Sunday, May 31, 2009

News at 11 ... but make it quick.

(this is WAY too long!)

I noticed it first on our local news station. Every story now has four points listed on the screen, to guide the listener through the complex and intricate details the reporter is describing. The points are very short, kind of like condensed, abridged Twitter posts. (I was going to say "Powerpoint slides" but I figured that would give away my hopeless antiquity)

Here are a couple of examples:

GM bankruptcy imminent
Deadline looming
UAW compromises
Bondholders uncertain


Cowboys stadium opens
Bazillion dollar project
Arlington happy
Dallas not so much

or, later in the broadcast:

Hot weather continues
Hot today
Hot tomorrow
Sure is hot

Now, ok, these little viewer guides may be helpful for people who have trouble following the 15-second single-syllable explanation from the news anchor. Fine. But today I noticed that is doing the same thing. And for them, it's just not working so well. calls them "Story Highlights." Today, I clicked on a link to a sweet, well-written story about a daughter trying to cope with her mother's death. Here is the first thing I saw:

Story Highlights:

After mother's death, daughter finds she's a lot like her father
Daughter and dad concentrate on "computer stuff"
Grieving handled by building electronic memorial
Eventually, daughter gets "I love you" e-mail from dad

Ack! They stripped away all the sweetness, destroyed any sense of drama or character development, and gave away the ending. Thanks, CNN.

I'm guessing that Cliff Notes (remember them?) are probably being replaced by Story Highlights as well, which would be really good news for students. I mean, who has time to read Cliff Notes?? They are, like, pages and pages long.

Story Highlights are the way to go. Here are a few possible examples:

Romeo and Juliet Story Highlights:

Teens fall in love
Parents in long-standing feud
Wherefore art thou
Everybody dies

Moby Dick Story Highlights:

Captain Ahab hunting big white whale
Whale is a symbol for something
Ahab is probably Jonah
But don't quote us on that

War and Peace Story Highlights:

Very extremely long book
Russions with very long names
War, battles, soldiers, death
Just really very long

(hmm ... these are kind of fun. maybe i could develop a whole new career, here!)


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Which way did they go?

(go left! go right! NO! not THERE!!)

It was kind of sad, watching Jay Leno's last Tonight show episode. It reminded me of Bob Barker's last Price is Right, another milestone in my admittedly shallow life.

How shallow am I? Well, when my kids were small, my ambition was to get a job that would allow me to watch The Price is Right every day at 11 am. For years, I managed to do just that. I taught piano lessons, and accompanied choirs, and worked at churches doing various jobs that might have generated a salary if I had a lower voice and maybe a beard.

But no matter what else I had going on, every day at 11 am I was glued to the television set, rooting for contestants to spin a dollar on the big wheel so they could win $1,000 and get another spin, and following that Plinko chip as if there was actually some way to control it, and scoffing at the ignorant people who bid $1259 when the person before them bid $1260 and any IDIOT could see that the correct bid was $1.

My youngest son used to watch with me. By the time he was 4, he knew the price of Westinghouse refrigerators and Broyhill living room sets. He knew that the prices in the Ten Chances game always ended in zero or five. And he loved watching that Plinko chip.

When somebody bid $1259 we would both throw our arms up in the air and shake our fists at the television set and yell, "WHAT are you THINKING??!"

Then we would eat grilled cheese sandwiches and take a nap.

Ah yes. Those were good times.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Rules

The Rules of Clothing, according to my favorite 2-year-old:

1. If your pj pants are warm and comfy, why change into something else?

2. Run away screaming when they approach you with a comb. Eventually they will give up.

3. Dress for the season. Spring is lots of fun.

4. Before leaving the house, be sure to check your shoes.

Monday, May 18, 2009

How to learn Spanish

(tacos, nachos, queso ... there are lots of Spanish words that are worth learning)

A funny post by Rae inspired me to share with all of you my sure-fire method of learning Spanish.

Ready? Here it is ... watch the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

I can hear you now. "What? Is she crazy? How can you learn Spanish by watching the Tonight Show?"

Hah. Lucky you. I have decided to share my secret. Just follow these simple steps:

First, you need an old television set like mine.

Second, you have to lose the remote control.

Third, go out and buy a "universal remote." Take hours and hours trying to program it. Give up in disgust. (The instructions make it sound easy, but that is only because they were written by a devious 12-year-old in Japan.)

Ok, fourth, now you will discover (if you are me) that it is way too much trouble to turn the channels without a remote. So you leave the television on channel 5 all the time. This means that at 10:30 Central Time, Jay Leno comes on the air. With Spanish sub-titles.

I have no idea why there are Spanish sub-titles on my television set. They only appear during Jay Leno. I would try to get rid of them, but that would mean more hours struggling with my universal remote. So every night, I follow the dialogue and try to figure out which words mean what.

So far, I have learned "Ahora! Jay Leno." That means "And now, Jay Leno!" Then Jay comes out and says "Bienvenido!" which means "Welcome!"

Then I fall asleep.

I was very happy to hear that Jay Leno will soon have a new show, which will air an hour earlier. I expect my Spanish vocabulary to increase dramatically. Or maybe I will just get an extra hour of sleep every night. That would be good, too!

As they say, everything tends to work out for the best.

Buenas noches, amigos.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Who turned the lights out?

(sure is dark in here!)

I was downstairs in the kitchen the other night, and my husband was upstairs watching tv. I finished puttering around and turned off the kitchen light - at the same moment that hubby turned out the upstairs light. The whole house went dark. Which is what usually happens when you turn the lights off.

Me: Oh no! The power's out.

Hubby: Great. Can you find the flashlight?

Me: No. I can't see a thing.

Hubby: I think it's in the pantry. What was that noise?

Me: Ow! Just my toe breaking.

Hubby: Forget it. Don't start rummaging in the pantry. I'll try to find my way down the stairs.

Me: Hey. How come the clock is still working on the microwave?

Hubby: What?

Me (flipping the light switch, which is what I should have done 5 minutes earlier): I guess the power came back on!

(...yes, the lights are on, but I'm often in the dark anyway.)


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Vote for me?

I am very excited about being nominated for a Blogger's Choice Award! Thank you Rae!! Just click on the little logo to the left to cast a vote for me. I promise not to raise your taxes or bail out any banks. Though I might need to go on all the talk shows and write a best-selling memoir at some point.

Anyway, cast a vote if you are so inclined!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

"A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie."
~ Tenneva Jordan

"A mother's arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them."
~ Victor Hugo

"All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother."
~ Abraham Lincoln

"Mom, when I think of you there is one word that comes to mind ... unscrupulous."
~ My son Jim, who is still a member of the family but only because he swears he thought unscrupulous was another word for beautiful.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pinching pennies for fun and profit

(see? it's easy)

I'm cheap. I'll admit it. The good news is, with today's economy people now appreciate the benefits of being cheap. So I'm no longer weird. I am now frugal, simplistic and environmentally conscious. In fact, I am so far ahead of the times I already know who will win the 2012 election. But I can't tell you without violating the rules of time travel. I also can't be in the same room with myself.

Anyway. Want some tips on how you can be ahead of the times like me? Here you go:

Tip# 1: Enjoy your old clothes. Sooner or later they will come back in style.

(my favorite sandals ... sure they are ugly, but who really looks at my feet anyway?)

Tip # 2: Re-use things whenever possible. For example, I re-use those annoying plastic grocery bags. In fact, I bought some re-usable fabric grocery bags which I would re-use much more often if I could only remember to take them out of my trunk at the grocery store.

(here is my fancy bathroom trash can, with my re-used bag from tramlaW)

Tip # 3, 4, and 5: Skip the expensive cosmetics. Instead, make your own!

First, make your own concealer. Take a cheap-o bottle of foundation, and smear some in the lid. (see the picture below) In a day or so, it will thicken up. Presto change-o! You now have concealer, in your perfect foundation-matching shade.

(yes, i honestly do this. ok, maybe i am weird after all)

Next, make your own tinted moisturizer. Take some cheap-o moisturizer, mix in a drop of your cheap-o foundation and voila! It even has sunscreen.

(do you know how much the department stores charge for tinted moisturizer? me neither, but i am sure it is a lot)

And finally, make your own fancy-schmancy mascara. All you need is a tube of cheap-o mascara and one square of toilet paper. Swirl the applicator in the tube, pull it out, and wipe off the clumps with your toilet paper. There ya go! Beautiful, clump-free mascara.

(works every time)

Now, most of you have never seen my face, other than the very small and deliberately blurry picture I put in my profile, which could be my high school graduation picture for all you know. So you will have to take my word for it. These penny-pinching cosmetics work just as well as the expensive stuff.

Stay tuned for helpful tips on recycling your chewing gum (hang pictures, fix your eyeglasses or plug that pesky leak in your tire) and making milk shakes from grass clippings (you will "go green" for days!).


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Piano lessons, life lessons - Part 2

(me and karen with our recital dresses and snazzy red fingernails)

Dear Parents,

You are cordially invited to our annual piano recital!

Saturday, June 10, 1964
11:00 a.m.
Holmes Hall

The performance order is listed below, with the truly gifted students at the end of the program, the cute little beginners at the beginning, and the children who really should choose another profession in the middle.

Please remind your child that all music must be memorized. This is for the children's own good. They might as well learn at an early age that we have certain expectations. If they make a mistake, they will be allowed to stop, turn beet red, sweat profusely, look frantically to the audience for help, and then make one more attempt to play the song. In the event of a second mistake, they have been instructed to freeze in place and then discreetly slink off stage. Please do not applaud.

We will serve cookies and punch at the conclusion of the recital. Kindly do not feed your children ahead of time. The carpet stains from last year are still quite evident. Besides, low blood sugar tends to speed up the tempos, which in the end is good for everyone.

Thank you for another wonderful year! If I get the ok from my physician, we will resume lessons in September. The nervous twitch has nearly subsided, so I am quite optimistic.


Mrs. Greenaway

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Help Wanted

(i don't think i would qualify for this one, either)

From time to time, I browse the online job boards, looking for a real job. I do already have a job, but I nostalgically wish for health insurance, paid vacations and sweet, friendly co-workers who would stop by my desk to chat and bring in a cake on my birthday.

Unfortunately, most of the jobs that are listed online have ridiculous requirements such as working 5 days a week (even in the summer!), wearing shoes at all times, and staying awake for at least 8 consecutive hours.

I did spot an interesting posting this morning. It was for a freelance copywriting opportunity here in Dallas. I meet all the requirements except one - "at least a working knowledge of InDesign" - so I thought, maybe I should buy InDesign and putter around with it a bit. How hard could it be?

Off I went to the InDesign website, where I discovered that, hey, there is also a program called InCopy! Perfect! Off I went to the InCopy page, where I learned that I can:

  • "Easily correct overset text without impacting table design"
  • "Easily edit content that appears in nonhorizontal alignment thanks to support for rotation in 90-degree increments"
  • Easily spend several hundred dollars for easy software that will easily be over my head within, easily, the first 60 seconds after I finish downloading it

I didn't want that job anyway.



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