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Archive for March, 2014

I didn’t plan on doing a bunch of movie reviews on this blog, so this is just going to go under the general category. I honestly don’t watch a ton of movies, but now and again I see one that I think warrants saying something.

To start off, I didn’t really want to see this one. I kept putting it off because the previews just hadn’t made it seem that interesting. I couldn’t discern an actual plot line, which is a big reason I see movies. To jump ahead a little, the movie does a plot line, and it’s a decent one, so I ended up being okay with that. Also, I love Hugh Jackman. Love, love, love him as an actor. I watched X-Men I, II, and parts of III, and I watched the Wolverine Origins movie. The III one frustrated me, so I didn’t really watch it, and the one that came out with the younger versions of the X-Men didn’t really interest me. However, my husband wanted to watch it, so we put it on last night.

Again, the plot line was decent. No complaints, really. Hugh Jackman was incredible, as usual. In fact, I didn’t really have a problem with any of the actors/characters except for the Viper. She annoyed me. She was probably supposed to be annoying, but she really annoyed me. But I liked the good guys, hated the bad guys, and felt bad for the grey character (the one that starts off on the wrong side but then redeems himself at the end). The usual things you’re supposed to feel when watching a movie about good versus evil.

My biggest complaint about this movie was that it seemed the writers/director had a bet or a drinking game going on during this. How many times can Logan get shot or run through with something before he can’t handle it anymore? Or ever better, burned alive? The movie was PG-13, and nothing was *graphic*. I think the idea of the violence was horribly graphic, but nothing shown was actually graphic. In fact, part of me congratulates these people for creating a good movie that has violence in it without being *violent*, if you know what I mean. I hate seeing tons of blood or gore at all, and I always say, why can’t they make movies that just have simple violence in it? Why show every tiny little graphic detail? Well, this movie managed that. Nothing was gory; nothing was overwhelming.

However, seriously…I don’t really recall this being a factor in the other movies. How many times can we basically kill this guy before he collapses? Spoilers, but he’s burned alive, shot *many* times with bullets, had surgery done on him to remove the bullets without pain medication, stuck with about 50 arrows, had his claws broken off, sliced, diced, cut open his chest and grabbed his heart…and it goes on. And on. By the end, I was literally shouting, “Oh my God, seriously? Again? How many times is he going to get shot?”

If you’re looking for an action movie and you like Wolverine, I say watch it. Other than the whole, why are they basically torturing him through this whole movie, I didn’t have any real problems with it. Hugh Jackman can save me anytime 🙂

-AV

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So it seems like every time I jump on the internet, my homepage has a new news story about this Common Core teaching method. I have never heard of it until about a month ago, and suddenly it seems like it is everywhere. If you don’t know what it is, look it up. From what I have seen, it seems pretty ridiculous. Most of what I have seen is concerning the math problems. Coming from someone who struggled with math, especially math word problems, I am a bit troubled by how they are now trying to teach them. It seems confusing and indirect. However, what is more troubling to me is what I saw when I scrolled down to the bottom to check out the comments. I hate reading the comments because they are usually awful and make my disdain for the human race in general grow; however, I was curious as to what other people thought about this Common Core. Maybe a lot of “normal” every day internet people thought it was reasonable.

Almost every single comment I read was very blatant that they thought Common Core teaching methods sucked. However, after about 5-7 semi decent comments about why it sucked and how we need to all stand together to get this taken out of the classrooms, this one person posted a long rant about Common Core. This person wanted to say the word “livid” several times, but she spelled it “liv-ed.” I knew what she meant, but it bothered me that she was going on and on about how the government is currently doing everything in its power to dumb down the kids, while she was spelling a fairly common word completely incorrectly. The fact that it’s not a combination of anything (it’s just one word), but yet it seemed perfectly okay to her to stick a hyphen in it, seemed bizarre at best to me. Especially when almost everything has spell check on it now (including the set up I’m currently typing this into). Almost every comment for a long time after that were directed towards this comment, and it had nothing to do with the content and everything to do with her poor spelling.

Some people simply pointed out what I did–that it’s ironic that she spelled something easily looked up or known completely wrong, and yet was freaking out about how the current government is repressing good education. However, several people defended her, saying who cares if she spelled some stuff incorrectly, so long as you eventually knew what she meant and she had a good point? This person commented again to angrily defend herself, saying that she spelled phonetically and that she considered it correct no matter what the dictionary said. She said she spelled everything phonetically, and that it shouldn’t matter if she can spell the way Webster wants her to spell. However, in this long comment, she spelled everything that I saw correctly, including words that are not phonetically spelled (for example, words that had double consonants because of an ending being added, etc…you wouldn’t necessarily put the double letter in it if you’re spelling it how you say it).

I have been a fan of “English” my whole life, and by “English,” I mean the classes and subjects that were titled as such in school. I loved literature, grammar, spelling, and sentence structures. I have been accused of being a grammar and/or spelling Nazi before. One, I think it’s awful to refer to anyone as a “Nazi” for something as simple as correcting something that is incorrect by general standards. If you know world history of the 1900’s, you know that Nazis did unspeakably terrible things. Two, I think it’s really not fair to attack someone, usually bitterly or angrily, because you were wrong. Now let me back up and explain that further.

Do I ever make mistakes in spelling or grammar? Of course I do. When I would get essays back and they had red marks on them, was I irritated? Yes. Especially if it took away from my grade, and especially when there are some either/or situations in spelling or grammar, and the teacher only wanted you to go with the way he or she thought was correct. That has happened to me. Do I let more things slide when it’s in casual areas, such as a facebook post or a yahoo comment area? Yes. People are in a hurry; they typed something quickly and didn’t check it over, etc. I understand that. But when it’s something that seems really obvious to me, I am the person who would just simply be like, “Hey, I think you mean “livid.” I probably wouldn’t even add anymore comment to that, nothing snarky or condescending. Maybe she really didn’t know. But when I’ve seen people corrected (even nicely corrected), I’ve seen most of the people corrected come back swinging hard.

If someone said I bought two oranges yesterday, and then I decided to grab three apples because I wanted fruit for all seven days of the week…wouldn’t most people who heard that question whether they split some of the fruit in half to make it last or whether this person can’t add? Wouldn’t *someone* say, don’t you need two more pieces of fruit, then? How strange would it be for the fruit person to just explode and scream, “How dare you! So I can’t do simple addition! Why does it matter?” Because that’s what I hear–why does it matter if I spelled it correctly? You’re just a spelling Nazi. You’re unreasonable and like to pretend you’re smarter than everyone else.

No, you’re wrong, and because the intelligence level of the world in general frightens me, I am correcting you in hopes that from now on you will do/say it correctly, and maybe you will even pass it along to someone else who doesn’t know. I understand some people just aren’t good at it, like I’m not the best at math, but when people help me with math, I thank them. No, don’t correct people in a snide way. Just correct them nicely and simply. Maybe they just were never taught the correct way. If you embarrass them needlessly, then you will be attacked in return. Again, I don’t think everything ever said or written needs to be 100% prim and proper with the Oxford standards, but simple stuff here and there will raise awareness. If you don’t spell even remotely correctly, sometimes your meaning is lost. Sometimes people dismiss you as “stupid” and don’t even look at your point, which could have been amazing. And isn’t it nice to have an opportunity to learn something? (No, I’m not being sarcastic. I love learning new stuff.)

So back to the original scenario: Instead of all of these people agreeing and insisting that they do something about this terrible way of teaching, it basically broke down into people freaking out back and forth about whether this lady was allowed to spell something completely wrong. She’s allowed to, I suppose, but why is it okay for her to spell a common word incorrectly and not okay to teach children that it’s okay to get the math problem incorrect as long as they can back it up (which is something else people said they didn’t like about this new teaching method). That’s what we’re telling this lady. As long as people can eventually sound it out and understand what you mean, it’s okay if you do it wrong. No. Except for maybe one comment, I saw everyone nicely correcting her. I would have come back and said how embarrassed I was, that I had only been taught simple spelling and that’s why I’m so passionate about today’s children learning everything they can. Instead, she came back telling all of those people that she had the right to be wrong so long as she had a reason for it.

And I just don’t think that’s a good way for people to go through life.

-AV

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Okay. Obviously, as with anything on the internet, internet quizzes shouldn’t be an end-all to whatever it is you’re trying to figure out. I know that. However, I would like to explain and probably semi-rant on why this was a really stupid quiz. And I found out that it was stupid from the very first question!

Also, I understand that since it’s an internet quiz, the possible responses are limited. However, I feel like they could have done a way better job setting this up.

To start off, I’ve been married about 2 years now, and we’ve been talking about possibly having a child. I have this strange phenomena that would take up a whole blog (and a whole life’s worth of work by a psychologist) on its own where I have to extensively plan out, well, basically anything in my life. While it’s mostly triggered by “big” events, it is more of an anxiety-related thing, so I have even had this annoying habit happen when I was at college and I was getting ready to head over to campus for the day. I would literally lay in bed and think about what time I was getting up, how much time I would spend on getting ready, would I eat, would I watch TV at all, what would I wear, what exact time would I leave, how long it would take for me to get there, which way I would go, would I go anywhere between classes, should I have anything extra on me like money for lunch or take my own, a book to read or would I go to the library, what floor of the library, where would I sit, would I look for any friends, etc etc etc. And we’re talking something I did two or three times a week, so there was no reason to be consciously thinking this all out.

My point is, imagine that on the scale of, hey, you’re getting to be in your late 20’s…maybe we should have a baby? Yeah, brain explosion overload.

So anyways, I have had the thought in the back of my head for a long time now, so it wasn’t quite as overwhelming as it could have been. I mean, I was super stressed out all week and constantly badgered my friend at work about possible scenarios and constantly reworked money and working plans before I even had the nerve to blurt out to my husband that I was thinking about having a kid. And mind you, he’s been badgering me since we were dating about wanting kids. ANYWAYS, so I was checking out each avenue. So, a natural step for someone paranoid and freaking out and who loves looking things up on the internet: I googled something along the lines of “How do you know if you’re ready to have a baby?” And a quiz popped up on some site like women’s day or women’s health or something. Something that sounded somewhat legitimate.

First question: “Why do you want a baby?” Choices (and no, I don’t remember the exact quotes, but it’s the basic and very close to the original idea): A.) I have been dreaming of having a baby since I was young. B.) My marriage is falling apart and I think this would help patch things up. C.) I am super depressed with life and think this would fix things.

I knew I was in trouble from the very first question. When I was younger and into my last years at college, I was of the mindset that I was never, ever, ever having children. I was never around them growing up as there are no children in my family except my sister, who is only about six years younger than me. So even when she was a baby, I was too young to take care of her myself. I’ve never known what to do with babies. And considering I never had a boyfriend, I was of the mindset: No children. After I was dating Joe and getting engaged, the idea popped into my head. It has gotten stronger since, and now I’m like, maybe I will have a kid. So the first one is out. The second one is not even remotely true for me, and while I may be depressed off and on, the stupid idea that a child would “fix” that never occurred to me (because it’s stupid. Child are a stress factor. Even people who love children know it’s stressful to have a child). Sooo? I picked the first one knowing it was the correct answer. That’s the second complaint: It was really obvious what the correct answer was supposed to be for all of the questions. While I praise myself on being someone who can typically guess what option to pick to the result I want in quizzes like this, this one was super obvious.

As the questions went on, half of them were about whether you could even get pregnant as is, which took me aback. I thought it was a quiz on being mentally/emotionally ready to have a baby, not physically, but whatever. One was worded a little harshly/flippantly. It asked how much I exercised. 3-5 times a week, whenever I can, and not at all. Knowing the right answer was the first one but deciding to be sincere, I went with “whenever I can.” I’ve been making more time to exercise, but I’m not averaging a solid 3-5 every week yet. Anyways, it comes up with a big red X and says “Wrong!” And proceeds to tell me that being overweight and under weight can severely cut the chances of getting pregnant and that I need to be in great shape to have a baby. Obviously, because I really am not stupid, I know that ideally you need to be in shape whether you’re having a baby or not. But I know tons of super skinny people and tons of people two times my weight who have been pregnant and raised great kids with no problems. This quiz is getting annoying.

What are your finances like? You have tons of money saved up; you are living within your means comfortably; or you are in tons of debt. Again, being honest, I chose the second one (which is honestly true: I consider myself broke most of the time, but all of our bills get paid on time and we have a little “fun Saturday” money left every week). WRONG! Children are expensive (Really??) and you need to have tons of money saved up for the first year alone! We’re not saying that good children don’t come from homes that are scraping up money from between the couch cushions every week, but…we are kind of saying that. This one annoyed me more than the other two. Obviously, ideally, before setting out on any endeavor, you should have a good chunk of change saved. However, my parents had their first baby by accident. They didn’t have anything saved. My husband’s parents weren’t specifically trying for a baby when they found out they were pregnant with their first. My husband’s older brother fell in love with and decided to marry a woman who already had a child, so he didn’t have anything really saved up way ahead of time. Most of my friends growing up were “poor.” So, yes, it would be great to have $15,000 in the bank when we decide to have a baby, but it’s never going to happen. And that is the number they gave for childcare alone in the first year.

So my point is…internet quizzes are dumber than originally thought. And this is a women’s website! So a woman can’t have a baby if she hasn’t dreamed of that since she, herself, was little? I think it’s better in a way that I came to that conclusion later in life when I was fully mature and knew what I wanted and where my life would be moreso than when I was a child. But whatever, quiz.

-AV

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I know this isn’t a brand new CD, but it’s brand new to me in a few ways. One, I just bought it. And two, I honestly didn’t know that Panic! had any CD’s after their second one. Way back in college, I heard them on the radio or something and ended up buying their first CD, which I really enjoyed. Then their second CD came out. While I liked their first (and maybe only?) single from there, “9 in the Afternoon,” I didn’t like the overall sound of the CD, so I never purchased it. After that, I didn’t hear much at all from Panic! at the Disco, and as with most bands that suddenly gain popularity with one CD and then the next one doesn’t do as well, I figured they broke up.

At work, I now sit next to a young man who is very music oriented, and one day we got on the subject of Panic! at the Disco. He loves them. He was talking about how great their third CD was and that they had a semi-recently released fourth CD, but he hadn’t heard it. I went to youtube and started looking up videos, because despite the fact that it’s almost impossible to find them on TV anymore, I love music videos. I have found so many great songs because the videos looked super interesting. After clicking through “Miss Jackson,” “Nicotine,” “This is Gospel,” and “Girls/Girls/Boys,” I realized that if I love four songs already off of that album, I may as well just purchase it. It was only about $5.00 on amazon mp3 downloads that day.

“Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!” may just be one of the best whole album purchases I have ever made.

There is only one song on there that I don’t really care for, but I don’t hate it (the last song). It’s just a little slow for me. But the rest of the songs I find equally great. If you don’t know anything about Panic!, I suggest looking up some of their videos before just buying this, because they do have a techno/dance quality to them that I know a lot of people find annoying (my husband one of them). I like a lot of different music, though, and while I don’t usually go for autotunes and techno-dancey sounds, this CD and Brandon Urie in general really won me over. Sidenote: My friend told me to watch a live video of Mr. Urie performing a slow, acoustic song at a concert, and I am generally impressed by his singing ability. Unlike a lot of singers in the pop industry, he can actually sing very well and hits a variety of notes. That’s another reason why the one song on the CD didn’t do much for me–it’s a slow and pretty song that I think would have been a little more emotional for me if he had just sang it normally, instead of autotuning his great voice.

But anyways, we were talking about our favorite songs, and once I start listening one or two, I realize I’m just going to start listing the whole CD. “Miss Jackson” started out as my favorite because it was really catchy, and I thought the video was really interesting/weird, which rates it even higher in my mind. But then again, “Far Too Young to Die” gets stuck in my head on a regular basis. “Girls/Boys/Boys” is the first song I learned all of the words to, and “Vegas Lights” and “Nicotine” just make you want to dance. That doesn’t leave too many other songs, and like I said, I think they’re all fantastic. So if you’re looking for a solid “dance-ish” CD, check this one out. I haven’t listened to their third CD yet, but my friend says he thinks it’s better than this one. I have watched the video for the one song “The Ballad of Mona Lisa,” and I really enjoyed it. The steampunk costumes really made the video.

-AV

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If where you live is anything like where I live, you’ve experienced a long, very cold, very snowy winter that still isn’t quite over. And if you’re anything like me and my husband, you have way too many things that just sit around your house and never get thrown away or put in their proper places. Some of it is laziness, but I truly believe when the weather is awful, and you’re cold and tired and it’s dark and dreary…who feels like doing anything? If you do feel like doing anything, it’s doing something to try and lighten your mood. For most people, cleaning isn’t immediately the first thing you think of to lighten your mood. You want to get your fun things out and play with them or read them or watch them or whatever…and then just kind of toss them aside, right?

And as a quick side note, I guess the above paragraphs makes less sense if winter is your favorite time of the year. It’s my least favorite. I need sunlight and warmth or I slowly start dying inside. I mean that somewhat literally.

The thing is, I realized my house was getting way out of control, but I kept thinking: I just need to get myself through this winter. Once spring comes, I will do a huge spring cleaning weekend, and it will all be fine.

But the winter kept dragging on. There were hardly any even semi-warm days. We were barely getting up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit most days. I have fought with depression my whole life off and on, and winter is always the hardest time of year for me. Once we hit the end of January and February, I could honestly go into a coma until spring finally comes because I’m so sick and tired of the weather. So every day I would come home from work, cold and depressed, look at the house, and almost cry. So I would watch funny youtube videos, or download new music, or watch one of my shows, take a shower, and go to bed. Then I would wake up in the evening (night shift), look at my house, and curl up on the couch under a blanket and just wish I could burn the house down. That would solve my clutter problem *and* provide momentary heat. Win-win, right? Yeah, I was getting pretty down.

So finally, I snapped out of it. I told myself sternly that this was the weekend. Neither my husband nor I had plans for Sunday. My husband hates cleaning even more than I do, so it took some prompting, but I finally got him up and looking through things. I started dusting and sorting. We threw away tons of stuff. We finally put away the rest of the Christmas decorations. The dust was gone, so everything looked a little brighter. The floor was all picked up (minus the cat toys we found hidden everywhere…the babies were happy to pounce on a pile of ‘new’ toys) and swept. Blankets were folded and placed on the back of the couch. Books were arranged neatly. Movies were stacked. I wanted to cry again, but this time from happiness.

I kind of knew that cleaning up would help my mood, but once I actually did it, I couldn’t believe how big of a difference it made. It’s been a day since we picked it up, and I kept cleaning stuff. I cleaned off the kitchen table and the kitchen counter. Made sure the dishes and laundry were done. Picked up some stuff in the bedroom that had been piling up since last summer. I can’t stop looking around my living room even as I type this. It seemed like we had just so much junk sitting around, but once it was picked up, I realized it honestly wasn’t that bad. We just have a small house and we need to learn that once we’re done with something, it needs to go in its proper place.

I’m not a super neat person, but cleaning up more than just wiping down the kitchen and bathroom just made the world of a difference. I even tried arranging some stuff on tables to just give the room a little bit of character. We changed some pictures out for new things to look at.

My point ultimately is, is if you’re struggling with depression, whether it’s chronic or seasonal or whatever…look around. Do you have a lot of clutter? It’s not going to solve your depression, but I promise it will really make a difference. Sometimes the hardest thing when you have depression is just moving. Getting up is sometimes the hardest part of my day. All I’m saying is, just try. Just try moving around and dusting things off and putting things away. Put things you don’t use much in storage. Don’t make a mess in another room, but get the needless clutter out of your day-to-day vision. I’m so glad I finally just forced myself to do it.

Now if I can keep up with it, we’re good. I have some issues with follow-through 🙂

And if you are struggling with depression and you haven’t sought help, seriously consider it. A professional counselor can offer more tips to help you through your struggle. Talk to a friend or a parent or a sibling. Sometimes just knowing someone is listening can really help.

-AV

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