Friday, November 15, 2013

Mary McMullen's 2013 Gift Guide

It is the moment all you worldly readers have been waiting for. The housing market is in upswing, day traders seem to have a pep in their step, and I still have my bangs. It's a good year.

Behold my gift guide; it is all over the place, so you are going to have to determine who you know would like what. I am confidant someone you know wants one of these treasures. 

(Note: Was also too lazy to list in any sort of order) 

Merry Christmas!

Keep Warm. 

Wool Mittens Fleece Lined Nordic Snowflake Fair Isle Olive Green Copper and Beige
Handmade! crafted in Utah (and they know cold there) out of felted wool &; polar fleece. 
Wool Mittens, $35: Here
Her entire wool shop if you want to browse other styles or wares: Here

MADE IN THE USA! This wool Stormy Kromer cap has been around 100 years, people love it. 11 colors, all sizes.
Mens Cap, $40: Here
Womens Cap, $40: Here

Keep Memories.

Tiny picture magnets. This is a Do It Yourself project, which means it is fun and cheap and customizable! 

Keep Having Fun.

The SkyBall bounces up to 75 feet in the airSkyBall HyperCharged Ball

The Sky Ball is filled with compressed air & helium, making it bounce like no ones business. Under $10 a ball. Sky Ball in Various Colors: Here

I bought this remote helicopter for my nephew's birthday this year. I don't know if he liked it, but there are 1,940 reviews that are nearly 5 out of 5 stars on amazon, so likely someone you give it to will like it. 
Remote Control Mini Helicopter, $ 21: Here

Size 2XL - Railroad Play Mat T-Shirt : Playtime for Kids, Back Massage for Dad / Fathers Day Gift New Daddy Father Son Train Track Mat
Playtime for them, back "massage" for the wearer. It's labeled a dad shirt, but I am sure anyone could love this. 

Keep It Clean.
100% protection from messy cooks

Designed for the cook in the kitchen, this ipad/tablet sleeve can be useful all over the place- like the beach reading a book, or stowed away in luggage with toiletries, just in case a leek is sprung. 
Set of 25 disposable sleves: Here ($19.95)
Set of 3 disposable sleeves: Here ($5.95)
One reusable waterproof sleeve (not as sleek): Here ($38.05)

Keep Sweet.

I've been on a maple syrup kick. 
Love the packaging of this one. From NY, $12: Here
These people look nice, so does their syrup. From Maine, $7 up to $40 a jug: Here

For whatever edibles you decide to make, here is a collection of FREE printable lables. Designed and ready to use. 

Keep On Groovin'

wood earphones
Guys, think about it, instruments are made from wood for a reason. Deep, smooth sound. Perfect for serious audiophiles.

Keep Creating & Thinking 
Do you know a doodler? Do you ever walk by a blank wall and have the urge to become Lil' Mary & tag it? This book is filled with pages of blank walls, intended to let the owner mark them up. I could see how this would have been useful in any math class I have ever endured. 

The Humans of New York Blog is now a book. 

Some people I know are forgetful and lazy. They could use this notepad. Check check check. They also have a travel packing checklist. 

I like short stories, and I like spooky ones. Boom. 

Butter Keeper
I hate cold butter. But leaving it out in a humid climate doesn't work either. This little ceramic pot creates a water seal that keeps butter cool but spreadable. Genius. 

While on the topic of butter & delicious kitchen things... That is a grill press. You can cook better with it. 

Keep Pretty

Nordstrom Pavé Link Bracelet | Nordstrom
I've seen this beauty in real life, and I want it. So does your mom and your sister and your wife and your babysitter and the girl who you want to be your girlfriend. 

Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio - Fresh | Sephora
These little balms with a little color are the best. The best smelling, the best feeling, the best looking. You can gift the set, or break them up and give them individually. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

When You're Right, You're Right

This is an excerpt from a blog I wrote during "Snowpocalypse" in 2010... it has proven itself timeless with regards to gov't ceasing operations.

1.) Soon, the rest of America will begin to wonder if they even need The Feds.

2. ) Just like everyone else, I was excited about these days. Unscheduled leave. Days at home knitting and such. BUT WE GOT IT ALL WRONG. Today I had to sign in to remote access and do a touch of work... and it hit me: oh my, I am going to have to deal with all this when I get back... I will have to work double as hard for double as long to catch up. What a nightmare.

3.) Fun while it is happening, but then nine months later you have a big problem on your hands. Stay safe out there DC.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Just Because"

I don't blog much these days. Get over it, I obviously have. On this I can't stay silent, I need to set somethings straight. Not to have you think the same as me, but to have you think. So, I was one hell of a teenager myself, also I am around teenagers all day in all sorts of situations. I know hundreds currently and have known, really known, thousands. I know them individually, I know them collectively. 

There has been a media blitz recently highlighting these "thrill-kills". Teens killing people for fun. No. 

Unless you believe that these teenagers, who have not lived many years, are truly evil, this makes absolutely no sense.  With each of these stories, there are people and family who claim to love these kids, so I have a hard time accepting any of them have fallen to real wickedness, lacking any morals. It is too hard to love evil. 

So, they are just going to kill people out of boredom? No way. Ironically, what bored teens usually actually do is they have sex (creating a life, not ending one); not motivated by boredom, but because it's free, anyone can do it, it is fun, it feels good, it validates them, and it even has that thrill of doing something they aren't supposed to. (Even if they have been taught it is ok, there are things that are intrinsically right and things that are wrong and if they are wrong, on some level you feel it.) Are they going to tell you all of that? Probably not. Let me tell you the reasons those teenagers would state if caught and asked why they had sex; "I don't know, just because". Or what they'd say if they cheated on a test, "Just 'cus". Or what they'd say if they were caught after stealing, "no reason". There is always a reason. They may be bored. That is not the motive though, that is an auxiliary reason they had the time to carry out the act.

Teenagers often will say limited information if they feel guilty or feel intimidated. Or if they don't trust you. Or for about a million other reasons. They don't want to talk about it. It is uncomfortable. And they are old enough to know that they don't HAVE to tell you what they feel or what is in their minds, but they are not mature enough to openly communicate if it is not to their advantage. They are in a zone that makes many lose patience with them; they have the right to remain silent and they will if not compelled. 

These teens may have killed. These stories share a common ending; someone is dead and teenagers played a part. The motivator is what is so disturbing. It is a sensational story for the media to spin: I don't buy it and more importantly, it shouldn't be sold to us. 

Instead of focusing on this notion that thrill kills are thrilling, start asking the questions. I can only hope some of these teens are being interviewed by actual mental health professionals and not just cops who get the "just because" answer and then accept that at face value and run to the media. That is not going to fix the problem. It does make it easier to sell a news "story".  It is also going to make it easier to hate the kid who did something horrific. The problem is that not only doesn't help prevent it from happening again, it doesn't help the teenager. That's right; I am concerned about helping criminals. Prison reform is for another day though. 

These are the unbelievable stories. Literally, I don't believe them. 

There were three teens in Oaklahoma who took the life of an Australian college student, prompting this to have an international spotlight. Now, not only are we selling this idea of rabid teenagers to ourselves, but to others as well. 

Another sad story out of a WWII Vet beaten to death by a couple of teenagers

And the most horrific of all, a baby dies at the hands of a teen in Georgia. This case is now in the trial phase, where a flimsy motive has been put forth (as has a flimsy defense). The point is that the trial is proving there more to it than these teens just being cold-blooded, malevolent killers. 

We have a social responsibility to hold these accused accountable, not just allowing them to give us some half baked reason so they don't have to deal with the distress of revealing why they took another life. If I am going to read, watch, listen, or consume a news story about these killings, I'd like the authorities to ask the questions that matter. Find the motive. Dig deeper. Then, I'd like the media to report on it. I'd like other teenagers to see what led these kids down a path that ended in death. I'd like to see us detect a pattern that we might be able to prevent. Instead of instilling of lack of hope onto an entire generation, learn more about them. Help them.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Land of the free. Home of the brave.

This is a little rant, but mainly it is a rave. Pro-America. 

While watching the "news"(1) coverage this week, a commentator wanted to remind his viewers that sadly, bombings like the one that struck Boston happen in some parts of the world daily, and with worse outcomes. The insinuation insult was that though horrific here, we were lucky considering.

Um, no. 

We live in the United States. The reason things like this don't happen here (as often) is no accident. It is by design. 

In the immediate aftermath, we all started to talk about it. We have an existing infrastructure of media that anyone can freely communicate on. No censorship. We were able to talk about who those guys might be. Where they might be found. An exchange of information. People were not afraid that if they talked there would be repercussions. The bombers (2) even used outlets of expression themselves that helped give us an idea of who they were, and what they might be capable of. Land of the free. 

It took us a work-week to wrap this thing up. We went out and found those men and started to implement justice. I say we, even though it was the federal and local law enforcement who did it. They were out there, when they knew things were dangerous, searching house to house on a man hunt. Bringing peace to the streets. Home of the brave. 

And that is why we are "lucky" enough to live in a part of the world where this doesn't happen daily. We are not ungrateful, but I am certainly not going to insult this country by comparing it to those nations that can't even come close to offering what our freedoms do. 

(1) The quotes are because until journalism regains some of it's lost integrity, I can't pretend they are to be trusted. 

(2) Stop calling them "suspects" now. They admitted to it themselves. They can be called bombers. That's what they did & who they are. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

State of the Unicorn

President Obama in black text (paraphrased), my response in blue italic text. 


"The State of our Union is strong" um, according to who? I am not saying I don't want it to be true, but I am saying let's not be ridiculous. 

Michelle shouldn't wear sleeveless dresses all the time. It is freezing out side. We get it, you have nice arms. 

Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion ... As a result, we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances. That is interesting, seeing as your government has averaged a trillion dollar overspending each year. And you have been here four years. Do that math. 

Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep - but we must keep the promises we’ve already made.  BOTH sides have made promises.

A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. Guys, is it me, or does it not make sense to put money into something that is going to eliminate the need for actual workers? Especially if you are trying to build the middle class. 

Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods—all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science—and act before it’s too late.  Not where I thought this was going. Ok, who is going to tell him? Not science, it's religion. THE LAST DAYS!

I’m also issuing a new goal for America: let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years. The states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make it happen. I actually like this idea. Competition; wait, wait, we have that already... it is called a free market based in capitalism. Maybe what we should do is lower energy bills by opening up the market? 

Ask any CEO where they’d rather locate and hire: a country with deteriorating roads and bridges, or one with high-speed rail and internet; high-tech schools and self-healing power grids. STOP TRYING TO MAKE HIGH SPEED RAIL HAPPEN.

I propose a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. Wat?! He has been preaching less government, and now wants more government. I am all for infrastructure improvements. But you can't have it both ways. 

Tomorrow, my Administration will release a new “College Scorecard” that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria: where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.  Mark my words, USU will do just fine. 

Immigration Reform: Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away. Here we are, one full year later... This is a quote from my blog last year, Obama: "We should take on illegal immigration... Send me a bill that affords people to stay in this country and I will sign it.  Me: SEND ME A UNICORN & I WILL RIDE IT ALL THE WAY TO THE MOON! " Aaaaand, I am still waiting for that unicorn. So, good luck with that Mr. President. 

And by realizing the promise of an AIDS-free generation which is with in our reach. THANK YOU GWB. Oh gosh,  President Bush better flip out at President Obama taking credit for one of his greatest world-wide accomplishments. 

Overall,  there were a lot more facts and figures given to us this year. The President amazes me with his public speaking abilities. I had a copy of the speech before it began and read along as he delivered it. There were only minor additions and virtually no omissions. I'd be more impressed if he did that with implementation of work instead of just with rhetoric. My top criticism of the man and his plan is that there has 
been virtually no output comparatively speaking. Initiative: take some; it's free. 

Link to the transcript of the speech.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Awards Season

It's that time of year again. I need to publish this blog before the Globes tomorrow night, but I had to see Zero Dark Thirty last night, so you get this now. This year I have a lot of questions; some answers. 

So, with out further adieu... in alphabetical order... the Best Picture Nominees followed by the Best Opinions, presented by me. 

Amour- Haven't watched it yet. Also, don't think it should be nominated in this category. It is a foreign film and was nominated in that category. What is it doing here? 

Argo-  The plot was gripping. The actors did well. It drew you in. It was timely and historic. Overall, this is a winner.  It should win. That is what I am saying, this one should win. 

Beasts of the Southern Wild- I challenge anyone who claims they think this a good movie. There are good elements. The little girl is cute. The frames were individually beautiful. Even the points of the movie which were horrific, they were artistic. Now, on to everything else: this movie is so full of itself it is beyond repair. Those people who just "get it" transcend movie basic understandings. (They actually don't)Beasts tries so hard to be a metonym, metaphysical, metaphoric, metathetic story and ends up a just a mess. Oh, I didn't use those words correctly? I just did it to sound cool but in reality they aren't backed by anything? Huh. 

Django Unchained- Won't see. I just can't digest gore/violence. But, ask my friends from the early 2000's. I have been saying that Leo was more than just a pretty face since then. I hear this movie confirms that.

Les Miserables- This was a good movie. Did you catch that? It was a movie. On film. Was it a good stage production that was regurgitated on the screen? Not really. It shouldn't have been either. People had wild expectations that were improbable to meet. This was a movie, based on musical, based on a book. It was good. The story is epic. The filming was nice. The music delivery could have been better. I appreciated that they did sing live and actually acted through it. There were some scenes that I wish would have set the bar for the rest of the movie. The scene where they are escorting the Thenardiers out of the wedding. That was brilliant The part when Fantine sells herself. Those moments made it special... but it was hurried, or just not brilliant enough to be carried through out the entire movie. I don't know. 

Life of Pi- Didn't see. Seems boring. 

Lincoln- Saw it. Was actually too boring. Except for that amazingly horrible Disney-esq intro scene with the soldiers approaching the President. What was that scene doing? I am glad it was first, so after four hours of the movie you forgot how bad that was. Was the movie well acted? Yes. Was the plot interesting? Yes. As a viewer did you learn and progress? Yes. Did it feature a scene right out of the 1995 Rom-Com "The American President"? Yes.

Bonus: This clip also foreshadows our current actual political crisis starting at 2:15

My criticism of Lincoln is that it is nothing new. It was not only stale, but it was also not THAT much better then similar movies from the recent past. Like the film Amazing Grace, or the completely underrated The Conspirator. Lincoln might win. Ugh. 

Silver Linings Playbook- This was a basic exploration of mental health. The movie Flight was a basic exploration of mental health and addiction and that movie did it better. Silver Linings was also a little heavy handed on exploiting the viewers emotions, having a complete identity crisis at the end. Is the movie a drama, a sports flick, a chick flick? That is also what made it great. It was a little bit of everything else, but mostly a drama. 

Zero Dark Thirty- I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It was less controversial then I feared; less torturous to watch the torture scenes then I had feared. It was the story of a woman devoting her life to something. The set backs and the ultimate triumph. God Bless America. I was pleased that it was directed by a woman, since it is telling the story of a woman in a mans world. Though that was never really presented as a theme in the movie, it is hard to not notice. It did a good job telling a story that is important for people to understand. The integrity of the story is what is in question. Is it accurate? Is it Hollywood's place to tell it? Is it propaganda? Is it too much of a political statement? I didn't think so. There wasn't much wrong with it.