hollybrooke: (Usagi in PJs)
Shunning Facebook, and living to tell about it

Tyson Balcomb quit Facebook after a chance encounter on an elevator. He found himself standing next to a woman he had never met, yet through Facebook he knew what her older brother looked like, that she was from a tiny island off the coast of Washington and that she had recently visited the Space Needle in Seattle.

"I knew all these things about her, but I’d never even talked to her," said Mr. Balcomb, a pre-med student in Oregon who had some real-life friends in common with the woman. "At that point I thought, maybe this is a little unhealthy."

As Facebook prepares for a much-anticipated public offering, the company is eager to show off its momentum by building on its huge membership: more than 800 million active users around the world, Facebook says, and roughly 200 million in the United States, or two-thirds of the population.

But the company is running into a roadblock in this country. Some people, even on the younger end of the age spectrum, just refuse to participate, including people who have given it a try.

One of Facebook’s main selling points is that it builds closer ties among friends and colleagues. But some who steer clear of the site say it can have the opposite effect of making them feel more, not less, alienated.

"I wasn’t calling my friends anymore," said Ashleigh Elser, 24, who is in graduate school in Charlottesville, Va. "I was just seeing their pictures and updates and felt like that was really connecting to them."

To be sure, the Facebook-free life has its disadvantages in an era when people announce all kinds of major life milestones on the Web. Ms. Elser has missed engagements and pictures of new-born babies. But none of that hurt as much as the gap she said her Facebook account had created between her and her closest friends. So she shut it down.

Many of the holdouts mention concerns about privacy. Those who study social networking say this issue boils down to trust. Amanda Lenhart, who directs research on teenagers, children and families at the Pew Internet and American Life Project, said that people who use Facebook tend to have "a general sense of trust in others and trust in institutions." She added: "Some people make the decision not to use it because they are afraid of what might happen."

Ms. Lenhart noted that about 16 percent of Americans don’t have cellphones. "There will always be holdouts," she said.

Facebook executives say they don’t expect everyone in the country to sign up. Instead they are working on ways to keep current users on the site longer, which gives the company more chances to show them ads. And the company’s biggest growth is now in places like Asia and Latin America, where there might actually be people who have not yet heard of Facebook.

"Our goal is to offer people a meaningful, fun and free way to connect with their friends, and we hope that’s appealing to a broad audience," said Jonathan Thaw, a Facebook spokesman.

But the figures on growth in this country are stark. The number of Americans who visited Facebook grew 10 percent in the year that ended in October -- down from 56 percent growth over the previous year, according to comScore, which tracks Internet traffic.

Ray Valdes, an analyst at Gartner, said this slowdown was not a make-or-break issue ahead of the company’s public offering, which could come in the spring. What does matter, he said, is Facebook’s ability to keep its millions of current users entertained and coming back.

"They’re likely more worried about the novelty factor wearing off," Mr. Valdes said. "That’s a continual problem that they’re solving, and there are no permanent solutions."

Erika Gable, 29, who lives in Brooklyn and does public relations for restaurants, never understood the appeal of Facebook in the first place. She says the daily chatter that flows through the site " updates about bad hair days and pictures from dinner" is virtual clutter she doesn’t need in her life.

"If I want to see my fifth cousin’s second baby, I’ll call them," she said with a laugh.

Ms. Gable is not a Luddite. She has an iPhone and sometimes uses Twitter. But when it comes to creating a profile on the world’s biggest social network, her tolerance reaches its limits.

"I remember having MySpace for a bit and always feeling so weird about seeing other people’s stuff all the time," she said. "I’m not into it."

Will Brennan, a 26-year-old Brooklyn resident, said he had "heard too many horror stories" about the privacy pitfalls of Facebook. But he said friends are not always sympathetic to his anti-social-media stance.

"I get asked to sign up at least twice a month," said Mr. Brennan. "I get harangued for ruining their plans by not being on Facebook."

And whether there is haranguing involved or not, the rebels say their no-Facebook status tends to be a hot topic of conversation -- much as a decision not to own a television might have been in an earlier media era.

"People always raise an eyebrow," said Chris Munns, 29, who works as a systems administrator in New York. "But my life has gone on just fine without it. I’m not a shut-in. I have friends and quite an enjoyable life in Manhattan, so I can’t say it makes me feel like I’m missing out on life at all."

But the peer pressure is only going to increase. Susan Etlinger, an analyst at the Altimeter Group, said society was adopting new behaviors and expectations in response to the near-ubiquity of Facebook and other social networks.

"People may start to ask the question that, if you aren’t on social channels, why not? Are you hiding something?" she said. "The norms are shifting."

This kind of thinking cuts both ways for the Facebook holdouts. Mr. Munns said his dating life had benefited from his lack of an online dossier: "They haven’t had a chance to dig up your entire life on Facebook before you meet."

But Ms. Gable said such background checks were the one thing she needed Facebook for.

"If I have a crush on a guy, I’ll make my friends look him up for me," Ms. Gable said. "But that’s as far as it goes."

I'm lucky if I log on once a week to check my Facebook page, but considering how I have a crapload of "friends" on there that are mere acquaintances, it's kind of ridiculous. Also, I tend to get left out of goings-on at work because of it, leaving me to feel....well, alienated. I really try not to let it bother me (considering a lot of that Facebook stuff is between the younger workers), but I'm sorry. I don't live my life on a website, and if people really want to get a hold of me, they can call me. I do have a cellphone, after all. I'm definitely one of those people who feel more alienated by seeing everyone else's status updates and fun goings-on broadcast on there knowing that once again, I've been left out.

By the way, I'm sending out Christmas cards and I need addresses from [livejournal.com profile] wonkylibrarian (I don't know if I have a new address for you guys yet) and [livejournal.com profile] iamfiction. If anyone else wants a Christmas card and I may have no address yet, hit me up! (Just email it to me at hbh127@yahoo.com)

Oh, one more thing. Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes! :D
hollybrooke: (Rigby jumping on the bed)
I thought winter was bad last year? It's going to be WORSE this year.

Winter is on the way in Chicago, and it's expected to be as bad as -- if not worse -- than last year.

The Midwest and Great Lakes region will "hands down" be hit with the nation's worst winter, according to AccuWeather.com's long-range report. Chicago, in particular, is expected to get the most snow and cold.

"People in Chicago are going to want to move after this winter," said long-range meteorologist Josh Nagelberg.

The weather service predicts 50 to 58 inches of snow in Chicago, (FUCK, THAT'S A FEW INCHES SHORTER THAN I AM!) not far off from the 57.9 total we saw during the third largest blizzard on record.

"Bitterly cold blasts of arctic air" are expected to send temperatures plunging 2 to 3 degrees below normal in December and January, though AccuWeather says Minneapolis will get the most frigid air.

Last year, the Blizzard of 2011 paralyzed Chicago and snowed in hundreds of cars on Lake Shore Drive.

The record snowfall cost the city and sister agencies $37.3 million, according to estimates released in March. Gov. Pat Quinn requested federal assistance for the cleanup.

Last month, the Farmer’s Almanac predicted “clime and punishment” for many parts of the country, including lots of rain and snow in the Midwest.

Temperatures should feel close to the average this winter for the Chicago area, the Almanac predicted. That means a perfect environment for heavier-than-normal precipitation.

You bet I'll be moving after this winter. By next winter, I hope to be moved out to Southern California. :D

*sort-of-related tangent* I finally sat down with Mom to have THAT talk today. The topic of conversation came up when we were discussing how much longer my brother's GF would be living with us. Mom doesn't think it's going to work out with her and Hunter, to be honest, and I don't blame her. ( She likes to spend spend spend her money, and she just got a speeding ticket, and we can totally see her and Hunter having arguments over money.) Then Mom said she doesn't expect Hunter to move out anytime soon; this is his home, and he is welcome to live here as long as he needs. Same applies to me. Then she kind of laughed and said something about how I'll never want to leave now, but I laid it down and told her if things work out and I get accepted to the art school I'm working hard on getting into, I'll be moving out in about a year.

Now Mom knows I've been looking into art school for animation, and she already knows I've looked into a few already. The Illinois Institute of Art is pushing for me to enroll in classes that start either this week or next week, even though I've told them I don't want to rush into a decision that quickly because I AM looking at a couple of other schools. (Plus, the other schools I'm interested in want a portfolio submission and Illinois Institute of Art has not requested one. I think that speaks volumes right there. And I STILL have my heart set on CalArts, even if I have to relocate all the way across the country.) So Mom wanted to know which one would require me to move and where to. So I had to tell her, "California."

She wasn't pissed off or anything. It was kind of hard to tell her reaction, actually. All she said was, "....That's very far away," and pointed out the only family we have close to California are my cousin Robin in Oregon, and Dad's cousin Donna in Colorado. And that I wouldn't be able to just come home whenever. I told her I've taken all of that into consideration, because it's not like I'm rushing into this without thinking about that kind of stuff. The only time I'll probably get to see my parents or Hunter or Bo (Oh GOD, I don't know how I could handle leaving my poor dog!) or Gramma Julie or Kevin (and I don't even know if I can handle a long-distance relationship) again would be Christmas and possibly the summer. So yeah. Sacrifices will have to be made.

Like I said, this isn't a decision I'm making lightly. Mom seemed to take it okay. But I think she might be scared that I will get accepted and will be leaving her.

*sort-of-related tangent* Today we set off some bug bombs in the house, so we had to evacuate for two hours. Hunter went to work. Mom and Gramma went to do some shopping (it's good therapy for Mom to get moving around). I put Bo outside with some kibble and fresh cool water, and I intended to go to the park in town to work on my sketchbook. But no. I retracted my car's sunroof (it was GORGEOUS outside) and just cruised around Lowell, Cedar Lake and Crown Point listening to 97.9 FM and 103.9 FM (the local classic rock stations) for two hours. It was a good way to unwind after the couple of weeks I've had, with painting and work.

But by the time I got home, OH GOD, Bo acted like he hadn't seen me in ages and was all, "How DARE you leave me outside like that for two hours?! I missed you! LOVE ME!!!!!" Bless his doggie heart.
hollybrooke: (4 billion years of evolution)
"God sent Hurricane Irene."

Hurricane Irene and the recent East coast earthquake were directed at America's politicians, according to a statement from Michele Bachmann.

The Minnesota congresswoman and presidential candidate told an audience gathered at a Shriner's temple in Sarasota, Fla., Sunday that God was trying to communicate a message about fiscal responsibility via the two recent natural disasters. From the St. Petersburg Times:

"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending."

Bachmann's comments immediately stoked a firestorm of media attention. In a follow-up statement, Bachmann's campaign said Monday the candidate's observations were merely a joke, according to Talking Points Memo.

"Obviously she was saying it in jest," spokeswoman Alice Stewart told TPM in a statement.

Stewart did not immediately respond Monday to The Ticket's request for comment.

A clip circulated Monday of Bachmann's comments shows the lawmaker clearly smiling and nearly laughing as she delivers a similar message about "God's wrath" during that speech.

Bachmann is an evangelical Lutheran who has long stressed her personal relationship with God in public forums. She previously revealed that while serving as a state senator, she asked God for guidance "and just through prayer I knew that I was to introduce the marriage amendment in Minnesota" that defined marriage as between one man and one woman. She also has said that God gave her and her husband visions of marrying one another prior to their first meeting, and that God called her to run for Congress.

For some, Bachmann's comment this weekend immediately brought to mind televangelist Pat Robertson, who infamously claimed Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for legalized abortion.


For crying out loud, I can't stand this woman. She makes Sarah Palin look sane.

For the record....if she had actually studied in her school science classes (it's easy to blame God when you flat-out didn't pay attention to your Geology classes in school), here's how hurricanes are formed.

Ahhhhh, today is a fine day for science! )
hollybrooke: (Motherly love?)
What kills me the most about the Casey Anthony verdict? THAT BITCH WILL PROFIT OFF OF THIS! Book deals, interviews, a made-for-Lifetime movie, the works. I'm already hearing that she stands to earn at least a million for this sort of stuff. (Unless Jane Velez-Mitchell is correct and it'll backfire because of the bad public opinion people have about her.) It's amazing. She's a high school dropout, was unemployed for two years and lied about a job that she didn't have to everybody, wrote bad checks on her best friend's and grandfather's and own parent's accounts....and will profit off her own daughter's death. This makes me even more sick than hearing about how much that twat Amber Portwood made from "16 and Pregnant/Teen Mom."

And you know....nothing will change. She'll be back out to partying. Getting more tattoos. Sponging off of George and Cindy. Living "La Bella Vita." Unless she's "found God" while in prison and vows to turn her life around and actually do something substantial with her life. (Which, you know, we can only hope she does.) Mom and I both think George and Cindy need to kick her out of their house and make her start fending for herself. But you know they won't. George may want to kick her out (do you blame him?), and Cindy will want her to stay (codependent enabler), and they'll fight about it and finally just get a damn divorce.
hollybrooke: (Evil Homer)
Atheists ad campaigns stir the pot during holiday season

Okay, I'm not going to lie about it. I've had my doubts about religion and Christianity. I haven't actively went to church in a long time. The last time I went to church was for Kevin's dad's funeral, and the only other time before that was when Hunter got baptized. I've done my fair share of reading about the creationism vs. evolution. It's just so scary to think that there may not be a God, and all of the time we spend praying and believing in something that may not even exist could be all for nothing. What then? It's like when you're a kid and you're told that Santa Claus doesn't exist.

I don't even really know where I'm going with this. I want to believe in God, and heaven and hell, and that Jesus died for my sins. But I just have a very hard time taking that leap of faith if it can't be proven. You can prove something more tangible like the theory of evolution with science. I think it's why I'm having such a hard time with this holiday season in particular. I've been questioning a lot of my own beliefs, and trying to form my own opinion instead of just going with what everyone tells me to believe. And I have a hard time telling anyone this because I don't want to be bombarded with a bunch of religious propaganda from the Bible thumpers. (I work in a very conservative, right-wing town. Hell, there's a freaking shrine of the passion right down the road that I pass by every day going to and from work.)

....I just don't know.
hollybrooke: (Bye Bye Birdie)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] wonkylibrarian for linking to this on Facebook! Morbid, but interesting.

Like many Americans, you probably think you're pretty charitable. Perhaps you donate money to the needy or ill, give away your old clothes, volunteer at your child's school or participate in holiday gift drives in December.

But you may be missing something. As you're charitable in life, you could also be charitable in death. This holiday season -- Halloween -- you could start thinking about a kind of ghoulish donation: your body.

J. Nathan Bazzel has already made his plans. In 2001, he signed all the necessary documents to donate his body parts to the Mütter Museum, a part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. A friend of his worked there, and he knew that researchers from around the world came to look at its vast collection of body parts.

Bazzel, 38, is HIV-positive, and he wants scientists to learn from his remains.

"If just one person can take a look at my skull and kidneys, which have suffered from HIV and the drugs used to treat it, and learn something from them -- what a magnificent gift," he said.

He's so impassioned that the same year he signed the forms for his postmortem donation, he donated his right hip, which had to be replaced because of damage from an HIV drug, and then three years later, he donated his left hip.

Bazzel, who became the college's communications director two years ago, has already seen the benefits of having real human body parts on display: When high school students come in and see his hips' deformities, his lecture to them on the importance of safe sex takes on a whole new meaning.

Of course, being on display in a museum isn't everyone's cup of tea. So in the spirit of the season, here are 10 ways you can put your body to use after you die. In many cases, you can do more than one.

1. Donate your organs

Nineteen people die every day waiting for an organ such as a kidney, heart, lung, liver or pancreas. Learn about organ donation, sign an organ donor card, tell your family your wishes, and don't be misled by myths about organ donation. If you like, you can donate some organs but not others.

2. Donate your tissue

Your bones, ligaments, heart valves and corneas might not be of use to you in the hereafter, but they can certainly help someone else. Learn about tissue donation, sign a card, and again, tell your family members you've done this so they won't be surprised when the time comes. As with organs, you can specify what types of tissues you'd like to donate.

Eight more suggestions behind the cut. )
hollybrooke: (Default)
How Barack Obama Became Mr. Unpopular

Here's what I think. President Obama has become "Mr. Unpopular" simply because he was elected president. And nearly everyone that doesn't have a brain likes to blame everything that's happened in the last two and a half years (the recession/credit crisis, unemployment, the housing crisis, the BP oil spill) on him because he's the president. Even though none of which has necessarily been directly his fault.
hollybrooke: (Daria and Jane)
In DC, even the Spelling Bee draws protesters.

By LAUREN SAUSSER, Associated Press Writer Lauren Sausser, Associated Press Writer – Thu Jun 3, 3:55 pm ET

WASHINGTON – The nation's capital always draws its share of protesters, picketing for causes ranging from health care reform to immigration policy.

But spelling bee protesters? They're out here, too.

Four peaceful protesters, some dressed in full-length black and yellow bee costumes, represented the American Literacy Council and the London-based Spelling Society and stood outside the Grand Hyatt on Thursday, where the Scripps National Spelling Bee is being held. Their message was short: Simplify the way we spell words.

Roberta Mahoney, 81, a former Fairfax County, Va. elementary school principal, said the current language obstructs 40 percent of the population from learning how to read, write and spell.

"Our alphabet has 425-plus ways of putting words together in illogical ways," Mahoney said.

The protesting cohort distributed pins to willing passers-by with their logo, "Enuf is enuf. Enough is too much."

According to literature distributed by the group, it makes more sense for "fruit" to be spelled as "froot," "slow" should be "slo," and "heifer" — a word spelled correctly during the first oral round of the bee Thursday by Texas competitor Ramesh Ghanta — should be "hefer."

Meanwhile, inside the hotel's Independence Ballroom, 273 spellers celebrated the complexity of the language in all its glory, correctly spelling words like zaibatsu, vibrissae and biauriculate.

While the protesters could make headway with cell phone texters who routinely swap "u" for "you" and "gr8" for "great," their message may be a harder sell for the Scripps crowd.

Mahoney had trouble gaining traction with at least one bee attendee. New Mexico resident Matthew Evans, 15, a former speller whose sister is participating in the bee this year, reasoned with her that if English spellings were changed, spelling bees would cease to exist.

"If a dictionary lists 'enough' as 'enuf,' the spelling bee goes by the dictionary, therefore all the spelling words are easier to spell, so the spelling bee is gone," Evans said.

"Well," Mahoney replied, "they could pick their own dictionary."


Online: http://www.americanliteracy.com



I.....I just.....I can't even put into words how outraged this makes me. I can understand if you legitimately have a learning disorder which makes it hard to spell, but come on. This just sounds like a bunch of lazy dipshits who didn't apply themselves in school that are pissed off and need something to protest. And not only that, but have the Internet and the use of text messaging seriously dumbed people down that much? It's kind of sad, really

The simple fact of the matter is that when you go to college, professors expect you to be on a higher level of knowledge. If you so much as have one spelling error on an assignment or term paper, they take points off for that sort of thing. They expect a certain degree of professionalism from their students.
hollybrooke: (Coop and Remer (Trey and Matt))
Health Care Reform!

What does this mean for me? This means health insurance will be made available to me, even if it isn't free. I won't be limited to just vision and dental. Yay America!

I can't help but wonder how it will effect Mom, though. I haven't made much of an effort to post about it on LJ, but in a nutshell, Mom had another MS attack. Well, I'm pretty sure that's what it was. But because she had been doing her infusion treatments, it obviously didn't attack as badly as it would normally have attacked. This time around, it was her throat. She's okay now, for the most part. For the first few days since she got home, it was still kind of hard to understand her (sounded more like she had gauze stuffed in her mouth, like she had just gotten back from the dentist). Today, she was sounding much better. But still....those treatments are expensive, and their insurance plan is kind of weird. Especially since Dad's been laid off for about a year now.

So. Now I will have to make the time to talk with Micki in payroll about what this means for us workers. Because I have questions.
hollybrooke: (sparkle lips)
Miep Gies passed away today at the age of 100. For those of you who don't recognize the name, she plus a small group of others helped the Franks hide from the Nazis during the Holocaust.

If it hadn't been for her, Anne Frank's story would've never been told.
hollybrooke: (Default)
Why the hell were people getting their panties in a bunch over this yesterday? I want an answer. I agree with everything President Obama had to say: no more excuses, work hard and make the effort, and you can't just have a good job handed to you.

hollybrooke: (Michael Jackson eating popcorn)
Because of this shit. But you know what? That's fine. I wasn't really feeling compelled to recap and snark on it anymore. The whole vibe of the show never sat well with me in the first place.

*sigh* I really don't know what to say. People are complaining that VH1 and 51 Minds should've done more thorough background checks, but how can you do a background check on something that hasn't already happened yet? And I feel bad for Megan because...you know, what if this creep had won? (I heard he had made it down to the final four in the competition before he was eliminated, and he even went on to be on "I Love Money 3.") This was the same guy who told Megan that he was looking to get married so he could get his green card, and that he wouldn't make her sign a pre-nup.

Here's the thing. None of these dating reality shows (especially on VH1) are about love. Flava Flav wasn't looking for love; he was looking for easy money. Bret Michaels wasn't looking for love; he was looking for an opportunity to plug his solo career. All of their subsequent spinoffs aren't really looking for love, either. New York, Real and Chance, Daisy De La Hoya, Megan...they all just wanted their own shows and their fifteen minutes. And you don't know what sort of people you'll be getting when you have an open casting for these shows.

Frankly, I think VH1 should do away with all of their reality dating shows and competitions. It's overkill, and this turn of events with one of Megan's former suitors isn't going to make VH1 look good. They need to go back to showing music-oriented shows like "Pop-Up Video" and "Behind the Music." (Although I hear that "Behind the Music" is coming back next month...)
hollybrooke: (pooh hungry)

Over the last three years more than one in three honey bee colonies has died nationwide, posing a serious risk to our natural food supply. One cause of these losses is an alarming phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder, or “CCD.” When a hive experiences CCD, the honey bees mysteriously desert their hive and die. CCD symptoms have been reported by more than thirty-five states across the U.S. and in many other countries. Researchers do not know exactly what causes CCD, but they believe there may be many factors contributing to the problem, including viruses, mites, chemical exposure and poor nutrition.

Why The Honey Bees Are Important To Us

--One out of every the three bites of food an average American eats is directly attributed to honey bee pollination.
--Honey bees are responsible for the pollination of more than 100 crops, including fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and provide 80 percent of the country’s pollination services.
--The honey bee is responsible for $15 billion in U.S. agricultural crops each year.
--Bees fly approximately 10 to 15 miles per hour and visit about 50—100 flowers in each pollination trip.
--To produce one pound of honey, honey bees must visit two million flowers and fly 55,000 miles.
--When a honey bee returns to the hive after finding a good pollen source, it gives out samples of the flower’s nectar to its hive mates and performs a dance that details the distance, direction, quality and quantity of the food supply. The richer the food source, the longer and more vigorous the dance.

The folks at Haagen-Daas ice cream have a goal to raise awareness of the honey bee issue so that our communities can work together to bring them back. They've created a special flavor--Vanilla Honey Bee--to make spreading honey bee awareness that much sweeter. And in recognition of our reliance on honey bees for our food, Haagen-Daas is donating money to help fund honey bee research. In fact, you can help too! Every time you buy a carton of Vanilla Honey Bee--or any of their "bee-built flavors"--you help them get closer to reaching their donation goal.

hollybrooke: ("Is that your natural hair color?")
It's been ten years since the Columbine High School massacre. This happened not even two months before I finished my senior year. After it happened, I remember a lot of us in my senior class just dropping whatever petty problems we had with each other, but you know....sometimes an event like a massacre happening is too little, too late.

Since this has happened, it seems like there have been more reports of trouble with teenagers popping up in the news, and I'm not just talking about events like what happened at Columbine High School. I'm talking about cases like those teenage girls in Florida inviting the other girl over to severely beat the crap out of her, and taping it and posting the footage on YouTube. I'm talking about a parent posing as a kid on MySpace to degrade another teenage girl and drive to committing suicide. And more recently, I'm talking about the parents who are blaming a school for not intervening in a bullying situation that drove their own son to suicide.

News like this just really, really upsets me. Why the hell are today's adolescents so cruel and petty an--dare I say it--brutal? It seems like it's just been getting worse since the Columbine High School massacres ten years ago. I thought we'd all take something from that and learn from it. Apparently, we haven't. Teenagers are worse than ever now, and I'd never thought I'd hear myself saying it or see myself typing it on a computer screen; it makes me feel, well, old.

Who do we pin the blame on? The schools for turning a blind eye to what's going on in between classes and not cracking down on bullying? Poor guidance counselors? Video games? (That's a laugh.) Cliques? Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace? Cell phones and text messaging? Celebutards like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan for glamorizing being a "mean girl," and the media outlets/paparazzi who feed into all of their hype? Or flat-out bad parenting?

I don't know...I just don't know.

hollybrooke: (rio is cute but not that bright)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — DJ AM is seeking $20 million in damages related to a plane crash in South Carolina last year that killed four others.

The celebrity disc jockey, whose real name is Adam Goldstein, is suing the plane's manufacturer, Learjet, and several other companies.

Goldstein is seeking $10 million for medical expenses, lost earnings, profits and economic damages and another $10 million related to non-economic losses, such as mental and physical pain, according to a document filed Friday.

A jury will decide any damage award if the case goes to trial.

Several of the companies sued last year by Goldstein and fellow crash survivor Travis Barker are seeking a trial delay until after a government investigation of the Sept. 19 crash is complete.

A lawyer for Learjet did not immediately return a phone message on Monday afternoon.


I'm posting this because it's going to help me with stuff at Starbright. ;)
hollybrooke: (Evil Homer animated!)
Rolling 24-hour extensions continue

219.933.4183 | Monday, February 02, 2009 | 19 comment(s)

Contract talks between the United Steelworkers and oil refining companies ended Sunday afternoon without an agreement being forged, but representatives from both sides said there were no work stoppage plans today.

Negotiations are expected to continue today as well.

Both sides agreed to continue talks and work on a rolling 24-hour extension without a contract in place.

The union's oil bargaining committee is negotiating with Shell Oil Co., the lead company in the master contract negotiations. The master agreement, or the National Oil Bargaining agreement, will set a precedent for other companies to follow. Each union local must approve the master agreement and local agreements covering issues in each workplace, including overtime guidelines and scheduling.

The national negotiations are in Texas, and, on a local level, they are occurring at the Radisson Hotel in Merrillville.

A call to Shell Oil Co.'s media line Sunday was not returned.

USW spokeswoman Lynne Baker didn't return a call Sunday seeking comment on the status of negotiations. However, a contract update posted on the union's Web site Saturday said, "Please be advised that sufficient progress has been made in our deliberations today to warrant a rolling 24-hour extension at all locations. Discussions are continuing."

According to the union's Web site, the union had rejected three of Shell's proposals as of Thursday.

"Obviously, we're still on an extension, so it would indicate that there's some level of progress being met," said Bob Lofton, USW international staff representative for the 1,100 workers at BP's Whiting Refinery and for local oil pipeline and terminal workers.

BP spokesman Brad Etlin said negotiations have been productive, but more time is needed to continue working on an agreement. He expects work to continue as usual at BP facilities, including the Whiting Refinery, today.

"We're happy with the progress, and we're continuing to work toward that goal," Etlin said.

Etlin said if talks were to break down, the union would provide a 24-hour notice of a strike. Etlin and Lofton said a notice wasn't filed Sunday. In the case of a USW strike, the refinery would not use replacement workers, Etlin said.
hollybrooke: (misfits DO NOT WANT)
Got some bad news. Looks like all oil refineries are going on strike as of midnight tonight.

The problem is that Shell Oil will not meet the demands for their union contracts. And because it's a union thing, all oil refineries will be participating.

You thought it was bad before? Get your gas while it's still cheap; it could be skyrocketing to five dollars a gallon. (At least that's around where I live. It could be much worse elsewhere.) If you're reading this by Saturday morning, it may already be too late.

Hunter thinks this is a joke. "Why would they go on strike with the economy the way it looks now?" he says.

Okay, fine. Believe what you want to believe. But when the gas prices get ridiculously high, I'll be the one saying "I told you so."

hollybrooke: (Default)
It's been a while since an update, and I'm sorely behind on "Rock of Love: Charm School" recaps/commentary, but I'll get to that in the next post. Things have been either busy or impaired by a loss of power on my part.

Today--Christmas Day--is the only day off I got from work this week, which kind of pisses me off. Read more... )

But here's even better news. Read more... )

The weather around here has been pretty craptacular this week, but it's been pretty craptacular in the whole USA, except for maybe Arizona. Read more... )

Tuesday, Kevin and I got together and went out to Applebee's because I had that gift card, and we exchanged presents. Read more... )

Christmas today at Grandma Julie's.....Read more... )

In headline news....Caylee Anthony is indeed dead. We knew it. We've known this for months. It's sad because Casey Anthony so obviously did it. Because she's told so many lies to the police and authorities about the whole situation. Because so much could have been done about this sooner. It's sickening because Cindy and George Anthony are covering up for her regardless. I hope that baby killer gets the death penalty in Florida.

Yeah, a helluva post!
hollybrooke: (cinderella mosaic at WDW)
WalMart death preventable, union says

LONG ISLAND, New York (CNN) -- The death of a temporary Wal-Mart worker trampled by customers amid frantic Black Friday shopping could have been avoided, the union that represents retail workers said Saturday.

Jdimytai Damour, 34, was crushed as he and other employees attempted to unlock the doors of a Long Island, New York, store at 5 a.m. Friday, police said.

"This incident was avoidable," said Bruce Both, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, the state of New York's largest grocery worker's union. "Where were the safety barriers? Where was security? How did store management not see dangerous numbers of customers barreling down on the store in such an unsafe manner?

"This is not just tragic; it rises to a level of blatant irresponsibility by Wal-Mart," he said.

Wal-Mart spokesman Dave Tovar said Saturday that the company had no response to the union's comments, referring CNN to a written statement the retailer released Friday.

The statement said the store added internal security, brought in outside security, erected barricades and worked with Nassau County police in anticipation of heavy crowds.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the deceased," Wal-Mart Senior Vice President Hank Mullany said in the statement. "We are continuing to work closely with local law enforcement, and we are reaching out to those involved."

Damour's death was one of two high-profile violent incidents on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and traditionally one of the year's busiest shopping days.

Police say two men shot each other dead in a Toys "R" Us in Palm Desert, California, after they argued in the store. The fight did not appear to be related to shopping, according to authorities.

At the Wal-Mart, police say that a line began forming at 9 p.m. Thursday and that, by 5 a.m. Friday, there were as many as 2,000 customers outside. A video showed about a dozen people knocked to the ground as the doors were opened and the crowd surged, breaking the doors.

Minutes later, police trying to give Damour first aid were jostled by customers still running into the store, authorities said.

The union is calling for an investigation "by all levels of government" to ensure justice for Damour's family and make sure that such an incident never happens at Wal-Mart again.

"If the safety of their customers and workers was a top priority, then this never would have happened," said Patrick Purcell, a projects director for the local UFCW. "Wal-Mart must step up to the plate and ensure that all those injured, as well as the family of the deceased, be financially compensated for their injuries and their losses. Their words are weak."

The UFCW has long been a harsh critic of Wal-Mart's, arguing that the world's largest retailer offers low wages and poor health care for its workers and pushes competitors and suppliers to do the same or go out of business.

The group has had only marginal success in organizing Wal-Mart workers in the United States and Canada, citing aggressive anti-union efforts by Wal-Mart.

The UFCW has 1.3 million members working largely in the retail, food and food-processing industries.

This was not necessarily WalMart's fault, in my opinion. People want to pin the blame on the store for not providing sufficient safety measures or security. Let's just play the blame game. Who's really to blame? Let's ask the people who were just so hell-bent on being one of the first inside the store the nanosecond that door was unlocked. Let's ask the customers who were ripping the doors off the hinges. Let's ask the crowd of people who just felt they had to go stampeding in like a herd of cattle and couldn't even be stopped to notice, "HEY! I think I just ran over someone! Are they conscious?"

How have we let ourselves as a society get to this point, where we get so crazy that we start getting vicious and brutal over shopping and Christmas gifts. This is NOT what the holiday season is all about.

Here's what I propose stores like WalMart, Target, etc., do on Black Friday to keep terrible things like this from happening. Start treating your customers as if they're in elementary school. Make them go in the store one by one, in a single-file line, slowly. And if you catch them running or so much as breaking into a sprint in the store, kick them out. There's no need to be acting like heathens inside a department store.

OR....they can take a cue from the folks at Disney and do what they do at Disneyland/Walt Disney World when they open the parks. Here's what they do at Disneyland, and I am quoting from The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2008 (published by John Wiley and Sons, Inc.):

"Recently Disney has beefed up the number of cast members supervising the rope drop in order to suppress the mayhem. In some cases, the rope is not even 'dropped.' Instead, it's walked back. In other words, Disney cast members lead you with the rope at a fast walk toward the attraction you're straining to reach, forcing you (and everyone else) to maintain their pace. Not until they come within close proximity of the attraction do the cast members step aside."
hollybrooke: (Dollar Menu Palin)

We have a new president.


hollybrooke: (Default)

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