Thursday, March 26, 2009

Vacation time!

I am leaving tomorrow for a much-needed vacation! Yay! We'll be cruising the Mexican Riviera, hopefully avoiding drug cartels, kidnappers and pirates. I figure it's worth the risk. Cruises are the best form of stress relief in the world.

Want some scientific proof? Here is your brain after a stressful day:

And here is your brain after just one day of cruising:

Of course, if you just can't take a cruise right now, there are other solutions for your stress. You could buy a stress banana:

Instructions: "Squeeze me! To relief Stress! You will never have made fun getting rid of stress."
(I think this may be a foreign-made product. Still, it might be worth a try.)

Or I could pick up some Mexican pharmaceutical solutions for you. (The little green bottle is "Night Cap Liquid Extract." Anybody wanna guess what the number 1 ingredient might be?)

Or - you could simply meditate on the fact that even though your life is stressful and your job sucks, it could always be worse. After all, you could be this guy:

Hasta la vista! Have a wonderful week.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Conspiracy theory

Here's a brilliant conspiracy theory that was recently uncovered by an anonymous but brilliant blogger from Frisco Texas whose turn it is to talk:

The Republicans lost the 2008 presidential election on purpose.

How do I know this? Here is my theory:

First, they knew we were in trouble. The economy was plummeting, the Iraq War was hopeless, and massive reform was clearly needed in health care, education, energy, Social Security, and Medicare. Not to mention personal hygiene. And don't even get me started on our nationwide lack of basic spelling skills. NOBODY knows when to use "its" versus "it's." Even professional journalists like the people responsible for the crawl on CNN, which has spelling errors approximately every fourth word.

Second, they knew that nobody really had solutions for these problems. I mean, if journalists don't know when an apostrophe is needed, how are the rest of us supposed to figure it out???

And third, they realized that as the losers, they would be in the perfect position. They can now sit back, criticize every move Obama makes, predict the end of the world as we know it, and vote "no" over and over again.

Do we need an apostrophe? "No!"

Could we please have an apostrophe if it might bring back my 401(k)? "No!!!"

Well what if we added some apostrophes in key places to try to get things turned around?
"No!!!!!!! In fact, if you give me an apostrophe I will refuse to take it, even though it could help the unemployed pronouns in my own state."

The thing is, some of us watch punctuation pretty closely. We know!! All those exclamation points!! Are supposed!! To make us forget!! How we got here!! In the first place!!

But. It's. Not. Working.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dancing lessons, life lessons

Today, children are hustled from dance class to piano lessons to soccer practice to karate. That's the three year olds. And that's only on Thursdays. The other six days are busier.

But back in the days when a three year old was considered a baby and only the rich kids took dance AND piano, the little Dale girls spent every summer in little pink or black leotards and tights with the feet cut out. Instead of piano lessons, we took Modern Dance classes on the college campus where Daddy worked.

With dreamy music playing in the background, we glided like gazelles, twirled like the wind, and drifted to the floor like melting chocolate. There was no right or wrong way to do any of it, which was good news for me because my arms and legs grew at an alarming rate for the first ten years of my life and my body took quite a while to catch up. I'm sure an observer peering through the window would have wondered what a spastic scarecrow was doing in there among the graceful gazelles.

But I didn't care. I loved it.

Those summer dance classes taught me some important lessons:

- Dance in your bare feet, any time you get the chance.

- If your leotards are pink, do not wear flowered underwear.

- Do what you love, even if you're the scarecrow.


Related post:
Piano lessons, life lessons

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

For Sale

For sale on craigslist ... vehicular equivalent of a "handyman's special" ...

'71 Bug with factory sunroof. All there except the motor. Needs a little work.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Baby Einstein

My 22-month-old grandbaby is a little genius. Now, I know every Grandma says that. But it's true! How else would you explain the following:

1. She knows that she should say "MY purse" at the mall as she yanks her purse out of her stroller which cost as much as my first car but which she steadfastly refuses to sit in. I mean, think about it - we ask her, "Do you want your purse?" So why doesn't she call it "your purse"? Plus, she always heads straight for Dillards, my favorite store. How does she know?

2. She insists on eating nothing but macaroni and cheese. My daughter worries that she isn't getting any nutrition whatsoever, but I hear this is the latest diet craze among babies. She's leading the way.

3. She is always on the lookout for new discoveries. Like, did you know that there are little tiny flowers in the grass, if you look hard enough? And there are acorns and little sticks on the sidewalk that must be moved onto the lawn, one at a time. And some houses have ceramic ducks by their front doors!!! Ducks!!! It's no wonder it takes us an hour to walk four blocks to the park.

4. She is a brilliant problem solver. She knows that there is one word that can solve every problem, fulfill every need, and trump the wishes of her parents. Can you guess what that word might be?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fun With Dick And Jane

I have fond memories of my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Edgerton. She was at least 100 years old, as I recall, but she was wonderful. Very creative. She used to cut words out of the newspaper and put them in an envelope. If we were good, we could pick out a word and try to read it.

Can you imagine the excitement?

Seriously. I thought it was great fun to pick out a crumpled piece of newspaper and sound out words like "Monday" or "coffee."

Today's first-graders don't know what they are missing. They think they are cool, using LeapFrog Learning Pads and reading in French and doing algebra in their spare time. Of course, if their teachers cut words out of the newspaper they would end up sounding out terrifying things like "recession" and "homeless." Parents would be calling the school to complain. If they still had phone service. Or a home.

Anyway, back to my fascinating childhood. Our first grade book was "Fun With Dick and Jane," a classic piece of literature that is now listed in the Antiquarian/Collectible section of eBay, which is appropriate but a bit depressing nonetheless. There was an entire collection of Dick and Jane books, each of which used four words in various combinations to tell a story.

See Jane run.
Run Jane, run.
Run fast Jane.
Fast, Jane, fast.
See Jane run fast.
See? Jane run fast.
Fast! Run fast, Jane.
Run, Jane. Fast. See? Jane run fast. Fast? Fast, fast. See? Jane! Run!!

There were some amazing twists and turns in the plots, as you can tell. Not to mention the surprise endings. (Will Jane run? We couldn't wait to find out.) And once Spot came into the picture, watch out! There was no end to the hilarity and hi-jinks. (Sit, Spot! Run, Jane! See Spot sit!)

Who needs a LeapFrog Learning Pad? By the time we were all in high school, we were reading just fine. Sit, Jane. Sit.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

How to overcome writer's block

You know the feeling. You stare at that blank computer screen with a totally blank mind, typing lame attempts at some kind of sentence -

... The night was (erase, erase, erase)

... The other day I (erase, erase, erase, erase)

... This is so retarded I have no idea what I'm doing why did I think I could be a writer I wonder if Sonic is hiring come to think of it I'm starving I think I'll go get some tater tots (drive to Sonic and forget all about lame attempts at writing)

I have two projects on my desk right now that have Writer's Block written all over them. In fact, they should have come with warning labels -

"WARNING: Do not attempt to actually write these projects or your brain will instantly freeze."

My clients expect them back tomorrow so I suppose I really should have a look. groan.

Project number one is a newsletter. Now, I write newsletters all the time. Should be a breeze, right? Wrong. This one is for a client who once complained that my newsletters are boring. Sure, that was only one time out of literally thousands of complaint-free newsletters over the years. But for my perfectionist brain, it's the only one that counts. Now, every time I start to write his newsletter I think "Don't be boring! Don't be boring!" and suddenly I find that I am so boring my articles make people roll their eyes and become semi comatose and wish Al Gore would get up and give a four hour Death By Powerpoint speech.

Project number two is a series of ads. There will be four ads. Here is the extensive and obviously well-thought-out creative brief the client sent:

Auto Loan
Graphics will be based on the eye catching and quirky qualities of the copy.

Let me walk you through the creative process, here. I will explain the do's and don'ts of Writer's Block as I go.

1. Do - study the creative brief. If you are lucky there will be some helpful information in there. If you are me, it will have 18 unhelpful words.

2. Don't - be discouraged if the creative brief is only 18 words long. Remember, you are a writer. You can do this.

3. Do - go do something else. Throw in a load of laundry. Wash the car. Get your mind off the project and a brilliant idea will occur to you, like combining all the topics into one quirky and eye-catching ad, showing a family moving out of their house in the middle of the night because they can't afford their mortgage payment and their investments are worth nothing but they still have the security of their mini-van because thank God they came to XYZ Financial for an auto loan.

There! That wasn't so hard after all.

4. Do - go to Sonic. I know their ads are terrible, but those tater tots are really great. Let me know if they are hiring.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

For Sale in Wasilla Alaska

No, it's not designer clothing sold by the bag - but you're close!

From the "free" section of Wasilla's craigslist (only because there is no "eww" section):

Do you spin your own wool? I have a white German shepherd and was wondering if any wool spinners out there would like to come get all this hair that I saved from brushing him. If you're interested I'll just keep your number and you can have all the hair there is to come. It's really beautiful and soft and white, you could make some very nice things with it.


Ok, I just can't resist. Here are a few more things that might show up on Wasilla's craigslist:

  • Study guide for the GED. Gently used.
  • Book on preventing teen pregnancies. Brand new, never been read.
  • Poster of Katie Couric. Perfect for target practice.
  • Moose heads. Plenty more where these came from.
tee hee - miss ya Sarah!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Why my childhood was not up to code: Part 2

My first installment of Why My Childhood Was Not Up To Code dealt with our family car, which would not have met any current safety standards whatsoever. Just coming to a gentle stop at a stop sign would have catapulted the crash dummies through the windshield. We avoided injury mostly because we were small, flexible and packed in so tightly there wasn't much room for catapulting.

Anyway, installment # 2 will deal with one of the leading causes of childhood injuries back in the Good Ol' Days ... gym class.

Some children have fond memories of merrily hopping, skipping, bouncing balls and learning new skills in gym class. Not me. I have dark nightmares and sudden flashbacks.

I remember a terrifying game called "Dodge Ball" that involved the big mean boys standing in a circle, hurtling huge hard rubber balls at the small spindly children like me and knocking us to the ground. I would have been happy to stay on the ground, but no - the rules required me to get back up, pick up the ball that was twice as big as me, stagger around for a few seconds, then wrench my whole body to one side in an attempt to throw it at the big mean boys, who were now standing in the middle of the circle laughing hysterically.

Then there was the hopelessly confusing game called "Basketball" where the rules went on and on. You couldn't stand still for more than 3 seconds or that blasted whistle would blow, and once you started moving you had to dribble the ball at the same time, so I was forever trying to count to 3 while searching desperately for someone to throw the ball to so it would not become apparent that I had no idea how to dribble and in the end I would just throw the ball straight up in the air and that whistle would shriek and I would pray that the teacher wouldn't make me stand outside the line and throw the ball in because there was counting involved with that too and honest to God who needs that kind of pressure when you're only 8 years old?

Things got worse in high school. Those memories are deeply repressed. If I close my eyes and force myself to remember, I get fuzzy images of school-issued green bathing suits, mandatory showers, and softballs whizzing past my head.These may or may not be real memories. I try not to think about it.

Today, gym classes are much more child-friendly. The rules are designed to encourage self-esteem and keep the school's insurance costs as low as possible. Balls may not be thrown. Children may not be knocked over. Teams, whistles and keeping score are out. Here in Texas, children are not even allowed to play tag during recess. Seriously.

Where were these rules when I needed them?


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