Saturday, December 31, 2005

Best of 2005

The Photo Friday challenge this week is the Best of 2005. It would be impossible for me to pick my "best" photo from this year. My pictures mean so much to me, whether it is because I think they are artistically beautiful or the content holds sentimental value, there is no best. Yes, I have my favorites, how could I not? So, on the last day of 2005 I give you some of my favorites from a year that has brought me so much change and joy.

mosaic 2

Bring on 2006.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Santa likes me, he really really likes me

I know a lot of people were worried about me based on my last post. I was very worked up about losing Johnny D, but I have resigned myself to the fact that the two headed monster that has become the Boston Red Sox will not have a good year next year. Best that I face it now and just accept our fate, this way I will not be pulling out my hair all year... Yeah, right, this coming from a woman who is in the process of planning her trip to spring training. It is a strange love affair that I maintain, but there is no divorce in sight. My sister is right, I do feel much better after talking to my two and a half year old niece. She now calls Johnny Damon a "bad man." If you ask her why he is a bad man she will tell you "because he is a Yankee." She also knows that Santa did not go to Johnny Damon's house this year. I'm probably going to hell, it's OK.

This past week put me in a much better mood. I had one of my best Christmas holidays to date, except that I totally got Punk'd on Christmas Eve. Every year since I can remember my brother's and sister's have done a secret Santa exchange. We each draw names and buy for only one person instead of having to buy for the whole group. I am convinced this tradition came from my parents not wanting to have to buy a ton of presents for all of us when we were little kids. For them shopping for each kid to buy for all the other kids would have been a nightmare. These days we can rarely all get together to draw the names so my sister's friend Julie, who now lives in Canada, picks for us.

Every Christmas Eve during my parents party we swap presents and let me tell you, the gift swap has taken on a life of it's own. Everybody, involved or not, gets very excited to watch what happens. The gag gifts that have come from our lot are pretty intense. The best ever being the gift my older brother gave my younger brother a few years ago. Tim opened up a very large box that had the word "Fragile" written on the outside of it. Inside there were mounds of shredded paper surrounding a long skinny object. If you have ever seen the movie "A Christmas Story" you can imagine what he found. Inside was a large lamp in the shape of a woman's leg, stalking, high heal and all. The best part was that my family couldn't just laugh at the lamp and move on. We had to put it in the window and go outside to look at it. I even think we were giving someone inside directions for how best it should be centered, just like in the movie. Can you see where I get my insanity people?

This year I had my brother-in-law, NTS, and I bought him what every man wanted for the holidays, R.Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet" Volumes 1-12. I gave him some other stuff, but who can top R.Kelly? I mean really? I gave my gift first, watched everybody else open their gifts, and waited for my turn. It worked out that I was last to get my present and I am not so good on the waiting thing. Well my little brother is the last person to give a gift, so I am waiting for him to reach out and give me my loot. Wrong. I have never seen my brother look so upset before. He starts to get bugged and says that Julie messed up with the names. He says that he was given my sister's name, not mine, so he bought a gift for her. Huh? No present for me? My sister starts jumping up and down "Oooh what did you get me? What did I get?" I am really very bummed that I didn't get anything, but I don't want to make my brother feel worse so I put on a happy face. In the back of my mind I am damning the Canadian and thinking that I should just get my sister's double present. Makes sense right? Too bad she got maternity pants and a baby book, who the hell wants that? So I sat there like a brave soldier and looked around the room at everyone else's gifts with complete envy. I could see that my brother felt like shit so I stayed strong and acted like I didn't care. I even started to think that if he bought my sister such a crappy gift maybe it was best that he gave me nothing.

This went on for a few minutes until he looked at me and started laughing. The whole thing was a set up, from the order the gifts were given, to my sister wrapping up her own maternity pants and my brother pretending to give them to her. And to think that I actually felt sorry for him. Fucker. He did give me some good shit, like a Red Sox Magic 8 Ball and sea monkeys, but he so has it coming to him. Good thing his birthday is next week. It is no holds barred on the pictures people, send them my way. Revenge is sweet my brother, you should be afraid.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bah Humbug

Cancel Christmas. I am taking down my tree. I am returning all of the presents I bought and hiding all the wrapping paper. In the next few days I plan on spreading as much angst and doom as one person can possibly share in this season of hope and joy. Do not wish me Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, or Jolly Fucking Kwanza, I might jam some mistletoe down your throat if you do. I want every single person on this planet to feel as absolutely miserable as I do right now, because Johnny Damon just signed with the Yankees. Johnny Damon just signed with the Yankees. JOHNNY DAMON JUST SIGNED WITH THE YANKEES!!! The hatred that I feel towards the New York Yankees is unquantifiable. Scientists have attempted to measure it, but they have not been able to find anything remotely comparable. In my lifetime I want to watch George Steinbrenner get knocked off the Charles bridge by an nonstriking MBTA bus driver. I want to see Brian Cashman's mother get hit by lightning. I want Johnny Damon's stupid slutty ass wife Michelle to be mobbed by a gang of BU undergrads who will rip out her fake tits with their bare hands.

My biggest problem right now is that I cannot decide who I am most angry at. Is it the Yankees for being their life spoiling selves? Or the Boston Red Sox for letting this happen? They did not have to let this happen.

If I see Manny Ramirez's name mentioned one more time in a potential trade deal so help me God there will be blood shed.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Depth of Field

hunger

I keep forgetting about Photo Friday. Given the name you might think it wasn't hard.

This is probably the best category Photo Friday has chosen since I started entering. Most are open to interpretation, but Depth of Field is an actual photo technique so I enjoyed this much more.

This is from the FDR Memorial in DC.

Word.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

My baby's got a secret

Have you ever gone to see a blog? In person, up close, in 3-D? Your friends, despite your resistance, may call it a "Public Art Project" but don't let them fool you. I went to see a blog last night and I could actually reach out and touch it.

Post Secret, if you are not a blogger, or if you are a blogger and have been living under a rock, is a site which displays the postcards people anonymously mail in with their deepest, darkest secret on it. The secrets range from hilarious to disturbing and sad, but they are entertaining. It is like opening up people's heads and moving things around so you can see what they are hiding. And who doesn't want to know what other people are hiding? No one.

The creator of the site started an exhibit featuring hundreds upon hundreds of the postcard secrets. In person you can really see the great lengths that people reached to detail their cards. In that way it was a lot more personal than the website is. There were a lot of cards about abuse and sadness, but there were also a lot of cards about farts. Apparently lots of people keep secrets about their farts. I never knew that until last night.

There was also a card that ranks right up there as one of the weirdest things I have even seen. A girl that I was friends with in high school, but have lost touch with over the years, became a model after she graduated. I often see her mug in stores, in catalogs, in magazines, and even once in a Super Bowl commercial. Last night I was moseying along reading all the secrets when boom, I stumble upon a card with her on it. Someone had cut her out of a catalog and put her on their card. The really weird part is that she was modeling a bra. So there she was, this sweet girl who I used to drive to school, hanging there for the world to see in her undies with someone's secret scrawled on her. I took a photo of it with the intention of getting it to her, but I don't know if she will want to see that. I don't think I would.

Tis the season of giving

I went shopping tonight to find Christmas presents for some of my peeps. Eventhough I had a few key things in mind for people, I didn't walk out of the stores with much. Well, except the two cashmere sweaters that I bought for myself.

Oops.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I love my cheeseburgers, but...

My name is Meaghan. I really like my name, in fact I think it is quite lovely. Meaghan originally came from Meg, which is short for Margaret. Margaret is a Welsh name, although most people think it is Irish, including my parents. Meaghan is most popular among Irish Americans who, like my parents, were looking to take something from their heritage across the Atlantic. Meaghan can be spelled in a multitude of ways, Megan, Meagan, Meegan, etc. My spelling was chosen by an Irish priest that my mother was friends with, who told her it was the true Irish way to spell my name. Little did he know that pencil makers, magnet makers, keychain makers, pin makers, sticker makers, and basically anyone else who hawks merchandise to small children all spell it Megan. I could never find any of the cheap trinkets other kids had because they were always spelled wrong. To this day people spell my name wrong, but I am fine with it. It comes with the territory of having a great and beautiful name.

To make matters more confusing, Meaghan is actually my middle name. My first name is the same name that my mother has. This name, as luck would have it, is actually an anglicized version of an Irish name. Who knew? All my life I have gone by my middle name and my first name was reserved for those fine points in my childhood when I knew the shit was going to hit the fan. Now, as if the spelling of my middle name was not obscure enough, I have always been the one who has to explain to teachers or employers that my real name is not the name I go by. This whole process can be very complicated, yes Professor I am here, but that piece of paper you have in front of you that tells you my name, that's not really my name. Please call me Meaghan. No, it's spelled M-E-A-G-H-A-N.

So, that brings us to my last name. Without telling you my family name I will share that it is not a name for thin skinned people. Even as an adult my name elicits snickers and second looks. I have heard every joke in the world related to my name, and trust me there are many. There were countless times in the school yard where some kid who though they were funny and original and tried to mock my last name. Usually I would make fun of them so bad that they would run away crying, but it starts to get a little old after a while. After wearing my last name for 29 years, I wouldn't trade it for the world. It has made me the bitter angry woman that I am, so leave me the fuck alone.

My point here is people, when it comes to my name I have dealt with it all. There is nothing that I haven't experienced when it comes to the words that identify me. That is, until I took my new job. On our company email server our names are automatically entered on all outgoing messages. Fine, no big deal. There is also spell check which scans all emails. Cool with me, I am a retched speler. The problem is, since Meaghan is not in the dictionary, every time I send a message it highlights my name and gives a suggestion. The problem here being the suggestion. Is it Megan? Or Meagan? Or God forbid Meg? No, I would welcome those. The suggestion is Meatman. Yes, you read that right Meatman. Meatman! Is that even a real word? Meatman. Why on God's earth would Meatman ever be an option. Meatman. Every single time I send an email I watch the computer highlight my name and ask me if I want to replace it with Meatman. Meatman.

Part of me wants to start accepting it as a suggestion just so people will quiver in fear when they read my emails. Who can mess with a girl named Meatman? Vegetarians will hate me, children will fear me, and people will just generally be confused when I write to them. I am Meatman hear me roar.

Lastly, for those of you who know me, go ahead and say Meatman out loud combined with my last name. Yeah. I know. I can hear you laughing from here.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Zoo Mass

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I applied to college. As a Massachusetts high school student I was exposed to hundreds of different colleges. The state is crawling with great schools. Having watched my two older sisters go out of state to private schools and come home with huge loans to pay off, I decided to take a different route. I only applied to one school, UMass, mainly because I didn't want to be burdened with enormous loans when I graduated. Like most students there at the time Mommy and Daddy were not footing the whole bill. My parents helped out a lot, and I am very thankful for that, but there was never a semester where I didn't have to work to help support myself. I have always been envious of fellow students who didn't have to work. Still to this day it bugs me. A girl in my class this semester was taking classes full time, did not have a job, drove a BMW, and owned a really nice townhouse in a VERY expensive suburb. I am completely jealous - I can admit that. But there are just as many kids who grow up with large amounts of cash as without, and state schools have always been a great option for the latter.

I have been aware of the rising cost at UMass for a while, but the Globe just did an article highlighting how expensive it has become: $15,795 for one year of tuition, room and board and fees. When I started there a little over ten years ago the price was somewhere between $8,000 and $9,000 a year, an almost 100% increase in 10 years. That is insane and ridiculous, and is making me wonder what the true point of public school is anymore.

Now, it should be said that I am the first person to criticize my university. Academically UMass was great, my departments kicked ass and most of my professors were amazing. The rest of my experience was not so great. UMass, at the time, was a drug school and if you were not into getting high every weekend, you probably weren't going to have much fun. I really don't care what other people do with their time, but drugs weren't my thing. I know some people may disagree with me, but UMass also didn't have any of the social experiences that you expect from a large state university. Sporting events were poorly attended and no one really cared if the school did well or not. There was also no real alumni network that you find from other schools of it size. The fact that the largest student organization on campus was the Cannabis Reform Coalition speaks volumes for what student life was like.

I really can't speak for what campus life is today, but I agree that changes are needed to make UMass the top tier school it wants to be. If the rising tuition prices were increasing academics the argument could be made that it is worth it. But, with the higher fees there are fewer tenured professors now then when I was there. Does that make any sense? The Globe article also mentions that two of the biggest draws to Massachusetts students, Northeastern and BC, are $39,000 and $42,000 a year respectively. Hello, debt. These are private schools that can charge whatever they see fit, but state schools were created to be accessible to lower income students. Sixteen thousand a year may not be that crazy of a price compared to private schools, but where does it stop? At what point does tuition get so out of control that only the children of the wealthy can attend? Students with means have every right to attend a state sponsored school if they choose, but what about those kids whose parents can't pay the enormous tuition bills? Where are they going to go?

I am very frustrated with the way they are changing my school. I support making UMass a top tier institution where students want to be, where they can frolic in the experiences of a great university, and where they can look back and be proud of their Alma Mater. Bring it on. I know that change comes with a price, but I don't think that my UMass was so far off from the goal to begin with that the State can justify the hefty sum they are now charging. Can they really be making classes 100% better? Is that possible? I look the future of my state school and wonder what I will see in fifteen years. Right now I can't imagine that it will be good.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Weight

Weight

This is a photograph of a statue, Iwo Jima/Marine Corps Memorial, that was built based on a photograph.

It is also my photo Friday entry for weight.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

It's the most wonderful time of the year

I have been getting a lot of emails this week from my readers asking me about Christmas. It seems that with the holiday approaching you guys have been wondering what to get for me. Most of the emails have been really sweet, but the following is my favorite:

Dear Number4of5,

I have never commented on your blog before, but I have been reading it for months now. I subscribe to your RSS feed and look forward to seeing that you have updated, and the days that you don't update are a bit cloudy for me. The words that you choose to describe your life are amazing- I wish that I could express myself in that way. My cat Snoodles, she reads your blog as well, and some days we just laugh and laugh together at all the funny things you write. Some days I just wonder if people realize how funny you really are! Snoodles loves your photographs. I love them too, but she can't seem to get enough of them. Most afternoons she can be found lying in front of the computer starring at all the pretty pictures. My Snoodles knows good art!

Well, I hope I am not bothering you, but I have a question to ask you. Snoodles and I have been thinking that it really isn't fair that we get so much enjoyment out of your blog, and you get nothing in return. I mean all the time and thought you must put into it just for us. It really is so selfless of you. That is why Snoodles and I would like to get you a Merry Christmas present. It would be our way of saying thank-you for the hours and hours of enjoyment that you have brought to our home this year. You really have been such a blessing to us.

So please, let me know if there is anything that you need. Money is no object, I, I mean, Snoodles and I, cannot repay you enough.

Sincerely yours,

Miss Suzie M****** and Snoodles


WOW!! I don't even know what to say to that! It was so nice, all the emails made me feel really good. Thank you, all of you. I wish I had room here to share all of them. I feel so lucky. I don't even know where to begin...

However, I just don't have time to respond to each individual email, so I thought I would just make it real simple and give you guys a post. Now, I know that shipping may get a little crazy, so just email me for my address and we can figure it out that way. First, I think you guys know that I have wanted a scanner for a really long time. And since Dave can't seem to figure out that scanners are a girl's best friend, I will be more than happy to accept it from you. Ground rules: no flatbed scanners and no all-in-one scanner/printers they're crap. I want a slide scanner. Preferably this Nikon version.

Next up, I love my camera, I really do, but I want to play around with digital. I will not accept any point and shoot bullshit. I want a Nikon SLR digital camera so I can change up the lenses when I feel fit. Make it the D2X, the D2H, or if you can't swing those the D50. Speaking of lenses, I won't take the quantaray crap they try to pawn off on you at the store, make it a Nikkor or don't even bother.

This should be a good "starter" list for you. I also take gift certificates to Barnes and Noble, J.Crew, Banana Republic, and iTunes. And only those, I don't need a gift certificate I can't use.

Really, thank you all so much for the emails and the love! You are the nicest group of readers any blogger could ask for. It isn't about the gifts, it is about us sharing our time together online, anonymously. I cherish every second of it.

Just make sure the shit is here by the 25th.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

About a blog

I used to think that blogs were these places online where depressed people would go to publish their sorrows and bad poetry for the world to see. In fact, I used to think that blogs were stupid. Why would anyone want to write about their life for the whole world to see? And who the fuck would want to read it? Oh how times change.

This here post is number 100 and I now think of myself as a blogger. Back in the spring, I was playing around with google's photo sharing software and was basically harassing everyone I knew to download it so we could send pictures to each other. Nobody was biting. Then I found the blogger site and discovered that I could share the photos and add stories to go along with them. I also wanted a way to stay in touch with people. Badda bing, I was hooked.

Since then my blog has been in a constantly evolving state. It started for a few friends and my family, but has grown to include more friends and a slew of fellow bloggers who I will probably never meet. If you are new here I can pretty much sum up my blog in a few sentences. I am obsessed with the Boston Red Sox and my emotional state is closely tied to their victories and defeats. I want to move into the Four Seasons. I will kick your ass at Trivial Pursuit. John Mayer is in love with me. My upstairs neighbor is the world's biggest freak show. My family and friends are emotionally unstable so I post evidence of it here on their birthdays. I think it will be helpful when it comes time to "check them in" if you know what I mean. I take an insane amount of photos and enjoy sharing them here. I am also not afraid to share the dumb shit that I do on a weekly basis.

I know people often wonder why I do this. The stories I share are about my life, but they are not my life. This is glimpse into what I decide to share with you, nothing more. I never intend to share personal stories here. The best example is my relationship. I shared the fact that I got engaged, but I would never share the how, or the why. There are so many times when something will happen between the two of us that I know would make a great story, but it won't make the blog. I also don't think it is appropriate to blog about my job. This part is really a shame because in my limited time at my new gig there have been dozens of blog posts waiting to be set free. Let's just say that there is someone in my office whose nickname("Crazy") I learned in the first few days of work. She was born to be blogged about. I have also learned that if you insult someone on your blog they stop reading it, and that it is not always a bad thing.

So why do I do this? Well, I think the best reason is what Dave calls "my breakthrough." There was one day a few months back when I was typing away and just started laughing. I don't remember which post it was, but whatever I wrote make me laugh uncontrollably. Dave, who was sitting nearby, started laughing at me, and asked me if I was having a good time. At that point I knew why I blogged. It is fun, and I make myself laugh. I like it when other people enjoy my writing, and I'm glad you guys are here, but I enjoy my writing. I enjoy this, that is what counts. That is why I blog.

Well that and where else would you find this picture.

IMGP11971

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Experimental Prague

experimental

Normally, I never touch up my pictures. I might crop something, but I rarely ever edit the color, or fix it in any way so it "looks better." I fell like it is cheating. For me, getting the right shot is a game. If I don't get it right the first time I can always go back and try again. Now I am not saying that other people shouldn't use GIMP, or Photo Shop, or whatever other software they have. I don't do it because if I did, and hung the product on my wall, every time I looked at it I would feel like it was a ruse. Taking photos is a challenge for me, sometimes I win and sometimes I lose. Regardless, I keep playing until I get it right.

Now, the Photo Friday category this week is experimental. This photo always bugged me because the original is a little blurry. So, as a little experiment, I played around with the photo software that lives in my computer, but I never use. What you see here is a tricked out version of the Old Town Hall Tower in Prague. In this case, I would much rather go back and get a nonblurry version, but that will have to wait.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Save Manny

If you haven't already done so go to KeepManny.com and add your signature.

Here is mine:

We've lost Nomar, and Pedro,and Bellhorn, but not Nixon,
Theo and Embree, and Cabrera, and Williamson.
We cannot afford the lose the Greatest Red Sox of them all.

Manny please stay and make my Christmas a good one.