Friday, July 24, 2009

Well, That Didn't Exactly Work Out

So I've learned since trying to drum up votes for this Antarctica trip that this is the dumbest contest in the world.

Not the prize — the contest.

The web designers have made this thing so darn confusing, I wound up not having my own four votes count for myself. You see, after registering, this little button comes up and says "vote," and you click on it, thinking "There's my good deed for the day." It's a red herring. In reality, you have to wait until you get your verification email, click through on that link and then START ALL OVER AGAIN. As in from the beginning, searching for the blogger by name, then clicking on their link, waiting for the page to load. Only after all that rigamarole does the vote count.

So my sincere thanks to the 500 of you who did vote for me. Too bad Quark Expeditions will never reap the benefits of our awesome team, huh?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What Was I Thinking?

The moral of this story: don't sit down at the keyboard at 2 a.m.

So Friday night (Saturday morning, technically), I was futzing around on Twitter, looking for interesting people to follow. I clicked through on a blog talking about how you could win a trip to Antarctica with your 300-word blog entry on why you want to see this freezer up close.

My husband could probably come up with a plausible reason; I've always said I'd hang out in Buenos Aires until his ship returned. Julie and Antarctica do not belong in the same sentence, as I shiver at 75 degrees in July. But since this was a writing contest and my other option was to go to bed, I followed through to read the rules.

And that's where I made my mistake. You win by getting the most votes from your friends. It's not about who would be the best blogger for the audience and Quark Expeditions. The journalist in me saw red. Why would you give away a free trip to a blogger if you don't value good writing? So far, here is a sampling of the people who have a shot at winning this thing:

The Antarctic has a strange pull for many. It is an ethereal pull that transcends the influence the South Magnetic Pole has on a compass. A pull that seems to collect people from all walks of life to an environment that is harsh, even deadly, while presenting beautiful vistas and teaming life found nowhere else on our blue sphere of a planet. I wrote paragraphs like that when I was trying to reach a word count on a high school essay without actually reading the assignment.

I am an Antarctic historian and know a great deal about the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration, yet I have never seen the places that loom so large in my imagination. Spare me from academics who don't know what they're talking about.

If honored to be the recipient of this incredible adventure, I promise to Dream the Impossible Dream with the rest of the world, sharing not only my thoughts, and my music but my photographs and the powerful way only this sojourn will certainly change this humble and curious man. And may I humbly add that it's most curious why you would suddenly choose to capitalize in the middle of a sentence.

Ten days after defending my dissertation ... I got as far as "dissertation."

This opportunity is more than a chance to satisfy a personal dream, it’s a chance to share the story of a lifetime. I’ve read many articles and books from those who have visited the region, and what I can guarantee is an honest account of the Quark Tour experience. When the ship enters the Drake Passage you’ll read not only about the reaction of the passengers onboard, but also the reaction of the tiny ice ship as it cuts through those notorious waves. If I understand this correctly, those many articles and books must be lying if this gal's unique offering is to take an honest approach. And the only reaction I want from my tiny ice ship is that it remains in one piece. Beyond that, I don't give a rat's behind about its reaction, viewpoint, or opinion. I want it to keep its mouth shut and do its job.

So I decided to strike a blow for fun storytelling and defend good writing everywhere. I entered this contest by 4 a.m. — and now I need a mere 1,542 votes to catch up to the leader (someone who uses lots of exclamation points in his essay! Because he's the right person for the job! !!). I have until September 30 to reach voters, and you can only vote once. While I'm doling out bad news, it's one of those dumb registration deals so they can make sure you only vote once on your email address.

If you have a few minutes to help me out, I'd be most grateful for your support: Blog Your Way to Antarctica. My husband will appreciate his big chance to force me into something I said I'd never do.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why Should I Eat at Burger King?


My husband nearly drove off the road when I suggested grabbing dinner at Burger King the other night. I don't particularly crave their food, but I had a $5 gift card and sometimes you just have to eat cheap.

Which explains why I didn't know anything about the XL sandwich, and since my meal was almost free, I figured I would splurge and order the combo deal. After all, its photo looked — well, beefy — on the menu board. But I only wanted to commit if the burger didn't come with mushrooms or bbq sauce, and I'd ask them to hold the pickle, onion, ketchup and mustard if those were also part of the deal.

So I asked the teen standing at the register what came with the XL. "Depends on which variety you get," she said. Well, OK, explain it to me. She stared for a minute and said, "I don't make them, I don't eat them. I have no idea what's on those sandwiches. They used to have a chart here that listed that stuff, but someone stole it."

(Ahem, I'd just like to interject here that if she's not eating at Burger King, she's sure getting her food supply from somewhere because this certainly was not an anorexic waif. I'm thinking she's been sucking down the 1/2 price milkshakes next door at Steak n Shake twice as fast as the rest of the population. And I'd like to take issue with the idea that someone stole a cheat sheet on Burger King sandwiches. It's not exactly a hot item on eBay, now is it?)

Before I could pop my mouth off, my husband tried to head me off at the pass. "Well, could you ask someone who does know?" he suggested. She stared at him, sighed and griped, "Sure thing. I'll be glad to do that in the middle of a big rush."

I turned around: there was one occupied table in the entire unit. We were the only ones in line. I peered through the drive thru and saw ... cement. No cars, no bicycles, no goofballs placing an order on foot at that window. Unless there were 57 people hiding in the ladies room waiting to pounce on the kitchen with orders, we were it as far as customers go.

I did get my burger by basically dictating a custom order, and then we enjoyed further hassling over handing her a gift card she didn't know how to credit.

The sad thing is some poor Joe gave me that free meal as an incentive to get me to try BK burgers again. Instead, I decided I'd volunteer to be fried in the French fry vat before I'd go through that conversation again.


Photography: Pink Moose