Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book Clubs and Disbelief

Tonight was book club. Which is great, usually. I get out of the house, have conversations with grown ups, eat junk food and talk about books.

Tonight, attendance was a little low, so there was really only one central conversation instead of several splintered-off conversations as usual. Which would be fine, except for the following:

- Nobody else has ever read the Lord of the Rings.

- Half the people in the room have never SEEN Lord of the Rings.

- We spent at least half an hour discussing the differences between the several versions of "Pride and Prejudice." (which, come on, if we're going to talk about "girl" movies, can we at least be creative about it?)

- We then discussed Hugh Grant and Colin Firth at length. 

- Nobody wanted to talk about The Hunger Games.

- Instead they wanted to talk about Nicholas Sparks novels.

Discuss.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Leaving Florida

We are in the process of moving from Florida to Arizona. Arizona is home, but Florida has been good to us these past three years.

Things I Will NOT Miss About Florida: 

- The schizophrenic weather. This morning it was sunny and breezy with very few clouds in the sky. By lunch time, it was pouring rain. Now it's sunny again. I've had to wipe raindrops off my sunglasses while I'm wearing them. I've seen it rain in my backyard but not my front, and I've seen the forecast say "Sunny All Day!" while it's currently raining. Phoenix might be hot, but at least I know what to expect. March 1- October 15th: No jacket. October 16- February 28th: Jacket in the morning and then again after dark.

- Trying to find my way around. This is a picture of Orlando:
Look at all those lakes you have to drive around! Major roads dead end on lakes all the time, and it is really annoying. I just recently found this out: Those lakes are almost all entirely man-made. They did this on purpose.

The roads are all named AND numbered. You driving down 423? That's also called John Young. It'll change to Lee Rd before you know it.

Add in the fact that the city planners seem to be allergic to putting addresses on anything and that the numbering system for addressing things appears to be willy-nilly. I'm on a north-south running street (more or less) and my house number is five digits long. Less than two miles north of me, however, on another north-south running street, the building numbers are only three digits long. And they get smaller the closer they get to me. #facepalm.

This is a picture of Phoenix (set on the same zoom level and pulled from the same site):
Straight lines. Everything is labeled. And I do mean everything. Houses, storefronts, plaza marquees, street signs, traffic signals, everything. As you drive along freeways, the overpasses are labeled, even when it's not an exit. Are you on a numbered street (35th Avenue, or 44th Street)? You're on a north-south running road. Avenues to the west, streets to the east. Smallest numbers downtown, and they get progressively bigger the further you move in any direction. You looking for house number 17452? It's north of Bell Road, I can guarantee you that. Because Bell Road is ALWAYS 17000 North. Everything north of it is bigger than 17000, everything south of it is 16999 or smaller.

- The freaking wildlife. From frogs in our house (several, over the last few years) to church grounds so full of lizards it looks like the ground is moving. From lovebugs that move through the air in swarms so thick you feel like you could choke to wasps big enough for you to see their eyes from more than fifteen feet away. From the deer that dig in my trash can to the possums that commit suicide on the freeways. The gators, the snakes, the giant birds, the armadillos and the turtles. IN PEOPLE'S YARDS.

- Swamp crotch. If you've ever experienced 90 degrees and 90% humidity, I don't need to explain this to you. If you've never experienced it, be grateful. Oh, and sorry for the graphic terminology. Not sorry enough... but a little sorry, at least.

- Daylight *&^(@*#)^ Savings Time. Twice a year, our schedules get thrown for a loop. In the spring, they suck away an hour of your life, forcing you to be late or need to skip breakfast for a couple of weeks while you adjust to the new time. In the fall, they trick your kids into waking up at 5 AM instead of 6 AM. This stays in effect for far longer than seems reasonable, in my opinion. This is all so that it's not dark when you leave your office to go to happy hour. Or farmers. Or something.

- Colonial Drive. 

- The lack of Mexican restaurants. There's a lot of Latin food here- but it's not Mexican. If you like Puerto Rican food, Dominican food, Cuban food, Guatemalan food, Brazilian food, Ecuadorian food or Chilean food, you're in luck. Mexican food? You better like Abuelo's. (we don't)

- Some of the most crowded and convoluted government systems anywhere. You want a driver's license? Fine. You need to make an appointment. Online. Three days before you can go to the DMV. You'll still wait for a couple hours. You cannot register your car at the same time. That's at a different DMV office. New appointment. More waiting. You'll get your title from a different office, they'll mail it to you. Sell a car? You need to keep the plate and return it to the state yourself.

- Toll Roads. I can sort of understand the need, and I get that it displaces a lot of the local tax burden to tourists (since they will stick to the freeways regardless of cost). But... really?

- Being woken at 2 AM to a sonic boom. This has ceased since Kennedy Space Center stopped sending new shuttles into space, but HOLY COW!!! I can honestly say that I know what it feels like to wake up thinking that Word War III has started in your city. Luckily, I was very wrong... but still.


Things I WILL Miss About Florida:

- My power bill. Cooling a house to 78 when it's only 84 outside is not all that expensive. I can even turn the AC/Heater off completely for a couple of months. Cooling a house to 78 when it's 118 outside? Or heating it to 74 when it's 45 outside? Expensive.

- Say it with me: DISNEY. I think we racked up just over a hundred visits in twenty-seven months of being pass holders. At least we got our money's worth out of them.

- The multi-culturalism. Orlando is a true melting pot, and introducing our children to different races, languages and cultures has been pretty easy.

- Our friends. We've been welcomed into a ward here with open arms. We've forged lifelong friendships. I've watched some of the most amazing people serve in the most selfless and loving ways. Sometimes they've been serving others, and I've been lucky enough to see it. Sometimes I've been lucky enough to serve alongside them. And sometimes I've been a grateful recipient of that service.

My kids have been accepted and loved. In previous places, I've fended off judgmental stares and hurtful gossip. Here, everybody seems to just love my kids for being themselves.

I've cried in front of these people (big surprise, eh?) and I've laughed with them. I've met people from all walks of life, each of whom as has taught me something. And they are what I will miss the most. No question.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reading Habits

I stole borrowed this from Julia King's blog, Writing Jewels. Can you borrow something in the blogosphere? I can't really return it? Anyway. Julia would be cool with me borrowing this. I know it.

If you could live in a fictional world, where would that be?

Oddly enough, I find this the hardest question on this list. Every fictional world I can think of has its own (major) drawbacks. But, in the end, I think I need to go with Narnia. The Golden Age, of course.

Do you read in noisy or quiet places?

Both. I read while my kids are playing together- so that's noisy. But I also read in bed before I go to sleep- so that's quiet. Different kinds of books, usually.

What was the first book you ever read?

Probably Green Eggs and Ham or something like that. However, since I think this question is digging at "what book did you first love?" I'm going to have to answer with the quintessential 90s girl answer: The Babysitters Club series. I devoured those books. I got grounded from reading because I spent too much time reading those books.

Yes. I'm serious.


If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Harry Potter.  YesTheyAllCountAsOneBookDon'tTellMeTheyDon't!!!

Though, I have to say that Julia mentioned that she set religion aside for this answer, and I am doing the same. I am also currently reading her answer to this question: Atlas Shrugged. It is wonderful. Long. But Wonderful.

Favorite Author?

Rowling. Though the following authors have earned a spot on my buy-everything-they-write-list:

JK Rowling
Terry Goodkind
Stephenie Meyer
Melanie Jacobson

Do reviews influence your choices of reads?

Sometimes. In my years as an interviewing hiring/firing kind of manager, I learned to read between the lines and see what people are really saying. So, with certain people, I trust their reviews. But, mostly I find reviews fall into two camps: "I LOVE ALL THE BOOKS!!!!" and "I summarize all the books."

Fiction or Non-fiction?

75% Fiction, 25% Non-Fiction. Even excluding school books, I still read a fair amount of non-fiction. This is how I feel confident in making some of the wacky decisions I do regarding politics, homeschooling, parenting, etc. I educate myself.  

Have you ever met your favorite author?

No. I can't even say that I've ever even met a real author :(

Audio books or Paperback?

Books. Not audiobooks. I don't know how people can focus on and get immersed in a story when it's just playing in the background.  

Classic or Modern Novels?

Both. More modern than classics, admittedly, but I do make sure that I read a classic every now and then, too.

Book groups or Solitary Reading?

Every book club I've ever been in, including the one I'm in now, is basically an excuse to get out of the house and socialize for three hours during the week. Sometimes we get around to actually talking about the book, but usually not. So, while I love the idea of a book club (a real one) where I can discuss what I liked and disliked about a particular book, I have to admit that I'm mostly a solitary reader.

Don't get me wrong, "book club" is the highlight of my month, even when we don't get around to the books. But, if it's that much fun NOW, imagine how much fun it could be if we talked about books all the time?!?!?!

If you could invite three dead authors to a dinner for four, whom would you invite?

I honestly can't think of anybody (who is dead) that I'd like to talk to more than C.S. Lewis. Tolkien, maybe. But I get the feeling he'd be a little too over-the-top-fantasy-weirdo-guy. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Now, what are your reading habits?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Top Ten Ways to Alienate Twitter Followers

#10- Tweet nothing but self promotion. Tweet out links to your blog, your book, your Etsy store and nothing else, ever. Make sure you re-tweet whenever anybody else links to your blog, your book, your Etsy store. (Thanks, @DebbieCranberryFries)

#9- Don't respond to @ mentions. Even if you ask a question of the twitterverse, and people respond to your question, do not respond to them. It makes them think that you "value" them.

#8- Use Friday as the day to @mention as many people as possible. #FF is just a way to say "Hey, you're following me. Here's a link." In order for this to really work, you need to mention at least ten people in every tweet, and tweet a new list every thirty seconds or so. This way you can reach maximum spam effect. 
#7- Be passive aggressive. Twitter is the new Facebook. It got "annoying" to put your business out there on Facebook, so do it on Twitter instead. This is particularly awesome because most passive-aggressive rants require far more than 140 characters, so you'll have to break it up into multiple tweets. But since you will write it in order, and everyone's timeline shows the most recent tweets first, they will read everything in reverse order, starting with the last thing you said! (thanks a lot, @KimbaMcG)

#6- Be a bot. (on a completely serious note, does anybody understand how bots have followers? or is this a mystery only confounding me and @sweeneysays?)

#5- Type lik dis 2 sav space. U no its NBD. U R 2 Cool 2 wrry bout vwls n stuf. 

#4- Use TruTwit Validation Services. Hi, there, person I don't know. I want to confirm you are not a bot, so I will use a bot to confirm this. Please enter in a code so that you can be deemed worthy of reading my passive-aggressive and/or self-promoting tweets.

#3- Use an automated Direct Message Service. This way, everyone who follows you will get a beautiful, generic message thanking them for following (they are really doing you a great service!) and wishing them a great day. It is a touching way to show all 313,596 followers that you really care. BONUS: Use automated DMs to tweet out self-promotional links to new followers as soon as they sign up. 

#2-  Beg for attention. "Plz like my FB page" and "Plz RT"* and "Plz comment on my blog" tweets are totally legit. Nobody gets annoyed. It's not spammy. And it's completely different from the self-promotional stuff. 

*I want to put in a note on the "Please Re-Tweet"/"Plz RT" notes: there are times you are genuinely trying to either a) disseminate important information or b) get an answer to a question and re-tweets will help you accomplish your goal. When this is done NOT in conjunction with self-promotions and other behaviors on this list, it is NOT alienating at all. So... do it only if you want people to like you. Like that matters. 

And, the #1 way to alienate people on twitter is...

You tell me. What are the most annoying things that people do on Twitter?

Friday, March 16, 2012

I gave up.

Today, I gave up.

It's not that I've never given up before, because I have. I gave up Girl Scouts when I was twelve, the saxophone when I was eighteen and voice lessons before they ever really started. I gave up soccer and softball and painting and woodworking. I've given up on nearly as many hobbies as I've ever started (all hobbies ever started - the ones I gave up = the three I have now)

It's just that I've never given up on something important, something that mattered.

Today, for the first time in my life, I had to drop a class for non-medical reasons. I am simply not keeping up.


There are a lot of reasons.

First, I enrolled in three classes this semester. Last semester I took two and it went really well. So, of course, I thought "I CAN DO MORE!!!"

Not.

Second, the online system lets you enroll in "overlapping" online classes. Meaning, you can enroll in two or more Monday night classes, since the classes don't technically meet. I inadvertently did this. My other class is a live on-campus class that meets Tuesday morning. That means all my work needs to be completed on Monday nights, for all three classes.

My husband is gone all day Monday, which means I can't work on school stuff that day. I don't do school work on the Sabbath, so Sunday is out. So my work all has to be done Saturday night. Fine... except that my husband is also gone all day on Wednesday, I host preschool co-op on Thursdays, and OH YEAH, I homeschool and run a house full of three little boys. Friday and Saturday only to do all my work? Not happening.

I ordered the book the week my financial aid came in. The guy never shipped it. Eventually, I cancelled the order, placed a new one and waited again. That guy never shipped either. I cancelled the order, went to the (*@$#&$^# bookstore on campus and paid way too much for the book, two days after the return window expired. The one I ordered online arrived the following day.

Yes. I now have two copies of this book.

But these means I didn't get the book until after the third week of class had already started. Which meant I missed the first two assignments and had to scramble to catch up the third.

And it just snowballed from there.

Three days ago, I looked at my remaining assignments and realized I had no idea what she was even asking for in one of them. Of course, it was the one that constitutes thirty percent of our final grade. But it doesn't matter. I've been scrambling to catch up in this class, and I haven't succeeded. I've been getting poor grades on the assignments I've been able to finish, and missing more than I want to admit.

So that's it.

I gave up.

I withdrew from the course. The cutoff for withdrawal is Tuesday, so it won't count against my GPA or put me on Academic Probation or anything, but it still sucks.

I hate feeling like a failure.

But I have learned some important lessons from this, and that's what matters, right? Right?!

Please tell me I'm not alone... please tell me you've quit stuff, too.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Murphy's Laws

Murphy's Laws regarding blogging and/or writing in general:

- Whenever you have lots of time, you will have no ideas. You will stare at a screen forlornly, wishing for something awesome to appear in the bright, blank white space. The blank white space that is mocking you. (don't ever think that it's not mocking you... it is... it totally is)

- Whenever you have lots of ideas, you will have no time. You will generate dozens of word documents with titles like "Dystopian Something Or Other" or "Silly Love Story." This documents will contain random snippets of information regarding plot pieces, scenes, characters or back cover blurbs. Or you will find yourself staring at fourteen blog drafts, each containing a link to a story or picture that gave you inspiration at some point.

Of course...

- All these word documents and blog posts will make ZERO sense to you once you do have some time to sit down and actually tackle them.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Happy Mario Day!

Happy Mario Day!

Get it?

Because when you abbreviate "March" and use capitals, it looks like:

MAR10 

#IAmANerd

To celebrate, I'm showing you this awesome Mario bedroom I would love to do for my kids. Go check it out at Neatorama.com:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Trust No One

So, yesterday I blogged about how I was avoiding a research paper. Now, to be entirely honest, I was mostly joking. I did have my portion of this paper under control, but I was having a lazy kind of day, and I wanted to share my thoughts with you all.

In all truthfulness, this paper is a group paper. Which, as I am sure you know, sucks.

Isn't this the truth:

That graphic comes from EndlessOrigami.com, I didn't make it. But I wish I had.

Huffington Post referred to this as a "Universal Truth." I assume that means everybody feels this way about group projects.

But how is that possible?

I mean, if everybody thinks that they cannot trust their partners, then who is actually doing all the work? Right? If I think I cannot trust Bob or MarySue, and MarySue thinks she cannot trust me or Bob, and Bob thinks he cannot trust me or MarySue, that means we all think we are doing all the work. So... who is actually doing it? Who is really worthy of trust?

In my case, on this group paper I've been working on, it's fifteen pages, twenty sources, twenty minute PowerPoint presentation. Divided among three people. Graduate students. Students who successfully finished college and liked it so much that they decided to do it all over again.

So WHY on earth is this Universal Truth still holding true?

I'm the person in charge of compiling our work and making it one smooth, seamless paper. So, if we divide the work up evenly- fifteen pages, twenty sources- the other two people in my group should send me approximately five pages of content, citing six to seven sources, yes? (For the record, despite my tongue-in-cheek statements yesterday, I managed to complete seven and a half pages, with eleven sources cited.)

Why does one person send me four pages, citing nothing but the course textbook (not a valid source, by the way, the professor excluded the text as a source), and the other person sends me two pages with no sources. Those two pages, incidentally, are filled with paragraphs that are completely disjointed from each other, no transitions, no segues, no thesis statements, no conclusions... just five random paragraphs all talking about a similar subject. Oh, and neither of them is in correct APA format, so I have to reformat everything.

So, at this point, I've written more than both of them combined, and I have all of our viable sources for the paper.

Our professor is asking us to rate the performance of the other students in our groups, and I am totally going to throw them under the bus. Just so y'all know.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

This > Research Paper

Things I Have Been Doing Today:
- Playing referee to an endless number of spats over Harry Potter Legos.
- Twitter
- Pinterest
- Answering approximately fifty emails from a church associate, all of them about the same (very, very simple) subject
- Cleaning up grapes
- Reading "Cinderella Ate My Daughter" (review to go up soon)
- Writing a review of "Cinderella Ate My Daughter"
- Google Reader-ing
- Cleaning my ears
- Clipping my fingernails
- This blog post

Things I Should Have Been Doing Today:
- 15 page research paper on Effective Evidenced Based Intervention Models Used With Children Ages 0-5, complete with 20+ sources and 20 minute PowerPoint presentation. Due Tuesday.

Win.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I don't follow rules well.

I don't follow rules very well. Alright. That's not actually true. I follow rules extremely well. I belong to a religion that is full of rules, and I love them. I am the person that you hate at work who says things like "That's not what the company handbook says." or "That's not in line with corporate policy."

I think rules are in place to protect us, to keep order in the world, or to streamline processes. ALL GOOD THINGS.

However, when rules contradict one another or are not communicated clearly, I tend to go all limp and play dead. Cuz if I'm dead, then I can't be expected to follow your super-confusing rules, right?

So this is my really long way of explaining that I'm not going to play by the rules for the three different tags I've been given this past week. Everybody explained the rules slightly differently, or forgot to give out new questions, or something, so...

I'M MAKING UP MY OWN RULES- YAY!!!

So here's seven random things about me, since that seems to be the unifying theme amongst these tags:

1) I once stood in line for NSYNC tickets for fourteen hours. I mean, I sat down for most of that time, and actually slept in a sleeping bag for some of it, too, but... you know what I mean. Fourteen hours. And it was totally worth it.

2) People think I am capable of all kinds of weird things. Things that a) I am not capable of and b) nobody is capable of. Examples? In eighth grade, my science teacher said "You can't feel the difference in only a half a degree in the room, but it makes a difference in your body temperature." A kid in the class said, in all seriousness, "Gina can, I'm pretty sure." Whaaaaaaaaaat? Also, every single person I knew in high school came to me to confirm song lyrics. "Gina, are they saying 'Won't stop to the rhythm that you bop to' or 'Won't stop to the rhythm that has got you'?" (answer: neither. go away.)

3) I can play the piano upside down. 

4) I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in thirteen hours, straight through. Our bookstore gave out bracelets for the midnight release, I got mine on my lunch hour and then left work early to sleep. I slept from 5:00 till 11:50 PM, when I rolled out of bed and drove to the bookstore. I held up my bracelet with the number "17" on it, walking past hundreds of glaring, angry people until I was #17 in line. I bought my book at 12:02 AM, drove home and read until about 1:00 that afternoon. Also totally worth it.

5) I once spit milk all over a missionary. The joke wasn't even that funny, and the poor missionary who got spit on isn't even the one who told the joke.

6) I was dumped by the same guy twice. Not because we broke up and got back together, but because I didn't realize he had dumped me the first time, and he had to do it again a week later. True story.

7) I once fell completely across one of my employee's desks. In my defense, I was seven months pregnant and wearing very, very high heels. It was my first pregnancy and I hadn't realized that my center of balance had shifted quite so much. So, Awkward Boss of the Year award goes to me, yes? Yes. I also freaked this same employee out in a big, big way by going into false labor during his annual evaluation six weeks later.

Oh, and before you all go, I want to thank Laurie, Amber and Patricia for tagging me. You guys rock. Even if I don't follow your rules, you still rock.





Saturday, March 3, 2012

I hate phones.

I hate. HATE. talking on the phone. I am awkward and weird and I just hate it. Today, the following happened to me:

Somebody called me. This person very, very rarely calls me. (Who am I kidding? Anybody who calls is somebody who "very rarely calls.")

This person left a message that said, "Hi, Gina. This is ________. Call me back. K. Bye."

I call this person back.

This person answers the phone and says, "I can't talk right now. Can I call you tomorrow?"


Grrrrr.....

1) Don't leave me messages like that. I need to know what you need to talk to me about, or just text me if it's simple. Or email if its complicated. That way, I can just respond with whatever you need instead of calling you back, then hanging up, gathering whatever info you needed, and then calling you again.

2) Don't answer your phone if you can't talk.

3) I just feel like there is more annoying stuff about this situation, so I included a third bullet point.

But seriously- when do you think we can move to an all-texting or all-email society? Maybe with the occasional Skype call. I am awesome on Skype. Because you can see my face, and I do things like this: