Monthly Archives: February 2010

Killer Whale Kills

You mean the name ‘killer’ actually comes from somewhere?  Yesterday in Orlando, a 12,000 pound killer whale named Tillikum grabbed his trainer by her ponytail and dragged her around and around the tank until she drowned.  Or Tillikum came out of the water, grabbed his trainer by the waist, shook her violently, and then dragged her underwater.  Accounts of the “accident” vary, but the end result is the same; 40 year old, Dawn Brancheau is dead.

Sea World officials are being very cagey about the accident and even went so far as to issue an initial statement saying that ‘Brancheau slipped into the tank.’  In fact, the humongous Tillicum, the largest of his kind in captivity, has been involved in several previous “accidents.”  In 1991 Tillicum and two other killer whales drowned another trainer in British Columbia and in 1999 a man snuck into the park and jumped into Tillicum’s tank.  Obviously his death isn’t too much of a shocker.  Poor guy was obviously nuts.  The craziest part of all this is that it’s not Tillicum’s fault.  He’s a 12,000 pound killer whale, why are we trying to pretend that it’s in his nature to live in a tank and do tricks for a whistle and a fish?

A marine conservationist from the American Museum of Natural History disagrees with the “accident” verdict.  According to him, killer whales have been domesticated for 70 years and are highly intelligent.  He believes Tillicum decided to stop swimming in circles and purposefully jumped out and attacked Brancheau; not to eat her, but to send a message.  I think the message is, “Get me the hell out of here.  I’m a 12,000 pound whale, not an 8 pound Chihuahua.”

ATTACKS INVOLVING CAPTIVE ANIMALS
Some recent maulings and other notable incidents involving captive animals:

Feb. 24, 2010: An employee at SeaWorld Orlando dies after a witness said the whale suddenly came up from the water, grabbed the trainer around the waist and “thrashed her all around” to the point the trainer’s shoe fell off.

Feb. 16, 2009: A 200-pound chimpanzee named Travis ripped off a woman’s hands, nose, lips and eyelids as she tried to lure him back into his cage. A police officer shot the chimpanzee after it tried to get into his patrol car.

Dec. 25, 2007: A Siberian tiger named Tatiana escapes from its enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo, kills one man and mauls two others before being shot dead.

July 14, 2007: A 244-pound Sumatran tiger named Berani bites a zookeeper in the head several times in an exhibit yard at the San Antonio Zoo. He survived.

Feb. 24, 2007: A 140-pound jaguar named Jorge fatally mauls a zookeeper at the Denver Zoo before being shot to death.

Dec. 22, 2006: Tatiana reaches through her cage’s iron bars and mauls a female zookeeper during a public feeding at the San Francisco Zoo.

Nov. 29, 2006: A 17-foot-long, 7,000-pound orca named Kasatka bites a SeaWorld’s San Diego park trainer, holding him underwater several times during a show. The trainer, who had been attacked on two prior occasions in 1993 and 1999, escaped with a broken foot.

Sept. 10, 2005: Three chimpanzees from Zoo Nebraska are shot and killed after they escape from their enclosure and could not be captured.

March 3, 2005: Two chimpanzees at the Animal Ranch wildlife sanctuary near Bakersfield, Calif., attack a man and his wife, maiming the man, before being shot to death.

— Associated Press

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Stieg Larsson – The Man Who Wrote Three Books

About a year ago a friend of mine gave me the book, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  The cover was a startlingly bright yellow with a green and orange dragon underneath the type.  I read the jacket cover and put the book aside.  It seemed interesting, but there were other books she had given me that were much more immediately intriguing.  One day, looking for a new book to delve into, I found myself revisiting The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

The story, which takes place in Sweden, was at first difficult for me to follow.  Was Blomkvist the criminal or was it Svemsbvist?  Eventually, my vocabulary became accustomed to the unfamiliar names and places and the book began to read like butter.  I sat on the sofa and the read the whole thing in one night.  Page after page, I sat there as Sam shook his head at me and reminded me to eat something.

The author, Stieg Larsson, wrote two other books immediately following The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  The second is called The Girl Who Played With Fire, I’m reading it right now thanks to that same friend.  And the third, which comes out in May, is called The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest.  The series is known as the Millennium Series and is all the more powerful because A) the books are amazing crime stories and B) Stieg Larsson died of a heart attack soon after handing over the three manuscripts.

Before becoming a writer, Larsson was a force in the fight against racism and right-wing extremism.  He gave seminars to Scotland Yard and was the editor in chief of Expo magazine.  The most surprising (and encouraging) thing however, is that upon finishing two of the books and with the third underway, Larsson began looking for a publisher…and was rejected.  Better yet, his long-time girlfriend has said that Larsson initially wrote the books for his own pleasure.  And here I thought I was the only one.

Despite numerous death threats from Nazi-extremists, those close to Larsson deny that his death was connected.  I on the other hand, always smell fire.  As does Lisbeth Salander, the main character, which might be yet another reason why I enjoy these books so much…well me, and 80 million other people.

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Best Travel Agent In the World

Sam and I are planning a trip and to cut down on the stress of it all, we decided to use a travel agent.  So we both did some research via Travel and Leisure and random Google searches for ‘best travel agent ever’ and came up with this dossier of the best of the best. Best Travel Agents In The World.  We emailed a few and low and behold a few answered.  One thing led to another and before we knew it, we had a trip planned!

What using a travel agent doesn’t take into account is that I am somewhat of a meticulous perfectionist when it comes to details.  Just because one website says that a Coke costs one price, doesn’t mean that I can’t find it on another site for less money, in a bigger can, and with a bedazzled carrying case.  In short, using the travel agent really just became twice the amount of work for me.  I planned the trip, priced the trip, compared the itinerary to about a thousand other possible itineraries, and then told the travel agent what I wanted… because I had already done all the work.  And then the travel agent got back to me with the exact same itinerary that I had already planned and somehow, it cost $300 more than my trip.

What exactly is the purpose then of a travel agent?  Is it for people who just don’t get as obsessed as I do about the perfect trip and are more willing to leave it in the hands of a stranger?  Or perhaps it’s for when you’re off to a destination you’ve done no research about and don’t want to be bothered.  A travel agent could just do all the work for you and you’ll either like what’s been arranged or you won’t.  I don’t know, I’m just way too particular I suppose.  In the meantime, now I’ve got this travel agent I don’t know what to do with.

How do you break-up with a travel agent?

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The Young Victoria

On Saturday Sam and I went to the Academy (as in The Academy, heh heh) to see a screening of The Young Victoria.  I loved it.  It’s a moving tale of how the young queen rejected a regency, came into power, had no idea what she was doing, married her 1st cousin, Albert, and ultimately went on to have 9 children and a successful run as monarch that lasted 20 years.  The film is a grand love story that moves and swirls as Sam said, “like leaves in the wind.”

The only thing that slightly killed it for me in the light of day, was that they were 1st cousins.  Yelck.  I mean, they didn’t grow up together or anything – she was in England he was in Belgium.  But still, 1st cousins?  Isn’t that a little too close for having 9 kids?  The stars of the movie are two very talented actors, Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend whom I’ve never heard of until now.  When I Googled him I learned that he’s been working pretty much non-stop since his role in Pride and Prejudice in 2005.  Coincidentally, this coincides with his meeting and subsequent dating of the famous, Keira Knightly.  Strangely, he looks exactly like her Pirates of the Caribbean costar, Orlando Bloom.  It’s uncanny when you see them side by side.

But back to The Young Victoria.  Despite the kissing cousins thing, the story and the film and the combination of the both are fantastic and I wouldn’t be surprised if it won one of the Oscars it’s been nominated for.  I give it a regal nod and a side-to-side wave with both hands.  Go see it, you won’t be disappointed.

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Pregnant Olympian in 2010

The last few days I’ve been doing an expose (love saying that, makes me feel like Bernstein or Woodward) on finding love on the internet.  Today I promised to wrap it up and bear with me here as I take a slightly circuitous route.  Kristie Moore, an alternate on the Candian curling team, is 5 1/2 months pregnant.  Curling’s not exactly a contact sport, but I still love that the Canadian coach asked her to be on the team.  I love that they’re supporting her and not looking at her pregnancy as a weakness and I love that a 5 1/2 month pregnant woman has the confidence and the gumption to compete in the Olympics.  Go, Kristie Moore!

Moore’s not the first woman to compete pregnant in the Olympics, although the winter Olympics do seem more popular for it than the summer Olympics.  Must be the outfits.  Magda Julin, pictured here at left, won the gold in figure skating while pregnant at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp.  Germany’s Diana Sartor took home a fourth place win at Torino in 2006, also while pregnant.  She does the skeleton (you know, face down on a board at warp speed), which can’t have been easy with a bun in the oven.

My point is, if a woman can compete in something as ferociously competitive as the Olympics while lumbering around pregnant then why not have a man walk on the moon?  Or create a cure for smallpox?  Or find love on the internet?  (See, I told you I’d get here.)  If Avi and Margarita (Internet Dating = Finding Love?) can do it, why can’t we do it too?  It can’t be harder than being pregnant in the Olympics.

I truly believe there’s someone out there for us all if we’re open to finding him/her.  He or she may not look like our Barbie Dream Doll or have a super-duper job or always remember to put the toilet seat down.  But chances are, if we open our hearts and our minds, he or she can be the one who makes us happy in the long run.  And what harm can internet dating do?  It seems to me like it’s just one more way to broaden the search.  And if you have to kiss a few frogs along the way, so be it.  I’m sure those pregnant Olympians have had to deal with much worse.

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Online Dating Leads to Love (part two)

Yesterday I began the first in a two-part series about finding love online (Internet Dating = Finding Love?).  The couple, Avi and Margarita, continue to answer my questions today.  Is online dating worth our time?  In today’s busy times, is this a good way to meet “the One?”  Tomorrow I’ll sit down to discuss what this relationship means for the rest of us out there trying to find our soul mates.

In the meantime, Avi and Margarita had some very interesting things to say about their experiences and feelings towards online dating…

Me: What’s the most common response that you hear when people find out that you met via on-line dating?

Avi:

People are excited, and it’s not as shocking as it once was. In fact, they make it a point to mention their friend, or so & so that they know that also found their husband / wife through the internet…

Margarita:

There’s still a stigma associated with online dating, but for the most part a lot of people have tried it by now. I often tell people it’s a lot better than meeting someone at a bar, restaurant, coffee shop, or blind date. It’s a gamble regardless, so at least you’re in control when you are the one choosing online. People lie about who they are regardless of where you meet or how you’re introduced. But at least the online dating helps weed people out quicker. You can narrow down your search based on religious, political, social, physical similarities if you so choose to. The world is at your fingertips online because you can search for somebody from any part of the country or world from the comfort of your own home. For those holding down full-time jobs, we don’t have the opportunity to go out every single night or weekend and meet people. Online dating is really a convenient tool for the active, busy young (or older adult) to find somebody you might never have otherwise had the opportunity to meet.

Me: Does that mean you’ve heard of other couples like you two or do you think finding love on-line is rare?

Avi:

Personally – I know more and more people / friends, these days, who met their significant other on-line.

Margarita:

Yes, it seems as though many people these days have met their significant other online. Maybe it was rare at one time, but it’s not too uncommon these days. I know of co-workers who met her spouses on JDate and I have friends of friends who met their spouses on other dating websites. We even got to meet other JDate “success stories” just like ours and the couples ranged in age from early 20’s to 80’s and everything in between!

Me: For all those men and women out there looking for love on J. Date, Match or eHarmony, what advice do you have for staying hopeful and not getting burnt-out on dead-end first dates?

Avi:

What worked for me is that I always, if in a rut, tried other dating methods, but ALWAYS, came back.

Change it up a bit…

At first, online-dating is like a game… ooooo, who’s looked at my profile, who winked at me, teased me, emailed me, who’s online… yada, yada, yada, but after a while – it gets old – especially if you’ve had a bunch of bad dates. Take a little break, and come back after a little while – whatever it is.

What you’ll definitely find is a bunch of new faces!!!

Margarita:

Just remember dating in general is a hit or miss. Doesn’t matter how you meet the person, it’s about being at the right place at the right time, both figuratively and literally. It’s a combination of timing, luck, and fate. Have fun with Mr. or Miss wrong until the right one does come along. If you get tired of meeting the wrong ones online, take a break, try the coffee shop or blind date thing, and if that doesn’t work, give online dating a try again. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, just keep an open mind and you will attract the right person when it’s your time.

Me: So in your opinion, is one website better than another for people who are serious about finding love?

Avi:

For me it was easy. When I finally grew up and listened to my Jewish mother and sister, and realized I wanted to date someone Jewish – JDate was the site for me.

I’ve heard success through Match as well as eHarmony. If you are not particular about a specific attribute (and there are online dating sites for almost ANY ATTRIBUTE…) try which ever, and if one is not working, maybe another will.

Margarita:

It all depends on what you are looking for. When I joined JDate at 26, I knew I wanted to eventually marry a Jewish man. So I sought out a Jewish website that would make it possible for me to date exclusively Jewish men. When I was younger I didn’t have the same priorities so JDate wouldn’t have been as necessary. So if it’s important for a person to find someone of a specific cultural, religious, or of similar interests, and then of course seek out a site that caters to those interests. I highly recommend JDate for anyone having a hard time finding other Jewish people in everyday life since there aren’t too many of us out there.

Me: And last, but not least, what advice do you have for all of the readers out there who want so badly to fall in love, but just can’t seem to meet Mr. or Mrs. Right?

Avi:

Have patience. Me, personally, I am not patient at all. Well, only with some things… 😉

But, when it came to finding my wife, I took my time, didn’t settle, and when I knew – I knew, and didn’t let her go! No way!

When you find the one, throw your pride, caution, everything – out! And go after them!!!

She or he are out there! Believe it. No matter age, height, weight, sex, religious or political affiliation – whatever – when you least expect it – you’ll find them!

Margarita:

Don’t force it, don’t try too hard, and don’t obsess over it. Finding the right one is a matter of timing and luck, sometimes it happens young, sometimes it happens old, sometimes it doesn’t happen. So if you just live your life to the fullest and surround yourself with good people, eventually you will attract somebody that peaks your interest. Don’t settle, don’t compare yourself to others, just be yourself and let things happen naturally. I’m not saying you should just sit back and hope love falls into your lap. Of course you should be proactive and join online dating sites, ask friends to set you upon dates, and participate in activities where you might find someone who shares similar interests. Just don’t look too hard or you might miss him or her, just like you overlook your missing car keys that were right under your nose the whole time! Take a deep breath and just relax, then everything seems to eventually come together!

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Internet Dating = Finding Love?

A girlfriend of mine recently told me about a couple she knew who met on the internet, began dating, and wonder of all wonders, fell in love and got married.  Huh?  Really?  All those painful blind dates can lead to happily ever after?  Amazed, I contacted the couple and begged them to answer some questions for me.  In a two part series today and tomorrow, Margarita and Avi will tell their story of how two people met via the internet and are now spending the rest of their lives together.  Moral of the story: if it can happen to them, it can happen to you.

And without further ado, please meet the lovely Margarita and Avi!  Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Me: So how long were you on J. Date before you met one another and had you given up hope of “it” ever happening or were you having a good time internet dating?

Avi:

I first joined JDate when I was 30, and I met my wife on JDate when I was 34. Between 30 and 34 I was on JDate on and off. While I had some relationships that lasted from 3 to 6 months during those 4 years, once the relationship would end, I turned to all dating options that were different from the internet; but, when those would end, I would always go back to JDate.

JDate was this “comfort” thing for me. I seemed to always know (or hoped) that I would find a Jewish woman on JDate that would intrigue me enough to date… and look at that – 4/7/2007 – I FOUND HER!!! 😉

Margarita:

I was on JDate for a very short period of time after I had graduated college in 2002. I didn’t take it seriously at all; it was more of a fun thing to try after just getting out of a long term relationship. I didn’t really care about the Jewish thing so much, it was just another tool to try and meet potential dates. I was literally over it in a matter of weeks. Then after many years went by, around February of 2007, I had finally decided to get back on JDate. Once again, I had gotten out of a very serious relationship, but this time I went on JDate for 2 reasons. The first being I wanted to enjoy the single life and date around. I was pretty much looking for someone to wine and dine me, not much else. The other reason was that in the back of my mind I knew that I wanted my next serious relationship to be with a Jewish guy, regardless of when it happened. I had reached a point in my life where I valued the importance of marrying a Jewish man and raising a Jewish family. So I figured I’d increase my chances of potentially finding that person when the time was right if I stuck with JDate. So back to February of 2007, I did a lot of JDate “flirting” online, but usually rejected most emails I received because nobody really caught my eye. I did eventually end up going on several different dates and was actually having a good time being wined and dined. I wasn’t taking anything too seriously but I was just having a good time. Probably about month or so after being on JDate, Avi sent me an email and I actually responded which was unusual for me since I would just delete or ignore most other emails. But something caught my eye about his profile and eventually we had our first date on April 7, 2007. After that date the rest is history!

Me: Tell us about the worst first date you ever had while internet dating; any horror stories?

Avi:

HA! I had several “bad” first internet dates – but come on now – who hasn’t??? Most were where the person “lied” or wasn’t truthful about their age, appearance, situation…

But, the worst would have to be the young lady that waited until the end of the date to share with me that she wasn’t Jewish. Not that it’s a huge deal, BUT, this JDate is a Jewish dating site – so if you are not Jewish – just be honest from the beginning.

Now then, this wasn’t the end of it. This was a first date, and while I was thinking something “casual”, she was very adamant about going to a private business club (that she just joined) in downtown San Diego (something like the Century Club – downtown LA). Being familiar with this club, I knew that you don’t really pay – the member just signs for it and gets billed later. Thinking this was still too lavish for a first date, reluctantly I agreed. She ends up ordering up-a-storm and then, finds a way that I, the non-member, got the bill! I couldn’t believe it! But wait, it gets better… After I pay and am about to get to leave, she somehow, convinces me to stay for a few more minutes so I can listen to her play the piano (which was in another room). Stupidly, I agree (again). While serenading me – she slips in, a few times, that she wasn’t even Jewish – but LOVES Jewish Men… AND… as I questioned her, she continued to play and sing me back the answers… AND as I was leaving (running), in a hurried pace to the elevator – she CONTINUED to serenade me, even louder… AHHHHHH!!!

Margarita:

Back in 2002 I went on a JDate with a really cute guy, but he sort of gave off a playerish vibe. After that first date he never called me again. Maybe it’s because I didn’t let him get his way with me and he was probably used to hooking up all the time. The worst part about it was that he ended up dating the sister of my boyfriend at the time and we ran into them at a Halloween party. Can we say AWKWARD at the very least!

Me: Now did you two like one another straight off the bat or did it take awhile for you both to realize that there was something there that needed pursuing?

Avi:

HA! I liked her waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyy more than she liked me at the beginning… I knew very soon that I liked her and wanted to get to know her much better and start something serious with her.

She – not so much!

After about a full month of hard-court-press and full pursuit by me, (there was no way I was going to let her slip away!) she was at about the same place I was… and then, the very next date – I got to meet her parents!!! =) Yes, yes, women… move in mysterious ways!!!

Margarita:

Let’s make this easy, Avi liked me right away because I was totally his type (blonde and Jewish)!!! I on the other hand, wasn’t too sure about him. I thought he was very good looking and had a great personality, but I prefer guys over 5’10, Avi is 5’6, and I usually go for the shy, introvert types while Avi is outspoken and the life of the party. After a great couple of first dates, I decided to pull the “I think we should just be friends” thing. Let me tell you that Avi wasn’t afraid to pursue me one bit! He wouldn’t quit until I agreed to go on a few more dates with him, and after about a month or so of hanging out I realized this guy was pretty damn wonderful and that I probably needed someone of his character all along. By the forth month we were virtually living together and he dropped the L-word, although he claims I said it first which is completely untrue! So to sum it up, he knew I was the one from the very moment he saw me, but it took me about a month or so to jump on board, but I haven’t looked back since!!! He is my perfect compliment!!!

Me: Would you tell other internet daters to stick to their “type” or to experiment with people they might not see themselves with?

Avi:

I would tell other internet daters to have a “type” – and stick to their it whenever they could – BUT:

  • Make sure your “type” doesn’t have so many detailed qualities. Use broader strokes when searching for her – making sure though, to not yield your most important attributes – whatever they are.
  • Also – don’t be afraid to shake it up a bit, if you are in a dating slump. You never know what you may find.

My wife did – and look what she got?! 😉

Margarita:

Well by judging my answer to the previous question, you might guess I’d say “experiment with people you might not see yourself with”. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that your core values should align with your significant other’s values, such as your morals, ethics, family values, etc. However, if you normally go for a “type” both physically and characteristically speaking, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. For 26 years I thought I knew the perfect type for myself because I was usually attracted to the quiet, low-key “type”, yet those relationships never seemed to work out in the long run. Yet when I stepped outside of that box and went “against type”, I found someone who completely balanced me out, even though I would have never guessed an aggressive go getter was for me. I think finding someone who can help you grow as a person by bringing you out of your comfort zone is really important in creating true harmony. I would suggest sticking with someone who shares similar life values but broaden your search both physically and characteristically speaking, you might pleasantly be surprised!


Me: So how did you get from meeting on-line to walking down the aisle?

Avi:

Wow – how did we get there??? Love, life and the pursuit of happiness!

Relationships are difficult – especially those that are worth it. When I found my wife, after a while, I realized she was it for me. No matter the difficulties, drama, whatever between us – all of a sudden, instead of thinking of ways to escape this relationship as soon as I could – I was finding ways to make the realtionship work better, stronger – and I realized that this was the first time ever for me.

At that point I knew – I loved her, truly loved her –and wanted to put a ring on her finger and make this “thing” – forever!

Margarita:

A lot of persistence on Avi’s part in the very beginning of our dating life, but I was hooked after about a month! We were pretty serious about each other by the fourth month and I unofficially moved in with him, but officially moved in about a year into the relationship. He proposed about a year and a half into our relationship around November 14, 2008 and we were married on April 5, 2009. He is the most genuine, caring, passionate, unconditional, loving, witty, sexy, and charismatic man I have ever known! And I never knew it was possible to be loved or to love someone as much as the way we do!

Back in 2002 I went on a JDate with a really cute guy, but he sort of gave off a playerish vibe. After that first date he never called me again. Maybe it’s because I didn’t let him get his way with me and he was probably used to hooking up all the time. The worst part about it was that he ended up dating the sister of my boyfriend at the time and we ran into them at a Halloween party. Can we say AWKWARD at the very least!

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