5

News Feed = Bad News

I’m pretty serious about this one.

Every time I scroll through my Facebook news feed, it’s garbage. Old garbage, new garbage, political garbage, garbage about racism.

It’s just plain bad news. Don’t do it.

I started writing this the other day but didn’t get around to finishing it.

Anyway, I keep getting sucked into this endless trap of suck. I mean, there are a few things that are worth keeping up with. One of my friends is going to give birth any day now, and is posting updates about contractions and such. Another friend posts a lot of cute kid pictures and funny stories, and I have a few more friends who get me with their witty one-liners or a funny meme or something. But if it’s a link to an article about something political, whether it’s race relations, the Presidential campaigns, Israel, gender discrimination – and now, the $20 bill changing to Harriet Tubman – I tend to not scroll past them as quickly as I know I should.

Yet, I still subject myself to it. I guess it’s important to me to know what’s going on with my friends, even if it is pictures of what they ate that morning or them checking into airports in exotic cities I’ll probably never get the chance to see. However, that doesn’t stop the Facebook feed, from becoming a dangerous place. Often times I’ve found myself practically agreeing with what a friend posts, even if it’s totally against my own belief system, because it’s well worded, or looks official, or something. And then I wander off and suddenly it’s two hours later.

Maybe I just need to get more positive friends.

0

Georgia on My Mind

Morning morning morning from Atlanta, Georgia. I’m sitting at the airport waiting to board my flight in about 20 minutes or so, but I wanted to get in another post from the Peach State.

I woke up at 6 this morning to order my uber from Kennesaw to the airport. Avery and Janna were pretty much dead asleep in the living room, so I snuck out quietly. I did whisper a quick goodbye to Avery and heard a “bye” back, although it could have been Janna or the cat or a ghost or imagination. Anyway, I allowed myself 2 hours to get to the airport, and fortunately it took only 45 minutes, and getting through security took only about 25 minutes, so I was in the terminal before 8:00 for my 10:30 am flight. And after a delicious breakfast I’m at the gate. 

Yesterday was probably one of the most fun and uplifting experiences I’ve ever had. We got up at 10 am to catch a ride with Becca to the Temple in Atlanta for their final rehearsal. The Temple was built in 1867 and is the oldest synagogue in Georgia. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and the actual shooting location for Driving Miss Daisy. It was most definitely filled with the spirits of congregants past, including Leo and Lucille Frank, whose wedding photo is featured on the wall. I watched the first hour or two of rehearsal, then took a walk, came back, and sat in the dressing room finishing a paper until showtime. I sat with Avery’s friend Jennifer for the incredible 2 hour concert performance in the front row of a packed house. The performance deserves its own post so I’ll skip it for now. Afterwards, there was a talkback with the cast and director. One of the audience members revealed that she was friends with Lucille Frank as well as acquainted with Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, you know just like you do.

After the show we went back to the house with Avery’s friends Avery (yes, another Avery but a male Avery), Becca, and Janna to change and to Kroger to buy some drinks to take to the cast party.

The cast party was at the apartment of some of the cast members. It was fun to drink a little and pretend to be an undergrad for a little while with the cast. Everyone was so nice. The night ended with a little craziness, but we all got home safely at around 12:30 am, and I stayed up talking and jamming with Avery, Avery, and Janna for another two hours.

Here’s hoping I get back to Madison with enough time to get ready for class. It really was a perfect weekend getaway, and I hope to return in the spring. I am still in disbelief that I managed to pull it off almost flawlessly and enjoy the last bit of 60 degree weather I’ll experience until May. Avery and her friends are such warm and welcoming people, showing me true southern hospitality.

See y’all sooner rather than later. 

7

Dump

The other day I did something that I don’t normally do. Mostly because I don’t take the time to think about it, but I have my reasons.

I cut down my friends list on Facebook, unfriending people who I do not believe to have a place in my life any longer.

I have never been a vengeful person (okay, maybe just a little), nor an extremely private person, but after a conversation with Julie in the car on the way back from Wyoming last week, I decided that it was finally time. For the record, there is nothing on my Facebook that I wouldn’t mind anyone seeing, future employers included, and the way I see it, the Internet is basically like a bulletin board piled with advertisements and flyers; some might be concealed, but if you really wanted, you could read every one of them. And people out there knowing about me and my life doesn’t really scare me that much. If I don’t want someone to know something, it’s as simple as just not putting it out there.

I tend to keep friends around on Facebook once I make them, just because unless they post something really offensive, I have no reason to unfriend them. Whenever I do hover over the unfriend button, I get a small wave of guilt, as if I’m burning a bridge. What if I might need that person in the future? What if they become really famous and because I clicked a button, I can’t prove I know them? What if, what if, what if…and then I go and do something else.

But I made up my mind to do it, and see just how many of those 1,750 people are worth keeping a connection. After I scrolled through the obvious keepers, like family members and friends I still talk to with some degree of regularity, I came upon the people who I haven’t thought about for years, from high school, freshman year, summer camps. Delete. Some guy I had one class with freshman year, some girl I met at a Starbucks, a guy I never met but liked some of my pictures, a girl who now lives in South America and probably would not even recognize me if I walked past her in the street. Bye bye. A few names didn’t even ring a bell. Unfriend.

In the end, I didn’t think I’d made much of a dent, but my Friends list was down to around 1,630. In a matter of minutes, roughly 120 people disappeared from my life in a few key strokes. And to top it off, I probably couldn’t name more than ten of them if you asked me who they were and how I knew them. I don’t feel much different, but interestingly enough, it did make me think how many connections I actually cared about maintaining. So, maybe, I’ll go through it again sometime and pare down the list even more. A lot of my friends have less than half of the connections that I do, and they seem to be doing just fine for themselves.

Then there’s the question of deleting Facebook altogether, it being a source of drama, a time-waster, and just and overall life-sucker-upper. Julie said that the only real reasons she keeps hers active is so her mother could see family pictures and she can have an extra avenue to contact relatives in case of emergency. My reasons are pretty similar, although I also have the added weight of having lived in several states and countries, and wanting to keep tabs on friends from all over, especially those in Israel who I can’t text anytime I want, or if I ever want to visit them, only to find out that they moved or something.

Alternatively, I can look at “the dump” as a way to clear out space for new friends, like the influx of friend requests after a conference. It’s a thrill when you log in and have 10 new friend requests from people you’ve met who you actually care about and might have a chance of building an awesome new friendship with.

13

I Won’t Back Down

Sometimes, you have moments where life just stops you in your tracks, and I had one today.

Recently, I’ve been worrying and fretting and just being a fearful, nervous wreck about so much – school, the show, dancing, my self-image – that I just lost sight of reality, the here-and-now. This morning, I got out of bed at 11 AM, finding every excuse I could to not do anything but stay in my warm cocoon of blankets.

When I did get up, I went over to my computer, logged on Facebook, to be met with some unfortunate news; the death of my friend and fraternity brother, Brendan Conway.

I normally don’t give out real first and last names of people in my life here on That’s So Jacob, but I feel like I must salute this friend and gentleman. A strong Irishman from Dorchester, Massachusetts who could drink you under the table, he had beaten cancer once, and we all thought he’d beat it again. I knew he was in trouble, however, when he posted on Facebook a few weeks ago that he was back in the hospital, at Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston, and the doctors were saying “we’re trying to make you as comfortable as possible.” That is never a good sign. And then late last night, it happened; his 32 years on this Earth came to an end. I only hope it was truly peaceful, as peaceful as is humanly possible for an individual with debilitating cancer.

My first instinct was to call Dan. Dan, my grandbig, was Brendan’s big when he pledged APO, and I knew that the two of them were close. After a rapid fire texting session while I was on my way to Modern Indian Theatre class, I told him to call anytime to talk, and he said he would later on tonight. When he called I was in dance class, but as soon as class let out I grabbed my sweatshirt and phone, and we talked for over an hour, mostly about Brendan and all the good times we had with him. It’s always sad when something like this is what makes people crawl out of the woodwork and reconnect with one another, but at least we had plenty of happy memories to laugh about, which made the fact that he is no longer with us seem more palatable, and in a way, almost made it seem like he still was with us. Someone who was as boisterous and opinionated and upfront as Brendan never really dies, I suppose; his body and soul are no longer with us, but his spirit certainly is. He told it like it was, but for a big guy, he had a big heart, a servant’s heart, one that was loyal and true and really cared deeply about his friends, more than he cared about himself.

I talked about one aspect of my undergrad APO experience awhile back, one that was not the most positive memory, but talking with Dan made me realize something about Brendan, about friendship, and about people in general. A lot of the people who gave me a hard time also gave Brendan a hard time, and some of the more “Popular Patty” types in the chapter were less than kind to him because was unique and he did things or said things that were very honest and not always the best choices, and they didn’t even attempt to get close to him or even give him the time of day. For those of us who got to know him – we loved the guy. Honestly. Once you got to know him and understand his sense of humor, he was the perfect big brother/frat bro/drinking buddy who was always up for a party and a beer but was very compassionate, reverent, and gentle in private. For those in the chapter who didn’t get to experience those sides of Brendan, they missed out. And I’m talking about a big time missed opportunity, an opportunity to really get to experience a different kind of friendship. A Brendan Conway doesn’t come along every day. I wouldn’t say that I feel sorry for them, because I don’t, that was their choice. But if anyone asks, they just really missed out, and now his true friends and brothers, like me and Dan, get to laugh and revel in the happy and fond memories while they…well, they don’t.

So they’re really the losers here.

I like that.

But back to Brendan. One of the things I liked about him the most (and I took advantage of the most) was his game face. Being 100% Irish Catholic, he never backed down from a dare. It’s like it was coded in his DNA or something; just a complete inability to say no, no matter how ridiculous. Whenever a bunch of us from the chapter would go out to eat, I would find the grossest sounding item on the menu and dare Brendan to order it. And to my surprise, he always, always did. One time, at Panda East in Amherst, I found “sushi nachos” on the menu. I said the magic words, “I dare you,” and he actually followed through. When the waitress brought over a roll of mushy fish slathered with orange cheese, I couldn’t do anything but laugh and feel sorry for making Brendan order this failed fusion that barely qualified as food. He didn’t have to take the dare, but he’s Brendan, so no harm, no foul, all in good fun. He never backed down from any dare or any challenge in life, and I can say with confidence that he went down fighting with all he had.

This song’s for you, Brendan Conway (6/22/1982 – 3/23/2015).

Miss ya like a brotha.

31

2015: A WordPress Odyssey

Even though I haven’t mentioned it here, most of you know that for the past month I’ve been doing a blogging experiment. For those of you not in the know, what I decided to do was find, follow, and comment on 15 new blogs a day, every day, for the 31 days of January. Mostly for fun, but also to attract some more visitors to my blog, because it’s always fun to have more friends. I accomplished this goal, and made 465 new WordPress friends. Well, maybe not that many, since not everyone followed me back (you know who you are), but I got an average of 4-6 follows a day, which is pretty good.

Here are some more nifty numbers for you to ponder upon:

  • My followers count jumped up to 721. I can’t remember how many followers I had prior to this project, but I was hoping for at least 1,000 followers. Oh well, you can’t have everything.
  • In terms of views, this month has been my third-most successful ever with 2,868 as of 10:07 PM CST, following February 2014 (9,228!) and March 2014 (7,230).
  • I have had visitors from every continent, and from 92 countries total, with first-time visitors from Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Aruba [as of today – welcome!], Ethiopia, The Gambia, Gibraltar, Guadeloupe, Jordan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Mauritania, Mayotte, and Monaco.
  • From the USA, I have had visits this month from 46/50 states. I guess the fine people of North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming had better things to do.
  • Several six-continent days including today, where I welcomed North America (Canada, USA, Mexico, and Aruba), South America (Colombia), Europe (UK, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands), Africa (Tanzania), Asia (India, Indonesia, Japan, and Philippines), and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand).

I know what you’re all thinking now…my Reader must be going crazy. Not so much, though; As I followed blogs each day, I unfollowed some others. I’m hovering around 900 right now, but will probably weed out some over time that don’t capture my interest. I don’t like deleting any blogs, but if I just want to kick back and read some stuff, I don’t want to be constantly bombarded with new posts showing up every 30 seconds. And I didn’t just follow any blog; I followed blogs that were interesting, fun, unique, unusual. People I could relate to, and people I couldn’t relate to. I only had a few criteria for deletion. I unfollowed blogs that…

  • Had been deleted by their owners. That’s simple enough.
  • Were only photos, with no captions or anything, no matter how pretty the pictures were.
  • Were primarily in a language I don’t speak.
  • Were only depressing poetry. I enjoy the occasional well-written poem, but post after post about lawn chairs, dead birds, and lost loves just don’t do it for me.
  • Had not been updated in 3 weeks or more.
  • Started preaching, or contained messages that were mostly ad hominem/ad feminem/inflammatory/indecent content.

If there was a blog that was on the fence, I would read the five most recent entries and see if they interested me, and if not, I hit the unfollow button. Oh, and if I know you in real life, you’re not getting deleted no matter what, of course. And as January is done, as is this little project. But maybe I’ll do something fun for February, like write a few comments every day or something.

Now that I’ve thoroughly depressed you all, I made some especially interesting discoveries and awesome new friends, which I’ll share with you presently. I don’t normally accept awards or advertise other blogs on my blog, but just think of this as an exception because I am feeling particularly mellow and generous today.

Awesome Content

  • Andrea Reads America. This girl (whom I’m assuming is called Andrea) posts her travels to all fifty states – via literature, that is. Another list of books that I’ll probably never get to read but I’ll die trying. I started a similar list awhile back of my favorite books set in each state, but I think after about 6 states, I realized that I don’t read that many books that take place in different states or in America at all. Ambitious project, cool chick.
  • La Petite Paniere. This blog has awesome and delicious-looking French recipes that make me want to drop out of school and catch the next plane to Paris.
  • The Dictionary of Victorian Insults and Niceties. Because who doesn’t need one of those from time to time.

Awesome People

  • Aran ArtisanThere are tons of craft blogs out there, but Melissa really has a knack for it, and she is a nice person as well. Plus, she lives in the Aran Islands, which I have always wanted to visit.
  • Keep Karyn. Fun and irreverent slice of life. Karyn tells it like it is.
  • Rebekah Koontz. Another very nice person who seems like she’d make a kick-ass big sister. No offense to my own big sister.
  • That Girl in Glasses. The very day I found Adele, we had a cross-blog comment-a-thon that was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on WordPress. It also got me through the Illinois leg of the drive back to Madison. (FYI, my dad drove that one, and then I took over in Belvidere, IL, where he started telling me the horse meat story). This girl is one lovely little buttercup and I hope we are friends for a long long time.
  • The Strange HerShe calls herself Baby Ruth, and if that’s not awesome, I don’t know what is. Funny, talented, and a devotee of Taylor Swift, go visit Baby Ruth and lose yourself in her world for awhile. After you’ve read all my posts, of course.
  • Tribal Mystic is none other than Joycelin, a Papua New Guinean living in Australia. After I mentioned Nora-Vagi Brash and my admiration of her work, she told me she went to school with Nora-Vagi Brash and was friends with her which pushes her to the top of my list. Plus, she just seems like a generally nice and polite person, which I like.
  • Vodka Soda EscapadesYou had me at Vodka Soda, and kept me with fun and quirky humor.

If I forgot anyone, I am truly sorry. But to all of you who are reading this, thanks for sticking around.

Let’s fold scarves.

 

6

Best Friends are Best Friends

A few days ago, my best (and oldest) friend celebrated her 27th birthday. Since I’m here in Baltimore and she lives in Baltimore, I decided to attempt to get in touch with her; our busy schedules have kept us from seeing each other for probably two years or so. I always wonder if I should call her my best friend, since she was for most of my childhood and is an all-around awesome person even though we do not get to communicate very much, or merely my oldest friend, since we met in kindergarten in 1990. It was hard to get ahold of her, but once I did, she took time out of her busy life as a librarian (at a public library, and on the day after Thanksgiving, no less), so I guess that still makes her best friend material. As usual, we go to Jasmine, in the Quarry, walking distance from my house and between her parents’ place and the library.

I like everything about her, but what I like the best is her consistency. Even after all these years, she has not changed. Her hairstyle, her clothing choices, her sense of fashion, and the fact that she’s always cold. She surprised me today, though, when she deviated from her normal Philly roll and tried the Alaska roll along with it. I hope that’s the most she changes, because she’s just awesome the way she is.

Here’s a very brief rundown of all the awesome moments of our friendship. It began at age 4 when we instantly bonded over being the only two in our kindergarten class who could read. We ended up outsmarting the teachers and cheating on our worksheets by reading the answers that were printed upside down on the bottom of the page; I guess we thought they put them there to help us out. Whoops. After kindergarten, we went our separate ways, as her parents sent her to a private girls’ school, but we still managed to get together periodically on weekends for play dates, and always went to each others’ birthday parties. I would use my dad’s office fax machine to fax her hand written notes, which we thought was SO AWESOME, which it was for kids of the 90s. As teenagers, we would send each other IMs periodically. For some reason, however, we did not attend each other’s bar/bat mitzvahs – I don’t remember it being so much of an animosity thing as it was a mutual agreement since we would not know anyone else at the other’s party (on her RSVP card, she wrote “Let’s celebrate together another time!” and we probably did).  High school was busier for us, but she managed to surprise me by showing up at my school to watch me in Hello, Dolly! in senior year. I  always sent her a postcard from my vacations, and I still have the ones she sent me from Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, and Israel. In college, we sent each other birthday cards, which was always easier for me than it was for her since my address changed every year and hers was always either at her school or her parents’ house. In my junior year, she accompanied me to the closing performance of my play that was produced in Baltimore, and to the cast party afterwards, where one of the other playwrights was her seventh-grade science teacher, which was kind of cool but a little awkward. And during my senior year, she flew up to Amherst for a weekend of fun where we road-tripped through Vermont and saw Mountpelier (“the city I want to retire in” she said), the Ben & Jerry’s factory, Vermont Teddy Bear, and a used bookstore safari tour of Brattleboro, which remains one of my favorite towns anywhere. We have so many private jokes; Aladdin colorforms, Weekly Readers, “do you need a razor?”, Grandma Lois, how she will one day become a coffee drinker but not today, that picture of us from kindergarten where I look terrified and she’s just blabbing away in her favorite blue sweater, two minutes at Goucher, the creepy photograph doll, watching my first episode of Friends with her, the garage door opener story (or how her parents tricked her a lot as a child),  and as of today, real life math and Timonium chopsticks.

Wow, those were a lot of highlights.

I don’t know if she’ll ever read this, but if she does, I salute you, Flamingo Kid. We’ve muddled through 23 years together, which is longer than I have known most people. Thanks for always being the wonderful you that you are, and I hope that you and me will always be best friends. I don’t really know why we’re still close to each other even after spending most of our lives on different wavelengths, but sometimes friendship doesn’t need an explanation. It just is, and best friend-ship is even better.

And that’s the story of me and my best friend.

 

2

Pie: The Universal Language

Today, I woke up and met Lumeng across the street at Bassett Street Brunch Club, only to find out that it was over an hour for a table. We were hungry, so we got in my car and drove out to the Hubbard Avenue Diner in Middleton. The wait there was also 40 minutes, but we got two seats at the counter within seconds because we are hungry graduate students and we do not care.

After brunch, we shared two pieces of pie, a French silk and a sweet potato pecan. I asked Lumeng how to say pie in Chinese, since she’s in my Chinese Drama class and is from Beijing.

Her answer?

“Pie.”

Some things everyone understands.

4

An Alphabet of Stereotypes

So, I was having a conversation with myself today about names, and I came across the name Summer. Summer. It’s a great word and a lovely name, but how many ways can you really slice a Summer? There’s never been a Queen Summer or a President Summer or even a Grandma Summer. I thought about adding it to my list of potential daughters’ names, but it’s just too…Summer. There are very few places you can go with a Summer, and most of them involve being in a bikini.

Since everyone’s blogging about Scotland’s independence referendum today, I thought I’d do something different and present to you an alphabet of name stereotypes. These are not common names like John and Mary, and not timeless names like Michael, Katherine, and Elizabeth that have too much history to be placed in one category. Rather, these are names that are uncommon but not unusual, but at least for me they have a certain way about them. To be fair, I’ll just do one random name per letter, per gender, skipping Q and X for obvious reasons. Join me, y’all.

And welcome, first visitor from Kyrgyzstan! You were always my favorite Stan.

Disclaimer: This list is meant to be read in complete jest, so Jacquelyn, the coffee is fine.

If your name is Albert, don’t get any piercings. This will only work against you.

If your name is Brook, have a headshot on your faculty website.

If your name is Chuck, you probably spit a lot when you talk and collect things.

If your name is Dallas, you probably own a ten-gallon hat but have never had the opportunity to wear it.

If your name is Eddie, be my drinking buddy. But not Ed. He can go and sit in the back of the closet.

If your name is Fred, you have a lot to live up to. Same for the Wilmas, Mickeys, and Minnies of the world.

If your name is Gilbert, you probably watched Howdy Doody in its first run.

If your name is Harrison, you probably have your hair parted on the side. Oh, and don’t go to China to teach English.

If your name is Ira, don’t be surprised if in the near future you get mistaken for a girl.

If your name is Jacob, be cool about it. Don’t toss that name around willy-nilly. Taylor Lautner did a number for us; unfortunately it was a negative number. And be friendly. If you want to be a jerk (and if I am), be Jake.

If your name is Kevin, take a break and sit down.

If your name is Lorenzo, eat some graham crackers.

If your name is Mickey, you better be cuddly or else.

If your name is Nathan, I really enjoyed those hard, wooden chairs you made me.

If your name is Ozzy, get that bat out of your mouth, I do not want to buy candy from you, and pull your shorts above your butt crack.

If your name is Peter, my deepest sympathies for the inappropriate jokes you have encountered in your life.

If your name is Ray, chill out. You’re much too intense.

If your name is Scott, I never want to see you wearing anything but underwear.

If your name is Timothy, and you haven’t heard the song, your life is incomplete. Also, if you shorten to Timmy don’t expect anything for your birthday other than Tonka trucks.

If your name is Ulysses, be prepared to work hard because you will be called useless at least once a day.

If your name is Victor, don’t make me walk into your magic cabinet.

If your name is Wilbur, your mother’s favorite book was Charlotte’s Web.

If your name is Yorick, I knew him well.

If your name is Zzzzybrrqahh, please don’t eat my brain.

If your name is Alice, you will probably have a husband named Al and move to Alabama where you’ll sell ant farms.

If your name is Bella, avoid used bookstores.

If your name is Carol, you probably either sing in a folk rock band or own a large collection of fuzzy sweaters.

If your name is Donna, you’re an asset to the secretarial pool. Maybe you’ll be an executive assistant one day.

If your name is Edith, thanks for the peanut brittle.

If your name is Frances, you probably need to lighten up.

If your name is Georgia, watch where you’re swingin’ that hoop skirt.

If your name is Helen, I hope you like cats.

If your name is Isabella, you probably can’t read this because you were born sometime this decade.

If your name is Jacquelyn, I may or may not have spit in your coffee this morning.

If your name is Kimberley, congratulations, you’re the head of the cheerleading squad and the top of the pyramid.

If your name is Lola, you were a showgirl.

If your name is Marni, you really got the short end of the stick. That is not a real name. And don’t stomp your platforms at me.

If your name is Nancy, you have an unhealthy relationship with yarn.

If your name is Olga, I am putting all my hope in you at the next Olympics.

If your name is Penelope…yeah, no one’s cool enough to pull off Penelope.

If your name is Summer, you have damaged skin, hair, or both.

If your name is Tiffany, you are never going to give up the 80s, are you?

If your name is Ursula, you either rule a sea kingdom or are in fact a Kodiak bear.

If your name is Velvet, you have served prison time and have the tattoos to prove it.

If your name is Willow, you have either participated in or led a women’s retreat.

If your name is Yolanda, you thoroughly enjoy the conveniences of a convenience store.

If your name is Zona, my seventh-grade Bible teacher gave me permission to shoot your parents.

6

Where You Lead, I Will Follow

Today was one of those rare days where I actually had nothing to do; no commitments, no pressing deadlines (at least not until Wednesday/Thursday of next week) so I spent most of the day in bed and on the computer, and then decided I needed some fresh air so I headed out to Memorial Union Terrace for some fresh air and about 200 pages of reading. FOR PLEASURE. Clearly, my soul has not yet died.

The other day I passed the 400 follower mark, (I would love more; bring your friends, I’ll follow back!) and I realized I don’t read others’ blogs as often as I should. What usually ends up happening is that I have a few bloggers’ tabs open, meaning to read them, and then either my browser will crash or my computer will need restarting and I’ll have forgotten where I was in reading them. So today, I’m going to go to two of those tabs that are perpetually open.

First up, Antigua A La CarteI think actually it was she who found me, but either way, it’s a blog about life and random stuff. Her name is Nadine and she comes from St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda. It’s kind of like mine, only with a Caribbean focus, and who couldn’t use a vacation from their real life by joining this blogger on her island? She writes really well and though I don’t know if there are many other bloggers from her country, I can safely say that in my opinion she is the best one. She also has another blog with non-Caribbean-based thoughts and ideas, so there’s two for the price of one. Oh, and coincidentally, we wrote about the same topic on the same day once, which reminds me, I should probably go edit that entry.

Here’s a recent find, Jane Thorne. I stumbled upon her blog last week. She is called Jane (obviously) and she writes photo essays about her life, including her travel adventures around fair Britannia. She has left me some nice comments, so Jane, this one’s for you.

Thank you to all of my followers for following me, with a special shout-out to those who leave nice comments/feedback.

0

Halfway Point For Some

Today is my dad’s half-birthday.

Half-birthdays are weird; it’s kind of funny to think that tomorrow you will officially be closer to your next age than your current one.

Speaking of halfway points, this past weekend I headed to Milwaukee to pick up WeKache, then to Beaver Dam for the 2014 Cache and Release Challenge. For this event, 30 brand new caches were planted in Beaver Dam. 63 teams from all over Wisconsin showed up for a chance to find them and win prizes. We arrived only minutes before the event started; by the time we had our map ready, everyone had scattered. With WeKache driving, we found 15 of the 30 caches before 5 PM, not too bad.

Most were relatively easy, but we attempted two of the three puzzles and came through victorious, with help. We met up with a father/daughter team and combined clues which took us to an empty parking lot. We were about to give up when we see them drive up, letting us know that they had gotten some numbers wrong and gave us the correct info. We followed them to the real site (or what we thought was the real site) and searched fruitlessly for 15 minutes when a team all in purple showed up, heading in a different direction. We followed them, and the daughter spotted the cache. The second puzzle involved a cryptogram, which we cracked pretty easily. We spent about 15 minutes searching on our own, before seeing another group arrive and joining with them. The coordinates that the cryptogram led to were in the middle of some slippery rocks in a small grove of trees. I was leery of climbing them, but as soon as we walked up to the grove of trees about four other cars full of teams showed up and all of a sudden there were no less than twenty pairs of eyes looking. I was tired, so I hung back and watched while someone else found it and passed it around. My 1800th find was our 12th find of the day, a bottle attached to a plank of wood in the ground with a decoy cache nearby. Heh.

By 4:30, we were tired and thirsty, so we called it quits and headed to the cafe for the prize raffle. We had each received a raffle ticket for attending, then 1 ticket for every 5 caches (we got 3 each; the max was 6 for all 30, which 7 teams got!). Even though I lost my original ticket, one of the first tickets called was one of mine, then moments later, one belonging to WeKache…and then it happened again! 40 prizes were given out, as well as several cash prizes. All told, 4 of our 7 tickets were prize winners, so much so that the prize table staffers started calling me by name. WeKache let me pick all 4 prizes to share between us, so we ended up with a starter geocaching kit (which went to me), an orange ID badge holder (me again), a beer stein painted with a panoramic view of the pavilion at Swan Park, where we had been earlier (that went to him), and a cookbook set, 2 books (which I took) and a recipe card box (which he took). We spent the rest of the afternoon getting to know a married couple team from Devil’s Lake and a family team from West Bend.

All in all, it was exhausting but fun. I told WeKache that it felt like we were tokens/avatars in a giant board game with the town of Beaver Dam as our map, and he agreed.

Finally, speaking of halfway, I half (whoops, I mean have) several half-finished posts to complete, which I will link here when I’m finished. Off I go!