Join the Madness

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Parting Advice

Just so you know, in case it ever comes up...

You really really shouldn't binge on honey roasted peanuts the day before getting on an airplane.

You heard it hear first.

Pardon the Interruption

I have posted every day since I started blogging in April. I intended to keep my perfect record, but time got away from me so I regret to inform you that I got nothin'.  I'm off to New York without internet access (hell, I'm not even bringing my laptop.  How's that for embracing the moment?)

I will be back to posting on Mock-Me-Monday October 4th.  Until then, I'll leave you with a picture of Times Square. 

While I'm gone, feel free to chat amongst yourselves in the comments...leave questions...start rumors, whatever.

Oh, and Happy Birthday to my gorgeous sisterling #3 tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Search for Life

I took an Astronomy class last year.  We had to read a series of articles about the Top Ten Astronomical Discoveries of recent years.  We had to summarize all of them, then pick one and expand on it.  I've eliminated the summary paragraphs (you can thank me later), and left just the good parts:  

Despite my general self-absorption within my own universe, I discovered that I can draw several parallels between my world and the much larger external one. Specifically, I was intrigued by the article about the search for planets that could potentially support life because I, too, have been searching for life as diligently as any college-educated scientist. I have spent a great deal of time considering what it takes to create a habitable (or inhabitable) zone. However, where scientists have lamented their inability to find proof of life beyond our world, I have celebrated my failure.

It just so happens that the universe I’ve been combing through is located on the top of my eight year old’s head and not outside the Milky Way. While the scope of my search is arguably smaller than theirs, I contend that my search is every bit as challenging and important as my counterparts'. The average human head contains between 100,000 and 150,000 hairs while the universe is estimated to contain upwards of 100 billion stars. Before awarding science the victory in this round, let us consider that I also had to search the rest of the family for signs of life, too. An average 125,000 hairs times 4 familial heads equals a half a million strands of hair to meticulously inspect. Not to mention, scientists have much more advanced tools to aid them in their search. They have powerful telescopes, and networks of supercomputers at their disposal. I, on the other hand, am armed with a comb and my not-as-sharp-as-it-used-to-be eyesight. I’m thinking I may win this round, or at least it’s a draw.

Apparently all it takes to be hospitable to your average louse is a head with hair, and it also helps if the host is living. Qualifications for a planet to host life are a little more complex. The planet has to be near enough to a star for warmth, but not too close. It has to have a significant atmosphere (but again, not too much), be spinning at the just the right rate, be lucky enough to have water and (hopefully) oxygen. I’ll concede this round to the scientists.

We may discover one day that life does, in fact, exist outside of our planet. There is no doubt that scientists will rejoice in this discovery after years of unrelenting failure searching the heavens for a sign. I, on the other hand, rejoice every single day that I find no signs of life on the top of my daughter’s head. I also celebrate the annihilation of the tiny community I have managed to exterminate. Further, I anticipate the day when I can conclude my search once and for all. Scientists, however, will continue to search forever because 100 billion galaxies is a lot to comb through.

It's been over a year and we won the war.  Every day since then, when I look in the mirror, I can't help but look at my hair for signs of a new invasion.  The other day, I'd stumbled out of bed and was searching the hairline for signs of life when something crawled across the top of my hair

I freaked.  I bent over (nearly cracking my head on the counter) shook my head vigorously from side to side while I ruffled my hair with both hands.  I'm sure I looked like a mental patient.  It might have been a housefly for all I know...but it freaked the ever-lovin-bleep out of me.

Anyone else want to admit to waging battle against lice?  (Did the mere mention of the word make anyone itch?)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mock Me Monday - Old Letters

I am already cringing over here.  I haven't typed a word yet, and I'm already uncomfortable.  This probably means you are about to really enjoy yourselves at my expense. 

I destroyed any diaries I kept years ago, but I do have a copy of a few letters I sent to my sister twenty years ago. I'm not 100% sure what we're going to get.  So, why don't you play it safe and set that beverage or snack down (it's really for your own good) and let's jump in and see what happens:

FYI:  I was 18, living in Vegas and a senior in high school. If I need to explain anything else I'll add a note in RED.

January 11, 1989 

To Ya'll:

It is I, Count Vicula (I thought it was funny), writing to you from Las Vegas.  I'm sitting in first hour.  (isn't THAT amazing?)

(Apparently I was forced to DO something in pay attention.  I wonder why I even bothered with those two lines?)
I'm at home now.  The red pen died today.  Oh, don't worry - it was quite painless. Oh guess what I have done?  I have won a month's supply (four cases) of Pepsi (again).  This is the third time I've won it...that makes a grand total of 288 cans.  Plus, the time I got 3 cases for $5...That brings us to a total of 360 cans.  Plus I've won (these are albums--like vinyl--in case you're wondering):  Grinning Plowmen, a Back-to-School Cassampler, Go Betweens, Chicago 19... (Anita Baker too, but I never got the call to go pick it up). Geez, am I good or what?  I'm tuned to 91 (the college station) -- MY station -- now in hopes of winning another album.

Nothing much is up right now I have a job if I can get down and get my health card.  Now don't laugh at me, okay?  I really tried to stay away from fast food.  But anyway - no one wants to hire you without I'm goin to be a happy McDonald's person for awhile until I can gather enough "experience" that someone else will take me.  But shhhh!  No one else knows but Daddy.  

(Oh God, I really ought to censor this next part, I'm BLUSHING and I haven't even typed it yet.  You guys SO OWE me for this level of honesty...)
Other than that, my life is pretty dull.  it's been 454 hours since I've been kissed (there! I said it) (Don't know why I keep track).  That dates back to Christmas Eve.  But please don't ask questions cuz that was a disaster!  Nobody in the house knows about it cuz Mom is just getting out of a very suspicious phase and if I'd told her about it she wouldn't have let me out of the house for 3 years. (Yes, I used to keep track of the hours between kisses and sometimes the number was REALLY high.  I HONESTLY don't remember who this was...unless it was the guy I mention next...keep reading.)

My poor social life has been pretty much PITTSVILLE since I broke up with my turd (oops, excuse me...Michael) I'm not a hermit but my life could use a boost.  There has been a Jeff...a Andy...and another Jeff whom we will NOT discuss.  He's turd #2 now.
(I vaguely remember Michael...real name George and I'm wondering if the disaster is what I think it is...a post for another day.  I don't remember Jeff or Doug...unless Doug was my friend's cousin.  I DO remember Andy...a totally hot cowboy originally from Nebraska...pity that didn't go anywhere.  The second Jeff was the circus man from THIS story which was concluded HERE definitely earned the turd title)

(DELETED SECTION, just 'how are you kinda boring)

(REDACTED section after that...sorry, don't want to start a family feud.  Some was a little catty, even if it was true.  Wasn't funny anyhow, especially since you don't know any of the family members I was dishing on)

(aka Count Vicula)  

I talked to a DJ last night for an hour!  I tried to let him go, but he wanted to chat.  So we did.  He's got a great voice!  He told me to call him again s-time so we could talk more. DJ-itis is comin' back!
(Not sure which one this was.  I talked to all of them at one point or another. I think it might have been this cool guy from the college station.  Scott Free...not his real name, but even that is another story!) 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wrong Kind of Green Thumb

I would love to have a luscious, well-pruned garden...but it seems I grow more weeds than flowers.  Case in point:  My back flower bed...


and after just five minutes of yanking thigh-high weeds:

Note that most of the 'lushness' in the before picture was WEEDS. There's actually supposed to be dirt visible between the plants!

Then, the other morning I threw stale popcorn into the yard for the birds and noticed this huge rock.  

I asked my daughter (who loves rocks) if she left it there.  She looked at me like I was crazy.

So I went down to investigate.  I discovered it was a HUGE mushroom.  I've never seen one this big.

Hubs has since removed it, thankfully.  It grossed me out.

Obviously, my gardening skills are limited.  I'm looking for some colorful plants/flowers that I can put in the back corner next spring that are shade tolerant.  I'd like something that will come up year after year (don't think mine do...but I'll find out for sure next spring!)  Do any of you gardening gurus have suggestions?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

You've Gotta Be Kidding Me

If you're still working your way through The Great Blogging Experiment, CLICK HERE for my entry.

We all know a picture is worth a thousand words, right?  

Well these three pictures would set you back a thousand bucks.  

Seriously.  Check it out:

DSquared Tshirt $174
(yes, a Tshirt)

Adidas Sweatshirt - $254

Donna Karan $854

Far be it from me to ridicule anyone's creative genius, but can someone PLEASE tell me why a simple gray sweatshirt warrants a $254 price tag...

...when I can get BOTH pieces for $18?
(I could get 14 of these puppies for the price of ONE of the other)

Any of you big fashion spenders care to put me in my place?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Compelling Characters

For the list of other participants go HERE

So when I heard we were all going to post on the same topic today I thought, "WOW! What a cool idea!"  

So cool, I'm having a serious bout of idea envy over here.  Why didn't I think of it?  Harumph.

So anyhow, after the shine wore off and the topic was revealed, I kinda panicked. (truth is, I'm still panicked)

Compelling Characters?  What the heck do I know about compelling characters?

I turned to because there was no room for error here.
1. tending to compel; overpowering: compelling reasons

2. having a powerful and irresistible effect; requiring acute admiration, attention, or respect: a man of compelling integrity; a compelling drama.

Okay.  No surprises there.  

  • Should my focus be on HOW to write a compelling character?  
  • Should I talk about a compelling character I know?  
  • Or should I (gulp) try to create a snippet showcasing a compelling character?
And that's as far as I got, friends.  I typed up that much then I answered the Siren's song that is SHIVER.

And I finished it.  Finally.  And there's only one thing to say:

(I really want to make the font bigger...but that's as big as it gets)

If you've read the book, you know what I'm referring to.  If you haven't, I wouldn't dream of spoiling it.

If the bookstore was open, I'd be racing down there to get Linger.

And then it hit me.  The perfect example of compelling characters (and story line) was right under my nose...literally! 

I don't like wolves, you see.  I can't say I dislike them necessarily, but I'm not a fan.  I won't wax poetic about their beauty, grace, or power.  They're wild dogs in my book. And, truth be told, I never really understand why some people hang pictures of wolves on their walls.

I. Just. Don't. Get. It.

So I wasn't really drawn to this book. I only read it because so many of YOU liked it. I thought I'd be bored.  I thought I'd read a few chapters, roll my eyes, and put it back down.

But I didn't.  

THAT, my friends, is what writing compelling characters is all about.  Hooking even the most reluctant reader.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Winners & More Randomness

Originally I was going to announce winners of my contests next week, but I've got a gazillion things to do before I go to New York (leaving a week from today....woo hoo) and so we'll move the contest deadline up.  I assume no one has a problem with that?  I want to get these prizes in the mail before I go.  Sound good? 


But before I announce the winners, I want to share a little bit of hilarity.  Inspired by Candyland's keyword posts, I went digging to find mine.  Here's what I found:


Would you look at all those flippin Yo Gabba Gabba references?  I mentioned them in ONE STINKING post and now I'm marked for life.  Leigh, you did this to me, didn't you?  

I'm pretty sure Nice Ass refers to THIS does illustrations.

Renglad can be found HERE.  ( do NOT want to eat or drink ANYTHING after Renglad is introduced)

NO clue where the hell the hot dog illustration, m&m references or spa day came from. 

Okay, so now that we've got that out of the way...Let's talk about WINNERS!!!

The winner of Enzo's Mamma is......(insert drumroll here)

And the winner of the What would you say / do contest ($20 buckaroonies) is....

Congrats! Email me your address and I'll get your prize packages out ASAP.  MissVSpeaks~at~gmail~dot~com

Here's how I found my search terms.
Go to blog
Click Design
Click Dashboard
Scroll to bottom
Click Webmaster Tools
My blog link is a hyperlink in the list.
(you may have to add yours.  I have a vague memory of adding it months ago)
I click my link
The search words appear front and center, click "more" to expand the list.
Keywords on the left are (apparently) words Google finds on your site most often.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Random Thoughts - A Frightening Peek Inside My Head

You're in for an experience today!  In lieu of a *real* post (still enslaved with Shiver don't ya know), I thought I'd just give you all a peek at some of the things that go streaking through my mind over the course of the day.  

Oh yeah, you might wanna put the drink down, now.  Just in case.

I was thinking about THIS post the other day...the first of the crackpot confessions.  And while I was contemplating those nostril nuggets, I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if boogers were pretty.  If instead of green cratered balls (or long slimy strings) they sparkled like like diamonds, would picking our nose still be a bad thing?

  • Would they establish booger farms where people would go to harvest & sell their nasal treasures?  
  • Would dust and debris be pumped into the air for optimal booger creating conditions?
  • Would humidity levels be monitored more closely?
  • Since dried snot = boogers-in-waiting, would getting a cold be a good thing?   
  • Would you save tissues and find a way to scrape off the sparkles later?
  • Would you have a booger jar to save the sparkly nuggets until you could sell them?
  • Would you be able to buy jewelry made out of boogers?
  • Would laws get developed to control the size of boogers allowed to be removed?  
  • Would ratios be established based on the size of one's nostrils?
  • You know the saying, you can pick your nose, you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your friend's nose?  Would that actually burglary (or,hahaha boogerlary?)

I tried to share some of those ideas with my daughter...she was not amused.  But my mind wasn't done wandering.  

Oh no.  Not by a long shot.  

I then wondered what would happen if farts smelled good?

  • Would passing gas still be a major faux pas?  
  • Would people serve beans and other gas-inducing foods more often?
  • Would people run around like dogs sniffing one another's booties?

  • And what if they were musical?  
  • Would there be classes to teach us to master the art?
  • Would we record CD's and sit back and say, things like:
  • "that guy has a really talented arse" or 
  • "wow, listen to him blow"

As a completely unrelated aside, I was wearing an orange(ish) sweater today with black pants and my sweater was shedding little orange fuzzballs all over my pants so it LOOKED like I rubbed major Cheetos fingers all over myself. Hahahaha.

How are you holding up?  I hope the field trip through the recesses of my mind didn't do any permanent damage.  Got any bullet points to add?  What kind of things do YOU wonder about?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Short and Sweet

...that's the intent anyway.

First off the family computer is in the shop.  Which means I have had to dig DEEP and find it in me to share my laptop with the family.  I'm sorry to say I'm not that gracious about it.  Shame on me.  I'm a bad example for my children, teaching them to be stingy and grumpy when it comes to sharing.

In my defense, have you seen what the little buggers do to computers? 

Oh, and I think the last thunderstorm we had knocked out my wireless router.  I only get internet if I plug the stinking cable into the laptop.  Works fine for now, but once the other one comes back I STILL won't be able to get on the internet until after they're in bed.  So my blog reading has been slashed and burned...dramatically.  I'm bummed I haven't been able to make it around since last week.  
See?  Sad face :(

Technical difficulties partially account for my absence, but THIS puppy is responsible for the rest:

I picked it up this weekend and couldn't put the damn thing down.  I stayed up until TWO even though I had to get up at 6.  I kept telling myself I'd just finish the chapter, but then I'd slip into the next one and the one after that and the next thing I know its 2.  

This book is the reason why I wore all black today...easy, comfy clothes I didn't have to think about -- because I wandered around the house this morning trying to finish it while getting kids off to school and I didn't want to waste a single minute on something as mundane as clothes!  Hell, the world should be glad I bothered to get dressed at all.

It's the reason I came home at lunch so I could finish the damn thing and get it out of my system.  My daughter had the nerve to make me LEAVE this morning right at the climax.  Ohhhh, it was excruciating putting it down.  

Everyone else and their dog is doing a *real* review, so I'll just say I loved it.  I always thought I was anti-bad boy, but I'm being forced to reconsider.  First Reth in Paranormalcy and now Luc.  I think I've been tagged for the dark side, y'all. 

That's it for today.  I'm tired and grumpy.  MY laptop is acting strange now (probably protesting from whatever the children did to it while I was at work and unable to protect it), and now I'm knee deep in this one:

yeah...might be another late night, dammit.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mock Me Monday - Indecent Exposure

For once I'm going to tell you a story where I didn't do anything stupid or embarrassing. 

My husband is a bit of a sports nut.  He especially loves football.  College football, if you want me to be specific.  

I do not.

I don't mind going to a game with him, but to sit at home on a beautiful Saturday afternoon and watch one game after another seems about as boring and pointless to me as shopping (without buying anything) seems to him.

So, we reached a truce early on.  He'd stay home and watch football and I'd go get my groove on at the mall...or wherever.  

Marriage is all about compromise, you see.

Well, back in those days I didn't drive.  I would take the bus wherever I wanted to go.  After finishing at the mall, I went to the bus stop, but had just missed the bus.  I hate just sitting and waiting, especially since the next one wasn't due for an HOUR. 

I walked in the direction I needed to go figuring I would catch the next bus somewhere further down the line.  I happened to pass a McDonald's, and since I had time to kill I went in and ordered a cheeseburger and a Diet Coke.

I sat in a seat by the window and relaxed. 

This restaurant had a counter with 'bar stools'  just off to my left.  I noticed a guy reading a newspaper, and even though he looked perfectly ordinary, my eyes were drawn to him.  He held the paper open and up in the air so I couldn't see his face at all.

Then I noticed you could see a pinholes of light through the paper.  HE was watching people!  Curious, I kept my eye on him.  

What was he up to?  

Was he spying on some cheating spouse?

Was he casing the restaurant for a robbery attempt?
What was going on?

I soon had my answer.  Somehow, he managed to keep the paper up in front of his face by holding the paper with one hand while he reached down with his other and pulled his shorts off to the side fully exposing himself!  

I laughed.

Probably not the reaction he was looking for, and after a few minutes he just as discreetly covered himself again.   

I probably should have reported him, but I grabbed my drink and left.

I used to work at a McDonald's when I was in my late teens and there was a couple who would go through the drive thru periodically.  The girl in the passenger seat would (at some point) expose herself--usually pulling her top down while her boyfriend would stall and ask for more napkins or ketchup or ice water.  I would get whatever they asked for but give no indication that I'd noticed the half-dressed girl in the front seat. 

Not sure how I managed to keep my cool because the minute they drove off I told all my coworkers! hahaha.

Sorry if you were expecting this to be a story of MY indecent exposure...just seems I've had more than my share of odd experiences like this over the years.

Have you ever been flashed by anyone?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Best Dog EVER

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I'm just gonna let this one do all the talking for me today...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Grab Your Tissues...AMAZING

This is an amazing video clip about an autistic girl who learns to communicate by typing.  There is so much we don't know about this disorder.  Just under 10 minutes, but it's very powerful.  I'll shush now.  If you don't have time now, come back later, it's soooo worth it.

FYI: I am outta town this weekend and will NOT have an internet connection.  Will catch up when I get back.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Good Night!

I went to an open house after work last night.  I'd been invited before, but it either fell on a bad night or I made up a reason not to go. But this year, a friend (and former coworker--the one who saved me HERE) had started working there so I agreed to go to see her. 

It's not that I don't like parties.  I do.  I'm having one in a couple weeks, actually.  No, the problem is I'm not the most social person in the world and the idea of being in a room full of strangers freaks the ever-loving $hit out of me.  

Really.  I am not exaggerating.

But I sucked it up. And by mid afternoon, I was actually looking forward to it.  I hadn't seen her for awhile and she's such a doll.  Always has such a positive outlook and I don't think I've heard her say a bad thing about anyone.  So I went. 

And do you know what?

I had FUN.  

And you know what else?

I didn't have anything to drink!  (100% SOBER FUN! Imagine that)

Another friend (and former coworker) was there.  It would be THIS particular coworker, if you want to be specific.

Anyhow, I met some very nice people, and did NOT make a fool of myself (near as I can tell anyhow).  And my darling friend introduced me as a writer. That was a first for me and it was awesome!  And while I am nowhere near a publishing whiz, when talking to non-writers, I SOUND like one.  Hahahaha.

And when the inevitable question came, "what are you writing?"  I managed a somewhat succinct summary and everyone a good way,of course.  

Final verdict:  A whole lotta fun!

Reminder:  Still have a couple days to enter the Big City Advice Contest.  You all are being so NICE!  I kinda expected some bizarre and wacky tips in there...probably because I AM bizarre and wacky. Anyhow, there's  $20 on the line if your piece of advice is chosen.

Then you can add a note on THIS post to win my copy of Enzo's Mamma (guilt offering, LOL)

Sooooo...plans for the weekend? 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Enzo's Mamma

This post is long , long over due. Like embarrassingly late and I'm making a point of telling you this because the delay has NOTHING to do with my enjoyment of the book.

I read Wendy Ramer's book, Enzo's Mamma, back in JULY, but it seems I had a lot going on about the time I finished it and I didn't want to do a rushed or haphazard posting so I put it off.  And then I put it off again because well if it was going to be THIS late, it oughta be good, right?  Yeah...the pressure got to  me.  Performance anxiety.

Pitiful excuse.  Shame on me.

For the sake of full disclosure let me say I LIKE Wendy.  I think she's awesomesauce with legs.  I confess I was nervous about reading the book because what would I say if (God forbid) I didn't like it??  I'd gone and blabbed that I bought the book so sooner or later I was going to have to fess up.   So even though this is pathetically late, I DID like the book.  Really.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Here's the blurb from the back:

When American ex-patriot Millie Gossett leaves her home in northern Italy to visit her estranged parents in Miami, she leaves behind a strained marriage and a young son, while anoter woman's hatred towards Jews evolves into a misdirected vendetta. What follows is the saga of a mother's struggle to rebuild her life while never losing hope for a future with her lost son.

Millie's nine year journey leaves its mark, affecting her personal relationships and her spirit.  But as the tides eventually turn, secretes are revealed, an Millie's discoveries could change her fate.  Enzo's Mamma is a story of determination, hope and patience, but are they enough to keep a dream alive?

First let me offer up a disclaimer that I'm still trying to find my review legs over here.  How do I talk about a book, give enough information to intrigue and entice without spoiling any of the twists and turns?

My original plan was to touch on a few things that really jumped out at me.  I even texted myself notes so I could use specific examples when writing this.  Pretty brilliant, huh?

Well, in true Mock Me style, I cleared out my inbox and the MINUTE I hit the delete key I remembered why I hadn't cleared it out before.  Yeah...sometimes I amaze even myself!

So the thing that struck me most about this book was all the little pieces of me i found. If I had known Wendy before she wrote this book, I'd swear she snuck bits of me in there.  For example, when Millie met Carlo--part of her knew she shouldn't get involved but she did anyway.  That used to be sooooooo me! I try to listen to the inner voice nowadays, but it wasn't always the case.  Anyway, I WANTED Millie to get involved with the sexy Italian guy.


Sexy.  Italian.  Guy. 

MMMMMMMMMHHHHHHHHHHHMMMMM.  Pity it wasn't a picture book. 

Another part that got me was the fact that Millie didn't let people in very easily.  I don't like this about myself, but this is soooo me. 

Funny thing about recognizing your own quirks in others--it either endears the character to you or it drives you up the wall.  Luckily, I liked Millie.  I wanted her to be happy...but what kind of book would this be if everything went her way?

The first major conflict was a clash of religions.  Millie was Jewish and Carlo was Catholic.  Polar opposites, and yet they made it work -- at least in the beginning.  Things went downhill fast, though, and this issue reared its ugly head again.With really bad consequences this time around.

Then, Carlo and his Mamma did something truly awful.  I won't tell you what it was, but it was bad enough I wanted to hurt them for doing it!  It sent poor Millie into a tailspin.  
And when you think that Millie might recover and might find happiness again, Wendy goes and throws ANOTHER curve ball at Millie.  It made me cry, i so wasn't expecting that one.  Poor Millie.  Just when you think the worst is over, too.  The ending I kinda saw coming but I think that's because it's the way I would have ended things if I had written it...great minds think alike don'tcha know?

So, yes...I sincerely enjoyed the book and I feel sooooo bad about this review taking almost 3 months to see the light of day, that I'm going to pass my book on to one lucky commenter so that they may enjoy the book!  Just type "pick me" in the comments and maybe I will pick you...or maybe I'll use a random number generator.

Oh yeah, to be eligible to win, you gotta be a follower of Wendy's.   Just click this.

YES I will ship internationally.  I always forget to add that.  I fully understand why some don't include internationals, but I'm an all-inclusive even if it ends up costing me more.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spoke to Soon. ARGH!

So I went to actually print out my postcards a minute ago.  

I was feeling fairly confident, after all I'd tested it on copy paper cut to 6 x 4.  Even tested my template out on a piece of card stock cut down to 6 x 4.  Everything pointed to success.


(there's always a but isn't there?)

The actual postcard is too glossy.  The printer can't pick it up...the little feeder wheel just spins and spins.

I'm THIS close to banging my head against the wall...or secretly buying transparent address labels even though I was told not to.

I'm going to take one home and see if it works on my printer.  If not, it's hellllllllooooooooooooo labels!  
(Or maybe hellllllloooooo typewriter!  Can you even buy those anymore?)

What do you see?

I saw an old man walking recently. Each step was a struggle.  He had only a cane with him, and his right shin was bandaged.  My heart went out to him, as it usually does, because he was trying so hard to move forward and making such slow progress. 

It reminded me of my grandpa.  He used to walk the sidewalk in front of his house for exercise. He was 90 years old and it was slow going, but he enjoyed the change of scenery, however brief.  He didn't have to be out there, he wanted to be out there.  He was disappointed when the weather wouldn't allow him to take his daily stroll.

There was someone else I encountered in the neighborhood.  He walked with a horrible limp.  It seemed like each step was painful.  I felt sorry for him.  Going anywhere took him twice as long because walking was such a chore, not to mention how brazenly people stared.  Poor guy, right?

That's what I thought until I learned he had been in a horrible accident and he had almost DIED.  Doctors told him he would never walk again.  Yet here he was, walking. Oh, it wasn't easy.  But he defied the odds and what I had seen as an unfortunate handicap was actually a miracle.  What a celebration each labored step was! I am ashamed of my pity. How misplaced it was! I learned a very valuable lesson about accepting people for who they are and never to assume anything.

Go look out your window.  What do you see?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Vicki versus the Word

I've been using MS Word for probably 20 years.

I wouldn't say I'm an expert user because there are several advanced features I've never had reason to use.  But I am very comfortable with it and what I don't know how to do I can usually figure out relatively quickly.

And then I was tasked with printing addresses directly on a postcard.  For whatever reason labels were a no-no.  I don't ask why, I find a way to get the job done.  This was no biggie, though.  I opened up Word to create a template so I could merge the addresses in from the database and I could print as many off as I needed to.  I've done this sort of thing LOTS of times.  It shouldn't have taken more than 20 minutes, TOPS.

It took longer.

Lots longer.


Yes.  HOURS.  The problem was the size of the postcard.  I'd never run paper that small (6x4).  I had to use the envelope feeder, but no matter WHAT I did, it would not print where I told it to.  I used the Postcard template in the Labels/Envelopes menu but THAT would only print from the main paper drawer which couldn't 'pick up' the 6 x 4 card.  

I tried to set a custom paper size in Word, but the printer wouldn't recognize anything smaller than 8.5 x 11 unless it was an envelope but if I tried adapting an envelope to my purpose, it would put the text clear off in the boonies.

I was getting frustrated.

I changed every setting I could think of but nothing worked!  It SHOULD have worked.  All logic pointed to it working.  I could see it on the screen lined up where it should be but it would print in some hokey spot.  

I tried reverse psychology.  Figuring if it's on the right side of the screen but prints on the left side of the paper, then if I move it to the left side of the screen it will print on the right side of the paper, right?

Uh,no.  Computers are not to be trifled with.

I'm not afraid to admit I spewed some pretty colorful adjectives, my friends.  I think there were a few I could loan to drunken sailors to spice things up a bit next time they're on leave.

But I didn't give up.  

I'm ridiculously stubborn at moments like this.

Some might say pigheaded.


And today, I figured out a way to make it work.  It's sooooo not pretty, but it works.  

YES!  Success at last!

I heard some nature photographers talking about what it takes to get "the shot".  They said they had to be stupidly patient. When normal people gave up, they waited.  When abnormal people gave up, they waited some more. When saints gave up, they waited longer still.  And eventually, after weeks or months of nothing, they would finally see the egg hatch or the bear give birth or whatever.  

Do you see the analogy here or do I need to spell it out?  You need to keep fighting/working/querying/trying.  When it gets hard.  When the odds are against you.  When you're tired and discouraged.  

Stupidly patient.  

Impossibly persistent.

Are you up to it?  If I can beat Microsoft Word, I can beat ANYTHING!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mock Me Monday -- Grandma's Bloomers

I'm concerned my friends.  Does it seem to you that I mention underwear and / or bathroom-related subjects an inordinate amount?  There was the Astrology of Underwear, the Silent Pee, and then this weekend I went and mentioned an old English teacher's method of scaring off would-be attackers (ahem, she suggested you wet your pants). There was the first Crackpot Confessional about nose picking and then the end of this one with the unfortunate case of poison ivy.

Am I obsessed with unseemly topics?  

Well, before you tell me YES (and I feel obligated to change my topic), let me share with you my Grandma's Bloomers story.   

I don't remember a whole lot about my Grandma anymore.  She passed away when I was in junior high and we spent a good deal of my childhood living in another state, so we didn't get to see them a great deal.  I never really knew my dad's mom as she died when I was 4 or 5 and his dad died when he was a little boy.

What I remember about my grandparents was they always seemed old.  My grandpa was 75 when I was born and my grandma was 68.  Grandma had horn-rimmed glasses (fastened to a chain around her neck) and she ALWAYS, ALWAYS wore a blue dress.  I couldn't tell the dresses apart.  I suppose they were all different in some way, but to me they all seemed the same.

Grandma was also a fanatic when it came to sales.  I remember one time she was in a Costco/Sam's Club type place and bought a palette of hamburger buns because they were on sale. We're talking about HUNDREDS of buns.  Seriously.

Grandma washed plastic silverware, straws, and plastic plates to reuse them.  She only threw things away when they were beyond all possible reuse.

My grandpa was a retired minister, and had lived in the same house/town for nearly fifty years, so they knew everyone.  Often times families would give Grandma bags of clothes.  Grams would take what she could use for making quilts or for her rugs, and would pass the rest on.

One time (I think I was in 6th grade), I was sitting in my bedroom closet reading Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land.  I spent a lot of time hiding in the closet as a kid. It was the only place I could get any space for myself since I shared my room with my older sister and her son.  

Anyhow, Mom came back from a visit and called for me.  Grandma had sent a bag of clothes for me.  Most kids would hate this, but I LOVED hand-me-downs.  Sometimes there were some really ugly things in there, but it was like Christmas, opening the bag and seeing what was inside.

This time it was a small brown grocery bag with handles (remember those?)  There was a pair of penny loafers in there. Those were kinda cool.  Not exactly in style at the time, but I only ever had one pair of shoes, so I was excited to see another option.  I even worked with the stiff leather to get pennies inserted in the little slots.

And then, I pulled these out.

TWO pairs actually.  Only they were kinda stained and yellowed with age.  I stared at them, open-mouthed.  Mom looked over and said  reassuringly, "Oh, honey.  You don't have to wear those."

I love my mom.

I knew my Grandma was frugal, but I was dumb struck.  I was supposed to be her favorite grandchild.  Never mind the fact these BLOOMERS hadn't been in style for DECADES.  I could forgive Grandma of the Blue Dress her fashion faux pas.  But at what point had she decided it was appropriate to give her pre-teen grandaughter someone else's old, stained, USED underwear as a GIFT??!!??

Pardon my language, but WTF?

What's more, the next time I did see her, she ASKED about them!  

Can you say clueless?

I smiled as sweetly as any favored grandchild could and told her they didn't fit.

Christmas will be here before we know it.  A lot of bad gifts will be exchanged, but I challenge you to come up with a worse gift.