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Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde

A fun, relaxing place to rant, rave, highlight interesting finds on the web, and initiate discussion on topics large and small. You may not agree, but you won't be bored! Take a look, feel free to comment, and enjoy your stay. You will also find several resources for creating your own website, blog, and web identity.

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Friday, February 29, 2008

Sparty Cat

Today, as Brian and I were cleaning behind our entertainment center, our cat Sparty decided that he wanted to relax on the shelf normally occupied by Brian's PS3 gaming system. The first two pictures are of him doing just that. The last picture was taken around Christmas time. Sparty evidently wanted to start typing something.

Sparty is a three year-old male manx cat that we rescued in Houston, Texas. He was roughly six months old when he came into our lives.

Sparty as PS3

Sparty napping

Sparty at laptop

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Why I Should Be a Democrat...

Over the past several years, I've been told by a few different people that I should be a Democrat. As a woman who has definite political beliefs, I find this laughable, especially given the current state of the Democratic party. Here is a list of reasons why I should be a Democrat.

1. I'm a woman.

This argument takes me back to my days at Michigan State. I once was in a heated argument with two young men who vehemently tried to persuade me that I should be a Democrat due to the simple fact that I'm a woman. Their thinking went like this: I'm a woman, therefore I must be pro-choice. As a result, there is no option for me other than the Democratic party.

Of course, this angered me greatly. Am I not allowed to think for myself due to the simple fact that I'm a woman? Why must all women be necessarily pro-choice? Last but not least, what makes the Democratic party think that they have a monopoly on all women and those who are pro-choice? It was one of the most arrogant things I've ever heard.

2. I believe that a woman has the right to choose.

Let me explain here. While I'm not necessarily pro-choice, I do respect that women have the right to choose what happens to their bodies (for me, it is a basic human right). That said, I don't support abortion. I could never make that decision (for fairly obvious personal reasons), and I don't understand how others could. However, the law has already been established for over 30 years, and I don't see how it can be changed without serious repercussions. I will gladly support adoption whenever I have the opportunity, end of debate.

3. I grew up in Michigan.

When people find out that I grew up in Michigan (and still live here), they automatically assume that I am a Democrat. Michigan politics has been long dominated by unions, for better or worse. It won't change. I find it irritating that people (on both sides) get pigeon-holed into one political camp or another due to where they live. For example, what automatically comes to mind when you think of Texas?

4. Several people in my family are or were public school teachers.

The teaching tradition in my family goes back at least three generations, and as a result, I've learned a lot about Michigan's public schools from the inside. In the nearly 30 years that my Mom has been a public school teacher, the Michigan Education Association (to which she is practically coerced to belong) has yet to represent her political views when they endorse a candidate. Without fail, they will support the Democratic candidate in any election, whether or not that candidate represents the best interests of public schools and education in general.

Public schools in the United States have largely earned their poor reputations, but not all public schools fail their students. There are many dedicated teachers (two of whom I proudly call Mom and sister) who truly do have their kids' best interests at heart. The Michigan Education Association (MEA) and the National Educational Association (NEA) are in the perfect position to help move the public school system forward. Instead, they blindly follow party politics and increasingly do a disservice to the national public school system as a whole.

There needs to be less of a focus on indoctrination into Demcratic party ideology and more of a focus on true learning. Sadly, this tendency now threatens the university system (more on that later).

5. I believe that corporate America is on the wrong track.

I've had just enough experience working in corporate America to know that, in many ways, it is deeply flawed. However, I don't translate that into an anti-business bias. There are a lot of companies out there doing wonderful things, and there are probably at least twice as many small businesses contributing meaningful things to society as well. Democrats tend to believe that if you see the ills befalling corporate America, you must be on their side. In recent years, this petty tendency has turned into an all out anti-business bias. That bias is destroying the state of Michigan, and unfortunately, I believe that it is about to hurt the US economy as a whole.

6. We make less than $100, 000 a year.

My boyfriend and I certainly aren't among the wealthy (I'm currently unemployed). If many in the Democratic party are to be believed, our interests would best be served by them. The thing is, I don't want the government to take care of my needs. I want to do so on my own. It is one of the fundamental reasons why I identify with the Republican party. For me, the less government intervention into anything, the better off I will be.

The Republican party has long allowed itself to be tied to the "rich." However, what I find today is that many of the Republicans I meet actually come from the shrinking middle class. Most are upwardly mobile, eager to work hard to get ahead in life. We need more opportunities for people of every sex, religion, and race to do so. Unfortunately, what I've noticed of late is that people who claim victim status are much more likely to get the opportunities. What about those of us who refuse to be victims?

I'm sure that you're tired of hearing me rant, but the issues raised above have been on my mind for a long time.


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Taking a Stand for Free Speech

I was incredibly happy to finally find some good news over at Michelle Malkin's blog. I read her blog almost daily, and as of late, it has been a bit depressing. All kinds of stories about the real issues the world currently faces get a lot of coverage on her blog. She rightly brings to attention stories that don't get much coverage in the Main Stream Media. As a result, she often works to keep certain stories in the minds of other bloggers (the Berkeley protests come to mind). Well, she's covered the Danish cartoon story extensively for well over a year, and I'm happy to hear about this turn of events. Hopefully some good will come out of the whole thing. Once again, I'm reminded just how much blind hatred there is in the world. Sadly, it will probably always be that way.


Michelle Malkin ยป Mo Cartoon for sale: An auction in defense of free speech

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The Rambling Blonde Around the Web

I was pleasantly surprised to see that a couple of my online friends picked up pieces that I wrote. In many ways I feel as though I'm finally finding my voice and a readership. Flip and DADvocate, I can't thank you guys enough.


DADvocate: Music and Me

Water Garden Tips: Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde: Profile of a Writer - Michelle L. Devon (Michy) - Part 1

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Over 400 Posts and Counting

The Rambling Misguided Blonde is celebrating nearly three turbulent years as a blogger (it will be official June 1st). However, I noticed this morning that I now have over 400 posts here. That is rough equivalent to a blog post every three days for the last three years. Admittedly, until recently, I didn't update with regularity. In fact, there are some incredibly long stretches of no activity. For those who have stayed with me through thick and thin, thank you.


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Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Anchoress

The Anchoress

This link above is to a wonderful blog I came across quite some time ago. The woman who keeps the blog is very much a Catholic at heart, and she has some definite political views. While her blog isn't all about religion and politics, it is primarily related to those two subjects. If you are truly open-minded, it is a highly recommended read.

While I'm not Catholic, in many ways I feel as though I was raised half-Catholic. The small town I grew up in was primarily Catholic. I grew up with girls who went to Catechism and had their first communion. My neighbors were devout Catholics, and there were many times when I would accompany them to Mass as a child. Now, low and behold, I'm dating and living with a man who was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools as a child. While I was raised Methodist, I probably know more about the Catholic religion than most Protestants. Anyway, enough of religion for tonight.


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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Do We Go Too Far?

For those who don't know, I have Turner Syndrome. While I won't get into the details of it here, it has brought one larger issue to the forefront of my life. You see, from the time I was ten until I was 14, I took daily growth hormone injections. While I understand why my parents made the decision to have me go through this (they simply wanted what they thought was best for me), I personally don' t agree with treating short stature as a disease.

I've actually been planning a post on this topic for quite some time, but there always seemed to be too much that I wanted to say on the subject. First off, with regards to the injections, there is no way to know if they truly helped me grow or not. I might have grown to my current five feet on my own, then again, I may not have. Second, does it really matter? Would I have been any less of a person if my final height had been under five foot? I know it might seem silly to suggest this, but then again, isn't that the message the medical field is sending when prescribing several years of daily injections for a few inches of growth?

I'm tired. I'm tired of being treated like a medical curiosity when, in reality, what I have is simply a genetic disorder that randomly occurs in one out of 2,500 live female births. It shouldn't be such a mystery (and there are still a lot of misconceptions). There have always been women with Turner Syndrome and there always will be as long as there is a Human Race. We've come a long way in becoming more tolerant of other ethnicities, races, life styles, religions, customs, etc. In some respects, we've come a very long way; in others, we may have gone too far. That aside, I don't think that anyone will argue that we've made any real progress in accepting physical variations other than the color of one's skin. It is still socially acceptable to discriminate on the basis of height , weight, physical deformities, etc (it just isn't as apparent). It is one area in which acceptance and understanding can go a long way. The article below makes a very valid point: we need to work on changing the social stigma of short stature, etc. It is only then that we can get away from trying to make everyone "normal."

Can you imagine how boring life would be if we were all alike? Personally, I'm glad that I'm different. I'm glad that I'm not a cookie-cutter Barbie doll! Everyone has a challenge in their life; everyone has a personal struggle. Just remember that next time you are tempted to judge someone before he or she opens their mouth.

Essay: When Medicine Goes Too Far in the Pursuit of Normality


PS - Brian, if you ever read this, I want you to know that I wrote this in part for you. I know all too well what your feelings are on the subject!

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Frida Kahlo and her Art

The other night late I came across the movie Frida (2002), and once again, I find myself captivated by her work. It still amazes me that I could love and identify with the work of a woman who held views that are diametrically opposed to mine and whose personal life I don't understand. Frida Kahlo was a committed communist, stayed with a husband who extensively cheated on her (although, to be fair, she knew what she was getting into when she married), and explored her bisexuality even within the context of her marriage.

Yet, there is still something in her work that I really identify with on a very basic level. Her work is intensely autobiographical, and in fact, she was the subject of much of her work (along with her husband Diego Rivera). It has been said that it is impossible to separate her life and her work; I tend to agree (although I believe that might be true for most artists and writers). Throughout her life, she suffered a series of physical disabilities and was unable to have children. These disabilities, her longing for children, and her travels with husband Diego Rivera often made interesting subjects for her work as well.

Below are links to good introductions to her life and work. The movie Frida (2002) is a great introduction to her life and work, although I'm not sure just how historically accurate it is.


Artchive - Frida Kahlo
IMDB - Frida (2002)

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'm Now Also on Face Book!

You can now find my Face Book profile here. Feel free to request a friend add if you wish. Between MySpace, Stumble Upon, Delicious, Accentuate Writer's Forum, Associated Content, and Yahoo! 360, I pretty much have everything covered. I can't help it, I love Web 2.0. Hopefully I'll get to see Web 3.0 before I'm too old.

You can find my specific links here.


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New Promo for Accentuate Writers' Forum

I'm not normally into videos online (and sometimes it seems as though I'm the only one). Well, this is one video I'm proud to present. It is a promo for Accentuate Writers' Forum. It was created by none other than Michelle L. Devon (yes, that Michy!).



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Monday, February 25, 2008

What is on the Soundtrack to Your Life? Continued...

OK. Before I get to highlighting my musical tastes in college and today, there are a couple of things that need to be said. First off, I spent nearly half of my college education studying abroad. I am what they call a "repeat offender." I took every opportunity to travel, work, and see the world during those years. There were three constants that traveled with me: my journal, my books, and my portable CD player (I forgot to add in Brian too, but that's a whole other ball of wax). Music, reading, and writing were my companions. In addition, during my last year at Michigan State University, I was a disc jockey trainee for their online radio station - The FIX. My only regret is that I didn't discover the FIX earlier. Music dominated my life during this period (There is more to the story; I'll add another post later).

Now for our feature presentation:

Summer of 1999 - This summer will always be a summer of transition in my book. I had just graduated from high school and was preparing to leave for Michigan State University. As a result, this summer set itself apart.

"American Pie" by Don McLean (and by Madonna) - On the last vacation we took together as a family, my little sister was obsessed with this song. She became aware of the song due to the "American Pie" movie that came out that summer. She played it over and over again on our road trip. I always loved the song, but it became tiresome after hours on the road (played over and over again). I later even learned to like the much maligned Madonna version.

"Cowboy Baby" by Kid Rock - Ah, yes. Kid Rock, that great ambassador for the State of Michigan (you can stop laughing now). This was the other song my little sister was obsessed with at this time. It too was played over and over again as our Dodge Durango rumbled down the express way.

College - 1999-2004

"Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" by the White Stripes - This was a great song on a great album. This particular song will always remind me of my days of scrounging second-hand music stores with my friends!

"Come On Eileen" by Reel Big Fish - I love the original song, but this version reminds me of my early morning hours on the FIX. Reel Big Fish were very much in rotation during that time, and a good friend introduced me to them.

Anything by the Barenaked Ladies - I was well aware of the band during high school, but there is something about their music that has a college vibe. "The Old Apartment" and "If I Had a Million Dollars" were favorites. You've gotta love those Canadians! They actually came to play at the Breslin Student Events Center on campus, but I didn't go (another college regret).

"The White Album" by the Beatles - While I was certainly a Beatles fan long before college, it wasn't until I was studying abroad that I really discovered this album. It is as mind-blowing today as it was when it first came out. There are only a few songs on the entire two-disc set that I didn't like. While not on "The White Album," "Here Comes the Sun" and "Something" are two of my favorite Beatles songs.

"Help!" and "A Hard Day's Night" by the Beatles - I can't say enough about the albums, the title songs, or the movies. It was during my time as an intern at IBM in Rochester, Minnesota that I became a real Beatles fan.

The solo works of John, Paul, George, and Ringo - It was during college that I went beyond their Beatles days. "Imagine" by John Lennon is a favorite.

Anything by Wings - When I was a young kid, I didn't realize that Paul McCartney was in another band after the Beatles. It opened up a whole new catalog of music, and it introduced me to his relationship with Linda. What was made public about their relationship leaves me in awe to this day.

"In My Life" and "A Day in the Life" by the Beatles - The Beatles didn't get any better than these two amazing songs.

"Whoa, Nellie!" by Nellie Furtado - This whole CD was simply amazing. I listened to it the entire semester I studied abroad in Ecuador. It was one of the few that I would listen to all of the way through.

"Take on Me" by Ah Ha - This classic 1980s tune was and still is a favorite. Other 1980s classics I love include "Manic Monday" by the Bangles and "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles (The song and the video literally helped to define the MTV generation as it was the first video on MTV in 1981).

"Hey Ya!" by Outkast - This song will always remind me of my college graduation. It received tons of air time during the spring of 2004. It is simply a contagious song.

Countless others - Honorable mentions included Chelle Marie (local Austin, Texas artist), Rob Schneider (another local Austin artist), Ruby Horse, the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Janis Joplin, Coldplay, Green Day, Dixie Chicks, Lenny Kravitz, ABBA (dance mix), salsa and meringue, Moby, Dido, and lots more. My time in Austin, Texas greatly enhanced my love of music. Once again, there is so much to say about that time period that it really will take another post.

2004 - Now

My musical tastes haven't changed as much as they have expanded. I began dating my boyfriend Brian in 2004, and he has greatly influenced my musical tastes. His love of country music has expanded my taste in music. I suppose there are hints that I would one day love country music in my love for Austin, Texas, my interest in the Dixie Chicks (at one time), and my early experience listening to Garth Brooks. I suppose one could say that the handwriting was on the wall. I still love my pop rock, but now there is room for country too.

"A Boy Named Sue," "Ring of Fire," and "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash - Brian loves Johnny Cash as much as I love the Beatles. Now I love Johnny Cash too! "A Boy Named Sue" will always remind me of my brother too!

"Beer for My Horses" by Toby Keith and Willie Nelson - This song is just too cool and a great drinking song!

Anything by Toby Keith - I just have a lot of respect for him as an artist and love his music (oh, and he isn't bad looking either!). It is because of Toby Keith that I looked at the Dixie Chicks in a whole new light.

"Long Black Train" by Josh Turner - This is just a haunting song and a spectacular video. Over the last few years, I've lost a few people in my family. This song reminds me of that time.

"Austin" by Blake Shelton - This song has a lot of personal meaning for me and for Brian. Austin, Texas is one of my favorite places on Earth. In addition, I lost my grandfather last summer (his name was Austin). Now the last line has even more personal meaning.

"Anything But Mine" by Kenny Chesney - This song received a lot of radio play while Brian and I lived in Houston. While we lived there, we traveled to Galveston a couple of times. This song always managed to come on. It has a lot of personal meaning for us.

"Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot - This folk song made the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald famous. It is a hauntingly beautiful eulogy for all shipwrecks on the Great Lakes. When we listened to this song in Texas, it made me horribly homesick for Michigan. Now that I'm back, it reminds me of why I love Michigan so much, the Great Lakes and the people.

There are many, many more I could include, but I've already bored you enough. Thanks for listening!


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What is on the Soundtrack to Your Life?

If you ever watched Ally McBeal (I'm dating myself here) or Grey's Anatomy, then you're familiar with the idea of the personal soundtrack - a soundtrack to your life, if you will. Recently I reloaded my MP3 player, and as a result, I've been listening to some of my favorite songs. Here are songs and artists that would be on my personal soundtrack.

1980s - For me, the 1980s was my childhood. I was born in 1980 and have been a music fan practically since I was born. The following songs remind me of my childhood.

"Eight Days A Week" by the Beatles - You will see a lot of songs by the Beatles, but this particular song will always remind me of my Mom. She is the one who introduced me to the Beatles as a child.

"Brown-Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison - This song will always remind me of my Dad. My sister has blue eyes like my Mom, but I got my Dad's brown eyes. I spent a lot of time with him as a young kid (he's self-employed). Every time this song came on, he'd give me a hug and say "You're my brown-eyed girl, right?" This song always gives me the warm fuzzies.

Anything by CCR, Bob Seger, Three Dog Night, Neil Diamond, the Beatles, or Motown - Quite simply, my Dad introduced me to CCR, Three Dog Night, Neil Diamond, and Bob Seger (he was a fan of 70s music back then). My Mom introduced me to the Beatles and Motown, among other things (she introduced me to a lot of 60s music really).

Anything by Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Paula Abdoul - Some of my favorites were "True Blue," "Like a Virign" (long, long before I knew what a virgin was or knew about sex), "Cherish," and "Material Girl" by Madonna. All of these artists reflect my cousins' influence. They were older, and when I started choosing what I wanted to listen to at a young age, I looked up to them. I actually was born in the same town as Madonna (I live in Bay City, Michigan today). My favorites from Paula Abdoul were "Straight Up" and "Cold Hearted Snake." Anyone who was alive during that time period loved Michael Jackson.

1990s - In the 1990s, I was a junior high and high school student. In 1996, I got my license. My interests in music varied greatly. My CD collection was growing by leaps and bounds.

"I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston - This song reminds me of a childhood crush. It was rightfully a huge a hit. It is still spine-tingling. Of course, I always joked that my Mom's version should be "I Will Always Love Shoes." Sadly, it is all too true for many women!

"Love Shack" by the B52s - This song will always remind me of my sister and high school. There were a few mornings on our drive to school during which we belted this one out when it came on the radio. It will always be a fun song. It was the one time when she didn't yell at me for singing with the radio.

"Spiderwebs" by No Doubt - I still love No Doubt. They introduced me to to Ska music.

"Last Dance with Mary Jane" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Who can forget the video? As a high school student, this song and video riveted me.

"Ruby Tuesday" by the Rolling Stones - I really could relate to this song. It is all about not being labeled, changing for the better, and being yourself. It is a great message for any high school student.

Anything off of "Nevermind" by Nirvana - It is probably a generational thing, but I remember grunge all too well thanks to this album.

New found popularity of Aerosmith, Rod Stewart, Meat Loaf, and the Eagles - All of them released new albums and had new hits in the 1990s. I ate it all up.

Anything by the Eagles - Thanks to an album release in the 1990s and the movie "Desperado," I was introduced to a whole new back catalog. I still love them a lot!

There are a lot of additional bands and singer/songwriters that I fell in love with during this time (way too many to list here). Honorable mentions include: Ricky Martin, Christina Aguilera, Selena, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Prince, U2, Garth Brooks, and so many more.

Stay tuned for part two, which covers college and today.


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Quick Note...

After a weekend fighting insomnia, I finally posted the first writer profile. After some thought, I will be posting a new profile each Monday. While I originally wanted to do this on Sundays, I really can't stand Mondays. Maybe working on profiling various writers will help!

That's about it for now. I'll be posting more later!


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Profile of a Writer - Michelle L. Devon (Michy) - Part 1

As I mentioned earlier, this is the first in a series of profiles on writers. I will contribute a new profile every Monday. When I decided to add this feature to my blog, I already knew who I wanted to profile first, Ms. Michelle L. Devon (Michy).

Before I get into profiling her work, it is necessary to provide a little background. When I first joined Associated Content in October 2006, I became familiar with Michy and her work. Indeed, it is difficult to be a contributor to Associated Content without becoming aware of Michy. She works hard to ensure everyone feels welcome at Associated Content. In fact, the website couldn't ask for a better ambassador.

The amazing thing is that Michy freely gives her time and energy to help aspiring writers (myself included). She is a published author, but she is much more than just an author. She runs a thriving business providing a variety of writing and editorial services. While she has much more lucrative opportunities at her fingertips, she continues to be a vital contributor to Associated Content.

Over the years many have asked her why she continues to contribute to Associated Content. She has stated that she continues to contribute to Associated Content due to its vibrant community of aspiring writers. In essence, she's staying because of us. In the year and half I have known her, it became apparent to me that helping others is simply a way of life for Michy. This is most apparent in her vibrant writer's forum. She lists several opportunities for those writers wishing to pursue a freelance writing career. Personally, I find the discussion amongst all of the writers thought provoking and insightful. If you have any interest at all in writing, even as a hobby, I encourage you to at least check out her forum.

In fact, it is difficult to understand Michy's work (written and otherwise) without understanding her need to help others. If you take the time to visit her various blogs and articles, you will quickly get the feeling that she has a deep understanding of human nature. You will notice that many of her blogs serve to provide other writers with the necessary tools with which to succeed. They also serve to inspire others.

Amazingly, the work below (various websites, blogs, and articles) only scratches the surface of all that Michy has produced as a writer and as an editor. While I have yet to discover all of her work myself, rest assured that I will be doing so soon. She has at least two books published and many more in the works. Sadly, I have yet to read either. There will be another profile written about her additional work at a later date. There is simply that much to cover.

If you enjoy the writing process and also love to read, I encourage you to take the time to get to know Michy's work well. You might be surprised at all that you can learn. Rest assured that you will be a better writer and a better person as a result. Please visit my delicious account here to keep up with all of Michy's online ventures.

Michelle L. Devon
Accentuate Services
Accentuate Writer's Forum

Michelle L. Devon (Michy)'s Content Producer Page - Associated Content
Michy's Associated Content Blog

Michy's Editing & Proofreading Hints & Tips Blog
Michy's Book Reviews and Author Interviews Blog
Michy's Product & Product Reviews Blog
Michy's 365 Days of Poetry Blog
Michy's Thoughts Blog

Michelle L. Devon (Michy)'s Yahoo! 360 Page

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Friday, February 22, 2008

What Books and/or Authors Inspired You as a Child?

I recently posted this question to a small forum of writers and aspiring writers. The answers were great! You can read them here.

Now for my own answer. The biggest inspirations for me were the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Nancy Drew books (old and new), the Anne of Green Gables books, and many more. My Mom also really inspired me as she read to me just about every night when I was a small child (before I could read). She also signed my sister and I up for a children's book club when we were very small. I loved the book "Mrs. Nelson is Missing." My Mom actually used the idea in that book on her class once. Funny stuff!

Well, now you know what my inspiration was and continues to be.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend!


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Male Bashing - The New American Sport?

Pajamas Media: Ask Dr. Helen: Is Male Bashing Curable?

The article above highlights a disturbing trend that gets much discussion at my house. Let's face it: we don't treat men in our society with decency and respect. Somewhere along the line, it became trendy to ascribe all of society's ills to men.

For the most part, men have ignored it best they can and have turned to their own affairs. However, when you do have an opportunity to truly discuss things with the men in your life, you will soon discover that there are some real concerns there.

I've never understood why people of all sexes, races, religions, and nationalities couldn't simply treat each other with basic human dignity. I'm sure I'm not alone in that thought. It saddens me to see children not treat their fathers with respect, to see fathers becoming more alienated from their families, and to see men fall behind (there are now less men pursuing college degrees than women).

In some ways these concerns are overblown, but it doesn't mean that it isn't an issue. I know all too many women who expect everything to be handed to them and then disrespect the men in their lives. I know how the men in my life have been treated, and I don't always like what I see.


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Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Record of Protests

While I was researching the latest protests in Berkeley, I came across this chronicle of protests that highlights most protests from approximately 2002 until today. It is a fascinating website whether or not you agree with the protesters. It certainly demonstrates that our freedom of speech is alive and well. You may get the feeling that California is still living in the 1960s. If you get a chance to look at the site, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Much more later...



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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New Feature!

I spent much of yesterday trying to get things in order after the weekend and not being home all day Monday. It is amazing what a mess two people can make!

I also put some thought in to how I want to proceed with my writing, and in particular, this blog. I came up with an idea to highlight a different writer each Sunday, and I even know who I will profile first! I'm very excited about it!


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Monday, February 18, 2008

What A Day...

Today was a mixture of frustration, boredom, entertainment, and pride. Let me explain. You see, I had plans to head to my hometown of Standish to visit my Grandmothers. I have one Grandma that lives in Omer and another that lives in Standish (Standish and Omer are approximately seven miles apart). Both are widows and both live alone. I enjoy spending time with them both and realize that I won't have them forever. That said, both can get under my skin if I am around them too much. I'm simply being honest, and it is just a part of life.

Well, things became a bit more interesting when the weather forecast called for rain on Sunday and freezing temperatures last night. You add in heavy snow melt and you are in for one heck of an ice issue. As it turns out, it didn't get nearly as cold as they predicted and most of the roads were merely wet, at least here in Bay City (Bay City is approximately 30 miles south of Standish; Omer is approximately seven miles northeast of Standish).

The thing is that all the schools in the Standish area announced Sunday evening that they would be closed today. They were preparing for the ice (they have already had six snow days this year). As it turns out, many of the country roads near Standish (there are many back roads that are not paved, not well-maintained, and a part of busing routes for the area) turned into skating rinks!

So where is this leading? Well, my Mom is a kindergarten teacher at Standish Elementary School. She had the day off. As my Grandma Reid (my Dad's Mom) and I already had plans to have lunch and then visit my 100 year-old Aunt Arlene, we invited her along.

Now before I go any further, you need to know what I discovered when I hopped into the car this morning. There was an inch of ice water on the floorboard of the front seat on the passenger side. How strange! The only logical way that it could get there was through the floor vent. Until yesterday (Sunday), there was several inches of snow on the front of my car. The ice and snow was above the vents on the front of my car on the outside. As it turns out, the seal that is supposed to prevent this may be broken. Well, it was quite the mess to clean up! Fortunately, there is nothing permanently wrong with my car. I disposed of the water the best I could and headed north.

My Mom, my Grandma Reid, and I had a nice lunch. My Grandma doesn't get around as well as she once did, and it took longer than my Mom and I would have liked. We then went to visit my Aunt Arlene. She is quite the character! She is my Grandpa Russell's older sister (My Grandpa Russell passed away several years ago, and neither my Mom nor I had the privilege of meeting him. He was my biological paternal Grandfather). In September, she turned 100. She currently takes no medication and her memory is still quite good.

The highlight of the visit was a photo album of old photos of my Russell ancestors. Aunt Arlene's grandson put it together for her, and I didn't even know most of those photos existed. What a treasure! The rest of the visit was rather boring, drawn out. With women in their 80s and 100s, you can imagine how the conversation became circular. It was all my Mom and I could do to keep from laughing and remain polite. After an hour or so of making an old woman very happy (Aunt Arlene continuously asks about my Mom and was looking forward to her visit), we left.

After driving from Omer to Standish once again, I stopped to visit with my Mom's Mom, my Grandma Buttrick. She is a character too, and this was one of the best visits yet. Who would think that a woman near 80 would like Stephen Colbert? I kid you not. She and I talked politics, I told her some of my old college stories, and we caught up on family gossip. She was in a great mood as my baby brother had visited her earlier and my Aunt Amy was just leaving as I got there. Somewhere along the line, it began to snow.

As I headed from Standish back to Bay City, it became a whiteout. It was hard to see on the expressway, and there were several people hauling trailers (mostly snowmobiles). Well, I happened to get behind a rig (SUV with a trailer) that was from out of state (I'm not sure from where). Evidently, they were from the South as they did not know how to drive in snow. The trailer started to sway and the driver did the exact wrong thing - hit the brakes. When you hit ice and start to slide, you do not want to hit the brakes. You take your foot off of the accelerator and drive out of the slide as best as you can. As a result of this person slamming on the brakes, I was forced to hit mine too. There was almost an accident, but fortunately, I know how to drive on snow and ice. Once I started to slide, I straightened out the wheel, made sure the passing lane was clear, and moved into the passing lane. Accident avoided. It was not fun driving home in a snow storm!

Fortunately, I made it home in one piece. My car is in one piece and dry. What a day!


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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Trying Something New...

I just came across this and thought that it would be neat to share with everyone... I used to have the fridge magnets. I put it at the bottom of the blog in order that it will always be on the main page.

More later...


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Eclectic Mix Sunday

Today's post definitely has an artsy them. The Natasha Wescoat link is one that I forget to include in an earlier piece I wrote about her work. Her work amazes and inspires me (at least from the pictures I saw). The second is a link to art work produced by a relative. I was quite impressed! Nothing else really caught my attention thus far today.


Natasha Wescoat Main Site
2 dogs glass - for the art of glass

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saginaw Spirit Hockey Game Last Night

Last night Brian and I, along with his brother Todd and Todd's girlfriend Rachel, went to a Saginaw Spirit hockey game. For those who don't know, Saginaw, Michigan is only about 15 minutes away from Bay City. Bay City and Saginaw, along with the nearby city of Midland, make up the Tri-Cities.

We ended up going to the game due to the fact that Brian and Todd's Aunt T won six tickets (she and her husband met us there). During the intermission between second and third period, she got to ride on a utility vehicle that used pneumatic guns to shoot t-shirts into the crowd. We originally thought that she'd get to ride the Zamboni, which would have been very cool. Anyway, we had a great time, even though the Spirit lost. Quite frankly, they stink, but it was still fun.

Personally, I had forgotten the history between Stephen Colbert and the Saginaw Spirit. Heck, their cutest mascot - Steagle Colbeagle the Eagle (one of two mascots) - is even named after him! You can read about the whole thing by checking out the links below. It is funny and interesting.

Highlights of the evening included fights on the ice, all kinds of promotions, and a rowdy bunch of junior high football players that sat right behind us. All in all, a fun evening. I have to admit, it was kind of strange having them play "O Canada" before the "Star Spangle Banner," but it is understandable as the Saginaw Spirit is part of the Ontario Hockey League (actually, the only US team in the league). Yes, that's what you get for living in Michigan - a special closeness to Canada. In fact, my parents now own a cabin in Canada (Ontario) and spend quite a bit of time there.

Strange that this should be my first hockey game. I went to one of the best hockey schools around - Michigan State University. For all of the time I spent in Munn Ice Arena for special events, I never did get around to going to a game. I grew up watching the Red Wings go for back to back championships in 1996 and 1997 (and winning BOTH titles), so it isn't like I didn't have an interest.

Ah well, it was a great first experience, and I'm sure it won't be the last.


Saginaw Spirit Website
Wikipedia Article
Wikiality (Stephen Colbert) Article
Michigan State University

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LEGO Childhood Nostalgia

This article brought on a wave of childhood nostalgia for LEGOS. For those who don't know me that well, from the ages of approximately eight to twelve (I'm now 27), I loved playing with LEGOS. In fact, I built quite the LEGO city in my parent's basement. I had a hotel, a train system, a fire house, an airport, the Space Shuttle on a launch pad, a cafe, and more. I put a lot of time and effort as a child building it (and I didn't exclusively go by the books) only to have my baby brother, who was only two at the time, decide it would be fun to act as King Kong. Well, after he destroyed my creations, I packed the LEGOS away for good.

Even though I packed them away long ago, LEGOS had an impact on me. After building that city, I looked at everything as an opportunity to create. I put my efforts into school and my grades due to the fact, at least in part, that I saw an opportunity to eventually create a portfolio of skills, experiences, and interests. Until recently, it served me very, very well. It took me around the globe, to the heart of the world of academia, to Texas twice, and to the corporate world. Recently, I've found that same creative spirit in writing. Before you think that that is an obvious statement, let me explain. I've loved to write longer than I ever played with LEGOS. However, like a lot of amateur writers, it was just for me. You see, my LEGO creations and academic achievements were always on display for everyone to see. I didn't care what people thought. Until recently, it was a different story with my writing. It was private, just for my personal pleasure, and I didn't want to have to explain it. Now, I'm finally much more open with my writing and I'm looking forward to putting that creativity to good use once again.

You can count on one thing: If I ever have children, they will have lots and lots of LEGOS - and Mom and Dad just might have to play too. Did you love LEGOS as a child too? I'd love to hear your stories! It is hard to believe that they've been around for 50 years.


LEGO Website
LEGO Article

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Del.icio.us and Stumble Upon

I spent yesterday evening completely redoing my Del.icio.us account. You can find my bookmarks here. If you haven't checked out delicious, it is worth taking the time to check out. You can create your own profile of bookmarks. That way, wherever you get online, you always have your bookmarks with you. There are also great plug-ins for FireFox that allow you to "tag" a favorite website to your delicious account right from your internet browser. It is incredibly easy to use. My bookmarks could keep you busy for weeks! Check them out and let me know what you think.

Also, I've recently updated my profile at StumbleUpon. I've been registered with them for 3 years now, but have only now really taken the time to discover its features. It is a great way to discover and promote websites. You can find my profile here. I plan on using it more in the future.

That is it for now!


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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day - Take It or Leave It

I'm the first to admit that I don't care much for Valentine's Day. It is true that I love the colorful, lacy, old-fashioned Valentine's Day cards and such. I, like many women, love the colors red, pink, and purple, but that's where it ends.

Valentine's Day has always been over-commercialized, but it seems to get worse every year (I would not be sorry if the Vermont Teddy Bears went away). Since when do you need a specified day of the year to show your family, friends, and of course, your significant other, just how much you love and appreciate them? I don't.

In fact, as a woman, I find some aspects of Valentine's Day downright degrading. Let me start with perhaps the biggest offender of all - the Vermont Teddy Bear commercials. Since when is it a great idea to portray women as children? All of the commercials I've seen for this company play upon the absolute worst stereotypes of women. They are all over-dramatizing getting a Teddy Bear. Some of the commercials emphasize that you can get "personalized" bears that come in nurses uniforms and such. Personally, it is kind of offensive that they only mention "traditional" jobs held by women (i.e. nurse and teacher). Not to knock nurses and teachers (they are some of the most important people in our society and I have several public school teachers in my family), but come on. How many people really want lots of things associated with their profession? Personally, I don't.

Another thing is lingerie. Nothing wrong with it as a present if you know the woman in your life would like it. Heck, it might even be a good idea due to the fact that it could be a present for you both. It is just annoying how it is expected. To some people, it sends the message that you better keep yourself up, or I'm leaving. Just think about it for a minute. Is there much lingerie out there that comes in a size larger than 14? Where's the pressure on the men?

OK. So there's my little rant on Valentine's Day. Brian (my boyfriend) and I probably won't do much to celebrate it, but that's OK. We tell each other we love each other all of the time. We don't need a special day to do so. Good luck to all of the card stores, lingerie boutiques, and flower shops out there. I know it's rough, and understand why it is promoted the way it is. Just don't expect me or my boyfriend to fall for it.


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John McCain - Simply the Least Rotten Apple in the Bunch?

I love politics and have since I was very young. I remember listening to President Reagan's speeches and watching "Meet the Press" before I was even seven years old. Shoot, I've been a full-out political junkie practically since I was born (Kinda goes well with my geek image, doesn't it?). I was even voted "Most Likely to be Politician" as a high school senior (along with "Miss Studious" - talk about a kiss of death!).

Well, during my five years at Michigan State, I had the opportunity to hear President Bush (43), President Clinton, and John McCain speak. As a freshman and sophomore (the 2000 election took place during my sophomore year), I was a big John McCain supporter and was disappointed when Bush got the nomination. Remember, this is before John McCain supported some of his more maverick pieces of legislation.

Today, as it becomes more and more certain that John McCain will be the Republican nominee for the 2008 election, I'm left conflicted. Am I disappointed that John McCain doesn't represent more of what I believe in as a conservative? Yes. Do I think that he'll be good for our country right now? Yes. What concerns me most is the reaction that extreme conservatives are having towards McCain. They would rather vote for the Democratic nominee (as long as it isn't Hillary Clinton, of course) than support McCain.

Recently, I've spent a lot of time reading the comments of conservatives regarding McCain's candidacy on Michelle Malkin's blog. Quite frankly, they are narrow-minded, self-serving, and inflexible. A lot of people are whining due to the fact that John McCain is so flexible in his beliefs. This is precisely whyI think he'll be good for the country. We've already seen what inflexibility can get us, it is time to come together. However, it takes two to tango. The whole thing will depend on the Democrats making the same jester. We'll see what happens, but we have to try.

Personally, I've lost a lot of respect for the ultra-conservative sector of the Republican Party (if you think that I'm going to support a Democrat, you're out of luck!). However, I have a feeling that if we elect a Democrat to the White House (whether Obama or Hillary), it will be a disaster for national security (I'll be the first to admit that it hasn't exactly been stellar under Bush 43). In that one area, John McCain has a decided advantage.

While there may have been better candidates out there (Fred Thompson comes to mind), I'll be proudly supporting John McCain. The Republican Party could have done a lot worse. My biggest fear is that the Democrats won't move to the center. If that's the case, we'll have more of the same.

So, Aunt Tara, now you know where I stand (my aunt recently ended a letter asking me how I felt about John McCain). I just feel fortunate to live in a country where I can freely discuss politics online, with my family, with my boyfriend's family (and we do discuss a lot of politics!), and in public. That is one piece of the American experiment that is very much alive and well.


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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My MySpace...

Last spring, I finally broke down and joined MySpace. You can visit my profile here. For years, I saw no value in joining. I was, and continue to be, a member of several websites - and at the time, MySpace just seemed like overkill.

Boy was I wrong! It has been a great way to keep in touch with old classmates, make new online friends, and express creativity online.

If you haven't joined, you may want to take a second look. You might just reconsider too.


My MySpace Page

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A Few Good Political Blogs....

I've struggled with just how political this blog should be ever since I started it nearly 3 years ago. I personally have strong political convictions; however, I don't want to make people feel uncomfortable simply because I may have different political views from them.

Then the protests in Berkeley happened. Quite frankly, I'm outraged and hope that all Federal Funding is cut off. How dare they attack those who are fighting for our freedom! It is one thing to disagree with the war, it is quite another to completely trash the US Marines - or any branch of the Armed Services.

I'm truly disgusted. Included below are some very interesting political blogs that I check regularly. Click here to sign a petition protesting the actions of the Berkeley city council. If you would like more information on the how the whole thing got started and contact information for the council members, you can find it on Michelle Malkin's blog here.

I would have posted something when this first came about, but I didn't ever think that they'd take it this far. It is getting stranger and stranger by the day. I have to admit, I'm enjoying the counter protest. Check out the sign the young woman is holding! You can find it here. Let's just say that I agree with her sentiments completely. Here is the entire article by Michelle Malkin.

It is truly amazing how everyone is covering the events in Berkeley, yet all of the Presidential candidates are keeping quiet... Is it a sign of worse things to come? First it will be the UK (they're already well on their way), and then it will be us. It goes way beyond Democrat, Republican, and Independents (Hi Michy!) now; it is about survival and making sure that we as a nation are protected.

Included below are some great political blogs to check out!


Pajamas Media
Michelle Malkin
Little Green Footballs

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Post Secret Community

Did you know that Post Secret has a community (forum)? It is actually a very active community.
The whole Post Secret idea still fascinates me. I've been a fan since 2005 at least...

Amazing. I'd love to come up with such a concept...

Check it out!


Post Secret
Post Secret Community

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Shameless Plug! lindseyrussell.com

Somewhere along the line, I forgot to mention my website - lindseyrussell.com.

I revamped it completely, meaning I removed bad links, added a few ones, corrected mistakes, and removed information that is no longer accurate. There are some drastic changes coming soon (more details later)! I'm very excited about it.

In the meantime, I'd love to have feedback on what I have now (it isn't going away when I redo the site; it is just going to be incorporated into one area of the site). Please take a minute to check it out!



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Michigan's Other Side...

Don't ask me how I came across it, but I found a website and active community (forum) centered around weird, unexplainable phenomena in Michigan. Well, I joined the forum, became active, and now have a piece published on their website! Check it out! You don't have to believe in ghosts and legends to enjoy the forum and website - I'm a skeptic myself.

I hope you enjoy it! Links below...


Witchy Wolves of Omer Plains
Michigan's Other Side
Michigan's Other Side Forum

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Tales from Abroad - Michigan State University

I apologize for not getting around to posting last night. It just didn't happen.

There was so much I came across yesterday that I wanted to share with everyone! So here it goes:

I rediscovered the Tales from Abroad essays on the Office of Study Abroad website at MSU. For a little bit of background for those not in the know, I am an MSU alum. During my five years there, I studied abroad no less than five times. I participated in two semester programs (one in Ecuador and one in Spain), as well as various summer programs (one in the United Kingdom, which started it all, and two different programs in Mexico). My senior year at MSU, I even worked as a Peer Adviser in the Office of Study Abroad.

To make a long story short, I've been well aware of the opportunity to have essays pertaining to Tales from Abroad posted on the website for years. I don't know what it is, but up until recently, I've been very reluctant to write about my experiences studying abroad. They are so personal, so wrapped up with who I am that it has been difficult finding the right words.

Well, that is now the project that I'm working on. I want to write about those experiences! Watch for my essays here, on Tales from Abroad, and on my website. I'll keep you posted. I've included links below! Enjoy.


Tales from Abroad
MSU Office of Study Abroad
Michigan State University

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Monday, February 11, 2008

An Artist from Standish, MI - Who Knew?

I came across Natasha Wescoat's art a little while ago... It is just plain cool! The best part is that she grew up in Standish too... and graduated just a year or so behind me. I remember her name, but not her.... STRANGE.

Anyway, it is great that we have a successful artist from Standish...

Check out some of her work! I will post more about her later... there are a couple of additional post coming this evening. It has been an interesting day, to say the least.

Natasha's Blog

Natasha's Old Art Diary

Natasha's Witchy Wolves


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New Links!

Now that I cleaned out the blogroll, I've taken the time to add a few new links. Most include various forums I participate in from time to time. Enjoy!


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Updated BlogRoll...

There has been so much going on in my life lately that I couldn't properly fill everyone in all in one post. I will eventually get there...

In the meantime, I've been in the process of updating this blog. I painstakingly weeded through the hundreds of links I had on my blog roll. What is left are interesting websites, well-maintained blogs, and solid resources for those interested in building the online universe.

Watch for big changes coming soon (within the next couple of weeks).


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