November 29, 2013

Is Black Friday a New Thanksgiving Day Tradition?

We all have Thanksgiving traditions, most of them revolve around family and some type of sports game. For some people Black Friday shopping is one of those traditions. Lady Hiva joined Heather to see if we wanted to make it one of our traditions.

The last time I was involved in Black Friday was when I worked at Best Buy during college and we had to be at work at 0300 to serve hot chocolate to people waiting to ‘bust down the doors.’ We were taught that it is “Green Friday” not Black Friday because it is a huge revenue maker for the retail industry.

We wanted to experience a Black—Green—Friday event while here in the United States. This year stores started their Black Friday sales at 1800h Thanksgiving night. Like bright and unconfused people we went to Wal-Mart first! YIKES!

The first flag should have been the FULL parking lot. We went in and were greeted by thousands of deranged shoppers. Now, I have told you all before that I have a problem with Wal-Mart on normal days. The tight, messy aisles combined with rude people—lots of them—give me what I call: Wal-Mart-itis. I have to get out once Wal-Mart-itis sets in because it gets worse as anxiety and claustrophobia builds. And that is a good day. Imagine how we felt when we couldn’t even walk into the main doors at Wal-Mart because the aisles were so crowded.

I decided that since I was just moral support for Heather and Lady, I could take time to snap a few photos with my phone to document the adventure. (Sorry that they are blurry. I was taking them as I walked—dodging people as we went.) People started to laugh as I took photos. One woman asked if “this was my first time.” Haha.

It was entertaining to see people camped out in camp chairs with dinners laid out before them. To hear shoppers fight over ‘who was there first’ or see the professional Black Friday shopper women who had color maps and detailed shopping lists they religiously poured over. These people are intense! Once we realized that the two things we had were not worth waiting in the 2 hour line we ditched our merchandise and tried to leave. I saw tried, because like a fire fighter’s nightmare, we were stuck in the center of the building! We couldn’t leave. Lines, shoppers and deals were all over the place. It took some maze like work and skill but twenty minutes later we were out at the car again.
This is the moment my Wal-Mart-itis spread to Heather and Lady and we decided to just leave

The ravaged remains from only twenty minutes!

How long do you think she has been there?

We decided to split up, Lady waited in the Kohl’s line, Heather the HHGregg, and I went to Target with Lucky. It was so cold and the line was LONG. I couldn’t believe it. Lucky was angry boy for a few minutes so I had to get him to sleep before I could meet Crystal, Heather’s friend, in line. When the correct hour came the doors were opened and we walked briskly into the warmth through barricades. Then panic broke out.
Heather in line at HHGregg

Televisions on sale were disappearing by the second and I headed for the pots and pans (Lady wanted the Rachel Ray special) Sadly, by the time I pushed a stroller holding a baby through the crowds I was the third person to arrive and there were only two! WHAT?! All that and I didn’t get it? Annoyed I asked a person and they were able to get me the pots online shipped to our house. YAY!

I went to meet Lady Hiva at Kohl’s and luckily she had been at the front of the line and found everything she wanted and more.
Inside Kohl's

Lady and her spoils
 We went out with Heather for the rest of the evening and after 1 mall, 6 more stores and several hours later we finished our shopping at 0700 on Friday morning. It was an adventure for sure. I can see if you need big ticket items like appliances or electronics, it is worth the wait. The rest of it must be for the adrenaline and hanging out with family members as you shop. We definitely have war stories to regale about our time in the stores.

November 24, 2013

What Are the Weekends For? Projects, of Course.

Weekends are created for projects. Growing up on a farm there was plenty to do after school/work and on the weekends. However, we always seemed to have a project going too. Anything, you name it, we did it. We completely remodeled a house. We learned how to do electrical, tiling, drywall and woodwork. Consequently we tiled, dry walled and renovated aunts, uncles, neighbors and friends’ homes. (And Lady Hiva still doubts me sometimes! Can you believe it?)

It is a bit odd when you live in the city in  a home someone else owns. You don’t do your own projects, they have a ‘project man’ come and do them for you. Even if I know I could do it faster and cheaper myself. So Lady Hiva and substitute for other kinds of projects. Flowers, cakes, decorations, sewing, quilting …etc.

This weekend I did two projects. Neither of these we needed, they were a product of seeing something we liked and then deciding we need to have a project. The first was a lantern group. We were in IKEA looking at what educational toys they have for children and found some cute ($3) lanterns. We bought those and some doily stars and brought them home. After tying some bows and glittery ribbon I had some new Christmas decorations. I finished and Lady Hiva said, “Oh, that is not how I imagined them.” Brrrmmmp! Do I translate that as she approves or not??? Either way she is too nice to say. Haha.

The second project came when Lady Hiva found some ‘really cool’ knobs at an antique store. She wanted a coat hanger using the knobs. Of course, thanks to Kell’s mentoring, I cannot just make a flat board with knobs on it. It needs to be a shelf. Then the shelf needs trim…make that crown molding. And it should be painted two tones to be more sophisticated….oh boy!

We went to Home Depot TWICE! Ended up with buying crown molding and I don’t have a saw so I was trying to cut the 45degree angles for the corners with the stupid plastic yellow ‘helper tool’ and the dull saws they let people use. I was sweaty and had sore biceps by the time we left. I am thankful I am ambidextrous so I can just switch arms when one gets tired.

Low and behold, I needed a drill we went to buy on—nothing fancy just needed a drill. And then decided that Sears may have a cheap drill and yay, they have a drill in a drill/saw/light/jig saw combo package! I was glad we bought it because I needed to re-cut one of the boards and not having to use the dull saws and Home Depot was a sanity saver! HAHA.

this is how it all began

I dont have a speed square so I used a square paper folded in half to get my 45degrees   (so I did learn something in High School Geometry)

It turned out really great. I like when you step back and see a finished project. The satisfaction magically makes you forget all the times you almost quit out of frustration, the crooked cuts you have to fix, the sore arms and all the time you spent (sometimes it is easier to just buy it).  So it was a good weekend! If anyone has a suggestion for the next project, let me know! I am on the lookout now. 
slowly getting there

November 20, 2013

Are You An Author?

That is an interesting question: “are you an author?” I sometimes am not sure how to answer it. Depending on who is asking, I vacillate between telling them about my book and wondering if I really am an author?

I mean, what truly makes someone an author? Is it a feeling of author-ness? Is it the accolades or fame that J.K Rowling and Khaled Hussein enjoy? Is it when you get paid for your writing? It is when others think you an author or when you yourself proclaim that you are one? Or is it something else altogether?

The other day I had a colleague find out about my book and didn’t believe me until she actually Googled “Dustin Bradshaw” and saw it was true. Then she and other colleagues decided I wasn’t an author type…what is that supposed to mean?

For me easier questions to answer come with the static factual questions such as ‘You published a book?’ Yes, I did that. Then I wonder, if they read my book, would this person asking me agree that I am an author? There are thousands of books published every week and with the change in the publishing industry due to e-books there may be even more self-proclaimed authors. The quality of the writing is as dramatic and diverse as the names on the cover.

An even better question for me is: “Are you a writer?” Yes, I love to write, I think I always have. My first ‘book’ was about a dog in the 2nd grade. I still remember being so frustrated that my illustrations on stiff red card stock were not up to par. I write on a blog (as you know), I write in a daily journal, I write stories that come to my head, and I am constantly thinking about experiences in a day and how I would convey it to a reader so they feel as if they too were there, when in fact they are not.

For example, the other day I was on  the bus to work and sat across from two middle aged women, dressed in warm knit sweaters with cliché Christmas designs glaring in the sun from the windows, that I would guess were in their fifties. I listened (while pretending I was reading my book that was far less interesting) to them explain which way to face on the bus seat to cause less pain in their back or extra plump bottoms. The conversation slowly moved to Kirstie Alley, one of them called her “Kristen Alley.” They bantered back and forth about Kirstie’s life as if she were a close personal friend they invite to tea every afternoon and how she should rid herself of her ‘soul sucking’ family members. If that wasn’t entertaining enough, the conversation soon turned—just as cliché as their old lady sweaters—to their domestic cats. One woman was thankful her kids were grown so she can spend time with her kittens uninterrupted. When asked, the other woman said that “right now I only have two cats at home…” and went on for several minutes about the cats that have now passed on and are buried in the yard.

Did that paint a picture of the women? Can you picture them in your minds?

Writing is an art. Even in fiction stories, there are truths from the author that expose themselves through the characters. I see it in my writing and often wonder about it when reading someone else’s writing. Our writing is deeply personal. Putting it out there for people to critique and comment on is a risky decision. Even more so when my first published work was a memoir about my own life. But if there is a message to share, a message to improve life in some way, then the risk is worth it.

Today I have some exciting news to share. One of my “milestone goals” in life was to publish a book and in 2012, WHITE LILIES IN AUTUMN was published. Last month I signed a contract with another publishing company, TATE PUBLISHING because they wanted to publish a second edition of it. I am excited for the new group to work with. So far they have been so open, friendly and helpful! So the official release date for the second edition of WHITE LILIES IN AUTUMN is FEBRUARY 2014.  However, it is available from TATE already if you want a copy. You can find the link to the Tate Bookstore on my website :

The cover is new and guess what? I took the photo (in Baguio, Philippines) and designed the cover. I know pride is something we should avoid, but to actually produce something on Photoshop is a new feat! (Jon W. I know you do this type of thing in your sleep).

AND…last week I also signed a contract with Cedar Fort Publishing for my second book! This book is a fictional book and is set to be released JUNE 2014! What for news about THE IMPACT OF ORDINARY by Dustin Bradshaw. I will keep you posted with more details on both books as they come.

November 17, 2013

A Visit With Udvar-Hazy

The Udvar-Hazy Museum that is. The Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC wanted to expand their collection and years ago they added the Udvar Hazy Museum near Dulles airport for the majority of their planes.

Some friends from Beaver are posted here for training too and we met them at the museum. It was fun to have a bit of home, away from home. Their kids are older too and watching them soak in the education and sites was totally worth it. The museum has a space suit for kids to touch and learn about and there are educational games all over. You can try and land a simulated space pod with a joist stick or test your knowledge on the order of the planets in our galaxy.

This museum, named after the man that donated the money to build it, is a massive airplane hangar that houses, according to their website, 60,000 pieces. Many of them are planes. Some of these planes include iconic and historical planes throughout history. From the celebrated Stealth Fighter and its sleek black wings and the Enola Gay that dropped atomic bombs to the enormous Discovery Shuttle that dominates on entire wing of the museum.

As we saw hundreds of planes—war planes, prototype planes, helicopters, planes that doubled as cars—I couldn’t help think that flying is such a part of our era I cannot imagine only a few years prior only the military had planes and before the Wright Brother’s Kittyhawk there were only birds in the sky. What was life like? The world must have been so dauntingly huge.  I guess that is similar to our children growing up thinking “People didn’t ALWAYS have cell phones? What was the world like?” haha.

Speaking of cell phones, I am glad that took mine. As Lady and I perused the area and we had more questions about a certain artifact or plane we would just Google the answers. For example, when we were staring up at the big space shuttle that carried several missions to space, we found out what the black tiles along the bottom of the shuttle were made of (quartz sand) and that there are more than 23,000 of them! Can you imagine trying to piece all of them together?

It was a great day. Always nice to have some history and science on a day trip!
This is how Lucky enjoyed the trip

He is getting so big! (and handsome)

Seriously reading how Christmas is about Jesus...not the presents