Inspiration

12 Sep

Persuasion of Cake

11 Sep

Which of the following ways to make money look like the most fun to you?

When you get stuck with a gross job you don’t like, such as baby sitting, what do you say? “Oh, I wish I could find a better job?”   If so, I have an idea for you. The solution for your problem is to make cakes to sell. It is better than babysitting, where you have to change poopy diapers, or mowing lawns in the hot sun. Making cakes is a good idea because you get a good profit, it is your passion (if you are artistic and you like to bake), and it’s better than yard work.

People who like to make cakes should try to sell them because it is their passion.  If it’s not your bag to babysit, and you’d like to make cakes, and you want to earn money, then why don’t you make cakes to sell?

I know someone named Yvonne Loy who is in the cupcake/cake business and loves it. She might not be the best cake maker ever, but I think she’s great. Her store is called Le Cupcake at 5563 Briarhurst Center in Lincoln. Le Cupcake won “Lincoln’s Choice Awards” just two months after opening! They were even on Cupcake Wars!

The craziest thing is that I am distantly related to Yvonne. She works with her niece and her husband. She likes working with her family and you can do that when you own the business.

Some people say you can’t cook for others because there are Health Department rules and you can’t lick your fingers or do things the way you do at home. Yvonne says that you just have to know the rules and be able to follow them. The difference between baking for home and baking for sales is that she can’t lick her fingers and that there are rules from the Health Department: they must use disinfectant to rinse all equipment; the bowls must be stored upside down so they don’t get dust or bugs in them; the fridge needs to be “in order”: produce on top and eggs on the bottom.

I don’t think it’s very hard to follow these rules, either. I would just have to put up a list that has the rules on it.

Hey. I know that you are going to fail trying sometimes. But don’t feel bad about it. It’s happened to me. It’s happened to Yvonne. But she didn’t let that get her down, did she? Yvonne told me, “I have thrown away a lot of cupcakes in the process of testing recipes. Before cupcakes…I was making monkey bread in an angel food cake pan and I put the sauce on it and it spilled out all over the oven. It started smoking. I am surprised it didn’t start a fire. Epic fail.”

Ending up in the cake business is WAY better than ending up with a crappy job like moving furniture with a mean old guy who smokes. And would you rather be able to eat the scraps of cake and the cakes that don’t sell or getting all sweaty and grass-covered mowing lawns? I would choose the first one. There are so many jobs that I would rather not do because of many reasons. Here are some: they make you stink, you would have to get up really early, you could hurt yourself in ways like pulling or tearing a muscle, and you could get really dirty. And yes, you could chop off a finger with a knife making cakes, but all you need is proper training with a knife or an adult with you.

Best of all is profit. When you are doing yard work, most times people are grumpy and unreasonable. They only give like, five bucks an hour. And if you only end up working 20 minutes, then you get around one dollar. Making cakes does require you to pay for ingredients, but it is worth it if you are good enough at making cakes and you can find someone who wants a birthday cake for their kid. A birthday cake that looks good costs around 25 bucks. Even the Hy-Vee cake with the horrible frosting is 24!

You can sell them for the same amount or even less (for more satisfied customers) and it will taste even better. When you make your own cake, you make a home-made frosting that tastes at least 99% better than Hy-Vee’s frosting and is only one flavor. Yvonne has like, 50 different flavors that are yummy. You can invent your own flavors just like her. Your customers will judge the cakes by appearance, not taste. You can help their decision by using fondant to cover your cakes. Fondant is a Play-Doh like edible substance that is really cute and makes the cakes almost look alive because it helps bring out color and will mold easily into any shape, even flowers.

The thing is, you have to buy the things you need, like the fondant, for the cake. That means you have to PAY. Altogether, the ingredients would cost about $6 to $7. In the cake business, you might have to buy the ingredients, but you actually get something out of it. In case you don’t know what that something is, I’ll tell you. PROFIT. You get profit. You don’t have to put out money for babysitting, so I guess you can babysit if you don’t mind poopy diapers and only 5 to 10 dollars an hour, depending on how old you are. Not me. I mind. I would much rather make a cake that altogether costs 6 dollars and sell it for around $25 than baby sit.

You had better make a decision now, people! I have written too much now, so it’s your choice, not mine: poopy diapers and yard work vs. cakes. Diapers stink, and yard work MAKES you stink. But cakes smell good. And they taste good. I really don’t think that poop or leaves would taste very good. Don’t try that at home or anything, but I’m just saying. If what you want and need is passion and profit, please try cakes. All I’m sayin’ is give it a chance. You ever heard the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, if you have, then don’t automatically say no to cakes even if you don’t like cake-making.

I Try to Dance

17 Oct

Dance offers a fun alternative to contact sports for people who love music and aerobic activity minus the aggression and competition of athletics.  Along with biking and hiking, it occupies a top spot in my list of preferred activities.  Unlike them, it is a social event that gives me an opportunity to talk and laugh with other people.  Plus, it occurs indoors, a bonus during the harsh winter months where I live.

“Well,” I thought, “I’m going to start dancing!”  To that end, I began looking for a venue.  As an older person, I found out that my options are limited by unforeseen complications.

My first choice was to go for the freebie.  People dance all the time in clubs!  I love club dance music.  In fact, it is my favorite genre.  Most people expect me to enjoy listening to oldies and rock classics, even though, in truth, I have been trying to erase these overplayed songs from my memory banks for decades.  I like new music!  I thought, “I’ll just go dancing and rip up the dance floor like I used to when I was in my 20s.  It’ll be great.  Just like old times.”

I was right on one count and wrong on another.  It was just like old times:  the entire crowd was in its 20s, and everyone was single-mindedly trying to meet  someone to couple-up with.  But it was not great.

House, tech, trance, dubstep. Club music. Viva la fiesta, viva la noche, viva los DJs.

Oh, the dancing part was fine.  The music was fabulous, and my moves were better than everyone else’s, but my “cool factor” was torpedoed by my age.  I felt like a pariah on my own without a dancing partner.

The next time I went, I took my husband.  However, he is an oldies fan, and the strangeness of the music along with the antics of the DJs drew his ire.

“What, exactly, are those guys doing?” He indicated by nodding toward the jumping, bobbing-headed duo operating the equipment on stage.

“Re-mixing,” I answered.

“They’re not doing anything,” he concluded.  “They’re pretending they’re doing something.  What a bunch of losers.”

Live re-mixing is hard. The problem is that you can’t tell who’s faking it unless you stare over their shoulders.

The pretentiousness turned my husband’s feet into concrete blocks, and the volume eventually drove him out the door, and me along with him.  Failure #1.  Scratch that from my list.

Subsequently, a friend of mine invited us to a St. Patrick’s Day dinner and Ceilidh.  In case you are unfamiliar with this term, Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) is an Irish social dance similar to American square dancing.  After a wonderful meal of shepherd’s pie, we all walked to the rec center and found a huge crowd of people of (mercifully) mixed ages.  My husband and I paired off and launched into the set.  Oh, it was fun.  Yet, he was less comfortable with the “calls” than I was — more unsure of where he needed to go and how to get there by the end of the musical measure.

When “swing your partner” and “trade places” was called, something from the past, from the archaic memory of elementary school P.E., clicked on in his brain.  Suddenly, it became an athletic endeavor, an imperative for us get where we needed to be before the clock ran out.  He grabbed me like a football and raced to the goal line in record time.  Oof!  I felt as though my arm had been jerked out of its socket and — touchdown!  We won.  Other men shared this attitude.  When it came time to change partners (which happens frequently in Irish dance) some guys took advantage of my small size and swung me around so fast that my feet left the ground.  It was exhilarating but somewhat alarming to be manhandled that way, and I feared for my safety should I lose my balance and fall like a tourist during the running of the bulls in Pamplona.

My husband never asked to go to Ceilidh again, and I chalked it off as a favor he did for me, like club dancing, which he would rather forgo in exchange for other activities (in his scant free time) such as taking a spin on the millimeter gauge of his metalworking lathe in the basement workshop.  Failure #2.

After that, my friends talked me into going to Scottish dance.  I thought, “Ah, I can do this.  Scotland is near Ireland!  It’s practically the same culture!  What could go wrong?”  I started to attend regularly.  The group was small and experienced.  The dance sets were long and complex.  As one of my friends pointed out, there is a reason why Scots make such brilliant engineers.  Have you ever seen a Celtic knot?  If shown a picture and given a length of rope, could you recreate its intricate, twining pattern?  I didn’t think so.

A portion of a crib sheet for a Scottish dance. Gold star if you can translate this into action.

My dyslexia kicked in.  I could not determine which side was my right or my left.  At any given time, I had a 50/50 chance of veering the wrong way.  These people were patient with me as I crashed into them and needed to be corrected, in flight, like a runaway satellite.  One man, in particular, with the hands of a farmer, grabbed my hands so firmly that I thought I would never be able to play mandolin again, so strong was his crushing grip, to guide me on the proper trajectory.

My experience ended when I managed to rouse the wrath of my good friend of many years.  One night, she instructed the class to dance a figure-eight pattern, which she had previously drawn on paper, believing it to be adequately clear.  However, it lacked directional arrows, and (to ambidextrous people like me) “top and bottom” is as arbitrary as “right and left.”  Hey, it’s all relative!  If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, do you think everything is upside down?  No!  The South Pole is on top for you.  I induced a tantrum in my friend.  She was jumping up and down on the floor, shouting, “No, no, no!” at me.  Failure #3.  Bless her heart; she’s still my friend, though.

Providence intervened, both of my friends from Scottish dance moved away, which I took as a sign that I should give up.   Imagine my surprise when another friend invited me to Irish dance.  I do so love the music of the British Isles.  I play it on my mandolin all the time.  I adore its relentless cheerfulness.  “Oh, the crops are failing, and we are starving, and my wife just died in childbirth…” all sung to a lilting, lighthearted melody.  (God bless the Irish; they’ve been through so much.)  So, I joined, thinking, “Okay, the patterns are less complicated,” so the Ceilidh dance was easier.  However, the Irish step dancing was harder.  As my friend pointed out, Irish step dancing is where tap dancing originated.  I quickly realized that, in order to succeed, I would have to resort to video recording the steps to support my infamously poor memory.  In fact, this technique worked well.  I even slowed the videos down to half-speed and absorbed the information easily.  Soon, my surreptitious video recording (using anyone’s phone that happened to be available) attracted the unwanted attention of the instructor who commented, “You should charge her for that.”  (Uh, oh.  Busted.)  I decided that, in all fairness, I should attend one of the studio classes to see if I should sign up and pay for more instruction.)  We met at her Sunday class at the studio.

When Irish feet are flying…

Dance, done well, is gravity-defying, intensely emotional, and seemingly effortless despite its difficulty.  The instructor was a marvel to behold.   He was so good that he could dance in bare feet, running shoes, boots, or flip-flops.  Nothing tripped him up.  He kicked his leg over his head.  He balanced on his toes like a ballet dancer.  His feet moved so quickly that neither one touched the ground for more than a nanosecond.  He was perfect — and a perfectionist.  The students danced the routine over and over.  He drove them hard.  They became red-faced, out-of-breath, and sweaty.  “Get it together!” he commanded.  “I’m not going to tell you how to dance.  You can dance any way you want.  You either love it or you don’t!  If you don’t, you’ll leave.  And that’s fine because you won’t torture me anymore!”

One of my friends had an asthma attack.  With a grimace of pain on her face, doubled over and clutching her throat, she grabbed her inhaler and ran out of the room.  I went to check on her and  found her crying, saying, “I don’t want him to think I’m slacking.”  Of course she wasn’t!  But that was the level of dedication required for that class.  I couldn’t have matched it.  After 15 minutes, they would have had to call the meat wagon for me.  They would have had to shoot me, put me out of my misery, and use me for pet food.  I quit going to Irish dance.  Failure #4.

I’m not giving up on dancing.  I must find a joyous way to dance.  It can’t eat up all my free time going to instruction.   It can’t cause me pain and require soaking my shin splints in ice water.  

Recently, I went to a drug-free rave, and it was a blast.  People were smiling and dancing with abandon.  They gave me glow sticks, high-fives, and heart signs with their hands.   That was cool.  I’ve also been looking into Bhangra dance, which is a type of folk dancing popularized in Bollywood movies.  Everyone looks happy in there, too.  I should learn how to do that.  If I get good enough, I could earn money by conducting my own an aerobics class.  That’s okay if you can’t remember the steps!  Just make something up!  As long as you keep moving and end up laughing, you’re fine!”

Minecraft: Why You Should Live in Block Land

27 Sep

Minecraft is an awesome game.  Those of you who play Minecraft, you know what I mean.  Those of you who don’t play Minecraft, I’ll fill you in.  It’s what every middle school kid should be doing instead of homework.

Minecraft is a 3-D game made entirely out of cubes.  It can be played on the iPod, Xbox 360, and the computer.  This game is like a computer version of Lego and was developed in late 2009.  All three versions have been updated in the last month.   I installed a mod called Tekkit. It’s pretty cool.

You can play in Single Player mode or join a group at a server online in Multiplayer mode.  Skitscape’s public server is up and running. However, the spleef sector (one of my favorites) of the server is closed. The IP address is playSkitScape.com.

A creepah! (it’s a plush toy, yay!)

If that’s not convincing enough, watch the videos  that the Minecraft players post on YouTube.  I will  be updating you on these videos in another post.

Now, back to those of you who want to know more about Minecraft. Its front title screen looks a little like this:

The Minecraft Title Screen. The first thing I think when I see this is, “Cube land here I come!”

As far as Minecraft goes, you either “get it,” and you like it, or you miss the point entirely, and you want to change it.  My friend Micheal came over during the weekend, and he played Minecraft for the first time. Then he said,  “We should make a Minecraft Two, where the goal is to kill each other and get coins to get new weapons to kill each other, and nothing should be made out of blocks because that would be boring!”

“Wai-” I started to say, but he cut me off.

Yeeee-hah! Steve rides the Enderdragon!

“And when we get on, we can just throw bombs at everyone and kill them like that!” and he snapped his fingers.

I thought, “O.K .the entire point of Minecraft is not to kill one another. That’s like just about every other video game! And, second of all, the fact that it’s made up out of blocks is unique!!!”

An NPC bad guy!

My friend Larry, though, totally gets the concept of the game. He is always talking about what he has built. He keeps his fingers crossed that the next update will have armor because he really wants to see himself with armor on. Our friend, Brad, has just downloaded the full version for the iPod.

Before school today, Brad asks, “How do I mine gold?”

Larry answers, “With a pickaxe.”

“But when I mine it with my pickaxe, I don’t get any gold ingots!” Brad says.

“What kind of pickaxe is it?” I ask (hint, hint, wink, wink).

“Stone.”

“You can only mine it with an iron pickaxe!” exclaims Larry.

“How am I supposed to know?”

“Here, just come over to my house tomorrow, and Larry and I will explain the entire game to you,” I say.

You can buy a poster or t-shirt at Minecraft.net. This is a picture of the world according to Minecraft.

There’s a place for both building and PvP in “Minecraftia.” Some servers are creative, and you can’t be killed there.  Others servers are survival, and you can battle there.  You can even make your own server, where you  designate your system as a shared, central point where other players can access the same game world.  My friend Craig is going to set up a server for us to play together.  Craig has challenged me to a PvP fight. I’ll post the results when we’re finished.   This is a good example of how Minecraft lets you meet your friends after school and hang out without ever leaving your house.

If this hasn’t convinced you to download this incredible game, then I don’t know what will. However, if you are convinced, then just go to Mincraft.net to download it for only $26.95. That’s it! $26.95, and then you have it forever!  No monthly fees, no cost for updates. Remember, living in block land does not mean you are limited to just cubes.  Be creative, and mine, craft, and build!

For all you science nerds, here is the Periodic Table with a severely limited number of elements, complements of Minecraft.

Uncle Bob’s Toilet Cake

19 Sep

It was a toilet bowl.  It was white.  It even had poop at the bottom.  When I first saw it I was disgusted, but then I realized that I was even more disgusted  ….  It was a toilet CAKE!!! (The poop wasn’t real, it was just melted tootsie rolls). The worst thing about it being a cake is that it was my Uncle Bob’s 50th BIRTHDAY CAKE!!

When you turn 50, you might as well try to have fun and enjoy all the life you have left.  I mean, once you find the “importance of laughter” your life will be fine. I just hope you find it far before you get over the hill and too old to count.

This is not the real cake, it’s just one I found online, although it looks similar.

People of all ages, from 1 to 100, need a good laugh once in a while, and cakes not only make us laugh but are delicioso. What’s the point of making a cake that’s just plain old round ‘n boring anyway (?!) when you can make…

…something like this:

When I first saw this cake, I thought it looked like a nerdy turtle. The body looks like an overgrown cupcake.  It would more than likely be for a kid than for a 99-year-old man.  You wouldn’t want him to think the point of this cake is to tell him he’s slow.  He probably wouldn’t be laughing.

As you can see, this one looks like a fast-food meal.  It was chosen because it resembles real food, which makes it pretty funny.  This edible monument is one of the most well-done cakes that I’ve ever seen.  It’s perfect for a teenager.  I couldn’t imagine how much work it would have taken to make this. I mean, it looks impossible, don’t you think?

Now THIS murderous  meal looks like an adult’s cake. It appears to be so real, even a five-year-old would run off crying!  At age 11, you would find it funny, but you wouldn’t eat it because it would feel too cruel.  Why do adults think it is so funny?  Although animals are still important to adults, they are not as important as they would be to young people.  I think the cake would be more for an adult, also, because grown-ups are more used to sarcasm.  A young child would think it was a real lamb!  I’m used to sarcasm, too, but I still wouldn’t eat it because–it feels so wrong!  If you think this cake looks wrong, wait until you see the next one!

This cake would be perfect for a Halloween birthday. My brother’s birthday is October 20th, but he’s in third grade. He might not have a problem with the cake, but most of his friends might. Imagine walking into a birthday party and seeing a severed arm on a platter on the table. Not a very pretty sight, is it, huh?  If little kids saw it, they would scream and run away!

The main reason this is story was written is so people understand the importance of laughter.  These cakes really do the trick.  Even if you’re 100, you will still find them funny–actually, I would say hilarious.   Let me tell you some advice:  Don’t ever have a party with a boring, old, round cake.  Those are lame.

–Taylor

 

Featured Meme: Rage Comic Memes

18 May

As stated in an earlier article, a meme (pronounced MEEM) is a concept (image or phrase) that becomes popular on the Internet.  Memes can reflect a person’s attitude, predicaments, and just about anything else.  Thanks to Rage Guy, Forever Alone, Troll Face, and other Rage Comic Memes, personal moments of failure, win-itude, and everything within the spectrum can be humorously documented. Continue reading

Ghost Hunter’s Treat

18 May

    Every step taken on the creaky floorboards of the Stanley Hotel pierced the silence of our ghost tour, screeching like we were walking on banshees, adding a malevolent feel to the already chilling atmosphere. As we climbed the century-old stairs, both my mother and I were hit simultaneously with a wave of nausea. Sweat began to form at my pores, as if I were standing on the edge of a cliff, fearing for my life. I began to notice the smallest, most insignificant details, as if the missing peg in the banister was the cause of my sudden sickness. A small breeze blew on the back of my neck, as if something were breathing on me.
    Whether or not you believe in ghosts, the Stanley Hotel Ghost Tour is one of the best in the country. Not only does the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo., have a great armory of residential ghosts, it’s also the place where acclaimed horror author, Stephen King, wrote one of the scariest books of all time, which, in turn, became one of the most famous horror films of all time. (Actually scary movies are hard to come by nowadays, considering that America’s adolescent population thinks movies are a complete waste of time if nobody dies within the first fifteen minutes. When the zenith of a movie is somebody being mutilated by some insane murderer, it leaves no room for proper plot development or characters that are deeper then a mud puddle.)

    Fans of the popular movie The Shining may be surprised and even a little disappointed to discover that the hotel looks nothing like it did in the movie; however, there is a simple explanation for this. At the Stanley Hotel, there is no hedge maze, the hallways aren’t even the same ones shown in the movie, and the bartenders are much less spectral. This is because the movie wasn’t even filmed at the Stanley Hotel. It wasn’t even filmed in America, much less Colorado! The exterior, albeit, was filmed at Ft. Hood Oregon, but everything else was specially built in a studio in London, halfway across the globe from the actual hotel. However, Stephen King was displeased with the movie and thought that it was inaccurate and didn’t follow the book closely enough, so he came back in 1997 with a mini-series he figured would be scarier. Unfortunately, the series never became as popular as the movie.

    The true inspiration for The Shinning is the real Stanley Hotel.  So, fans of ghost hunting won’t be bothered by absence of scenery from the movie.  If it is ghosts you are looking for, a movie set is no place to find them; a haunted hotel is the right place to look. The Stanley Hotel’s claim to fame is not just the fact that Stephen King wrote The Shining there in one night, but it also has an arsenal of ghosts, poltergeists, spectres, and every supernatural manifestation in between.  And, luckily for all penny-pinchers, the tour is not exclusive to those staying at the hotel, and anyone can get in for just $15 for an adult and $10 for the children.

The Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood, Oregon, the face of the hotel in the movie.

The Stanley Hotel, the actual inspiration for Stephen King's novel

Mind you, this is not a guarantee that anything out of the ordinary will happen.  Fear not, though, for the tour also provides you with a general understanding of the history of the hotel.  So, of course, when my family and I were in town, I just had to go and check it out. The tour my sister and I were in was full of those typical American type tourists with their flash cameras, fake smiles, sweaty brows, and Bermuda shorts despite being in Colorado during fall break.  And, of course, it didn’t help that one of the most haunted places was next to a staircase in a cramped hallway. I wasn’t sure what was scarier, the ghosts or the thriving mass of humanity pushing in on me from every angle. It seemed as if every nook and cranny in the hotel had a gruesome legend to it. As we passed rooms, the tour guide, Mary, explained to us all about the little boy named Mathew who had died, bedridden of an illness and was a very friendly ghost who oftentimes moved things and stole people’s candy from them.  There were a plethora of scary stories, but so far our tour had failed to dig up even the slightest grain of evidence.

    Mary stood on an old staircase and gently called out to the ghosts while everyone took flash photos of her from all angles, casting an army of shadows onto the wall.  I, being typically cynical, was skeptical of the mumbo-jumbo story of how some lady had died on the stairwell, yadda-yadda-yadda, until my sister, who had religiously been taking pictures every nano-second, tugged on my sleeve and showed me the picture she had just taken.

   Just feet from Mary’s head was a milky white, translucent orb. It hung there in midair, looking almost sinister. I looked up from the camera, frantically searching for a similar object, but could find none. Some of the people behind us noticed our discovery and, therefore, thought that the best course of action would be to scream, “GHOST!” at the top of their lungs, prompting a battalion of tourists to rapidly take as many pictures with the brightest flashes in as little time as possible.

An orb typically visible in photos of the Stanley Hotel hallways.

    Upon further research, there is a seemingly plausible explanation for why we see these orbs.  People say it’s because of out-of-focus dust hovering in front of the lens of the camera, and it reflects the flash into the lens.  However, under the same theory, we would we not see “orbs” every time we took a flash picture in a darkly lit room?  Dust is everywhere, so why is it that we only see such things in places that people claim to be “haunted?”  It shall remain a mystery to all until another plausible solution pops-up on the inter-webs.    

      For those not interested in the supernatural, The Stanley Hotel is nestled inside a nice town in Colorado called Estes Park, which offers a number of tourist attractions.  The area is surrounded by mountains (with hiking and horseback riding trails), and the town itself features many small stores arranged to form a sort of mall, and a Holiday Inn is located about a mile from the infamous manor. Instead of slowly going crazy cooped up in a hotel room like the movie’s main character, you can peruse Estes Park’s many shops and boutiques and beautiful, scenic trails through the Rocky Mountains out of town.  Estes Park can entertain anyone from a rowdy college frat boy to a quaint family of five with its wide range of activities and assortment of shops.

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