Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Few Things to Share

It just dawned on me today that I never wrote a blog post to commemorate my 8 year anniversary of blogging.  Well, let me take that back.  I did actually write one but it was all in my head and never made it through my fingers and onto my keyboard.  I write a lot of those kinds of posts these days, usually while driving to the store, or doing a chore around the house.

So June 2012 marked the 8 year point for this blog.  In some ways that seems very odd.  I mean, what can one person possibly have to say for 8 years?  Judging by the massive drop in readership, I'm going to guess what this one person has to say has become... not very exciting.  I'm not even sure it ever was exciting, but my lack of blogging certainly had a large part to do with the loss of readers & interaction, I'm sure.  I'll be totally honest and say I miss that. I miss the dialog, the good points folks would raise, the questions, the exchange of ideas, support and encouragement.  I miss it all and yet, I just don't have time to invest in blogging the way I used to.  Working full time on my design business wasn't really something we planned, but  once we decided we were buying a house it became something I needed to do.  The harder I work on that, the faster we can get where we want to be, so that's what I do these days.  Lots of trade-offs going on there.

So while this isn't really a 'status update' like I often post, it's sort of one, and sort of just a 'here's some stuff I'm thinking about' list.  Maybe it's stuff you're thinking about too.

ENTERTAINMENT

I read a news article the other day that assured me our modern culture is in fact swimming in the sewer. Apparently there's a movie about to be made about a sex addict and the scenes in the movie will not be acted out, but genuinely performed (then edited for whatever legal purposes they have to do that).  Now from where I sit, this is nothing more than pornography with a Hollywood stamp of approval.  Color me disgusted on that one.
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In other entertainment news, our family watched The Hunger Games the other night.  Despite the plot, which was horrible (just the idea of sending a child tribute to fight to the death is creepy enough) I think it was a really well written story.  The actress that plays Katniss did a superb job, as did the actor who plays the boy from her same district.  Woody Harrelson (who tends to drift over to the creepy side quite often) actually did a pretty good job too.  The one thing that really bugged me about it - and this is completely dumb - is that the fashion trends in the Capitol reminded me of the party goers in Rocky Horror Picture Show. Hideous.

SEASONS

Summer is quickly coming to a close and I'm already beginning to miss it like you miss your best friend moving away.  The thing is though, I absolutely love fall.  Correction, I LOVE fall.  I love the colors, the smells, the foods, the feeling you get when you see/smell the first wood smoke from a fireplace - I love all of it.  The thing I don't love about it is that it means Old Man Winter is coming quickly behind it.  Old Man Winter is like the monster under your bed when you're a little kid that turns you into a Olympic Gold Medal Long Jumper because you've mastered the craft of leaping from your doorway all the way to your bed without ever going near the edge of the bed where his vile, pointy, ice-cold talons can reach out and grab you.  Too bad we can't just jump from the end of fall to the beginning of spring like that.

NEW STUFF

There's a new group-blog coming to town that I'm looking forward to.  It's called Out of the Ordinary and is a collaborate effort of several ladies I'm already familiar with.  Bookmark it and check it out when the debut post goes up in two weeks - I think you'll be richly blessed there.

Well, that's pretty much all I've got today.  Thanks for coming by :-)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Birthday Flavored Numbers

I was born in 1964 on December 12th. So this means, this year I turn 48 on 12-12-12.  Here are some edge-of-your-seat, gripping math facts about the numbers 64 and 48 and 12 (and keep reading for what it all really means):

• 6x4=24/2= 12
• 4+8= 12
• 48/4= 12
• 12-12 spelled out, has exactly 12 letters in it
• December 1964 is exactly 12 characters
• 12-12 is 12 days from Christmas Eve. which is 12-24 (24/2= 12)
• 12+12+1964 = 1988-12= 1976.
• 1976 is the year I turned 12, on 12-12.
• That was 36 years ago. 36/3= 12

I realize after reading all that you're just astounded, but here's what it all really means:

1. I can perform basic math
2. I actually do sit around sometimes and think about this stuff, because it's weird, and fun. But, mostly weird.
3. Someone should throw me a HUGE birthday party this year, since it's not that often you get to have your birthday on 12-12-12.

(THIS NOT-SO-SUBTLE HINT-DROP HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO YOU BY ALL THE LETTERS THAT SPELL OUT CHOCOLATE CAKE AND THE NUMBER... WELL... 12)



Sunday, August 5, 2012

Welcome Home Soldier - We Salute You!

Sometimes the way God orchestrates events to come to pass is just astounding to me.  I've been a Christian for 18 years and it still just amazes me how God's always working behind the scenes, so to speak.  Allow me to tell you a little story that made me think of this recently.

Growing up in a military town as I did, military life was just the way of life for most people. By that I mean, homecomings, being deployed, getting re-stationed, families coming, families going away, military weddings, military funerals and holidays like Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day being monumental events that were celebrated community wide.  As I kid (and even as a young adult) I never really gave it any thought, it's just the way it was.  It wasn't until I was in my 20s and moved to California the first time to a non-military town that I realized how different local culture really was, from what I was used to.

I'm not sure how old I was, maybe around 10 or 11, the first time I remember hearing the adults talking about the "shameful" way the military were treated when they came home from Viet Nam, but I remember it being a pretty big topic of discussion. At that age not only did I not really understand, but most of the adults tended to change the subject when kids were around so I never really knew the details, as a child.  What I do remember about it was that it was that era, that part of American history that first caused me to feel a genuine sense of gratitude for our US soldiers.  At that age I probably didn't think about it for longer than a few minutes whenever it came up, but the one thing I do remember about it was it always made me feel like I wished I could do something to make it right.  My sense of patriotism and support for our troops was given a real booster shot at that age and it's stayed with me ever since.

Now we fast forward 35+ years.  Just a few days ago I was given the opportunity to design some fun new products in store, those being yard/lawn signs.  I posted about it the other day, but what I didn't post about yet (because I hadn't created them yet) was that with this new product one of my first thoughts was "oh my goodness, FINALLY, I can do something to make it right!"  That's right, I immediately remembered that helpless feeling I had at 10 years old, whenever I heard about the horrible treatment our soldiers received when they arrived back on US soil.  Finally, my chance to make some kind of contribution, some kind of tangible effort to show my gratitude for our military.  If, in some small way, I can help be a part of celebrating their bravery, then I feel like I've at least given back. I know in the grand scheme of things it's pretty small potatoes when it comes to God's divine orchestration, but I'm hugely thankful for it all the same.

Brand new in store as of today, Military Welcome Home signs.  Here are a few examples, but you can see the whole line here (some styles may not be viewable yet, as zazzle only indexes new product once a day, and I've been adding all day long!):

Saturday, August 4, 2012

On Being Real

Some of you might be surprised to see so many blog posts from me all of a sudden.  Well, I have stuff to say and this is my "say stuff" place, so this is where it goes.


Just like many of you, I see things online all the time and immediately think "that's so photoshopped".  In a way I kind of wish I were still bright eyed and innocent of how much deception there is in the world, because it was a lot more fun back then.  Truth is though in our day with so many people fancying themselves experts with photo editing tools (and so many more who are true geniuses with these same tools) it's pretty hard to believe just about anything you see.  Here's an example of how easy it really is. 

This is a picture Kevin took of me back in the spring.  I'd just woken up from an afternoon nap, went out onto the deck with my coffee and he snapped this pic with his phone.  Not the best quality pic, but it's the real me (on the left). I have wrinkles on my forehead, saggy upper eyelids, deep laugh lines, the beginnings of what I assume are jowels, tons of wrinkles on my neck and dark circles under my eyes. I didn't change anything at all about the original pic, except to crop it for side-by-side purposes.  Now, in the picture on the right, I did some "Maybe she's born with it... Maybe it's photoshop" slight smoothing.  Gone is the jowel & neck wrinkles, smooth is the forehead, gone are the dark circles under my eyes and I even gave the corner of my mouth a little upturn instead of it's natural downward tilt. Then, I adjusted the contrast to give my features a sharper look.  All of this took me less than 10 minutes.  If someone didn't know what I really look like, they wouldn't know the difference if I just posted the pic on the right, instead of the real one.  The only thing I didn't change at all was my hair.  At the risk of sounding conceited, I was totally having a great hair moment, even after napping. :o)  It happens about once a year, oh yeah, I'm claiming it!  The thing is though, between genetics, gravity and age, this is just the way it all pans out.

Anyway, the reason I wanted to give this example of how easy this is to do, is because now I'm going to post a picture of women in their underpants.  I know, I NEVER post stuff like this here but for purposes of the post, I sorta have to (besides, it's all over FB anyway, you've prolly already seen it, and it's actually more clothing than you usually see on the beach, so please accept this as my disclaimer):

This picture has shown up several times in my FB feed recently and every time it does, I just ignore it.  Today though I decided to click on it to find out what the point of it was, and essentially the point of it is, to show how Victoria's Secret defines "beauty" and by contrast how Dove defines it.  Clearly, based on the selected models, VS defines beauty as rail thin, where Dove defines it as curvy.  That's not really much of a surprise.  What did surprise me however were the comments on the FB post.  Aside from a few extremely lewd comments from pigs who have apparently learned to type, were some really really cruel and insulting ones towards to the VS models as well as the Dove models.  Most were assuming they were both photoshopped (and I'm sure they likely were, by professionals who smoothed out wrinkles, and gave a little gravity boost here and there) but the thing that struck me most bizarre where the "way too fat" and "whale" remarks from men about the models in the Dove ad.  Way too fat?  Whales?!  Seriously dude, are you completely mental?  To me, those models look like real, normal women.  They represent what the vast majority of women are shaped like where the models on the top (and the models not shown, which might be the Deep Fried Foods Beauty Campaign - the one I'd model for, in my sweats) represent the minority.  

I wanted to check for myself to see if these were real campaigns by these two companies (again, there is so much fake and phony junk online, you always have to check) and I ran across a post at curvygirlguide.com that said (in part) it better than I ever could (the red emphasis is mine):

"There is nothing realistic or responsible about the way Victoria’s Secret portrays women. It’s appalling to me that an Angel can so wholeheartedly and enthusiastically encourage “little girls” to become the type of woman who perpetuates this unhealthy ideal of what a woman should look like.
I eat food. Real food. Solid food. I don’t count on vitamins and supplements for my energy; I count on burgers, pasta, chocolate, and coffee. I am seven inches too short and several sizes too big in the hips and too small in the breasts to be deemed beautiful enough to walk down a runway in my underwear and a pair of wings. I have stretch marks on my stomach and dimples under my butt and bags under my eyes, but you know what, Victoria’s Secret? I truly do love my body!"
Oh how I wish our girls could grow up in a society that values and appreciates women for who they are, not what they look like.

Here's Your Sign

It's been said that artistic, creative people are a bit "different" than non-artistic people. Sometimes we're jokingly referred to as a bit "wacky" but it's true enough that we are different and one of those differences is the way we see things.  For example, non-artistic people see something like an advertisement and usually don't give the material a second thought.  They either like it, dislike it, or don't care one way or another.  An artistic person on the other hand views the same exact material and their brain-gears start churning away in categories of questions such as "would I have used that color?" "the font is nice but it's off center" "this element works well, I would have used that too".  We look at the material as if we created it ourselves, or how we would have created it, if it were our project. I don't really know why we do that, but almost all of us do, myself included.

When I was a little kid, riding along in the car with my family I'd see roadside stands (especially in the summer months) for pretty much anything you can think of: fresh produce, lemonade, pumpkins, watermelons, raspberries, etc.  I still see those same kinds of stands where I live now and to this very day, whenever I see the sign for the roadside stand I'm either impressed or I cringe.  It's either a really well done sign or one of those hand painted ones.  I've always looked at those signs and thought "I should make a sign for those people" (for the ones that make me cringe).  I mean, the whole point of an advertising sign is to make it eye-catching, appealing, and to draw those drivers right off the road and turn into your stand and buy your goodies, right?

Well, I finally have my chance to say "here's your sign"!  Zazzle has recently partnered with Speedy Signs and given us designers a great new product (in 3 different size options) with the 4mm thick corrugated plastic, weather resistant lawn/yard signs! Let me just say, I'm having a blast designing for these signs.  It's a brand new line so there isn't a huge selection yet, but here's a sampling of what's in store (you can see them all by simply clicking here):

BIRTHDAYS
Red Carpet Sweet 16 Personalized Birthday Yard Signs
Red Carpet Sweet 16 Personalized Birthday Yard Signs by reflections06


HALLOWEEN
NEW BABY

And finally, my favorite category so far... ROADSIDE STANDS
Local Fresh Sweet Corn Lawn Sign
Local Fresh Sweet Corn Lawn Sign by reflections06


There will be many more categories and selections within each category coming soon and yes, I do custom signs as well.  If you have a business or a special event coming up (birthday, new baby, retirement, engagement party, craft show, etc.) and you'd like a custom sign, drop me an email and I'd be happy to work with you to create the perfect sign! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

You Keep Using That Word: I Don't Think It Means What You Think It Means

With all the controversy lately surrounding the whole Chick-Fil-A situation, I've noticed more and more, certain words being used in a completely incorrect way than what they are technically defined as. 


 Here are a few: 


 HOMOPHOBIA


That's a biggy, and one we hear all the time. But, what is homophobia, really? First, let's look at the dictionary definition of a phobia:


"an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation"


Now allow me to confess something.  I do have a phobia.  It's called mazeophobia and you've likely never heard of it.  It's not even in most dictionaries because it's a relatively new word that means a "fear of getting lost".  Yes it's true, I have an irrational, illogical fear of going places I've never been, by myself, because I'm afraid I'll get lost.  It's so bad that for Christmas 2011, hubby bought me a GPS to help me conquer this phobia.  Before that, even the suggestion of driving somewhere alone (somewhere unfamiliar) would case me to feel anxiety, stress and start coming up with excuses for why I couldn't do it.


Now, going back to the real, historical, commonly accepted definition of the word phobia and adding "homo", those who throw the word around so liberally, literally want us all to believe that there are all kinds of homophobics out there in the world.  People who have an exaggerated, inexplicable and illogical fear of homosexuals.  Seriously?


I've been alive for nearly 48 years and in those 48 years I've honestly only met a handful of people that I can think of, that would literally fit that description. I can recall a few conversations with some of those folks from 20+ years ago and remember thinking their attitude toward gay people sounded nearly identical to the way a racist sounds when talking about blacks, Asians or whoever they happened to be racist towards.  


Well, I've never been a racist, nor have I ever been a homophobe but the tone and the attitude disgusted me, even as a non-Christian.  And yet, I have actually been called homophobic.  Why?  Well, because I disagree with the homosexual lifestyle.  That, and only that, is the reason I'm called homophobic.  Of course it's not true, and of course my own attitude and that of MOST Christians toward the gay lifestyle is not even close to genuine homophobia, but that's the word that gets thrown around to make us sound like monsters, victimizing, discriminating against and hating on an entire class of people.  In a word?  It's a large load of bullsnot.  I would have used a different word there a few years ago but I'm a Christian and I don't like to use those ugly words anymore.  It totally fits though, and I think 99.99% of my readership will agree.


Which brings me to another word:


BIGOT


That's another one I've heard a lot lately and believe it or not, something else I've been accused of.  I actually laughed out loud, literally, the first time someone called me that.  They might as well have called me a potato chip with dreadlocks (since that description of me is just about as accurate as a bigot would be).  Here's the dictionary definition of bigot:


"a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance"


Okay now... let's just get real for a minute, shall we?  There are some folks on this planet that call themselves Christians, yet openly and obnoxiously treat members of numerous classes of people (homosexuals included, to be sure) with hatred and intolerance.  First, these people are not Christians and secondly, they truly do not represent Christianity in any way, shape or form. I think most rational, mature people understand that.  Anyway I hope they do.


Secondly, the most ironic thing of all to me is that it's the very people that accuse others of being bigots (many times) that are the ones who are intolerantly devoted to their own prejudices.  There is NO room (none, zero, zilch, nada) for disagreement and if you dare do disagree, you're not only a bigot but a homophobe.  See how that works?  Further, no matter what you say, or how you say it, or how kind or sincere or genuine or heartfelt, if you express any kind of disagreement you're met with name calling, insults and derision because you're still the homophobic bigot.  Why?  Because you disagree.  Yes, it really is that simple.


Now here's another buzzword flying around the social networking arena, blogs and mainstream media outlets:


HATE


Oddly enough, you'd think we all know the meaning of this word but it doesn't really mean what we think it means.  While the dictionary says one thing:


"intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury"


What it really means in today's definition is "if you disagree with me".  Yes, if you or I or any other Christian, regardless of lack of display of any type of anger, hostility, fear or what have you, if we disagree with the homosexual lifestyle we are vile, homophobic bigots filled with hate.


Now I realize there are some really sharp folks out there who see this the same as I do.  I also realize that some of those folks are gay/lesbians themselves.  I know this for a fact because I recently read a blog article by a professing homosexual that finds himself truly disgusted with the headgames and wordgames being played with the hot buzzwords of the day.  I found that quite refreshing that someone I disagree with on this subject was at least honest enough to say "yes, it's going on and yes some of us are willing to admit it".  I know for a fact also that many many Christians see this to as we're all sort of backed into a corner trying to defend our way out from these downright phony accusations.  It's practically impossible though.


I never read the book "1984", but from what I've heard lately, this whole redefinition of words and way of thinking is one of the ways the people were so easily controlled, in the storyline of that book.  Personally, I find it mind-boggling that sharp, well-read, educated people would buy into this garbage and let themselves be controlled by idiotic word games, when the truth is staring them right in the face.


What is the truth?  It's simple really.  We just disagree.  It doesn't mean we hate anyone, it doesn't mean we wish them harm or injustice or want their human rights stripped away.  It means we just disagree.  We (Christians) have a different world-view because we believe the Bible.  That's it.  It's not complicated and it's not calculated and it's not hard to understand.


For those that is, that really want to, and haven't jumped on the bandwagon.