Friday, September 25, 2009

I'm squealing with delight!

Sorry if you think animals in clothing look ridiculous, but isn't this cute? I love the pigs!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Also, you're causing me to lose my hearing

Not that I retract any of my statements from my last post about the annoyances of cigarette smoke, but I think I might actually prefer to be subjected to cigarette smoke than to extremely aggravating, loud motorcycles. Yes, I think this may be my very biggest pet peeve EVER. Let's make that loud vehicles in general, whether it's the revving of an engine that splits my head open or the thumping of bass that rattles my windows, excessively (and pointlessly) loud vehicles are #1 on my hate list. At least today.

We've been dealing with the annoyances of Loud Motorcycle Man for over a month now. His piece of junk motorcycle takes at least 3-5 tries to start, so I get to hear that beautiful revving approximately 6-10 times per day. Today, it never would start. But he kept at it for a constant 10 minutes. Several times, it popped so loudly it sounded like a gunshot. This is it, I decided. No more. I'm not putting up with this. Problem is, while I have no inhibitions complaining about this on my blog, I'm way too non confrontational (er, chicken? but mostly non confrontational) to say something directly to him about it. Lame, I know. But I just can't. (I doubt it would make a difference, anyway. I've actually seen our sweet 80 year old neighbor complain to him already about disturbing the peace, and it hasn't changed a thing.) Instead, I'm thinking of writing him a letter and putting it on his door. Or making a complaint to our apartment manager. Or to the city. Or county. Or whomever else could possibly get him to shut that thing up.

Anyway, while researching our local noise ordinances, I came across this article that points out negative effects from loud noises. Of course, there's the potential for hearing loss. But what I really found interesting was the other possible problems. These are all warning signs that noise is affecting your well being.

If you can't hear consonants you can hear people talk but it sounds like they are mumbling. - Yes! So maybe Jared isn't mumbling after all! I just can't hear his consonants!

If you hear ringing in your ears a long time after you've been exposed to a loud noise. - Check.

If you feel an overwhelming sense of anger toward the person causing the noise. - Overwhelming enough to blog about it.

If you fantasize about violent reactions to the noise. - Um, check? I don't fantasize about me being violent. But I wouldn't mind if the motorcycle was damaged in a mysteriously violent way.

If you feel stressed, or if your heart beats more rapidly, at the onset of loud noise. - Um, yes. But that could be from the anger, right?

If you find yourself feeling less friendly, less charitable, or less communicative after being exposed to loud noise. - Check. All I want to do right now is complain.

If you get upset just thinking about loud noises and their origins. - Like right now?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Excuse me, but you are killing me

There are 2 dirty words I'd like to talk about today.

Secondhand smoke.

I have had this subject on my mind for a while now, but have refrained from writing anything for fear of sounding like a complete jerk. But I just found
this new article that shows that the American Heart Association is on my side in this argument, so I will proceed.

1. I was lounging at the pool one day when I overheard (eavesdropped?) a conversation between an older man and a woman about my age (I feel weird calling myself a "woman" - sounds too old. Let's just say girl.) So this man and girl strike up a conversation and the man mentions that he smokes. The girl goes on to tell him that he should definitely quit - she did, and it was hard, but worth it. Then she climbs up on her soapbox and starts ranting and raving about how nonsmokers have no
RIGHT to complain about people smoking because they just don't know how hard it is to quit.


I will concede that one who has never smoked does not know what it is like to try to quit. Also, I do not question whatsoever how hard it is to quit. BUT, do not tell me I don't have a right to complain about people smoking around me. Regardless of whether or not it's a hard habit to kick, it does affect other people. It makes my apartment stink when my neighbors smoke. It is bad for my lungs. It is filthy to have cigarette butts on the sidewalks around my house. It makes my food taste funny in restaurants. So yeah, I think I will go right along complaining. Because I'm not ok with other people's bad habits intruding my life.

2. Shortly after the pool incident, I saw a woman smoking in her car. With the windows rolled up. AND A BABY IN THE BACKSEAT. I'm sure this happens all the time, but it really makes my blood boil to see it. I feel so sorry for those tiny babies and their tiny lungs.

3. Let's talk about this article I mentioned earlier. Basically, it reiterates what has been said before, but with new data. There is no safe level of exposure to cigarette smoke. Even a few puffs of a cigarette, OR breathing someone else's secondhand smoke increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
"Those exposed to air pollution* and secondhand smoke had a 20 percent to 30 percent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to those without exposure."
4. Besides the increase in risk of death from cardiovascular disease, secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, lung infections, asthma attacks, reduced lung function, and inner ear infections. Plus, it may be linked to breast cancer and puts babies at an increased risk for SIDS. This is all secondhand smoke we're talking about here. People who don't smoke are dying of cigarette smoke related causes! That is unacceptable!

So, what is to be done about this? Easy - smoking bans. Strict ones. Thank goodness, North Carolina just passed a bill to ban smoking in bars, restaurants, and government buildings. But it still doesn't include workplaces (or my neighbors' apartments, dangit). Without even looking for it, I actually just ran across an article in USA Today this morning about smoking bans. It says that 2 separate studies show that heart attack rates fall 17% within a year after smoking bans take effect. To put that into perspective,
"Given that there are about 920,000 heart attacks every year, the studies suggests that public smoking bans could prevent more than 150,000 of these, according to the Cardiology paper."
There's also this article on CNN, which reports the same new statistics, but also tells that secondhand smoke can affect your heart in as little as 20 minutes!

Sadly, smoking bans aren't going to help those children (or adults) who live with smokers. To give those nonsmokers a fair chance at health, smokers are going to have to be dramatically more responsible when it comes to where and when they smoke.

I don't mean to sound unsympathetic or judgmental. It is every individual's own prerogative to choose to use substances that are known carcinogens and have a great chance of leading to their untimely and completely preventable death. But it is not acceptable for people to use those substances in a way that contributes to the preventable death of innocent associates.

The end.

(Whew, that felt good.)

*While the issue of air pollution contributing to our possible death is equally disturbing, I am choosing to ignore it right now so I can more fully exert my wrath on the issue of secondhand smoke.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children...

and the heart of the children to their fathers.

I have been wanting to do family history research for a while now, but kept procrastinating getting started. Most of my excuse was the fact that the new family search website ( was not yet available in Utah when I was living there and I was just going to wait until that became available and made things easier. I've been in North Carolina since January though, so I've obviously procrastinated a bit. BUT, I just started looking up ancestors last night and today and it is so exciting! I have found out that many of my ancestors were born, married, or died RIGHT HERE in my county in North Carolina! This is extraordinarily exciting to me for some reason. I want to go find their graves and...I don't know...take pictures of them?

Seriously, if you have not already done so, check it out:

Monday, September 14, 2009

A very round about way of saying "look at my new blog!"

I started out college as a Broadcast Journalism major, initially hoping to be a news anchor. Along the way, I discovered there were aspects of broadcasting I really enjoyed and others that I really hated.

Enjoyed: shooting and editing video. LOVED editing video. Even though we received little to no instruction on how to use the software (we used Avid), it was so fun to play around with and figure out.

Hated: everything else about reporting.

Needless to say, I did not stick with it. But the whole point of this introduction is that I was able to learn some cool things along the way and have some great opportunities. One of those opportunities was working in the newsroom. BYU did (still does?) a live newscast at 4:00 PM every day. (When I was working there, we aired only on campus channels, but were in the process of getting onto Provo cable.) Anyway, I really didn't know anything about this opportunity, but I was interviewing for a TA job and told my professor about my interest in the technical side of things more than the reporting side. She then proceeded to tell me that they were looking for someone to be the graphics editor for their newscast that started airing live in one week and would I be interested? I said sure, and was immediately hired. Keep in mind, they did not ask me anything about my graphics background or abilities - I think they just needed someone, anyone. And that is how I accidentally became the "graphics editor" for BYU Daily News.

When I started, they gave me about an hour of training on the program they use to produce the show (basically, it's what allows you to choose which camera angle goes live and when, and which graphics to put on screen and when). I didn't need to know all the ins and outs of this program, because that was the producer's job, but I had to be familiar enough with it to get all my graphics on screen at the right time. For instance, when the weather person was talking, I had to follow her cues and change the graphics from the nationwide map to the 5 day forecast at the appropriate time. In addition to the whole hour of training I received, they told me I could/should use Photoshop to create/edit graphics and pointed me in the direction of a Photoshop manual. So I had about a week to figure out how to create quality looking graphics for over-the-shoulder shots (when the anchors are talking and there is a graphic over their shoulder), CGs (character graphics - names and titles that appear below reporters and sources during a story), and weather. It was quite intimidating at first, and never really stopped being nerve wracking, especially when something went wrong during the newscast and a graphic didn't load properly and I had to scramble to find something and put it on screen manually. While I appreciated the trust they placed in me, I hated that I received basically no training, because I could have done such a better job if I had known more about Photoshop and the other program (I can't remember the name).

Anyway, fast forward to today. I don't remember anything about Photoshop. Seriously, what are all those layers about and how the heck do I work with them? I have such a terrible memory. BUT, I use a simple program called Photoscape to edit photos sometimes and even though it is not nearly as capable as Photoshop, you can get some decent results if you play with it long enough. I've been trying to figure out how to make my blog look better and finally decided to download a free banner and background. I used Photoscape to edit the banner and make it my own.

Here was the original banner:

And here is my new banner!

I'm kind of excited about it. ;) So for any of you who feel like you aren't quite up to the challenge of Photoshop, I recommend Photoscape as a great way to get started on photo editing. I also just downloaded which I've heard wonderful things about, but I haven't really used it yet. What do the rest of you (non-techies) use?

Monday, September 7, 2009

I am SO grown up

I am in the market for a sewing machine. I need something that is easy to use since my entire sewing experience involves making one very ugly wrap around skirt (leopard print, even....what was I thinking?) and a lopsided pair of pajama pants (which I happen to love). But I also want a machine that will grow with me. Meaning I hope to improve my sewing skills and don't want to regret buying such a cheap machine that it no longer fits my needs a couple years from now. Make sense?

So...who has suggestions? I'll take any advice I can get: recommendations for specific models, useful features I should look for, things I should stay away from.

Thanks, y'all!