Friday, November 13, 2015

My Red Cup Can Beat Up Your Red Cup


By now you've almost certainly heard about the Starbucks Red Cup Controversy or at the very least seen the hashtags #redcup #itsjustacup or other variations with the words cup, red, Starbucks and Christmas.  Some have clicked, some have laughed, some don't care and others even thought it was an Onion parody article.  I confess, I actually did think it was parody at first.

Yes, a cup controversy, if you can believe that. If you haven't heard about it, consider yourself blessed. In any case, here's a good explanation of what the kerfuffle is all about.

Here's the interesting thing...

While I am a designer, I'm also a Christian.  What that means is, the vast majority of my social networking feeds have Christians on them.  Christians expressing opinions about pretty much everything under the sun.  Guess how many of my Christian fiends, fellow designers and acquaintances have voiced their pearl-clutching fears about the #redcup? Exactly ZERO.  Yes, you read that correctly: none. In fact, I had to click a few links to see what the big deal was when I first started hearing about it from non-Christians.  I mean, if we (Christians) are supposed to be all woe is me, I figured I needed to know what I was supposed to be woeful over!  So I read and thought... really?  REALLY??  With all that's going on in our world, from social injustice to homelessness, terrorism, crimes against humanity, governmental corruption (shall I go on?), this is the thing a handful of folks have their bloomers in a knot over?

I confess, I don't drink Starbucks, so maybe the reason I never heard about how outraged I was supposed to be was because I'm not in the Christian Starbucks Fan club. It's possible. It's also possible I didn't hear about it first hand from fellow Christians because... it's just stupid, and the folks I associate with don't care about it?  I'm going with the latter.

In any case, I decided to have some fun with it because, well, I LOVE CHRISTMAS! In our family, we celebrate both the birth of Christ (even though we know He wasn't actually born on 12/25) and the combined family traditions of my husband's childhood, my own, and some new ones we've created along the way. I love everything about Christmas: food, family, decorations, lights, exchanging gifts, music, classic movies, designing for a wide variety of Christmas items, etc.  I know a lot of folks have a problem with seeing Christmas displays in retail stores before Halloween is even over but to be honest, when I see the boxes of wrapping paper and stockings and lights, I start to kind of feel like... a little kid at, well, CHRISTMAS!

Frankly, I don't care what Starbucks has or doesn't have on their cups.  Mine are prettier anyway. :) And they'll last for years and years. So if you're in the mood for a pretty RED Christmas cup, see the links above. And have yourself a very, Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Cussing and Swearing Once Again

Since today is Back to the Future I figured it's a timely day to get into my little blogging time machine and revisit a topic I've posted about before: swearing.

I hate swearing.  I hate hearing people swear. I hate when I swear myself (yep, sometimes it still happens) and I have wracked my brain for the last 21 years trying to pin down why it bothers me so much. Everyone that knows me, already knows all this.

Over the years I've had countless conversations with all sorts of people on both sides of the believer fence about this subject.  We've had the 

  • "out of the heart the mouth speaks" conversations
  • fresh water/bitter water/same well conversations
  • exploring why words are offensive, who makes them offensive (the speaker or the hearer) and why they are offensive
  • discussions about the psychological and emotional affect to both the speaker of the words and the hearer of the words (and why some even believe it's beneficial to swear)
And probably more conversations with other angles I can't even remember.  One of the things I've always found odd about such conversations is that some people go out of their way to justify why it's not only okay, but good.  To cuss or swear. I find that odd because one would think if it's good or beneficial there would be no reason to explain why.  Like brushing your teeth, or wearing a coat when it's cold.  It would be obvious and/or common sense to most adults why such things are done, without any explanation needed.

In any event, I observed something a few days ago on social media and then again today, that made me think about this again. What it all comes down to, in the most basic sense, is that the type of words used in cussing and swearing are *intentional words that sound hard and cutting.

All the hard consonants in these words (in the English language anyway) are spoken with the emphasis on those sounds, and in many cases with an intentional exaggerated pronunciation of those sounds.  So these words fly out of the out of the speaker's mouth like little razor blades, shards of broken glass, angry hornets, venomous snakes, jagged rocks and pointy sticks... and fly right into the hearer's ear.  And they hurt, and they're supposed to (that's why they're said the way they're said).  Even when what's being said isn't about you personally, what you're hearing said about (whatever) is designed to be hurtful, bitter, hateful and angry.  It's not as if you're "choosing" to assign offense to these words anymore than you'd be choosing to allow a razor blade to slice you if it made contact with your skin.  It's what the razor blade is designed to do.  Just like these words. (This is usually where the argument is made for "other words" that are equally as cutting, such as calling people stupid, ugly, useless and other such personally insulting things designed to hurt them.  I don't disagree that there are indeed other words designed to hurt, sting and bite.  There is no justification for using those words either.)  I just have absolutely no desire to be a part of a conversation where words like this are used.

I prefer a better conversation.  One where the person speaking digs a little deeper, thinks a little longer, and chooses more carefully the more constructive way to express him or herself. People who do that, take the time to adequately express their anger, disappointment, disgust or whatever it might be, almost always have a more optimistic, hopeful and problem-solving tone to their expression as well.  Such as: "so and so really made me angry today and I really wanted to tell him/her off but instead I did such and such and realized had I said this or that I would have probably regretted it."  These people are thinkers, They're honest about their anger or disappointment but they think about it before mouthing off about it.  The longer they think about it, the more scenarios they play over in their head and they tend to choose a better way. A more constructive way - and one that doesn't cause me to want to guard my ears when they're speaking.  In fact, I want to hear more of what they have to say.  These are also people that tend not to emotionally react to something, but keep their cool in most situations.  I like these people!  They're an awesome example for me because truth be told, I've always been a mouthing-off type of person.  Reacting emotionally and speaking before I think.  Ugh.  Not proud to admit that, but it's the way it is.

I know this is all very long-winded and such, and I don't really sit around and think about this at length (anymore).  It just occurred to me today when listening to something online where the speaker used the F bomb several times, how much more enjoyable what he had to say, would have been. Great points made on a political topic but F this and F that and I got sick of listening. 

When razor blades grow fangs and stingers and attack your ears, it's time to move on.

*Except when those certain folks just start using cuss words in place of everyday words in everyday conversations.  I'm not even sure what to make of that mindset.  They're not trying to sound mean or cruel, they're just using f%*# in place of anything and everything.  It's a little disconcerting.  Like those folks that wear pajama pants everywhere, or start putting ketchup on everything. There are no more boundaries or contextual usage/application.  It's like they've just given up on intelligent conversation once and for all.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Just a Few Thoughts

(you may need to click the image to enlarge & read) ;-) 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Cartoony Stuff

Not too long ago someone asked me a rather odd question.  "Why do you do all that cartoony stuff?"  they asked.  By cartoony stuff, they meant these guys here. 

By "why do you do" they meant create them and use them in various formats such as baby shower, birthday party or seasonal party invitations, t-shirts, binders, dry erase boards, stationery, magnets, coffee mugs, etc. I'm honestly not sure why that question even came up, but I took it to mean that at my age, I suppose it might expected that I'd be "doing" something more grown-up with my time.  As if, "cartoony stuff" was something young people do.  I'm not sure it was meant that way but that's the way it came across.  It kind of bothered me actually so I had to think about it.  Why do I do cartoony stuff?  

Here are some of the reasons in no particular order:

1. I LOVE THEM.  I see things and in my mind I picture them in cartoon format.  Cats, dogs, birds, french fries, pickles... it doesn't matter.  In my mind, everything has a cartoon version.  Well, almost everything.  Bad/creepy things don't have a cartoon version, only fun things.

2. They make me smile.  Once I start a new design for a character I don't stop until the final product looks like the image in my head.  Once I get there, or get close... once the character starts making me smile, that's when I know.  I have some characters I've never even used on anything for commercial sale.  They just live along side the hundreds of others in a special file.  Some day, I might bring them out and share them with the world.

3. They make others smile. These little guys and gals are on thousands of products and I don't even know how many reviews I've read from customers that absolutely love them on whichever product they've purchased.  That makes me smile too!  Knowing I've brought a little fun into someone's world with my designs makes me very, very happy.

That's it.  Those are the only reasons I can come up with and perfectly okay with them. I suppose at some point in my life I'll grow up and stop doing cartoony stuff. But in all honesty, I hope not.  I'll miss them if I do.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Product Review: Yellow Jacket Traps

So, it's that time of year when the yellow jackets go a little nutty. If you enjoy eating outside on a patio, they will automatically assume your food and drink is for them, and 700 of their closest friends.  It makes for a rather unpleasant meal time.

I don't really know why they do this, I just know they do.  For whatever reason, this year they seem to be more obnoxious than usual, and we've been having a rough time with them for the last couple of weeks.

I looked online and there are all sorts of ways you can "upcycle" old pop bottles and such to lure them away from your outdoor dining area but since we don't drink pop, I decided I wasn't going to do one of those crafty things.  So off to the store I went to find some kind of yellow jacket trap that actually worked (I'd never used one, so I wasn't even sure what to get).

What I found were all sorts of traps and devices with all sorts of inserts and "attractant" which all had price tags far higher than I wanted to pay. Then I found this cheap little plastic jar with a plastic lid, and two openings on the side. I think it was 2 dollars or something and since I'm cheap, I bought two of them.  Assuming of course, I should have paid 10 times as much for something that works.  I was happily wrong.

The instructions said to fill half-way with sugar water or pop, then hang away from where people gather.  So, I did that but I used sugar water.  It worked so-so, but not like I wanted it to.  So then I bought a bottle of Sprite and used that.  It worked a little better, but still not as well as I'd hoped. So then, I decided to get some fruit juice (apple juice was on sale for a dollar, so that appealed to my cheap-side) and try that.

Well, I filled them half full of apple juice, moved them over to the fence on the side of the house and OH MY GOODNESS!  Within minutes, yellow jackets were swarming all over both of them and there wasn't a single one on the patio.  I went out again just moments ago to get this picture and there are already numerous little buggers inside them.  Still none on the patio.

Now, we haven't had a meal on the patio yet with the traps out there so I don't know if they're a powerful enough draw to keep the beasties away from the food, but for now, it's working.

So do yourself a favor if you're looking for a solution to getting rid of these pesks, and don't want to spend big money.  Either make your own (google it, there are pics all over how to do it) or get the cheap little jars and fill them with fruit juice.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Back to School Clothes Scandal, Anyone?

(With "back to school" just around the corner - and already in session in some places - and it still being summer weather in most areas where boys and girls want to dress comfortably for the weather - I thought it was timely to share this)

I saw this on FB earlier today and it reminded me of all the media attention local high school students generated this past school year over this issue.

Opinions were all over the place on this, from it being too harsh, too lax, students dressing too "trashy" or perfectly fine, but too "trashy" for the school administrators.

In some of the cases I saw in the media, the girls were in fact dressed 100% inappropriate for school (in my opinion as a mom with 6 daughters).  In others, the girls were dressed no different than my own 16 year old. While I don't insist my girls head off to school dressed in flour sack dresses, I don't let them leave the house looking all "hey boys, check out the goods!".  Not that any of them would anyway, that's just not their style. Thankfully.

The thing that really got me though was seeing it all taken to a level it had no place going.  In many cases, school staff were themselves "shamed" for doing their best to encourage all students to adhere to a certain dress code that wasn't distracting to other students (and staff).

So when I saw this on FB today I decided to create my own version, based on 32 years of
a.) hating fashion choices moms have to deal with when shopping for cute, trendy clothes for girls,
b.) my own opinion of what is appropriate and what isn't and
c.) encouraging teachers and staff to STAND UP for doing what's right and being an awesome role model that pushes kids towards developing their BEST qualities, and not flashing the flesh.

Your mileage may vary, but here's MY version:

Honestly, it's time for adults to be adults again and stop caving into PC'ness.  Kids NEED strong adults in their lives pointing them in a GOOD direction, despite all the nonsense out there telling us we shouldn't do this or say that.