January 30, 2010

No, seriously.

It has come to my attention, in re-reading my blogs, that I use the word "seriously" entirely too much.

Seriously.

Maybe instead of complaining about those parents who banned the dictionary, I should invest in a thesaurus.

January 29, 2010

Soapbox Theatre: I really, really, really, really, really hope none of my friends who are parents would do this.


(This story is a few days old (or possibly slightly older), so you may already be aware of it. But I just heard about it, so I'm annoyed NOW. Hence...)

What is becoming of our nation? SERIOUSLY.

A California school banned dictionaries for students. (See story here.)

Why? Because one of the students found a definition for oral sex, and parents were outraged.

OUTRAGED!

OK. I am not a parent. I have never been responsible for shaping and guiding a tiny person's value system.

But if and when I am?

I am not going to encourage things like banning the dictionary just so my little person can be shielded forever from something I'm too afraid to address with him or her myself.

Because that's what this reeks of to me. Sex (in all its many forms) is a thing. In the world. That people do. Every day. It is OUT THERE. It is EVERYWHERE. There is NO shielding kids from it, not if they're going to live in the world.

In my (admittedly inexperienced) opinion, it's a parent's job to take what is in the world and explain it to their kids. Help shape their opinions of the world and everything in it. Not that you're going to take a three-year-old and give him an explicit explanation of oral sex, of course -- that would be inane. But common sense should allow you, as a parent, to come up with a way of explaining things, at an age-appropriate level, to your child. I'm not going to pretend it won't be awkward. But it is (in my opinion) one of your responsibilities as a parent.

Taking away a dictionary that the school had purchased for advanced readers? Is cowardly, I think. We're not talking about a novel with subject matter designed to titilate. This is a dictionary. A learning tool. It probably also includes definitions for "behead" and "episiotomy." You can bet none of those parents want to explain to their first-grader what those words mean, but you can also bet that those words wouldn't inspire a parent to demand the dictionary be banned.

This kind of thing? Makes me depressed. I don't want a world where kids grow up without ever learning about things that make them uncomfortable. That is part of the world they are IN. There are so, so many things in the world I disagree with. But it just isn't feasible (unless you're Amish, which: more power to them if they can do it) to keep your kids away from everything the world has in it.

Instead, you just have to try to prepare them as best you can, keep talking to them and pray. Pray and pray a lot.

Can we not blame the dictionary?

Because, seriously? From the resumes I've seen from some recent college grads, and from some of the e-mails and Facebook postings and whatnot from that generation (and several others), the one thing we do NOT need to be getting rid of is the dictionary.

OK, so down off my soapbox I skip. I would love to hear from some of you who are parents: Am I totally off base? Do you agree? What would you have done in this situation?

P.S.: In the interest of full disclosure: After catching major (justified) flak for banning the dictionaries, the school did decide to allow them back, although parents can ask for their kids to use an alternative dictionary if they are still too freaked out by Merriam-Webster.

January 28, 2010

OK, I have a sneaking suspicion...

...that someone made that "Coachella" poster as a joke. Like, listing all the acts they would WANT to see on a festival schedule. I checked out the Coachella website, and...yeah.

(I seriously was thinking, "How in the world did they convince Mark Wahlberg to take a break from his bigtime movie career to go back and perform with the Funky Bunch alongside Jesus Jones and the Three Tenors?!")

It was clearly too good to be true.

Dammit.

Oh, well. It was fun living in fantasyland for awhile. :) And trying to remember the words to ANY song by Expose. (I'm pretty sure I owned one of their cassingles at one point. I was the height of cool.)

This.Is.So.Awesome.

OK, I totally stole this from Dave Holmes, but seriously? This is the most impressive lineup I've ever seen. (Apologies for the blurriness; hopefully you can make out most of the names.)




Marilyn Manson and Kenny G? Paula Abdul AND MC Scat Cat?! ROXETTE?!

Five bucks to anyone who can name a song (in most cases there WAS just the one song) from every single one of those artists.

Love. It.

January 27, 2010

Our new car is haunted.

A couple of months ago, we needed a new car. (Or, I should say, we needed to replace my HUSBAND'S car -- my trusty Honda is just fine, thank you very much.) So we did a bunch of research, took into account everything we wanted out of a car, and ended up with this:


(Ours came without the blurry skyscraper backdrop, though.)

It's a Pontiac Vibe. It gets excellent gas mileage, has decent storage in the back and was reasonably priced. (According to T, his crackerjack research skills nabbed us the second-cheapest 2009 Vibe in the country. It's not that I don't believe him; I just know that car salesmen -- and the Internet -- are liars. But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.)

Since I drive my aforementioned rock-star Honda, the Vibe is primarily T's car, but I (of course) drive it occasionally.

Last week, one of these occasions arose. I was running to Kroger to grab some supplies (i.e., food and beer) for the football watchers at home. I parked in the parking lot, ran in, grabbed the goods (and paid for them, of course -- can't leave that detail out lest you think I can sprint while carrying a 30-pack of Busch Light) and ran back out to car, juggling groceries and attempting to open the car door at the same time, and dumped everything in the passenger seat.

Then I ran around to the driver's side and got in.

The radio was on.

The engine was running.

I was holding the keys in my hand.

I went kind of cold and clammy. I tentatively peeked into the rear view mirror, thinking that maybe I'd surprised some kind of hooligan trying to hotwire my car and that said hooligan was now hiding in my backseat. (Or, worse, lying in wait in the hatchback storage space -- that area freaks me out.)

I got out of the car and walked around it, peering cautiously in all the windows. Hooligan-less.

I got back in and sat there for a second. Then I called T and related this whole story to him, heavy on my theory that either someone had messed with the car or that the ghost of a disgruntled Pontiac employee was inhabiting the car and was surely intent on making it explode with me inside.
He burst out laughing.

This was not the response I was looking for. I mean, if I was a Pontiac employee who'd gotten crushed by the hood-bending machine (I'm assuming there must be one) and I'd vowed to haunt a car forever, I wouldn't stop at turning on the car intermittently. I'd do that a few times to lull the car owner into a false sense of security, until she thought it was cute, like, "Oh, my car is haunted -- look how cool this is: Pontiac Employee Ghost, start my car! And could you check the tire pressure while you're in there?" And then, as she was on her cell phone telling her friends about her super-cool haunted car, I'd cut her brake lines while she was driving.

Or, you know, make her get crappy gas mileage.

The point is: This was serious.

T: "Do you think it's possible that the Vibe might have an automatic starter, and we just didn't know it?"

Well, sure, if you want to get all Occam's razor on me.

Show off.

January 26, 2010

Photo of the Week: Plotting Dog Edition


"One day -- maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday -- she is going to pay. Ohh, is she going to pay.

"How 'bout I eat a bunch of chili and broccoli and bananas out of the garbage can and then take a giant, stinky poo on her fancy magenta satin bedspread? How about them apples? Maybe then she'll think twice about dressing me up like a baby and humiliating me by posting my picture on the Internet.

"This thing is chafing my butt."

January 25, 2010

Pupdate: The innocence you're about to see masks a deep-seated orneriness.

One of our favorite things about Bubba and Murray is how much they love each other. I mean, they LOVE each other. To the point where they're either wrestling together, teaming up in the pursuit of the Holy Grail (people food), whining in unison to go outside or watching the door (side by side, of course) for potential intruders.

(Re: the latter: They have a deep-seated hatred for the windchimes in our across-the-street neighbors' yard. About 50 times a day, they scare the crap out of us by barking suddenly and loudly, and racing to the door. Just as we're convinced that a serial killer with a chainsaw is about to kill us all, we remember the windchimes.)

And, of course, their favorite-est tandem activity: snuggling.



You will never convince these two that sleeping is a one-dog affair, and that personal space is a necessity. They NEED to be together.

And now, the individual shots.

Murray, in his Glamour Shot (for which he didn't even need to go to a mall and pay ridiculous amounts of money and put on truckloads of makeup -- not that I ever did that in the early 90s...):



And, in my favorite picture this week, Bubba attempting to convince the world of his innocence and simple desire to just be loved and snuggle with his favorite brother, and that he has NEVER, EVER taken things (like used Kleenexes, which apparently are SUPER tasty) directly out of the trash can and left their shredded remains all over the floor:


(Apologies for the grainy cell phone pics.)
(Also, to echo Two Pretzels's comment about Ferg: We do not pose our dogs. Well, occasionally we do. But this isn't one of those times.)

January 22, 2010

If you're asking the question, you're halfway there.

This made me laugh today:



I'm sure there's a "...For Dummies" about this out there somewhere. If not, someone needs to write one. Awesome stocking stuffer.

(Also: Am I alone in thinking her hair looks insane in this picture? Eek.)

January 21, 2010

Why do you use it? asks the social media loser.


Last night a friend/co-worker and I met with a former colleague of ours for coffee. The goal: Pick his brain for information about social media.

In the last year or so, this former colleague has become something of an expert in using social media to promote business and personal goals, boost sales, gain awareness, etc. Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, blogs... All of it. He's written articles and even been asked to give lectures at local universities and civic organizations about the topic.

So we asked him last night: How does one become an expert in this stuff?

His answer: "Uh, I'm not really sure. You just kind of have to get in there and do it."

I'll be the first to admit that I've been overwhelmingly late to jump on the social media bandwagon. (I didn't start a blog OR join Facebook until 2009, and I have yet to be convinced about the relative merits of Twitter.) I can point to several reasons for this reluctance to join the crowd:

I'm usually reluctant to join the crowd. Mostly I just hate people telling me what I SHOULD be doing. The surest way to get me to AVOID doing something is to tell me that everyone else is and I should be, too. Most of the time, this reaction has little or no logic behind it. I'm just stubborn for no good reason. This also kept me from trying to be a vegan in college which (no offense to my wonderful vegan and vegetarian friends) I'm actually happy about.

It's just ONE MORE THING for me to do. I always assume that, whatever it is, it's going to take waaaaaaay too much of my time. Since moving from a job where I had absolutely no life outside of work to a job that actually affords me some balance in life, I tend to guard my personal time very jealously--clearly, sometimes to the detriment of pursuing new opportunities and/or plain old fun.

The actual "social" aspect of things. I have a wonderful group of friends, and am always open to making new ones. However, there are some folks I'd rather not reconnect with, y'know? I know that sounds terrible, but it's true. And I know, I know -- it takes less than a second to click "Ignore" if someone tries to "friend" me and I want to run away screaming when I see his/her name. I didn't say these reasons were rational.

But now I'm faced with certain facts that make it pretty much impossible to maintain my stonewalling of all things social media:

  • I want to stay in touch with family and friends, and Facebook is the easiest, quickest way to do that.
  • I want to be able to write outside of my "real" job, and a blog seemed like the most logical way to do that.
  • I want to research and, eventually, promote the children's books I'm writing, so I need to join children's author discussion groups and figure out how to (eventually) create a fan page and a website for my books.
  • Social media is becoming an increasingly hot topic at work, so I have to make sure I understand the various elements so I can maintain that competitive edge. :)
In other words, life has dragged me, kicking and screaming, into the present. Or, at least, 2006.

So, in the interest of my continued research (and because I value your opinions)...

What do you think?

1. Do you use social media ?

2. If so, which elements do you currently use?

3. Why do you use them?

4. Which ones do you think work the best for what you're trying to accomplish (whether that's staying in touch with family, making new friends, promoting your business, etc.)?

5. Have you abandoned any along the way (e.g., is anyone still using MySpace)?

January 19, 2010

Stuff on My Desk: That One Paper Game Thingie


If you don't remember these, clearly you didn't grow up in the 80s.

They were all the rage on the playground when I was in elementary school. Need to know if that super-cute fifth grade boy likes you? Ask the paper. Should I perm ALL my hair or just my bangs? Ask the paper.

(And yes, I'm aware that this probably has an actual NAME vs. just "the paper," but I can't remember it. Please feel free to enlighten me.)

If you younger (or older) folks are wondering how the heck this thing works: You stick both pointer fingers and thumbs inside the folded corners of the paper (underneath the part you've written on). You pick a number and then move your fingers back and forth that number of times (I can't think of a better way to describe this; it's more of a visual). Wherever you stop, you then pick a color and lift up the appropriate tab, under which lies your answer. Wicked cool. And totally foolproof, of course.

(It's pretty much the poor man's version of the Magic 8-ball. We were 10; I think my allowance was, like, 75 cents a week or something. You think I could afford some fancy-schmancy Magic 8-ball? Shoot.)

This is hanging on my desk because, one day, in my last job, I was instant-messaging an old co-worker of mine and telling him about a problem I was having that seemed to have no good solution. It was one of those good old Corporate America lose-lose situations. We met for coffee to talk it out, and he helpfully made this paper game ahead of time and brought it with him, presumably to help me make my decision. In reality, it just made me laugh, which was just as good.

The possible "answers" to whatever question I was asking are "Yes," "No," "Forget it, sister" (ha) and "Ask C," who was my boss at the time. The joke there is that you never asked C ANYTHING unless you wanted to be on the phone for three hours.

Anyone else have fond memories of these paper game thingies? Please, do share.

January 16, 2010

"Chuck" is stupid but Adam Baldwin is foxy


I don't know if any of you watch the show Chuck; since it narrowly escaped being canceled, it would seem unlikely that you do.

Anyway.

We watched the first two seasons, and thought it was cute and funny and quirky. This season...not so much. We watched the first three hours (two-hour premiere plus another hour) and...eh.

The whole premise is that a nerdy schlub inadvertently becomes invaluable to the U.S. government and, although he has no skills to speak of, gets dragged around with a bunch of super-spies, one of whom he falls in love with.

And the other of whom is Adam Baldwin. Who, besides being dreamy, is amusingly grouchy and looks as though he could crush a man's thigh just by looking at it while tenderly brushing your hair away from your face and feeding you grapes.

Not that I have ever daydreamed about this. I'm just saying.


Something tells me that, if I do end up watching the entire season, he is going to be the only reason.

January 15, 2010

Grrrrrr... (Alternate title: Get Over Yourself, Kitchenette Police)

This morning I got some hot chocolate in our office kitchenette. It was hot, it was chocolatey -- exactly as advertised. Even better, it was free (thank you, my employer!). No complaints.

When I was finished, I didn't have time to wash out my dirty mug. So I took it to the kitchenette, ran some water in it to let it soak and left it there for about two hours until I had a chance to wash it.

When I returned to the kitchenette...it wasn't there. A quick search behind the coffee canisters and in the cupboards turned up empty. No mug.

My first thought: "Why would someone want to steal a dirty mug?"

On a whim, I glanced into the (giant, filled with people's leftover food detritus) trash can.

Someone threw away my mug.

I'm assuming someone saw it and was so affronted by its dirty presence in the sink that they were PHYSICALLY AND PSYCHOLOGICALLY UNEQUIPPED to either leave it there or simply move it out of the sink.

Whoever that someone is...is my new enemy.

Am I wrong in thinking this is unspeakably rude? I understand the kitchenette is a shared space, and perhaps I violated that by leaving a dirty dish in the sink for two hours vs. immediately washing and removing it. But is the appropriate response to THROW AWAY SOMEONE'S PROPERTY?

I would argue: no.

I debated posting a snotty note on the bulletin board in there, but then I remembered how that went over for Pam on The Office and decided against it.

In short: Boo.

January 14, 2010

My husband rocks.

(OK, I know this is two posts in a row about my husband...)

Earlier this week, T called me at work to let me know it was snowing and I should maybe try to leave early as to avoid potentially hazardous driving conditions.

(I find it cute that he worries about me. I guess if he didn't, we'd have problems, right?)

About 30 minutes later, he sent me this photo, accompanied by the following text message:




Yo yo yo, get back 2 the crib, baby.


Holla.


Awesome.

January 13, 2010

Reason number 147,529 why I love my husband.


Yesterday was the anniversary of our first date -- nine years ago.

It seems like a week ago and 50 years ago, all at the same time.

Not only did he remember the anniversary, he also remembered what I was wearing on our date and how much his dog liked me, instantly.

I mean, come on. How cute is that? How cute is HE?

T: I love you. I'm so thankful you were put on this earth for me.

Back on the blog train

To ease my way back into blogging, I thought I'd keep things simple and post a few pictures of my ridiculously adorable niece from Christmas. Here she is with her daddy (my little brother; I still can't get used to the fact that he's someone's daddy):


In this picture, if she were able to speak in complete sentences, I feel she'd be saying, "So, Aunt Shan. Let's chat. How's it going? What are your thoughts on the last episode of 'Jersey Shore'? I totally hate Sammi -- 'sweetheart' my patoot. Have you seen those awful Booty Pop panties? I get better lift from my Huggies, for reals. Let's go shopping."


I love that girl. How is it that an 18-month-old tickling my nose with the hand of a stuffed Grover can amuse me for five hours?

Um, see that face? That's how.

I can't wait until she's older and we can gossip and shop and talk about boys, and I can tell her a whole bunch of horribly embarrassing stories about her dad. It's going to rule.
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