Friday, December 31, 2010

Good-bye 2010, Hello 2011!!

Dear Readers,

So what did you think of 2010?  On the whole, I thought it was a mixed bag.  On the one hand, I've been having a lot of adventures, what with relocating to Massachusetts; on the other, I've picked up some credit card debt, and I'm feeling a little behind in the career.

Today I thought I'd share a little note I posted on Facebook.  One of my friends suggested listing 10 interesting or remarkable things about your 2010 and 10 things you hope to do in 2011.  Here's my list--hold me to it, OK?  And feel free to share your own lists--I'd love to know what you thought of last year and what you hope for the new one!

Happy New Year!
Your pal,

List 10 things you've done in the past year that are remarkable, memorable, or most interesting.
Then list 10 things you plan on doing in 2011.

Ten in 2010:
1.  Successfully relocated to Massachusetts.
2.  Lots of roller derby accomplishments: Penalty tracked a Friday night bout at ECDX in June; picked to penalty track Eastern Regionals; picked to penalty wrangle at Championships.  Awesome times all around.
3.  Finished the rough draft of a novel.
4.  Made more money than I did in 2009.
5.  Did a few summer biathlons--found a new sport!
6.  Had some good run-ins with seafood (living on the coast helps -- I'm less fearful of it here)
7.  Made some new friends---and felt that I've kept in decent touch (not stellar, but decent) with the old.
8.  Learned to make a kick-ass whoopie pie.
9.  Did a decent amount of traveling:  3x to Chicago, Philly, Long Island, Portland, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, road trip to Florida and back.
10.  Got my gun license.

Ten in 2011:
1.  Make more money than I did in 2010.
2.  Edit rough draft of novel and start sending it out by end of Q1.
3.  Not worry about having children.
4.  Put photos in photo albums.
5.  Clean off the DVR.
6.  Read at least 30 books--preferably ones off my own shelf.
7.  Go to NYC and Vermont--and it would be nice to get out of the country again.
8.  Go cross-country skiing.
9.  Earn enough that I can travel for roller derby this year.
10.  Learn to bake really good bread.

Oh, and one more for 2011:  Help build a bigger, stronger officiating team for the Boston Derby Dames.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Postcard from Florida

Dear Readers,

It's been a few days since I last wrote.  We got to Florida just fine.  It took a LONG time -- we rolled in at 3:30 AM on Wednesday the 22nd, but that was partly due to sleeping in a little bit, and partly due to a little detour to Charleston, SC to see a friend of the Boy's who owns a restaurant there (fries with bearnaise sauce?  Unbelievable!).  Since we've arrived, we've had a lovely few days.  Weather at first was good enough for swimming outside, but now it's gotten a bit cold.  Santa was good to me, which was nice, and we got the annual "Jean Shepherd is an awful, awful man" lecture from Ma Jaracz.  All in all a nice holiday.

We're still "on vacation" for a few more days, but I've got a story to write before we leave, and the Boy is getting some work done as well.  Then it's time to head back up through the massive amounts of snow we missed along the East Coast.  Hopefully we'll have smooth driving on the way back, and we'll be able to get into our house.  There's nothing quite like winter, right?

I'll probably take a few more days off from the blog to catch up on some reading of regular books and figuring out some goals for next year.  If I don't talk to you before then, have a happy new year!

Your pal,

p.s. -- Is it "good riddance" to 2010, or "we enjoyed you, 2010"?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Postcard from the Road

Dear Readers,

It's time for our annual Christmas trip to Florida--only this year, we're driving (take that, TSA with your x-ray vision machines/thorough pat downs).  From Massachusetts.

We left Monday, late morning.  The plan was to drive to Charleston, South Carolina, see one of the Boy's friends, stay the night, and then finish up the drive to the Space Coast on Tuesday.

It's Monday night/Tuesday morning.  We're in Richmond, Virginia for the night.

Charleston is a long ways away, my friends.  Like over 16 hours away.  Although we should've left super-early on Monday, we didn't.  Work kept us up late on Sunday, and we wanted to get a decent night's sleep before hitting the road.  Then we hit traffic going over the George Washington Bridge in New York, and our plans changed.

That happens.  Luckily we have time, and we're in no rush.  That means we have more time to play the "how many different state license plates will we see" game (so far, 28!), more time to stop for gas, and more time to enjoy the enjoy the view from the interstate.

More from the road as time allows!
Your pal,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

All I Want for Christmas is More Music

Dear KISS 108 FM,

Is Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" really the ONLY Christmas song you can play?  There aren't others?  Hasn't Rihanna got a song of "S&M" holiday cheer?  Doesn't Ke$ha's "Tik Tok" have a Christmas remix about Santa drinking (a really super spiked) egg nog?  Can't you ask Justin Timberlake to bring "Christmas Back"?

C'mon, there are more holiday pop songs out there.  Why must you pound this one into our skulls?  I understand that it's difficult to have more than 10 songs in your rotation, but can't you make an exception for the holidays?

Your pal,

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Complaintiment

Dear Dickies,

Let me just say that I thought I was going to have to write you a big ol' letter of complaint.  Then the Boy found a hunk of awesomeness on your website, and I have to tell you how great you are.  Call it a complaintiment, if you will.

This all started when the Boy was doing some Christmas shopping for me, and he needed to confirm what I wanted and get the right size.  This present happens to be a Dickies Eisenhower jacket so that I can put my new Boston Derby Dames patch on the back and get my derby name embroidered on the front and basically look like a bad-ass.

The Boy found the right item on your website and then discovered that said jacket is imported.  He's trying to do as much "made in America" shopping as possible, so when he saw the "imported," I heard a bit of "you've got to be freakin' kidding me, " and "mother FUCKER."  Merry Christmas, right?

But then!  He saw the Dickies Detroit 874 pant--the pants campaign that's designed to fight unemployment, where people buy a pair of Dickies' Made in the USA Detroit 874 pants, and Dickies not only gives free shipping, but also donates a pair of 874 pants to the Salvation Army of Metro Detroit.

Both of us were blown away by the awesomeness of this campaign.  The Boy's from the Detroit Metro Region, so he understands the place and just how hard it is for people there.  We appreciate the fact that you're doing something incredibly tangible, and we hope the campaign is a big success (not to mention that the Boy is kind of geeked out about getting his 874 pants).

Thanks for creating good--and spreading some good will.  I will wear my Eisenhower jacket with pride.

Your pal,

Monday, December 13, 2010


Dear Readers,

Is it just me, or does the second weekend in December seem like the busiest time for holiday stuff?  Since I'm in a new place, I'm not super-busy, but this weekend was kind of a whirlwind of last-minute shopping, cooking, baking, and....well...stuffing my face.

Sigh.  I've seen some recent pictures of me, and it's not pretty.  I've gained a bunch of weight back (though still not as totally heavy as before), and I'm kind of upset about it.  I'd say it's time to really focus on doing something about it, but I've been tracking my steps for over a month (it's amazing how much owning a car cuts back on your walking...or how forcing yourself to walk for an errand suddenly feels like a HUGE hardship).  I've also been fairly slacker in my exercising.  This is not good.

Trying to stay focused during the holidays is pretty hard, but I'm going to try to get back to a better weight--one where I can't really feel how heavy I've become.  Sadly, this will take several months, if I do it right, but hey--it's time.  I just want to feel lighter.  I've felt it before, and I can get it back.  I probably need you to hold me accountable though.

Time for a workout.

Your pal,

Friday, December 10, 2010

DirecTV Responds!

Hey--DirecTV got back to me within 24 hours--just like they said they would on their website:

Thanks for writing. 

I care about how you feel regarding the removal of G4. I appreciate being given the chance to respond to your concern and would be glad to provide you with the information that you need. 

Our agreement with G4 expired at the end of October, since we were unable to reach an agreement to continue carrying it; G4 has been removed from our lineup.

I completely understand that G4 has been an important part of your viewing experience and we are sorry that we are not able to continue offering it. We thank you for being a DIRECTV customer and will continue to provide you with the superior television entertainment that you have come to know and expect.

In addition, we provide a wide variety of programming in order to appeal to the broadest audience possible. We understand that not everyone will like each program. However, our ongoing research tells us that most customers like being able to choose from so many viewing options.

Furthermore, I would like to personally assure you that your feedback about G4 is very important to us. I have forwarded your comment to DIRECTV management, who review every suggestion, inquiry and complaint for trends from our important customers to determine what channels and changes should be considered.  

With regard to the Undercover Boss show, the experience gave DIRECTV CEO Mike White a better understanding of our company and a greater appreciation for the people who work hard to make DIRECTV a great company.

Thanks again for writing. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Jorge Ryan R.
DIRECTV Customer Service

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Loss

Dear DirecTV,

What happened to my G4?  It's that time of the year--my "Ninja Warrior" fever is starting to spike, especially now that the show is posting a lot of updates on Facebook.  I got really excited and tried to set my DVR to record "American Ninja Warrior," only to discover that I no longer get the channel.  It seems to have disappeared off my channel guide, much like a ninja stealing away in the night.  Color me not pleased.

[note:  I have noticed that the DVR has no longer been recording episodes of "Ninja Warrior" and "Unbeatable Banzuke," but I've got so much stuff to watch that I haven't investigated.  Besides, the new season of "Ninja Warrior" has become as Christmas to me as "A Christmas Story."]

Is no one on the DirectTV system watching G4?  Has it become too expensive to carry?  I mean, the channel lineup is becoming increasingly odd--RFD TV (which I hadn't heard of until today, but is apparently "Rural America's Most Important Network") is currently showing "Big Joe Polka Show."  What's your customer mix of urban vs. rural?  I'd understand if a good percentage of your customers are rural, but still--don't you want to reach the tech-savvy kids too?

I also supposedly can now play games on DirecTV.  It feels like there are more shopping and informercial channels than ever.  Who's watching this stuff?  Does it really bring in more money than regularly programmed channels?

Please let me know why I'm paying not to be able to see some of my favorite shows anymore.  If I can understand this better, maybe I wouldn't be so ticked off.

Your pal,

P.S. -- What'd you think of your boss being on "Undercover Boss"?  Has the company changed much since he was on the show?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wrigley Responds!

Dear Ms. Jaracz,
Thank you for letting us know how you feel about Five® Solstice Gum.We're happy to hear from you and truly value your feedback.  Input from customers like you helps us to constantly make improvements and ensure that we are always providing you with top-quality products.
We introduced Five to provide our customers with a fresh, new flavor for the brand they love.  We're very sorry that you didn't like this flavor, but we greatly appreciate you taking the time to try it and sharing your thoughts with us.
We'll be sharing your feedback with our researchers, who are constantly working on new flavors to add to our product line.

Barbra North
Consumer Care Representative

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Motherlode of Labels

Dear Readers,

Apparently the non-profits did not get my memo about sending me address labels, because I keep getting them.  And it feels like they're pouring in--I believe I have some for a nature-related cause, then I got some from St. Jude's , and I think some others might have come in as well.  I'm definitely going to have to start sending out more letters and cards just to get through them all.

However, the most dumbfounding batch has been from St. Joseph's Indian School in Chamberlain, SD, which is a school for Lakota children.  They sent me:

  • Address labels (at the top, it says "Wopila tanka - that's many thanks in Lakota")
  • An already-filled-out certificate of appreciation for generously donating
  • Gift tags
  • Stationary seals (at the top it says, "The enclosed stationery seals are a gift to you, and I'm sorry I am unable to fulfill additional requests," as if people are knocking down their doors to get extra pages of stickers)
  • Two notepads (TWO)
  • And....a Dreamcatcher (with a Legend of the Dreamcatcher card)
That's right--a Dreamcatcher!  Sadly, the card also notes that the Dreamcatcher is, "Not intended for use by small children," which prompted the Boy to comment, "So small children can't have dreams?"

Apparently not.

Although I'm blown away by this mailing, it seems to be nothing new for St. Joseph's -- Jonathan Kamens over at Something Better to Do discussed their mailings last year, and boy, did he get some great comments!  The BBB isn't really a fan of them either and reports that in the year ending 6/30/2008, they spent a little over $15 million on fund raising expenses.  Of course, they got almost $42 million in contributions, so apparently this massive package works on some levels.  Just not my level.  Not this year.

Anyone else hear from St. Joseph's?  Any other fun charity requests?

Your pal, 

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Taste of Winter?

Dear Wrigley,

As I was purchasing gum to have on hand for when I fly (I don't know about you, but my ears can clog up pretty easily.  Gum saves me most of the time), I saw your 5 Solstice flavor.  I couldn't help but wonder what the solstice tastes like.  I've discovered that your website doesn't help--every other flavor of 5 and 5 React has some sort of mint or fruit flavor. (except "Lush," which is described as "a crisp tropical."  A crisp tropical what???  Tropical is an adjective, not a noun!  For crying out loud--you have smart people at your company.  Nobody has noticed this one?!)

Anyway, I bought Solstice (also described as "A warm and cool winter," whatever that means).  You know what the solstice tastes like?


If you're looking to pare down your SKUs, I totally recommend getting rid of this one.  No sense in putting big marketing dollars into a crap product.  Save it for the flavors that actually taste like something.

As for me, I probably won't bother trying the other 5 flavors.  I'll stick with the Wrigley originals because my mind now thinks that every other flavor of 5 and 5 React will have some essence of ass to it.  Oh, wait.  Is that what you're alluding to when you describe Lush as "a crisp tropical"?  *Shudder*

Your pal,