Friday, April 24, 2009

Being Green in a Red State

Instead of talking about Rick Perry's (somewhat stammering) declaration of the desire to secede, I'm going to talk about riding a bike. And walking. And recycling.

Holding Ithaca near and dear to my heart... I try to help the environment. Now, when I lived in Ithaca, I was never what anyone there would call "green". I fell somewhere in the middle of people driving SUVs less than a mile to class everyday and environmental club members with their own organic gardens. Not to say some of my dearest friends didn't belong to those groups. But, I wasn't necessarily green.

When I bought my Vespa in July, my Texas friends were shocked. Amidst the teasing for driving a scooter around all day, I got 75 MPG when gas was almost $5. Always a frugal girl, I can take a little flack in exchange for saving a few bucks. I was also instantly known as the greenest person in the office.

Since then, I've taken on such other shocking habits as:
  • Recycling
  • Walking places
  • Buying local
  • Cooking for myself
  • Using the word "organic"
My most recent development has been (are you ready for this?) riding my bike to work. It's a scant 3 miles, something Ithacans don't bat an eye at. In Texas, the very fact that I don't valet when I get to work is stunning. I get weird looks when I'm tooling along Swiss Avenue and shocked looks from the nearby construction sites as I coast down the streets.

Oh well, I guess it just reinforces that whole earth mother, granola thing I've got going on. Then again, that's pretty much how all of us northerners are viewed down here!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Relections on a Tea Party

This blog has always been about the culture shock I experienced when moving from the Northeast to good ol' Texas. In a presidential election year, I moved from Ithaca, New York, easily one of the most liberal places in the country, to Texas, easily one of the most conservative. I've gotten into political "discussions" ("fights" just sounds bad) in bars, at work and among friends. With these discussions has not only come a lot of ranting and raving, but an opening of my eyes to the incredibly varied beliefs of others.

Yesterday, "Tea Parties" swept the nation as conservatives fought against higher taxes and, by extension, President Obama. Protests ranged from justified anger at the current economy to outright racism. Twitter showed both sides - the tag #teaparty for supporters and #teabagger for those opposed. Before I start ranting and raving again, let me enumerate some basic truths:
  1. Most people believe it's their way or the highway. I've seldom agreed with my conservative family (sorry Gramps!) and often find it impossible to understand their perspective.
  2. People love to complain.
  3. People love to think that these complaints are going to change the world. Don't believe me? Watch any political "news" show on television. I can't anymore.
Thus, we have ourselves a Tea Party. A rebellion against perceived injustices, a tradition begun over 200 years ago.

And I'm fine with it. The Constitution, which we have spent the past 8 years trying to defend, guarantees the right to assemble. The right to carry Confederate Flags (as much as they stand for evil, prejudiced things), the right to voice dissent against the President (no longer do the Alien and Sedition acts stand, sorry) and the right to moan, whine and complain about things that you may not understand.

Fellow liberals, dissenters and others: please stop your insults and degradation against those who simply needed to let off steam. 4 years ago, they were calling us "liberal hippies" and dismissing us as we are dismissing them. Intolerance begets intolerance, and that's just not what we need right now. Let them cry, let them complain. Maybe once that's over, we can begin the process of learning how to work together again to solve all the real problems out there.

And I just found out that the Governor of Texas wants to secede. I think this blog's back in action.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bleached Hair and Bedazzled Bags

In order to take my mind off the lameness that is currently the Giants defense, (c'mon. It's the Eagles. Let's go.) I am going to describe to you the eerie similarities I have seen shared between North Jersey and Texas.

Note: for those of you not familiar with the state of New Jersey, the state is actually broken down into three parts. South Jersey is like... Oklahoma. Farms, pickup trucks and wide open spaces. That's right. Oh, and Atlantic City. Central Jersey (where I'm from) is home to the Boss and Bon Jovi and is cool, laid back and awesome (of course). North Jersey is the Sopranos. It's women with bleached blonde hair and fake nails, guys that actually say Fuggetaboutit and is home to those accents that everyone associated with the state (oh. my. gawd.).

A disclaimer before I continue. Mom, I know you're from North Jersey. No offense.

This Saturday, my boyfriend and I attempted to attend the Dallas Sample Sale. I think I heard sample sales discussed in Sex and the City once. They're supposed to be trendy sort of yard sales for designers and other high-end labels. How wrong I was.

Our first stop was a warehouse sale. We had parked on the wrong side of the building and walked into a big scary room where the most popular items appeared to be housecoats and dog beds. Second, we found ourselves in a giant antique sale, where everything smelled like a bowling alley or a church (or a terrible combination of both). If you missed it, I'm sorry, because you totally missed out on your chance to buy an ear horn.

The third try was the charm and we finally arrived at the Dallas Sample Sale! Let the shopping begin!

Yeah, right.

This is where the eerie similarities begin. Bedazzled bags, bleached blonde hair as far as the eye could see, jewelry that would have been tacky in the 80s. I started having flashbacks to family trips to Bayonne in the 90s. Household furnishings ranged from what looked like end tables carved out of stumps to collectors sets of colorful crosses. My vision blurred from over stimulation. The tackiness was palpable.

Still... it made this Jersey Girl a little homesick. Pink tipped nails, teased out hair, blue eyeshadow. There's no place like home. There's no place like home.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thank yous from abroad

I love the "Yes We Can" video from Will.I.Am. Even more now, I love the comments that have been posted (and yes, I am ignoring the racist, bigoted BS that always appears in YouTube comments). Some examples:

Congratulation for Obama from Brazil!!!!

Sin duda esto va a dar nuevas esperanzas a millones de personas en todo el mundo
Presidente Obama!!

congratulations you all americans !!!
Thanks so much

Congrats, this is history in the making folks. Best of luck from your neighbours to the north, you deserve it

Enhorabuena al nuevo presidente de los Estados Unidos. Greetings from Spain.

Thanks to everyone who voted obama from north west london UK you've saved the world.

Yes. We. Can. And we did!

When I Found Out

Growing up, the 2 big questions I always had for my parents were "where were you when the first man walked on the moon" and "where were you when you heard JFK was killed?" I know now that I will have my own question to answer: "where were you when Obama was elected?"

My answer:

I was sitting my couch with some of my closest friends, watching the predictions roll in. I'd been assured of a landslide victory all day, but I wasn't buying it. I refused to buy champagne because I didn't want to be the one person that jinxed our country's best chance for change (and yes, I am that superstitious). I cheered when New Jersey went Democratic and nearly cried when Texas was initially declared "too close to call". Finally, at 9:59, Wolf Blitzer made the call.

With 20 seconds left before the West Coast polls officially closed, CNN's anchor declared, "I think after we get these results, we'll have a major prediction to make". All Obama needed was California and the (predicted) victory was his. We counted down like it was New Year's Eve and I inched closer and closer to the edge of my couch, head in my hands, too nervous to watch.

I heard the now-famous CNN Prediction jingle, looked up and saw "Barack Obama Elected President". I fell to the floor, unable to speak, completely in shock. It had happened. We had done it. We had risen above bigotry and deceit to elect the best candidate to our highest office.

Congratulations, America. I'm proud!

Friday, September 12, 2008

I was told this is "classic Texas"

I've been reading up on Ike and trying to figure out how much wine I'm going to have to buy to make it through the next few days. I stumbled upon this article via Fark, which had this gem of a quote:

"If the island is going to disappear it has to be a tsunami," he said, as he walked along the block where his home is located, drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette. "If it ain't your time you ain't going anywhere."

I read that aloud to my coworkers, who deemed that "classic Texas". One said that people like that drive her crazy, and I had to break it to her that almost all Jerseyans think Texans talk that way!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bringing back some Italian hand guestures

One of my favorite book series are the books about Stephanie Plum, a character created by Janet Evanovich. Stephanie Plum is a true Jersey girl, and she often refers to the hand signals notoriously made by New Jersey drivers as "Italian hand gestures". I'm famous for them. Really.

Let's go to the third person for this story. I just think it'll make it more interesting, plus things are always cooler when you talk about yourself in the third person.

We catch up to our heroine, the lovely Vespa rider as she ignores yet another group of men yelling "hey girl" out their car windows. She drives past a construction site and again marvels that men still believe that whistling actually has any effect at all. The gorgeous rider heads down Greenville, cursing under breath at the minivans coasting along at 5 MPH (It's my story, and I can exaggerate what I want.)

She expertly takes a right turn, ignoring the one rogue minivan driver attempting to go 60 down a side street. The light in front of her is red, of course. When riding a Vespa, lights are always red, especially when it's raining, scorching hot or when our heroine is starving.

Today she is starving AND boiling.

Green light. Signaling like any good scooter driver, she advances into the intersection and waits for oncoming cars to pass so she can turn left. This being Dallas, it involves watching one near rear-ending, one person choosing to turn right from the left lane and one car clearing the intersection at about 90 MPH. During all this activity, she hears a honk.

And another honk.

And a lean on the horn oh my lord my wife is having a baby get out of the way honk.

She turns around and sees the mini van driver from before glaring at her, gesturing her to turn left in front of the 90 MPH deathmobile.

Our heroine, ever the cool, calm and collected, waits her turn and turns left.

And drives off into the scorching sunset, middle finger raised in the air.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The trouble with

To start, I guess I should confess something. I am a huge Yankee fan. I know, I know, they're the evil empire, I'm such a frontrunner, etc. I've heard it all. I've also been a fan forever, just like any good Jersey girl. I can remember the 1996 World Series vividly, sitting about 5 inches away from our 12" TV in the kitchen (why I wasn't in the living room, I'll never know) absolutely convinced that Derek Jeter was my soul mate.

Was! Not is! I swear!

Anyway, after moving to Texas, I realized that I couldn't make it the rest of the season without the ability to watch my boys play ball. Not only that, but the Yankees were playing horribly, and when I watch, they win. Therefore, for the good of the team (and with some persuasion from my Red Sox fan boyfriend), we got

It sucks.

The audio cuts in and out. The high quality video doesn't work and the low quality skips. It constantly says we're logged in on multiple machines. I even broke down tonight and called technical support. They recommended I empty my trash. What?!

That's not the biggest issue. As a marketing geek, I grimace every time there's what MLB calls a "break in the action", a time when cable stations are showing commercials to pay the bills. splits this time 3 ways:

1. Inanely repetitive commercials for the store with horribly messed up audio levels
2. Inanely repetitive commercials for Sony starring a Dane Cook lookalike and a scary pale physics professor
3. A graphic that for some reason says "Break in the action", superimposed over the text "134 RBI", which I imagine must be some magic number in the mind of MLB.

I know this is a paid service and MLB might get some flack for selling commercials, but what if those spots had a significant effect on the price of the service? Not only that, but when I subscribed I handed over all sorts of demographic info - info that certainly showed that I'm not in the market for a Sony TV sold by Professor Creepy. Why not put up ads that are targeted to me?

Fine, fine. If MLB wants to avoid the whole paid advertising during a paid service issue, at least put some highlights or anything with audio in there. The same Sony ad 3 times in a row followed by a jarring silence for 45 seconds or more is really throwing me (and thus, the Yankees) off our game.

What's your solution to the quandary?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Long Weekends and Funny Signs

First, this was the sign on an ATM in Jersey. Check out the fine print on the bottom. Looks like they're sorry for more than just not taking deposits! Courtesy of my mom, her cameraphone and some LOLcat building fun:

Thank you, New Jersey. Even when I'm over a thousand miles away, you never cease to amuse me.

My boyfriend and I are taking a day trip out to Fort Worth this weekend for some good 'ol fried pickles and honky tonk country music. I can't believe I just said that!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Gift from HARO!

I just got my HARO (Help A Reporter Out) shirt and it's awesome:

It came in probably the first hand-addressed envelope I've gotten so far at work!

To all my PR-type and journalist friends (that's right, I swing both ways...friend-wise) make sure you check out HARO. Journalists can submit pitches and PR pros can find out who needs what. We've already pitched a few articles about the museum, and HARO has been a great resource!

(Reminder: make sure you vote for the Hot Blogger Calendar!)

(Reminder #2: follow me on Twitter: @agardina)