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Since we’re hating on graphic designers… May 27, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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I went to Barnes & Noble looking for (what else?) CS3 books, and someone had purposely (I hope) left some helpful reading on the shelf.

Actually, they should move the “sex” section right by the “computer” section. I guarantee you they’d move more product. Haha.

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Hahaha! May 27, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in BookLust.
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I’ve been looking for a good InDesign CS3 book lately, and I spent about half an hour last night looking at different books on Amazon.  I just so happened to stumble upon the following review, which made me laugh out loud.  I couldn’t resist sharing it with y’all:

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

By Bob barker “The reviewer” (nashville, tn) – See all my reviews

I bought this book thinking i would learn more about InDesign then i knew. Although i feel it has brought some knowledge to the table, i do NOT feel this book is worth the review of stars others have given and the price. The maker of the book, i give him two thumbs up if he really designed this whole book in InDesign, BUT, he should have used spell check!!! For a book that is telling you that it will help you master InDesign, he has not and this is the worst representation of a typesetter. I feel if someone is telling me i would master something he would of atleast spell checked it. Thats why im giving this book a two. There is sooooooooo much grammer errors, type spelling, and run-ons going to left field that if i didnt know what i was doing, i would throw this book away!!!!! So for any of you that know how spelling, grammer and punctuation is a must for any typsetter, the author gives a bad name to us. Though, this book can be a great intro or a way to freshen your skills, but i would NOT recommend this book for anyone that hasn’t touched InDesign. It does not have any hands-on or come with a CD in lamens terms. Its for a moderate typesetter. Hope that helps you.

*****

I can definitively say that no, Mr. Bob Barker, your review was decidedly unhelpful, especially because it was barely written in ENGLISH.

Le Geocaching Extravaganza May 26, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Two weekends ago, John and I went to a geocaching competition on Mount Magazine.  Geocaching, for those of you who aren’t sure what that is, is basically a high-tech treasure hunt.  You take a handheld GPS unit and download coordinates to a “cache” container that someone else has hidden.  You then go out and find the container, which is often filled with little knick-knacks, and sign a log that verifies your find.  In other words, it’s an awful lot of good fun.

Anyway, John and I wanted to test our mettle, so we signed up even though all of the other teams competing had found over 1,000 caches each.  Us?  We have, like, 40.  Regardless, we packed up all of our gear, fully prepared for an all-day hike-a-thon.

We showed up at the lodge and began evaluating our competition.  Everyone there was at least our parents’ age, maybe older.  Not that John and I are prime physical specimens, but we figured our age would probably be a serious boon.  There were probably 7 or  8 teams competing, which was exciting.  The chatter between groups was happy but competitive; it was obvious that all the people around us had met somehow, some way, before.  We were all undeniably excited.  It seemed like forever before the ranger gave us our first coordinates.

We received our first clue, and right off the bat we started slow.  Turns out that everyone around us had like, top-of-the-line $500 + GPS systems.  Ours is definitely a base-line model, so it took us considerably longer to input our coordinates.  I wrote down the coordinates and John and I hopped in the car, banking on the fact that we could follow the people ahead of us while our GPS found signal.

Anyway, the hunt started out at a breakneck pace and continued that way.  I had anticipated some serious walking, but I thought we’d probably have enough time to snap some pictures of our adventure.  Boy was I wrong.  Instead of hiking from location to location, it was mostly driving with some bushwhacking thrown in.  I knew that we’d be hiking off-trail, but some of the terrain was really difficult.  To add to that, it started raining, and continued to drizzle throughout the day.  By the time John and I had finished (in last place, beaten by a woman who had two knee replacement surgeries), we were soaked.

Was it fun?  Kinda.  I like to take in the surroundings while I cache; seeing the “great outdoors,” as it were, is part of the fun for me.  The fact that we were practically running from place to place, driving a bunch, etc. sort of took the shine off.  I’d much rather cache hunt at a regular pace, I think.  The point of caching is to solve puzzles while spending time outside, and this hunt was more about knowing the roads of the park rather than looking at the natural beauty of the surroundings.  From previous travels to Mount Magazine, I know for a fact that it is a truly stunning place, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that from the hunt.

Riverfest, however, was much cooler.  Stories are forthcoming (and again, no pictures.  I really need to get better about that).

I’m Lovin’: Mac’s NYT Ad May 21, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Lovin'.
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Okay, so we can all admit that we hate banner ads that contain video.  I mean, who wants your ad to begin hocking its wears at you while you’re trying to quietly surf the Internet in Biology?  No one.

However, I just cannot get over the absolute ingenuity of the newest Mac webvertising campaign. I admit, I laughed out loud.  Check it out, and then take a look at this brief review.

**Note: I’m not sure how long this ad will be up.  Make sure you check it out in the next 48 hours or so.

BookLust: Free Range Chickens May 20, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in BookLust.
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Very Clucking Funny

Very Clucking Funny

Simon Rich’s frolicking romp of a book is one of the most unique, and funniest, I’ve read*.  The book–actually recommended by Dooce at some point, I can’t be bothered to sift through her website to find the exact post–was the first I’d read via Lexcycle’s e-book reader, Stanza.  Stanza itself is an application for the iPhone that allows you to download full e-texts onto the mobile device to flip through.  There are some bugs in it, but hey, the price is right (free!) and who am I to turn down free reading material.

Anyway, Free Range Chickens was my first ever Stanza download.  I figured I’d need something funny to get me through Easter in Berryville, because I seriously suspected the whole holiday would be an EPIC FAIL.

When I first flipped (fingered?) through the book, I was surprised to find that the entire thing is written in script form.  These mini-episodes, which are grouped into major parts, are short.  The longest isn’t more than a few pages long.  The unique structure of Rich’s book gave me pause.  On the one hand, I was intrigued by the unfamiliar form, but I worried that I’d downloaded a total junker.  Scripts are hard things to pull off well (just ask any playwright!).

I began the first part, Childhood, and within the first few pages I had actually laughed out loud. As a reader, I catch myself smiling occasionally, but I rarely outwardly demonstrate any emotions the book may elicit.  Rich’s history as a writer for Mad TV and Saturday Night Live shines in the vignettes that he creates.  The dialogue is ironic and poignant; Rich is able to use his own possibly legitimate experiences to touch chords in readers.  For example, one of his first pieces has to do with how a child imagines the conversation between the monsters that live in his closet.  As a grown-ass adult woman who is still afraid of her closet, I completely sympathize. This one, along with the boxing and dissection pieces, have been oft reread and repeated.  I still cannot read The Rules of Boxing out loud without laughing so hard I cry.

Overall, the book is a quick read, which is a little disappointing.  I was able to burn through the thing in slightly over an hour.  I would have regretted this a little more, except that the last few parts of the book–namely the Relationship and God sections–were lackluster compared to the rollicking good time the first half of the book provides.  It seemed as if Rich front-loaded all of his great material and just sort of parsed in a few other pieces in order to make the book brief rather than ridiculously/unforgivably short.  It’s those last two sections that keep this book from being a journal publication (think: literary magazines).

Rich’s brand of humor isn’t for everyone.  Flip through the book before you purchase it: if you like what you see, this book would be invaluable as a pick-me-up addition to any bibliophile’s collection.

4 bookmarks: stylistically unique and very funny, but the end bogs down

* In the true-blue comedy genre…**

** Recently, anyway.

Life List: 31-40 May 18, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life List.
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31.  Write and illustrate a comic series or graphic novel
I’ve loved comics since I was a little kid.  I cannot tell you how many hours I spent engrossed in Marvel’s X-Men series.  I think it’s such a unique vehicle for storytelling.  Not only are the stories themselves poignant and often fascinating, the art is (often, not always) stunning.  I’d like to try my hand at one eventually.  John’s really the artist in this family, but I firmly believe that I can learn anything from a book, so I maintain hope.

32.  Watch the sun set over the Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean is supposed to be a beautiful dive spot.  The nice thing about this particular goal is that I’m giving myself plenty of countries to choose from.  France, Spain…keeping the options open.

33.  Forgive those whom I hold grudges against
I’m a huge grudge holder.  Every once in a while, I’ll have a dream about punching a specific girl from high school in the face.  This can’t be healthy.  I need to figure out a way to truly forgive and forget, especially since this list of “People I Loathe and Despise” is beginning to get unmanageably long.

34. See the Roman Colosseum
I’ve learned so much about this place from Dr. Fredrick, it would be a shame to die without seeing it.

35.  Publish an academic article
I think this would be a) a lot of work and b) kinda awesome.  I’m not sure I’m actually smart enough to do this, but whatever.  Surely someone thinks I’m enlightened enough to publish my crap.

36.  Own two horses
Horses were such a huge part of my life growing up.  I definitely feel their absence in my daily life, and I can’t wait to fill that.  John, of course, doesn’t know how to ride, but he’s willing to learn.  I really can’t wait to yell at him teach him the ropes.  Besides, it will be nice to have them running around again.  I miss being plugged in with the equestrian community, too.

37.  Read every book on that BBC list
If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, I wrote about the BBC’s list of the 100 greatest books of all time a few months ago.  I think this would be a good place to start in terms of varying my reading interests.  Plus, if the BBC said they’re the best, then they obviously must be.

38.  Become proficient at CS4 (or 5, or 6, or whatever)
My first taste of Adobe CS3 came in the designing of my wedding invitations/programs, and it was a blast.  I really think this is going to become a necessary software to know (a la Microsoft Office) in the next 10 years.  Besides, I like playing around in Photoshop, and I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of what this puppy can do.

39.  Attend Courtney and Joel’s college graduation ceremonies
I want to celebrate in the achievements of my siblings (biological and adopted).  I can just imagine how proud I’ll be.  I’m sure I’ll cry like the sap I am.

40.  Learn how to ride a motorcycle
Seriously, I think crotch rockets are so cool.  I know they’re dangerous, but the gas milage/speed is so freakin’ appealing.

Out for the Weekend May 15, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Uncategorized.
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John and I are headed to Mount Magazine for a geocaching (yeah, you read right) competition. I’m sure I’ll return with excellent stories, if not a violent case of poison ivy.

My Experience With The Homeless Man May 13, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Crazy Magnet.
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Ugly truth: I’ve never been fond of the homeless.  Trust me, logically, I have a lot of sympathy for them.  Many of the people who are homeless are suffering from mental instability that they either a) cannot afford treatment for or b) don’t even realize they have.  It breaks my heart to read statistics about homeless veterans, and I really am compassionate to their plight.

The thing is, they still freak me out.  I have yet to have any really decent experiences with the homeless.  This might have everything to do with my crazy-magnet: I probably only attract the super-unstable homeless people.  If I hadn’t been so harrassed by crazies, perhaps I’d be less panicky about dealing with them.  Instead, my heart races, I get a little light headed, I pray fervently, and try to get away from them just as quickly as possible.

Last week I had my most recent run-in with a crazy homeless person.  It was a nice evening, so John and I had gone for a walk.  We’d started about 45 minutes before sunset, so we weren’t able to go very far.  We had just turned around to head back to our house when a man approached us from across the street.  He looked fine enough; he was carrying a backpack and a Starbucks coffee.  He looked tan, like maybe he had a day laborer position or something, so initially I didn’t think much of him.  He stopped us and asked us where the Fayetteville Athletic Club was.  We pointed him in the right direction and he started off.

Not ten steps later, he turned around and looked at us and asked us if we were Christians.

I could have thrown up right then.  It has been my experience that when someone asks you that question, no good really comes of it.  They either spend an hour trying to fight you down off of your beliefs or they try and wheedle you out of money, etc.  This guy looked more like the latter than the former, so I grabbed John’s hand a little tighter to try and get him to answer the question and keep walking.

He doesn’t, of course, and this homeless man launches into this huge story about how he walked into a church earlier that day and the congregation did nothing but take him to Chick-Fil-A for a meal.  Then he goes on and on about how he was really Christian and then fell on hard times because, get this–both his mother and sister are institutionalized for mental disorders.  Right then I was ready to get the heck out of there.

So by this point, John and I have gotten to our “turn off” to go back to our apartment, and he’s been talking to us for 30 minutes.  Since he’s been FOLLOWING us so far, I’m afraid to turn down our street in case he follows us there, too.  I really, really cannot emphasize how creepy this guy is.  He obviously knows his Bible, but he’s so pushy…he keeps sort of preaching on how Christians should take each other into their homes to care for one another.  So, of course, he eventually asks if he can take a shower at our house.  I shout “no” so loudly that it startles both John and the homeless man (who has refused to give us his name, because he’s rejected his other name in favor of a new name that Jesus will give him.  Ooookay).  Instead, John gives the homeless guy his watch to get him to a) wait for us and b) as a guarantee that we will come back for him.

We hustle back to our apartment to grab the Vibe.  John has already called our pastor and is asking for advice, and I’m of the opinion that we don’t need to go back for him.  Against my better judgement, I fix the guy a sandwich and we pile in the Vibe.  I opt for the back seat just in case this guy starts acting funny or something (I grabbed the hunting knife out of my truck just in case).  I’m not sure what I would have done if the guy had pulled a gun or something, but I’m relatively sure it wouldn’t have been legal or pretty.

Anyway, as we head towards the Athletic Center this guy starts getting more and more aggravated.  He starts talking about how Christianity is a prison and asking us, pointedly and angrily, why we won’t let him go to our house to take a shower.  He’s starting to get more and more agitated at this point, which is making me more and more nervous.  I have a death grip on the handle of the knife, certain I’m going to have to stab a man before this thing is all over.

John pulls into the parking lot of the gym as quickly as possible.  The guy gets out, leaving his stuff in the car, complaining about how he doesn’t think they’ll let him in.  John grabs it and hands it to him, just as I was about to get out of the car and toss it out in the parking lot.  Thank goodness–the guy just took his stuff (along with John’s watch) and left.  I’ve never been so relieved in my whole life.  I’m still a little scared of running into this guy somewhere on the street and having him harass me again.  I know it’s unfounded, but still.

I’m just not fond of the homeless.

OMG EMERGENCEEEE May 8, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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HOLY CRAP THE BIGGEST SNAKE EVER IS ON THE STEPS OF MY APARTMENT BUILDING WHAT SHOULD I DO I DON’T HAVE ANY WEAPONS SO I CAN’T BEAT IT TO DEATH ALSO I’M TRAPPED IN MY APARTMENT PLEASE SEND HELP.

J.C AND THE HOLY GHOST AND THOSE SAINTS AND CRAP

J.C AND THE HOLY GHOST AND THOSE SAINTS AND CRAP

Life List: 21-30 May 8, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life List.
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Mmmm, here are 10 more.  I’m surprised by some of the things that are ending up on these mini-lists…

21.  Attend the Kentucky Derby
So, there are many problems I have with horse racing.  However, the Derby is so iconically American that I can’t not like it.  Well, that, and I am DYING to wear a big floppy hat and a sundress to watch the ponies.  Also, wouldn’t it be nice to pick a winner?

22.  Dig for diamonds in Murfreesboro
When I was little, before we would come to Arkansas on our annual vacation my mom would always let me order the Arkansas Department of Tourism’s travel guides.  Every year I would highlight the entire section on Murfreesboro, and every year we’d get sidetracked.  I still remember the daydreams I’d have about finding rubies and emeralds amongst the dirt.  Even though I know it’s a long shot, it would still be fun to go and play in the mud.

23.  Take a gondola ride in Venice
I think Venice is fascinating.  After Rachel went and told me all about it, I’ve been wanting to see it for myself.  What better way to experience the city than by taking gondola through the canals?

24.  Ride down a natural waterfall…again
I’ve done this once already.  When I was little, my dad and uncle snatched my sister, cousin, and I up on a whim and took us to the Catwalks in New Mexico.   It’s one of the best memories I have.  As we hiked up and down through the canyons, my uncle let us swim.  Swim in our clothes. We all took turns sliding down a small natural waterfall and plunging into  the chilly 60 degree water below.  It was fantastic.

25.  Own land
This was one of the stipulations I gave John before we ever started seriously dating.  I made it supremely clear that I want to have a few acres of land.  I’ve always loved my grandparents house–they have enough land that they can do whatever they want, but not enough that it becomes a daily chore to maintain it.  I definitely want to build a horse stable on it.

26.  Become bilingual in Spanish
Like not having read the Bible in its entirety, this is also a source of great shame for me.  Spanish is part of my cultural history, and it’s always pained me that I can’t easily and simply converse in the language.  I really want to learn this because there’s a whole section of my family that can’t speak English, and I feel like I’m running out of time to get to know them.

27.  Write a novel…

28.  …and have it published.
When I was in high school, I used to write constantly.  Was it good?  No, of course not.  But it inspired me to try to be a good writer, which ultimately translated into my degree path.  My uncle once told me that all English majors ultimately aspire to write, and that’s the truth.  I would love to publish a novel one day.  It doesn’t have to be with a major publishing house; just having a limited run with an independent press would be enough for me.  I just want to be part of the literary dialectic that I’ve worked for years to become fluent in.  (And this is my life list, I can end a sentence in a preposition if I want to)

29.  Earn my MA in English
I’m on the  path to this, but it’s something that I’ve always wanted.  I think that earning a second degree is big enough to warrant its place right here.  This is inspiration for me to write a great thesis.

30.  Learn a trademark 3 course meal that I can whip out for guests
Since getting married, I’ve realized that I really like to entertain.  I don’t think there’s anything that says “I care about you” more than inviting people into your house and treating them real special-like.  I’m not a huge fan of cooking, but I do enjoy making something really yummy for other people.  It makes me happy to see them happy, and I find that I like to take care of the people that I love.  Huh, funny that.  Anyway, I want to have a few recipes that I can whip up that are scrumptious.