Friday, February 21, 2014

I Can See Clearly Now

I don't like making appointments for any medical reasons. I've heard this is kind of a guy thing. Maybe it's just a me thing. I don't know what motivates it. Or maybe what fails to motivate it. I don't have a primary care physician, so when I feel the need to get something checked out, I go to one of those urgent care places you find in a typical strip mall. I haven't been to a dentist in quite some time. And it's been nearly 20 years since I last had my eyes checked.

I have insurance. So it's not like I'm avoiding these places because I can't afford the visits. Actually, with my deductible, I really can't afford the visits. But if I really wanted to make and keep appointments with these medical professionals, I could do it.

A few months ago, I noticed that things in my field of vision were not as clear as they once were. At least, they weren't as clear as I thought they should have been. I noticed it one day in particular. I was driving down the road, about 25 yards behind a Camry. I could make out the Toyota emblem on the back of the car, but it was blurry. I laughed a little. My whole life I've been able to brag that I had 20/20 vision. I guess that was no longer the case.

I say I had not had my eyes checked out in nearly 20 years. But that's not entirely true. A few years back I needed to have a physical for a job. The doctor at the urgent care place (see?) had me read the lines on a standard eye chart. It was determined that my left eye was 20/20. My right eye, not so much. So I sort of had that knowledge already.

But after the fuzzy Toyota incident, I decided it was about time to visit an optometrist.

I made an appointment and I followed through. They blew air into my eyes. They dilated my pupils. And I promise, I didn't freak out. Much. I'm weird about my eyes. In real life, it doesn't matter how dry my eyes are, how much they itch or how much they hurt, the last thing I want to do is put drops in them. Knowing that I could get past those invasive things made me feel a little better about my trip to the eye doctor that day.

I looked through the different lens settings. I was told, once again, that my left eye is in good shape. My issue comes with the right eye. Apparently I have astigmatism, whatever that means. They really didn't explain it to me, just strongly suggested that get some prescription lenses. Awesome. But seeing as how the problem was really just with my right eye, I asked about the possibility of a monocle. The doctor just laughed. I was kind of being serious, though. How many people actually have a monocle? How cool would that be?

So I sat down with the in-house optician. She handed me about 8 different pairs of glasses. She gave her input and I narrowed it down to one pair that I actually liked. Now, I say I liked them, but each pair looked and felt kind of strange on my face. I'm not a glasses person. I've never been a glasses person. But when I picked a pair, the optician was very complimentary. So was the assistant that blew air into my eyes. I still thought I looked a little weird.

The next day, my glasses were ready. That was a lot sooner than I anticipated. So I went back to the office, picked them up and wore them all the way home. As I drove along, I lifted the glasses over my eyes, then brought them back down. I couldn't believe the difference they made in my vision. I had no idea that I had been struggling as much as I had. No, it's not a strong prescription, but it definitely makes a difference in how I see things.

I hate selfies.
So that's the new me. I'm not really used to having these things on my face yet. They're constantly there in the periphery. I can always see the frames. But do not expect me to ever (and I do me EVER) make the switch to contacts. The thought of touching anything directly to my eyeball gives me the willies. But the way I see it, I'm one step closer to the whole Clark Kent thing.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Why I Should Never Be On The Price Is Right

I love The Price Is Right. I usually find myself watching it whenever I'm at home on a weekday. I watched it during the summer when I was home from school as a kid. I watched it during college when I had a break during classes. It's just a fun kind of show. And I always thought it would be great to get on The Price Is Right and drop a disk on the Plinko board. I know there's no actual skill in that part of the game, but it always looks like great fun.

Thanks to the crazy winter weather we've been having this season, I've had plenty of opportunities to sit at home, not collect a paycheck, and watch TPIR. In all that time of watching the show, I've come to a very important realization. I should never attempt to get my name called to "Come on down!"

But why wouldn't I want to hear my name called out? What's wrong with George saying my name? Why would it be so bad to meet Drew Carey? Honestly, those parts would be okay. I'd be fine with making my way to contestants' row and taking a stab at the price of some fabulous prize. And I'm sure I'd remain calm about the whole experience, as long as someone doesn't bid a dollar more than I did. That really irritates me when people do that.

The part that bothers me about the whole experience? The hugs.

Don't get me wrong. I like a hug. I wouldn't necessarily describe myself as a "hugger." It's not my first instinct in greeting people. Even friends and family, more often than not. I will hug when the occasion calls for it. I'm just not the kind of person who feels the occasion calls for it much of the time. I've got to really want to be hugged in order to offer one up.

But you don't get much of a choice on The Price Is Right. Out of nowhere, people are hugging strangers left and right. I'm just not sure I'd be comfortable with that. I'm good with a high five. I might even be able to get past a pat on the back. But the hugging? No. I don't know you random person from UCLA. Just because we're sitting in the same television studio in an audience of several hundred does not mean that we are familiar enough for you to invade my personal space. Back off!

Most of the time, people who know me will generally avoid the attempt to hug me. I don't know if it's some kind of vibe I just give off that says "don't touch." There's a part of me that wishes that was different. Because there are times when I think a hug is a great thing and has a really good feeling that accompanies it. So when I do offer a hug, it seems strange and catches people off guard. But that's just the way it is. I'm not a hugger. Guess I'll have to live with that.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The One I've Been Waiting For

Ever since moving back to Virginia, I've said that part of my reasoning was because I missed snow. I didn't just miss seeing a few flakes falling and accumulating an inch or two. I've missed big snow. I've missed the kind of snow that I used to see as a student at Bluefield College.

I know that my expectations are a little unrealistic, seeing as how I didn't move back to Bluefield. I moved to Roanoke. I moved to Radford. I moved to Blacksburg. These aren't places that see the kind of annual snowfall that "Virginia's Tallest Town" receives.

For the last week or so, meteorologists have been predicting a major snow storm for pretty much the entire Commonwealth of Virginia. I'm always hesitant to believe the forecasters when they say we can expect a lot of snow. I don't want to get my hopes up and then be disappointed. But when the forecast models claimed we could see anywhere from 6 to 18 inches of snow, I couldn't help but get a little excited.

In anticipation of the coming storm, the school systems in the area either canceled or released their students early yesterday. My school did the latter, letting the kids go 3 hours earlier than normal. I got home around 1pm and opened my blinds. I sat in my room and watched. It wasn't long until the snow began to fall. It fell hard and fast.

I don't remember ever seeing the snow pouring out of the sky so quickly before. Within the first hour, it appeared that there was already an inch on the ground. The roads were covered. From my window I could see a snow plow moving down the street and couldn't help but think how futile that act was at that point. After all, the snow was falling faster than any plow could clear the streets.

Early this morning, I went downstairs and looked out the front window. Our yard, the street, my car... all covered. Without actually measuring, I'd estimate a foot, maybe more, of snow covering the neighborhood. As I stared outside, I smiled and thought about how this is the kind of snow I've been looking for.

It's the kind of snow that makes the whole world quiet. You step outside and the sounds that you expect to hear just aren't there. Part of it is because people are generally smart enough not to try going out in the stuff. But part of it is also because all that snow just softens everything.

I'd love to tell you that I'll be using my snow day to go out and play like I did as a kid. I'd love to say I've got a big hill in mind that I'll drag a sled to so I can go down faster than I should. I'd love to say that I'll be building a snowman. But I don't have snow boots. I don't have a sled. I don't have

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

A Dater's Guide to Disney's Newest Princesses

Last April, I posted an in-depth analysis of Walt Disney's line up of princesses. The point of that post was to give my opinion about which of them would be datable if they happened to exist in real life. I'll admit, I was a little hard on some of them. For the most part, however, I feel that I was extremely fair in my conclusions. If you missed that post, please go back and check it out here. It's a little lengthy, but might be worth the time.

Since writing that post, Disney has officially added one more princess to the roster. The company has also released another movie which features two princesses. Although, not long into it, one of those princesses becomes a queen. But for the purposes of this blog, I'll be examining all three of these animated, fictional ladies.

I very briefly touched on the Brave Scottish princess in my previous post. I didn't go into any detail because she was not yet considered an official Disney Princess. Now she is. She's the first Pixar character to be considered a Disney Princess. Looking at Pixar's catalog of films, I'm pretty sure Merida is the only character that carries the title of princess. If you haven't seen Brave, you need to stop reading this right now and find it so you can watch it. It's kind of awesome. Merida is a young woman with untamed red hair and a fiery independent spirit. When it comes time for her to grow up and get married, she takes offense at the idea that she has no choice in who she'll end up with. While three of Scotland's finest vie for Merida's hand in marriage, the princess decides to take the competition into her own hands. She proves herself to be far superior to the men in archery. This causes a rift to form between herself and her mother which leads to all sorts of hijinks and adventures.

Should You Date Her?
It's a little troubling that she will follow mysterious floating blue lights through a dark, scary forest. But I say yes. Though she may not want to date you. As I mentioned above, she is fiercely independent. I think she likes it that way. During the time period in which she lives, independent women were probably frowned upon. Having the personality that she clearly has, she would put a great deal of distance between herself and any man who would attempt to control her. But why should you try and win her hand? Aside from the independence thing (which I consider a huge plus), Merida is someone who isn't afraid to carve her own path. She makes mistakes on her journey, but she admits her mistakes and will fight to correct those mistakes. She takes issue with the fact that her own mother wants to plan out her life for her, she gets angry with her mother, but is able to move past her anger to prove just how much she loves her. Also, she's wicked good with a bow and arrow.

Now we come to Disney's latest princess movie: Frozen. If you haven't seen it yet, be warned, spoilers abound. In the first act of the film, you feel pretty bad for Anna. Well, you feel bad for her sister as well, but we'll get to her later. As a young child, Anna is very close with her sister, Elsa. She gets injured in an accident involving Elsa's icy powers, which causes their parents to freak out and overreact. That overreaction leads to Elsa becoming a shut in and Anna losing her best friend and any knowledge of Elsa's capabilities. She grows up lonely due to the fact that the king and queen decided to close the gates. No one comes in and Anna, apparently, does not go out. Watching the movie, we can assume that Anna is an extrovert, which makes being locked inside the castle a horrible punishment since she can't interact with anyone else. This causes her to become overly excited and extremely naive about people once she finally has the opportunity to experience that interaction.

Should you date her?
I'm gonna go with no. Not that she's a bad person or anything. She's brave to go after her sister in the sudden bitter winter that develops after Elsa's powers are revealed. She fears that her sister is hurting and in danger, so she leaves the safety of her kingdom to find her. She also shows concern for her people and their well being as they attempt to survive the unseasonable cold weather. These are excellent qualities in a Disney princess. But remember how I said it was likely she'd be really naive after being shut into the palace for most of her life? She "falls in love" with the first handsome prince that she meets. Within hours of meeting this guy, she decides she loves him and is ready to marry him. Impulsivity isn't necessarily a bad thing. But the way she does it is a bit extreme. As it turns out, her handsome prince that she so dearly loves isn't exactly a stand up guy. In fact, he reveals himself to be the actual villain of the film, using Anna to take the throne. These are the kinds of things you discover about someone if you date them for more than a few hours. Beyond that, she seems kind of desperate. Again, I'm sure that's due to being a shut in for so long. After seeing independent princesses like Rapunzel and Merida, we take a step backward and find a princess whose only goal seems to be to land a man. If that's your thing, that's okay. It just doesn't do much for me.

I'm not sure that we can officially call Elsa a princess. Once we hit act two of Frozen, Elsa makes it through the coronation ceremony and becomes a queen. She's only a princess for the first 15 minutes of the movie. So Disney may decide not to include her as one of their official princesses. But I'm still going to give my opinion here. This movie is (very) loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen. Elsa is that title character. I'm sorry to say, we really don't know much about Elsa beyond the fact that she has inexplicable powers. My chief complaint with Frozen is that Elsa's character just isn't developed enough. However, just as one can feel bad for Anna, we can feel bad for Elsa as well. Actually, I think I'd feel worse for Elsa. Her parents force her to shut herself off from her little sister and all other people. She's forced to repress her abilities out of a sense of guilt over an accident that occurred when she was just a child. Instead of learning to develop and control her abilities she holds them back. When she's eventually forced to mingle with the people, she loses control. Really, she never had control in the first place.

Should you date her?
I want so badly to say yes. First of all, she's a queen. That's gotta be worth more than the title of princess, right? Next, she has a phenomenal singing voice. Perhaps that's some bias on my part, because I might be a little in love with Idina Menzel. But that's neither here nor there. I said I want to say yes, but I just don't think I can. Like her sister, she's been a shut in most of her life. That's a sad life. I don't think she had as difficult a time with being alone as Anna did. I would argue that, unlike her sister, Elsa is more of an introvert. Maybe that's why I want to say yes to dating her. I can identify with her. I say that about her personality because she appears so uncomfortable around people after the coronation. Sure, part of that is fear of losing control of her powers, but I think a bigger part could be that she's just genuinely unsure of how to be with large crowds. She runs away to the mountains. She sings about a kingdom of isolation while honing her abilities. By the end of her big musical number, she seems to really be okay with being alone. When Anna comes to bring her back home, she insists that she's okay where she is and actually sounds happy about it. Let her be. You know what, I'm gonna say yes anyway. It would be a pretty big deal if a powerful woman like that let someone in. And let's talk about those powers for a minute. It seems to me that a lot of this frustration could have been avoided if the king and queen had just sent Elsa to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. I mean, Disney owns Marvel now, right? I don't see why they couldn't have made that happen. Her powers are unexplained, just that she was born with them. To me, that says mutant. She could have become one of the X-Men. She could give Iceman a run for his money. After all, she not only creates ice and snow, she can bring it to life. And once she learned to fully control her abilities, she was able to make it disappear just as quickly. If her parents hadn't shut her off from the world, she could have learned much earlier in life how to control her power. Her people need never drink lukewarm soda again.

So those are Disney's latest princesses. How far off was I on their royal highnesses? Let me know your own thoughts in the comments.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

I'll Never Get It

Okay. I gave it a shot. Of course, I'm talking about the Puppy Bowl. I'm sure there are a number of people who would claim that I didn't give it a fair shot, seeing as how I only sat through approximately 10 minutes of it (2 of which were commercials).

At least this one looks happy.
I don't understand why this is a thing. No, I take that back. I understand why it's a thing. I just don't understand why it's a thing that so many people like to watch. I'm sure the numbers are nowhere near the numbers seen by the people that calculate ratings for the Super Bowl. But it's enough that Animal Planet insists on airing this thing year after year. Going on 10 now.

To me, it looks like they took a bunch of random dogs, tossed them into a room designed to look like a football field, and gave them a bunch of random chew toys. Then they said, "Hey, let's film this thing!" I'm sorry, but this seems like the stuff that would make for a good YouTube video, not network television.

And the commercials weren't even that good. They're the same commercials you see on cable all the time. Including, but not limited to, the latest life changing invention that you can get five of if you call right now and just pay separate handling fees and Sarah McLaughlin ruining your day with images of abused animals in shelters... twice.

I guess I just don't like watching animals play human sports. Unless they're bears playing ice hockey. Seriously. They're bears. And they're playing hockey. It never stops being hilarious.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Second Month

Today was the first day of February. I don't have much of a blog post for that. I just have a question. How do you say it?

There's an R in the middle of that word. Do you pronounce it? Do you say "Feb-roo-ary?" Or do you say "Feb-yoo-ary?"

Most of the time, when I hear it and even when I say it, I don't pronounce that middle R. Is it meant to be a silent R? I feel like I should know things like that, being the kind of person who picks at people's grammar and pronunciation like it's my job. Just as my mother. She can't form a complete sentence without my giving her a hard time about something she's said.

How about it? How do you pronounce the name of the 2nd month of the year? Let me know in the comments.