Sunday, December 26, 2010

All Lacquered Up


When people find out I’m a nail tech, the first question they usually ask me is “What’s your favorite nail polish?”  It’s a good question since there are scads of different brands on the market to choose from, and the quality between brands can vary greatly. 

As a nail tech, polish is my mainstay.  Almost all of my clients walk out the door with polish of some kind on their nails.  It’s the one product that I must have in quantity, and the one thing I can’t live without. 

So when I look for a polish to put on my shelf for client use, I look for four different traits; Application, Wearability, Affordability, and Selection.

1. Application – Can the polish be applied in 2 thin coats with complete coverage and without streaks?  Does the brush hold enough polish so that one dip in the bottle will cover the nail?  Does the brush fan out so that the polish can be properly applied to the nail in three strokes?

2. Wearability – When applied properly, with  good quality base and top coats, how long before the polish begins to chip when worn on the natural nail?

3. Affordability – Will I have to sell my children into slavery to be able to afford a good selection of polish colors?

4. Selection – Does the brand have a lot of different colors with a decent variety of finishes (cream, glitter, shimmer, frost, etc.)?

Until recently I hadn’t found a brand that scored well in all four categories.  I had a few favorites, but all fell flat in at least one area.  So today I’ll share my top picks with you, what I love and hate about each of them, and I’ll tell you which one I think will be pushing all of the other brands off my shelf.

First off, Sally Hansen doesn’t even make my list.  Every time I go through my favorites, I get asked “But isn’t Sally Hansen ok too?”  The short answer is no, it’s not.  Don’t get me wrong, it serves a purpose.  If you need a cheap polish to match a dress that you only wear once or twice a year, and you don’t care if it chips before the party’s over, then run to Walgreens and pick up a bottle of Sally.  There are a ton of colors available, but you may need a few coats for complete color coverage, and it will likely be chipped before the  end of the night. 

Instead, if you want something inexpensive with a little more wearability, try Finger Paints.  You can pick them up at Sally’s Beauty Supply.  They cost a little more than Sally Hansen, but are still quite affordable.  They also have a great color selection, apply nicely, and will wear for a day or two longer than cheaper polishes.  I like this brand, and have a few of them on my shelf.  It’s not a professional quality polish, but it’s a great alternative if you don’t want to have to run to a salon to pick up a bottle.

Working my way up, the next on my list is China Glaze.  This brand scores high on the affordability scale at about $5 a bottle.  It is a professional brand, albeit a low quality one, and you can purchase it at many salons as well as Sally Beauty.  They have a great color selection and seasonal releases to expand the palette of choices.  However, China Glaze scores low on my list for application and wearability.  The brushes are not as easy to work with as I’d like, and some colors aren’t pigmented enough to provide complete, streak-free coverage in two coats.  You’ll also probably start seeing chips appear around two days after your manicure.

Ranking in next is Color Club.  When I first started using Color Club polishes, I hated them.  However, it turns out that the bottles I was using were old, gloopy, and generally disgusting.  A newer bottle has great application and coverage.  They’re also extremely affordable, and are typically a little cheaper to buy than China Glaze.  The downside to Color Club is that you have to purchase it in a salon, and it can be difficult to find one that carries the brand.  It also doesn’t score very high on the wearability meter, and you can expect your polish to start chipping a day or two after application.

OPI is the first polish to score in as one of my favorite brands of polish.  While OPI polishes are more expensive than the previous brands listed, they’re worth every penny.  They’re highly pigmented and therefore provide excellent coverage.  They have a ton of colors to choose from, as well as frequent releases of limited edition colors that are usually trendy and fabulous.  OPI wears well on the natural nail, and you can typically get five days to a week out of your polish before you’ll need to repaint.  The one thing I hate about this brand however, is the one thing most people love about it; so feel free to take my opinion with a grain of salt…  I hate the wide brush that comes standard in the full size bottles of OPI.  I know, I know, I’m weird… But you see, my problem is this: I do a lot of manicures on kids and smaller adults.  I find that it’s nearly impossible to paint a tiny pinkie nail without making a mess using an OPI brush, and don’t even ask me about painting pinkie toes for a pedicure with it (it makes me swear every time).  It’s so bad, it’s almost a deal breaker for me, but you might love the brush, so by all means, give it a try and find out!

Until very recently, CND ranked in as my all time favorite.  It scores low on the affordability scale, topping out between $9 – $11 a bottle, but for the standard colors that you wear all of the time, it’s well worth the price.  CND polishes are so highly pigmented that most can be applied in one coat, with complete coverage and no streaking.  That means it dries quicker, and you’ll also get more applications out of a bottle; so in the long run the price becomes comparable to the cheaper polishes.  It also wears like iron, and unless you’re really hard on your nails, should last about a week before it starts to chip off.  Now, a few years ago CND made an innovation in nail polishes, and introduced a line called Color and Effects.  What it is, is a line of about fifty creamy polish colors, and a line of about fifteen top coats that add sparkle, glitter, or frost effects to the colors.  The color is applied first and then the effects, and the many combinations between the two give you an almost unlimited range of looks for your nails.  Really cool, right?   The only gripe I have with CND is that they need more colors!!!!  Most of the colors they offer fall into the range of reds and peaches, and less than ten fall into a non-standard color range (yellows, greens, blues, etc.).  That’s fine for a more sedate crowd, but again, I do nails on a lot of kids, and they all want weird colors in bright shades.  If CND expanded their line, I’d marry them and devote myself to their polish babies, but until they offer a range of colors that satisfies all of my clients, I have to look elsewhere to fill that gap.

Now we’ve come to my top pick, and it’s a brand that I didn’t even know existed until a couple of months ago.  The more familiar I become with it though, the more I’m falling in love…

Zoya is my all around top polish pick.  This brand, so far, has gotten top marks in all of my fields.  At $7 a bottle, the price falls solidly in the middle of those listed above.  The quality, however, compares to OPI and CND, which makes the price tag even more impressive.  I’ve heard complaints that the brush is too small, and it is a little on the small side.  Yet, the quality of the brush is so high that I am able to cover even a large thumbnail with one bottle dip, and the bristles spread out nicely when touched to the nail, making a three stroke application a snap even with the smaller size.  The polish itself is highly pigmented, and covers beautifully with two thin coats, leaving no streaks or blotches behind.  They also have an amazing selection of colors and finishes, with a great color spoon program that lets you try before you buy if you’re not sure that a color is right for you.

That leaves wearability as the only category that is yet undecided for Zoya and me, but that’s merely because I haven’t had adequate time to really judge how it performs under different circumstances.  So far my results have been good though, and I’m hopeful that when used on a properly prepared natural nail, it will wear at least as well as OPI.  All in all, I’m ready to start clearing out my other polishes (except for a few favorites) to make room for more Zoya colors.

Zoya is available online (their web store has terrific customer service and shipping times), or at select salons.  Give it a try, if you don’t like the polish you’re welcome to send it to me!

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!



Monday, November 8, 2010

No Regrets

This weekend, I was with my adult (oh God I’m so OLD!) daughter, and we happened to find ourselves in an establishment that performs piercings and tattoos.  We were looking at the flash art they have displayed on the walls, laughing and having fun, and I joked that I should have a butterfly tattooed on my face.

It was a really cute little butterfly!

I did not, in fact, leave the shop with new ink on my face.  After a lot of teasing from my daughter and the staff at the shop though, I did leave with a little cartoon puppy on the inside of my arm.  One that looks remarkably similar to my Jack.


It’s not a DaVinci, but it’s tiny, cute, and even though it’s just a piece of flash I picked out of a book, it means something to me.

The experience though, got me thinking…

I’m no stranger to tattoos.  I now have four, and my husband has four as well.  Over the years I’ve been subjected to the criticisms of many people when they learn I have permanent ink on my body.  I say learn because almost all of my ink is hidden, and so I usually have to inform people that I have it.  I’ve had family, friends, and even people I’ve just met who somehow believe they have a right to offer me lifestyle advice, tell me that someday I’ll regret it.

“You’ll regret it when you’re old, and your skin begins to wrinkle and sag.”

“You’ll regret using flash, and not getting ink that’s personal to you.”

“You’ll regret making a spur of the moment decision that’s going to stick with you FOREVER!”

“You’ll regret it when the ink blurs and fades and you’re stuck with a big blob of nothing on your body.”

This is the theme of most of the comments I receive.  That someday I’m going to be filled with remorse and regret.  I’ll moan and lament that I ever spent the twenty dollars to have a puppy the size of a postage stamp tattooed onto my body.

I don’t buy it though, and as usual, I’m going to tell you why.

Each and every one of my tattoos has meaning to me, whether they were flash art picked off a wall, or original artwork made just for me.  Some of them have special meaning in the symbolism, but for each and every one, there’s meaning in the memory.

I got my first tattoo almost fifteen years ago.  I was visiting John in New York, and we drove to a shop in New Jersey so I could get inked.  I had been wanting a rose on my ankle for almost as long as I could remember, and I decided that while I was in New York, embarking on a new stage of my life, it was the perfect time to have it done.

The design has meaning, I picked a grey rose, and added a cross element, symbolizing myself and John, the man who helped me break out of a life that was killing me quicker than cyanide in my coffee.  So every time I see it now, I think of us, and of the war I fought to save myself; to start again.

More so than the symbolism though, looking at the ink brings back a vivid memory of being happy for the first time in a long time, the drive to New Jersey, and the artist at the shop who made me laugh until I cried. 

Honestly, the tattoo can sag and wrinkle, fade and blur until it’s an unrecognizable blob, but the feelings and memories it evokes, never will.  I’ve been told it’s ugly, and perhaps to some it is, but I see only beauty when I look at it.  It marks the start of a beautiful me, and I have no regrets.

My second tattoo is a back piece that I jokingly refer to as my tramp stamp.  I got it on my thirtieth birthday, before tramp stamps were cool.  It’s up higher than most of the stamps you see on girls, and peeks out over my waistband when I bend over and my shirt rides up.


It’s a bit of flash, with no meaning at all.  Just a decoration on my skin.  Every time I see it in the mirror though, another vivid memory of a day spent with the man I love comes to mind.  He took me out the morning of my birthday, telling me he had a surprise for me.  We drove to Wauwatosa, or Waukesha, or some other ‘burb of Milwaukee and ended up at a tattoo parlor.  He hadn’t made an appointment, so the wait took about six hours. We spent the time sitting on a bench outside the store, just enjoying each other’s company, talking to strangers, and basking in the rare warmth of a spring day in Wisconsin.

It has no deep meaning.  As I grow older and wider, it’s stretched a bit with my girth, and I have no regrets.

My third tattoo is a zuni bear on my thigh.  It’s an original piece of artwork, made just for me, and has symbolism so personal and private that I won’t discuss it here.  Again, it includes sharp memories of the day, the people, and the emotions of the event.  It lost a bit of color in the healing process, is a little wonky where it covers some stretch marks, and no one ever sees it but John and I.  Still, it’s beautiful, and vibrant, and so totally me that I have no regrets.

Last but not least is my new cartoon puppy.  It’s the only ink on my body that is easily visible.  I think my willingness to put it there shows that I’m moving on to yet another stage in my life.  One where I do things because it makes me happy, and one where I don’t really care what other people may think about it.  I’m past the point of having to worry about what potential employers may think.  If they won’t hire me because of a tattoo that’s no bigger than a nickel, it’s their loss, not mine.

Of course it symbolizes my first dog.  My vicious pit bull who I’ve come to love like a child.  A child who will never leave me to go to college, or get married.  My silly dog who gets bullied nightly by the cat, who would do just about anything for a butt scratch, and who taught me to not judge a dog by its muscled shoulders and big blocky head, even if everyone else does. 

More than that though, I'll always have the memory of a day spent with my beautiful daughter, who’s now a grown woman and becoming more my friend than my child.  I’ll remember the laughing and the teasing, and I know that every time she sees it, she’ll remember the same.

It can blur and fade, become an unrecognizable spot of color on my skin, but the feelings and memories it evokes will always stay the same.

I have no regrets.



Thursday, October 28, 2010

He's on to Me

Jack has been on meds for three days now for a yeast infection.  He gets a pill, an eye ointment, and ear drops two times a day.

The pills are not a problem, in fact they're the only part of the medication routine he likes, because they're administered wrapped in a treat.  The real problem is the eye ointment.

First he needs to have his eyes flushed with a saline solution because they're still goopy from the infection, and then he gets a half inch line of ointment applied into his eye (or as close as I can get it).  Sounds somewhat simple, right?  Jack, however, feels this is torture of the worst kind.  He’s invoked his rights as per the Geneva Convention, and is protesting this inhumane behavior on my part.  Now, as soon as he sees me coming with the bottles of saline and meds in hand, he will run and hide, then run and hide again.  This process repeats its self until I’m worn out from chasing him and fall over into an exhausted coma.

After having to practically wrestle him to the ground the first day, I decided there had to be a better way.  So.. 

Day two I decided to take the indirect approach.  I waited for him to take his nap, and then ever so gently washed out his eyes and put in the ointment.  It went very well.  It was less stress for the both of us, he didn't struggle, and went right back to sleep when I was done.  Yay!  I'd found a method that worked, right?  Right?!?

We're now on day three, and Jack is on to me.  I fed him his breakfast this morning, after which he goes outside to potty, and then usually settles in for a leisurely three hour nap on his chair.  After he came in from outside, I left him alone for awhile so he could settle on into his nap, and after about an hour went to give him the ointment.

Wait, Jack's not on his chair...  Where is he?

After a short search I found him curled up in his crate, his nose pressed into the far corner where I couldn't possibly reach him. 


I'm a patient person though, I knew I could wait him out, and that eventually he'd turn around and put his face toward the crate opening.  Every time I got up to get coffee I’d wander past his crate to see if he’d turned around yet, and eventually he did. 

However, I'm not as stealthy as I'd like to be.  He heard me coming, opened one eye, and immediately put his nose up into the air pointing towards the ceiling of the crate; putting his eyes once again out of my reach.

I looked at his posture, nose in the air, eyes closed tightly, and thought, “My dog is snubbing me!!”

He sat like that for awhile, unmoving while I tried everything in my bag of tricks to get him to look at me.

“Jack, kisses?” Kissy, kissy noises…  Nothing

“Wanna treat, poopy dog?”  Shake, shake of the treat box…  Nope.

“Come on, give me a kiss.”  More kissy noises…  still nada.

I scowled at him, but as his eyes were still closed in anticipation of me trying to stick crap in them, it was less than effective.  I’m sure if he’d seen how much distress he was causing me, he’d have melted into a little puddle at my feet and begged me to medicate him, but as it was, we were still at an impasse.

Then I remembered the new doggie sausage I’d purchased just yesterday, in anticipation of having to change his diet as per his new vets recommendation.  I popped into the kitchen and cut a slice up into treat sized chunks, then went back to take up my post at the door of his crate.

Jack had not moved.  He was still sitting nose up, eyes tightly closed, pretending he’d been adopted by some other, nicer, lady.

I pulled a chunk of sausage out of my pocket and waved it in front of his nose.  He took a sniff.  Another wave, an eye popped open and regarded me disdainfully.  One more flourish and I had him.  He put his face down to gobble the new treat, and grudgingly let me torture him while I stuffed his face.

Score another one for the evil lady.  I only wonder what he has in store for me tomorrow, now that he’s on to me.



Friday, October 15, 2010

An Ounce of Prevention

I just witnessed probably the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen in my life.  It left me upset, furious, and I can’t decide whether I want to cry or throw up, so I decided to blog instead.

I’ve always been a cat person.  I never owned a dog, and didn’t really care to own one until a big, dumb lump of stinky puppy fell into my lap.  Being a cat person, I never imagined I could love a dog as much as I love Jack, or that I would become a vocal advocate for a breed that a mere eighteen months ago I thought was vicious…

It is what it is though.  Jack cuddled his way into our family, and I love and protect him like one of the kids.


I’ve had a lot of people question my sanity for having a Pittie as a first time dog owner.  I knew right from the start that I had my work cut out for me though.  I did research on the breed, and different training methods.  I told John right off the bat that if we were going to have a Pit Bull, he was going to be one of the best behaved Pits on the planet.  I did NOT want my family to be the focus of any news stories.

So right away we started training, and while Jack is not THE best behaved Pittie on the planet, he does ok for himself.  He’s technically still a puppy though, and we see progress with his self control every day.  He’s a good dog, and a very friendly one, but still, we take a lot of steps to ensure that he and everyone he comes into contact with, stays safe.  He always wears a collar; if he’s outside, he’s on a leash; if he’s in the car, he’s buckled in with his doggie seat belt harness.

Since I take these, and other, simple precautions, I am pretty confident that Jack can be easily controlled if the need arises, and that’s probably why I’m so upset by what I saw this afternoon.  Because it could have been so easily prevented…



As I pulled in to pick up my youngest daughter, I got stuck in the usual after school traffic jam.  A flash of white caught my eye as I was impatiently drumming my fingernails on the steering wheel, and I looked over to find two fawn and white Pit Bulls trying to tear each other apart. 

At least five adults were ineffectually trying to separate them, too afraid to do more than wave their arms in the general direction of the dogs, and many, many more children were watching in horror as blood sprayed from the dog’s wounds.

Neither dog had a leash on, and only one of the two had a collar, so there was no way to grab and hold the dogs without putting oneself into the reach of those snapping jaws.  One of the owners pulled futilely on his dog’s tail, while the other waved her jacket at the dogs and screamed incoherently about her dog being attacked.

It appeared that the young lady had left her dog in her car while she ran up to the school to get her child. Her dog was unrestrained, in a vehicle with the windows down, with no collar.  He more than likely jumped out the window when he saw the other dog running in an unfenced yard without a leash or chain.  Both dogs were just accidents waiting to happen.

I threw my van into park and with a quick reach into the back seat to grab Jack’s short lead, I was ready to jump into the fray.  One of the first things I learned with Jack is how to easily break his hold on anything (no matter how much he doesn’t want to let it go), and after watching the dogs I could see that they really didn’t want to harm any of the people around them.  The man pulling on his dog’s tail was unscathed even though it was clear he was causing the dog pain, and both dogs would break off the fight anytime a human stepped near.  The main problem was there was no way to hold them apart because of the lack of leashes and collar, so they quickly escaped any grasp and engaged once again.

Silly as it may seem to those of you reading this, I was not afraid of those dogs, even though they were doing their best to tear each other apart.  I was not afraid they would harm the people around them.  I was, however, distraught that they were being allowed to kill each other while children watched, because of their owners incompetence.

In the end, my intervention wasn’t needed.  Another man stepped in and grabbed the collarless dog in a bear hug, pulling him far back from the dog being restrained by his tail.  Once out of confrontational range, the dog immediately calmed down enough for his owner to step in and put him back in her vehicle.

Both dogs were injured pretty terribly, one had most of his ear torn off, and the other had a nasty gash on his throat. The police were called, and I’m saddened to think that one or both of those dogs may meet a sad end after today’s events.  The big question is; Why!?! 

Why is it so hard to put a collar on a dog?  Why can’t it be leashed when leaving the house? Why not restrain them in the car?  Why?  Not only are these three things common sense, but in most areas they are also the law!  Dogs are required by law to wear collars that display their license and rabies vaccinations.  I don’t know of a single community that doesn’t have a leash law, and most places are beginning to realize that an unrestrained dog in a vehicle becomes a high speed projectile in an accident, and are therefore starting to mandate restraints on traveling animals.

So why did this have to happen?  The simple answer is; it didn’t.  It was short sighted owners, thinking it couldn’t happen to them, or that their dog would never do something so terrible, that caused the problem.  It happens though, on a daily basis, and it’s not just a Pit Bull problem.  If you have a dog, follow the law!  Whether it’s a Daschund or a Doberman, keep them safe, keep everyone safe!

And for the love of Pete, if you have a big dog, especially one with a terrier’s tendency to be animal aggressive, know what to do in that situation!  If Jack ever got off his leash and got into a scuffle with another dog, I would immediately know what to do to break them up and defuse the situation.  Would you?  If you’re a dog owner, and the answer is no, then it’s really time you learned.  The life of a furry family member may depend on it.



I came home and hugged Jack.  I cried into his fur a little bit over the injustice of it all, and how now he’ll have even more people fear him because of reckless acts from a few humans.  I cried over two beautiful dogs who will be forever scarred, and maybe euthanized because the people who were supposed to protect them, let them down.  And then I promised I would never let it happen to him. 

I really wish all dog owners out there were willing to do the same.


Monday, July 12, 2010

to Salon or Not to Salon


There’s a new nail polish product on the market that’s getting a lot of media buzz.  It’s made by CND, and it’s called Shellac.  The reason everyone is talking about it?  Because it’s simply amazing, that’s why.

I was lucky enough to be trained on how to apply Shellac by CND education ambassador, Holly Schippers, while I was in school.  I also had the opportunity to give it a test run on my own nails, and I can tell you from my own personal experience that this polish will NOT chip or scratch AT ALL, when applied properly.

Imagine that, a nail polish that will stay on your nails until you take it off, or it grows out.  Pretty cool, huh?

Now, I’ve been reading quite a bit of the press on Shellac, and it seems to have sparked a bit of a debate on professional services verses at home services.  The reason for the discord is because Shellac is only available in salons.  You can’t buy it at your local Sally Beauty or Wal-Mart and paint your own nails with it.

A lot of people are saying “Hey, I paint my own nails all of the time, what makes this any different?  Why do I have to spend extra money at a salon just to get my nails painted when I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself at home?”

The answer to that question lies in the product chemistry of Shellac.  It’s not simply a polish, if it was it would act like every other polish and chip off your natural nails within forty-eight hours.  It is, in fact, a hybrid Ultra Violet (UV) gel product.  It may look, and almost act, like a nail polish, but in reality it’s closer to a nail enhancement.  To apply it properly, your nail plate needs to be prepped for the product, and the product itself has to be cured correctly in a UV lamp made specifically for Shellac.  If not applied correctly, at best it will chip, scratch, or pop right off your nail; at worst, improper application can cause severe skin reactions and long term chemical sensitivity to the wearer.

So that’s the long and short of it; the reason it’s only available as a salon service, and the reason why even if you could do it at home, you probably wouldn’t want to.

Unfortunately, there are many nail professionals who come up a little blank when confronted with these questions, and instead of remaining blissfully silent, or contacting the company to learn the proper answers, they’re throwing out all kinds of misinformation and lame excuses.  For example, I recently read a discourse between a nail tech and a potential Shellac customer where the tech answered that question by stating “It’s a salon service because CND said so, and who are we to argue!”

Ugh…  Really?  *eye roll*  Tell me, when you were a rebellious teen, and you wanted to go to the dance with Spike, who drove a smokin’ hot motorcycle, did the argument “Because I said so!” hold any weight with you when your Mom or Dad told you no way in hell?  No?  You just snuck out of the house and went with Spike anyway?  So then what do you think the chances are that the potential Shellac customer mentioned above is now seeing if she can score some on ebay?  Pretty darn good, would be my guess.

I’ve also heard nail professionals trying to explain that the start-up cost of Shellac is likely too high for the average consumer.  It’s a better argument, but still not the right one.  To properly apply Shellac, you need CND’s Cuticle Away, which is only available to salon professionals, manicure tools, a CND UV lamp, base and top coats, and last but not least, the Shellac.  All of those things together cost about $225.  You could probably get Shellac’d in a salon for a year or more for that amount of money.

However, most people are going to think, “Hey, I can get cuticle remover at Sally’s for $3, and they have a UV lamp there for $40.  Manicure tools?  Who needs manicure tools, I’ll just use these old popsicle sticks to push back my cuticles.  That brings the total cost of Shellac to under $100!”

The problem there is that you’re not going to be applying it properly.  Sally’s cuticle remover won’t prep the nail plate properly, and the Shellac will end up chipping or popping off.  The UV lamp you  purchase may cure the top layer of Shellac, but it won’t cure the underlying layers, leading to the nasty skin reactions and product sensitivity I mentioned earlier.  It may not happen the first time you Shellac yourself, but in the long run you’re going to cause more harm than good.

In my opinion, getting a skin rash on my fingers every time someone comes near me with a nail product isn’t  worth it to save $10-$20 at the salon every few weeks.

Plus the fact that while you can paint your own nails, it can be a pain in the rear, and it’s soooo much nicer to be pampered and have someone else do it for you once in awhile.  Get a manicure while you’re there, those arm massages are da bomb, and will have you melting in your chair!

Lastly, just as a side rant, one lady in on one of these debates was acting a little snarky, and said that she had a real college degree (in law), not just a stupid manicurists certificate.  Since she was clearly more intelligent than those of us who only went to school for a few months, she was perfectly qualified to Shellac her own nails. 

To her I’d just like to say that intelligence has nothing to do with education, or qualification.  If you’re sooo much more intelligent than those of us who only hold a certificate, then you should have no problem cutting your own hair, doing the maintenance and repair on your vehicles, building and repairing your own house, plumbing, electrical systems, air conditioning and heating…  I could go on and on.  There are plenty of fields of work where people only hold a certificate, that doesn’t mean anyone not educated in the field can do it themselves.  I would be an idiot if I represented myself at a murder trial, just like you’d be one if you tried to re-wire your house without any training as an electrician.  Just because you can screw in a light bulb, it doesn’t mean you can put in a new circuit breaker, and just because you can paint your own nails, it doesn’t mean you know what I know, or can do what I do.

Don’t take my word for it though.  Go ahead and give it a try.  When your fingers are covered with a blistering rash you can give me a call.  Of course, I’ll just chuckle and refer you to a physician, because I know where my field of expertise lies.



Thursday, June 10, 2010

Good is Not Enough

I’m finally done with school!  I know it’s only been a few months, but it feels as if it’s been an eternity.  I had expected to enjoy it as much as I did when I took some college classes a few years ago, but instead I found myself very discouraged with the whole process.

Don’t get me wrong, I love doing nails.  I just wasn’t crazy about going to school for it.

31177_1456412969589_1211302140_31306896_1801185_nThe nail in the coffin came less than a week ago.  Frustrated, tired, and more than a little overwhelmed, I said something I shouldn’t have, in front of someone who shouldn’t have heard it.

Now, I have no problem taking responsibility for my mistakes.  I am so far less than perfect that usually I will not only take responsibility for my mistakes, but for everything else as well.  The economy?  I’m sure it’s my fault.  That oil leak in the gulf?  Feel free to flog me for it.  It’s ok, I don’t mind.

The problem on this day was that a new instructor at the school, who was just as tired, frustrated, and overwhelmed as I was, came down on me like a ton of bricks.  She said some things to me that she shouldn’t have said, and it took a chunk out of my already cratered self esteem.

That night, as I cried on John’s shoulder, I wondered why it seemed that no matter how good I was, I could never be good enough.  Here I was, the top student in my class, a team player willing to help anyone and everyone out with just about any task, and no one seemed to care.  Yet one slip of the tongue, and I was lumped in with the plebs.  I wondered why I even bothered if no one was going to notice the good things I did.

Fast forward a few days…

I was driving into school yesterday for my last day on the salon floor.  I really didn’t want to go.  I was wishing in vain that I hadn’t missed that one day of school when I’d had bronchitis, so that my hours would have been completed the Saturday before.  I was also desperately hoping the instructor who beat me down would have the day off, so I wouldn’t have to face her again.

Somehow, while I drove, my mind wandered to John’s dad who passed away last fall.  I don’t know how, or why, but I started thinking about his memorial service…

Pop was an incredible guy, and it was no surprise that the church was packed with people who were there to remember him.  The thing was though, there was no eulogy, no stories about how he was always making everyone feel good, no remarks about his amazing character.  It was a service, with some bible readings, a sermon, and then it was over.

Afterwards, I felt as if it wasn’t fitting.  We had lost a wonderful man.  We should have been singing his praises, telling everyone about how he impacted our lives, and made the world a happier place.  It just didn’t seem right that there was no mention in the service of what a good person he was.

When I asked John about it, he said it was what Pop had wanted.

Pop was a good man, who didn’t want recognition for his good deeds.  He was good, just because that’s how he was.

So, even though he’s been gone from us for far too long already, it seems that Pop is not done impacting our lives…

Do I do good things because I truly want to help people, or am I good because I want people to think I’m something special?  If my motivation is selfish, then am I actually doing anything commendable at all? 

As I thought about it that morning, I realized that my brand of good, was not good enough.

I’m not perfect.  It’s a fact I can accept without hesitation.  From now on though, I will do my best to try to be good.

Thank you Pop, for one more positive thing you’ve given me.  I love you, and miss you, more and more each day.



Thursday, May 27, 2010


I’ve been debating posting this story here, mainly because I didn’t think it would be terribly relevant to most of my readers (since only a handful of you are into reptile keeping as a hobby or business).  However, a few things came out this morning that made me realize this has a much broader scope than reptile enthusiasts.

So first, let me ask you a question…  Do you know these people?


You’re looking at Jeff and Christina Wise, AKA scum of the earth, but I’ll get to that in just a minute.  Let me start at the beginning…

I lurk on a forum called Fauna Classifieds.  I say lurk because I mostly read posts.  In fact, I think I have less than a handful of posts over there, but I still check the site out every day.  I don’t really participate in forums anymore (which is funny since I used to own a very popular one), I just lurk, and keep myself out of the fray.

On Fauna they have a section called the Board of Inquiry (the BOI).  It’s a place where people can post to let others know when they get burned, or scammed, by someone in the reptile community.  At times it’s just a warning to others who might consider doing business with that person.  Other times, members participate to ferret out the truth of a situation, or help to recover stolen money and/or goods.

One member stood out among the crowd at Fauna.  His nickname was Critical Bill; his real life name, Chuck Kimmel.  I will readily admit that in my daily reading I sometimes found him extremely annoying, but I still respected and even admired him.  He had a knack for seeing through the lies and misdirection that people posted and finding the truth.  He was an interesting guy who was not afraid to speak his mind, and go to bat for the person who had been wronged.  Even when, at times, it seemed like he was crazy, and appeared to be defending a thief.  I’d like to state for the record, that in the end, I don’t think I ever saw him pick the wrong side.  It usually came out in the wash that the apparent victim was full of lies and Chuck had seen through their BS.

About the time I started school, Chuck was hospitalized.  I wasn’t following the forum as closely as I normally would have because of the daily tests at school, but when I returned to catch up one day, I was very sad to see that he had passed away.

The Fauna members wrapped his widow and children in their support and love, and started asking what they could do to help his family.  Someone suggested a charity auction, and somehow the Wise’s started coordinating the fundraiser.

Money started pouring in, not only for Maggie Kimmel and her children, but also for another member whos step-daughter passed away around the same time.  For whatever reason (hindsight is 20/20), the money went to the Wise’s paypal account, and they were to act as a clearing house sending the donations to the people in need.  I believe at the time that it was argued that if there were any disputes over the auctions, that the grieving families should not have to deal with the problems that could occur.  So the Wise’s were taking on that risk along with the responsibility of coordinating everything.

You already know this doesn’t end well…  In fact, Jeff and Christina made off with over $3800 of the money intended to go to grieving families.  They took advantage of people living through a nightmare, and preyed upon a community’s love and generosity for their own personal gain.

Now you know why they’re the scum of the earth.  In fact, I think scum is better than these two people.  I’m not sure there is a word in the dictionary to describe exactly how filthy they are.

When they were called on the carpet for their failure to pass along the proceeds from the auction, they faked a cashed check, and then implied that the grieving widow used the money for drugs.

Unfortunately, the money was used for drugs, but the widow in question was not the one buying them.

Christina Wise:
“I then knew jeff was going to random places to buy small items and get money back to get pain killers for his knee. It has been bothering him lately and there was nothing to stop the pain and nothing to help. I knew he was doing this but was scared to say anything I didnt expect it to get this bad. I didnt know what to do.”

Jeff Wise:
“I have to admit that what I did was wrong. I used someone elses money to buy presciption [sic] medication.”

The whole disgusting story can be found here:

Jeff and Christina Wise (Wise Reptiles) Stole Money from Benefit Auctions for Maggie

Now, you may be asking yourself what this has to do with you, why I decided to go ahead and post this on my blog…

You see, it came out just this morning that Jeff and Christina Wise are not new to scamming people.  People from Fauna had been posting the BOI link all over the net, and people from other places are beginning to tell their stories.  They’ve been accused of faking a pregnancy with triplets in order to get donations of goods.  They’ve also been reported as soliciting website design contracts when in fact they’ve never designed a completed website.  I’m also sure there are many other stories that will come to light as information is complied to hand over to law enforcement officials.

So, do you know these people?

Christina Wise AKA: Christina Horn, cwise87, Mrs_wise_reptiles, Kinkygirl_Within, jesus_lives_within (the irony of that nickname is not lost on me)


Jeffery Wise AKA: WiseReptiles, Liquerpussy


They live in the area of Flint Michigan, or Grand Blanc Michigan, and they are known scammers!  If you suspect they may be members of an online forum, and/or may be scamming another unsuspecting community, please leave a comment in this post letting me know how you can be contacted!

All information on their internet activity and/or scams is appreciated and will be turned over to the people heading the investigation.  Your help is greatly appreciated!


Now, since I don’t want this post to end on a sour note, I want to let you know that even though the Fauna community had already been kicked in the teeth, they still rallied together and took care of their own.  When Maggie posted that she was not going to be able to send her girls to summer school and pay her bills, everyone chipped in what little they had to help her out.  Even I sent along the tiny amount I had saved in my paypal account.  I wished I could have sent more; hell, I wish I could give those girls their daddy back, but eliminating the impossible, I did what I could.  The last I heard, Maggie had received enough to sign her girls up for school, and take care of the pressing bills, letting her relax a little bit for another month or so.

That’s what I was hoping for, because even pennies can add up to a million dollars.

In closing, I’d like to give the Fauna community kudos for the outpouring of love and compassion they’ve shown.  Sometimes when the whole world feels like a dark and terrible place, you see a beacon of light.  This last week, you have been that beacon.  You truly are an amazing group of people.



Monday, March 15, 2010

Two Weeks Down

IMG_2666 I’m officially two weeks into nail school, and I thought it might be time to talk a little bit about it.  Well that, and I haven’t blogged in over two weeks so it’s time for an update, and since I have nothing else to talk about, I figured this subject was as good as any. 

I’ve had a lot of people ask both John and myself why I’m going to school for Nail Technology.  It doesn’t jibe in most people’s brains for many reasons.  First, like I said in a previous post, I’ve been an unrepentant nail biter since I got my first teeth.  Second, I’m completely capable of going back to college to get a real degree (I did pull a 4.0 at Marquette for nearly two years, until an essay question on an Archaeology final tripped me up and pulled me down to a 3.98; and yes, I’m still miffed about it). And finally, I’ve been a Graphic Designer for the last ten years.

Nail school just doesn’t fit in with any of the above.

Well, my nail gnawing habit is actually what started my interest in Nail Technology.  Not only do I bite my nails, but I also chew up my cuticle (actually called the Eponychium), and all of the skin surrounding my nails (the Perionychium).  I chew it so savagely that it’s rare for me not to have an area that’s either bleeding or badly infected.  I’ve tried just about everything to stop the habit, but nothing has worked for me.  Until, one day when a friend needed to decompress and I said we should go get our nails done just for fun.  I had a set of acrylics put on, and low and behold I couldn’t bite my nails anymore.  Not only that, but the new thickness on my fingernails made it impossible to reach the skin around them with my snapping teeth.  In two weeks my hands were healed and for the first time in my life they were actually pretty!  I was instantly enamored with what a good set of enhancements or even just a good manicure could do for a person.  It stopped a habit I had struggled with my entire life, it made me feel pretty and good about myself.  To put it simply, I wanted to be able to do that for other people.

As for real college…  I loved Marquette when I went back to school eight years ago.  It was an amazing experience for me, and I will go back someday to finish my Anthropology degree.  That day isn’t today though.  You see, when I was going to school, John was working for Marquette, so my tuition was paid for as a part of his benefits package.  He doesn’t work there anymore, so if I were to go back I’d have to actually shell out money for my education…  A lot of money.  Since I now have a child who will be starting her own college career in less than six months, it’s just not in the household budget.

Additionally, I can only go to school part time.  It didn’t take me long to learn the first time around that between the kids and my obsession with getting straight A’s (translated to mean: a lot of time spent with a textbook in my lap), part time is about all I can handle and still remember my own name. 

Now, it took me two years to complete my freshman year attending part time at Marquette, and since I haven’t been a student for over five years, I’d have to re-take several of my credits.  So I’d be looking at six to eight years spent in a classroom, before I had a piece of paper allowing me to work in my chosen field.

Call me silly, but I want to start drawing a salary before I’m fifty.

With Nail Technology, I’ll have my certificate in fourteen weeks, and there’s a good chance I’ll start out making more money than I would with a bachelors in Anthropology.  Also, when the economy tanked, people with Anthropology degrees found themselves down-sized (AKA unemployed) while the beauty industry continued to grow.  After all, you have to look good for job interviews.  So the program had everything I was looking for at this moment in my life.  It was quick and would provide a job in a stable market, that draws a decent paycheck. 

Now I’m not very good at math, but that one seemed like a pretty easy equation.

Lastly we have the “But you’re already a Graphic Designer” argument.  The thing is though…  I’m not.  I’m completely self taught in Photoshop and Web Design, so even though I have ten years of experience under my belt, I couldn’t go and get a traditional job with a company that cuts regular paychecks.  I have no degree, no certificate, nothing to make what I do a legitimate career.  Sure, I could go get a degree or certificate, but they’re expensive (quite a bit more than my current tuition); and to be completely honest, when I think about what I want to do with the rest of my life, Graphic Design doesn’t even make the top twenty list.  Sure, it was a great way for me to make some extra cash while I was at home with the kids, but as career choice it’s just not appealing.

I’ve also had people tell me that I’m a great writer and should consider writing a book.  The problem there lies in the fact that I don’t have the attention span to write much more than one of these blog posts.  Well, that and I’d have to come up with something to write about.  I’m not even good at bedtime stories and you want me to write a book?  That’s like three-hundred pages filled with people doing things.  Can people even do that much stuff?  I’m pretty sure they can’t.

So anyway…  What I wanted at this moment in my life is something that interested me, was quick, inexpensive, and would start drawing a return on my investment pretty quickly.  Nail Technology fit all of those requirements.  I may stay with it for the rest of my life, or I may not.  I haven’t given up on my dream of getting a doctorate of Anthropology yet, but that’s something that can wait for now.  Because, you see, that dream isn’t about money, career, or status, it’s about my desire to know as much as I can in a field I love.  There’s plenty of time for learning left in my life, so I can put that on hold until the need for a steady paycheck isn’t quite so pressing.

Until then, I’m happy with my decision.  The school?  Not so much, but that’s a story for another day (as I’ve hit the limit of my attention span).

Until then…



Monday, March 1, 2010

A Detroit Vacation: My side

John posted his side yesterday, now it’s my turn.  Granted, my side is more of a rant because I was unable to do much during the ordeal other than watch from the sidelines.  I want it out there though, as a formal complaint, and because soon I’ll be directing the customer service people from a couple of different companies to my blog.  They need to see that I’m not kidding around when I say that not only will I never use their services again, but that I’m letting the masses know about my experience and advising them to do the same.

Not that it will matter, I’m sure.  No one seems to care anymore when a single customer walks away from an experience feeling like they’ve been bent over a table and violated…  But I digress…

It all started when I got the phone call from school informing me that classes were scheduled to start on the same day that John had purchased tickets to fly to New York.  We have no one currently in the area who is able to watch the kids for two days, so the only option was to reschedule his trip. 

John called the airlines to see if he could arrange to have his tickets transferred to a flight a week earlier than he had booked for.  We knew there would be a fee to re-book, but we were in for a bit of a shock.  He purchased the original tickets for a little over $90.  The re-booking fee?  $150  Yup, you read that right, nearly double the original price of the ticket.

  • So, a little math…
  • $90 + $150 = $240
  • or he could just purchase a new ticket for the flight he wanted…
  • $90 + $90 = $180
  • Guess which option we chose.

So, feeling like we’d already been exploited, John purchased a new ticket.

Now, for a little side rant.  A $150 flat rate fee for re-booking?  Come on now, who are we kidding here.  I could see a percentage of the ticket price, even as high as 50%, but $150 on a $90 ticket is completely outrageous.  What is the airline out when a customer re-books well in advance of their flight?  This wasn’t a last minute thing, he purchased the ticket four weeks in advance, and re-booked three weeks before the flight.  Except for a little paperwork, the airline is not losing ANYTHING!  They had plenty of time to fill the vacated seat with another passenger.  That insane re-booking fee is just a shallow attempt at pocket padding, plain and simple.

Now, back to the story.  We’d been watching the weather in New York the day before the scheduled flight, knowing that they were in the middle of a snow storm.  We frequently checked the weather and the flight statuses into White Plains as well as nearby airports (for those of you unfamiliar with the New York area, there are three: JFK, Newark, and White Plains).  John’s flight had a layover in Detroit, and we even joked that with our luck he would end up stranded there.

Can we call it, or can we call it?

Friday morning dawned dark and cold at 4:30am, but another check assured us that while JFK had closed to incoming air traffic, White Plains was still up and running.  After all, it’s not really about the weather, it’s about the airport’s ability to keep the runways clear.  White plains is a small airport, so they can devote more time and energy to clearing their limited runways than the larger airports can at times.  Newark was still taking inbound air traffic too, which was reassuring.

So with a kiss and crossed fingers, John headed out to start his journey.  I’d like to state here and now, for the record, that when John’s flight from Milwaukee to Detroit took off (late), his connecting flight from Detroit to White Plains was still scheduled to proceed as planned.  We were both monitoring it closely, and if it had been cancelled beforehand (or he had received any indication that it might be from the airline, and he asked), he would have never left the ground here at home.  We weren’t, however, going to cancel the trip on the premise that it might not go as planned.  We’d already learned the re-booking terms of the airline, and didn’t want to get socked with that fee again.  No, if the trip was called off we wanted it to be on the airline’s head this time, not ours.

When John landed in Detroit (late) he took the time to call me while he was walking to his connecting flight to let me know he had survived the first leg of his trip (I worry), and as he approached the gate he started swearing.  The flight attendants had assured him on landing that he would have enough time to make his connector, which was still scheduled to take off mostly on-time.  So somewhere in the time it took for him to walk between the two gates (about 10-15 minutes), they cancelled the flight to White Plains.

No, they didn’t delay it to see if weather conditions would improve (they did), they just threw their hands up in the air and shut it down.  The funny thing is though, there was a flight set to fly the same route not quite two hours later, and that one was not cancelled, and in fact took off as planned.  So if weather conditions were so bad that they didn’t think they could even delay John’s flight, why did they not cancel the other flights?  Were they hoping more people would come in to meet connecting flights and get stranded at the lovely vacation destination called Detroit?  Personally, I think they were looking to pad their pockets even more, because if you stick with me you’ll see how much money they managed to make off of us for a service that was never actually rendered.

So, John’s debating what to do.  The soonest they can get him to White Plains is on Sunday afternoon, which is a joke because he’d have to spend two days in sunny Detroit, only to get to New York and turn around again to come back home.  So that solution wasn’t really a solution at all.  In fact, the only way it could have been more offensive was if they got him there after he needed to be back home.  I mean really, on what planet is that acceptable?  “I know you wanted to be there on Friday, but instead you can sleep in an airport for two days and we’ll get you there just in time for you to turn around and go home.  Not only that, but you’ll be happy we got you there at all.”


With all reasonable flights to White Plains booked solid, he would have had to consider flying into Newark, if there was a seat available.  So he called his mom to see what she wanted him to do.  She told him to go home.  The Tapan Zee bridge (just about the only way to get from the airports to where she lives) was closed, the roads were horrible, they were predicting fifteen more inches of snow later that night and into the next day, and the whole thing was making her worry.  So John set out to find a flight back to Milwaukee.

Now this part I love…  He went to the ticketing agent and told her that since they couldn’t actually get him to New York in a timely manner, he needed to go back to Milwaukee.  So she credited him the money from the portion of the flight he didn’t use, and applied it to a flight back to Milwaukee.  Lucky for him, he broke even, and didn’t have to pay MORE to get home.

Seriously, he didn’t book a ticket to fly to Detroit, he may have had a stop-over there, but his goal was New York.  So why is a service half rendered considered a service at all?  The airline sees that the first portion of his trip was complete so they don’t have to refund him for the price of that flight.  Then, apparently, the flight back to Milwaukee is considered something new, so he has to pay for that too?  You’ve got to be freaking kidding me!  He wouldn’t be stuck in Detroit if the airline hadn’t cancelled his flight five minutes before it was supposed to take off.  This is not the customers fault, and they shouldn’t have to pay for it.  Put him back on a plane to Milwaukee and refund the full ticket price for his aborted trip.  I know the airline will loose a whole $90, but choke it down!  You can make it up in your stupid checked baggage fees.

On top of this, as you read in John’s post, the hotel he made reservations at refused to refund the full price of his cancelled room (again, not his fault he cancelled, he can’t get there.  It’s not like he just changed his mind).  So let’s do a final tally of what John’s twelve hour vacation in lovely Detroit cost us.

  • Ride to the Airport: $35
  • Plane Tickets: $180
  • Unused Hotel Room: $60
  • = $275

I’m not going to even add in the fee that we’re going to get slapped with when we don’t emissions test the car John titled, in preparation for driving it home from NY, in the next forty-five days, or the money spent on crappy airport food, or the gas I spent driving to go get him, or even the fact that I would have had to pay $8 to park (you’re not allowed to wait at the terminal anymore) if I hadn’t gotten that last minute text message from John saying he was still in Detroit; even though the airline’s live flight tracker said he was preparing to land in Milwaukee.

All in all, we’re looking at over $300 for a trip that still hasn’t happened.  Just think of how excited I’ll be when we have to pay for it all again in a month or so.

Now, what I really want to know is when did the airlines decide that people were cargo, and that, since the next best travel alternative is the train, they could treat us like crap?

We are not cargo, or revenue, we are people and we have a voice.  One that I will use to let as many people as I can, know that your customer service is deplorable, and your fees and policies are highway robbery.  You charge baggage fees and then claim no responsibility when baggage is lost or damaged while it’s in your custody.  You design your aircraft to pack in as many people in as you possibly can, and then charge extra seat fees to any person who weighs more than Lindsay Lohan.  Not to mention the insanity of your re-booking fees and the fact that customers have to pay for the honor of flying your airlines only to get where they never intended to go.  You wonder why your industry is tanking?  I can tell you why, it’s because you took the ‘customer’ out of service, and we’re all starting to revolt.  Personally, I’ll find another airline until there are no more to fly, and then I will take the train or drive myself until something better comes along. 

Get this through your heads. you are a service industry, one that relies on the ‘cargo’ to pay your salaries.  When you have angered, and fleeced the majority of the people who use your service, you will no longer have a salary.  It’s simple cause and effect.  You might want to study it before you’re out a company, and a job.

I haven’t gone into all of the additional upsets that happened that day.  The TWO planes with mechanical problems, the delay, after delay, after delay that occurred, the fact that I had to cut time spent with my sister short to meet a plane at 3:45pm that didn’t show up until 7:30pm.  Because frankly, I wouldn’t have minded any of those things if they had just refunded the $90 ticket price.  See, I’m not really that hard to please.  I just have a hard time swallowing the fact that not only did we have a company bend us over the table and screw us, but we paid for the privilege of having them do it.  If I’d wanted a prostitute, I’d have gone to Vegas where it’s legal.

So to Delta Airlines, and Super 8 Motels…  Find some other rube to fleece money off of.  You won’t have the inconvenience of dealing with my patronage ever again.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

my weekend trip or how I spent a day in detroit...

Anne is loaning me some blog space to I can get this out in the open


so here is how it all rolls out

4:00am - I roll my sorry ass outta bed on three hours sleep to hit the shower, get dressed, grab a cup of coffee and sit with my fave girlie for a couple before my ride shows up to take me to the airport.
I should have known at that point bad, bad things were coming down the pike

I came down the stairs just about 4:30am, fill the coffee pot and try to wake up
Those who know me even tacitly know that I am far from a morning person, the only way anyone should see 4:30am is on the tail side of a night.
And without coffee I am never going to wake up
I pour the coffee, peek out the window and what do I see?
My ride is early
damnit... ok I finish my smoke (don't bust my balls about that) get some quick kisses from Anne and out the door I go

now my driver is chatty as hell and I mention that I didn't get my coffee.. he offers to stop so I can grab a cup as he's got a couple min on the schedule
I start to salivate
but you know, no one in the county of racine is open at 4 damn 30 in the am, especially on the backroad his GPS has us on to make it to the next pickup
anyways, he gets to the next pickup and off we go...
WAIT.. I see a gas station up ahead YAY
sorry, the driver says, we lost the window of time

Off we head to his last pickup before the airport
We pull up to some hotel and he goes to get his people
comes back out and tell me and the other guy that he's 5 min early
I say well there is a gas station across the street so I am going to get coffee
Dude looks at me and says you only got 10 min
10 min to cross the street get coffee and get back
yea not a problem

and that was the ONLY thing to go right yesterday
believe it or not

Coffee in hand, and feeling a tad more alive, we get to the airport. I check-in, suck down the elixir of life, and breeze through security
a feat unto itself

so I'm on a 7:00am flight to Detroit
hour layover, and then onto White Plains
yea right

6:30am - boarding call comes over the speakers
6:35am - oops we're having mechanical issues
6:45am - still no boarding
6:55am - nada, nothing sitting on my ass waiting
7:10am - we finally get to board they fixed whatever problem they were having
7:30am - we finally take off
now I'm thinking I'm pretty well fucked on my connector but the flight attendant assures me I'll have 30 min to make it

yea right.. lying bitch

we land at scenic detroit airport

I've got maybe 15 min to make it from concourse A to B which is about a mile away
people are running past me, rushing here rushing there

I decide to call my wife and walk there
and I tell her fuck that I'm not running for no one

good thing I didn't kill myself because when I got to Gate B10 in Detroit to catch Delta Flight 3408 to White Plains airport, what do I see?
in flashing bright red letters?

Well WTF do I do now?
well I get to have a whole ton of fun

ok quick rundown of the next hour or so
I go to the help type person at the counter
she tells me I have to go to ticketing
ok where is that?
oh all the way over there on the other side of the airport
no problem yet I figure I'm already pretty screwed with all the delays and cancellations going into NY

I get into a line that I swear is longer than the log flume line at 6 flags and wait
and wait
and wait
and just for a change of pace, wait some more
I called Anne and Laura (my ride from White Plains) and my Mom
at this point Mom says... turn around and go home

that's sounding like a good idea

after just under an hour I get to the ticket counter and a very nice lady tells me that I am booked on a flight bound for White Plains on 2/28/10

but, but, but today is 2/26
big, deep breath
ok.. how about this
can I just go home?
she says I have to call this number as she hands me a bright red card
poor marketing Delta.. I'm already pretty red.. maybe it's supposed to be an angry card

so I call the Delta 800 number, get another very nice lady on the phone and she sneaks me onto a 3:20 flight back to Milwaukee
ok pretty cool.. it's noon eastern time at this point I have time for a snack, a nap, and a cup of shitty airport coffee

I get my boarding pass after waiting another 30 min in the log flume line
sneak in another smoke and thru security I go again

another security breeze thru.... maybe, just maybe, it'll be OK

and then it all goes to hell

I booked into a hotel with Orbitz and I thought I would call the hotel and cancel my reservations
Mr Super 8 clerk says you can't cancel it.. it was a web special and no refunds
but Mr Super 8 clerk.. it's a fucking blizzard and my plane was cancelled
oh so very sorry Mr John (yes the dude called me Mr John) I can give you a credit if you want to rebook the rooms now

yea piss off Mr Super 8 clerk

so I call Orbitz and tell the help line there what's going on
the dude was nice enough and put me on hold to call Super 8 in Nyack, NY to get the low down
well after 10 min Orbitz-guy comes back on the line
apologizes and says 5 min please
yea ok
apparently Mr Super 8 clerk was being a complete fucknut

well after 10 more min Ortbitz-guy comes back on the line
apologizes and says 5 min please
yes ok
apparently Mr Super 8 clerk was being a complete douchebag too

well after 10 more min Orbitz-guy comes back on the line
apologizes and says 5 min please
Mr Super 8 clerk pissed him off and he's calling the Super 8 home office
yes ok

15 min this time
Orbitz-guy comes back on the line
apologizes and tells me
This was a web only special and non-refundable
but to hold again for 5 min he's making a plea
yea sure Orbitz-guy

My new friend Mr Orbitz-guy comes back on the line and says that Super 8 home office dude is yet another douche
but he was able to get 2 of my 3 days refunded
best he could do

Thank you Mr Orbitz-guy
Fuck you Mr Super 8 clerk
and Fuck you Mr Super 8 home office dude

at this point I have about an hour till pre-board
so I decide to take a little nap at the gate

I wake up about 3:00 eastern time and check the flight status
instead of 3:20 it says 3:40 now
The incoming plane was delayed out of Philly and will be late
well fuck me
ok chill not a big deal I just wanna get home now

3:40 comes and goes and at 4:00 it finally lands
4:30 we are allowed to board and at 4:45 the captain comes on the line
the nose gear is stuck
we have to deplane and they have to find another plane for us to use

oh fuck this shit
I wanna get out of Detroit
I wanna go home
fuck you
shit how long is THIS gonna take

oh we don't know.. we are estimating 8:30pm
excuse me 8:30?
well shitfuck

200 angry people trying to book other flights onto the other flights bound for Milwaukee

at this point I'm thinking, I'm just gonna sit here and sleep till morning
screw it

about 30 min later, after all the people who wanted to rebook, well re-booked, the lady at the gate announces that they did indeed find us another plane way on the other side of the concourse
so me and a bunch of other people start heading that way

The departure time is 5:35 eastern time
At 5:24 I text Anne and tell her I am on the plane
and at 5:43 the captain comes on the air and tell us that we have to turn the cells off and get ready for take off

now I'm pretty smoked from being on the road, in the air, and waiting in scenic detroit all damn day so I promptly fall asleep

at 6:45 eastern time I wake up look outside and way WTF
this looks exactly like Detroit

quick text Anne and tell her we never left the gate

She tells me that the damn delta website says we are currently over Lansing Michigan and heading over the lake

yea well they lie.. lie like a dog

Anne was just about ready to leave the house with Jenna and Tiana to come get me because the Delta Website says we are on time to land

I showed the text to the flight attendant and he says... and I quote... Holy Shit
and he trots his ass up to the captain

I'm mid-bitch when the captain himself shows up and starts talking to the people in my area of the plane
He's just as miffed as we all are... you see it's his birthday and he has 20 people waiting for him in Minnesota

anyways.. apparently when we deplaned they left the luggage on it and they had to go find the plane in the hangar(how the hell does one lose a plane?), off load it then load it onto the plane we were sitting in

as the captain is talking to me Anne drops me a txt telling me that we have officially landed in Milwaukee

funny... it still looks like Detroit to me

The captain assures us as soon as the luggage is loaded on and we are de-iced we'll be under way
The flight attendants ply us with coffee and cookies

Finally the crew show up and starts loading luggage aboard
7:45pm eastern the plane finally takes off.. 2 hours late
apparently it takes two hours to offload and reload a plane

8:06 central time we land in Milwaukee.... 16 hours after this ordeal began

now I've tried to keep this short and gloss over some of the more boring details but let me wrap it up this way.

All I wanted to do was go to NY, see a couple friends, spend some time with my mother and drive my dad's car back for Alexi.

What I got was a run around, a hassle, and headache and the loss of a lot of cash

Delta had offered to rebook my flight to White Plains from Detroit 2 days later, so what I had to do was ask them to book me home instead
so I am out $118.90 for that flight... for the "privilege" of hanging out in Detroit
I am out $60.00 for a hotel room that I didn't use
oh and out $90 for a flight I had to reschedule because the airline policy is no cancellations and wanted to hit me with a $150 rescheduling fee.. but that is another story.

Delta mucked it up big time with flight information, plane changes and passing false information to the general public
Granted most of us on the plane had cell phones, but there was this older couple that had a cell phone but it died on them... if I didn't lend them mine how would anyone know when to pick them up?

I did find out that my cell has about a 14 hour limit on constant texts calls and websurfing
and I was thankful for it

at this point I don't want to fly delta
and I never ever want to go to Detroit again

Friday, February 12, 2010

Graphic Goodness

I’ve been doing some graphics work lately for a couple of websites, and some photo editing just for fun, that I thought I’d share with you.  John says I need to post more often, and since I don’t have anything to talk (complain) about today, I figured I could fill some space with pretty pictures.  :D

A couple of months ago we started redesigning the website for the radio station that we broadcast Tommy D’s Nutz and Indie Playground on.  A lot of the women I know who hang out there had been complaining about the previous design.  Frankly, and no offense intended, it looked like a soft core porn site.  I’m not sure what half-naked women on motorcycles have to do with radio, but there you are.  It wasn’t a bad design, it just didn’t have anything to do with the content of the site, and that’s a little pet peeve of mine.

So, John convinced them to go to a PHP forum, which would allow the DJ’s to post content like up coming events and interviews, and would encourage interaction from the listeners as well. 

I, of course, got the job of customizing the graphics.  The station owner picked purple as a base color (it wasn’t his first choice, but we talked him out of that one), and I got to work coming up with a new logo for the station.  Wicked Spins made me think of old vinyl records, and so I started with one as the base for the logo.  I wanted it to be edgy too though, so I turned the record into a saw blade, and put the station name along with a skull on the vinyl.  The owners wanted the word Radio in the logo too though, but it wouldn’t fit nicely on the record.  My solution was to make it large, and have the saw cutting into it.  So the final graphic is this:


Click here to see the rest of the site: Wicked Spins Radio

I love how it turned out!  Yes, the site is purple, but if you look, there’s really not that much purple.  It’s just a bright color, so it catches your eye.

I’m also currently working on a personal logo for the site owner who goes by the handle ICM.  He’s a Harley guy (which is probably where the half naked motorcycles from the previous design came into being), and wanted something similar to the Harley shield, with his nick on it, tearing out of the background.  Here’s what I have so far:


The tear on that is transparent, so it will take on the properties of any background it’s put on.  That way, no matter where he sticks it, it will look like it’s supposed to be there.

Now, awhile back, John and I redid our business site; Storm’s Cellar.  I made this banner graphic for the site to keep with the storm theme.


That’s a composition of about five different photographs from my favorite stock site, Stock.Xchng.

It’s not a logo though, it’s a web banner, and it doesn’t work very well on business cards.  So John asked me to come up with a real logo for the business that we can use on printed materials.  Keeping with the same theme, I came up with this two color logo.


It’s simple, but it looks pretty cool on a business card.

We also totally revamped the Storm’s Cellar site, going from a forum format, to a Nucleus blog instead.  It’s easy to update, and we don’t have to worry about moderating spammers.  John and I are getting pretty good at customizing Nucleus Blogs and Stargate Portals.  John’s even thinking about re-doing My Favorite Pinups, because we’ve learned a lot since we originally designed it.

Speaking of, John got a Twitter account to help promote his blog, and I must say, his blog is doing quite well.  He gets a lot more daily hits than any of my blogs do.  It’s probably the half naked women that brings them in though. 

So now on to some photo editing…  Alexi wants to try some pinup modeling, and as long as she keeps her clothes on, I don’t mind at all.  For her winter formal dance this year, she purchased a vintage dress.  So when her and her boyfriend let me take some pictures, I decided to have fun with them.

Here’s the original:


Now you can see that my house is not a very pretty backdrop.  The dogs ball is on the floor, the snake is looking for food in his tank, toys are all over the floor.  It’s a cute pose though, so I had some fun with it.

Here’s Alexi’s favorite:


The background is a vintage sepia, and the subjects have a color wash which gives them a bit of pop.  It’s a popular photo effect right now.  The background photo is one I took when we were at the Cord, Auburn, Duesenberg festival a few years ago.  I thought it worked pretty well for this comp.

Next up is John’s favorite:


Old school all the way with a vintage, distressed, sepia photo.  They look like Bonnie and Clyde.  lol

Here’s another one I did that’s a little different:


I don’t know what this one is.  Vintage Paris maybe?

And the last one I put together is something resembling a prom shot":


I wanted one without the terrible background of my door, but that hadn’t been edited too much.

I’m happy with them.  I’m not entirely crazy about my extraction, but her red hair is almost the same color as my door, which makes it really tough to pull out of the background.  I ended up cutting out some fly away hairs that I would have normally kept for realism.  They still turned out pretty cute though.

In that vein, I got a new background creator for Photoshop that’s pretty darn cool.  Inspired to play with my new toy, I did this one of Jack:

IMG_2879 Comp

He’s so cute.  :D

So there you go, a little eye candy, and as a bonus, John has something to read today.



Thursday, February 11, 2010


You may, or may not, know that I’ve been waiting to go to Nail Technology school for awhile now.  That, in and of itself, is a little ironic as I’ve been an unrepentant nail biter since I got my first tooth, but that’s besides the point.

I’ve been waiting a long time for classes to start…  A long, long time.  In fact, I think I just hit the seven month mark.

It really hasn’t been a big deal for me to wait though.  First, there is at least one student who has been waiting even longer than me.  Second, as soon as I toured the school and talked to the owner, I knew it was where I wanted to go, and I’m willing to wait to get a quality education.  The school, The Salon Professional Academy, not only trains some of the best beauty professionals certified today, but they also work very hard on teaching the business aspects of being a beauty professional in a competitive market.  Things like how to get new and repeat bookings, how to encourage customers to try services they might not think to book, and how to recognize what products a client should use at home, and how to encourage them to modify their beauty regimen.  In other words, how to make the extra cash.  Because those skills not only make you a better paycheck, but they also make you a professional who is in high demand with clients and employers alike.

And if I’m going to get a real job, then I want it to be worth the effort.

So I’ve been waiting, mostly patiently, for them to fill the class with enough students to get started.  They needed six to be able to pay the instructors fee, you see, and when I registered last summer I was number two.  So it’s been a long wait.

Yesterday was the big day though, I finally got THE call.  Classes are starting in just a few weeks, and since it’s only a four month program, I’ll graduate in early June.  Awesome!  Right?


It would be if I could expect life to cut me a little slack once in awhile, and just go according to plan.  No, no, no.  Life doesn’t work that way.  At every turn it has to see if you’re on the ball; if you have your coping skills in place.  Things can’t be easy, that would be too…  Well…  Easy.

Now before you think I’m whining, I’m not (well, maybe just a little bit).  My life is no harder than anyone else's, in fact I have it really darn good most days.  I’m just saying that every once in awhile it would be nice if things worked according to plan.  Maybe every ten years or so, something could work the way I had originally arranged it.  I’m sure you’re with me, and probably feel the same way.  So I say we petition the deities (whichever one you prefer) and file a formal complaint.  Life just shouldn’t have to be that difficult all of the time.  Right?

Anyway, back on track… 

I was really excited to hear that classes were starting, until the details started filtering through the phone line.  With each one, my heart sank a little more.  Instead of being able to jump right in to my new career path, I was going to have to find a way to rearrange my entire life for the next four months.

First off, just a few days ago John purchased tickets to fly out to New York for a weekend to spend some time with his Mom and Tommy D.  We spent a couple of weeks planning the trip, trying to decide when the best weekend for him to go would be, then finding the cheapest air fares.  March 5th was finally picked as the date he would leave, and he would return Monday, March 7th by driving his Dad’s car back for Alexi to use (if she ever gets her license). 

Want to guess when my first day of class is?  Come, on, I bet you can do it!  That’s right, classes start on Friday the 5th, with a full day on Friday, and another full day on Saturday the 6th.  To top it off, my kids are off school on the 5th, so not only would I need to find someone to watch the girls on Saturday, but Friday as well.

OK, so… That sucks.  Maybe John can change his flight that he JUST BOOKED, for a small fee that actually costs more than the tickets did, or maybe I can switch weekends with my ex so that Alexi and CJ can watch their younger sisters for me.  Not really thrilled about spending extra money on the trip though…  Nor is it how I like to spend my weekends with Alexi and CJ, especially since I don’t get that many.  We’ll work it out though, right?  No big deal.

Oh wait, they’ve also decided to change the class hours from a five hour day four days a week to an eight hour day three days a week.  Oh crap, now that’s a whole new load of trouble I’m going to have to figure out!

See, with the five hour schedule I would have been here for Jenna (the only one who really needs me at this point) either in the morning or in the afternoon (or all dang day if they’d stuck with the evening classes I originally signed up for), and would only need to find care for her for one or the other.  With an eight hour day though, I won’t be here for either.  So not only to I need to arrange for her to get to school, but also for her to get home as well.

And I don’t even want to talk about the fact that the dog is going to be home alone for eight hours a day either.  He is SO not going to be happy about that.

Well, let’s look on the bright side, at least it’s only for two days a week now; plus Saturday’s, but John will be home for most of them.  Also, the longer days will cut some time off of the length of the course, so I’ll graduate sooner.

Of course, with only three weeks notice, I have to cross my fingers and pray that my financial aid goes though fast enough.  Not to mention the other stuff like purchasing the school clothes I need (there’s a uniform/dress code), making sure that Tiana has someone to walk with and carry her trumpet home for her because she’s still not allowed to carry the weight of the instrument in its case, and making sure Alexi and CJ can find rides home with friends.  Now I just need to start riding Alexi’s rear-end about getting her license so that she can just drive her own dang car instead of leaching off her friends.

It just feels like an awful lot to figure out and rearrange in a short amount of time.  Considering the history I have of things not working in my favor though, you’d think I’d have known better.

Oh well, it’s only four months of my life, and then I’ll get the joy of trying to figure out how to work a job into my schedule.  Fun!