Monthly Archives: September 2012

If I Had a Brother

Those are my sisters, Taylor and Chase.  Yep, they are pretty, awesome, and pretty awesome.  Growing up with them was a big ball of emotional excitement.  Since I was the youngest, they provided me with years of gently (and sometimes roughly) used hand-me-downs.  There are tons of great things about having two older sisters, but since getting married and getting a crash course in the world of Men, I feel like a brother would’ve taught me some very important things.

For one, I don’t think I would be so terrified and appalled by the existence of bugs.  I would’ve spent so many years finding them in my room or getting them dropped down the back of my shirt that I might have developed a stronger immunity to their creepy-crawliness by now.

Our house was bursting with hairbows, Barbies, and glitter glue.  I feel like a little extra testosterone in the house would’ve helped me with my extended tomboy phase, which might’ve been caused by my lack of a brother.  I was the one who went hiking with my dad, made mud pies for my dogs, and asked for (and received) an awesome Hot Wheels track for Christmas.  Maybe I would’ve grown out of that sooner, or at least had someone to build loop-de-loops with.  Maybe I wouldn’t have been so painfully awkward around boys for the first two decades of my life.  Maybe by now I would be in the habit of wearing make-up everyday instead of owning a three-year-old tube of mascara that’s still half-full.

I would also have all those fun brother stories that other girls like to tell with each other.  Tortured sisters have an unspoken bond as they discuss the horrors they endured as children.  I used to know a girl who referred to her little brother as “Icky-Sticky.”  As in, “Icky-Sticky snuck in my room and spit on my pillow this morning.”  Or, “Icky-Sticky put grape jelly in my American Girl doll’s hair.”  I don’t have any of these stories, so I can only stand there and look sympathetic.  Having a brother would’ve given me stories to tell, as well as helped me prepare for any icky or sticky things my husband may do.

I wouldn’t change my family, of course.  Sometimes I just wonder what it would’ve been like to have a brother.  One thing is absolutely certain, though.  If I had a brother, I definitely wouldn’t need this book my father-in-law sent me to take care of my cluelessness about sports:

Categories: My Life | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

There Goes My Dream of Scanning Groceries

Last month, There were several days when I decided to “cast my net far and wide” by applying to practically every business in sight. These included a clump of retail stores next door to our apartment complex, every coffee shop in town, anyplace in town that sold books or music, and H-E-B, a chain of grocery stores here in Texas. I thought with my years of experience in retail management, surely someone might want to hire me. If none of them did, then certainly H-E-B would give me a chance. My first job when I was sixteen was at a grocery store. If 16-year-old me could waltz in a snatch up a job, surely 22-year-old me had the same (hopefully better) odds.

Foolish thinking on my part. Apparently due to my combination of limited availability and my intimidating (cough) Bachelor’s Degree, my application was unceremoniously weeded out:


So, one quick form letter using my stuffy legal name meant my back-up job was no longer an option.

I was upset at first. It took a very stern lecture from Sam about the importance of counting my blessings for me to calm down. He’s right. We are so blessed. Sam has a great job that pays the rent on our beautiful apartment and allows us to splurge on a half gallon of Blue Bell ice cream every now and then. We have family and friends who are constantly supportive and encouraging. We have a cute (albeit spoiled) chinchilla who listens to my problems while I feed him pumpkin seeds. I currently have tons of free time allowing me to improve my cooking skills, exercise, and dedicate time to my blog to become a better writer. Just being able to be there to greet Sam after he’s had a long day teaching is a blessing in itself.

We aren’t in any way suffering.

You won’t see me scanning groceries anytime soon. I’m sure there will be a point in the near future when I’ll realize that’s a blessing, too.

Categories: My Life | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

The Summer Camp Conspiracy

Growing up is hard.  Today, we got a paycheck for the first time in five months.  That brief stint of joy was quickly squashed by the arrival of a handful of bills in the mail.  This morning, a woman called me offering me a job as a kindergarten teacher… I have childcare experience, but absolutely no credentials to teach kindergarten.  Meanwhile, I still haven’t heard back from that interview I attended, and I was feeling a little hopeful about it.

I think everyone has several important moments from childhood that stick around, moments of growing up bit by bit.  For example, I vividly remember catching my mom taking my letter to Santa out of the mailbox and putting it in her pocket.  It caused a huge fit of tears as I tried to grasp what it meant.  I remember the first time my dad let me drive.  We were on a dirt road in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  I nearly killed us both as I ran his jeep into (and almost off of) a cliff.

I found this picture the other day and it got me thinking about another “shove-out-of-innocence.”

This is a picture of my cabin at the summer camp I attended in elementary school.  That’s me on the far left… Yep, the one in the velcro sandals and wide-brimmed denim hat.  Hey, it was the nineties.

This was one of my last years at summer camp.  After my family moved the following year, I wasn’t able to attend anymore.  I remember this year at camp for a lot of reasons: there was an annoying boy who would pull my hair every time he saw me and run away giggling, there was an epic food fight, I tried to mountain bike (not very successfully), and our cabin didn’t get along very well.  That year, I arrived early to camp and stayed with my uncle, the camp director, for a few days.  The counselors and staff were having a meeting one day at lunch before all the other campers showed up, and I happened to sit in on it while I was eating.

Everything was ruined.  I heard all the secrets campers aren’t supposed to know!  I learned the food fights were planned ahead of time, the midnight dances had a curfew, and, most shocking of all, the sneak-outs were scheduled and pre-approved by the camp director.

“Sneak-outs” were the highlight of camp.  Once or twice, the counselors would wake us all up in the middle of the night with flashlights.  We had to be completely silent and dress in all black.  Then, under the cover of darkness, we would secretly sneak out of our cabins and cause some sort of mischief.  Usually this involved playing pranks on the boys’ cabins, like stealing their shoes or decorating their porch with silly string.  Once, we snuck into the kitchens for ice cream sundaes.  It was such an adrenaline rush because we knew if we were caught it would result in terrible consequences.  Miraculously, we never got caught, except once.

That year at camp, our cabin was full of girls clashing with each other.  A girl would borrow a hairbrush without asking, and the entire cabin would erupt in an all-out Girl War.  The counselors were sick of it, and that’s why it was so surprising that they would risk taking us out on a sneak-out.  I was the only one who knew that the sneak-outs were all set up, but I didn’t want to ruin it for everyone else.  They woke us up one night with a secret plan: we would sneak over to the older kids’ camp and switch places with a girls’ cabin there.  They would come sleep in our beds and we would sleep in theirs.  It was so exciting to think of sleeping in the older girls’ beds.  The counselors led us through the woods to a truck that was waiting to take us to the other camp.  We all climbed into the truck bed and curled up as they put a tarp over us.

(Yes, I realize at this point this could easily become a horrific story, but come on… It was camp.)

They drove us down the road and we made it to the other cabin.  The older girls taught us one of their “cabin cheers” and gave us candy.  We all picked a bunk and slept like babies.  The next morning, we were awoken by yells; a member of the camp staff had “caught” us before we could sneak back to our own camp, and we were in big trouble.  I was flabbergasted.  We weren’t supposed to be punished; that wasn’t part of the plan.  Still, we were assigned clean-up duty at the worst place in camp: the landfill at the top of the hill.  It’s where all the camp garbage went, and a flock of buzzards lived there picking at all the trash.

That’s where we served our sentence.  Together as a cabin, they drove us all to the top of the hill with a box of trash bags.  The counselors sat there for an hour being mean, barking orders and telling us to stop talking as we gathered spare pieces of garbage the wind had scattered.  I was so angry at the time.  I knew they had planned for us to get caught.  Now I understand that they were just trying to build camaraderie.  The cabin that suffers together, stays together.

I wish I hadn’t known.  I might’ve never found out, and I could look back and remember my counselors risking everything to show us a good time.  But, growing up hasn’t let me.  Growing up has taught me that of course the counselors wouldn’t be allowed to take a group of 11-year-olds out into the woods at 2 a.m. and load them into a truck without asking permission.  That’s part of growing up: losing the illusions that mask the crueler aspects of the world and make them easier to accept.

For example, I never understood why my dad always followed me around the house turning off lights when I left the room.  Now, I get it. The electric bill came today.

Categories: My Life | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Insignificant Tornado

The summer after eighth grade, my youth group packed up and took a bus ride to Tulsa, Oklahoma for a week of church camp at Oral Roberts University.

Yes. Let’s camp here.

Everyone looked forward to church camp, and we had a huge youth group of 150-200 kids.  It was a week of fun and freedom: we gave each other haircuts, we got to live in college dorms, there was a giant slip-n-slide, all-you-can-eat soft serve ice cream, and, of course, lots of “Jesus Time.”  It was a blast.

That year in particular was fun because I had so many friends there.  This was before high school came along, so all my friends pretty much got along.  I look back on that summer with a warm heart.  It was the last summer before we all got old enough to learn to drive or get jobs.  We could just hang out and be friends all the time.  I was also going through a teenage phase that summer where I didn’t care at all what anyone thought of me.  I was loud, sometimes obnoxious, I did bold things, I wasn’t afraid or embarrassed of anything.  That phase ended quickly and I went back to my shy and self-concious self once high school started, but that summer I was unstoppable.

This boldness came with a certain disdain for the rules.  I have to tell you, I’m a goody-goody.  I love rules.  Part of my rebellious phase involved breaking the rules to see what the fuss was all about.  Looking back, I think I liked the adrenaline rush but not the guilty feeling.  Don’t get me wrong, the rules I broke were all the lame ones because, again, I’m a goody-goody.  I snuck in candy from home.  I took wild dares in the cafeteria (one guy paid me $20 to eat a bowl of ketchup, and I totally did it).  Yep, I was an animal.

The biggest rule I broke was in our dorm.  It was after rec time, and everyone was sweaty and gross.  It was raining like crazy, so we were all soaking wet and muddy, too.  We only had 30 minutes before dinner to shower and clean up.  Naturally, this caused a panic because all the girls wanted to primp and look beautiful for dinner so they could impress the boys (come on, we were 15).  All the showers on our floor were taken, and the girls in them were taking their sweet time shaving their legs and shampooing their hair.  I got frustrated and went with a friend to check the other floors our youth group was using.  No luck.

Then, rebellious Eighth-Grade-Me got an idea.

Our dorm was about a dozen stories tall.  During the school year, it was full of college girls, but were were only using the first four floors.  When we got in the elevator, I had a plan.  The top stories had to have showers, too.  Why not go to the very top floor, see the awesome view, take a nice hot shower, and come back down?  Who would ever know the difference?

My friend was curious and came with me.  As the elevator climbed higher and higher, I felt more and more empowered.  I could do anything.

As we stepped off the elevator, our jaws dropped.  This floor wasn’t like the others.  It was the senior floor, complete with lush carpet, curtains, sofas, and– gasp– a television.  We were at camp.  We hadn’t seen a television in four days.  It was eerily quiet on that abandoned floor.  Everything was dark except for the lobby.  All inhibitions aside, I snatched the remote and started flipping channels.

The weather channel caught my eye because it was beeping hysterically.  Apparently the area was under a tornado warning.  Imagine that, a tornado in Oklahoma.  My friend and I freaked out and, abandoning our dreams of hot showers in solitude, rushed back downstairs to see what was going on.  The ground floor lobby was a riot scene.  Everyone was being rounded up to be taken to the basement, but first we all had to be accounted for.  I saw a group of girls lined up for the payphones, and I thought about my mom.  She’d be scared to death once she saw we were being attacked by tornadoes!  Surely it was all over every news channel everywhere.

I slipped in a quarter I was saving for a bag of potato chips from the vending machine, dialed my home number, and waited for my mom to answer.

Mom: Hello?

Me: Mom, I’m okay.

Mom: Um… Okay.  Great.

Me: Weren’t you worried about me?

Mom: I mean, not really.  You’re at church camp, you should be fine.

Me: But didn’t you hear about the tornadoes?

Mom: What tornadoes?

My mom hadn’t heard about the tornadoes.  The scene around me was pure panic, but the rest of the world was just fine.  It blew my mind.  My mom reminded me to use deodorant and hung up.

I didn’t break the rules after that.  I learned that I don’t deserve special treatment over everyone else.  Just because my life is a tornado doesn’t mean anyone has to notice.  I gained an important worldview that day, one much less self-centered and more compassionate.  I’m not only one in a billion, but one of a billion.

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Survivor: Interview Edition

I made that meme a couple of months ago when Sam was on his fiftieth application and hadn’t heard anything yet.  Now, he’s settling nicely into his teaching job and I’m the one satirizing “Call Me Maybe”.  I’ve filled out 20-25 serious applications so far, and nothing has worked out yet.  I landed one interview with the local newspaper for a reporter position, and that was a complete disaster.  I left that place feeling like I was wearing the Cone of Shame.

So, when I got an email yesterday from a local chiropractor’s office regarding my application for a receptionist position, I was beyond nervous.  It took a lot of guts for me to accept the interview slot they sent me, drive 20 minutes, and walk in there.

But, Sam told me to be brave and, gosh darnit, I was going to be brave.  I braided my hair into a pretty bun, put on some make-up (that’s a rarity for me these days), slipped on a skirt, and stepped into my “power pumps” as I affectionately call them.

On the drive to the office, I easily pictured myself running out in panicked tears.  So, I promised myself whatever happened, whether the interview went well or not, I would go to the library afterwards to look at books.  That way, I would have something to look forward to even if the interview ended up resembling a plane crash.

I took a deep breath, and walked up to the door.  Another woman, dressed in green scrubs, got there before me.  I assumed she worked there, but when I entered the office, I found out how wrong I was.  She was there for the interview… along with nine other women.

Someone handed me a clipboard with an application, and I got to work.  Soon, I realized I was the last one working and everyone was staring at me.  There was an essay question, so naturally I ended up writing a short novel.  Oops.  My cursive got extremely loopy as I started to rush.  I handed in my clipboard and the doctor walked out to meet us.

I had assumed we would be called into his office one-by-one, and was concerned by the number of applicants there.  I thought my slot was just for me.  I was thinking, “We’re going to be here past dinnertime.”

Wrong again.  The first thing the doctor asked was, “How many of you have participated in a group interview before?”

I was one of the only ones that didn’t raise her hand.  I was in so over my head.  We were asked to take turns standing up and introducing ourselves.  Everyone took the opportunity to explain their experience with the medical field and secretarial work and rocket science and curing cancer– Okay, it just felt that way.  These were some pretty accomplished women.  My turn mostly sounded like this:

“Well, I just graduated from college, I just got married, I’ve been out of work for several months but I have experience in customer service and editing…”

Then, the doctor spoke to us for a while about his practice, his business principles, etc.  It was all really fascinating and the doctor was funny and friendly.  It made me want to work there, and I felt a new sense of determination.

At the end of his speech, he asked if, after hearing about the job, anyone needed to leave.  About half of the women apologized and said the hours were too early because they had kids, and they walked out.  I was in it for the long haul and stayed glued to my seat.  The next part was even more intense.  We were given a fake introduction on a piece of paper that we might use to introduce the doctor before a big presentation.  It was a couple of paragraphs long, and we had about five minutes to memorize it and give it back.  Another girl left while I was trying to figure out what some of the more obscure medical terms meant.

After he took back the papers, he talked for a while longer.  Very sneaky tactic.  The ones who had filed the introduction in their short term memories quickly lost it listening to him talk.  I volunteered to recite it first because I wanted to show that I had it memorized from the paper and not from the others reciting it.  I stumbled a little, but I did okay.  Most of that is due to Dr. Bailey’s Public Speaking class from college.  Who would’ve thought that a class I was dreading taking ended up being one of the most useful in the “real world”?

He said we could each ask two questions.  I tried to think of some thought-provoking ones.  The whole process involved way more improvisation than I expected.  Afterwards, I shook the doctor’s hand, feeling numb and a little confused.  However, I feel really good about the interview.  I doubt I got the job just because we were one group of many that they were interviewing, but I didn’t feel like sobbing afterwards, so that’s a huge improvement from last time.

Today, I feel encouraged.  Even though this is probably the first of many tough interviews, I survived the unexpected and I know I can do it again.

Categories: My Life | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Fishtail Curls

I’ve always loved the look of fishtail braids, but I had the hardest time figuring out how to do it.  I’d watched tons of tutorial videos and I couldn’t ever figure it out.  Finally, I sat down one night with this diagram from, and made it happen.

I know it looks incredibly complicated, but it’s really not.  It’s like weaving your hair, and once you learn the pattern it’s easy.  These are the three things I had to figure out through trial and error that really helped me:

  1. Use your fingers to separate the hair, just like with a normal braid.  It takes a long time and your arms will get tired, but you have to use both hands.
  2. It helps to do it in front of the mirror at first until you can figure out how to do it without looking.
  3. Most tutorials tell you to braid with dry hair, but I found out it’s a lot easier with wet hair!

So, here I am with wet hair.  I decided to do two braids today, but you can easily do a side braid or a braid down your back.

Now, separate your hair into equal halves and tie back one half.

Start braiding one half using the fishtail technique.  Basically, alternate moving each half piece by piece to the other side.

Remember to pull the hair tight, and finish braiding until you run out of hair.

Now the other side!  :)

Okay, now you could easily stop here and have a great, cute hairstyle.  But one thing I love to do with fishtail braids is wear them during the day, and then take them out for the evening.  They make really pretty curls when you take them out.  You could also braid your hair before you go to bed, sleep on them, and then wake up with pretty curls.  Or, you could do what I did because I was feeling impatient, and dry the braids with a blowdryer and take them out.  Just take out the braids, toss them with hairspray, add a headband, and you’re ready to go!  Now, my hair is naturally curly, but the braids make neater braids than my natural hair.  If you have straight hair, this might be a good method to try if you have trouble getting your hair to curl.  Good luck!


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Rigby Havin’ a Ball

I introduced our pet chinchilla, Rigby, in a previous post.  I think everyone needs an animal around, someone to talk to, someone happy to see you after a long day.  Animals, to me, are God’s gift to us.  Some are inspirational (like pandas), some are tasty (like cows… sorry to all the vegetarians out there, I just really love steak), and some are terrific companions (like Rigby).  He’s the one who didn’t care when I spent two hours listening to “Some Nights” by Fun on repeat and singing at the top of my lungs.  He watches Say Yes to the Dress with me when Sam is at work.  He doesn’t judge me when I burn dinner and have to open the windows for a while.  He’s a great listener.

That’s why his fur is so fluffy. It’s full of secrets.

A few months ago, Rigby got stuck behind our washing machine and Sam and I went out and bought him an exercise ball.  I must say, we were mostly inspired by Rhino the Hamster from the Disney movie, Bolt.

We pulled it out tonight because Rigby has developed a bad habit of chewing on the wires behind our fridge.  We haven’t figured out how to block the gap between the fridge and the counter yet, so into the ball he goes.

Please enjoy this video of him having fun in his ball, and hug your pet.  :)

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My Condolences to Mei Xiang

This morning I woke up and was browsing Facebook in bed when I caught this piece of news from the Smithsonian National Zoo’s Facebook Page:

We are broken-hearted to share that we have lost our little giant panda cub. Panda keepers and volunteers heard Mei Xiang make a distress vocalization at 9:17 a.m. and let the veterinarian staff know immediately. They turned off the panda cam and were able to safely retrieve the cub for an evaluation at 10:22 a.m., which we only do in situations of gravest concern. The veterinarians immediately performed CPR and other life-saving measures, but sadly the cub was unresponsive. We’ll have more updates as we learn more, but right now we know is that the cub weighed just under 100 grams and that there was no outward sign of trauma or infection. We’ll share information with you as we learn more.

My heart is so heavy this morning after hearing about the panda cub.  If you’ll remember, I was so excited in my post last week announcing its birth.  I’ve shed so many tears for this baby panda this morning, and I know that won’t make sense to a lot of you.  After all, it’s only an animal in a zoo 1,300 miles away… but I was so hopeful.  To me, that little baby panda was the epitome of innocence.  It was barely 3 pounds, hairless, completely dependent on its mother.  The fact that something so vulnerable can die is a hard pill to swallow.

Here’s the last video the National Zoo posted of the baby:

It’s unfair that helpless, innocent things in this world have to die.  The only comfort is that God knows what he’s doing, and our world isn’t just spinning chaos.  Still, I’m sad about the loss of Mei Xiang’s baby and I can’t make that sadness go away right now.  When babies (human or not) die, it takes time to ponder life and take hope.

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Get Out of My House!

Ever since we moved to the DFW metroplex area, I’ve experienced an onslaught of creepy crawly creatures in my daily life.  The first day we visited Sam’s school, the town had a grasshopper infestation and the school was full of them.  These things were the size of tootsie rolls, and not the fun-size kind.  I could barely walk outside, and I looked like I was picking my way across a minefield.  So embarrassing.

I have a problem with bugs.  Most girls do.  Too many legs, not enough fluffy fur.  I am especially terrified of flying bugs.  I much prefer bugs to stay on the ground.  Of course, statistics like those featured in this video by National Public Radio don’t put my mind at ease:

At any given moment, there are three billion bugs flying around in our atmosphere.  I know what you’re thinking.  “But Callie, that’s not so bad.  There’s more than 3 billion people in the United States alone.”  Oh, no.  The three billion bugs applies to a .6 square mile column of land and atmosphere.  So, if you drew out a .6 square mile on the earth and put up a 20,000 foot fence, within that fence would be 3 billion bugs.

Yeah, it’s gross, I know.

The number one flying bug I hate: moths.  I find them absolutely terrifying in every single way.  Have you ever seen a close-up of a moth? They want your soul on a plate.  Sam loves to tell the story of the time I almost got us in a car wreck because I was screaming about a moth in the car.  Imagine my horror at Friday night football games in small-town Texas, when the only light around for miles are the stadium lights:


Unlike most girls, I even hate butterflies.  But, you know, I can respect bugs.  When they’re outside, it’s their turf.  I get it.  They are God’s creatures and have their right to a place in the world.  That place is not my house.

Our apartment has been under siege over the past few weeks.  I don’t know if it’s the change of weather or if this is just normal for this area of the state, but I’ve been carrying this spray can with me everywhere:

Take that!

One particularly horrifying morning involved waking up to see a couple of cookies Sam had left on the counter the night before walking away.  A hoard of ants had taken over our apartment overnight, and they were all over our kitchen crawling in our sink and cabinets.  I cried.  It was so scary.  I can never again watch “A Bug’s Life” and root for the ants (but I can’t root for the grasshoppers, either… hmm…).  You can view the extremely disturbing picture here.

I’ve battled hornets the size of Hot Wheels cars.  I attacked a dime-sized spider who retreated into the depths of Sam’s Xbox.  But, when I don’t have my spray, I am a damsel in distress and Sam is my knight in shining armor, prepared to smash crickets (the crickets here have wings and can fly… they go straight for the face), destroy roaches, and crush flies like the warrior he is.

Now, if a hoard of pandas was invading my house, that would be amazing.  Hoards of bugs, not so much.

That is why I feel compelled to write a letter to the makers of Cracker Jack.  Last night at the football game, Sam gave a bag of Cracker Jack to snack on, and of course I went straight for the prize:

Money! Please be money!

Oh, bitter irony.  They gave me a pencil topper with ants crawling on it.

Not a good prize, Cracker Jack. Nuh-uh.

So, beware all you creepy crawlies out there.  I am armed.

Beware, man-killing bugs.  I have a bug-killing man.

Categories: My Life | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

How Advertisers Convince You to Pay for Air


Just a little lesson I learned in a college class on persuasion: advertising involves a hint of brainwashing and several Jedi mind tricks.

I was in our apartment’s fitness center the other day, you know, trying not to die as I spent half an hour on the elliptical machine, when a commercial came on that caught my attention.



I mean, seriously, that commercial is adorable!  Little chocolate mom with little chocolate girl in pigtails blowing little chocolate bubbles.  Where is this world?  I want to move there.

And then, behold, the end of the commercial reveals… NEW Hershey’s Air Delight chocolate bar (only 74 cents at Wal-Mart!).  Apparently it melts in your mouth in a wonderful display of chocolatey airiness.

And, hey, 74 cents is a bargain for a brand new amazing chocolate bar, right?  I mean, the other Hershey bars go for what?  Oh, 74 cents.

PEOPLE.  This chocolate bar costs the same as a regular ol’ Hershey bar, but it’s full of air.  Someone at Hershey is a genius.  They sat there and figured out exactly how to make people pay the same price for less chocolate and think they’re getting something exciting and special.  To that person at Hershey, I say, “Bravo.”  To all of you, be aware that advertisers went to college to convince you to buy things, and they’re very good at their jobs.

And yet, despite all this, I still kind of want to try the chocolate bar.  Maybe it’s the pretty geometric design on the wrapper.


Categories: My Life | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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