Sunday, January 30, 2011

Forevs 21

I was in the mall yesterday and had a few minutes to waste before my friends arrived for dinner. I hit all of the usual stores: Banana Republic Petites, Guess, Sephora, etc. I also went into Forever 21,  and if you've never been, it sells designer knockoffs made in countries with few worker rights*, and no one in the store is actually 21 years old. On paper, the store is targeting female teens with about $35 of disposable income on a given day.  The difference between this store and some of the other popular tween locales is the lack of overpowering cheap cologne.  Surprisingly, one of the retail specialists (folding clothes) was approximately 70 years old and male.

While I was listening to the store's eurotrance song that sounded like Bjork on helium, I wondered what happened in order for him to land this job. Maybe it's great to have a job where you're surrounded by teenage girls all day, although I highly doubt it.

Things that would entice someone to work in this setting: the music, the level of skill required, a serious monetary emergency... While the song was quite catchy (similar to most of these clubs stores), you can't hum it while folding a stack of striped tunics in sized order.  The level of skill - folding clothes a certain way - is minimal, and he looked put together enough to be formally educated. Formal education can be a hard guess, because initial judging is usually based on cleanliness, neatness, and ability to listen. I was an immaculately groomed high schooler for example, and no one outside of my friends knew if I was from a "poor" or "rich" neighborhood, which was a great skill for adulthood.

Anyway, I concluded in that 50th of a second that he had money issues, and if that's the case, I really hope this guy can get out of his situation. I also hope that my work never leads to such a mundane and abstract area like female teenager clothing (or clothing for adults if they have the body type).

* I tend to buy clothes from these countries as I would organic versus conventionally grown food. As in, I'm leery of anything "Made in China" but Vietnam and Sri Lanka are ok.  The reason is actually a combination of fabric and cut qualities. I fit in clothes better that are not made in China, and the cloth is usually thick enough to pass my "No See Through" policy.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gamer Girlfriend

My fiancee and I have talked a lot about games and why people play them, specifically women. I went to PAX 2010 and saw probably 40-50% of the gamers as female. I was really surprised at the number of men who went to the panel titled: The Myth of the Gamer Girl: True Demographic or Anthropological Hooha?, mostly because I don't envision men attending anything Hooha related, or interested in what women like about games.

The thing is, I can't really vouch for the rest of my gender. I like games because it allows me an escape from all things messy in reality. Such as traffic, people I don't like, and dirt. It's simple in a game... In Animal Crossing, the biggest house decision you have to make is whether you want a red roof or a blue roof.  You can do things like stop slavers with gloves that shoot frost (Fable 2). There are no misunderstandings, dropped calls, or signing waivers for taking a hammer to a building.

Photo credit: Courtesy of giantbomb

You get the idea. I like movies too, but they aren't interactive - as in, there's no possibility for something completely ridiculous to happen (like barbarian bikinis).

Photo credit: Female barbarian from titanquestvault

The thing I don't like about games? No one except my guy friends talks about them. They are on "the female conversation list" of topics right after personal allergies and albino pets worth owning.  I never want to bring up that I play Call of Duty or Halo in front of someone's girlfriend, unless she also plays. It's too ambiguous.

Then there is also our fragile egos to consider. Personally, I hate being bad at anything, and I'm really bad at real time strategy games, first person shooters, and pretty much every game I play initially.  I accidentally set the maidens on fire in Timesplitters, drove off a cliff in Mercenaries, and forgot to wear pants for the first two levels of Oblivion.

Photo credit: Courtesy of artofmanliness

Maybe the point of having conversations outside of games is to talk about issues and current events outside of games.  But I wish we could all talk about games sort of like the weather, or the car we'll buy next year, or even sports. Until then, I'll be sniping from B4 in the villa.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Skin Deep

Last November I got a pimple. My fight with acne has been pretty intense since I started graduate school, and the zits seemed to have doubled their efforts with my double class load.  Anyway, with two classes, I can fight the good fight with Neutrogena's Anti-Wrinkle, Anti-Blemish cream.

But then one whitehead turned into another... and another... and soon my skin was unable to heal from the first bout. By December, I was looking up how to properly extract pimples without scarring and trying to find a dermatologist - note that I wasn't looking for anyone decent - just A Single Dermo.  Fredericksburg has this strange lack of dermatologists. The receptionist said she could book me in mid-February. That's right, 2.5 months of hydra zits (where two pop up where the one used to be) before any relief.

Photo credit:

When things bother me, I do the one thing someone with a technical background does: research.  The makeup blog I like featured the Dermalogica buffer, plus plenty of nonparaben lotions and washes without sodium lauryl sulfate.  I also found a site that indicated that diet was really 80% of clear skin. Over the next week, Amazon got approximately $50 from me in products, and I started a health kick of no bread, refined sugars, alcohol, and popcorn.  From someone who likes malbec and drinks black coffee, a green smoothie is not for the squeamish.  I added ginger, apples, romaine lettuce, and water to a blender in hopes of undermining this zit factory called my face.  I got a humidifier to counteract the Sahara dryness of the heater. I took fish oil supplements because that would help my skin retain more moisture in theory.

By January, my chin was somewhere between Freddy Krueger and Two Face with the bottom half being the worst.  February was just too far away, so I made an appointment in Fairfax with a dermo I researched online. When I got to the waiting room, all of the receptionists had immaculate skin, which was a good sign.

The doctor said, "I can see your pores are clogged."  Validation!! I was sure that my skin was just doing non-skin things like freaking out on me, which in turn freaked me out.  She gave me some meds and I went home and had a peanut butter sandwich with a beer. It was the most divine combination of foodstuffs you could get. The fact that I was "living a little" lowered my stress, and I could see a few pimples riding off into the sunset, as it were.

I will say that the humidifier and some of the products I got were not wasteful, however, I laughed when the doc gave me Cetaphil products, which contain parabens and sodium lauryl sulfate.  Looking back on it, eating more veggies was a good thing, but it only counted for about 5% of skin awesomeness.  I couldn't believe I was taking skin advice from a makeup blog. She can just hide it better, right?

So what was the issue? Most likely, taking two classes with a full time job while planning a wedding. Before this dermo appointment, I hadn't strung together all of those activities in my mind. Also, using olive oil on your face is NOT a good idea, despite what any blog tells you.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Things I hate 1/24/2011

Every so often, I make a list of things that I hate, simply as an act of meditation. Looking back, I have stats on what I hated the most often, and maybe to what degree.  I don't think it really means anything in the big scheme of things, except that I can fully mature into an adult versus keeping my inner 14 year old close.

So the things I hate:

  1. Advertising fluff, or actually fluff of any kind unless it's part of a dessert.  In that case, I'll take two.
  2. Dry, dry air. Regular dry air is essential for good hair days. 
  3. Ear stretchers that are at least the size of your eyes. I can't properly interact with anything that looks like a humanoid insect.
  4. Pleather wallets. This is not an area to skimp. Cloth or leather please.
  5. Clothes from brands like Free People. There seems to be a serious lack of clothing if you're body type isn't "fairy  sprite" or made for mom-jeans.
  6. Incompetence.
  7. Slow elevators.
  8. Negative emotion stemming from incompetence.
  9. Slow drivers. More accurately, drivers who are checking out the scenery in the left lane. Hello?!
  10. Businesses that tempt customers with costumes on the side of the road (get some dignity Liberty Tax). 

I'm really not sure how much I hate the last one. The Liberty Tax person was dancing outside - or maybe shivering in the 18 degree weather, I couldn't tell when I blew by at 40 mph.
On the flip side, I definitely have a thing for giant balloon floats in parking lots.
Photo credit: Air dancer from

Professionally Designed Rooms... In A Box!

Young Sophisticates had a blog on the product, Room In A Box, which is similar to, only delves into the realm of furniture. The designer, Windsor Smith, takes your inspiring photos and also pictures of your current space and redesigns it.  She sends out a sea-blue box that includes all of the plans and links to where you can buy the furniture.  It's basically outsourcing your decorating without having to leave your house! How convenient for someone who's taking two classes, a full time job, and planning a wedding :)  Ms. Smith doesn't have to leave her house either!

Landscaping is next right?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ah! The Old Days, Not.

Here is an article I wrote on January 15, 2008 - almost three years ago, to the day!

Here Comes the Bride

Photo credit: Tina Fey and Steve Carrel in Date Night, courtesy of
I was discussing marriage with my girlfriend the other week, and was wondering she wanted to really be engaged.
No one has really given me a good reason why I should get married, except to have kids. I did a little research with from other girls my age, and here are some reasons why they want/wanted to get married:
  • It's a status symbol. I don't quite understand this, but there was a comment thrown around about how “girlfriend sounds so high school.” Mind you, this isn't from someone who is married, but I never thought about the connotation of the title “girlfriend” as being so negative. There is also the classic “Look at the ring he gave me!” crap that is so stereotypical 80s it makes me want to puke.
  • “I want to move in with him.” I'm not sure how getting a ring will allow you to move in with a guy. Most girls I know lived with the guy before they married him – usually because it is too damn expensive to live around here in the first place. I suppose it's kind of like a driver's license, which allows you to drive a vehicle, but you can clearly drive the car if you don't have one. It surprises me that it's 2008 and some people have such a conservative point of view still. Personally, I am an adult and can live where (and with whom) I want, but I feel twinges whenever I think about telling mom that I want to live with Stew (we're not married if you can tell).
  • Loneliness.
  • Probably the biggest reason that people (women especially) want to get engaged/married is so they can establish themselves as separate from their parents. I think this reason ties into the first couple that I mentioned. As a status symbol, a married woman seems older and more mature. As people are living with their parents until they are 25 these days, women might see it as a way out of that situation by getting married. I also think that women might not want to come home for all of the holidays and use in-laws as an excuse for only seeing their parents once a year.
The second to last reason really bothers me, because although parents can be overbearing or heartless, this isn't a good reason to get married. MARRIAGE IS NOT ESCAPE. I never thought bringing someone else into a complicated situation would make it better.
Then there is this article from Psychology Today that states that getting married doesn't make you happier. I would argue that for a while it makes you more unhappy. There is a lot of expectation for a wedding to be a huge party (with a huge price tag), which also includes a huge amount of planning. No thank you, I have a social life.
Anyway, I will be waiting for a while.
A while = more than six years. I shouldn't get cocky though. 
May 2011.


No Job Too Small

This is Zoe.

She holds down several jobs at our house, one of which is to watch the humidifier and note any gurgling.

There's also waking me up approximately 30 minutes before the alarm, fake mouse control, and policing the space-time continuum inside the printer. These are self-appointed jobs of course, but we're getting a deal at two cans of wet food a day.

Cat-nology inside.
All photos on this post are mine.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Have you ladies seen  It's a Google sponsored website for ladies fashion.  I know, I know, I'm usually too cheap to buy stuff like nice clothes. But they find items for you (on sale) based on your favorite brands, cuts, and colors.  They also note your "hates," which is probably a mustard yellow for me.  I wish I could find a furniture website like this! And a makeup site! Healthy food! Beer! etc...

Here's what it found for me:

Photo credit: Diane Von Furstenburg dress, Talbots cardigan, YSL peeptoe shoes, courtesy of

Fantastic! Also, if any item is out of your price range, you can look at "visually similar items."

Sorry guys, all of your clothes are similar, in standard sizes, and available every season, so there's no website for you. I'm sure you don't mind.  :)

"Everything in its right place"

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I never thought to combine hamburgers and hotdogs - as in, physically combine the properties of a hamburger and hotdog.

Photo credit: Hamdogger, courtesy of
Now I'm trying to figure out other items to combine, like Playboxes (Playstations and Xboxes), Shamwear (Shamwow underwear), and edible books.  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Movie Lineup Demise

Last night we went from watching the Bourne Identity to TimeCop to Anaconda. That's like starting off the evening with surf n turf at a fancy restaurant, then getting Taco Bell, then garbage out of the can (or maybe leftovers from the work fridge).

In case you are unfamiliar with TimeCop and why it's a bad movie, it's got Jean Claude Van Damme traveling through time to save his wife and house, which is the creepiest house ever built. The "future" of 2004 has cars that drive themselves and all white kitchens. Neither flat screen or cell phone was available yet though.

Photo credit, Jean Claude Van Damme, courtesy of

Anaconda was more horrible because Jon Voight was supposed to play one of those crazy John Locke characters who "knows the river" and has an indistinguishable accent. The accent requires him to make the Mean PacMan face, which is priceless. Also, Ice Cube and JLo (pre-makeup, surgery, pimping out her twins) were in this movie, so we pretty much know who did the soundtrack, if there is one.

Photo credit: Jon Voight, courtesy of

"There's an evident lack of light tonight" 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Best of times, worst of times...

Today I read an article about how students are not retaining history any more. It's a combination of learning facts in isolation (dates and names versus the effect of an event), the quantity of learning (history keeps growing but time to learn it doesn't), and what's required for state tests (can be very trivia focused, which can lead to many shallow lessons versus deep lessons on one subject). I was shocked that high school kids couldn't remember the difference between what happened in 1860 and 1960! 

Time for a video game overhaul. Or make history class as cool as the movie 300.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Personal Day

This is Kaylee, and she thinks she's a human. A human who uses a litter box.

Engagement BS

So there will probably be more on this, but weddings and their respective BS was a bigger part of this three-day weekend (or four-day work week, whichever you prefer) than planned. I figured I could get engagement pictures AND invitations done this weekend without too much drama. 

First, while the pictures came out wonderfully, it was a serious time sink of approximately seven hours. I didn't have to eat at TWO sit-down establishments, but steaks are warranted after starving in the 40 degree weather. I felt like a model, who maybe smiled more and not as many changes of clothes. Based on the last 15 times I've had my picture snapshot taken, I calculated professional picture-taking to only last about five minutes. I would have still earned some steaks and returned to looking at and judging others' photography online.

I mentioned I ate at two restaurants. The first was a delicious sushi-steak place with background euro-trance music. Those kinds of places are the best to eat during the day when there's no one to fight for the waiter's short attention span. You'd think a short attention span would be fantastic in the food industry, but I think I'm confusing attention and apathy.

Anyway, I'll continue with the invitations tomorrow.


"Are you a hypnotist?"