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I kind of hope he doesn’t go and post my letter on his blog in a little grey box with a purple, typewriter font. That would be really mean and I’d never make fun of someone like that.

[Resolutions] – Week 10 Now Boarding

Funny story this week: Dan and I have been talking about planning a trip to San Francisco, but we haven’t booked anything yet. When we were talking about it again Saturday morning, I said “maybe my resolution this week will be to plan a trip.”

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Then I picked the jar of resolutions up, opened it, and let my cat Monkey pick one with his mouth. I’m weird like that. I wouldn’t put it past him to somehow change the little slip of paper to say “buy kittins sum fish” or “dont clip cats nailz fur whole year”, but lo and behold (I don’t think I’ve ever typed that phrase before in my life), the little guy picked Plan a Trip.

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At the end of this week-long resolution, I hope to have a hotel and/or plane tickets booked, a tentative schedule of all the places we want to see, and maybe a ride to the airport. If you have any suggestions, please leave them for me in the comments section!

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And now back to trying to find an international penpal. Which is eerily similar to creating an online dating profile and waiting for someone to message you. Also, guys are creepy.

[Resolutions] – Roll the Credits on Week 8!

This week was hard.

Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? My hardest week so far was not cleaning out my apartment, or giving up something, or making all my meals at home, or being patient. No, my hardest week is watching a movie or two. If I were typing this on Twitter, I think the #firstworldprobs hashtag would probably be really appropriate right here.

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Wednesday night Dan and I sat down and watched Hitchcock, which I really thought I would like because I love horror movies, Psycho, and Anthony Hopkins. I found it to be kind of slow though. Maybe that’s because I expected it to have more to do with the making of Psycho than with his personal life, but it was just…I don’t know…boring? I watched the entire thing in one sitting (!!!!) though, if you don’t count the few times I checked my phone, Facebook, and the time left on the movie.

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We were busy Thursday and Friday, so the next available opportunity for movie-watching was Saturday morning. I scrolled through the Xfinity On Demand menu looking for something good and recognized the title American Graffiti. I had no idea what it was about, but I thought it was supposed to be somewhat of a classic, so I got comfy on the couch and started the movie. I may have lasted 10 minutes before I turned it off and gave up on movies for the day. It was just SO annoying. The high school boys and their cars and everyone talking about going steady and making fun of the token nerdy kid. I was hoping for more of a story than that, and maybe it eventually gets there, but I couldn’t sit still to find out.

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Sunday night I was home in time for The Oscars, but decided not to spend 3.5 hours of my life watching an awards show where I only care about 1 movie, so instead I opted to spend 1.5 hours watching a different movie. Turns out I may have made better life choices than this one. For one, Win Win was terrible and shouldn’t be described as a “comedy” because that implies funny. Second, I had been out all day shopping with my mom and was exhausted, so since movies are like sleeping pills to me, I was out like a light by 8:30. And finally, I missed this:

Could my girl-crush get any bigger? Oh. Oh wait. Yes, it can. Because then I saw this:

Where were we? Oh yeah, the movie I didn’t watch.

Tuesday I knew I had some serious cramming to do if I was going to make this thing happen. I had the day off from work, so before I even got out of bed in the morning, I grabbed my tablet and started watching Drive on Netflix. And I liked it! There were some awkward pauses and silences, and I wondered if Ryan Gosling’s character maybe had some learning disability or something and they just weren’t saying, but overall it was a decent story and it kept me interested. And not because of Ryan Gosling, because I think he looks like a weasel.

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Yellow Mongoose

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I mean, right??

The plan was to go see Side Effects that night, which would have been TWO movies in ONE day, but the plan fell through. The good news is that there will be more movie watching this week because we still intend to see Side Effects. I also have decided to re-watch or re-read all of Dan Brown’s The Davinci Code series before his new book comes out in May, so I grabbed this at the library yesterday:

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But I did get a back up plan…

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Just in case.