Friday, February 25, 2011


For one of the few times in my life, I actually had to say, "let me check my calendar and get back to you" and meant it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

My name is Shelby, and I'm an addict.

And how could I not be?  I discovered "Sweet Pockets" in Vinings, Georgia a few weeks ago.  Because my sister-in-law's birthday was coming up, I decided to pick up a dozen.  As you can see from the above photo, a dozen did not make it to her house.  Six became MIA before leaving my place of work. The survivors above also had to journey home in Atlanta rush-hour so let's take a moment of silence for the Mint Chocolate Chip cupcake who lost part of its frosting..............

It tasted good anyways.

Far be it from me not to introduce a co-worker to Sweet Pockets (today) so I brought back two Red Velvets and two Almond cupcakes.

Who doesn't love a cupcake (especially ones as tasty as these?!)

How NOT to chase away a dog...

We were enjoying a nice afternoon out on the back deck yesterday with our two dogs when I heard the Beagle down the street go into berserk-barking mode.  I should point out, however, this poor little Beagle resides on his owner's back deck with a Dogloo and NO human interaction except to feed him.  Needless to say, this Beagle barks almost constantly starting at 4am and stopping around 1am every day.

We look over and see a wandering overweight senior-citizen dog below the Beagle's deck walking around, urinating on the grass, sniffing, etc.  It didn't have tags nor a collar.

All of a sudden, the Beagle's neighbor comes outside from the garage area, and attempts to "chase off" the dog.  How? He doesn't shout, doesn't clap his hands, doesn't make shooing motions.....

He fires a .22 pistol at the dog IN our neighborhood! Not in the air...but at the dog.  WTF?! The dog, terrified, comes running up our driveway (it probably hears our dogs barking at it.)  Andrew and I were pissed.  We ran around to the front of the house to try to catch the old dog to check and see if it was okay, but it was running full speed, tail tucked up the road.  It glanced at Andrew and kept going.  The thing was probably scared it was going to be shot at again.

Was this dog harassing his dog? No.
Was this dog destroying some property owned by the guy? No.
Was this dog attacking an animal in his yard? No.
Does this guy have a fenced yard? No.
Did this guy even try to shoo the dog away? (Based on the dog's initial temperament, it looked like you could raise a hand, and it would run away - if you didn't want to try to catch it and find its owner.) No.

You don't discharge a firearm in a neighborhood, douchebag.

Friday, February 18, 2011

In light of the recent Toomer's Corner incident....

Please check this group out.  They are the definition of "class:"!/TideforToomers?sk=info

An Open Letter to the Auburn Family from the Alabama Faithful

As former students of the University of Alabama, we understand the importance of tradition; it is what binds past generations with those yet to come. The rolling of the trees at Toomer’s Corner is a unique and long-held tradition at Auburn University, one which we grudgingly respect. We may not understand your strange rituals, but we too have our own cherished traditions. We appreciate the culture of college football and, as such, have decided to take a stand.

The Alabama-Auburn rivalry is the best in all of sports. It makes the fall more interesting and enjoyable. We like taunting you, you enjoy poking fun at us, and even when it gets heated, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

What we don’t like is when good-natured rivalry is taken too far. That is exactly what happened when “Al from Dadeville” maliciously vandalised the 135-year-old oaks at Toomer’s Corner. Those oak trees have withstood hundreds of storms, numerous droughts, and more than a few rolls of Charmin. You could say that they have been through and seen it all, and they are landmarks of our state. The trees were there long before “Al” was born, and presumably would have been there long after he is gone.

We want you to know, in no uncertain terms, that we do not accept what “Al” has done--there is simply no excuse for this type of abhorrent behavior. We condemn his actions in the strongest possible manner. While he may claim the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, he does not represent us in any capacity.

As a token of good faith, we have established "Tide for Toomer’s," a small fund through which fans of the Crimson Tide can contribute money to Auburn University’s efforts to rehabilitate or replace the poisoned trees. None of these funds may be used for any other purpose, and especially not, of course, for your beloved Auburn Tigers football team (let’s not get crazy here).

On behalf of Tide for Toomer’s and the Alabama Nation, we pledge to uphold and safeguard the traditions in this state by showing reverence for the greatest rivalry in sports. We ask that supporters of the University of Alabama join with us in contributing to Tide for Toomer’s. With this, we hope to prove that though our rivalry is strong, our mutual respect is stronger.

Roll Tide!

Jennifer Hanson, Birmingham; Clay Loftin, Prattville;
Taylor Nichols, Tuscaloosa; Camaran Williams, Pell City

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Trash. Pure Trash.

By now some of you have learned of the poisoning of the iconic Toomer's Corner Oak tree.  If you haven't, allow me to describe it a bit (and my AU folks, chime in!)  Toomer's Corner is a street corner in downtown Auburn marked by a large 130+ year old Oak tree.  After a game win, the tree is often donned with toilet paper and a large crowd of Auburn University fans.  The tree has survived quite a bit including a FIRE that still couldn't destroy it.

That was until this guy came along: Almorn Updyke Jr, a 62 year old man who lives about 30 miles away from Auburn, AL.

From CBSNEWS.COM dated 17 February 2011:

(CBS/AP/WRBL) Police have released the mug shot of Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr, a 62-year-old unemployed man who is accused of the poisoning of the 130-year-old Toomer's Oaks, the landmark gathering place of Auburn University victory celebrations.

Updyke has been charged with one count of first-degree criminal mischief.

Bond was set at $50,000. If convicted, Updyke could face one to 10 years in prison.

University officials reported on Wednesday that the trees had been given "lethal amounts" of herbicide.
CBS affiliate WRBL reports that the story started with a phone call. On Jan. 27, a caller to "The Paul Finebaum Show," a sports talk radio show out of Birmingham, claimed he poisoned the live oaks shortly after the Iron Bowl with an herbicide known as Spike 80DF.

"The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn, Ala. - I live 30 miles away - and I poisoned the two Toomer's trees," the caller said on the show. "I put Spike 80DF in them." Show host Finebaum then asked the caller if the trees had died, to which "Al in Dadeville" responded, "They have not died yet, but they will die."

Updyke is from Dadeville, say police.


That's right.  Mr. Asshat here spiked the grand ole tree with Spike 80DF.  What is Spike 80DF? It is an herbicide that is mixed with water and enters a plant (tree) through its roots.  The chemicals interferes with photosynthesis until it dies.  The plant (tree) may grow its leaves, loose them, and grow them back, but it will eventually die.

As far as I know, there haven't been any releases as to WHY this moron did this.  All I know is there are plenty of pissed off Tigers and other non-AU fans that would love to get some time alone with him.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011



(That is all.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Weekend Day Trip: Six Feet Under Pub and Fish House and Oakland Cemetery

Yes, you read that title correctly. 

On Saturday, my parents came up to visit, and myself, my mom, my SIL, and her mother had a mini-day trip planned.  When my mom told me what she wanted to do for my SIL, I said, "leave it to me."  Within a matter of minutes, I had the perfect trip planned. 

We loaded into my car, and my SIL had no idea where we were going.  I only had her read me the directions, and that was that.  When we pulled up to Six Feet Under, she said, "oh my gosh! I wanted to try this place!" (I didn't know that.) 

What a great ambience.  It looked like a fish house.  Now, if you don't know..."Six Feet Under" (the original location) overlooks Oakland Cemetery.  Oakland Cemetery is a historic cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia.  Famous names include Bobby Jones, Margaret Mitchell, and quite a few others.  Although my favorite "burial" wasn't human at all.  I digress.

We had a great lunch of various baskets: fish n' chips, shrimp, and scallops, and we headed across the street to Oakland Cemetery.

We couldn't have asked for a clearer day: bright blue skies and not a single cloud.  We made our way into the cemetery and through the rows to the Visitor's Center.  We picked up a map of the cemetery, and we began our walk. 

There are intricately carved headstones, mausoleums that would make the architects cry, and witty little sayings as well.  My favorite burial site? "Tweet."

That's right: "Tweet."  Tweet was a family's beloved pet mockingbird, and when Tweet died, they hired a carver to carve a headstone for Tweet in the family plot.  Unfortunately, the carver couldn't quite grasp a mockingbird in his work, and they changed it to a little lamb.  Tweet is buried with his family in the family plot. 

We had a great walk, but my SIL's mom was recovering from surgery, and it was a little nippy with the breeze so we decided to head home, but you can be sure I will return! I recommend them!

Being the artsy person that I am, I told Andrew that I would be designing our wedding invitations and response cards.  I'm not revealing the design until a few weeks after we send them out in June.  Sorry, guys. 

Let's just say it's very

I contacted some local printers and Kinko's, and the lowest they wanted JUST to print the invitations and response cards was $187.  Not bad, I know, but I like a bargain, and I knew I'd have to buy envelopes as well.

I tried  To my luck, they had their trademark "100 free postcards," and I could work.  So I did.

I ordered 100 response cards (postcards) with my artwork, 100 invitations (postcards) with my artwork, and 200 white envelopes. 

Last Saturday, I came home to find 100 response cards (no envelopes, and no other items.)  I sent an e-mail to customer service.  I came home from work on Monday to find an additional 100 response cards, 100 wedding invitations (wrong size, and I knew that so I reordered correctly on Friday for those,) and 200 white envelopes.  Oops! Should have waited!

Just now I received an e-mail from apologizing for the problems, and not only did they send out replacement 100 invitations, 100 response cards, and 200 white envelopes, but they were sending out the additional 100 invitations that I reordered.  Best part?  Vistaprint noticed there were crop marks on the artwork for the invite so they removed those and printed the invites to size - yay!  Unfortunately, they did the same thing with replacement response cards (not needed!) so I couldn't use those even if we were having a large wedding.

So now...for a whopping $46....I have....

200 usable wedding invitations
200 usable wedding response cards
500 white envelopes
100 non-usable invitations
100 non-usable response cards

Westminster Kennel Club: Beauceron

I realize that many of you don't know what a Beauceron is.  They are still a pretty rare breed here in the United States.  They're a herding breed, and they're French (as if the name didn't give that away.)  They are large dogs, and if you had to describe them, you'd say "they resemble a mix among German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, and Rottweilers." 

Now I realize that the breed is fairly new to Westminster Kennel Club (I think it started being shown maybe 2 or 3 years ago,) but you'd expect an announcer at the show (who has been doing this for 20+ years) to understand the BREED STANDARD and BREED CHARACTERISTICS of the dogs. 

Last night, the Beauceron comes trotting out.  If you've never seen a Beauceron up close, you should note that they have multiple dew claws on their rear legs.  Many dog breeds only have dew claws on their front legs, and many of them are removed when those breeds are puppies.

Announcer #1: "Look at those back legs."
Announcer #2: "Yes, it looks like....dew claws.  Hmm.  Most breeders remove those when the dogs are puppies.  Hmm."
Announcer #1: "Interesting."
Announcer #2: "Yes, those are dew claws.  Hmm."

BREED STANDARD: "Any less than two well-formed dew claws on the Beauceron's rear leg is a disqualification."

It's really not that "interesting" that the Beauceron has dew claws, guys. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Backyard Gardening.

I have been following a woman's profile on Facebook for quite some time now.  She is also known as "Stems n Roots" ("Google" her.)  Living in Douglasville, Georgia, she has converted her backyard into a gardener's paradise, and by "gardener," I really mean urban farmer.  She grows a variety of fruits and vegetables, and she also has chickens and beehives. 

Because we have the space and ideal location for fruits and vegetables, Andrew and I will be building and planting in raised garden beds/containers this year as well as an English formal herb garden. 

I am very excited to speak to her and "take a tour" in hopes of learning as much as I can about "backyard farming."

An [un]successful collections agency.

When I ran my free annual credit report ( - NOT which is NOT free) it was a surprise to see a "negative account" on my report.  It was for a measly $60 charge, and the collections agency listed was "CBA."  I looked to see for whom this account was opened, and it ended up being an urgent care I visited in June 2009! I thought, "clearly, this is a mistake.  I paid the $60 when I was there as it was my co-pay."  I sought out the assistance of my bank who provided me with my statement for that month, and there it was $60 debit to the urgent care. 

Hmm - this is odd.  My account has been in collections with this company since November 2009?  Why hadn't I ever been contacted?

I called the urgent care billing office to sort things out.  I had her look back on her records, and the "there's no charge for this follow-up" was actually run through my insurance, and another $60 co-pay had been billed to me.  When I received my $60 bill in July 2009, I immediately called the billing office who said, "it must have been a mistake.  You don't owe anything."  Ha!  Yeah right.  Instead of the billing office sending out another bill, they merely turned my information over to collections for a $60 bill. 

When I finally had it sorted out and paid my $60 to the urgent care (profusely apologizing...and they did the same since there was a note on my account that said "duplicate bill" and followed by "not a duplicate - see history" but no one called me to tell me so nor sent me a bill again) I told them, "you know what? you guys need a better collections agency working for your hospital.  I never received a letter from them, never received a bill from them, and when I tracked down a 706 phone number call I received today, it just came back as 'East Ellijay.'  They didn't leave a voicemail, and when I called back, the phone was automatically answered on hold.  I just thought you should know since I know your organization is PAYING them to collect money for you, but they aren't doing a very good job, and I can't see that you're gaining any money from them: just paying them for services rendered." 

The business office thanked me for the information saying that they very rarely ever hear back from former patients on paying past due accounts, and CBA's lack of contact with their clients (victims, whatever) could very well be the reason why. 

My account sat in collections for almost a year and a half, and I was never once notified.  Yeah, I'd say that's a pretty crappy collections agency, wouldn't you?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

From afar, I love the Victorian era.

I thought I would precede my next assessment with the phrase "from afar" before going any further.  What does "from afar" mean in this subject? It means that while I can appreciate some of the history, the advances, the architecture, the ideas of the Victorian era in history, I don't think I'd enjoy living IN the Victorian era.

For example, I wouldn't want to be chastised for showing my ankles in my dress.  I wouldn't want to don a full-body bathing suit in a dressing cart on the beach (black, please.)  I wouldn't want to be in Victorian London prior to the revamping of the sewage system (see "The Great Stink") or The Burials Act of 1851.

Uh - the what?

The Burials Act of 1851.  With the influx of cholera issues plaguing London, The Burials Act of 1851 was established to prevent burials from taking place in, what boils down to, highly-populated areas.  You see, what was happening, was more people were dying in London than London had room for.  Graves were being dug on top of existing graves, small areas of 4,000 sq feet was being populated by 65,000 corpses or so, etc.  You get the idea...not a pleasant picture.  There's a saying that has gone around that says, "by the smell alone, you could tell if you were approaching a cemetery or the Thames."

Of course, that's not something you read about all too often, is it?  What about the revamping of the sewage system?  Yay! Sewers!  History tells us that "sewer systems" had been around since Roman times.  That's all well and good, but "sewer systems" and "sewer systems that work effectively" are two different things, and let's just say that London didn't fall under the "that work effectively" section.  "Rivers of raw sewage" should come to mind.  And let's not forget the previously aforementioned "you could tell if you were approaching...the Thames [River.]"  Sewers?  River? You draw the map.

I can only appreciate the Victorian era from afar because I love reading literature written during and during and about the Victorian era.  Dickens? Yes, please though I know of at least one friend who would disagree.  I'm a Victorian nerd.  While friends are reading fiction books on vampires (NOT Twilight!) you're more likely to catch me reading sanitary reports from 1860: London or child labor in Victorian London.

Some people call the Victorian era "creepy," but what they decide is creepy, I think of as unique and honorable.  Okay so Queen Victoria's husband, Albert, died while she was reigning.  She became a die-hard-to-the-end widow (complete with black taffeta and widow bonnet versus crown.)  The death of a loved one is sad.

On the other hand, we have the commoners celebrating life even upon death.  We have the mentality that cemeteries shouldn't be a location to fear and dread.  They should be treated like a "public park" and enjoyed by the living.  Photography was still pretty darn expensive in the Victorian era, and sure, you can find wedding portraits, but the primary event photographed for commoners was death.  Yeah, some of the photos are creepy (such as the child posing, "asleep," with its teddy bear while the child's living sibling stands beside them or the photographs in which eyeballs were drawn on the photograph to make it appear as though the child's corpse was a living child.) 

I can appreciate that some folks in the Victorian era had the outlook on life of, "well, shit.  I might as well try to do something. It can't get much worse, can it?"

I can love the Victorian era from afar because even though there was such tragedy during it (including child labor, unsanitary living conditions, etc.)  by bringing these issues to light, we, speaking in the general sense of "people," were able to identify and attempt to rectify these issues.

It's sad that in some parts of the world they're stuck on "identify" with no hopes of "rectify."

Funny dream.

Didn't you know?

When I was flying to and from Vegas one flight, Prince William was in the seat next to me.  We chatted, and we became close friends.  When I was presented to Queen Elizabeth II and Catherine (future wife of William,)  Queen Elizabeth II had the audacity to ask me, "well what do you do that makes you so important?!"  I replied to her, "I own my own publishing company, and I would be more than happy to send you some of our newest works."  Catherine responded with a nasty glare, but the Queen was delighted.

William and I have been friends ever since.

Of course...this was all part of the dream I had the other night.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dear PEOPLE Editors...

Good Morning, Editors -

I know you guys receive dozens of photos and e-mails from around the globe; however, I hope you will take my meager e-mail into consideration in nominating a friend of mine for "Half Their Size" recognition.  Meet Valerie West Fambrough from Dahlonega, Georgia.  "Inspiration" doesn't begin to define her.  What started in 2009 as a group of online acquaintances getting together to support each other in their weight loss goals has turned into Valerie completing her first marathon in January 2011. 

Over one hundred pounds lighter, Valerie makes the most out of her day, and, as the saying goes, "neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow" stops her from running on a daily basis.  Valerie will be the first to tell you she didn't start out as a marathoner.  She started out at 347 lbs on June 2009.  "Marathons" were far from her mind, and even then she doubted that she could ever finish one.

As the photos show, she reached her goal of finishing a marathon after a long road of 5Ks and speed bumps in the way.

Because Valerie is such an inspiration to several folks in her community (and around the United States as is seen with her group of friends that founded "F.I.T." (Finding Inspiration Together) please consider her for your next "Half Their Size."

Thank you for your time.

 "Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow..."