Monday, March 25, 2013

Come on Paris, I thought you were better than this!

It's disheartening to see these protests over the weekend in Paris over recently passed legislation for gay marriage in France. I'll be visiting France in early June and I'll be walking along the famous Champs-Elysees. Why is it that when the economy is not so good, people take their frustrations out on a select group of people? Why not focus on improving your own life so that you won't be so bitter and hateful? The same kind of hate happened during World War II. Isn't it time that we as human beings stop being prejudiced against someone different than us? Homosexuality is a part of human nature. Man made religious and man made laws create hostile attitudes and inequality social problems. Now it's time for all humans to be human and live and let live. If you are straight and don't want gays to marry, then don't marry someone of the same sex. It's as easy as that!

A massive anti-gay marriage protest in Paris ended in violence yesterday as police used tear gas and batons on activists who tried to get past police barricades onto the Champs-Elysees. Hundreds of thousands of people had traveled to the French capital for what was seen as a final protest before legislation allowing gay marriage and adoption is passed by the French Senate, the BBC reports.
The legislation passed France's lower house last month and is expected to easily clear the Senate, which is dominated by President Francois Hollande's Socialist party. Support for the marriage bill has dwindled, however, amid wider discontent with Hollande's failure to improve unemployment figures or the crisis-plagued French economy, the AP reports. Officials say the hundreds of demonstrators who stayed to battle police at the tail end of yesterday's protest were mainly from far-right groups.
Source: Newser

Friday, March 15, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

This very moment last year I was planning my trip to Ireland at the end of May. I must say that of all the places I've travelled to, I really, really enjoyed my time in Ireland. It is an absolutely beautiful country, and I literally felt a connection to that mystical island. I will be going back there again in the coming year or two. And if I win big on the lottery, one of my goals is to purchase property there!

So if you're going to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, be safe and have fun. And if you're not the drinking bar hopping type of person, go check out this website The Irish in Film, which features a listing of 20 Irish films you can watch instead - you can even watch some of them now on that website. They don't have 'Kill the Irishman' listed or 'Patriot Games', I reckon those are too hardcore and American. But it's all good. I think I'm going to check out Borstal Boy.

If you like, check out some select images from my trip to Killarney last year at my Pinterest board.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) is my friend

Back in 2007, I worked at a place where my desk was ergonomically poorly designed. I soon developed extremely painful pinched muscles in my neck and shoulders that literally required me to see a physical therapist. Since that time, every so often when I'm stressed out, the pain flares up again. And now that I'm a full-time student, I spend a lot of time reading, so I'm sitting in a reading position, either at home at the the library, with my head, neck and shoulders in the same frozen position for hours on end. Toss in a new stressful situation (read previous thread), and I'm in an awful state. Having stiff neck muscles completely suck, and it's not like I have money laying around to go to a fancy massage therapist place.

I have been able to get my Cyclobenzaprine (the generic of Flexeril) prescription re-filled off and on throughout these years. The doctor only prescribes me with a 20 qty prescription, so I only use it when necessary. Like I still have seven pills remaining from my April 2012 prescription. Therefore, in anticipation of needing this medicine for the next few weeks, I asked my doctor for a re-fill via email, and she kindly re-filled it. I was afraid I would have to make an appointment to go see her to get it - and that office visit would cost me $70 out of pocket, as I'm one of the unlucky 50 million Americans who don't have health insurance. But alas, the prescription doesn't cost me an arm and a leg, it's only like $5 - Thank Jesus, Mary and Buddha! For someone w/o health insurance, and blessed with otherwise excellent health - I consider myself very lucky to only need the assistance of an affordable generic muscle relaxant on occasion during extreme stressful times that freezes up some sensitive muscles.

The only downside is that is leaves me feeling sluggish, so I have to drink coffee to perk myself up a bit. I reckon I'll be using my coffee maker a lot this coming weekend as I have many chapters to read, some journal articles, and a paper to write. The joy it is to be me right now.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Moving on...

In the past 4 weeks, my time has been monopolized in preparing and interviewing for two different jobs. I haven't interviewed in nearly a year and a half, and my New Year's resolution was to start a new job search, especially since I'll be graduating with my Masters degree in December. I knew that it was going to be a long process, however, at the end of January, I applied for two jobs that seemed really interesting, and I just hoped for the best. Well I eventually got call backs and went on the interviews, a real ego booster, and I even had a second interview at the one place I really wanted to work at. I was not very impressed with Company R, but I really liked Company C.

The good thing about these interview exercises is that it was good practice interviewing again after not doing it for a while. The bad thing is that I didn't get either job. Again, I was overqualified for one job, and the other, I really, really wanted. The interview went brilliantly - I can honestly say I never felt more comfortable and enjoyed an interview so much. However, I came to learn something from the interviews: no matter how much the interviewers ACT like they like you and are impressed with you and your skills, and the conversation is exciting and fun... it's all an act. They are actors, or rather, directors and producers, looking to hire an actor to play a role in their production. I simply failed the audition and I accept that and I am moving on from this stressful saga. However, when I followed up with the standard 'professional and patient' email to the VP on Monday to inquire on the status, it took him several hours to reply back with a response that had a tone which was 180 degrees different than the man I interviewed with twice. He sent me a generic, cold, cut/paste reply that simply said they selected someone else and my resume will be kept on file. Gee, thanks! My day was fucked for the remainder of the day... I foolishly thought and held on to the naive hope that I could get the job.

That's what upset me the most, the complete failure to follow-up with me in a more reasonable time to let me know that they offered the job to someone else - especially after telling me that their decision would "take quite a while", and hence giving me the impression that it was going to be a long process to complete the hiring/interview process. I even prepared myself by going to my mailbox every afternoon anticipating receiving the standard snail mail rejection letter. But there was nothing, so I continued on trying to stay positive - no news is good news, right? I now believe that their decision was made very early on and they did not care to let the candidates they invited back for a second interview, know their decision in a timely and courteous manner. A lot of businesses do this, and that doesn't make it right. It's disrespectful, unprofessional, and damn lazy. At least with Company R, which I did not care for much, CALLED me and kindly told me that they offered the position to someone else, but she also told me that she enjoyed meeting me, and hope I apply for other jobs in the company in the future. I politely thanked her for letting me know. That was professional, and I have much more respect for Company R now, and I may keep an eye open for future positions they post, all because of the follow up in how they handled this interview I had with them. I do not feel the same way about Company C and they have a new position open this week that I find interesting, but I'm so unimpressed by the way they treated me and the lack of respect of the time I put into interviewing with them, that I will not waste anymore of my precious time with them.

So, I have learned a lot from this latest job interviewing experience and I will cease the job hunt so I can focus on the final six weeks of my graduate classes and concentrate on finalizing my plans for my London/Paris trip. Just thinking of this trip has been the light in this dark tunnel of late, and it couldn't come at a more convenient time. I have created a money management budget time table for myself to adhere to, which will assist me in saving up for spending money as well as making and paying for reservations of activities. I aim to purchase my airfare sometime next week.

Friday, March 8, 2013

In the market for a new camera!

In preparation for my European vacation at the end of May, I desperately need a new camera. I do have a nice Fujifilm camera that I bought from a friend about two years ago, and I took it to Ireland with me last year and I was very pleased with my pictures. However, as I came to realize, when it came time to print out my pictures, I was restricted to sizes 5x7 and smaller before the pixelation of the images degrade in trying to get larger prints. Ideally, I want select images to be able to be printed in 8x10 or 9x12 format for framing purposes for personal use and gift giving. Having such beautiful images in Ireland limited to 5x7 is almost criminal, so that's when I made the decision that for my next trip, I needed a new camera with higher megapixels.

While I consider myself lucky to even plan a vacation to such locales like London (which I have visited 8 times), and Paris (my first trip), when most people can only dream of going there, I do want to use my talent for photography and use the right equipment. I'm not a novice photographer, but I'm not a professional either. So I know that it's silly to travel all the way to Paris and take a picture of the Effifel Tower with ONLY a 5MP. I mean really Simone?

And because I'm on a budget, I surely can't buy the Canon EOS Rebel T4i that I really want that costs over $700 - however, there are "point and shoot" cameras that many people use for their compact nature on fancy holidays, but still high quality in photo taking. After careful review of the current Canon line (I prefer Canon, my first real Camera was a Canon T50 35mm back in 1986 - and I still have it - will never sell it!), and viewing the Powershots that are coming out later this month and in April, I have selected the Canon Powershot A1400!


Optical viewfinder - old school way of putting camera up to your eye to see your shot and click. I don't want to always use the LCD panel. I'm totally old school. When you can look through the viewfinder, the image will not suffer from shaky hands and distortions - typical of cameras when you have to rely on the LCD screen.

AA batteries - this is convenient for foreign travel as you can buy AA batteries anywhere. Most compact digital cameras need to be recharged via an electrical outlet. I just don't want to bother with that.

16 megapixels - see above.

5x optical zoom - great for close ups and details.

**Monochrome mode: this is the big selling point for me as I can take pictures in Black & white, Sepia, or blue. A fantastic effect for a photographer.

One push button for video

Just brilliant and only $109 at amazon. I'm going to buy this! There aren't any consumer reviews up for it yet because it's that new. But based on the specs on this camera, and the purpose I need it for - lightweight, compact, but powerful, and affordable, this is what I need for now. When I get extra money, or a new job, that's when I'll get my dream camera (see above).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Kate, The Duchess of Cambridge is going to have, a girl

This is what I chose to believe of course, and all the long. And with Kate having a slip of the tongue yesterday in saying in response to receiving a cute teddy bear, 'Oh this is our d...'. That's when girlfriend caught herself and quickly moved on with her pretty smile. Then some smarty pants nosey commoners insisted on asking her if she was going to say 'daughter', and the royal back peddling began. And now thankfully, it's all on tape. LOL!

Watch the video at The Daily Mail!

I will confess with not an ounce of shame that I really like Kate and William and wish them the best. I saw on TV when Prince William's parents got married, I cried the night when I heard his mother died in 1997, and I watched him and Kate get married in 2011. As much as I am intrigued by the British royal family, I'm very glad that we don't have a monarchy here in the states, and that we are not a commonwealth. But it's all good as I can say that I'm a proud Anglophile and drink this stuff up like crazy... and then move on.

When it was announced that Kate was pregnant, I hoped then that it would be a girl, and I have maintained that interest. This is what I posted at the Dlisted gossip blog earlier today:

"She's totally having a girl. She was not about to say dog. People are making up excuses and thinking of other 'D' words, but she was going to say daughter and caught herself. Any other 'D' word and she would have said it. The woman slipped up in a sweet way. She's carrying the future Queen and this American anglophile is delighted.
I personally think that a girl is what they both prefer anyway... mostly to honor William's mother in some way." - me
So, time will tell when they either make it an official statement, or when the baby is born in July. If they have a bouncing baby boy, well, many of us will feel quite silly. I will be in London in early June, weeks before the baby's birth, but it would be a lot of fun to be in Europe when her baby is born.

My Lottery Dream$

I'm still playing the lottery weekly by investing in $1, however, with the Powerball now at $123 million, I asked an office co-worker if she wanted to join in on a weekly ticket purchase with each of us donating a measly 50 cents. She immediately jumped in on it, and provided 3 numbers, and I provided 3 numbers. We are going to adopt these numbers and play them regularly. Hey... you never know. I just feel it in my bones that I can win a sizeable lottery and take care of some things that will make life easier for me and my family and select friends.

Fingers and toes crossed!