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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Michigan Changes Everything

My husband and I moved to Michigan from Florida, five years ago. What? Are we crazy? A few people questioned our sanity at the time. But we have never regretted our relocation north. For us, Michigan means four dramatic and distinct seasons, easy access to four of the stunning Great Lakes along with bountiful, beautiful and uncrowded beaches. A short drive brings us high atop some of the highest fresh water sand dunes in the world with magnificent views in every direction and not a mangy palm tree in site. Up and down the Michigan coast line, more than 100 lighthouses stand sentry. There are vast walkable areas of pristine wilderness to hike and thousands of lakes and rivers to kayak...with not a single alligator, Burmese python or snowbird in any of them.

Cherry and apple orchards, vineyards and wineries, green grassy hill sides and farm lands saturate the state with their colorful hues. You can pick fresh fruit right from the tree, go fishing in a cool stream, sit in a shady glade and get snookered on cherry wine...all in one afternoon. Of course, that would be on a summery afternoon. In cold weather, you can snow-shoe through silent, snow-covered forests, cross-country ski, zip about on a snowmobile, go sledding, build a snowman, cuddle by a cozy fire can winter in Florida.

For us, our move north was all about nature, a better quality of life and being able to venture outdoors in the summer without having to change sweat-soaked underwear umpteen times a day. Up here, we can step out to retrieve the morning paper without melting into a pool of sticky, damp mush from the steamy, toxic humidity that zapped our energy in Florida. Now we actually feel healthier and we're much more active. Less traffic, less congestion, fewer but friendlier people. Wholesome Midwest values. Yes, there is abundant snow in the winter but we've learned to embrace it. Summer, fall and spring are glorious with very little humidity, clean fresh air, and we hardly ever have to turn on the A/C.

It's true that Michigan like many states, has been devastated by the disastrous economy. Detroit suffers from massive urban blight, drug violence and rampant crime. But Detroit does not define the entire state. In places like Grand Rapids not far from Lake Michigan, where we live, there exists a sense of vitality and enthusiasm. This is not intended to gloss over the problems Michigan shares with many areas of this country. There is much room for improvement and many people are suffering from economic hardships. On the other hand, cities like Grand Rapids stand out as vibrant, self-sufficient communities with residents who are hopeful, hard-working and entrepreneurial.

Whenever my husband and I explore the attributes that Michigan has to offer, we feel invigorated. Whether we're relaxing in a shady green space at a park under a sprawling canopy of genuine, hard-wood oaks and maples instead of a sliver of shade offered by a scrawny Florida palm tree...or standing on the peak of a mountainous sand dune bluff that overlooks miles and miles of the vast, cobalt majesty of Lake Michigan...we are amazed. We appreciate the awesome diversity of the seasons and the breath-taking beauty Mother Nature bestowed on the exquisite landscapes of this often overlooked state. Here's a sampling of some of our favorite spots.

                    Sand dunes above Lake Michigan at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. 

                             Grassy bluff over Lake Michigan near Glen Arbor.

                             The vastness of Lake Michigan is awesome.

               Historic lighthouse at northern tip of Leelanau Peninsula, near Traverse City. 

                                      Cheerful daisies sunbathe by the big lake. 

                       Beach goers brave big waves on Lake Michigan at Sleeping Bear Dunes.
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Despicable Me

Something happened to me today that was so utterly frightening, bone-chillingly scary and mind-blowingly weird that I thought I was in a parallel universe. And it all started innocently enough with...Facebook. I use Facebook and I like it. I make no excuses. I enjoy following family and friends on it. It's fun to see messages and photos and keep updated on the happenings of people I know from around the world.

But let me start at the beginning. Although I use Facebook, I'm not very technically savvy on a lot of its applications. Today I decided that I wanted to post a video from YouTube onto Facebook.  I had no clue how to go about doing that. So I googled the info...which led me to the "help" section of FB, which I should have checked out in the first place. 

I went to my WALL page on FB and opened the publishing box where you post messages. Following directions, I clicked the video icon at the bottom of the publishing bar. I was just about to insert the YouTube link inside the space when suddenly this hideous image appeared on my screen. It looked like something out of a horror film...a grotesque distortion of a human face...a repulsive, ghoulish hag of a woman. A frightful old gnome with a garish look of surprise who seemed to stare straight into my eyes. What the...? Somehow I screwed up. Missed a step in the directions. Inserted the wrong link. What a friggin doofus I am. I can't even figure out a simple...

But wait...Mother of all Nightmares! To my astonishment, that sinister old shrew on the screen...was ME!  Somehow I had inadvertently activated the built-in web cam on my laptop and created an instant video of my own face!  And before I knew what was miserable mug in all it's no-makeup, bad hair day, up-close-and-personal Grand Canyon size wrinkles and fiendish full blown horror, splashed across the Facebook world. For several surreal seconds, I did not even recognize my own sorry self. Suddenly that Michael Jackson song, Man in the Mirror reverberated through my brain. Dear was a truly bizarre moment. Eventually, I gathered my wits about me (the few I had left) and hit the "remove" button...most likely saving my entire Facebook nation from suffering an early morning heart attack.

The moral of this little horror story is: whenever you're fooling around with Facebook, be sure you know the location of the "delete/remove" button. Otherwise there's a good chance you could bring supreme embarrassment, shock, outrage or disabling nausea to yourself, your entire family, friends far and near and assorted acquaintances. I'm just thankful that I didn't get nabbed by the FB police for publication of offensive material. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, July 12, 2010

Oh Those Sexy Soccer Boys

Did you happen to catch any of the World Cup soccer matches? Seems like the games lasted for months with every single country in the universe participating. I'm not much of a spectator sports enthusiast but I did watch some snippets of the soccer finals including the pinnacle battle between Spain and the Netherlands. And I came away with a few interesting personal observations.

If a sport can be considered is a TEN. The sport is rugged yet graceful as ballet. As for those magnificent players.....they're gorgeous! The soccer lads are downright hotties...trim, masculine and muscular without an ounce of fat/blubber on their striking, magnificent physiques. Nearly every soccer player sports astounding 6 pack abs that practically jump out of their sweaty jerseys. In comparison, a good many American football hulks resemble overweight, helmet-clad refrigerators as they lumber across a football field.

Soccer players are in top notch physical condition because they are constantly in motion. Unlike football games that seem to stop action every 2 minutes, soccer matches run for 90 minutes or longer without a break. The limber soccer guys sprint like gazelles exuding an amazing sense of balance, strength, endurance and incredible dexterity. It's one thing to catch a ball in your hands but try juggling, kicking, flipping and passing a ball...with your feet. In my opinion, it takes a whole lot more skill to play soccer.

Soccer players wear shorts, for goodness sake. Talk about self-confidence. This makes them fearless in my estimation. No helmets, no shoulder or knee pads, no mouth pieces, no chin guards, no fat, thick layers of padding strapped around their legs. The only thing between a soccer player's bare flesh and a violent thrust to his a flimsy T shirt. Players do have very sharp, fiendish cleats on the bottom of their shoes...which must really, really hurt should an opponent jam his flying foot into your face or chest.

From my brief stint at watching a few soccer matches on TV, I've gained an appreciation for this thrilling, non-stop sport. However, I will concede  that the scoring is less than exciting. Because the soccer ball changes "feet" so frequently, many games result in ties or very low scores. I prefer to see a definite winner and loser in a sports game. You almost feel cheated when the score results are so laughably low. Case in point, Spain finally pulverized the Netherlands for the 2010 World Cup supremacy with a beefy win of: one to zero.  Whooptee do. But the crazy thing is...the players severely injured and nearly killed themselves fighting for that humble score.

Finally, my last word on soccer: Vuvuzelas...those colorful but annoying, loud, raucous, monotone horns blown by enthusiastic fans during soccer games. It sounds like 100 zillion ear-splitting kazoos all blaring at the same time. If soccer players can withstand a stadium throbbing with deafening vuvuzelas...and emerge from a game with their sanity (and their hearing) intact...then they truly are indeed...the bravest athletes in the world.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Lindsay Lohan Meets Judge Judy

Lindsay Lohan should consider herself lucky. Wonder if she'd been served up justice by Judge Judy? Do you think no-nonsense Judge Judy would coddle little Miss "It's not my fault" Lohan with a measley 3 months in jail? Not only did Lohan miss NINE court-ordered alcohol counseling sessions, but she painted the F word on her fingernails and flashed them to the judge throughout her court appearance. Over recent years, Lohan has been arrested for drunk driving, cocaine possession and other felony drug use. She appears to be unrepentent and has not accepted responsibility for her problems. Now she's whining about going to jail.

You think Judge Judy would have put up with Lindsay's no-show appearances, lame-brain excuses and crocodile tears? As in "Sorry your honor, but I was on a fancy shmancy yacht in Cannes with Dom Perignon and I just couldn't tear myself away to visit your lowly courtroom?"  Judge Judy would've smacked down such narcisstic drivel with her now legendary retort: "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining."

Can you just imagine how furious the irrascible Judge would be if she saw Lohan flaunting the "F" bomb on her fingernails? Take-no prisoners Judy would've thrown the sassy little actress in the slammer faster than Lohan could say: "Baby needs a cocktail."  Then she'd order the poor trembling starlet to share a cell block with the likes of such lovely lady offenders as Ronda, the Fist, Lewinsky and Shakita, I'm Your Worst Nightmare, Jones. Instead of sporting expensively obscene manicures, Lohan could very well be hustling cigs in the big yard, sharpening up shivs and shanks and comparing tatoos with real-life mean girls of the prison world....all if Judge Judy justice prevailed. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cowboys of the Wild Blue Yonder

The Blue Angels rule the sky. They are the cowboys and cowgirls of the wild blue yonder. Yes, some of the pilots are female. They put on an amazing performance at the annual Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan over the Fourth of July. These pilots are extraordinary. Fearless. Gutsy. Nerves of steel. Daring. Brave. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound with brilliant precision control.

It was an absolutely gorgeous, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky kind of day. Perfect weather for these F/A-18 Hornets to roar across the skies at a speed of up to 700 mph over the calm, cobalt waters of Grand Traverse Bay on majestic Lake Michigan.

My husband was especially interested in the show because he shares a history with one of the aircraft. As a Navy man during the Viet Nam War, he flew reconnaissance missions in a giant, hulking monster of a plane called a C-130T Hercules. Today, over 40 years later, that very same C-130 airplane participates in all the Blue Angel shows. Fat Albert, as it's affectionately called, is used to transport personnel, gear, parts and communications equipment. Amazingly, it can carry 155,000 lbs. of weight and take off in 15 seconds like a rocket...full throttle, nearly straight up. My husband was thrilled to see his old sky ship again after all these years. I asked him if he had scrawled any graffitti in the cockpit all those many years ago. He smiled but didn't say a word.

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