Weekly Photo Challenge: Time

February 8, 2016 — This week’s photo challenge theme is time.

One leaf changes and the rest follow in time.


“There is a time when the ripeness of autumn fills the air.” – Rudolfo Anaya

My neighbor’s back patio; it usually drives me crazy, but today I thought I’d try to see the beauty in it.


“Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own.” – Charles Dickens


In the Eye of the Beholder

beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder-cayla-gaoFebruary 5, 2016 – While in an auto repair shop waiting room a few weeks ago, I happened upon the nightly news from a European broadcasting company on an obscure cable channel. The program fascinated me for several reasons; the main being that its anchors—a mix of men and women from England, Germany, Sweden and Turkey—looked like the typical people you’d meet on a train or walking the streets.

I may not have noticed the averageness of the news staff if I hadn’t become accustomed to American news anchors, their perfect straight white teeth, sculpted features, flawless skin and model thin frames. The European anchors didn’t mask their crooked teeth or their less than perfect skin. They weren’t dressed in high fashion designer clothing; they had average builds, wore subtle makeup and weren’t perfectly polished like their American counterparts. Yet, they weren’t unattractive, and had mastered the skills to perform the job.

At first I wondered why they didn’t take the extra (and artificial) steps to improve their appearance. The concept seemed rather shocking, actually. After a few more minutes of watching, I began to find it refreshing.

Do Europeans—especially those in high-profile media jobs—feel more secure about themselves than their American colleagues? It would seem so, although I only observed a small sampling of the population. They were who they were and they seemed perfectly comfortable with it.

I then recalled watching a concert on PBS last year. It was a clip show of performances from the 1960s and 1970s, and the artists of yesterday observed the same “natural standards”. Again, they weren’t unattractive, but their less than perfect appearances did stand out against a lot of America’s musical talent today.

No doubt, the concept of beauty in America has changed dramatically through the years. You might even say it became exaggerated. What was once reserved for the Hollywood elite has become standard in many American communities. It’s not unusual for the average woman to sport “fake” hair extensions, nails, tans, eyelashes, lips, multiple other body parts and more.

While there’s nothing wrong with making an effort to look your best, it seems we’ve taken it to a new extreme, spending thousands of dollars a year on procedures and products just to feel beautiful. What that says about us is a topic for another blog post.

Here is an excerpt from an American writer who blogs for Hush after a trip to Europe:

“The women of Europe looked natural. (And no, I’m not talking about au natural like the unshaven stereotypes we are often presented with.) Their confidence radiated from their sparse make-up and real hair. It was also in Europe that my eyes were opened to how other countries view our standards of beauty. When asked, the European men and women I talked to declared how exaggerated, over-the-top, and even trashy North American beauty standards are. This was astonishing to hear, and slightly embarrassing to be associated with, but I started to agree with them. We are over the top in our beauty choices.”

Here’s a video that made me smile after writing this post. The filmmaker conducted a social experiment at a performing arts high school in Chicago. It’s theme: “beauty”.

A new take on an old favorite

logoJanuary 29, 2016
 – Were you a fan of the online games that once appeared on Boxerjam.com?

If the answer is yes, have I got news for you!

There’s a new game coming soon to jamandcandy.com that’s bound to put a smile on your face. It’s reminiscent of an old, comfortable favorite, and I like to think that the readers of this blog and and their comments had something to do with bringing it back. Here’s the scoop:

Two years ago, I stumbled upon the news that my favorite online game site, Boxerjam, had shut down after an issue with its servers. I grumbled about it on this blog not once but twice and a lot of Boxerjam fans reached out to commiserate with me through their comments.

One comment came from Candisse Reynolds, a member of the team instrumental for bringing Boxerjam to life:

“The creators of the games on Boxerjam have started anew and are developing mobile application games for phones and tablets,” she wrote.

move your vowelsWe began emailing and Candisse explained that the site, www.jamandcandy.com, is a partnership between Julann Griffin, Maureen Roberts, and herself. The three partners also made up the J-A-M in Boxerjam. Their new venture is cleverly named in a similar fashion, keeping the Jam (the first initials of Julann and Maureen), and adding Candy (a shorted version of Candisse).

When I first checked out the site, the only game available – and I don’t remember its name – didn’t hold my interest. Yet something told me that with the variety of games once available on Boxerjam, this talented team could offer more than blowing up a balloon without trying to pop it. I just had to be patient while they got the new project off the ground.

Shortly after, they introduced the game, Move Your Vowels. It looked like it had potential, but playing a game on a mobile phone isn’t my thing and I don’t have a tablet. I’d rather play on a website or through Facebook, but it wasn’t available that way. Before I logged off though, I noticed a message promising new games would be coming soon. This team had struck gold before with Boxerjam, so I wanted to believe they could do it again, and I wanted to believe they could recreate my favorite.

ComprehendeUFast forward a year and a half, and Candisse contacted me again (earlier this week) to ask if I would try a new game called Kissin Kuzzins. She sent me a test link that allowed me to play the game through Facebook, which is a huge improvement over playing on my mobile phone. She offered no further explanation, but when I clicked on the link, I quickly realized that Kissin Kuzzins was a word association game with three different and challenging rounds. Sound familiar yet? I became hooked immediately and played the game with the biggest grin on my face. Dare I say it brought back fond memories of another word association game that shall remain nameless?

“We have gone to great effort to give everyone what they’ve been crying for,” Candisse said when I wrote her back to tell her I loved it. It’s obvious she pikadid take all of the comments left on this blog seriously. “We’re hoping this revival will help with our revival (of www.jamandcandy.com).”

Candisse also let me in on a little secret. The precursor to Kissin Kuzzins, the original game that shall not be mentioned here, but come on, you know it and love it, was originally intended for television. Her partner, Julann Griffin and the J in Jam, was the co-creator of Jeopardy. A pilot was made for the game but it never aired. When the Internet boom struck all those years ago, that game became the first one offered on AOL, so it had been around for quite some time before I got hooked in 1999 .

I enjoyed Kissin Kuzzins and that nostalgic feeling it gave me so much that I’ve decided to give the other games on www.jamandcandy a look. Why not do the same, check out the updated site and give Move Your Vowels, Comprehende U and Piki Paka a try? Post your comments here and let me know what you think.

Kissin Kuzzins should be available by the end of March. Perhaps sooner. Start the countdown now and brace yourself for its reveal. You won’t be disappointed!

Lost in the world of acronyms

acronyms1January 22, 2016 – One of the difficult things about starting a new job is getting used to the acronyms that come along with it. Aside from social media, there is no place on earth where acronyms are more widely used than in the workplace, as this clip from the hilarious movie “Office Space” illustrates.

I started a new job last week, and immediately began scribbling various acronyms in my notebook as soon as I came across them. However, instead of searching for them on the company intranet or asking a colleague, I decided to have a little fun and create my own definitions. I’m going to try to work the one listed below into various business situations and see what happens…

TSA – It’s short for Tax Sheltered Accounts, but I see Totally Shitty Attitude when I look at it. That’s something everyone suffers from on occasion, so there should be an acronym for it!