Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pink Pop-Tarts?

Three things, in two articles, on a recent front page of the Los Angeles Times newspaper, scared the living daylights out of me. The articles appeared above the fold-- the top half of the paper, meaning their placement implied the information was really important. I took notice.

First was the fact, and I can't stress the word "fact" enough-- that WalMart shipped huge quantities of strawberry Pop-Tarts to Florida-- during a hurricane-- Because apparently, when Mother Nature smacks people upside the head, Pop-Tarts are the food of choice.

The second alarming "fact" was that WalMart had statistical and historical data to prove the wildly insane increase in sales of strawberry Pop-Tarts to justify driving 18-wheelers full of the stuff into the eye of the storm! I'm sure this says something about the "people of WalMart", the American public in general and Pop-Tarts' marketing strategy, but seriously-- The pink ones? Not the chocolate or the brown sugar cinnamon ones? And why Pop-Tarts of all things?

The third and final alarming above the fold "fact" in the LA Times that day was a headline screaming-- in all capital letters to drive the point home even further-- GET READY TO RUMBLE, about new data strongly suggesting a major Southern California earthquake-- in the 8.1 magnitude range, is coming our way.


Regular readers of this space will know information of this nature sends chills down my spine and reminds me yet again, why I do not like living on the West Coast, especially Los Angeles, which would be hugely impacted by the next "big one" discussed in this news story. In short, I hate earthquakes and this article, with descriptions like "grim", "dangerous" and my favorite-- "sleeping giant" makes me want to head for the hills-- on the East Coast.

The separate and unrelated articles gave me serious enough pause that I saved them to reread upon return from my recent vacation-- When I was more rested and relaxed. Problem was, I thought of this information several times while I was away and wondered if the editors at the Times deliberately intended for the alarming facts to be positioned together, on the same front page, leaving me to conclude...

I will be eating pink Pop-Tarts after a massive earthquake in the very near future.

Not Cheez Wiz. Not canned Spam. Not Cocoa Puffs cereal. Not baked beans with little wieners in it. No, I will be eating strawberry Pop-Tarts in my time of crisis, which, according to WalMart data, is the breakfast, lunch, and dinner of champions when the chips are down. How depressing is that!

Don't get me wrong, the fear of a ginormous earthquake does not go unnoticed. I take it and earthquake preparedness very seriously, but I can assure you that, as far as food is concerned, my emergency nourishment stash does not include a single Pop-Tart, let alone pink ones, no matter what WalMart's computerized data says. In fact, they never even crossed my mind.

I do have tons of bottled water, apple juice, powdered milk and instant coffee. Boxes of mac and cheese, canned soups, pasta and sauce, dried fruits, nuts and the likes are all on hand too, rotated every six months for freshness. And granted, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is only a slight notch above Pop-Tarts but at least I've seen it served on the Kid's Menu in restaurants.

Ideally, if I could keep a supply of comfort food on hand for a crisis, it would include all the makings of a Thanksgiving dinner, gourmet pizza, endless quantities of chocolate cake and my Mom's meatloaf, but obviously that's not going to happen. So I'll stick with the above mentioned "instant foods" and pray I don't see a convoy of Pop-Tart trucks pulling into my nearest FEMA or Red Cross rescue station when the "big one" hits.

Then again, maybe I should buy a couple boxes of the chocolate Pop-Tarts just to be on the safe side.

Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins

PS I'm just back from vacation and will be making the rounds to catch up with all of you over the next week.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

84 Things

It has come to my attention that taking a "Blog Vacation" is easier said than done. August 10th I posted that I would be missing in action for three weeks to enjoy the rest of the summer. Less than 72 hours later, I posted again. And here I am today with yet another post-- I guess "vacation" is a loose term.

I've been reading blogs too and one caught my attention-- Ridgely at Savor The Ride posted a list of "84 Things" about herself and put the challenge out to other bloggers to do the same. She got the idea from Jorja's "84" at Living Beyond The Pale who also has a terrific "84" from author Theo Nestor.

It was an interesting exercise, all be it very "me, me, me", but I had fun doing it so I'm putting it out there and passing on the challenge to you, you, you!

In no particular order-- My 84 Things you might not know...

1. Anything with chocolate works for me.

2. Lemonade always quenches my thirst.

3. I'm old fashioned and think girls shouldn't call boys when dating.

4. Wegman's in Buffalo, NY is the best grocery store I've ever shopped in-- Which is disappointing since I live in Los Angeles.

5. When moving homes, leaving jobs or (before I was married) breaking up with boyfriends, I never look back-- literally, not one last look.

6. I am a licensed real estate agent but I've never worked in the field.

7. I prefer (hard) scooped ice cream that's melted to soft-serve ice cream texture.

8. The mailman ran over my puppy when I was 8 years old.

9. A manicure/pedicure always makes me feel better.

10. I can name all 50 United States in alphabetical order. I learned them in a song in the 6th grade.

11. The above information came in very handy during bar drinking contests in the late 1970s.

12. Blue is my favorite color but red is all over my house.

13. Pink peonies and yellow garden roses are my favorite flowers.

14. When Godson was 2 months old he fit inside his Christmas stocking.

15. Intuition doesn't lie.

16. I believe in "paying it forward".

17. Yosemite National Park is my favorite place to visit in the United States.

18. Blue jelly beans are good. Pink ones are better.

19. When we got married, the florist brought someone else's flowers to our reception.

20. I miss my family in Ohio all the time.

21. A boyfriend once told me I couldn't live without him. He was very wrong about that.

22. I am named after my mother's best friend.

23. I recycle. A lot.

24. My posture is terrible. I need to work on that.

25. I do not like to drive.

26. I used to be able to stand on my hands, head and tip-toes-- for long periods of time.

27. Someday I will wear a really fabulous red dress.

28. Worrying is a waste of energy.... I waste a lot of it.

29. I believe everyone has a soul mate-- the perfect match. It's just a matter of finding him/her.

30. I'd like to see fireworks at Mt. Rushmore on the 4th of July.

31. Although usually disappointing food, room service is gloriously enjoyable.

32. When in doubt, I call my mother.

33. I cook a nice Thanksgiving dinner but usually never actually on Thanksgiving.

34. I wish we had air conditioning even though we only need it about 3 weeks a year.

35. Snow and I are not friends.

36. I'm still trying to figure out where I'll live in my (very) old age. All I know for sure is that it won't be in California.

37. California has too many earthquakes.

38. I'm a Mac, not a PC.

39. I volunteer for Lupus International and UCLA's Design for Sharing.

40. Roller coasters are not my idea of fun.

41. Puddle jumping after a spring rain is a blast.

42. I don't mind flying but I do not like heights.

43. I bought a lottery tickets today for a $100 million mega jackpot.

44. I really hope I win.

45. The celebrity gossip TV show TMZ cracks me up.

46. Having my picture taken makes me very uncomfortable.

47. I wish I had long hair again.

48. In the past 4 years my weight has ranged from 146 to 103 pounds and is now somewhere in between.

50. An outdoor sleeping porch is on my "wish list".

51. If money was no object, my entire family would live in nice houses, drive nice cars and never have to worry about college tuition.

52. Dirty feet bug me.

53. If you lie to me I can't be your friend.

54. I do not like hospitals.

55. My husband has been telling me he's on the "3-year plan to retirement" since our first date 22 years ago.

56. I wish I hadn't retired in preparation for his retirement. I'm so unemployable now it's not even funny.

57. I'm rarely awake for the sunrise and prefer to keep it that way.

58. The smell of fresh basil is intoxicating.

59. I've been to the Academy Awards. It was very cool.

60. Once in the early 1980s, I was a guest and had floor seats at a Laker's Basketball game during the Magic Johnson/Larry Bird years. It was even cooler than the Academy Awards.

61. In my mid-20s, I sold imported plumbing supplies. Yawn.

62. I was a waitress for A LOT of years too. It was hard work but usually pretty fun.

63. I'm a very good tipper in restaurants.

64. It's easy to spot me on the beach. I'm the one wearing a hat the size of a circus tent.

65. I could eat pasta until I go into a carb coma.

66. Top Gun, American President, Something's Gotta Give and The Thomas Crown Affair (remake) are the videos/dvds I've watched more times than I can count.

67. I miss the old Tom Cruise movie star.

68. My great-grandmother prided herself on the fact that her husband never saw her naked.

69. I'm a Food Network and HGTV junkie.

70. I will never own a gun.

71. Bubble baths and long hot showers are a pleasure.

72. Riding motorcycles is not fun to me. I did it once. That was enough.

73. Table manners are important, so is saying please and thank you.

74. I recently bought a GPS because I have no sense of direction and was always lost.

75. I spent the first half of my life trying to get out of Ohio and the second half trying to figure out how to get back.

76. The older I get, the less I'm able to multi-task.

77. I love songs by the Rat Pack-- Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Joey Bishop and Whatshisname.

78. Getting "real" mail-- letters and cards from family and friends is a treat.

79. My life changed for the better the second I laid eyes on my husband.

80. I do not like how corny that sounds, but it's true.

81. There's a new show coming to Fox tv in September called Lone Star with a very cute *ahem*much*younger*cough* leading man-- James Wolk. He's half my age, but I might just swoon over him.

82. If there was an elevator to take me downstairs to my treadmill, I'd workout more.

83. I hope I never run out of kisses.

84. We're going to New York for the week!

Yep, I'm actually really going on vacation!
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © Nikola Bilic - Fotolia.com

Friday, August 13, 2010


Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm supposed to be on vacation, but the movie Mao's Last Dancer is about to hit theaters and I forgot to tell you before I left.

Did you know I wanted to be a ballet dancer until I was about 17 years old? Seriously I did, and I studied really, really hard... right up until I discovered boys and burgers. The two don't mix well with ballet rehearsals and skinny leotards, so that dream was dashed. But this movie makes me wish I'd tried a little harder. The performances are stunning.

Mao's Last Dancer is based on a true story about a young Chinese peasant boy who was plucked out of his village and "chosen" by government officials to study ballet. What unfolds is the story of his growth, determination, commitment to family and how he became a brilliant dancer. Fast forward and he's selected for an unprecedented American dance exchange program... then decides to defect to the US... and you have to see it to know the rest of the story.

I enjoyed this entertaining movie not only for the incredible ballet scenes, but also because it told a story, a real story-- minus explosions, special effects, body counts, T&A or an abundance of dumbed-down dialogue.

In other words, Mao's Last Dancer is a movie for grown-ups-- You know, people old enough to remember Mao Zedong and the Reagan years, who are interested in a unique, tug-at-your-heart story with rich characters that leave you feeling empowered-- all be it with a tear in your eye.

It opens in theaters August 20th. Let me know if you see it.

Now, I'm off for vacation.
xo Joanna
PS I was not compensated in any way for this post.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


It was actually warm today-- in Southern California-- Really, truly, warm with the sun coming out in the morning and lasting all glorious day long. Ahhh, summer is finally here... I hope, I hope. And it's about time.

We've had just 14 days over 80 degrees so far this summer and the hit and miss of sunshine has made for a lackluster time. But I'm pretty sure the weatherman is right and we're going to start heating up for summer fun!

School doesn't start until September 13th around here so we'll actually get to use the repaired pool and deck (it's been too cold to swim!) before for it's time to hit the school car pool lane and nightly homework routine again.

So I'm taking a few weeks off to grab a little summer, catch up on some much needed rest, and spend a little extra time with my sweet hubby-- including a week in New York City for our 17th anniversary.

I'll be making the rounds to read blogs when I can but I won't be posting much until September 1st-- Or at least that's the plan for the moment. You never know, I might miss you too much and be back sooner.

Regardless, happy rest of August everyone. I hope you enjoy every minute.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sundays In My City #45 - Angels Flight

I'm a happy participant of Sundays In My City hosted by Unknown Mami.

They call it the smallest railway in the world and they might be right! Los Angeles' Angels Flight is a funicular, or inclined railway, that connects the Bunker Hill District to Downtown Los Angeles. It was first built in 1901.

Recently Beloved Husband and I hopped on at the bottom of the hill and took the short ride up.

And up.....

And up.....

This cute ticket office, and where the lone employee works running the train remotely, is what we saw when we got to the top....

These are the current prices-- And it's a good thing too. Parking our car cost $8.00!

You know what they say-- What goes up, must come down....

It took all of 5 minutes to ride up, get off, walk around, buy our tickets and ride back down but it was a piece of Los Angeles history that neither of us had ever experienced. And frankly, after reading the history and the spotty safety record of the railroad, I doubt we'll be doing it again. But I glad we did. For more info on Angels Flight, click HERE.

How's your Sunday?
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins

Friday, August 6, 2010

Going Ape

Clearly having lost my mind, I agreed to head over to Universal Studios Hollywood this week with Godson to check out the new King Kong 360 3-D attraction. I knew better than to hit the park in August because it's too hot and way too crowded to really enjoy, but King Kong is new and was calling our name.

And it was so worth it! What a great, all be it too short, 3-D larger than life movie, ride, whatever you want to call it-- It was cool.

After a long day at the park, Godson's mom picked him up from my house and had the following conversation.

Her: So how was Universal Studios today?

Him: (half asleep) Fine.

Her: Just fine? I thought you liked the zoo.

Him: (waking up) Theme Park, Mom. Theeeeme Park. No zoo.

Her: Was it crowded?

Him: Jammed.

Her: (pulling his leg) Hogs, dogs and frogs everywhere, huh?

Him: (dead serious) Just people.

Her: I thought for sure there'd be dinosaurs.

Him: Only fake ones.

Her: Did you go on the new gorilla thing?

Him: King Kong 360-3D, it's huge, Mom. It's not a "thing".

Her: Did he bark?

Him: Who?

Her: King Kong. Did he bark?

Him: (now fully awake) No, but the dinosaurs sneezed all over us. That was pretty cool.

Her: King Kong's a dinosaur?

Him: No, he's still a gorilla but there were dinosaurs too.

Her: Any pink ones?

Him: *Blink*

Her: How about dancing girls? Any of those?

Him: Not at King Kong.

Her: Was Conan O'Brien there again?

Him: He got fired, don't you remember?

Her: So I guess that means the interview you did with him last time didn't go so well, huh?

Him: It wasn't my fault.

Note: This photo was taken at Universal Studios earlier this year when Conan had his brief stint on the Tonight Show. (NBC owns Universal Studios.) My guess is the wax figure of Conan is locked away in the basement somewhere.

Do you do amusement parks, roller coaster or the likes?
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins
Note: I was not compensated in any way for this post.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

We Have A Winner!

A big congratulations to Eva Gallant of
Wrestling With Retirement-- She's the winner of my $80 CSNStores.com Giveaway. Happy shopping Eva! The Gift Certificate should be in your email box shortly. And thanks to every one who entered-- 468 entries total! I really appreciate your readership and support.

Eva is terrific. And, I'm happy to say we've been reading each other's blog for longer than I can remember. Stop by and say hello. I'm sure you'll find an interesting story and a good laugh while you're there.

And one note about the wonderful CSNStores.com-- They have tons and tons of a wide variety of great merchandise to choose from. I've shopped with them a few times and found it to be a positive experience.

But-- select your merchandise for their giveaways very carefully because CSN Gift Certificate merchandise is NOT returnable.

As far as Giveaways in general go, what's your experience with them? For them? Against them? Win some? Lose some? Pros? Cons? Let it rip--

Do tell!
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © Scott Maxwell - Fotolia.com

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Blue. Seriously? Last Chance to enter $80 GIVEAWAY!


With apologizes to all my golf-loving readers....

It was 1979-- A peanut farmer was President, Rod Stewart was belting out "Do You Think I'm Sexy", "Three's Company" was on everyone's televisions, and all I wanted for my 21st birthday was a microwave oven.

Back then, I rarely cooked and the idea of "nuking" dinner was very appealing. All my friends had one and I wanted one too-- Everybody knew it, including my then live-in boyfriend. It's all I'd talked about for months.

The morning before my 21st birthday, I hinted heavily, one last time, and even went so far as to accidentally on purpose drop an advertisement of the model I was hoping for in his briefcase. I felt confident, the next day, frozen heat-up dinners would be gracing my dining table. I was so excited!

Boyfriend got me a set of golf clubs.


Did I mention I hate golf? Well let me assure you, Boyfriend knew-- Without a shadow of a doubt, that golf was at the absolute bottom of my "to-do" list.

Boyfriend had been around for a couple of years at that point and we'd spent a few (six or seven hundred) afternoons together, while he played and I fanned myself through 18 miserable holes of golf, in the gawd awful Ohio heat and humidity, only to be treated to a beer and a hot dog after the torture. Did I mention I do not drink beer?

Boyfriend was addicted to the game. Me, not even a little. I played a few times but knew instantly it was not for me. But I didn't complain if he played. In fact, I was more than happy to leave him to his game all day long, as often as he wanted to play-- Which should tell you a bit about the quality of our relationship.

Let's just say, the more Boyfriend played golf without me, the happier I was...

But he was having none of that. He wanted me with him for days filled with his cursing, throwing clubs, kicking balls, and nasty sportsmanship that pretty much made 5 hours of golf-togetherness a real picnic.

Boyfriend, despite hours and hours of practice, was a terrible and very frustrated golfer.

The morning of my birthday, and with great fanfare, Boyfriend presented me with a full set of baby blue golf clubs-- Yes, baby friggin blue ones that were actually a couple of inches too long for my short height. I'm pretty sure they fell off a truck somewhere in New Jersey and no receipt was presented to exchange them for the correct size... or a microwave oven.

The baby blue clubs looked like kiddie toys, except I wanted used them as a lethal weapon on Boyfriend who kept telling me how much fun I'd have playing with him. Oh, and the matching baby blue golf shoes that came with the set-- Two sizes to big and also not returnable.

I was not a happy camper sitting there with my new golf clubs-- Stunned, very angry, and with so much steam coming out of my ears, I'm sure my Farrah Fawcett hair do was withering to straight strands of an over sprayed mess.

Golf clubs? Surely this was a joke. So I excused myself and headed towards the kitchen thinking, hoping, praying-- a bright shiny new microwave would be waiting for me with a big beautiful bow on it.


But the birthday gifts continued.

Golf lessons! Boyfriend signed me up for 24, one hour golf lessons and the first one was that very afternoon... Because apparently that's what every 21 year old woman wants to do on her birthday.

Back then, I had a hard time speaking up and expressing myself, so instead of beating him to death with the golf clubs, I smiled, bit my tongue, and agreed to try a few classes.

Over the next month, I literally hit 5,000 golf balls, each time cursing Boyfriend and plotting my escape from our living arrangement. And for the record, I really did try to learn how to swing those ridiculous looking clubs.

I took a few more classes then I'd intended because the golf pro was very sweet and because, after class, I could fain exhaustion and not have to play a round of golf with Boyfriend.

After about a month of frustrating classes, the golf pro sat me down and delivered the bad news. Very gently he explained, trying not to hurt my feelings, that "golf was not my game." Hallelujah! I nearly kissed him on the lips and knew I would never take another blue golf club out of that @#$%^&! baby blue golf bag again.

Golf Pro, bless his heart, also advised Boyfriend that golf was simply not my sport.

Shortly thereafter, a brand new microwave oven was my first purchase for my new apartment-- Which was far, far away from the baby blue golf clubs and Ex-boyfriend.

Seriously. Baby blue golf clubs?
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins

$80 CSNStores.com GIFT CERTIFICATE GIVEAWAY ENDS AUGUST 4th. All you have to do is leave a comment here on THIS POST to enter. And for more chances to enter click, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE for complete details. Comment on each of these posts for more chances to win! Come on-- It's $80! Don't be shy.

Photo Credit: © Roger Asbury - Fotolia.com