Reflections from three years of blogging

Flower arrangement

“I believe the term “blog” means more than an online journal. I believe a blog is a conversation. People go to blogs to read AND write, not just consume.” – Michael Arrington

It is hard to believe, but I am celebrating my third year of blogging. On April 22, 2011, I hit “publish” for the first time, not knowing where on earth this blog would go.

My initial thoughts in creating a blog were to chronicle my dad’s Alzheimer’s disease, and seek as well as offer support to others dealing with this dreadful disease. But his illness progressed much too quickly, and I shelved the blog for a while, as we dealt with doctor appointments, emergency room trips, hospitalizations, nursing home care, ICU, hospice, arranging a funeral and ultimately saying our farewells in July of 2011.

I was so busy and stunned from my dad’s death that when I did return to the blogging world, I used my blog primarily as therapy to deal with my profound loss.

In three short years, we have learned to move forward without Dad, which hasn’t been too easy. Every holiday and family event still feels empty to me. But we always toast Dad and know that he is in attendance, just in a different form. I still see him in dreams, and he has a way to send me a message from heaven every now and then.

Once I returned to writing on a more regular basis, I developed a blog following, which is very humbling to me. I truly appreciate all those who read my essays and posts, and I have been able to branch out and get a few sponsored posts and product reviews. It is always fun to test things out and share my findings with my audience. Some of my product review highlights include my time spent as a Verizon Brand Ambassador, and also tasting foods and addressing issues in order to help others along.

I have had the opportunity to share my faith and opinions, lots of opinions, and even share some of my crazy science experiments.

I also dabbled in a little travel, and would love to dabble a bit more! Part of my blogging life has included my military spouse trials. During part of this three-year blog journey, my Army reservist husband was stationed overseas on an unaccompanied tour, and I had the opportunity to travel to London to see him. Then he, along with our oldest son, deployed at the same time. I thought I would lose my mind, but I was able to write and had a good core of family and friends who kept me going strong until they both returned home, safe and sound.

Some days it just doesn’t seem possible that time could fly by so quickly. Since I started my blog, our youngest son has graduated, and our youngest daughter is finishing her junior year of high school. Our oldest daughter is now in our shoes, seeing how quickly time flies as her little ones grow by the minute. We survived severe summer storms and winter’s Polar Vortex – among other things.

Reflecting over the past three years I realize how immensely blessed I am. In addition to a wonderful family and great friends, I have a great support in the writing and blogging communities. I have taken a few refresher courses in writing and blogging; had blog posts featured on Midlife Boulevard, BlogHer and Vibrant Nation; I picked up part-time writing jobs and found friendships with fellow bloggers and local writers. So many positive things have happened just because I have put myself out in the blogging world.

I have read, and been advised by blogging experts that I should focus my blog and position myself as an “expert in the field,” which is kind of difficult as a “Random Rambler.” My interests are all over the map. I like the freedom that rambling gives me – to choose any topic and go with it! But as I contemplate their sound advice, I think I will eventually have to settle with a theme; maybe “Wise Random Ramblings,” incorporating all my sound advice from a half-a-century of life? 🙂

And, from the bottom of my heart – thank you so much for reading and following my blog. When you read, comment and share my post with your friends and family, it means the world to me, and motivates me to keep on writing. It feels more like conversing with friends, and I just love that.

© Lynne Cobb – 2014

 

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Spam – A whole new kind of crazy

“I’ve learned how to use my spam filter pretty effectively.” – Al Yankovic

spamSpam. Oh, spam. You are such a time suck for every blogger. Spam. Spam. And more spam. Like dust bunnies pro-creating and making more work in some secluded corner somewhere, spammers are out in full force, grabbing each key word and twisting my content into a new level of craziness to fit their message. They try so hard to “fit in” to the real comments waiting moderation. They try so hard to be relevant. Continue reading “Spam – A whole new kind of crazy”

This Is Why I Won’t Unfriend You

unfriend“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” – Thomas Jefferson

Something has been really bothering me for a while, and I have to just unload.

There is no surprise that we are a nation divided on so many levels these days. We can’t seem to find common ground on many topics. From religion to politics to the war of words between each other, there is an undercurrent of “I’m right, you’re wrong.” There are no disagreements between people anymore, as differences have evolved into “wars.” People have become entrenched in their camps, drawing lines in the sand, seeing everything in black and white, allowing no room for gray.

For the umpteenth time in several months, I have seen people post statuses on social media, and then request of their friends and followers the following: “If you don’t agree with _______ (fill in the blank), then unfriend me.”

Wow.

Whether it is political, social, religious or whatever, the premise is that if I, or others, don’t believe in their cause or with their opinion, they don’t want my friendship online.

But I also take that as they don’t want my friendship. At all. Period.

I take umbrage with that.

I am blessed that I have a huge family and many friends and colleagues. If I have sent a friend request to someone, or accepted an invitation from another, it is because I value the person and want to be in contact. I want to share in their joys, accomplishments and celebrations, offer support during tough times, commiserate about the weather, engage in dialogue, share recipes or great places to dine, see what is happening in their lives. I want to see photos of their family, vacation, garden, artwork or how much snow was dumped in their corner of the world.  I want to read their blog posts, or read what they found interesting or enlightening. For me, there is a connection with the individual – online and offline – and I feel privileged to be a part of that friend’s life.

But I am growing weary of the the “un-friend” me requests. I may not share your religious, social or political views. I may not like your favorite animal or artist or movie or music. I may not like your haircut or the way you clean (or don’t clean) your house. I may not like the state you live in or the hobbies you have or the car you drive. I may not like the charities you support. I may not like that you don’t support charities. I may not like the joke you shared or the beverage you drink. I may not cheer for the same team you do or like your stance on something or agree with your parenting views.

But I like you.

With all our differences of opinions. With everything that makes us completely different or polar opposites. We have a history. We have shared life and secrets and dreams and conversations.

I like you. My friend.

Why do we need to be in complete agreement on everything in order to remain friends? Why do our differences – or our perceived differences – have to be the end of a friendship – online or in person? Is it easier to let people out of our lives with the click of a mouse than over a meal at a local diner?

Maybe we can just chop our online friend lists so easily, because we see each other as a status with a profile photo and not for who they really are – a living, breathing person.

If I were to unfriend someone each time we didn’t see eye-to-eye, I would be posting statuses and photos for my own enjoyment.

Go ahead and unfriend me. That’s okay. But for the sake of friendship, I won’t unfriend you. Because with all that is wrong in this crazy world, we can’t have too many friends, whether we are in agreement on all subjects or not.

What do you think? Share in the comment section. If this post resonates with you, feel free to share with others.

© Lynne Cobb – 2014

 

A Call for Decency on #Social Media

decency“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” – Said by mothers everywhere, to include Thumper’s mom in Bambi.

I remember, several years ago (okay, really, it’s been decades), my youngest brother and his pal were teasing a kid behind his back. My mom overhead the two, and asked my brother, “How do you feel, knowing you could be the reason someone is crying in their pillow tonight?”

How’s that for a “make-you-think” moment?

I am not sure when it happened, or why, but negativity and nastiness is thriving across the lines of social media, rearing its ugly head in comment sections; personal attacks are found under articles and blogs posted online, in tweets and on Facebook. Like a fungus given the perfect humid conditions, the rudeness keeps growing and festering, bringing itself to a new level – almost daily.

Here are two examples that happened within the past month or so. These are the condensed versions of the posts (links provided), but you’ll get the gist:

  • A public relations executive tweeted a snarky comment about race and catching AIDS on a trip to Africa.
  • A reporter tweeted about the tainted-water crisis in West Virginia, and how they can now work on incest.

Let’s see here: The public relations executive, a high-profiled professional in her field, dealing with social media daily, should have known better. The reporter, discussing a very serious, potentially deadly situation, should have known better. These people have a good number of followers. They are educated. Sadly, they are not alone.

Maybe they thought they were being witty. Maybe they wanted their comments to “go viral.” Maybe they believed that their words wouldn’t follow them.

Maybe they are completely wrong.

Sure, they tweeted out their obligatory apologies. But the damage was done. Once a person puts something out on social media, it is there to stay. It doesn’t matter if you delete your post or comment, there is a good bet that someone has taken a screen shot and propelled the nasty sentiments even further into cyberspace.

Apparently, getting behind a computer screen, a smart phone or some other device makes one bullet-proof? Yeah…no. Maybe that was true back when people disguised themselves under a different handle (and we know how well that worked for a White House staff member a few months ago). To further my point, go read an article on any news website, and you will find nasty comments about the subject of the article, and in many cases, against the other folks commenting.

What gets into people’s heads?

Our tweens and teens sit through hours of anti-bullying classes and seminars on the proper etiquette of social media. What’s the point, when professionals in high-powered careers – those who should know better – negate everything that is taught? What a great example they are setting… not.

I enjoy social media, when it is used properly. It is great to connect to family, friends and business associates who are literally around the world. But it gets tiresome to see the misuse, the nastiness, the passive-aggressive posts and the drama.

If a commenter or poster had to look a real, live person straight in the eye, would the improper, personal attacks and vicious posts and tweets ever get posted?

Please, think before you speak… and post, tweet or publish.

You just don’t know how it may come back to haunt you, and worse, how it could hurt someone else.

© Lynne Cobb – 2014

Have you noticed an uptick in the nastiness in social media? Let me know in the comment section. If you like this post, feel free to share it with others (links to share are listed below).

 

Stuck in a Polar Vortex

wpid-storageemulated0DCIMCamera2014-01-08-16.54.30.jpg.jpg“While I relish our warm months, winter forms our character and brings out our best.”  – Tom Allen

Well, one day I can tell my future grandchildren, “We survived the Polar Vortex of 2014!” My two granddaughters will chime in and tell their future cousins, “It snowed and snowed and then it was so cold, we missed five days of school!”

After being stuck in the house for days – which seems like years – it is comical how I continue to look at the rising thermometer with glee. For the first time in a few days, the mercury is rising, and we are at temps above zero. Seventeen degrees never felt so good.

Being housebound, I’d like to say I accomplished a lot, but that would be the farthest thing from the truth. I could have cleaned closets and cupboards, but I didn’t. Instead, I did a lot of reflecting and observing. Nothing like a weather crisis to bring on some serious people-watching.

So, from my snow-covered, frozen little corner of the world, I have penned what I learned about myself and humanity during a snowstorm and polar vortex:

The Negative:

  • Humans can be greedy. Okay, this news junkie decided to watch The Weather Channel for the first several hours of the snowstorm, as I was curious to see the extent of Mother Nature’s fury. I was in awe of how massive the storm system was. The stories and images of people clearing out grocery shelves was a sad statement. How many gallons of milk, loaves of bread and cartons of eggs do we need to survive a few days?
  • News anchors sound silly. My intelligence was insulted repeatedly with information on how to survive the cold and snow. It is winter. It snows. It gets cold – sometimes brutally cold. Generations before us survived without the idiot lessons – just saying…
  • Concern over animals. I read and heard more coverage on how to protect pets and wildlife from the elements than I did about checking on the homeless and elderly. That kind of bothered me. A lot.
  • Cold is painful. Ouch – walking out the door was like being slapped in the face!

wpid-storageemulated0DCIMCamera2014-01-08-20.10.13.jpg.jpg

The Positive:

  • Humans are compassionate: I heard and saw how good we can be to each other. Wonderful stories emerged of individuals rising to the occasion and coming to the aid of their fellow man, such as helping others free their cars from snow banks, clearing their neighbors’ walkways of snow and helping to start stalled cars. It was refreshing to see and hear of folks putting others’ needs first. Random acts of kindness.
  • Social media: The other evening, I had a great time on social media. I learned how cold it was in other areas of the country, saw incredible snow and ice pictures, and just had amazing conversations with friends, family and neighbors from around the world. We were all stuck inside, but able to communicate, and that was really a blessing.
  • Crash-course in mathematics: Remember the number charts: …-3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3…? Interesting how all of that came back to me as I watched the thermometer drop – and rise again! Glad I can remember how to do simple math!
  • Science nerd: Why not have a little fun? A few summers ago, during a heat wave, I cooked an egg on the sidewalk. With record cold temps, my daughter and I were like giddy kids, wanting to try something new. So, we boiled water, opened the door, flung the water away from the house and watched it vaporize and change its form before our very eyes. First we tried our experiment in the dark, and then during the daylight. Very cool both times. We blew bubbles (after defrosting the frozen bottle overnight) and watched how they solidified and shattered like glass in the cold. A few of the bubbles froze to the wand! Of course we were careful, as true scientists would be, and made sure we were protected from the elements and boiling water. Bazinga.
  • Apologies: I realized I needed to call my mother and apologize for rolling my eyes at her back when I was a teen. Over the past few days, my own teens thought I was overprotective when I wouldn’t let them drive on ice-covered roads. If the State Police advise not driving in certain areas, and schools are closed due to black ice, what makes a teen think he or she is invincible? Oh, their hysterical laughter would have been music to my ears if I was at an open mike night at the local comedy club. But alas, I was not. I was just standing at the door, merely suggesting to have a hat and gloves in case the car breaks down or gets stuck in a snow rut. At that very moment, I knew then how my parents felt. Sorry, Mom and Dad!
  • Teens vs. Toddlers:  Snow days with teens are easier than with younger kids. Why? Because they sleep away most of the day! Enough said.
  • Gratitude: Giving thanks to God that we never lost power, that we had plenty of firewood and a well-stocked pantry, that we have a place to call home and that we didn’t have it as bad as others did – all are blessings to not take for granted.

So, while the fierce winter winds wailed and the snowflakes and mercury steadily dropped, my observation is that during this crazy weather week, there was a lot more positive than negative. That was good.

Yes, our family and many others survived a moment in history. A moment that I pray won’t be repeated. If I never again have the chance to toss boiling water into the air, I won’t complain. If I never hear the words “polar vortex” again, I won’t be bothered a bit. I can safely cross “visit Antarctica” from my bucket list.

For sure, it will be a winter to remember. On the bright side, there are only 70 days until spring! 🙂

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© Lynne Cobb – 2014

If you were caught in the Polar Vortex, what did you do to survive? Any astute observations? Let me know in the comment section!

 

The “Perfect” Christmas

Christmas treeper·fect – adjective -ˈpərfikt/
1. having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.

My morning routine includes watching the news headlines before I head out the door. This morning, Christmas Eve, was no different. I want the headlines – not the fluff – and have done my best to tune out the idle banter when the anchors drone on and chit-chat. However, when I heard this phrase again today, I reached my proverbial breaking point.

How to have the “perfect” Christmas. Ugh!

No, I am not a Grinch or a Scrooge, but I am tired and weary of the media and advertisers dangling a dream that can’t be achieved in front of our faces. There is no perfect Christmas, because there are no perfect people.

It really is just that simple.

People, women in particular, spend time, energy and money chasing that perfect scene. The perfect gift, the perfect baked goods, the perfect tree, the perfect decorations, the perfect outfit, the perfect hair. How much valuable time and money is wasted on achieving perfectionism? I mean really good, quality time, with laughter and memory making – are these lost among the strive for perfection?

When did everything have to be perfect? Not just holidays – but everything in general? What we do, where we live, what we say, what we believe. The truth is, we are flawed, and no matter how much we try, we cannot achieve perfection. That doesn’t mean we should be arrogant jerks, but instead of trying to be perfect, why aren’t we trying to be kind, compassionate and caring? Instead of worrying about appearances, maybe we should worry about how we act towards our fellow man.

Christmas has become a “make or break” holiday. When it doesn’t live up to our perfect expectation, it depresses us. We miss loved ones – gone due to deployments, distance, divorces and death. I understand that part of the holiday all too well. And, for me, I feel that pain whether it is Christmas or Independence Day. But we have become so fixated on the Hollywood version of Christmas, that we have lost the sense of the celebration. If our celebration doesn’t look like one we see on television, then we are doing it all wrong.

Earlier in the week, I kept thinking that it “didn’t feel like Christmas.” I kept wondering why? Am I jaded? Getting older and wiser? Feeling pressured to “feel like it’s Christmas?” I am pretty sure I wasn’t the only person feeling this way.

Christmas is when we observe Christ’s birth. Yes, we can debate the pagan roots of decorations, the actual time of His birth, but, since we do not know the particulars, for all intents and purposes, this is the day Christians world-wide celebrate our Savior’s entry into the world. It is our holy day.

There was nothing perfect about Jesus’ birthday – born in a stable, sleeping in hay. Humble, rustic and for germ-o-phobes, pretty dirty. But here, in the midst of an imperfect world, in an imperfect setting, to imperfect people, there was a moment of perfection – Jesus was born, and He would shoulder our imperfections.

He didn’t come into our world so we would stress about His birthday.

Maybe, as adults, we don’t feel that holiday spirit because we are so wrapped up in making things perfect. Children approach Christmas with sheer joy and anticipation. They aren’t seeking perfection. They are filled with wonder and awe.

My wish for you is to see Christmas as a child. Enjoy the wonder and awe of this Perfect Gift. May you find joy in giving forgiveness, in sharing of yourself and your talents, and in making your area of the world better and brighter for others.

Wishing you a joyful Christmas!

© Lynne Cobb – 2013

 

 

 

 

To the gal who almost side-swiped me…

car

You probably don’t know this, but you almost took me out this afternoon. Your passenger-side mirror was one inch from my driver-side mirror. Yes, I was in my own lane. You, my dear, were not.

I understand that sometimes we drift, and get it back together after a near-miss. Sometimes an animal runs across the road, and we react to avoid hitting it. Or a driver in the opposite direction looks like they may hit us head-on. So, yes, I understand all that, and I am forgiving.

However, young lady, none of that played out. And you wouldn’t know, because your eyes were gazing at your lap, because that was where your phone was perched.

You almost caused an accident today because you were texting. And you don’t even know it.

I dropped my speed down, as I would rather see what you were up to, and avoid any mess you may create. I watched you weave all over your lane. Then you made an illegal turn, and cut someone off, because you were not paying attention. I prayed for the others on the road who would cross your path. And I gave a prayer of thanks that you were no longer an immediate threat to me.

Honestly, I don’t really care what your reasons were for texting and driving. I don’t care if you had a fight with your boyfriend, or your BFF went into labor or your wedding dress didn’t arrive on time. I don’t care if your kid puked at day care or your mom was rushed to the hospital. There is absolutely no good excuse for you to text and drive. And, if you were just coordinating lunch plans, then I admonish you even more. You always have the option to pull over into a parking lot and converse. You do not have the option to text and drive.

You see, there is nothing so dang important going on in your world that you have to take me out of mine. I want to eat dinner with my family. I want to hear my daughter sing at her next concert. I want to go to dinner with my husband and watch my granddaughters play.

Young lady, you may think you know how to text and drive, because it is part of your daily routine. I, as a witness, can tell you this: You can’t text and drive. Really, you can’t. I watched you. It is only because other drivers are paying attention that you have been successful to this point. You had no idea what was happening on the road. You had no reaction time. Oh – and here’s a newsflash – it is against the law to text and drive. But I am sure you know that. You are above the law, because, well, you think you have this skill mastered.

You are young, but you are not invincible, as many in your age group believe. My mid-life wisdom has taught me just how precious each day – and life – is. And, your life is precious, too. Don’t you want to live a little longer?

You are the reason I am apprehensive each time I get behind the wheel. You are the reason I am afraid to let my daughter take the wheel as she learns to drive. You are the reason I tell everyone “be careful” as they head out the door.

Thankfully, I am okay – just angry and a little shaken up over the incident. I will get over it, and I have already forgiven you for scaring me on the road this afternoon. I made it home safely, and I thank God for that.

But, would you please listen? And share with your friends? You can not text and drive. Period. You may think you can, but eventually, you will have to stop. And, most likely you will stop because you will learn a very hard lesson as to why you can’t text and drive. When you eventually plow into another car, and yes, that will happen, I just pray that you don’t kill someone.

Honestly, angry as I am, I really don’t want you to have to pay a tragic price for your stupidity. And the rest of us on the road, well, we really don’t want to be victims of your recklessness.

Have you had enough of people texting and driving? Let me know in the comments below.

© Lynne Cobb – 2013

Update: This post was featured on Midlife Boulevard on Dec. 18, 2013!

 

 

I am one ticked off military spouse

military photo

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

The topper on the latest, most-blatant disrespect of our military members has enraged me beyond belief.

How could something as shameful as denying immediate survivor benefits to the families of deceased military families have happened? And yet it did, to the families of the service members who died in the line of duty since the government shutdown.

Blame it on the government shutdown? Really? How on earth did this happen to these families?

How much more political game-playing has to happen before this nonsense ends? Why must the military continue to be used as pawns in a stalemated, government chess game?

First of all, the description of our “all-volunteer military” is grossly inaccurate. Volunteer does not mean “free.” What it means is that someone’s husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandchild, niece or nephew has answered the call of defending our country, and is willing to lay their life on the line so that someone else doesn’t have to. It means that our country doesn’t have a draft to pull people into the military. It means that someone felt the call to defend our country and uphold the constitution of the United States of America. It means while they are training, defending, performing first aid and going without sleep, someone else can attend college or trade school or live a normal life.

It means that they are defending their fellow citizens’ right to free speech, as ugly as that speech can be at times. It means that people can go to the mall on weekends, or attend a sporting event or sit with a six-pack and watch a game on the weekend. It means that others can be in attendance of their child’s birth, wedding, or graduation. It means that people can gather for holidays and family events – all while our service members miss these opportunities and miss milestones in their families’ lives, making sure that other’s lives are not interrupted. It means that the personal dedication of each one that takes the oath makes our military more professional, because they choose to be there – it is not forced.

Our service member’s families are displaced with frequent moves and deployment rotations that occur more often than some people rotate their tires. The families also serve, by supporting their service member.

As a madder-than-heck military spouse, I have had it with political games played at the expense of our military. There should not be a fear that payday won’t arrive, that benefits and retirement are in jeopardy, that commissaries and libraries close to make a political point. And above all, a grieving family should never, ever, be shut out from survivor benefits to make a point. Words can’t even describe the sick feeling that overwhelmed me when this news broke. What does that say about our nation? Is this how we say thanks?

It disgusts me how our service members and veterans are treated by our government and our country. Injured military members have to wait on a broken system to receive treatment. The jobless rate for veterans is deplorable. Why? Are employers fearful of post-traumatic stress disorder? Fearful of hiring someone who could be deployed again?

And the stereotypes of military families and their spouses are grossly unjust and mean-spirited. Military spouses are considered lazy whiners. Entitlement and discount seekers. Really? Do you know how hard it is to sustain a career when moving every few years? Or work, run a household and raise children under the stress of a deployment? There is never a moment of peace for a military spouse, they know the danger their loved ones face. Should we be left to wonder if our spouse’s pay will be on time, and, here’s the kicker – whether it is correct? Should our service members have that “no pay” worry on their heads while they dodge IEDs and bullets? Do you think that maybe spouses are not whining, but raising legitimate concerns and complaints, hoping our leaders will hear them?

If this nonsense continues, who is going to step up and join the military? And for those who are currently up for reenlistment – will we lose them and their much needed skills? Is this how we thank those that put the uniform on every day – and I mean every day?

It is time for our President, Senate and Congress to act like leaders and stop using the military every time there is a budget crisis. Negotiate – it is your job. It doesn’t matter what side of the political fence you are on. Someone needs to step up with an olive branch, negotiate and start resolving these issues.

It is time for citizens of this nation to realize what our military does – and why. They aren’t out there because they like war. In fact, if you asked them, they would prefer to keep the peace here at home. But they are out there anyway, risking their lives and missing out on time with their families so that others don’t. They serve for the greater good.

They know the risks of their jobs, and are willing to continue on, despite what our leaders do – or don’t do. Our military deserves better than what they have been getting lately. And so do their families, especially those who mourn the loss of their hero, who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

© Lynne Cobb – 2013

 

 

 

It’s the little things…

Of course it’s trivial, but then most things are. – John Malkovich

In larger things we are convivial; what causes trouble is the trivial. – Richard Armour

When you are in deep conflict about something, sometimes the most trivial thing can tip the scales. – Ethel Merman

I loved the above quotes so much, I couldn’t decide what to use. Me – I’m the kind of gal that gave birth four times and didn’t find the pain to be all that intolerable. Mother’s amnesia? Maybe. But heed this warning: don’t be near me if I have stubbed my toe or closed my fingers into a drawer. That kind of pain sends me into orbit. And gives me loads to complain about for hours…or days…

It’s the little things…

So let me preface this post with these simple words: I know that there are much bigger problems looming in this world at this very moment. However, I find that I absolutely, positively, must complain about something so very trivial.

So here goes… Most everyone in our nation is holding their collective breath on what will happen with Syria. And, taking my dear husband’s advice, I do try my very best to not watch the news, as I am a recovering news-watching addict. That being said, the journalist in me, and my inquisitive nature, got the best of me, and I have had the television on more than usual for the past few days, listening to the pundits and experts.

Believe me, I am weary. Last night, I was so proud of myself, as I flipped channels and started watching a documentary. But, this morning, curiosity got the best of me, and while I was exercising at 8 a.m., guess what? Yes, I gave into temptation and flipped over to the news.

Oh – that was a mistake. But, not for the obvious reasons of seeing bad news.

The commercials! Seriously, I wanted to start stabbing myself in the eye with a pencil. Who comes up with this stuff??? I think the advertisements stressed me out more than the content of the newscast.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Pharmaceutical companies: Listen, folks, whoever writes your ad copy is scaring the tar out of me! Even if I had any of the illnesses you have a miracle drug for, your disclaimers make me want to run, screaming the other way. Your beautiful scenery with well-adjusted actors wearing happy faces does not calm me down, especially when I hear this drug may cause me death or diarrhea or insomnia. And if I have to tell my doctor that I am taking other meds before trying this new one, shouldn’t he or she already know that before writing me another script? Just saying… 
  • Weight Loss Industry: Really, I am super-duper happy for the people who have lost lots of weight using your program. Truly, I am. But, when I see the before and after shots, could you possibly admit that maybe, just maybe, these people also used exercise and a personal trainer to reach their goal? That it wasn’t just the food or the pill or shaking something on their donuts and chili dogs and fries?
  • Mattress and furniture stores: Hey, can you update your commercials to reflect that Labor Day 2013 is over? Surely there must be another holiday this weekend (Grandparent’s Day, Caught-a-Mouse-in-a-Mousetrap Day) that we can celebrate so I feel motivated to rush out and get my furniture without paying any sales tax.
  • Save 500%! Okay – really and truly – the save “something percent” commercials are my absolute breaking point. I will tell you this, that 100% of the time I see a percentage-off commercial, I will start yelling at the TV. “Save 50%!” Save 50% off what, based on what? We are never told! Are we saving 50% off the MSRP? Or off the clearance? Off the new customer rate? Off the airspace between someone’s ears? This arbitrary number means NOTHING TO ME unless I know what am I basing my savings on – or off – of! Please, solve this mystery for me, a once-upon-a-time wanna-be accountant who failed pre-calculus but still loves number-crunching.

Whew! I feel so much better now. Again, I know, that there are much bigger, scarier things going on in the world at the moment. But when I yelled at the television for stupid commercials, it made me laugh at myself, and for a few moments, there was a reprieve from the harsh realities of the news.  A little laughter goes a long way…and so does shutting off the boob-tube.

What trivial things rouse your ire?

© Lynne Cobb – 2013

Just for fun…notice anything hysterical about this ad placement?

Too funny! An ad for tattoos, and another for their removal!
Too funny! An ad for tattoos, and another for their removal!

 

 

Taste test – the last entree

Disclosure: I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network Healthy Choice campaign. I have been provided with free products and remuneration in exchange for my honest opinions about the products. All opinions are my own and were not influenced, nor reviewed, by Healthy Choice prior to posting.

baked ziti

Well, I have to say that I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to taste Healthy Choice entrees and their Greek Frozen Yogurt over the past few weeks. What a privilege to be asked for my honest opinions and thoughts to share with my readers.

The last product in the food-tasting series I was asked to try were Healthy Choice Baked Taste entrees. Because I love all things Italian – especially foods – I chose to taste the Baked Ziti. Once again, following the directions, I popped the entree into the microwave for a quick lunch. Our kitchen smelled delicious as the marinara and cheeses melded together. Grabbing my fork, I was excited to dig in and taste the product, and again, I was pleasantly surprised.

ziti in microwave

The pasta was tender but not mushy, and the marinara sauce was very good. And – bonus – the pasta wasn’t swimming in a sea of sauce! There was a perfect balance between the two! Additionally, the entree contained several cheeses, and as you can see by the photo, the cheeses were visible! No hunting around to see that, in fact, cheese was included, as the box claimed! And it was a nice a blend of Italian cheeses: Parmesan, Romano, Asiago and mozzarella.

cooked baked ziti

Because I am a carnivore, I needed a little more sustenance than this entree provided. So, after I tried the product un-doctored, I added some of my own Italian-style baked chicken that was left over from our previous night’s dinner. The entree was a nice compliment to my diced chicken, and indeed made a fine, quick lunch, which I enjoyed along with a small, fresh tossed salad. There are many baked entree choices to choose from, and clicking on the Baked Taste link will give you all the options, plus information about each entree.

Though the Baked Ziti entree was good, and I would purchase it again if I was dining solo, I would use tend to use this as a side dish instead of a main entree, because, well, I have a heartier appetite than most ladies I know! And, going back to my earlier comments in my previous reviews, I would love it if these products contained more organically grown ingredients. But, it is refreshing that there are no added preservatives or food colorings.

Of all the Healthy Choice items I was honored to try, my favorite, by far, are the Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers. For the freshness, presentation and overall taste, I believe they may have revolutionized frozen meals.

It is my hope that this series has been a benefit to my readers. Let me know if you have tried any of these products, and if so, what you have thought of them.

© Lynne Cobb – 2013