Two Free Tickets to Aggravation

Last summer our church held a raffle for two free airline tickets to anywhere in the continental United States.  R-T, unbeknownst to myself, purchased a couple of them, in hopes, perhaps, of heading off into the sunset with a non-techie beauty whose porcelain complexion had never been tainted by the glare of a computer screen.  Then off we went on vacation to Chicago, where dearest R-T took a bad fall at a waterpark, and completely tore the tendons in his knee, requiring complete knee reconstruction surgery.  So imagine the irony at receiving a call, on the last day of our vacation from Hades, informing us that we were the lucky winners of those coveted tickets!

Needless to say, R-T had a difficult time getting excited about our windfall.  It is very difficult to convince a man who is enduring weekly torture at the hands of physical therapists that he ought to take yet another plunge into the big, wide, scary world beyond our hometown.  Every news story seemed specifically designed to bolster his determination that vacations are only for the mentally disturbed or suicidal.  Every week brought another report of a child who had lost a limb at an amusement park, a woman who had mauled at a zoo, or a surfer who became shark-bait.  My prospects for a second honeymoon with my honey were looking pretty slim indeed.

But finally, after many months, R-T had healed enough to entertain the thought of venturing further than Home Depot.  I started to get excited as visions of long romantic walks on the beach or moonlit helicopter tours over the city danced in my head.  And then I made the fatal mistake of sharing my hopes with my hubby.  Was I kidding??!!  Leave our boys as orphans when our plane went down in the middle of the desert??!!  Apparently, certain people’s travel phobias had taken on new life, and we were not only going to be maimed, but killed, just because we dared to confront the vacation gods. 

So what about our free tickets, I gently inquired.  R-T thought long and hard about this, and decided we should use the two free tickets, and then buy two more for the boys.  Evidently, hubby’s neurosis had advanced to the point where he felt hunky-dory with the idea of us ALL going down in flames, just so long as we didn’t meet our fates separately. I decided to ignore the obvious flaws in his logic, and just be grateful that there was a family vacation some time in our immediate future.

You would think that our problems were over at this point, wouldn’t you?  I mean, what could go wrong with two free plane tickets to anywhere in the lower 48, and the anticipation of seeing sites and places you had always hoped to see?  I’ll tell you what can go wrong.  How about a boatload of indecision?  We are winding down to the point where we have to make some decisions about what we are going to do with the tickets.  But, four different people going on vacation means four different opinions on where they should go.  And from time to time, the discussions have been a bit – – shall we say – – lively.  I’m for anywhere with sun and sand.  R-T is a geology buff, and longs for the badlands of the great west.  H-T is currently studying Langston Hughes, and is heart set on heading to somewhere “where people take jazz music seriously.”  Uber is as fickle as a twelve year old girl dropped off at an all-boys’ school – – how about Baltimore, or Los Angeles would be cool, but New York City might be awesome, oh–I know–Seattle!  We have two free plane tickets and not a concordant idea among us. 

Who would have thought it would be such a pain to win two free plane tickets??!! 

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Just Th!nk

When I was about eight years old, my dad took me to a car show at the local civic center.  The venue was full of shiny boxy 70’s versions of Plymouths, Fords, and Toyotas.  But the central focus of the show was on this incredible little futuristic concept car that looked like it had fallen directly down from Battlestar Galactica.  I was mesmerized.  My dad explained that this was an all-electric car, and that by the time I was driving, the roads would be full of these little environmentally and pocketbook friendly babies. The oil and gas crisis earlier in the decade had brought environmentalism to the forefront, and my dad naturally assumed that the general public would be clamoring for an alternative to their current gas guzzlers. So eight years later, license in hand, I looked around the highways and saw…the same old pollution-spewing, wallet-chomping vehicles. 

Where were all those little electrical beauties that my dad assured me would be there waiting for me?  Well, I’m still waiting.  I have had a fascination with electric cars since those early years, and I have been patiently impatiently waiting for the day when they are ready for the mainstream.  The past year has put my patience to the test.  As an economically-challenged homeschooling family, the current gas hike has made quite an impact on our budget.  My laptop took it’s last agonizing breath months ago, and I have been leeching from the generosity of Timeworn-Techie who has graciously lied about “not needing” her laptop right now.  Our vacation plans have gone from a weeklong family trip to Vegas we had been planning, to a long weekend at the beach.  Now granted these are not huge sacrifices, but they are enough to make me long for the day when I do not have to weep aloud at the gas pump.

And then along comes…the Th!nk – – the little car so reminiscent of my childhood futuristic fantasy.   They are comingThink-city-9_imagelarge to America sometime next year, and it couldn’t be soon enough for me.  I am intoxicated by the thought of owning one of these cuties.  So intoxicated, in fact, that I am barraging their North American company with offers to be one of the first test drivers of their zero emission, safety-conscious product.  I mean, why not me?  I live in the city (their target market), I am forward thinking, I am upwardly mobile, I am always ready to try something new.  And best of all, I am skint.  I simply can’t think of another person more suited to try out a Th!nk-mobile.  Ok, so maybe the fact that my family is made up of a 6′ 2″ man and two boys who are quickly gaining on him might put a slight damper on my prospects for this mini-mobile, but if I can convince the people at Th!nk that we have a background in circus clowning, and fitting large groups into small automobiles, I think we may stay in the running. 

So keep your fingers crossed for me, folks.  Cause staying on my good side might just mean I’ll take you for a spin in my snazzy little money-saver (as long as you have no prior history of claustrophobia, that is). 

"It’s Not Personal, Sonny. It’s Just Business" – – the Godfather

I love being techie, I swear I do, but sometimes…..

Can somebody tell me why we need all these chargers??  Just for the sake of you, my loyal readers, I went through my house and counted the number of chargers we have for our various gadgets and gizmos.  Would you believe we have 17 different chargers for a family of four???!!!  Please explain why in a civilization that can cram 120 MB of pictures on an SD card the size of a postage stamp, and can make a pompous, muscle-shirt-sporting Brit the go-to guy for American music critique, we can’t come up with a way to charge our devices without all these different attachments! 

Tonight, R-T needed to use the digital camcorder for a class project, and guess what was missing?  Now, I fairly easily located the other 16 chargers in our house, even without a divining rod, but that elusive 17th – – not anywhere to be found.  I checked every outlet, every drawer, every sneaky place a charger might try to hide.  (It being Earth Day yesterday and all, I thought maybe it was just doing its part)  But nothing. 

So it occurred to me that of the 16 remaining chargers, at least one of them would have to be compatible with the poor, charger-less camcorder.  Can you say “CONSPIRACY”??  Yes, my friends.  We have been hornswaggled by the electronic mafia.  Every gadget charger in the world has been deviously designed to be 1/100th of a millimeter different than every other charger.  I know this because I tried every one of them.  I tried so many male-to-female and female-to-male connections that I almost got a bit turned on.  But not one of them would work in the camcorder. And when I tried to force a couple that were pretty close, they made some sparking sounds that I’m pretty sure weren’t because of a romantic chemistry between them.

Does that mean that the conspirators win, then?  If my charger is missing, then I can’t use my camcorder.  So either I have to order another charger from the company, or buy a completely new device, right?  What other evidence do we need that we have become a totalitarian marketplace?  The gadget gurus have made us dependent upon their contrivances so that we can’t even remember our dentist appointments or find our chiropractor’s phone numbers without them.  And once this dependency is established, they laugh at our naive willingness to buy their stupid chargers to keep them running.  And then they laugh harder when we misplace said chargers.  Fascists.

I’ve decided to have my boys spend the rest of this homeschool year researching how chargers work.  We are going to study, experiment, and test every possible theory until we have figured out how to create a universal charger.  One Picturesingle device that will accept every electronic connection.  The plugged-in world as we know it, will be a thing of the past.   If you don’t hear from us, you will know that our plans have become uncovered, and that we have become a casualty of the Charger Conspiracy.  In the event that we do meet our demise at the bottom of Lake Michigan with a mainframe strapped to our ankles, I hereby will all of my electronic devices and their respective chargers to my  dear friends and family.  My camcorder, I will to my Aunt Fran, who never forgets to point out that I’ve put on a few extra pounds since she saw me last.  God bless us, every one.   

The Tunnel At The End of the Light

You’ve probably all seen it…the little girl playing in her yard in pink sweatpants with the “Juicy” symbol stamped across her barely eight-year-old hiney.  The boy skateboarding down the sidewalk with his pack of cigarettes in one hand, and his action figure in the other.  Girls who haven’t even met Aunt Flo yet, giggling together about which American Idol fella they’d most like to see in his birthday suit.   Kidicide.  The rampant death and destruction of childhood, so that we can market adult products, music, and entertainment to younger and younger consumers. 

Yep, that’s right kids. It’s time for the first ever Topsy-Techie soapbox post. Goodness knows it doesn’t often happen that I have something of actual substance to share, so sit up in your chair, and push up your bifocals!  Meaningful content may only cross my path about as often as Halley’s comet, so please – – take notes.  I may need them later if I ever have to prove in court that I was of a “sound mind” at some point in my life.

As a youth director for my church, I have become more aware of the differences in how children and teens are maturing, compared with my generation twenty-odd years ago.  The clothing they wear, the music they listen to, the movies they watch, and the video games they buy never cease to amaze me with their adult content.  In my era, it was catwomanuncool not to own Nike tennis shoes or Izod shirts.  Today’s youth can commit social suicide by not owning M-rated games, or not knowing the ins and outs of Kama Sutra.  Seven year olds know curse words I was still figuring out in high school.  Even the dolls are different now.  I’m so afraid that next Christmas, our little niece will be desperate for S&M  Barbie, complete with whip and stirrups. 

This whole issue has been brought home to me this week.  Because of homeschooling, we have been so fortunate to ensure our boys a full childhood.  Without the constant peer pressure to mature quickly, they have been able to stop and smell the playdough a little longer than they normally would.  They have enjoyed “kid” movies, tv shows, and games for far more years than their friends have been able to.  They have belly laughed at jokes their peers would roll their eyes about. But I can see the tunnel at the end of the light, I’m afraid. 

Their blissful ignorance of all things “mature” is starting to fade.  H-T, our perpetual child, went out to play yesterday, plastic swords and imagination at the ready.  Pretend play has always been his lifeline to sanity.  When he sees a movie, he goes and acts it out.  When he reads a book, he immediately becomes the protagonist.  Even video games are not immune to his make believe antics.  But not five minutes after heading outside to play, H-T was back in the door.  After questioning him about his quick return, he explained that the neighbors were in their yard, and he didn’t want them to see him play.  “What do you mean?” I asked, “Why would they care?”  “Because they would think I’m too old to pretend,” he responded.

So THAT’S where I lost my childhood!!  I’ve been looking for it everywhere…under logs, behind bushes, in creeks and streams.  And all this time it was in the opinions of other people!!  The same people who tell my kids that they should let their pants droop down below their underwear, and put foreign objects through their nipples, and use language that would make Chris Rock cringe. These are the ones who get to decide when my son is too old to pretend??!! 

I tried to convince H-T that our neighbors (who raise chickens on our busy city street) probably wouldn’t even give him a second look if he were slaying dragons from the apple tree out back, but he was not buying.  He’s already been sullied by the masses.  A victim of the premature aging crisis.  Kidicide.  There may not be enough Spongebob Squarepants episodes in the world to return him to his former innocence.  Makes me wanna kick somebody.  Anybody know where I can find the idiot who decided to print “Juicy” on little girls backsides??

6 Unimportant Things About Me

Ok, so Firefly Mom tagged her blog readers with the difficult task of finding 6 unimportant things about themselves and blogging about them.  I tried to explain to her that EVERYTHING about me is important, but for the sake of argument, I will try and comply with the rules of the game……

(1)  I rotate everything.  When I’m putting away clean clothes, towels, etc., they have to go underneath, behind, or below the clothes and towels already in the closet.  The clean dishes are put away behind the other dishes in the cabinets, and the neglected ones pulled to the front so they can be used first.  Even my silverware is rotated so that it all gets used an equal amount.  Some might call this a sign of OCD, and they would probably be right on the money.  See, I told you this stuff was important.

(2) My boobs are different sizes.  And keep in mind that neither one is a full B cup.  But one is pitifully even more microscopic than the other, and feels jealous most of the time.  I’ve tried to make it feel better by padding that side of my bra, but it backfired on me and now I think I may have given it a complex.  I’m checking into boob therapists, but the only ones I’ve found so far are 50 year old men who look like they might not be sincerely in it for the healing.

(3) I have eclectic tastes in music.  Tony Bennett is my all time fave.  Hands down.  Anything that man sings makes my heart go to goo.  But I’ve also bought or downloaded some seriously diverse tracks in my time.  My ipod, if I had one, would probably have some Rascal Flatts, U2, The Corrs, Alison Krauss, Nickel Creek before they broke up, Alicia Keys, a little John Mayer and a lotta 80’s pop rock.  I have a whole CD collection of Big Band music, too, and my favorite XM channel is Frank’s Place, which highlights the American Songbook.  No one will ever figure me out by looking at my Itunes playlist.  I dare you to try.

(4) I love containers.  Tupperware gives me goosebumps.  Carry-all bags get my heart racing.  You know those wonderfully useful plastic tubs that baby wipes come in?  I’ve got em by the hundreds, and you’d be surprised at how well they hold up after 10 years.  (Scary thought, huh, considering there are probably 8.5 trillion of them currently sitting in various landfills around the earth)my legs

(5) I can’t tan.  I can trace my ancestry back to the Mayflower, and I am an official DAR, so what does that mean for me?  Yep.  A pasty complexion.  Those imperial genes of mine prove that I am Anglo-Saxon to the core, and therefore  will never, ever look good in a bikini.  Ok, so actually my B-minus cup size already secured that status, but even when I was nursing my 2 kiddos and sported a solid C, I would have never been caught dead in a thong at the beach for fear that the reflection of the sun and sand off my skin might have speeded up our current global warming crisis.  (and yes, before you ask me, those are my ACTUAL legs.  It might be wise to now make an appointment with your opthamologist, just to make sure there is no lasting damage)

(6) I type my blog using my toes.  Of course that’s a lie, but wouldn’t that be cool???  And it is so much more interesting than any of this other “unimportant” crud I’ve just shared with you. 

A big shout-out to Firefly Mom, who gave me the idea for this post.  And for those of you who are children of the eighties, like myself, you’ve gotta head over to her blog each Thursday and check out her Thursday Thirteen, which will definitely take you back in a big way.  And for those of you bloggers who haven’t yet been tagged with this one, consider yourself marked, and let us know when you post. TTFN, y’all.

Just Because It’s Kewl

I’ve mentioned before that Uber goes to an online virtual school, called 3DLearn.  It is a revolutionary idea in education in that students attend via their “avatars”, who appear in the virtual world and can interact with the other students and teachers via their avatars.  The classes are all done online, and written work is uploaded to the teachers daily.  Much of their work, though, is done in the form of 3D Presentations that consist of pictures/text/video that the students create about their subject, and then they present it for their teachers and fellow students to see and comment on.  They also work together on certain projects creating things like interactive games based on the book they are studying, etc.  Needless to say, for a techie, this is school at its most ideal.  Uber adores it, and has made lots of friends at his school who are just as uber-techie as he is!

Anyway, I just wanted to show off a YouTube video presentation of Uber’s middle school.  He is in the video too, but you may not recognize him, because his avatar was having a bad hair day, and had broken out in zits all over his face after a chocolate binge.  (never mind, that was my middle school experience)

Check out how things have changed since you were in junior high…

Anybody need a Kleenex?

Anybody missed me??  Yep, I got hit with creeping chest crud, Round Two.  Just when I thought I had it beat, it took some non-sanctioned steroids or something and kicked my hiney once again.  You would think blogging would be something you could do easily when you are under the weather, but unfortunately the side effect of the creeping chest crud is that all your brain cells become congested as well.  I may have looked like heck, but my thought processes were even scarier.  So, instead of blogging, I decided to spend my time more productively – –  I created a MySpace page. 

Not to be outdone by my teenager or my husband (who recently had to sign up on Facebook and MySpace for a class he is taking), I am now prominently displayed among the other narcissists of the world who feel they are interesting enough to have a page of their interests, political affiliations, and favorites hanging out for all of humanity to see.  As I moved around my modules, and customized my background colors, and deleted excess text on the page, I couldn’t help but think back to my own teenage yearning for a space to call my own.

Of course back in ye olde 80’s, personalizing your space meant moving the furniture in your bedroom, sewing sequins on your valances, and switching out your old cutesy animal posters for Teen Beat centerfolds of Michael J. Fox and Duran Duran.  But hey, it’s the same idea, right?  We wanted the world to know who we were, and since we had absolutely no idea ourselves, we had to symbolize it with jelly shoes and Molly Ringwald’s hairstyle.  Of course, in the 80’s individuality was not a high commodity.  You wanted to be as much like “your group” as possible.  The preps all wore izods and khakis with the collars turned up, the braniacs all got the same Trapper Keeper for their notebooks, the druggies listened to the same Guns and Roses albums, and the jocks all bought the same Nikes.  

Having a unique personal identity is probably more acceptable now, as long as you make it sound “kewl” on your MySpace page and put glittery sparkles around the text of your quirks.  But I am still amazed at how much information Gen Y is willing to part with.  As a teen, I wasn’t terribly thrilled when several of my female classmates witnessed a tissue fall out of my bra in my 7th grade PE locker room.  Today’s teens not only willingly tell you their bra size, but also when they are planning to have their augmentation surgery!  And I wasn’t much of a partier in school, so I was never drunk enough to reveal my experimental exploits with even my closest friends.  On MySpace, boys and girls are happy to detail for you just exactly how they got their most recent VD, and what medicine seems to knock it out the quickest.

Life has changed, and I don’t remember where I put my user’s manual.  Yes, I have a MySpace.  And yes, I’ve been married longer than most of the other people who have a MySpace have been alive.  But does that stop me??  Nope.  So even though it is juvenile, and self-centered, and time-wasting, I am going to spend the evening making my page look super cool.  And while my brain cells are stuffed up, even those glittery textie-thingies are starting to look cute.  You think I could find one that says “Kiss My Grits!” in bright blue? 

It would look really cute under my flashing “Ronald Reagan Rocks my Socks” icon.  Who says I’m too old for this stuff??!!