Sunday, January 30, 2011

AFSP Leadership Conference Debrief

I love conferences and I love meeting new people. If only I could make a career out of my grown-up version of Sorority Rush. Plus, I love learning new stuff (that I'm interested in - not boring stuff like astronomy). Plus, I love getting new creative ideas that I will eventually steal and call my own. So spending the weekend schmoozing at a conference in San Diego where it's sunny and warm (except for the 3 days I was there, of course) ranks right up there with a scrapbooking getaway weekend, which is only slightly below a Hollywood stalking event. Anyway, here's my somewhat incomplete review. In other words, I started keeping notes and then - squirrel.

Thumbs down:
  • Finance in a general session first thing Saturday morning. Yaaawwwwwn.
  • Brain disease research, with pictures, right before lunch. BLE: "Here's our brain stem friend." Yummy, now what's for lunch?
  • Reading PPT slides. Uber-pet peeve of mine.

Thumbs up:
  • Sitting (and getting a picture) with Wade Hanson from Season 10 of The Apprentice. Okay, I know I'm stretching the definition, but I think we all know by now that I'll take a celebrity sighting in any way, shape, or form. I am not proud of this.
  • Lunch with a real live brain surgeon (Dr. Victoria Arango). I'm pretty sure I'm smarter by osmosis now.
  • Watching the super-awesome peeps from AFSP-Indiana win all kinds of awards.
  • "Carnival of Ideas" open house, with wine and cheese. And not only do all the different chapters share their ideas, but they encourage you to steal them. It's a win-win! As our big boss said, "I've never had an original idea in my life, but I'm a good thief." He even stole those words right out of my mouth.
  • Trees and shoes. Not only do I love this as a memorial, but it's all kinds of crafty goodness.
  • Quilts, quilts, and more quilts. My favorite is the one that's made in individual squares that can be unbuttoned and rearranged.

Blunder of the day: 
As I tripped over my bag/purse/books underneath my chair for the 15th time, I blurted out, "Jees, I'm gonna kill myself tripping over this stuff" except that's not how it came out. I inadvertently inserted a pause after "myself" as I was in mid-trip. Cue gasp.

PSA - The More You Know:
  • Depression is a disease of the brain just like asthma is a disease of the lungs. The brain is an organ just like the lungs, heart, liver, etc.
  • Suicide is the result of a diseased brain. Bullying, stress, etc., are triggers, not causes.
  • The correct word for a death by hanging is hanged, not hung. "He hanged himself" not "he hung himself".
  • The phrase “committed suicide” is NOT should say “died of suicide” instead. (Would you say "he committed cancer"? No, of course not.) People commit crimes. Suicide is not a crime. Period. 
  • If you're interested in reading the latest articles about suicide prevention and mental illness, check out Normal Is a Setting on a Washing Machine.
And now to lighten the mood, here's a picture of our boss and our Board president in the hotel bar. Nope, not even a costume theme party. Normally I would say, "Oh those crazy kids", but that falls into the "things not to say while surrounded by mental health peeps" category. Finally, I must close with a picture of our fabulous AFSP SoCal crew. Basically the whole weekend was just one big hot dish of fabulousness.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Words on Wednesday, reprised

I discovered this bundle of grammar goodness the other day and I must share. And by "discovered" I mean, someone sent me a link to thebestwebsiteever, The Oatmeal, and I got sucked in for hours of giggling pleasure. Now, for those of you who have been missing Words on Wednesday, here ya go. The first two are reviews of previous lessons, and the last two are things that are tricky, even for me, The Queen Goddess of All Things Grammar. I know it's hard to believe, but I've actually made a couple of grammar errors in my lifetime. Of course I quickly had them covered up, held a press conference, hired a PR firm to spin it, and swept it into the closet with all those other skeletons, so no one ever found out the truth. Let's just keep it between you and me, okay?

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p.s. Teachers/Parents - click on the link to buy The Oatmeal Grammar Pack of posters.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Welcome to Hollywooooooood! What's Your Dream?!?

The day I moved to la-la-land, my friends/family starting contributing to my bail money fund. Similar to a college fund, but way more practical. You see, I spend an inordinate amount of time in the fantasyland that is my head, which causes me to have stalker-like tendencies. Specifically, celebrity stalker tendencies. And they have these pesky laws against that. So, while I have no plans to make an appearance in Nick Cage's house wearing his jacket, I can't promise that I haven't thought about it. And because my friends know me so well, they closely monitor the red carpet event clips on TV to see if I'm there and sporting a new pair of stainless steel bracelets. 

Despite having to obey the laws, I have had some exceptional encounters in the past few years (Matthew McConaughey). I've also stretched the definition of "celebrity" on occasion (Bristol Palin). All in all, my portfolio is growing nicely and I've avoided jail time. Bonus for everyone involved.
Andre Agassi
Ellen DeGeneres' Emmy Award
Eva LaRue
David Duchovny
Jon Cryer
Michael Easton
Barbara Walters
Betty White
Sherri Shepherd
Justin Bruening, Colin Egglesfield
Cameron Mathison
Carolyn Hennesy
Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy
Mario Lopez
Jeremy Piven
Jason Lee
Ethan Suplee
Trevor Donovan
Mark Feuerstein
James Marsden
Bristol Palin, Mariette Hartley
And just in case you have the urge to burst my bubble like my 12yo niece did when I said, "I saw Jay Leno the other day" and she said, "I've never heard of him", here's the IMDB link to look them up. By the way, if you feel the urge to participate in my official Celebrity Stalker Sweepstakes, thereby necessitating the need for your own bail money fund, feel free. We can have neighborhood block parties in fantasyland. Or jail.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How's the Weather?

Someone shared Megan McGloverful's videos with me last week and can I just tell you, I cannot get enough of this woman!?! She's reporting on the freak-show snowstorm in Atlanta and you all know how I HATE cold and LOVE to complain about the weather. In fact, some might say I'm obsessed with it. Hot/cold/rain/fog - it doesn't matter - I will bitch and moan like Goldilocks. "This day's too hot...This day's too cold...This day is juuusst..." except you never actually hear me say it's "just right" because I'm an ingrate when those days come around. I do tend to have a sense of entitlement, which probably comes from living in FL and CA where the Chamber of Commerce brochures brag about "sunny and beautiful" despite the frequent variant days in between. But here I am making this all about me (weird how that happens, huh?) when I really want to show you some samples of Megan's hilarious weather reports.

Beginning of the week...snow had just started...


End of the week...cabin fever has set in...

Beginning of the 2nd week...can't win for losing...

I cannot stop laughing! And it's a "laugh with" not "laugh at" because this is exactly how I feel during cold weather. You know, when June Gloom hits and we dip below 70 degrees for an entire month, which is almost the same thing. Anyway, meander on over to YouTube and check her out. I most definitely love her long and strong!

***** UPDATE *****

Of course you knew it was only a matter of time before a weather station snatched her up. You can also check her out on Facebook.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Congrats to the SEC...again...

Once again, the SEC rules the BCS world as Auburn wins the National Championship for 2010. I guess if the Gators can't win it every year (or even come close to fielding a team worthy of middle school intramurals, as was the case this year) then I have to be happy for the other Orange and Blue team. However, the real reason I'm happy for them is because their coach is one of our own. Gene Chizik was a busboy at the UF Chi Omega house in the early 80s and dated one of my sisters, so I'm pretty sure the early Chi O influence is the source of his fantastic coaching abilities. You're welcome, Auburn.

BTW, when I say "SEC rules", I'm not just spewing football smack-talk. There are real live statistics to back it up.

Only 234 days left until football season begins.....276 days until Florida plays Auburn.....

Friday, January 7, 2011

Devil's in the House of the Rising Sun

I am terrified of all things Satanic. This fear has nothing to do with my Christian beliefs, the Bible, my reserved seat in the proverbial hand-basket, or any retro-angst over attending a Jr. High with the "Red Devils" as the mascot. I'm actually not sure where this ingrained fear comes from, but I have several clues.

It could have something to do with reading The Omen when I was 16 because my mom forbid me to see the movie and I figured I'd skirt around that directive by reading the book instead. Brilliant idea, because the scary devil-things in the movie (which, of course, in true teenager mindset I ended up seeing anyway) were nothing compared to the details in the book. I had nightmares for years. Go ahead, Mom, say it - you know you want to.

It could have something to do with that whole "if you play a record backwards you can hear satanic messages" trend. We did this one night in college and it is absolutely true! I'm not sure what the messages were because I was too busy hiding under the pillow after the first sentence. To this day if I ever hear any sort of audio distortion, I know it's the devil speaking to me.

It could have something to do with movies like Damien, The Seventh Sign, and The Exorcist that I should've known better than to ever watch. I even watched The Exorcist years after it came out, on video, in the middle of the afternoon, surrounded by 3 friends who I made swear that they wouldn't leave me alone for at least the rest of the week, and was still terrified. I've never watched the remake and have no plans to. Too little, too late, probably.

However, despite all of these contributing factors, I really think my fear was implanted at a much younger age for a much sillier reason. When I was little - like elementary-school-aged-impressionable little - someone told me this story: If it's raining outside while the sun is shining and you put a nail in the ground with a metal pot over it and then put your ear to it, you can hear the devil beating his wife. And because I have repeated this story every single time there's a sunshower for almost 40 years, I often get the "I've never heard of that before in my life" comment, accompanied by the you-have-3-heads look of confusion. So, upon hearing it for the 786th time the other day, The Husband challenges me to find out if it's really a "thing" or just something I completely dreamed up. In other words, "Google it, honey". "Okay," I thought, "I'll show him." But I didn't, really. I did find out that there are lots of theories, though:
  • Devil is beating his wife. (US - esp. the South, Italy, Holland, Hungary)
  • Devil is kissing his wife. (Tennessee)
  • Devil is beating his wife and marrying his daughter. (France)
  • Devil is beating his grandmother. (Germany)
  • Devil and his wife are fighting over a bone. (Carribean)
  • Devil is getting married. (Hungary)
And while these are all quite, um, interesting, I didn't find anything that mentioned a nail and a metal pot, so I'm not finished with my research quite yet. I mean, I couldn't have mis-heard this very wise elementary-school-aged classmate, right? And perpetuated the myth in true urban legend form? And btw, I double-dog-dare you not to repeat this story the next time there's a sunshower. In fact, while you're at it, get out an old record and play it backwards.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Move Over, Marlo

In between my moments of "It's All About Me" I have moments of altruism. My biggest contribution to society lately is playing the role of "That Girl", not of the cutesy Marlo-Thomas-kite-flying sitcom of the 60s. My role is much more important to society. No doubt you've all encountered me at some point and you're welcome.
  • I've gained 10 lbs during the holidays, but at least I'm not as fat as That Girl.
  • I'm having trouble following along in this exercise/dance/pilates/yoga class, but at least I'm not as uncoordinated as That Girl.
  • I can only lift a 3-lb weight, but at least I can lift more than That Girl.
  • I finished near the end of this 5K race, but at least I beat That Girl.
  • I may be dressed like People of Walmart today, but at least I don't look as bad as That Girl. 
However, as much as I enjoy my service to humanity, I may have to cut back on this particular random act of kindness. Visions of Bonnie Grape and Momma Boone have been dancing through my head lately, and trust me, it's not like sugarplums at all. Although sugarplum visions are what got me into this predicament in the first place (along with the 4 food groups - pizza, beer, chocolate, salt), so I guess we've come full circle.

Look away...I'm hideous. Click to enlarge, if you must.
Plus, I'm pretty sure all my neighbors will be mad at me when they have to tear down the building just to remove me. So even though I hate Satan's Gym, I will schlep on. And of course I will continue to bitch and moan about it. Hey - maybe I can re-create myself as "Before Picture".

Monday, January 3, 2011

Surf's Up

This interwebz thing is the best invention ever; I sure hope it sticks around. Since I surf a lot (i.e. procrastinate when I should be working), I've discovered some gems to share. Check out some of this FREE technological goodness:

Color Cop: For those of you who are uber-anal about matching the exact right color, download this immediately and pin it to your start menu. No more looking up hex codes and taking a wild guess at blue vs. navy blue vs. midnight blue vs. pacific blue vs. dress blue. Or my favorite, dumpster vs. park bench. (I'm not kidding - dumpster=#004F00 and park bench=#2E6444.)

Free Technology for Teachers: Let's face it, I'm a teacher at heart. I left many years ago because I was tired of living like a pauper (don't get me started on my soapbox), but the bottom line is, if I could do anything in the world and money didn't matter, I'd still be teaching. Anyway, this website makes me drool. It has resources, lesson plans, e-books, apps,'s a combo of teacher and techie fantasyland.

Rescue Time: Secret's out...I procrastinate. Even as I sit here writing this, I know that I have about 40 hours of work I need to complete today, yet here I am. I keep thinking if I could just get a handle on my time-management issues, my life would be so much better. Well, that and a winning lottery ticket. So anyway, imagine my delight when I found this little tool that would micro-manage me. It monitors every moment you spend on your computer and categorizes it so you can see that you spent 1 hour on your PPT presentation and 5 hours on facebook. It's a cold, hard slap in the face, trust me.

TeAchnology: Again with the drooling. This site has resources, lesson plans, printable worksheets, rubrics, and all the stuff teacher dreams are made of.

Vodafone Parents' Guide: If you're a parent, chances are your 6-yr-old has helped you with a technology issue. While they're running circles around us in cyberspace, remember that they still have the common sense of, well, a kid. This site helps parents get up to speed on what kids are doing online and how to keep them safe doing it. There are quizzes (how much do you know), tips, tutorials, and resources all dedicated to keeping your kids safe online. Sadly, "don't talk to strangers" just isn't enough anymore.

So many more to share, but my Rescue Time alert is nagging me to get back to work, so it'll have to wait. Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I Blame Mark Zuckerberg

As those of you who know me know, nothing is EVER my fault. I have perfected the blame game to levels that would make any teenager green with envy. Some blame is perfectly legitimate, while other times it's more of an excuse justification for something I shoulda/woulda/coulda done, while other times it's a flat-out stretch of the imagination. For example:
  • Legitimate: Freeway traffic = blame too many idiot drivers.
  • Justification: I'm late = blame freeway traffic. (Okay, maybe I should've left earlier.)
  • Stretch: Didn't leave earlier = blame The Husband who secretly hid my keys. (In the bottom of my purse. Or in my jacket pocket. Or underneath my pile of clutter on my desk.)
You see how the blame game trickles down? So, blaming Mr. Zuckerberg for the demise of my ability to write more than 420 characters at a time makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Sometimes it's Just. So. Hard. (insert drama queen-esque whine and cap it off with a huge sigh while flopping to the floor) to do the different drummer march thing, so I give up. Good-bye multi-paragraph essays accompanied by an introduction, conclusion, thesis statement, research, photos, and most importantly, a point. I must join the jumbled-random-thoughts bandwagon, lest I give up writing completely. Somewhere in a file cabinet my English degree is weeping.

Weather update: For those of you who saw the CA brochure weather at the Rose Parade/Bowl yesterday, let me be the first to remind you that we are Hollywood, after all, and special effects are our thing. Today it's been pouring, freezing, and -- oh, what's that news just in? -- S-N-O-W-I-N-G in Valencia.

Football update: Gators won...Broncos lost...I love Tim Tebow. That's about the extent of my football thoughts for the weekend, as well as the entire 2010 season. Oh, and the burning question of the year...Mr. Pouncey, seriously, how hard is it to hike a football?

Farewell to the urban legend that was Urban, which makes me too sad to talk about. But, welcome Coach MusCHAMP and a new era. And now the long sports drought begins...only 244 days until football season.

Tim Tebow update: His latest Jockey ad makes me tingle all over. So much so that I had to download it as my wallpaper. If I have my way, it will end up as real wallpaper in my office. 

Click to enlarge. Trust me, you'll want to.
New Year's Resolutions update: Wash, rinse, repeat. Mark Twain said it best..."Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual."

However, check out what I did today (this may or may not actually be me in the picture)...

Wait - let me rephrase...this is the class I attended where everyone else did this and I spent most of my time falling over and untangling myself from this evil machine. I have a month to go because I bought a special deal in a moment of "I'm going to get in shape" weakness, which means 29 more days to learn left from right, figure out how to move two limbs at once, and balance on things that move while counting/squeezing/stretching/breathing and trying not to kill all the skinny bitches in the room.

Things that make me laugh update: Signs from The Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear. (Don't worry - I'll be posting more of these soon. There are just too many good ones that can't be ignored.)

Stay tuned for my next mashup of profundities.