December 30, 2014

The 2015 is Coming!

Being Britney Spears.
Now that Christmas is over, it's that dreaded time of year where I feel obligated to make up some New Year's resolutions and then justify why I didn't do the ones fully from the year before. In 2012, I survived the apocalypse, and then felt capable of bettering myself in 5 ways. In 2013, I didn't feel like making up new resolutions, but I looked back at the year and focused on the random things I did in lieu of the dumb resolutions. This year, I'm too mentally exhausted and/or clinically unstable to do any of these things, so I turned to the Internet for help in finding resolutions I won't keep, but might make a half-decent article.

December 25, 2014

Merry Clucking Christmas!

Merry Christmas from The Cackling Hen! This is a holiday I can support (unless you're eating turkey). Thank goodness that murderous blasphemy of a holiday called "Thanksgiving" is over! What should I be thankful for, slaughterhouses? Gluttony at my cousins' expense? Thanksgiving, my tail feather! On to Santa, Jesus, reindeer, and all that makes the season magical!

I'm home for Christmas day for the first time since I joined Hens on Ice. It got me thinking of how some traditions of our Christmas have stayed the same, but how it's changed for me as well over the years from baby chick to old hen.

December 1, 2014

Life in the Skywalks

After a riveting week in Lincoln, Nebraska, the Hens on Ice tour plopped us birds into Des Moines, Iowa. Not having much prior knowledge about Des Moines, I learned a lot in our time there. It's the capital of Iowa (with a surprisingly posh capital building!) and really the only city I can name in Iowa. They also don't sell wine in Walgreens and it's really cold in November, just to name a few things.

Smug local.
Like Lincoln, I was happy to find some more local gems, including another sassy coffee shop and some weird, but great bars. There was even an Asian pizza restaurant, which looked wonderfully weird, but I never felt weird enough or wonderful enough to try it. And a shocking beauty within all this surprise sass is that it's all connected by an extensive skywalk system. After a day of freezing like a fool and crying on the empty sidewalks of Des Moines, I decided to try to join the smart birds up above, wearing t-shirts while it was snowing.

November 21, 2014

Land of Something.

Lincoln, Nebraska.

Many of the Hens on Ice coop wondered what to expect this week in Lincoln and no one had any answers. A few hens had been Kearney, few didn't know Nebraska was a place, and one bird said, "God bless you" after I said, "Nebraska" in the makeup room. While some birds expected Lincoln to be a bust, I remembered how much fun one could have in hotspots like Ft. Wayne, Biloxi, and Huntsville. As long as Lincoln wasn't another Erie, we'd be just fine.

November 12, 2014

Writing About Not Writing

Last night, I had dinner with a hen friend who also writes one of my favorite blogs. (Check out Life and Laughter!) We caught up on clucks over Mexican food, with the charm of a busted 50s record and an overly-chatty, disgruntled waitress in the background. I didn't pay much attention to my friend Peri, but I did learn that our waitress hates everything about California, Utah, and tortilla chips.

When the server was away and the record went silent for the fifth time, I learned that Peri is having a book published on December 26, just in time for the holidays. Since this bird also wants to be a New York Times Best Seller, (I'm coming after you, Peri!) I realized I had to get back to writing more. Sure, I've gone through some recent hard times, (see "I'm a Resident Loon" and "Life Isn't Fair") but wallowing in a bird bath of self-pity and self-loathing won't write a book! So I'm back on the writing horse with this article.

October 25, 2014

I'm a Resident Loon

Apparently it's been nice out.
Life was pretty rough when I missed the One Direction concert. Life got really rough when mother goose made a wrong turn and landed in the hospital's intensive care unit. With her status questionable, I flapped my wings as fast as I could to Tampa General. Mom had always watched "General Hospital," but this was too much.

I've spent the daylight hours of every day for over 2 weeks in the hospital. I'm not here to dwell on mother goose's health troubles nor the emotional toil of partially living in a hospital ICU. I'll keep that bottled up until I lash out inappropriately on Thanksgiving. They say laughter is the best medicine (no one told the surgeon that), so we'll take all the medicine we can get.

October 3, 2014

Life Isn't Fair: 1D in Tampa

Life sucks sometimes.
Life isn't fair. That's something I've learned to accept as a very young, somewhat handsome adult. And yelling, "That's not fair!" never even worked on the playground.

If life was fair, I'd be at tonight's One Direction concert in Tampa. I even had tickets for the show. But instead, I'm in some dump of a city called San Diego with my steady touring job, doing something I love while seeing many parts of the world. Like I said, life isn't fair.

September 22, 2014

Hen Testimonials Part 1

The Cackling Hen likes to get its loyal fans involved so The Hen experience is an interactive one. I've written an advice column and a social media guide, to name a few. And since those two articles were somewhat popular and slightly rewarding, I thought I'd try again. This time, I called all Hen fans to share why they love The Hen! It would give fans a change to participate and also help sway people who are on the fence about reading The Cackling Hen, or maybe reading in general.

I expected a flood of responses, sharing personal stories on why The Hen is life changing, or at least people desperately wanting their five seconds of fame. I didn't really get either, but thanks to some of my most faithful cluckers, I got enough to stretch into an article. 

August 20, 2014

Hola, Mexico! Parte Dos: Talking to Locals

One of many reasons I was excited to come to Mexico was to put my countless hours of Spanish classes and thousands of dollars spent on a degree to good use. I had a positive experience with my language skills in Spain two years ago, and I was hoping for the same here, although my degree is two years dustier. Sure, I can't roll an "R" or conjugate vosotros verbs, but here I am. Thankfully Mexicans don't use the vosotros tense, but there are too many Rs for me to sound native. Blonde hair doesn't help either.
Robbie in Spanish

It took a few days for the cobwebs to dwindle, but soon I felt mostly comfortable being surrounded by Spanish. I can understand most of what's said to me, and I can understand most of the words flying out of my beak. Most locals have been friendly, receptive, and patient, and everyone at the corner coffee shop knows my name. They call me "Roberto" because "Robbie" turned into a two-minute conversation for the barista to write "Robbin," but I'll take it.

July 25, 2014

Hola, Mexico! Parte Uno.

Hola! Welcome to The Hen's first article from Mexico! It's been a wild and bumpy ride, but some of my feathers are still in tact. And with years of Spanish classes and a dusty Spanish degree under my belt, I had been waiting for years to show local Mexicans my gringo Spanish skills. Mexico, The Hen has landed.

My time here began with a warm welcome at Mexico City's airport. After having my bags and language skills questioned, I was let into a Mexico with a rowdy welcome. I was greeted by a mob of hundreds, some wearing sombreros, some screaming, and none of them for me. I found my ride, weakly holding a company sign after being there 12 hours of Hens on Ice pick ups. I woke her up and picked her off the floor while we waited for one more hen.

June 30, 2014

100 Clucking Articles!

Me being happy.
This bird has reached a milestone! I'm not talking about Facebook page likes or hate mail; it's The Cackling Hen's 100th article at! We've been through a lot, haven't we? This huge article also lands around the Hen's 2-year anniversary of launching this site after USFSP forced me to graduate and end my havoc on The Crow's Nest. But the anniversary is less of a celebration and more of a reminder to pay my renewal fee to GoDaddy.

I've been wracking my bird brain on what to write for this big event. Highlight the best articles? Eat 100 pounds of seed? Make fun of Cher? Then, after flapping through social media feeds, I remembered there is already a viral "100" theme out there for the pecking: #100happydays.

100 days of happiness, because we need to publicly show we are happy for a set, milestone number of days, otherwise no one will care. Or something like that.

June 16, 2014

Next, Please!

I'm just so overrated!
After last Monday's mildly successful "The Rudeness of Strangers," I've been thinking all week of how I could follow up with another riveting article to start the work week. Ideas included bashing the Kardashians (all of them!) or commenting ignorantly on the World Cup (Go Cameroon!). But after a week of procrastination, Monday arrived and I thought Tuesday would have to be the day. Thankfully, today's mundane errands turned foolish when I flapped into one dumb bird!

I started a Father's Day crafts project last week that has turned into a summer solstice crafts project. A Target gift card would have been easier than these homemade coasters, but I was determined to get crafty with Pinterest. With step C nearly dry, I needed the last obscure supply: acrylic sealer. Neither Wal-Mart nor Burger King sell it, so I was forced into Michael's.

June 9, 2014

The Rudeness of Strangers

Hey! You look like shit!
I was recently insulted by a virtual stranger. I didn't realize it at first since it was masked with a smile in an otherwise polite conversation, but her words were neither compliment nor pleasantry. In a different tone, it would have been obvious, but it took a few sentences and a polite chuckle for it to
sink in.

When we're insulted by someone we barely know, we never respond how we'd like because it's so unexpected. We have the perfect responses after the comment stews in our mind for a day, and we know exactly what we'd say if we were in that situation again. But we never are, so we just have to take it. But The Hen is here to cluck about some of those times where I was accosted by some jerk stranger or acquaintance.

May 29, 2014

Flying High With One Direction

Two-fifths of One Direction caught smoking pot.

In the history of Hen columns, I've pecked at One Direction more than once - four full columns and countless mentions to be exact. I'm interested in current pop culture and great music, so I keep a hawk eye on the 5 lads, especially when Britney Spears is quiet from extra prescription drugs. So when a 1D scandal flooded my news feed late last night, I had to flap to the issue at a hen's pace. 

When a video leaked of Louis and Zayn proudly smoking marijuana flapped onto the Interwebs, social media nearly exploded as the viral video plucked away some of the gents' clean, boy band image. While I'm sure many fans and parents were dismayed to see their admired boys partaking in something they don't support, marijuana isn't the headline here. The news this story reveals: Louis Tomlinson is a bigger idiot than we assumed.

May 26, 2014

Exciting American Things!

After my recent Hens on Ice tour took me through Europe for 7 months, I got acclimated to much of the local lifestyles. Living abroad for extended times, I learn about life in other lands, as well as gaining more perspective on life as an American hen. Arguing that one place is better than the other is futile (and infuriating with stubborn birds); I've come to accept that countries are just different from one another, and we can learn and better ourselves from all these differences if we take a broader view to our daily lives.

That being said, I am readjusting to American life after my extended leave. Now that my wings are thawed after a Scandinavian winter, I'm taking a peck at exciting American things I can truly appreciate after being away.

May 16, 2014

Dear Hen, My Boyfriend Loves One Direction!

My hen friend Kim turns to The Cackling Hen when she needs advice. First, she came to me when she was clueless about Twitter. She may not be a professional yet, but The Hen's Guide to Twitter at least taught her the definition of a hashtag. Unfortunately for her but fortunately for us, Kim has returned to this bird for advice, and I'll be helping her publicly in this article. Move over, "Dear Abby!"

Lim in action!
This time, Kim, who we'll call "Lim," comes to The Hen seeking relationship advice. While I know "Lim" is a great bird, her boyfriend recently is questioning how awesome she truly is. Her boyfriend, who we'll call "Bandrew," is also a huge One Direction fan. Because One Direction is so good, this has put a strain on their relationship, and he's threatened to love the band more than her if she doesn't get "more awesome." While Bandrew's standards are unreasonably high comparing anyone to One Direction, fret no more, Lim! The Cackling Hen has a guide for you!

May 7, 2014

Hello, Kitty. Goodbye, Avril. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This is the first (and last) Hen article on Avril Lavigne, but with a "song" like "Hello Kitty" that's creating a buzz for being terrible, there is far too much to peck to resist. And I like cats. So back by unpopular demand, here is The Hen's "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" for Avril Lavigne's "Hello Kitty."

April 30, 2014

The End of Groundhog Day

The ice is melting.
Once again, we are ending a Hens on Ice tour. We know it will end when we receive our contracts, but after a while, the rhythm of routine is so powerful that it can't seem possible it will stop. "Bittersweet" is the perfect word to describe the end of tour. But one word doesn't fill a Hen article, so I'll write about
some of the reasons it's best that we wake up from this Groundhog Day and end this long portion of the tour.

April 9, 2014

Driving In Opposite Land

One of Northern Ireland's most famous sites is Giant's Causeway, a breathtaking coastal area of sea cliffs and unique rock formations. I visited the grand spot two Hens on Ice tours ago and wanted to return. In lieu of taking a mega bus tour plowing through the countryside, many of us discussed renting cars to get there. I pictured the movies, the charm of laughing our way through the rolling hills with the intimacy and comfort of a car. When the question arose of who would actually drive these little manual cars on the left side of the road, I let my friends know I could drive manual if needed. Surely, there'd be enough Brits to drive, but maybe it would come in handy if someone needed a nap or got drunk.

Let's go!
Fast forward to an unforeseen complication with a hen friend's license, and my causal offer turned into this bird renting his first car in opposite land. Cars drive on the left side of the road, the driver's seat is on the right, and I have to shift gears with my left hand. "Giant's Causeway or bust!" could really go either way.

I was excited for many things: spending a day with good friends, seeing beautiful sights, and having my first experience driving on the opposite side of the road. But as I smiled and laughed through gritted teeth getting into the car, I was also slightly terrified to go against all that had been engrained in me when it comes to driving for the past 12 years (I learned to drive in elementary school). But thankfully the car rate included full damage protection. The question wasn't "if" I was going to hit something, but rather "what."

We put the unruly Brit in the front to help guide and keep me on the left, and after a few 3-point turns, we were flying!

April 1, 2014

I'm Just a Fool

April already?!
It's April Fools' Day and time for The Cackling Hen's second annual foolish article! For those of you muttering that there have been far more than two, you're missing the point. You aren't wrong, but let's focus on April Fools' Day.

This odd "holiday" snuck up on me like a fox in the coop. Last year, I shared two of my most memorable April Fools' Days where I was the fool. This year, I only realized it was April 1 at midnight, leaving little planning for good pranks. Isn't it still February?

I fretted that I'd have nothing to say this year after recapping the only two April Fools' Days I could remember. But I knew I was obligated to write something today, just like I have to give my mother a card on Mothers' Day. Unfortunately I can't get a Hen article at Hallmark. But luckily I can be a gullible bird and I got duped before my daily bird bath.

March 19, 2014

In the Land of St. Patrick!

Top of the muffin to you! The Cackling Hen survived its first St. Patrick's Day just a Blarney Stone's throw away from the land of Patrick. Living in the U.S., I knew that St. Patty's day has traditionally been a debaucherous day with green liquids flowing, and suddenly everyone is Irish. But I didn't know if that was a global tradition, or something warped by Americans. This year, I learned what St. Patty's day is like in Nottingham, England.

Putting the "Happy" in St. Patrick's Day.

I joined a flock on hen friends at noon to start the day at a traditional Irish restaurant: Hooters. I was elated to be at a restaurant founded by a bird. We ordered a smorgasbord of fried appetizers and pitchers of American beer. I silently detested anyone eating chicken wings, but in the spirit of the holiday, I kept my beak shut and put my attention to the loaded tater tots. But surrounded by unhealthy food, beer, and good hen friends, I was loving life. After 30 minutes of gorging on tots and fried pickles, I was still loving life, but having trouble breathing and moving.

March 11, 2014

'Ello, Irrelevance!

I had a good run riding on the coat tails of a grumpy cat, but it's back to reality for The Cackling Hen. I can only gain so many followers from doing nothing more than clicking a button, so it's back to writing for this little bird. Sure, I wrote about Estonia in award-winning fashion, but Tallinn doesn't have the same draw as an angry kitty. Maybe one day it will.

Inspired by the events of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, I wanted to stir the pot with cackles instead of a spoon. I had plenty of opinions on the figure skating events, so I chose to write a letter to Ashley Wagner. Her sour reaction to her scores froze in time in meme form. I thanked her for the new meme, but also had my two cents on her bold presence at the games. Unfortunately, it's hard to type with wings, so plenty of birds clucked their thoughts before mine. Now it's March and #AshleyWagner is irrelevant. Sorry, Ashley, but thanks for the face.

February 18, 2014

A Hidden Gem!

Door to...?
Winter isn't an easy time for most of us hens. We are only born with so many feathers, and the charm of snow and 4 p.m. sunsets wears off quickly come January. I fluttered to Florida years ago to avoid true winters most of us experience. Then my employment with Hens on Ice flew onto the scene, telling me in fine print that we'd be going to cold places in winter...very cold places.

This year's tour has taken us to the definition of cold winters: Scandinavia. I mentally prepared for the worst once we bid "arrivederci" to Italy in November. I envisioned tears, tantrums, frozen limbs, and possibly a stay in the psych ward. Thankfully, I couldn't find the psych ward on Google maps, so I've just dealt with the other three. Although it is still winter and we didn't take a sudden detour to the Caribbean, we found a true hidden gem just a ferry away from Finland: Estonia.

February 6, 2014

The Cat That Changed My Life

The past 24 hours have been a whirlwind of feathers and tequila shots for The Cackling Hen! I'm not talking about a typical Wednesday night at an unmarked bar or the Olympics. I've apparently caught a virus - a twinge of that popular Internet virus that makes stupid things popular for 15 minutes. I think I'm viral, going viral, or just have the flu. Regardless, I have to peck about it before that dreaded 16th minute.

In honor of Facebook's 10th birthday, it's given us a present: a one-minute video recapping some of our Facebook postings. Some turned out decently, reminding us of a few fond memories of pictures with friends or status updates friends claimed they liked. Some turned out random, boring, or stupid, depending on how one feels about photos of lobster tanks or cupcakes trumping graduation pics. Either way, my newsfeed was filled with everyone's one-minute life story. That was overwhelming.

In the midst of stories and people complaining about the stories, an amazing little cat flew onto the scene to articulate what many of us were thinking. Even if we weren't thinking it, it was hilarious.

February 4, 2014

Up Late With One Direction! The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Traveling to a different city each week and performing in ice skates and silly costumes, it can be easy to lose track of what is truly important. When I saw that One Direction released its latest music video for "Midnight Memories," it was a wakeup call for this hen. While I've been writing about the cold and expense of Scandinavia, or not writing at all due to vitamin D deficiency, I've been overlooking pop music and my installations of "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly."Priorities straightened, I've pecked out my 2 cents on 1D's latest. Watch the video then read about the good, the bad, and the ugly!

January 21, 2014

Ay, Krona! The Hen's Guide to Surviving Sweden

Hens on Ice has flown to Sweden! I was nervous to venture here in January, knowing that harsh winters turn me into an angry bird. But peck on wood, my feathers have survived the cold thus far and Old Man Winter has been gentle for Scandinavian standards. But far worse than cold, dark days here is the cruel, frigid currency called the krona. For the US dollar user, there has been nothing kind about the krona to dollar conversion rate. Sweden is more than Ikea and meatballs - it's expensive!

After spending $22 on a chimichanga, I vowed there had to be a better way. At that rate, I was a few chimichangas away from blowing my paycheck in 48 hours. As I've spent more time in Sweden, I've compiled some tips on surviving the krona on a US dollar paycheck.