Helping The Community

Certain social media sites are so lame with their overreaching analytics. A suggestion popped up on my feed last week, noting I had checked in at the Indiana State Line on December 26, 2014. I did. Mostly just to let interested friends and family members know of our progress as we traveled home from Pennsylvania on a Christmas road trip. Facebook wants me to “Help the Community by Writing a Review.”

A review of my trip to (it was more like over) the Indiana State Line? Seriously. I noticed there are no current reviews of the Indiana State Line, and actually only 6 other people have even checked in. What would that review even look like? I wonder…

Rhoda T.

Sad to say that the Indiana State Line just doesn’t measure up to the other State Lines in the area. The trees were way less scenic than in Pennsylvania. The roads barely felt paved.

Zena H.
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Ended up here because the queue at the Michigan State Line was ridiculously long. Indiana has the same rating yet there was no queue. We were sceptical at first but it was not bad. Pleasant overpasses. Signage there when needed but not overwhelming. You pay about 10 dollars more in tolls for Ohio, so this was overall a decent place with pleasant experience.

Vincent L.
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If you have a predilection for Midwestern State Lines like me, look no further than the Indiana State Line. I come here weekly on business and only really ever stay on the Interstate – comprised of a fine gray Valero asphalt, sometimes topped with a delicate dusting of snowfall, four lanes for just the right amount of comoditá (comfort). So wonderful! There’s nothing quite like rolling into the Petro in Richmond after you’ve finished your amazing crossing. I haven’t been stopped yet, but the speed limit will be the death of me.

My only gripe would be that it is an expensive State Line. Current tolls are over $12.

Kalee J.
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Where do I begin? Shall I start with the bumper to bumper traffic because of a trooper pulling over a pick-up on the side of the road? Or maybe the painfully awkward billboards advertising Tom Raper RV? Um, hello? Trigger warnings please. There are a lot of people that that could effect them very much seeing that. There is no craft or thought put into this State Line. Extremely mediocre for the prices, they don’t even have a median, just a slab of cement so youd be better off going to the gross county line a few miles away.

My main issue here is that they’re sign out front is extremely misleading. It led my party to believe that Indiana was the “Crossroads of America,” which was the main reason we decided to go here in the first place. Turns out when we got into Indiana there were no other American states at all, just Indiana. Not what we expected. UMMMMM… try again.

The manager at the visitor center was extremely rude and uncooperative when we raised our concern. It was clearly a miscommunication on both of our parts. The advertisement/sign was so unclear, but we could have asked more questions to clarify. However, she wasn’t about to budge on the toll. Until we made it perfectly clear that we weren’t about to pay for something we didn’t sign up for, at which point she gave us some coupons for free coffee. Atta girl. She didn’t want us getting ratchet up in her state. And believe me, we were on the verge. Her sarcastic and condesending mannerisms were completely off-putting.

PLEASE SAVE YOURSELF FROM THIS DEVASTATING ATROCITY.

Kevin L.

so disappointed as a resident of evansville. two bad state lines on both sides, and i dont know which is worse, kentucky or indiana. at least indiana has good gas stations but theyre not very close to the interstate! thats THE ONLY good thing about indiana.. is the gas stations… lets move on from there…

the scenery was some of the worst I have ever seen… the place was DIRTY…I.E. your first clue… you dont want to know whats going on back off the road. the litter, roadkill, piled up snow, fencing… all dirty …

went for a “road trip” i suppose… they give you this idea that its some kind of destination.. oh my god, one look and we all turned around.. and went back.. didn’t even want to be in the state.. raining the whole time … wow.. this was beyond BAD…

a friend got the map which was DROWNING in red stateness, couldn’t even finish looking at it.

and the whole time all we wanted was to look around, and we couldn’t even see anything until we were almost done and ready to leave… the visibility was INCREDIBLY bad…

NEVER go here. save your time and money.

it’s awful, there’s no good state lines to go to around evansville 😦 if someone can prove me wrong, please do. but in the mean time, someone needs to save evansville from bad trips.

Jessalyn R.
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My boyfriend took me here for my birthday, and I was very impressed. I rode in the passenger side, and it was soooo good! I got to see the viaduct and the welcome signs! Their “visitor information center” is wonderful as well!

Ada K.
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This place was recommended to me by 2 of my friends from Baltimore, where we are from.

I haven’t been to Indiana in awhile, so it was nice to have a place that was given the thumbs up in advance, as well as all of the wonderful reviews on social media.

I have now been twice to the Indiana State Line, and each time was fantastic. The first trip, for a Black Crowes concert. Perfection! The second trip, to see a specialist in Indianapolis for my strabismus. Awesome! My husband drove both times as I couldn’t resist seeing everything again. It wasn’t too crowded, so you could probably end up driving in at 7pm on a Saturday night with no problem, but we always check the GPS just in case. We will be back!

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2015

‘Joe And The Bikers’ Is NOT An Onion Article

Many of my more frequent readers know that I’m a sucker for well-done satire. And on more than one occasion I’ve come forward with my undying love and loyalty for The Onion. I must say, they are firing on all cylinders with some of their election stories. And what I’ve enjoyed the most, is their retooled party animal persona of Vice President Joe Biden over the last four years. To the point where just a headline sends me into quivering giggles.

And it’s nothing political. Vice presidents have long been comic fodder for late-night talk show hosts and comedians. I’ve laughed at them all, from Dana Carvey’s pseudo George H.W. Bush tucking Dan Quayle (“Still. Gaining. Acceptance.”) into bed with his blankie on Saturday Night Live to Al Gore making out with his wife at the DNC to Dick Cheney unloading a round of buckshot into a guy’s face.

It’s just that it is so damn brilliant. The latest piece, Biden Says Life Better Than It Was 4 Years Ago But Nothing Can Touch Summer Of ’87, describes him then as “a carefree 44-year-old senator cruising the Delaware boardwalk in acid-washed Jordache jeans and his pink Sonny Crockett blazer.”

This follows up a fantastic running bit from last week, Joe Biden Hitchhikes To Democratic National Convention, where The Onion’s Twitter followers were encouraged to provide updates if any of them had picked him up. Seems he was being a little choosy with rides, turning down offers if the car didn’t have a tape deck to play his Foreigner cassettes.

Maybe not everyone will appreciate it as much as I do, but pick a couple of these links to read if you’re waiting for an appointment or need to kill some time. It’s grade A stuff.

Bounced Joe Biden Check Still Taped Up In Delaware Liquor Store
Shirtless Biden Washes Trans Am In White House Driveway
Biden Receives Lifetime Ban From Dave & Buster’s
Biden Asks White House Visitor If He Wants To Check Out Roof
Biden Invokes Freedom Of Information Act To Find Out When Woman Gets Off Work
Walletless Biden Found Handcuffed To Bedpost
White House Infested With Bedbugs After Biden Brings In Recliner Off The Curb
Joe Biden Shows Up To Inauguration With Ponytail

And then this article (and picture), Joe Biden and the bikers, was posted tonight on Politico. An Associated Press wire story from Seaman, Ohio. Yeah, that’s right, SEAMAN, Ohio. The Onion doesn’t even write stuff THIS obvious! Is it life imitating art or vice versa? Whatever, it doesn’t matter because it’s bitchen’.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Now that the boys are becoming more and more active in sports, it feels as if we’ve been on a non-stop tour of youth sports complexes of the Twin Cities and outlying areas. This weekend we saw action at three different venues in Rochester, Minnesota.

Some of these places are shiny new and you can tell a lot of planning, money and time has been poured into making them inviting locations to pull in tournaments and keep them in constant use all summer long. With all the expertise out there, there is a common flaw in all of them. That is the limited access to decent drinking water.

A trash can at the Rochester Youth Sports Complex. Waste bins at another site were overflowing with almost nothing but plastic water bottles.

I’m far from a crunchy, tree-hugging earth mother, but if there is one thing I hate it is bottled water. In a society where clean drinking water is available almost everywhere, bottled water is such a waste. I understand that it’s occasionally convenient when there is nothing else around, but that is part of the problem. These are places where kids are playing sports, getting hot, and needing to keep hydrated. I’m no engineer, but it can’t possibly be that difficult or expensive to install fountains or taps in locations around these multi-acre parks when they are being built. Some facilities don’t even have a drinking fountain in the main concession or building area. That’s how I found myself refilling water bottles in a disgusting bathroom sink over the weekend.

Last year I attended a Minnesota Twins game at Target Field in late July. It was a make-up game that was originally scheduled in April on Earth Day. So everything was “green” themed. It was also a sweltering noon game, with heat indexes reaching over 110°. We planned ahead and brought along water in refillable bottles. Problem was, there was one single water fountain available for six entire sections of seating. So the choice was to either wait in line for half of the game to refill, or buy a plastic bottle of water for $3.00. How many plastic water bottles from that afternoon alone ended up in a landfill somewhere? The onscreen messages of “sustainability” were lost on me that day.

So if you’re going to lament childhood obesity statistics, and start in with bans on soft drinks, like in New York City, or constantly preach the message of reuse, then civic leaders need to make it possible for people live those messages. Does anyone know someone looking for an Eagle Scout project? Or are you affiliated with a community service organization looking to promote healthy living? Then I found a project for you. Work with city authorities to implement a goal of having easily accessible, clean, cold tap water at any place where people gather, particularly summer events, schools, and sports activities.

I’d do it, but I’m just the visionary. I hate to get bogged down in the details.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

No Comment

The following was a comment on one of my posts that was in my spam filter.

“Actually genuinely great weblog article which has received me considering. I by no means looked at this from the stage of look at.”

Sounds legit, right?

For some reason this reminded me of the weird phrases in some of the German textbooks I’ve run across. My favorite was: “Richtest du den Scheinwerfer!” (Fix your headlight!). Another was “She is raising cows for her own use.” I can’t even remember the translation of that anymore. Interestingly enough in 20 years I haven’t found use for either of those sentiments in either German or English.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2010

People of Costco

Cameron, Justin and I went to Costco tonight to pick up some photos. They offer the cheapest 5×7 prints I’ve seen. They can offer low-cost photo processing because you also walk out with 48 Pop Tarts and a 3-pack of Pillsbury Grands cinnamon rolls that you didn’t necessarily need. And your kids convince you to buy them a piece of pizza for dinner on the way out.

That’s where things got weird. We sat at the food court area, which is odd in itself as it’s sandwiched between the tire center and the custom cabinetry and blinds stations, and all the tables have umbrellas, though you are clearly indoors, and rain does not seem imminent and sun is certainly not a concern. A large guy, who was wearing only a sleeveless muscle shirt, a large Jersey Shore type silver chain, and sweatpants, sat down at the table next to ours. The air temp outside was 2 degrees. He had no coat in his cart. In his cart was: a man purse, two packages of 300 count 12oz plastic cups, a case of toilet paper, a box of grapefruit fruit cups, a gallon of apple juice, and eight packages of Kashi GoLean Crunch bars.

He sat there with headphones on, looking disheveled, as Cameron and Justin kept talking about how “ripped” he was and speculated about his boxing prowess, and pulled out four prescription bottles, looking over the informational handouts that were included with them. At one point he pulled a man aside who was walking past and said, “Hey buddy,” and proceeded to ask him an unintelligible question about Valium, to which the man replied, “I’m sorry, I don’t know. I’m not a pharmacist.”

Eventually he gathered everything up and walked out the door, into the cold, with no sleeves.

What’s this dude’s back story? It seems like a good exercise in creative writing to invent one for him, but I suspect anything anyone could concoct wouldn’t be half as interesting as the real thing.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2010

Wedding Bliss

It’s late spring and weddings seem to be a more frequent topic of conversation.

Though I think weddings can be way overdone, I’m not going to write something preachy about focusing more on the marriage than the wedding, that’s been done. Obviously everyone wants to have a day that is beautiful, fun and memorable. I’ve attended many weddings, I’ve been a bridesmaid, and I’ve had a wedding of my own.  I just want to tell couples that if your wedding day is “perfect” you’ll miss out on all the fun.  Perfect is the equivalent of boring. When you look back upon that day, details that you obsessed over are entirely forgotten. And you’ll find that had things gone off without a hitch, you’d be missing out on so many stories you’ll remember forever.

Your guests will not know if you spent $1,800 $800 or $80 on bridesmaid dresses. I might not be the best example because I’m pretty low maintenance, but when my bridesmaids and I went dress shopping, the saleswoman led us back to a room with sample dresses and said, “They are arranged counter-clockwise around the room by price, starting on the right.” Remember the Seinfeld episode where George turned to the back of the book to look at the cheapest wedding invitations? Well, we started at the far right side of the room and worked our way in all of about three feet and found something we all liked after the second try. I even called an audible and changed the color scheme from teal to red on the spot. Fortunately Kim and Julie didn’t suffer any fatal consequences from their modestly priced dresses.

So what if your DJ was late, and you had to ask him to stop playing hip hop music during dinner, and instead play the Sinatra that you requested. You’ll mostly remember that the mother of the bride was spotted Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It, your Best Man and your linguine-legged polka dancing uncle became legends at the Shopping Cart, and that the same dumbass DJ dedicated Warrant’s Cherry Pie to your 7 year-old nephew.

No one will ever notice that the lemon yellow flowers in your bouquets were supposed to be a rich golden sunflower yellow, but everyone will notice that the unity candle was directly under an air conditioning vent and began to flame  so high that the bride’s veil was almost incinerated while she obliviously took her vows.

You’ll be bummed that your brother didn’t make it there in time for the rehearsal because his connecting flight was delayed when the Memphis airport had to be cleared after some yahoo blew past the security check-point. You’ll also fondly remember driving to the airport with your friends at 11:30 pm to pick him up while listening to a Beastie Boys marathon on the radio.

A couple may hire the perfect pianist to play prelude music before their ceremony, but they’ll never know that two of their snarkier guests were giggling uncontrollably wondering if the supply of “cheeseball love songs” by the likes of Air Supply and Celine Dion would ever run out.

You won’t remember who you seated at what table, but you will remember your uncle going back to the kitchen to serve everyone coffee himself because the Village Inn was understaffed at 3am. You’ll also remember that you went to the IHOP for breakfast with your bridesmaids the morning of the wedding and that you all ordered the Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity.

Your family will recall that your cake was gorgeous, but probably won’t be able to tell you the next day what colors the little edible flowers were. But they will be able to give you the play-by-play of your aunt throwing up into a top hat party favor during the car ride home, and listening to her explain that the cake made her sick. Not the rum. The cake.

The uptightly devout woman in the prayer veil who called your bridesmaids harlots because they are wearing spaghetti strap dresses on a 95 degree day will rattle you a bit, but it will make you appreciate all the more your much less judgemental priest ending the ceremony by telling your guests to “go somewhere for a beer” because the reception doesn’t start until 5:00.

You will cherish your talented and beautiful friend’s sweetly simple rendition of How Can I Keep From Singing. You’ll also clearly remember both your new husband and your new father-in-law apologizing profusely to her the next morning because an intoxicated uncle made a rather inappropriate comment in her presence before taking out an entire row of bar stools.

Maybe you decided to give your family two days notice before you got married at the county courthouse. They’ll still want to join you. And they’ll love the stress-free summertime reception that follows a few months later where kids dance so much that they fall asleep on the floor right in front of the band’s amps.

I could go on with a hundred more tales. I guess my point is, lighten up, have fun, and remember the wedding day itself is just the beginning!

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2010

Unforced Error

I’m not one to minimize someone else’s hardships. Life deals everyone ups and downs. But when someone fails to put something into proper perspective they deserve to be called out for it.

Tennis great Martina Navratilova was diagnosed with breast cancer in January.  Obviously terrible news for anyone. The type of cancer she has is called ductal carcinoma in situ, a non-invasive form of cancer where a surgeon can go in and remove just the tumor, a procedure she underwent in March. Typically this is followed up with 6 weeks of radiation treatment, not fun, but the side effects of radiation therapy are mild. This type of cancer has a 98% 10 year survival rate. If you have to be diagnosed with cancer, hers is pretty much the best case scenario, which is great news. Early detection is key and clearly worked to her benefit.

She hit one outside the line though. In an ABC interview with Robin Roberts, another cancer survivor who underwent chemotherapy and much more difficult treatment, Navratilova said, “[This] was my personal 9/11. I’ve been healthy all my life, and all of a sudden I have cancer. Are you kidding me?”

Dial it back, Martina. You have resources to access the best and brightest doctors and medical care. You do not have to worry about taking time off from a job while completing your treatment. Your cancer is essentially curable, and the medical intervention required is actually far less invasive than any of the orthopaedic surgeries and physical therapy you’ve undergone during your tennis career.

Don’t compare your tangle with a treatable disease to those who suffered horrific and sudden losses on 9/11. It’s insulting.

That said, April is Cancer Awareness Month.  Good thoughts and good luck to anyone battling cancer themselves (including you, Martina), supporting a loved one through cancer treatment, or remembering someone who was lost.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2010

Gut Feelings

One of my favorite books is The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker, a renowned expert in security. It’s a book I think everyone should read, particularly young women. One of his overriding themes is that women, if they feel they are in an uncomfortable or even frightening situation, still feel like they have to be nice, even when their gut says that something is wrong. The point he tries to drill home is to always trust your instincts, regardless of social convention.

I always thought this was really astute advice and since I’m shy and not especially open with strangers anyway, I’ve always assumed that I’d be easily able to heed his pointers should I ever be confronted with a threat. And if something gets to me, even though I’m very much an introvert, I can have a very caustic and sharp tongue and am not afraid to use it.

Not so much tonight.

I just returned from a business trip to Orange County, California. I was marveling at how well things had gone since usually I can count on at least one or two glitches during the course of my travels. Other than having to limp through the airport with wicked blisters on my heel because I’m an idiot and decided to wear a new pair of shoes on this trip, everything was great and I was looking forward to getting home and showering the kids with their Disneyland booty.

I got into the offsite parking shuttle and it was very full. I took the last seat in the back of the bus between a bigger guy and a gray-haired man in a suit.  The man in the suit was listening to his headphones and drumming and playing various air instruments on his suitcase. He also had an annoying throat-clearing tic. As we pulled out of the terminal, the driver took a hard right and I lost my balance and sort of slid off the edge of the seat because I wasn’t holding onto anything. As I was trying to straighten myself out I broke a fingernail. I’m not vain about my nails, but it was cut to the quick and it hurt.

As this was all going on, the man in the suit did a weird laugh slash cough and I said something about not being prepared for that sharp turn. The bigger guy next to me said that he was relieved to hear me say that because he thought he’d pushed me over.  I was trying to deal with my ripped off fingernail when the man in the suit, in an attempt at humor, I guess, leaned over into me, pushing me to the side.

It was awkward and I did nothing but sort of smile sheepishly. It was barely (and I use “barely” in the sense of “not at all”) funny the first time, but the next two times he did the same thing, it was just creepy. This is where I am extremely frustrated by my reaction. I definitely felt uncomfortable by this. Never like I was in any kind of danger or anything, but I did not like it. At all. So why didn’t I respond? Why did I feel obligated to be polite? I was holding my backpack on my lap. At the very least why didn’t I move it into the space between us and send a clear message that I didn’t appreciate what he was doing?

After a few people had been dropped off at their cars I immediately took the opportunity to move way over to the window.  I snapped a picture of him.

I guess my point is, trust your instincts, you don’t have to be nice. In the grand scheme of things, this incident wasn’t that big of a deal, but I’m bothered that I didn’t react differently. I should have conveyed that what he was doing was not okay.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2010

McCarthyism

The Lancet has finally completely retracted a paper published by British doctor, Andrew Wakefield, in 1998 that linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism.  In Britain measles cases increased by 70% in 2008, largely because families stopped vaccinating kids as a direct result of this junk science.

Alarmist anti-vaccination bloggers and visible celebrities like Jenny McCarthy (Curriculum vitae – high school graduate, Playboy playmate, host of MTV’s Singled Out), who have spoken out against vaccination, have caused many parents to question whether immunizing their children was the right thing to do.  These fear-mongering groups latched onto this ONE article with conclusions based on shoddy and unethical research methods (recruiting subjects before the study, cherry-picking subjects, paying subjects), while vocally trying to discredit the 20 subsequent studies that refuted Wakefield’s data.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently published statistics indicating that 1 in 110 children in the United States have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (Jenny McCarthy’s website states 1 in 58 children have autism.).  While my heart breaks thinking about the hardships that must be endured by parents with an autistic child, it is not a fatal disease.

Contrast that with data from the World Health Organization (WHO), showing that 164,000 people worldwide died from measles in 2008, mostly children under the age of five.  Measles vaccination efforts resulted in a 78% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2008.  That means if Ms. McCarthy and the anti-vaccine crusaders had it their way, in that nine year span, an additional 5 million people would have died from a fully preventable disease.

Granted, the incidence of measles in the U.S. is statistically insignificant.  Measles deaths occur primarily in third-world countries without a decent healthcare infrastructure.  But if all American parents stopped vaccinating their children, measles would most certainly resurge and we would be in no better shape than those economically downtrodden countries.  Countries whose citizens would likely give anything for the access to the resources that Ms. McCarthy and others so malign.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/feb/02/lancet-retracts-mmr-paper

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2010