Category Archives: Random Awesomeness

Come Play With Me

Thanksgiving 2010
CC BY-NC Flickr user peroshenka

Woohoo!  Welcome to November!  I don’t know about you, but I am SHOCKED that we are a scant 2 months away from 2012.  Let’s hope that whole 2012 being the end of the world thing is a bunch of bull mess or it’ll be here before we know it.

Autumn is my favorite time of year.  The combination of sunny, cool days, bright-colored leaves, and the promise of good times with the ones I love from October 31st through January 1 has me dwelling on my gratitude more than usual.  Well, except for any time I have to go to the mall.  There is NOTHING I loath more than holiday shopping.

But I digress… along with beauty and merriment, this oh-so-glorious time of year also comes with a metric shit-ton of delicious foods in which I love to imbibe.  And while I would NEVER change that (cider doughnuts, fried turkey, casseroles, holiday cookies, mmmmmmm, how could you!?), I’d like to try to maintain some semblance of control over my health as I ride the rest of this year on out. Ya feel me?

Enter: Health Month.  It’s a health-related goal setting game that you can play with your friends!  There are points and spirit animals, teams and badges… it looks like a ton of fun and a very simple way to stay motivated to at least do a few things right by your body through the holidays.

There are different brackets for people who set different numbers of goals, so you are only competing with folks that you could actually beat.  I’m only doing 3 goals, because it’s free and easy.  I mean, why take on more than you have to? Here’s what I’m workin on this month:

  1. Limit soda to 7 glasses per week.
  2. Drink 56 glasses of water per week.
  3. Track my food intake each day.

Easy enough, right?  Actually, it’s probably gonna be hell.  I have a serious diet coke addiction that needs cracking.

Think you got the goods to battle me? Come join me on Health Month!

xo Em

How to Get Pandora to Play Exactly What You Want & Nothing You Don’t

Pandora booth
CC BY-NC Flickr user: niallkennedy

I think it would be fair to say that Pandora is like, the grandaddy of online streaming internet radio music players, right? I know I’ve been using it since ’05 or something–way before it was positioned as the uber-successful commercial enterprise it is today–and it has always been a service I lovelovelove.

But if you never really thought to look into how Pandora’s music selection mechanism works, you may not be getting the most accurate recommendations for your stations.  In my experience, generally Pandora is servin up songs that fall into the same genre as the artist or tag I started a started a station with.  But there are times when I am stopped dead in my tracks at the bizarr-o noises streaming into my ear-holes.  Like, WTF Pandora?  Your little “algorithm” is friggin possessed.

Enter my husband Jeffrey.  Apparently, he has perfected the feedback method in order to teach Pandora exactly what to play.  I’m still testing out his method, but he swears by just this one rule:

NEVER THUMBS UP, ALWAYS THUMBS DOWN

And really, it makes sense.  Pandora’s algorithm is based on 400 “attributes” that categorize a song’s genre, tempo, syncopation, and the like.  Whenever you rate (thumbs up/down) a song on one of your stations, Pandora doesn’t really know what it is about that song that you like.  So it just guesses based on other songs you’ve rated and makes a recommendation for a song with some of the same attributes.  It’s an algorithm, duh.

But if you are the type of listener who only “thumbs up” a song (or god forbid, never rates anything), all you are doing is giving Pandora a wider and wider set of attributes from which to make it’s recommendations.  If all you do is “thumbs down” songs, over time you will teach Pandora exactly what it is you don’t like about certain songs.  Ultimately, you will end up with a narrower variety of artists on your stations–and a MUCH greater likelihood that the songs played accurately meet your musical tastes.

If you are super-picky about your tunes or want your Pandora stations to be as accurate as possible, all thumbs down is the way to go.

xo Em

Dear Neglected Blog,

I miss you so!

I know I’ve been ignoring you since my fabulous trip to Chicago, but things have been quite busy here in Awesomeville.  The most recent development?  I gots my hurr did!

I got my hair did. Cut off 8 inches!

What do you think? I cut eight inches off that mop, effectively ending my husband’s reference to my tresses as “barbarian hair”. He had a point:

barbarian hair

I’m so glad I finally took care of that… I was beginning to look like–as my mother would put it–Maggie Scratch.  Don’t ask me where that comes from.

Anyhow, this was my first haircut of any considerable length in well over a year.  Frankly, I just haven’t cared much about keepin up with the do since I parted (geographically speaking) with my stylist and bestie, Tina.  My stylist sister-in-law did gift me a cut and some color for my birthday last year, but that has come and gone long ago at this point. So since I don’t care much about my hair, I went for the (almost) cheapest option–the Aveda school.

Let me tell you.  IT WAS THE BEST DECISION I HAVE MADE IN AT LEAST 11 DAYS.  If you’re an Ann Arborite (or anywhere with an Aveda school-ite) and don’t feel like paying for a $50 haircut, help out the wonderful cosmetology students at the Douglas J Salon/Aveda Institute.  Because they are learning, they friggin DOTE on you, dude.  It’s all scalp massages and fantastic smells up in there.  They ask approximately one billion questions before doing anything and they have supervisors checking their work, so you are virtually guaranteed a decent, if not FANTASTIC, result.  All for the grand ol’ price of $16.

You heard that right.  SIXTEEN DOLLARS.

Can someone please tell me how my hair could look better with a $50 cut?

xo Em

The Top 3 Most Awesome Podcasts

Once upon a time I didn’t really give a crap about podcasts.  Well, I guess it’s more accurate to say that I was ignorant to the awesomeness that lies within the little ear nuggets.  But there came a time when my iPhone playlists had bored me and I needed some auditory entertainment.  One  early morning bus ride through Atlanta and I was hooked.  The diversity of content and style, as well as relatively few “commercials” made me an instant fan.  Now podcasts are on heavy rotation in my earbuds.  I’ve got several I keep up with, but I decided to narrow it down to my top 3, the ones I never miss.  If you’ve never given them a listen, do yourself a favor and download, buddy.

The Moth Podcast

The Moth Podcast

I LOVE storytelling.  I mean, I REALLY LOVE storytelling.  That’s why I love television and movies so much… I just love a good story.  But what I love even more than a good story is a TRUE story, told to me by someone who has lived it.  That is the beauty of The Moth Podcast.  Live (true) storytelling in front of a crowd.  Often funny, always interesting.

Stuff You Should Know Podcast

Stuff You Should Know

The great thing about the Stuff You Should Know podcast is that you won’t even realize you are learning something when you listen to it.  Hosted by two moderately funny guys from Atlanta, each podcast defines, describes, and explains one (or more) of life’s mysteries.  I now understand the BCS college football rankings and venomous snakes like never before.

Savage Love Podcast

Savage Love

How could we possibly have a top 3 list without some kind of advice/call-in show?  And how could anyone possibly include an advice/call-in show that wasn’t Savage Love?  Dan Savage answers any love or sex related question callers can come up with, from how to handle a polyamorous relationship to what exactly is a male chastity belt?  He is super sex-positive and doesn’t sugar-coat anything.  Great advice no matter how you like to get it on.

Got any podcast gems in your iPod that you think ought to have made the cut?

xo Em

Raffles are Rad

When Jeffrey and I relocated to Michigan I began compiling my ever-expanding list of things that southerners like myself would think are totally weird about the Midwest. I figured if anyone ever wanted to come visit us up here, I could send them the list beforehand so that they are not as shocked and appalled as I was when I first learned of all of these Midwestern idiosyncrasies. But just as there are Michigan things I think are totally weird, there are some that are TOTALLY AWESOME! Peep this:

It is apparently a thing around here (or perhaps just with Bowmans) to–instead of giving everyone that comes to your baby shower/wedding shower/etc a rinky dink party favor they will never use again–raffle off several huge friggin baskets of awesome stuff!  There’s a spa lady basket full of smelly lotions… a big bucket of baking supplies… a tub of all the fixins you need for a rockin Mexican fiesta… you get the idea. Of course, I have seen this before at small community festivals and fundraising events, but never for personal parties. THIS PRACTICE IS SUPER RAD. Even though I “never” win them.

Tonight, though… tonight, I really fell in love. Because this time, I won one.  And it wasn’t just any basket. It was the big, bad mammajamma filled with awesomesauce… the most coveted of them all.

BOO-YAH! A fancy lime green metal bucket filled with martini glasses, margarita salt, pretty lil drink umbrellas, and bottles of Absolut Vodka, Jose Cuervo Especial (DANGER!), sugar-free margarita mix, melon raspberry and lime pomegranate martini mixes, and the world’s best bloody mary mix, Zing Zang! Seriously, if you use some other brand of bloody mary mix, check yourself and UPGRADE.

So now when we’re ready for a lil summer refreshment, we have something other than boring-ol-beer to wet our whistles. For this, we are very grateful to Aunt Julie and Uncle Bobby, who provided these killer gifts in celebration of their very lovely daughter’s impending wedding to a super awesome dude. And while Jeffrey and I are stoked about the whole basket winning thing, we are even more excited to celebrate this marriage. Because they are some cool cats, if you ask me.

xo Em

Mmmmm Mojitos!

mojito

Ever since I read Rachel’s post at the internet’s new new, Lolling About, I’ve felt myself being drawn closer and closer to the summer’s first mojito.  As Cuba’s signature beverage and a south Florida mainstay, mojitos remind me of sunny beaches and sweaty debauchery.  In fact, the drink’s secret weapon is its ability to quench your thirst and cool you off while delivering a near-lethal dose of naughty sauce.  By the time you begin to notice your inebriation, it is too late my friend.

I usually make my mojitos by the glass (actually, I usually order them, but Michigan bars aren’t too keen on this divine libation from what I’ve found), but this time I followed the recipe the ladies at Lolling About suggested and made a whole pitcher.  DANGEROUS.  This stuff is so, so sneaky.  Just look at what it did to Jeffrey:

Tyin one on.

As dangerous it may be, let me tell you friends: this stuff is EFFIN DELICIOUS!  Gon’ ahead and make you some!

xo Em