Sunday, May 29, 2011

Destination Monday #4

It would be silly for us to give you (our devoted readers) places to visit without recommending our hometown of...

Parkville, Missouri...

Located about 15 miles North of Downtown, Kansas City. 

In the shadow of Park University is downtown Parkville - a great little shopping/strolling area. A lot of the buildings are old and refurbished, and some are even houses (like the B&B on Main Street). You can just park your car near English Landing Park, and walk the streets. There you'll find (my favorite tea shop) Shabby Hattie'sStone Canyon PizzaMini-Golf (my former place of employment), and the Parkville Coffeehouse, along with loads of other shops (like a science store and an antique mall) and little restaurants.

If you head up 9 Hwy, you'll pass the Parkville Nature Sanctuary (a great place to hike - there's a lot of great scenery like an old building and a waterfall), and you'll come to another shopping center. Located there (along with the library) are a lot of great restaurants like Nick and Jake'sAgave, and Cupini's.

Parkville's especially great during the 4th of July, Christmas on the River, and Parkville Days (a weekend devoted to celebrating the town, naturally), when they have fairs (including a ferris wheel and the ever-popular Aladdin) and fun booths and music.

Ironically, even though I've lived here for almost 18 years, I have no good pictures of Parkville. Typical. If I get some this summer I'll be sure to add them to this post later. If you don't already live here, you should come visit!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Career (verb) - Move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way in a specific direction.

If you could make your ideal income at any job...what would your profession be? 

Today's economy is really rough - that's not news to anyone. Even the people living under rocks know that no one has enough money, there aren't enough jobs, gas is too expensive, and the prices for everything are increasing while our paychecks either decrease or stay the same. Most of my friends from my high school graduating class don't have jobs, or at least, we don't have jobs in the fields we've chosen to go into. Seriously. I get asked all the time about my friends and I's jobs and I'm hard pressed to find anyone my age who is currently in the field of their choice (let alone bringing home the bacon. More like we're bringing home the bacon bits - you know, the dried bits of flaky grossness found in a can in the dressing isle - if it's bacon, shouldn't it be refrigerated??).

The annoying thing is, as children of the 90's, we grew up with a lot of hippie education tactics. Aside from planting trees every Arbor Day, we were constantly, and I mean constantly, told to pick a career choice that would make us happy. Not "pick a career choice that's smart," or "pick a career field that is growing," or even "pick a career that will make you financially stable, even if you don't enjoy it."

And here's why I think that is: I think the generation teaching us (and yes, that's some of you) is unhappy with the job choices they made, and out of the goodness of their hearts they told us to do something that would make us happy, because in the end, happiness is better than money. I don't disagree with this philosophy, and I don't disagree that their hearts and minds were in the right place. HOWEVER, my generation is getting royally screwed over right now, and yes, that is a fact.

But, as an unemployed High School and Middle School English Teacher (who has yet to use her degree) and a Music Technology Major (who has yet to use his degree)...we can't do a darn thing about it except to keep trying to find better paying jobs in better fields.

But what we can do about it is to find some perspective. 

It's always been my life philosophy that I shouldn't have to do anything I don't want to do because I only have ~80 years of this life to live, so I sure as heck shouldn't waste my time doing something I dislike. (Hence why I remained mostly unemployed through high school and college - true story). Ideally, we can't all do exactly what we want for the exact pay that we want, but I think it's good to take a step back from reality to decide what we could be doing if "anything were possible" (like our elementary teachers told us). Because maybe by recognizing what we would do in the ideal, we can bring ourselves closer to finding the paths to get us there. 

"I'd be an usher dude at the ballpark. Wipe off people's seats. Watch Baseball." - George L.

"I would run a coffe shop/pastry cafe with the beach." - Amber L.

"A day trader. Or financial analyst." - Mark R.

"Buyer for TJ Maxx/Homegoods!!" - Dianna R.

"A Baseball statistician." - Nathan W.

"I would be a profession movie critic. Getting paid to do what I love to do. Watch movies." - Jason H.

"I think I would be happy with eighty thousand working part time but it's not very logical. Sounds good though hee hee." - Denise M.

"Haha all that my current career path is missing is financial stability, so we'll go with what I'm doing! Researching happiness/spirituality/meaning in life at some university's psych department. Orrrr maybe I would be a blogger or a cook!" - Caroline L.

"...Um...probably working with the court system to help abused/neglected kids...something I've always wanted to do, but never really looked into." - Sharon C.

"Hot person gyno." - Travis R.

"Cook I suppose...though I wouldn't want to be a chef or work in a restaurant. I would want to be Paula Deen." - Nova Fleming

"Film or TV Producer." - Michael V.

"I really like being a REALTOR, just wish I could make my ideal income. Actually, I would enjoy it more if I could do the business in a beachside community!" - Janet R.

"Doing something that helped to better someone else's life." - Julia S.

"I would be an independent contractor doing computer programming." - Dean V.

"A travel journalist, or the host of my own travel show!" - Kelly D.

"Teaching high school, furreal." - Charlie R.

"Photography or chasing after serial killers." - Megan R.

"Maybe something where I get to help some kind of non-profit for kids or teens...I have felt called to be a teacher...maybe something with leadership...maybe...that's kind of a tough one...I would be happy doing so many things." - Mark C.

"College Professor." - Ben C.

"Either a dancer or a counseling psychiatrist." - Emily B.

"Either a pizza deliver person..or something that involves professional shopping." - Maggie R.

"I know this is going to sound corny, but I cannot see myself in any profession other than the one I am in already. When I read Helen Keller in 6th grade, I knew then. Every day is a new challange and through their eyes that are blinded physically, I see and learn something new! After 31 years, I get up excited to start my professional day! I am very, very lucky!" - Kathy B.

"I don't think this job actually exists but I would want to be a person that looks through houses that are for sale. I don't want to be a real estate agent, I just want to go and look at the houses and then be done! Or someone that takes care of baby tigers/big cats. That would be awesome, too!" - Courtney M.

"Pediatrician." - Mark S.

"Writing reviews for video games." - Cecil S.

"Chef. Or Beach Bum. (Addendum: or professional taste tester)" - James W.

"Writer or TSOL Teacher." - Kaitlin G.

"I want to be an image consultant. I want to be able to coach people to be able to come across to others the way that they want to, whether it's through counseling, wardrobe advising, etiquette, etc." - Sam G.

"Teacher." - Jen R.

"I rather enjoy watching other people do their jobs! I think it would be awesome to observe people, possibly evaluate them, and then provide the necessary resources to help them or their program grow and improve. It'd be like take your child to work day...only it'd be take this random chick to work with you so she can watch you pull a pointy object out of some idiots side day." - Kendalynne H.

"I would travel and visit my friends. Other than that, I would go play with Shamu at Sea World or shop for a living." - Tracy Y.

"Escort." - Jeff W.

"Professional roller coaster rider, or professional vacationer!" - Shelby M.

"Economics Professor." - Joe W.

I don't know if you would call it a profession...but if I could do anything...I would do equestrian therapy. Working with horses and people with physical or mental challenges. Working with a trained dog, doing canine search and rescue is another thing I thought would be rewarding." - Sue W.

"I would like to work in a crash lab. Or on a race team." - Aaron R.

"I'd still be a math teacher." - Kurt M.

"Civil Engineer." - John W.

"Writer." - Brock S.

"Silly rabbit, I would be a fireman or course, or a male stripper." - Tristan S.

"I guess I'd still want to teach German at a University." - Lorene P.

"Um...we'll go with a Scuba Diver. I'll have to get over my fear." - Abby W.

"I would be a foster parent or do something that helps families, especially kids, get a step in the right direction." - Rachel S.

"Teacher." - Stephanie A.

"My ideal job, without a doubt, would be a stay at home mom!" - Jennifer S.

"I guess I would do product review either with cars or tech stuff. I would like to get to travel and try new stuff for free and give a review for it. I think it would be fun. I could do it for anything I like really, instruments, cars, tech gadgets, stuff like that." - Stephen W.

"Film archivist and preservationist somewhere like the National Film Preservation Foundation, MoMA, or The Library of Congress. I want to research, study, preserve, archive, document, and essentially save silent filmography." - Vanessa W.

"Professional Squirrel and Bird Catcher." - Anya (okay, she obviously didn't say that...but I feel that if she could talk, this is what she would say she wants to be.)

Job Types By Category

Arts (film, literature, art, etc.) 12% (dark blue)
Sciences (medicine, computer, technology, etc.) 24% (red)
Humanitarian (teaching, animal, or human services) 26% (green)
Business 12% (purple)
Entertainment (shopping, cooking, sports, etc.) 26% (light blue)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Destination Mondays #3

This week's Destination Monday features Stephen and I's former temporary city of residence - and the town in which our Alma Mater is located - Warrensburg, Missouri. (90 miles East of Kansas City)

Warrensburg, Missouri

To all of you disbelieving folks out there - yes, I am recommending that you may want to travel to "The Burg"...and here is why:

Pine Street is loads of fun. You have to go to Heroes for a Long Island Iced Tea or an Unknown Hero and onion rings. YUM. Also recommended is Fitter's for a good view of the street, karaoke on Tuesdays, and live music on Wednesdays. Also worth a daytime visit is the enormous antique shop, Those Were The Days. They have everything - literally. Pine Street is the "happenin" place in the burg - there's tons of restaurants and coffee shops (and of course, Rockin Sports - the used music warehouse) that are worth a visit - and bars and "clubs" at night. And you can wander up North Holden Street (perpendicular to Pine Street) for lots more shops and fun stores. Now, if you're looking for something off of Pine Street to do at night, then Cadillac Ranch is the place for you (don't let the overwhelming amount of Jack Daniel's paraphernalia overwhelm you on that website). It is the place to be on Thursday night's for line dancing and 2-for-1 drink specials.

Of course, there are also educational things in the burg. You can always visit the University and go to the bookstore, walk the (beautiful) campus, or check out awesome new rec center that just opened this January. Or you can visit one of the awesome parks in the Burg, likeBlind Boone Park or  Lions Lake, or golf/walk/bike/hike/fish in Pertle Springs (there's also an observatory here for the Astronomy classes at UCM - very awesome).

Don't forget to check out The Marching Mules at a UCM football game. 

Giant Bear outside of 13-Hwy Antique Shop

I like to feed the ducks at Lions Lake.

All in all...Warrensburg's not a bad place to visit.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"The Learning Corner" - Part One

Vanessa asked me to come up with a blog post idea, so I decided to go with what I know. Basically my intent is for people to know why something needs to be done,  the basic idea of how something works, and ways to do it so they can save money, make informed decisions, and hopefully have less stress about technology and homes. She named this segment The Learning Corner hosted by (me) Stephen Waters. 

The first area that I’m going to concentrate on is your car.  This is one of if not the most expensive things that you own and is most likely to have problems due to its complexity and all the moving parts.  Proper maintenance is key to saving money in the long run and to keep it on the road and out of the shop.  Later I will also cover some normal repairs that you can attempt yourself or you can be familiar with them so you can make educated decisions when your car is in the shop.

One of the most important and the most common maintenance item is engine oil.  Changing your oil regularly is key to keep your engine running properly and reducing wear.  The reason oil needs to be changed primarily is that it gets dirty.  Carbon and water from combustion collect in the oil creating wear particles and acid that wear down and eat away and the surfaced of the engine.  Changing the oil at normal intervals and using the proper oil helps to keep things in your engine clean and protected.  I will discuss two main points when it comes to engine oil, change intervals, and oil types.   Obviously this is a lot of info so take away what you want from it.  I’m not intending everyone to become an expert but this info can be helpful so you know why you are doing this and not just because someone told you to.

Oil Types:

When either buying oil or taking your car in to get changed you will probably see three types of oil: Standard/Regular, Synthetic Blend, and Full Synthetic.   

·       Regular oil is made from refined crude oil and has detergents added to it to reduce dirt and water build up.  This is good oil for shorter change intervals and is usually the cheapest of the three types.

·       Full Synthetic is oil made typically from compounds other than crude oil to form the lubricant.  Sometimes they can be synthesized from components of crude.  This oil is more resistant to higher pressure and temperatures.  Also many manufacturers put in more detergents to extend the time between changes.  If your owner’s manual specifies oil changes longer than 5,000 miles or you have a light that tells you when to change your oil you will need to use synthetic.

·       Synthetic Blend is a combination of regular oil and synthetic oil.  It was intended to give extra protection while saving money.   Honestly there isn’t a whole lot of benefit in using it unless you want a little extra protection in a towing or heavy use vehicle without spending the money on synthetic.

Change Intervals:

By far the most common that people know is every 3 months or 3,000 miles.  This interval became common in the 1960’s and 1970’s when all cars became equipped with oil filters from the factory and more modern and durable engine designs became popular.  For older cars running conventional oil this is still a good idea.  Modern cars have better engine designs and can usually stretch the interval to 5,000 miles on conventional oil unless you are hard on your car or tow. 

If you are running synthetic in a newer car your interval can be anywhere from 7,500 to 15,000 miles.  This is usually specified in your owner’s manual.  When going longer between changes it is never a good idea to use regular oil and you must use synthetic.  This means those $20 oil change specials you may see around town are not for you.  In my opinion 15,000 miles is very long time between changes and suggest going no longer than 10,000.  Frequently these longer intervals are suggested by manufacturers that cover the oil changes for the first few years so they can claim they cover maintenance but save money.

Other Info:

As far as brands go you will hear a lot of opinion and marketing on this.  Really if you are getting your oil changed regularly and consistently it doesn’t matter.

Viscosity or weight (i.e.: 10W30) is how thick the oil is.  Refer to your manual or a sticker under the hood to find out what is suggested for your car and stick to it.  Most older vehicle require 10W30 and most newer vehicles require 5W20 or 5W30.  It is important to use the suggest weight for proper protection.  Too thin for your engine and parts start to rub together and wear out very quickly.

A good tip to prolong the oil life and keep it clean is to avoid short trips, especially in the winter time.  Warming the car up to the normal temperature and driving around boils off any water or condensation in the oil reducing acid buildup.  This does not mean letting your car sit and idle for 15 minutes before leaving because this doesn’t actually help much and can actually lead to more wear and tear on the engine. 

Stephen and Sherry - 1985 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser
(For people who don't speak car and driver:
an awesome station wagon)

See you next time for a "how to" on changing the oil on your car.


(Addendum: James says this segment needs to be "SIY: Stephen It Yourself.")

Monday, May 16, 2011

Destination Mondays #2

In our continuing feature (and don't forget to check out the links in gold)...

...Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Now. If I had to choose one vacation that I'd been on as my favorite...hands down, Vancouver, Canada wins. There's no competition. Especially with scenery like this:

Photograph 2010: from 99 Hwy. 

North on 99 Hwy to Whistler
- a drive I cannot recommend enough.

and this:

Lions Gate Bridge

I's hard to say 'no' right? Well if that's not enough to convince you...

...You might like the Capilano Suspension Bridge, shopping at the ethnic vendors and quaint shops in the Lonsdale Quay Market (which is also a hotel we highly recommend), or driving/walking/biking through Stanley Park where you can see Totem Poles or have tea. Or, if you want to see it all at once, try the Vancouver Lookout.

Photograph 2010: North Vancouver and the Lonsdale Quay
 from Stanley Park

Totems in Stanley Park.

As far as dining...the one restaurant you cannot miss is the Water St. Cafe, located in beautiful, historic Gastown. The seafood is superb, and the view is inimitable. 

The Gastown Steam Clock - the only  Steam Clock in the world.
(And, it's just across the street from the Water Street Cafe) 

The Water Street Cafe
Gastown. It's pretty
(you just probably don't want to hang out there late at night).

Stephen and I went to Vancouver, British Columbia on an extreme budget, with virtually no planning. We just showed up, walked around, asked the concierge for suggestions, and did the "free" stuff (like driving through Stanley Park and up to Whistler on 99 hwy). We definitely recommend this method of travel - but if your budget is a bit more, there are countless more things to experience in Vancouver. It's our #1 travel destination recommendation.

Oh, yeah. This is the "Scenic Point" on the drive to Whistler.
You're going to want to stop and see it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Destination Mondays

Welcome to Destination Mondays: the newest feature of our blog. 

Since it's Summertime here in Missouri (at least today; it's 92 out), it's got us thinking about traveling and vacations. So, in order to make your Mondays more enjoyable - every Monday for the next few months, Stephen and I will be providing you with destinations (and supporting information - check out the gold links) that we think YOU should travel to!

Our first destination (and one of our favorites) is Gulf Shores, Alabama

Located 50 miles from Mobile, Alabama on the Gulf of Mexico, is Gulf Shores, Alabama (there's also Orange Beach, AL - which is adjacent and basically the same place), where you will find beautiful beaches with powdery-white sand, shell and crab hunting, delicious seafood, and all the relaxation any one could ask for! Plus, there's just something so mind-numbing about the salty Gulf air.

The perfect ocean to swim in - calm waves, shallow waters...

- My entire family would definitely recommend staying at any of  these houses, with the beach as your  backyard (literally). You can fall asleep listening to the waves, or walk the miles of beach at any hour (yes, miles). It's the ultimate getaway. 

Photographed 2011: Cotton Bayou Beach Access in Orange Beach, Alabama.

-There are golf courses and a great outlet mall, and a short drive away there's historic Fort MorganBattleship USS Alabama, and the always-awesome Naval Aviation Museum (definitely worth a visit!). Then there's the dining. Yum. Stephen, James, and I's personal favorite (see addendum) is Bubba's Seafood House (NOT related to Bubba Gump). Also highly recommend is LuLu's, and of course you have to visit The Hangout (I mean, come on, it's called The Hangout). ***

My Favorite Tourist Trap: Souvenir City

-Trips to Gulf Shores may include sightings of the following:  Manta Rays, Sand Crabs, Blue Herons, Sand Dollars, Hermit Crabs, Pinchy Crabs (not the scientific name, obviously) , Sea Turtles, American Green Tree Frog, Jellyfish, and countless other types of wildlife. Pretty much, you never know. 

Photographed 2009 - Entrance to
Terry Cove at Perdido Beach

Don't forget to take your sunscreen! (Seriously - you will burn without it)

Photographed 2011: Orange Beach, AL

Beautiful Sunset over Perdido Beach and the Perdido Bridge.
Photographed 2011

Photographed 2011: Sunset over Orange Beach, Alabama.

***Addendum: You absolutely MUST go to Doc's Seafood Shack. Order the Gumbo and Grilled Shrimp. It's the best food in the entire world. I'm not even exaggerating. Next time I go, I plan on ordering the pick four platter with four orders of grilled shrimp and a gallon of frozen gumbo to go. Go now, thank me later.

Doc's Seafood Shack in Orange Beach, Alabama

Photographed 2011: Terry Cove at Perdido Beach

Monday, May 2, 2011

"A Fool There Was" (1915)

“Kiss me, my fool!”

Hooded eyes glow in the yellowed black and white sepia. The Piano sits in a corner, doling out its melancholy voice. The whites of Theda Bara’s eyes pierce time and stand out against tiny insignificant irises of no particular color. Long black strands of hair fall over snowy shoulders as she bends over a suitcase in an ivory nightdress, throwing miscellaneous dresses as her feet stamp with vile impatience.
 The cat-eyed corners over those conversational eyes crinkle in distaste, only to be lost in the scratches and cuts of editors too early in the industry to be criticized. William Fox, in particular, spent hours delicately producing films only to be dehumanized by modern culture. Cleopatra’s grace in exotic dresses and Juliet’s heartbreak are lost with fading memories of a vamp with an inviting mouth. The black mouth of Theda’s glowing cheeks lies hidden beneath the angry set of her three remaining roles as seductress.
            Stamping her large foot once more, unaware of The Piano’s menacing eighth notes, she places her small hands on full hips, her sultry mouth quickly dancing over syllables heard only once. The man in the foreground (Edward Jose) is lost to the sudden and inappropriate movements of the tiny dark-eyed vamp whose kiss infiltrates the screen, quickening the hearts of anonymous witnesses throughout a century.
            Photographs of the vampiress in her gauzy black clothes and curtain of hair lay on the floor of a decaying studio. The film skips as she traipses over to a man, suited and eloquent by the banister railing. Her thick black brow rises with The Piano key. She whispers inaudibly.
A title card announces the passage of time.
            The Suited Man (Edward Jose) stands behind Theda, one hand on her bare shoulder. Her viscous eyes bore into a pale, non-descript woman (Miss Mabel) whose left-hand ring burns her skin. Dressed in black, the non-descript woman motions to Fox, eyes unclear and mouth tripping silently. No title card appears. The Piano tiptoes unconsciously.
A colorless fire. Madame Mystery bats her long-lashed eyes, losing sight of Esmaralda and Carmen in the first blink. Juliet and Cleopatra follow quickly in the second. By the third, the Suited Man (Edward Jose) wilts on his knees. William Fox lies in ashes, bits of charred film held delicately in his fingertips.
            Wrinkles caress the deeply black eyes, but don’t lessen their intensity as Miss Bara wraps her slinky dress around in an overly dramatic fashion, just to be caught by the camera. Silence ensues. Her mouth whispers nothing.
The brown color skips over the Suited Man (Edward Jose) on the floor, whitened eyes sunken behind wooden bars on the railing. The Piano fades as The Vamp steps around the broken man, protectively laying her arms over the empty skeleton, eyes hooded in a hazy glow. 

Theda Bara - Promotional photograph from the 1915 film,
"A Fool There Was," directed by Frank Powell.