Off Topic: Things you need to “like” on Facebook in Dickinson

I know a lot of people are opposed to the commercialization of Facebook (remember when you needed a .edu email to get in?) but there is some good to come out of it. Here are the things I enjoy following on Facebook here. Some are businesses, some are government entities, all are useful.

Dickinson Area Public Library: They have A LOT of cool events at the library and always put new books available on their facebook page.

Dickinson Police Department

Lillian’s: They’re not open everyday, but always put on facebook when they are.

Our two yogurt joints (in alphabetical order): Cherry Berry and Tutti Frutti

Bakken Oil Field Fail of the Day: It usually posts more than once a day… super funny and slightly scary things going on in the Oil Patch

The Brew

Those are my favorite things to follow here in Dickinson, what are yours? Share in a comment!

Why I hate Valentine’s Day

There’s nothing worse than being single on Valentine’s Day…………………………………. except for being in a relationship.

Why is this worse, you ask? Because women hate each other and treat each other like crap. Not all women, mind you, but there are enough b—-es in this world to give the rest of us a bad name and make us doubt ever so much.

Women are so competitive when it comes to men that it makes me sick, because most guys out there aren’t that great UNTIL they meet the right girl. (Have you been watching HIMYM? Ted and Barney as a-holes most of the time. Where Marshall [played by my dream guy Jason Segel] is a sweetheart because he’s with his sweetheart.)

At least, when you’re single, it’s a great excuse to eat chocolate and have a burger, where there is so much pressure to have an amazing Valentine’s Day if you’re in a relationship, and you really have no control over what happens, it’s all supposed to be up to him.

Did you get a nice bouquet of red roses… from Walmart? Guess what, that co-worker you don’t like got a beautiful bouquet that cost twice as much deliver as a “surprise” from the EXPENSIVE flower shop. (Yeah right, she probably took his credit card and set the whole thing up herself weeks ago.) But all flowers die, anyway.

He got you a heart-shaped box of chocolates and a teddy bear? Cliche, but cute! What… HER husband got her hand-dipped chocolate covered strawberries flown in from France and a new puppy! Seriously?

Valentine’s Day puts unneeded pressure on relationships. They make you question someone that previously didn’t need questioning. It’s never good when you equate material things for love, but when someone else does it for you and makes you doubt something solid, that’s even worse.

So I’m glad I’m single on Valentine’s Day, because I get to eat treats and sell stuff to those poor guys who are unknowingly competing with their wife’s friend’s boyfriend.

 

Friends don’t…

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.

So I’m not much of a friend, I guess.

The other weekend, a friend from out of town came up. She played black jack at the bar while I was at work and worked out and I met her with another friend at about 11. When we caught up with her she was already a few sheets to the wind and proceeded to order two more beers while we sat at Bar No. 1.

Our male friend had Diet Coke, I had water. I like a good beer here and there, but most of the beer at the bars in this town isn’t what I would call good, so it really just amounts to empty calories. Plus I was driving. I have a hand-me-down auto start, which is why I think my friends like it when I drive.

After two rounds at Bar No. 1, we decided to head off to Bar No. 2. My female friend had almost a whole beer, so she chugged it. Off to my toasty car we went.

At Bar No. 2 my female friend quickly disappeared while my male friend an I took a seat near the dance floor to critique the drunks around us. This has become quite a game. I saw my female friend at the black jack tables for a bit, but then she disappeared quickly into the crowd, only to reappear shortly before I yelled “Lights are on, make sure she’s cute!” — a warning to the oil field workers who may be taking “home” not-so-cute girls.

At this point, we decided to get some food.

My friend was a bubbling idiot at the restaurant. She kept talking about women’s rights, and how there should be a study to see how it affects the American family, but in the next breath says she knows she doesn’t want to get married and have kids yet. I was getting ready to punch her Republican face, until I remembered she was a drunk bumbling idiot at the time.

Food in the tummy does help absorb alcohol and sober you up, but I don’t think she had quite enough food. I had told her time and time again my guest room or couch was more than available to her.

When we got to her car to grab her pajamas, she elected to get in her car and drive the 30 miles home, rather than grab the jammies and hop back in my car. She said she needed to be up early.

I was feeling a little guilty at the time. And the more I think about it, the more I know I was wrong. I should have locked her in my back seat until she got to my place. I should have made her give my male friend the keys to her car and drive it to my place so she could leave extra early and her car would be right there. I should have done so many things, because what if something bad happened. What if she got a DUI? What if she drove off the road and hurt or killed herself? What if she got in a collision and killed someone else? I would be forever racked with guilt because I could have prevented that.

Luckily, I got a text about an hour later saying she had made it home. She promised to take “back roads” so as to avoid cops as well as other drivers.

I never drive if I’ve had more than two beers. In fact, if I can feel even the tiniest affect of alcohol, I hand over the keys.

But North Dakotans don’t have this attitude, I’ve come to find.  I don’t know if it’s the ruralness of the state and the dependence on vehicles, or if it’s an overabundance of cheap beer, or if it’s the low consequences of a DUI, compared to other states. It bothers me how quick people are to get behind the wheel when they’ve been drinking.

I don’ t know what can be done to change the attitudes of drinkers and drivers in this state, but it scares me how much it happens. If you drink, don’t drive. And if you’re friend drinks, don’t let her drive. This happened a few weeks ago and I still feel guilty, like I’m a really crappy friend.

School shootings

In the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting Friday, I started thinking about all of the school shootings in my lifetime.

The first major one, the one everyone references back to, is Columbine. I was in junior high when that happened, and it provoked a serious conversation and led to stricter regulations on school visitors and locked doors.

The next one that sticks on in my mind is what has been dubbed the “Red Lake Massacre.” In March 2005 a student at the high school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota killed his grandparents before going to school and opening fire, killing five students, one teacher and a security guard.This one sticks out in my mind because I was living and attending college in near-by Bemidji, Minn., where the victims were given medical care. It was a little surreal when our small lake town was on CNN, especially for something so horrible less than 40 miles from home.

While the next major and deadliest shooting was Virginia Tech in my senior year of college, the shooting at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Ill., had more of an impact.

I was in my second semester of grad school at Columbia College Chicago and had planned to meet a few classmates for a “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” party at the Green Mill in Uptown. Al Capone, at one point, was a part-owner of the north side speak easy. I was busy with school and then work all day so I hadn’t seen the news before I got to the bar. Boy did I feel like a horse’s ass for planning a St. Valentine’s Day Massacre party the same day a kid 70 miles away shoots up his school.

I guess my point is that I’m a silly little insignificant being, and I’ve been close to two major school shootings. This happens waaaaaaayyyyyyy too often. It just needs to stop.

How is the question the talking heads are trying to answer to no avail. But I think more hugs may help, at least help the healing. But this is coming from a girl who believes that most conflicts can be resolved with a best two-out-of-three game of rock-paper-scissors. I might be a little soft.

I guess there really is no point to this, just that I’m sad and its Christmas time and people are arguing and I think we just need more hugs. Hugs are good.

Hugs and prayers.

What is feminism?

A recent opinion piece by Suzanne Venker has really got me pondering what feminism really is. Ms. Venker seems to be under the impression that it is solely becoming a “career gal,” denying motherhood and burning bras… or something like that.

I don’t really agree with that. Feminism is really about empowering choices. At one point a woman’s only choice was to find someone to marry her and have babies. A lot of women like it, a lot didn’t and a lot wanted that, but more.

Venker is REALLY into the idea of the one-income household, becoming a mom and then building a career. She thinks it’s sad that women go to college to get BA and BS degrees, and not MRS degrees. But she still thinks that college is a worthwhile endeavor, even if becoming a wife and mom is a woman’s main goal. To that I say good luck finding a man who will pay not only his own student loans, but yours, too, and for all those babies you’re popping out.

And I love the way Ms. Venker works in absolutes. Either you have a career, you have a family or you do both at full steam. I think there are a lot of women who would love to work part-time in an industry they love while the raise their children, but for many that’s not possible, and part-time workers have little to no protection like full-time employees.

And for me and many other women, I’m sure, it’s scary to give up your independence. How many of us have heard stories of women who have come to depend on men, only to have them leave for a new model, providing minimal child support and leaving her, who’s only job has ever been to clean poopy diapers and kiss boo-boos, to support herself. It’s scary. And even if he’s a good guy, he could still drop dead at any moment by being hit by a bus or a heart attack, again leaving her to fend for herself. While becoming a full-time mom is valiant, many employers just see it as being unemployed for a long period of time.

But for many, part-time work isn’t an option, either, because part-time workers are pretty much garbage in the eyes of the law. In order to get maternity leave a woman needs to be working full-time at her company that employs at least 50 people for 12 months before giving birth. That means that a part-time worker who’s first priority is being a full-time mom, who may love her job and just want a little adult interaction a few nights a week, doesn’t need the money but wants to have her own, can actually be fired for having a baby. She puts in for 10 weeks off, boss denies, she has the baby and doesn’t come to work, fired for not coming in to work when scheduled. While most employers wouldn’t do that for good employees, it’s legal and that’s what’s scary.

Motherhood and career can happen one after the other or simultaneously if women are given the right tools. This is the crux of feminism. Choices. Which also means that if someone chooses to be childless, that should be respected as well. But so should motherhood. There are no absolutes in life, compromise is always attainable.

And the winner is…

Women!

I truly believe that women are the real winners of this election.

With Obama being re-elected Obamacare and reproductive rights are safer, and hopefully this whole “women on birth control are sluts” thing passes over in by the next presidential election.

Women voters “shut that whole thing down” when it came to republicans who chose to open up their big mouths about rape.

And women gained key seats in Congress, especially North Dakota’s own Heidi Heitkamp, who became the state’s first woman to be elected to a national office today when Rick Berg conceded.

So congrats women! You earned it!

The end game

It’s almost here.

In less than two weeks, we have something to look forward to.

The beginning of the 2016 presidential race.

What was once an affair that lasted a few months is now a years-long event that is both emotionally and financially draining for the candidates as well as the American public, and I, for one, am kind of sick of it.

The primaries have taken the fun out of the conventions, and the endless debates have taken the fun out of the primaries.

There is no space for an October surprise because we know everything about the candidates by the time they get to the June primaries.

I believe in leaders, and not politicians. All of this campaigning has turned people who could be great leaders into great politicians, which are pretty horrible human beings, when you think of it.

There will never be another campaign like Jimmy Carter’s 1976 campaign. There is so much money in politics that no one can run on their laurels alone. And that kind of breaks my heart.

There are probably a million great leaders out there today who will never have the financial backing to run for even a state office, let alone a national office, if we don’t change the way our campaigns are run and financed.

I’ll care about who’s running in 2016 in 2016.

The school lunch debate

Changes to the school lunch program have caused quite a stir lately. The government, who picks up the tab for school lunches, have attempted to make school lunches healthier.

Anyone who has watched Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution can attest to the disgustingness of school lunches.

But what irks me about the reports is how they’ll talk about how kids are hungry, and then talk about how all this food is being thrown out, and then blame the government.  Um? Maybe if those spoiled kids would eat the food they’re throwing out, they wouldn’t be hungry.

The lunches are capped at 850 calories. I’m sorry, but that’s a lot. I’m on a plan that gives me 1,200 a day, plus what I burn working out, if I want to meet my weight loss goals. I might not always stay under that, but I sure do try!

But 850 is more than 2/3 of what I’m allowed a day. And I know that growing children need more food than adults, but still 850 for a whole meal seems like a lot.

For example, 850 calories is more than 5 pounds of baby carrots, just under 3 pounds of apples, or three slices of Little Caesar’s pepperoni pizza. I’m pretty sure I would be filled up on any of those, so I don’t see what the students are complaining about.

Yes, school lunches are not always going to be your favorite food. You know what I would do if school lunch wasn’t my favorite? I ate what I liked, skipped what I didn’t and ate a snack when I got home. It was my fault I was hungry, I was the one being picky, and no one thought to blame the cooks or the government.

The one who pays for the meal gets to make the say. If your kids or you don’t like what’s being served, make them lunch. No one said they had to eat the USDA food.

Off Topic: Why ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ is the best Star Wars movie

Let’s face it, I’m getting just as sick of politics as the rest of you, so I thought I’d write about something near and dear to my heart. My love of Star Wars.

Why is “Empire” the best movie? Because you’ve already fallen in love with the characters from “A New Hope,” significant plot twists are revealed and Han Solo is once again a bad ass, but here are my point-by-point reasons in chronological order:

1)Hoth: I love winter, if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to stand living here, so a whole ice planet holding the rebellion, yes please! I mean, there are Ton-Tons and a Wampa monster who kidnaps our hero. Not to mention we see the full-scale military power of The Empire with the AT-ATs storming the base.

2)Yoda: We finally meet the greatest Jedi master ever, enough said.

3)Lando Calrissian: Played by the ever-cool Billy Dee Williams, he’s the model frenemy turned friend who tries to save his city, but realizes his loyalties lie elsewhere. And how awesome of a name is Lando Calrissian? Seriously, it’s my #2 baby name after Obi-Wan Kenobi.

4)Dagobah: It’s just a neat swamp planet. I would love to travel to a galaxy where the planets are defined by one geographical feature.

5)Cloud City: It’s a mining city in the Clouds, led by the one and only Lando Calrissian. Enough said.

6)“I know” The BEST response to I love you, ever!

7)Carbon freezing: How cool would this be if it were real? I mean, a whole person frozen. And when Han is solidified in the horrible pose, it makes my heart break for Leia.

*SPOILER ALERT*

8)Major plot point reveal: Vader is Luke’s father, AKA Anakin Skywalker.

9)Mechanical hand: Can’t you wait until we have this technology?

10)Unrest: Han is frozen and given by Bobba Fett to Jabba the Hutt, Luke now know the identity of his father and needs to continue his Jedi training, we don’t know what’s going on in the love triangle between Luke-Leia-and-Han. Chewbacca is left without a best friend. So much has happened, but this movie does not end happily, which leaves you wanting more.

And that is why “Empire” is the best Star Wars movie EVER. The others have some obvious pluses, but I most-often sit down and watch “Empire.”

Ugh, this whole campaigning thing is really getting to me? Is it Thanksgiving yet?