Monday, November 24, 2008

One Need Not Be the Loneliest Number

At times, being single and almost-30 sort of feels like second grade when the teacher tells you to pair up and after the urgent whispers and frantic eye contact, you're the leftover. I found this especially true after making the first move of my life that didn't involve school, a.k.a. the built-in friend network. Suddenly, I wondered, how do you meet people? Where do you go? And what do you say, "Hi, I'm Ashley. Be my friend."? (No, wait, that's Facebook.)

As I thought about where to go and meet others of my kind, I considered volunteering. The question of which one of the many worthy causes to support and thoughts of my potentially awkward entrance into a regularly scheduled meeting put a temporary damper on my volunteerism. The more I thought about it, the more I wished there was a way to sample the area organizations and figure out which one is a fit for me. And even better would be if I didn't have to go by myself.

A good friend put me in touch with Hands on Northeast Georgia, a program of Community Connection that helps individuals, groups, families and corporations find flexible volunteer opportunities in Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties. Hands On NEGA had everything I needed - an existing volunteer base, relationships with nonprofit organizations, and an infrastructure in place to help me establish the group.

Enter SingleServe, a volunteer opportunity for parties of one. Each month, we'll be arranging a volunteer opportunity for singles at an area nonprofit. It will be a way to help the community, try out different opportunities, and make friends. The first meeting is Tuesday, December 2 at 5:30 at the Community Connection offices at the corner of King Avenue and Old West Broad Street. We'll be talking about what SingleServe is and how those interested can get involved.

Join us! It's hard to be single, so remember, there's safety in numbers.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Oh Sarah....

Sarah Palin desperately needs a decent PR person to let her know that a charming interview about Thanksgiving is always ruined when birds are being slaughtered in the background... if you're impatient skip ahead to about 43 seconds in.

Climbing the Walls

Despite all the recent bad economic news in Athens and nationally, apparently some entrepreneurs aren't scared. Based on this website, it looks like Athens is set to get a pretty sweet indoor climbing and recreation facility (including bouldering, climbing, wifi and even birthday parties!). According to planning commission documents, the facility is at 665 Barber Street (not sure what building this is).

Come explore and have fun on spectacular freestanding boulders up to 18 feet high, with textures and forms that is going to blow you away, terrain you'll find just at super pro comps. Novice and beginners are always welcome, come and get inspired by our "regular" climbers! The facilities also feature a 20-feet tall roped wall (lead and top rope), a 60 feet long roof traverse (up to 160 feet round-trip! from one side to the other). Exercise and training equipment, air filtration and conditioning, a nice padding with lots of crush pads, more than enough to cure you from being afraid of falling!

These types of facilities have been really popular in Atlanta and elsewhere and having one in Athens will be pretty neat. For those of you on Facebook, there is a group there where you can plug in as well. Have you heard about any other businesses opening in town despite the recession? Any other neat recreational offerings on the way?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Giving Thanks and Ducks

Only weeks after Election Day, Thanksgiving reminds us what we can all agree on: food and gratitude. The whole Athens office crew and our beloveds are having Thanksgiving dinner at the Athens Area Homeless Shelter, where our own Bryan Harris serves as a board member. We’re bringing honeyed hams, squash casserole, a couple other vegetarian dishes, homemade sourdough bread, arroz con leche for dessert, among other dishes TBD. We’re also bringing a metaphorical cornucopia of hostess gifts from the shelter’s wish list, and we’d like to invite the whole community to contribute as well. Drop them off at the Athens Area Homeless Shelter is at 620 Barber Street, which you can call at (706) 354-0423.

Here’s the Athens Area Homeless Shelter Wish List:

AAHS Current and Ongoing Needs
**Items with a "*" are in greatest need**

**Sippy cups**
**Baby Bottles**
Snack Foods (individually wrapped)
Granola Bars
Fruit Juice boxes, Capri Sun, etc.
Paper or Styrofoam plates, cups
Plastic forks and spoons
**Large Sized Tupperware, Food-Safe Storage Containers**

Disinfectant Spray
Disinfectant cleaning wipes
Kitchen and Bathroom Cleaner
***Laundry detergent***
“Free and Clear” laundry detergent for infant clothing
Fabric Softener
Paper Towels
Toilet Paper
Hand Soap and Hand Sanitizer
New or Gently Used Comforters, Blankets (twin size)
Plastic Mattress Covers (twin size)
Large Bath Towels
***Trash bags***
***Diapers (especially Size 4&5)***

African American women’s Hair Care Products
Children's Toothpaste
Feminine Products (especially maxi pads)
Deodorant (especially women’s)
Women and Children’s hair bows

Copy Paper
3-ring binders
3-prong portfolios
Markers, Colored Pencils
Plastic sign holders

Alarm Clocks
Storage Containers in various sizes (under the bed storage, etc)
Planners, calendars
Expandable file folders for storage of important documents
***Gift certificates (for school clothes, etc.)***
Disposable cameras
Movie or athletic event tickets for family outings
Family Friendly DVD’s
Socks and underwear (call for specific sizes)

Black Bow Ties
New or gently used Khaki and Black Pants (various adult sizes)
New or gently used White Button Up Shirts (various adult sizes)

Gently Used, Working Computer
Baby Carrier/Sling
Child Safety Harness
Aluminum Soda Tabs!
New or Gently Used Furniture (call ahead for drop off location and time)
Monetary donations are always needed and welcomed

*Note: Due to lack of storage space, we are unable to accept donations of used toys or clothing (except what is noted above) at this time. PLEASE DO NOT BRING SAMPLE SIZED SOAPS AND ITEMS.

Also, next Wednesday at Fook’s Foods is Fresh Roast Duck Day, just in time for Thanksgiving. If you’d like one, just e-mail Karen, the store owner, at ASAP letting her know your order and then pick up on Duck Day until 7 pm. Whole ducks are $16 and halves are $8.75. Also, she’s got fresh Georgia shrimp and fresh fish from Florida today.

Gobble, quack, gracias, cam ơn, gratzie, danke, merci, kőzsőnőm, teşekular, xse xse, thanks – for everything! -Ivy

Monday, November 17, 2008

Confessions of a Facebook Holdout

Despite the admonitions of multiple interns that Facebook is what all the cool kids are doing, I obstinately refused to give in and get on the social media freight train. Instead, I declared myself "anti-social media" and shunned Twitter and MySpace with equal disdain, puttering along in my antiquated Yahoo e-mail haven. I might as well have been using smoke signals according to Generation Online. E-mail? Totally outmoded.

I insisted that I didn't want people to find me and friend me. I argued that Facebook represents the breakdown of real communication - a dot-com bubble between people and real conversations. The fundamental goal of collecting "friends" felt disingenuous to me.

But then, the office kept buzzing with the social media revolution. The interns kept pressing. And lo and behold, my boss was on it already. I knew that I'd been beat and promptly waved the white flag of surrender and followed it with the blue flag of Facebook.

Since my debut on the social networking site, I've been proven unequivocably wrong. In one short week, it has allowed me to do the following:

* Reconnect with a long-lost friend of many years. We're having dinner tonight.
* Join up with fellow thespians from the Berry College Theater Department
* Begin planning a reunion for the OCHS Lady Warriors Basketball Alumni

The best part is that - when used well - Facebook isn't about disconnectedness at all. Facebook can foster connections you'd given up on. Create little fiefdoms of common interests and common histories - from where you graduated from high school to where you went to parties in college. For me, Facebook has built a great big picture of my life so far, pulling in friends from growing up, from various schools, from work, from the places I've lived. Sure, some of those connections will be tangential and brief. But they're there. And they not only connect me with those people, they connect me with that part of myself and give me someone else who remembers when from each era of my life.

So...are you on Facebook?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Taqueria del Awesome

Taqueria del Sol opened today. For those of you who haven't been, this is a much beloved Fresh-Mex dining destination formerly confined to intown Atlanta.

While I don't have time for a long entry and I'm not a restaurant reviewer, I will say this -- Taqueria is going to be a great addition to Prince and could change the dining dynamic on this side of town. The food was incredible and delivered quickly. The service was super friendly. The design of the building is clean and unique architecturally. The vibe was great -- a mix of families, hipsters, students, and business types. It is accommodating to all.

My guest and I ordered the fish taco and cheeseburger tacos, and enjoyed the chips and three varieties of dip they provided. We liked the fish tacos so much, we ordered seconds (we were at the bar).

All in all, the restaurant -- on its first day -- exceeded my expectations. Be sure you get there, and soon! More than likely you will see one of the JS crew on your visit.