Driving Tip #35

Today's commute was weird. It started out fine: I got onto the highway, it was moving at a decent speed. Then I heard them. I looked in my rearview mirror and up the hill came two fire trucks, and ambulance and two cop cars, all in a row.

Motorists don't exactly know how to behave in this scenario. I'm sure that it was taught to us in Driver's Ed, but let's face it -- unless you are 16 and a newly minted driver, you don't remember. Some came to a complete stop in the middle of the roadway, casuing other cars to almost hit them. Others bailed out onto the grass and almost hit each other, some people didn't care and kept going, almost causing accidents themselves.

I was already in the far right hand lane, so I slowed to a crawl and tried to avoid getting hit myself and staring in horror at all the near misses I was witnessing.

And as the posse of emergency vehicles went by me, you sort of say a little prayer for whoever may be hurt on the road ahead. Because clearly, someone is seriously hurt and been in a car accident.

Or not. And with that, I bring you Driving Tip #35, especially for emergency personnel.

#35: When answering a call in rush hour traffic on a major highway, causing hundreds of people to veer off the roadway in an attempt at letting you pass, don't travel half a mile and then turn off your lights and give up trying to find the accident. You just screwed up the flow of traffic (and people's attempts to get to work on time) and pissed off a majority of the drivers. Instead, keep going with your lights on until the people you pissed off don't see you anymore, then turn off your lights. Yes, that would technically be lying, but everyone will still think you were going to save the day instead of possibly using your lights to get through bad traffic. Sincerely, a pissed-off motorist.


It's Called Duh, People

I don't know what it is about people thinking their invincible online -- from continual trash-talking on popular Web sites to posting ridiculous crap on their Facebook and MySpace pages -- it's really gotten out of hand.

It's like a friend of mine said who works in Human Resources -- social networking has made their job a lot easier.

For those of you who still have a big "?" hanging over your head on what the heck I'm even talking about, let me break it down for you. What you post online WILL come back to haunt you.

Don't believe me? Here is the evidence:
Annoymous bloggers: Friends, if you offend the wrong person, you'll have to come out. And it isn't that hard to find you. Exhibit One: "The Coming-Out Stories of Annoymous Bloggers" from CNN.
Murder & MySpace: I can't tell you how many stories I've read about people getting murdered, assulted or someone commits a high profile crime, and the first place media turns to -- tour social media accounts. Exhibit Two: Law.com's article on "MySpace Entry Admitted as Murder Evidence."
Losing Your Job: Remember the Domino's Pizza YouTube video? Ick. They totally lost their job and will most likely have a tough time finding a new one. Any employer that takes two-seconds to Google their name will quickly realize they don't need that liability. Exhibit Three: NYT article on the fall-out from the YouTube video.

Despite all of this "evidence", I still see friends continue to post ridiculous crap online. That picture of you with the pipe? Yeah, bad move. You getting super wasted with your friends in Las Vegas when you called in sick that day? Kiss that job goodbye. Looking for a job, but in your profile you state your hobbies as "procrastinator", "ultimate slacker" and "love to hit on the ladies while at work" - uh, good luck with that.

But it even goes past the obvious, right? There is a reason why the slogan on my own blog says "My Life, How I Want You To See It." The fact of the matter is, your online persona paints a picture of you that may or may not be true. But most of the time, people see it as the truth. So play it safe.

The overarching lesson of this blog: before you upload a picture of yourself looking like a total tool (or doing something borderline illegal), stop and think to yourself -- do I plan on looking for a job in the next year, is my boss also a "friend" on Facebook, will this come back to haunt me in ANY way?

And if you pause before answering, consider the answer "yes" and avoid it.

This is Jenni's PSA to you.


Driving Tip #34

Given today's foul weather, I think it is an important reminder to everyone that you should slow down and pay just a little extra attention to the roadways. And with that kind reminder, I give you driving tip number #34.

#34: Typically, the right side of the road is the first to puddle with excess water. So watch out for that water, or else you will hydroplane, look like a moron and possible pee your pants. Sincerely, the girl who didn't slow down and hydroplaned. (yes, that would be my idiocy providing today's tip)


I have a problem

Hi, my name is Jenni, and I’m a romant-aholic.

Unlike some addicts, I know exactly when my love for all things romance began: unrealistic, fictional literary classics. The original purveyors of chic-lit, Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, are like Pop Sensation Madonna’s of the romantic novel/movie movement. Sigh. Let me break down just exactly how bad it’s gotten.

Stage One: Sixth Grade. As a child, I loved reading as an escape from my lowly existence as an adolescent trapped in the clutches of over-protective parents who wouldn’t let me go to Wet ‘n Wild in the summer for fear of ear infections. So instead of getting cancer-causing rays like the rest of my tan friends, I won the Mesquite Library Award for the girl who read the most hours that summer. And as a prize, I got an autographed book of Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg (which I still have). That. Is. Dork.

And that winter holiday, Mom took my sister and me to Half-Price Books to get us through the holidays and we acquired a book which still sits on my bedside table today (seriously): Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster. Thanks to Google, you can now actually read the book for free online (which I recommend), and this short novel was the start of my unrealistic dreams of marrying the perfect (and well-to-do, could sing and dance and look “dashing”) man. It also had a nice women’s lib angle to it, which was an added bonus.

Stage Two: Seventh Grade. Unfortunately, not much had changed by a year – just the reading challenge. In my reading class (which I’m sort of shocked still exists… I don’t exactly understand the difference between Reading and English, but I’m not the educational expert, so I’m sure someone will enlighten me), we had this competition where we had to take computer tests on the books we read – if we got enough points, we got to skip out on school and go to Six Flags. The more difficult the book, the more points you got. So my mom suggested one of her favorite books, Jane Eyre. Which is now my favorite book. And the beauty of Jane Eyre? Mr. Rochester was kind of a jerk. He kept to himself, had some stuff hidden in the closet (or in this case, the attic) and was not the perfect man. But I got my first taste of what love is between a man and a woman – loving despite flaws – and I was hooked. I ended up having to read the book again in high school and college, which made my addiction even worse.

Stage Three: High School. This is totally embarrassing, but the books were cheap, so why not, right? Cheap, trashy romance novels. What’s even more hilarious is that I’m such a prude that I skipped past the chapters that go into detail around the “love making.” LOL. Unfortunately, these books are so formulaic, predictable and unrealistic, that they are perfect when you’re feeling down in the dumps. Which is like, all of high school.

Stage Four: College. Because I was never allowed to watch Pretty Women – or really any decent romantic movie at my parents’ house, college provided the opportunity for me to watch whatever I wanted. Drug of choice? Movies like What Women Want, Miss Congeniality (1 and 2), Bridget Jones’ Diary, etc. (and then, of course, Sex and the City the TV series) And nothing beat watching them with other addicts, in PJ pants, with cheap wine coolers.

Stage Five: Post-College. Post college, I have diversified my portfolio to include any book written by Jane Austen, any movie that mentions Jane Austen, anything Twilight related, any book that mixes Jane Austen and the undead (think Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Mr. Darcy, Vampyre… yeah, I’ve read both… twice). I still am a sucker for the related movies (BBC or Kiera Knightly versions of Pride and Prejudice do the trick quite nicely, as does the Bollywood version Bride and Prejudice) and I still watch with other addicts – except our food choices have luckily changed to wine and cheese, which is probably not @fatroll approved.

It’s a problem, but unlike other addictions, I have no plans to stop! You’ll have to pry Sense and Sensibility, New Moon and the Shopoholic series from my death grip. And it won’t be pretty. Ask Justin.


Ham vs. Hog -- Society Needs to Become a Vegetarian

Growing up, I will be frank -- I was a total ham. I would see a camera, immediately try and get in front of it and then throw a fit when someone (my dad) would try and put the focus on someone else (my sister).

It's not to say I'm still not a ham (i.e. my front row action at the DMB taping... thank you again awesome Warehouse Fan Club!) -- but at what point does it go too far -- where you become a hog?

Jon Gosselin won't stop invading our televisions (my recommendation -- lay low and stop granting media interviews) and now we have Balloon Boy. The latest -- the whole family, from the six-year-old to the parents, where involved in pulling one over on us in the hopes that they would get a show on TV (innocent until proven guilty though, but it's looking like something wasn't right with this story).

Of course I blame the idiots trying to make a buck off of the media buy selling their selves (and kids) out. But shouldn't the blame also fall on us? We continue to watch reality shows (even Biggest Loser, which I adore) and it breeds this type of behavior. Are people are so desperate to make a buck, that they're willing to sacrifice their family to see their name in lights?! Really?!

I don't get it. Maybe when I have kids and I think they're the most awesome, gorgeous, talented kids in the world and EVERYONE must know them, I'll get it. But right now, I just don't.


My Twisted Web of Social Media

Every so often, something occurs in one of my social media realms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs) that causes me to step back and reassess exactly what (and more importantly, why) I’m posting content online. This time, it’s been a series of items over the course of the last two months that just leave me a little confused and wondering if I want to keep up this rat race.

I spend way too much time worrying about what people are saying on Twitter (and figuring out what I should be saying and how I should say it), wondering what I should be posting as my latest blog entry here or at OoCFR, browsing through the plethora of junk on Facebook to find out what my friend is doing this weekend; it’s just so tiring. And why do we do it?

Does it really matter that I let you know on Tuesday that I was tired? Did you care? And why should I feel a slight tinge of sadness if no one responds to something that I know was hilarious on Facebook (well, hilarious to me at least)?

And to be honest, I’m seriously debating whether or not to close my Facebook and Twitter accounts to just a few close, personal friends (like less than 20) just so I don’t feel this pressure to watch what I say to avoid offending others, be obligated to respond to messages from people I barely know, and to just save time. And don’t think you judge people who have less than 50 friends on Facebook and think people must be soooo cool if they have over 500 friends… you do. Or if you don’t, God, I really am pathetic. ;)

I see my husband, making a complete mockery of Facebook by adding every person he can as a friend (even though he has no idea who they are… and these people actually accept him), and he makes a complete mockery of social media. And I love him for it. He has so much free time because it isn’t spent browsing through photos or trying to insert myself into very public conversations/exchanges about whether or not blue or purple is the best color (purple is by the way), and simply enjoying life not in front of a computer screen 24/7.

When did social media become a chore, like opening up bills in the mailbox or screening your phone calls for telemarketers? Except no one is trying to sell you anything or make you pay for something – they just bombard you with the mundane-ness of everyday life in the hopes that social media will somehow make their life more exciting. I just want it to be fun again.

And I continue the trend by posting this rant (and hell, my weight) online. Sort of funny, and all kinds of ironic.


Car Driving Tip #33

Let's all be honest. If you live in Texas (particularly the great city of Austin), the "wave" negates any road action you might "accidentally" do. For example, there are two lanes of traffic at Southwest Parkway and N. Mopac always trying to get on the highway during rush hour, but only one lane actually has the right-of-way. The lane that doesn't have the righ-of-way actually moves up to 2-5 minutes faster by simply "butting" (not cutting... too harsh of a word) in front of someone else. Yeah, it's technically wrong, but everyone does it (sigh), and the wave negates it -- particularly when someone waves back. One time, I even saw two people wave using the "hook 'em" sign -- it was an awesome day to be a Longhorn, and may have brought a tear to my eye.

However, when you don't wave, you're being an asshole. Thus brings you car driving tip #33.

#33: When cutting in front of someone, you must wave, or risk offending the person who kindly slammed their breaks (or motioned you over) to let you in. To the person in the Hyundai with a rosary hanging from mirror - you didn't wave, you gave driving Catholics a bad name and you waited until the last possible minute to make the maneuver. Bad form, ma'am. Bad form. Sincerely, an insulted Catholic, car-waving driver.