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Archive for September, 2013

This is going to probably be the most controversial topic I’ve discussed on my blog thus far. And I’m going to try really hard to discuss it in the most uncontroversial way possible, because the thing is, I can see both sides of the issue.

If you have not seen the new South Park episode, this isn’t really a spoiler, but I’m going to talk about one of the main issues they are pointing out in it (I guess I already did in the title…sorry). If you don’t watch SP at all, that’s okay… I happen to really enjoy it, but a lot of people I know don’t, and that does’t really bother me. Anyways, so in the new episode, they poke fun at how riled up people are getting/have gotten over NSA monitoring. I won’t say anymore about the episode other than to say, they make the people getting upset over it look ridiculous in typical South Park fashion.

Now, like I said, I can see both sides of this issue, and I really go back and forth on it. It doesn’t help that I’m just a naturally indecisive person. First of all, I’m not one of those “government rules! We need more government” kind of people, BUT I’m also not one of those “government needs to just completely go away and we can all govern ourselves” kind of people either. I think there needs to be a happy medium, but unfortunately, I don’t think we’re ever going to see that. Especially not in my life-time.

Is the government overstepping their boundaries with this kind of monitoring? Probably. Legally or morally? Who’s to really say? I’m not going to lie and say I’m an expert on this stuff, but I will admit I found SP’s approach pretty funny in a “I wish some of my friends are watching this” kind of way. Here’s why:

Person: This is wrong! So completely wrong! I can’t believe they’re reading my emails and looking at my facebook account, let alone listening in on my phone calls!

My thoughts: One, what are you actually emailing about? If it’s about what you’re going to buy at the grocery store, and it doesn’t involve obvious ingredients for explosives or WMD, chances are no one is actually even remotely interested in your email, including whoever you sent it to. Two, your facebook account is NOT PRIVATE. In fact, for a lot of jobs, in you are applying and they are actually considering you, they find ways of looking at your facebook account. You don’t think that’s true? There are lots of stories out there about people getting fired from jobs or not getting hired due to facebook finds. If you don’t want anyone to know about it, don’t put it on the internet PERIOD. Three, same as the email, chances are no one actually cares about what you’re talking about, which is most likely sports or shopping or your cat or your crappy day at work, unless you’re a high clearanced security or government worker…in which case, you might want to rethink talking about your job with anyone.

Seriously, though! How many people do you think they have to monitor these emails and phone calls and facebook accounts and twitter accounts and tumblr accounts…etc etc??? Not enough that they can sit there and listen to a sixteen year old calling all of her friends to go on a shopping trip every weekend. For real.

I know. I get it. It’s privacy, no matter what…this is America, and we have entitlements… I get it. I really do, even though that’s not the side I’m dwelling on. But that’s because I really haven’t seen anyone talk about this side of it, because I think most people are afraid to say, “Stop being ridiculous. You’re not important enough or interesting enough for the government to care about you” for fear that they will be called pro-government or anti-rights. It’s just a logical thing, I think. I’m guessing if they are monitoring people 24/7, it’s probably people of interest. Such as, people who have connections with foreign governments or parties, people who have done suspicious activities in the past…and I’m going to say it, I’m sure there is a lot of stereotyping and grouping going on, and I’m sure a lot of the people being monitored are foreign people, especially ones who have just entered the US.

But to my friends and friends of friends…let’s be real and get over yourselves. I highly doubt your mom is even reading your email, let alone the President.

-AV

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Since my drive to work changed from 20 minutes one way to 40 minutes one way, I figured I would get a lot of music listening done. I was like, “Oh, this is perfect. There are so many CDs I haven’t listened to in forever, and tons of new music out there! I can listen to it as much as I basically want now!” But the thing is, I have an iPod…and that is what I listen to every day, both ways. Thus I’m just listening to the same music over and over again until I’m actually finally bored to tears by it. It takes a while for me to get bored of music, but it’s happened with more than a few artists by now. So on the weekends, when I’m just going to the local store and whatnot, I have been trying to turn on some radio stations. You know, to find some new music! *insert comment about variety being the spice of life or something*

I have set radio stations in my car (for some reason, they don’t come in on my house radio), but I think there’s a decent variety for them: I have Hot 101 and Kiss 959, which are both pop stations; I have two alternative/rock stations; I have a mostly early 90’s and 80’s music station; and I have a local college station that plays both new and old music, again mostly pop (it’s all “clean” stuff), and they don’t play commericals except 5 minutes on the hour, so I mostly listen to that one. Because, let’s face it, commercials annoy me to no end when I just want to sing! 🙂

Other than the two that play mostly “older” stuff (and by “older,” it’s like as old as me or younger…so that’s a sad moment to reflect upon…), I almost can’t stand to listen to the radio for more than five minutes. Two reasons: the radio stations themselves and the music itself.

The Radio Stations:
Okay, my favorite out of the two rock stations used to be awesome. It still is on occassion. Every once and a while I will click it up, and I love what they are playing. But most of the time anymore, they literally play the same things over and over again. If I listen to it at random hours for months at a time, I bet I can make a list of the most common songs I will hear. The sad part is, three of the most common ones they have been playing I don’t really even consider rock. Even sadder…one of those songs is old. Like, early 90’s. I love 90’s music…seriously. Love it. But…these radio stations sell themselves as “playing the best of the new” and “hear it here first” and on and on…and some of them won’t let go of these older songs that aren’t even that good to begin with. It’s mildly to extremely irritating. And the commericals! Other than the station that is the college one and specifically doesn’t play them, oh my goodness–that’s over half of the hour sometimes. Just commercials. I know they need to make their money, but it’s like the music channels and reality shows. There is hardly enough music being played to call them “music channels” or “song stations” anymore. Does anyone actually call them “song stations”? Hmm…

The Music Itself:
But my biggest complaint is the music itself. What the hell is with new music?? As a whole, I HATE it. If I just had to give one overall score, it would be a 3 out of 10. Maybe a 4 if I was in a good mood, but it’s early, so I’m not. If asked, I always say alternative is my favorite genre of music. I tend to listen to “harder” stuff than “lighter” stuff, if that makes sense. Like, if given the choice: Disturbed over Katy Perry and Korn over Carrie Underwood. But I do like some country, and I do like my pop music. Don’t get me wrong…I was a huge pop fan when I was younger and I still really like pop music. I used to say the more terrible the better–but then it got *really* terrible, and I stopped being able to listen to it, so maybe not. For example: I love listening to Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, and I used to be a huge fan of Britney Spears. Again, they aren’t usually my first choice, but sometimes I’m in the mood to listen to something dance-y and upbeat and not deep at all. But what…the…f…is with their new songs?? I listened to “Roar,” “Applause,” and “Work Bitch” (respectively)…and hate all of them. I liked most of their stuff before this. Even the really ridiculous stuff. But this? Horrible, in my opinion. It’s either way repetitive, really boring, or literally does sound like everything they and everyone else has already done. I was super disappointed when I heard all three of them. And, I mean, I didn’t consider their “older” stuff award winning. I just think a lot of it is catchy and happy. These songs…ug. And so many people are saying how amazing they are, and these songs are hitting tops of countdowns and stuff. Really? I swear, though, it seems like especially now, people are like, “I am the biggest Katy Perry fan EVER. Every song she comes out with has to be amazing! I think this sounds horrible, but I will love it just because she sang it!”

No. Give yourself and the singer more credit. It’s bad. They have done better.

But I’ve had this reaction to new alternative music, too! It’s either not super alternative-sounding, though that’s what it’s being grouped into, or else it’s just not good (again, all in my opinion). For two examples: Skillet’s new song. Now, some people immediately go, “They’re a Christian band! Ewww” but seriously, shut up and get over it. So many bands are “Christian” and no one realizes it until they look it up or hear it from their obnoxious friend. Just because they bill themselves are Christian doesn’t mean they suck. It just means they don’t talk about beating their wives or screaming the F word over and over again for no reason. Anyways, I like Skillet. They aren’t even in my top 20 bands, but I enjoy listening to their stuff when it comes on. I have one of their CDs. They’re fine. Their newest song (I’m assuming…unless another one has come out. It would be helpful if I had the name, huh…) is horrible. Oh, right, it’s called “Sick of It”…How could I forget when they literally yell that over and over and over and over and over again, with almost no emotion behind it?? I had to turn it off. Second example: Halestorm’s “Here’s To Us.” Now, again, this is not someone I listen to specifically. I don’t even own any of their CDs, so you can bitch at me for complaining about their song. I don’t care. But…when I first heard it, I was in the car with my husband and his guy friend. At first I got confused and looked down at the screen, because I was really certain my husband managed to change the station on me. And when I realized it was still on the rock station, I said, “Is this a country song?” Now, after listening to it the whole way through, I realized why it couldn’t be a country song–she swears throughout it, including the F word. But…maybe it’s just me, but it had a distinct almost twangy country-like sound to it. And the two in the car with me agreed. Maybe you don’t, but it kind of alarmed me. And one of them even said, “As long as a band who is rock puts it out, rock stations will play it.” But I don’t think it was a good representation of a rock song. Why not release a different song? It seriously sounded a bit country, and even after listening to it a few times, I do not like it and don’t think it should be on that station. It’s very strange.

So, anyways, in conclusion…where has all the good music gone? I hope music starts going a different direction soon, because I’m not into this super repetitive, mostly loud basses and dance/electronica music, always has a rap section in the middle, it’s all about sex appeal and looks music scene. Just to throw out two more names: Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez. To be fair, I never liked Miley Cyrus. But I did like Selena Gomez. I thought she was cute and her music was cute. But “Come and Get It?” What? Ew. And it’s bad. She released one after it that was semi-decent (again, as far as a dance pop song goes), but “Come and Get It” made me change the station faster than a Cyrus song does.

–AV

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This is kind of a rant blog. Here’s the thing: Everyone talks about everyone. Now, there are always exceptions. There are people here and there that keep their mouths shut and generally ignore everyone and everything and mind their own business to a tee. But I have found, for the majority, that people talk about each other. After considering it, I’m not even saying it’s necessarily a bad thing. People say good things about each other. That’s part of talking about each other. Like: “Oh, did you hear about Sally? She won employee of the month, but she doesn’t want to tell everyone because she’s so shy!” That’s not bad. Someone is excited for her, and they can’t help but tell someone else about it. Sally may or may not want that person to tell everyone else, but it’s not bad in intent. And even going more toward the flip side, people have to vent about their friends and other people. It happens! I am not going to sit here and lie and say I’ve never said anything bad about someone else. I have, a lot. When I do, though, I try to say it to someone I can trust. Which means (and I’m not making excuses or trying to save face here or anything), I try to say it to someone I know will keep their mouth shut and not tell every person they come in contact with, who knows that I am just venting for the moment. Or I tell someone like my mom or husband, someone who has never met this person and never will and, again, knows I am just venting.

However, there comes a point and a line where when you open your mouth, you are essentially spreading rumors. The problem with this that makes it so much worse than the above? Most of the time there is nothing to back up what you’re saying, but you make it come off as truth, and you don’t care who hears you. You may say it loudly, or tell multiple people, or not care if you say it to someone who will tell multiple people. Don’t. Cross. That. Line. It is usually done not because you just have to vent about someone, but because you have some kind of jealousy or animosity toward that person. You mean to cause them harm, more than just get something off of your chest that is bothering you. Because most likely, this thing you just had to tell someone, is not true and can cause serious harm to that person (not necessarily physically, but emotionally and socially).

I don’t know if I have really run into this problem before. I will briefly outline the problem I am suddenly faced with: There is one person at work that I did not like from the second I met her. Why? Most likely a personality clash. But, this is how I like to handle that: I ignore her. I stay out of her way, I don’t talk to her–but I am not mean to her and I don’t go out of my way to make her life miserable. I have heard her saying things to other people that have annoyed me, but I don’t march up to her and tell her off, and I don’t exaggerate them to other people to make her sound worse than I already think she sounded. And she doesn’t like me. Maybe she could tell I didn’t really like her and that made her mad, or maybe it was a mutual thing. I don’t really care enough to find out. But she went up to a friend of mine and told her something that, if overheard by the right person, would have started a pretty vicious rumor. That I was obviously and constantly flirting with someone. I’m married, and that’s a well-known fact. The other person is in a committed relationship with someone else that works in the same department and shift. If someone had overheard that and thought it was true like she made it sound, I would have come off sounding pretty badly, and there would have been a bit of a blow-up at some point once it got around to the “right” people.

One, this girl put my friend in a really terrible position. She didn’t want to “tattle” or whatever, but she was also standing up for me and what she thought was right. Naturally, I was and am furious. Luckily, I am close enough to the person I was accused of “flirting” with that I told him immediately, and I let some key people know about it. They all thought it was ridiculous, but you never know. There are some people at work that I know if they would hear it would believe it. I could have and still could lose friendships over something completely not true. I take marriage and relationships seriously, and I would never cheat on my own spouse…and even if I were single, I would never put a committed man in a position where he would be tempted to cheat. Never. I think cheating is a horrible, horrible thing to do to someone.

So what to do? I don’t confront people unless it’s a complete last resort, but it was hard to even look at this person after I heard what she said about me. And some rumors are even worse. And sometimes the people who hear them are not so considerate or logical. There are people who get their whole reputations destroyed over dumb incidents like this, and it is not right!!! I think this is a form of bullying. She doesn’t like me, and she thinks she needs to “take me down a few pegs” or something. Luckily, I am close enough with almost everyone on our shift that I can count on them to believe me and be on my side in not believing the lie. In conclusion, if you don’t like someone, do not spread rumors about them. I would never dream of making something up about her and telling people about it. It’s one thing if they say something that multiple people hear and you have to vent to someone and be like, I think that’s horrible. Because she obviously doesn’t care if people know. She just loudly told half of the department. But when you just completely take something that has no facts and tell someone and you know the repercussions could be harmful…hold yourself back. Just don’t say anything!

-AV

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Youtube is an interesting phenomenon that seems to be really taking off. I don’t even remember when I first started getting on it. I’m assuming (probably correctly) that I was on there originally for music videos, because I love music videos, and you can’t really find them anymore on TV.

Once I moved out of my parents’ house, my husband and I tried the cable thing, but we couldn’t really afford it, so we dropped it. So we have Netflix and internet. He plays Netflix for us during the evenings via his blu-ray player thing (I don’t know how that all works…), but in the morning before bed, I don’t feel like trying to get it all up and running. So, I slowly but surely started my youtube addiction. It was inevitable, really. I have what I consider an obsessive personality. That’s why I try to not watch a lot of TV shows, because I tend to get obsessed. Same with music. If I hear a CD I love, I will listen to it over and over and over and over until I actually think, I can’t stand listening to this anymore–and then I listen to it some more. I will be bored and still listening to it. I will finally put on someone else, and five minutes later I will find myself switching back. Or, for example, TV? I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the first episode to the last, have the DVDs, read stories, books, comics, wrote stories, and literally knew every single thing about that show and the people. Same with movies. The Lord of the Rings obsession lasted a pretty long time. At least with me, my obsessiveness will eventually fade if I withdraw myself enough, haha.

So anyways, I get obsessed. It started with music videos, and then probably videos of cute kittens sleeping or something, and then it turned into people. The vloggers. I subscribed to one person, then that person would collaborate with someone else, so then I would subscribe to them, and then I would start clicking links on the side, and now I have over ten subscriptions. Which may not sound like a lot, but think about them as TV shows. Having over ten shows that you have to watch every week is quite a bit. The only saving grace is that the videos are typically under ten minutes, so it doesn’t take up nearly as much time as TV. Also, you can watch them whenever you want, which is also better than TV. But I’ve found that there are a lot of really funny, really talented, really concerned, and really smart people out there making videos. I have found some crazy people, some literally insane people, some bad people, some misguided people (of course, all in my opinion), but I have found some people that I sincerely wish I knew in real life so I could hang out with them and talk.

Youtube gets some bad publicity sometimes, but on a whole it’s not better or worse than any other media on the internet or TV. There is good and bad. If you have children, just be smart and put filters on it or carefully monitor them or don’t let them use it at all. People like to complain about everything. That’s another great part–if you click on it but don’t like it, you can click off at any point and move on. No money invested. I thought about doing my own vlog at one point, but I don’t know how to edit or anything, and I don’t know what I would even talk about. But let’s see how long youtube goes. It seems to be getting bigger rather than shrinking, and youtube people even have conventions now. Some have even been on TV and magazine interviews. Definitely an interesting movement. Thoughts?

-AV

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The newest book I am almost done reading (for some reason, I love doing book reviews before I actually finish the book…) is David Sedaris’ newest, “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.” If you are not familiar with David Sedaris, he is a gay man who has been with his partner Hugh for a long time now. He mostly writes short chapters on different stories about his crazy family and his crazy self, which almost always end with you thinking about society or the way people are. In my opinion, he is a very funny man, and his absurdist, sarcastic attitude are always a source of entertainment for me. He has written tons of books, a lot of which I have read and recommend.

This book is no different. He speaks of traveling to different places (France, England, Australia), his Greek grandmother, his sisters, his hobby of picking up trash alongside the road, and more. There are at least 3 chapters in this book that he writes as fiction, little pieces from the viewpoints of fictional characters. The one entitled “Just a Quick Email” made me laugh particularly hard. Sometimes you read something and think, that’s a little messed up–like in the chapter where he considers buying the skeleton of a murdered pygmy…but he nevers gets too “out there” or absurd for me to not enjoy it on some level. Let’s face it…we are all a little messed up. He’s just more willing to admit it than most people.

Definitely worth the buy!
-AV

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