Thursday Three: Thanksgiving Edition

November 24, 2011

As most of you know, I’m of the opinion that Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year. You get a whole week off, the food is awesome, you get to spend some quality time with friends, there’s a parade and football games to watch and the original purpose of the holiday hasn’t been corrupted over the years by corporate greed.

It’s also a great time for all of us to take stock of our lives and offer thanks for the many gifts we’ve been given. So this is what I’m grateful for.

1. Family and friends (especially new ones)

Obviously I’m always thankful for my family and friends. My parents and my little brother have always had my back and they’re always there to pick up the pieces after I’ve made some pretty terrible decisions. My parents and I have had our rough patches, but without their love I don’t know where I’d be. And of course my friends have always meant the world to me. They’ve seen me through thick and thin and they’ve stuck by me through hurricanes. Which, you know, is pretty awesome.

But during my college years, I’ve made so many new friends and I’ve even managed to acquire some new family members, including an adoptive mom who is just about the coolest, most selfless and amazing woman ever, three beautiful cousin/nieces (Filipino family trees work in weird, unconventional ways) and a twin sister. I give God many thanks for them.

2. My health

I’m a relatively healthy person. I’ve never broken a bone. I rarely get colds or flus. I didn’t even get swine flu when it seemed to rampage through campus two years ago. My immune system is like a brick wall. I also don’t have any chronic or pre-existing conditions that would force me to stay in the hospital for long periods of time.

I like to think that this is mostly because I take good care of myself, but that’s really not true. I’m just extremely lucky. And I’m also thankful for that.

3. My future

At this point, my future is clouded and hazy. The Rome internship is on the back burner and I’m not entirely sure if it will happen at this point because Italy is going up in flames as we speak and there are all sorts of international, bureaucratic hoops to jump through.

However, I have a job as of now as a cashier at Target and even though I can’t see what’s going to happen past the next few months, I still have a job and I am resourceful and educated enough to know that I’m going to be fine.

So there it is. The three biggest gifts God has given me this year. I am so grateful for every single one of them and I strongly encourage all of you to take stock of what He’s given you this year and offer just one grateful thought or prayer. After all, as Meister Eckhart once said, “If the only prayer you ever say your whole life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

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But wait! THERE’S MORE!

November 14, 2011

So I’ve already discussed the fact that I’m pretty much obsessed with the Food Network. But what I haven’t told you guys is that I’m also really kind of obsessed with kitchen gadget infomercials.

Generally, I’m a huge fan of kitchen gadgets. I can literally spend hours in Williams Sonoma and the Corelle store just ogling at all the different machines and contraptions with complete gadgetlust. I keep a running list in my head of things I’m going to buy once I’m in the moneys. In fact, heaven help any future fiance of mine because he will have no say whatsoever in our wedding gift registry. Most likely it will exclusively include all of the kitchen machinery I’ve ever wanted.

That being said, kitchen gadget infomercials combine two of my favorite things: television and appliances. Any time I’m channel surfing and I see that old lady with that fluffy, thinning and obviously fake red hair talking to an equally old, gray guy, I immediately stop surfing and watch in utter fascination as she spoons omelets out of  and cooks miniature steaks in that weird waffle maker/convection cooker/panini press. Or when that jolly New York Italian chef who looks just like Chef Boyardee is hocking knives that he promises will never dull. Or even when that old guy sells that rotisserie and everyone in the audience screams, “SET IT AND FORGET IT!”

But probably my favorite infomercial of all time is the perennial Magic Bullet infomercial. You know why? BECAUSE IT HAS A STORY! Yeah, it’s almost like an entire TV episode. If you haven’t seen it (and seriously, if you haven’t seen it, you’re living under a freaking rock), a woman named Mimi and her husband (some generic British guy whose name escapes me) held a standard rager for middle-aged people the night before and all their guests are slowly stumbling into the kitchen in varying states of hangover. As they begin the slow recovery process, Mimi and her generic British husband prepare different breakfasts for their guests with the help of the Magic Bullet. It’s the miracle kitchen tool that can not only make breakfast, lunch and dinner, it can also prepare snacks, stop time, make you fly and cure cancer all in the blink of a fucking eye.

Of course, I understand that the Magic Bullet can’t actually do all of these things, especially at the speed that Mimi and Generic-British-Husband make you think it can. You know why? Because they’ve already gathered all the ingredients and pre-chopped the onions and blocks of cheeses into smaller, more manageable pieces. And that muffin batter? They already pre-mixed it! They just added the final ingredients in the Magic Bullet to make it look like it only took six seconds.

However, the Magic Bullet and its famous infomercial have stood the test of time despite its unattainable promises because its infomercial had a storyline. In fact, if all infomercial gadgets (not just kitchen appliances) employed a similar gimmick, I’m sure the manufacturers would find a significant leap in sales and much longer lasting power.

Just a thought.


Texas judge in abuse video

November 2, 2011

Some of you may or may not heard about this story. A video has been circulating the Interwebs recently, depicting a 16-year-old girl being hit with a belt by her father and mother. It turns out that the father is Judge William Adams, a judge in Aransas County, Texas.

According to the description posted with the video, the 16-year-old girl, Hillary Adams, recorded her abuse in 2004. She was being punished for illegally downloading games and music from the Internet onto her home computer. Hillary has ataxic cerebral palsy, which makes her disabled. Also according to the video description, her mother was “severely manipulated” in participating in the abuse of the young girl.

Here’s the video. WARNING: THIS VIDEO DOES INCLUDE SOME PRETTY GRIM VIOLENCE, SO IF YOU’RE SENSITIVE TO THIS KIND OF THING, DO NOT WATCH IT.

Look, far be it for me to be unsympathetic toward child abuse, but this story raises a lot of questions.

1) She recorded the video herself. This means that she actually had the time to set up a camera in the corner of her room to capture her abuse. It also demonstrates a certain level of preparedness, like she knew he was going to beat her. So did she plan it this way?

2) How did neither of her parents notice the camera? From the framing, there was nothing to block the view, below or above. It’s also fairly close to the action and level enough to be seen. How did they not see it?

3) It sure doesn’t sound like the mother was “severely manipulated” in participating. In fact, it sounds like she’s agreeing most of the time with her husband.

4) This video was shot in 2004 — seven years ago. She was 16 at the time, meaning she’s been of legal age for five years already. If the abuse is as bad as it looks, it stands to reason that she would have left the house the minute she turned 18. So why did she wait seven years to upload the video to the Internet? She’s already (presumably) been out of this house for five years now. Was it simply to get revenge on her judge father? If she really wanted to ruin his reputation so badly, she could have gone to a child protection agency with the video the minute after she took that it, while she was still a minor. Then she could have escaped him two years earlier than she legally could have otherwise. But instead she decided to wait until she was 23 and upload the video to YouTube and ruin him on a grand public scale. Now the judge is receiving death threats on the daily, in addition to facing the threat of losing his job.

They say that there are three sides to every story, but every journalist worth his/her salt knows that there are far more. There are multiple facets to this story, more than represented in this video. And I have a million questions for all of those sides.

The content of the video looks genuine, and I sympathize with the girl for that, I really do. But like I said, her actions are questionable and I’m willing to bet the consequences that stem from the publication of this video will be more than she imagined.