Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How to Find Time to Blog When You Can’t Find Time to Eat!

Heidy ho neighbor! Have you missed me? I’m sorry, I know I started this blog off with a bang and left you hanging. Life got in the way. The fact that I haven’t touched this blog in months, however, presents a fabulous topic for today’s not-so-wacky how-to: How to find time to blog when you can’t find time to eat!

We all have days where we’re grabbing a sandwich with one hand while clicking away at our computer keys with the other. (Just remember which is which, or it’s all going to end very, very badly. Ever tried to clean ketchup out from between your computer keys? That’s a wacky topic for whole different blog.) When those days start to bleed into each other and your blog is just a distant memory, it’s time for a change!

So, here’s the scoop. How do you carve out time to blog? I recommend investing in a palm pilot, Blackberry, SmartPhone or other phone with a word processing feature. I personally have Microsoft Office Mobile 2007 on mine, and I never really take advantage of it. All that time I spend sitting around in front of the school waiting for teachers to let kids out-or traffic to actually move-could soooo be put to better use.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Unless you’re writing a corporate blog and actually need to sound like you know what you’re talking about (darn reputation management) that ten or fifteen minutes you spend blowing the steam off your first cup of coffee is a great time to write in your blog. Not only are you still jonesing on the creative jig you get when you dream, your mind is just uncluttered enough to be able to enjoy what you’re doing.

Try saying that by 5 o’clock.

When push comes to shove and that half hour a day just won’t make an appearance, write it into your schedule. Seriously. Block off some time from, say, 12-12:30 or 8:30-9:00 and pencil in “blog”. Not only does this make sure your blog gets updated often enough that it’s not going to get stale, it guarantees that at some point you’re going to take a half an hour and do something you enjoy in a day filled with one “to-do” after another. That’s not only good for you, it helps keep everyone else out of your line of fire while you’re at it!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How to Resist the Urge to Watch the Latest Book-Turned-Movie Hit

So, a couple of nights ago I finally gave in. I watched "New Moon", based on Stephanie Meyers Twilight series. Why? It wasn't because I was dying to see it. It was because New Moon was the only book in the series I can honestly say I've read more than once without feeling guilty about admitting it.

Obsessing over the Twilight books is, in my mind, kind of like admitting you got drunk and toilet papered city hall before barfing Cheez Whiz on the front steps. It's awesome when you're sixteen. It might even be acceptable when you're a twenty-something. By the time you're pushing thirty, you ought to know better!

That being said, I really liked New Moon. I suspect it had something to do with the notable absence of everyone's favorite vampire and the fact that someone came along, wiped some of the drool off Bella's chin and gave her something to do besides trip over her own feet for a while. So, I used and abused the power of Netflix and picked up "New Moon".

I was shocked to discover I actually enjoyed it. See, I'm that person. The one that sits in the back row of a movie theatre quietly but explicitly hating on any movie that's based on a book. I hated the "Harry Potter" movies (I've only seen 2) and threw popcorn at the screen when I realized they'd bastardized the end of "Hannibal" to appease Hollywood movie goers. I refused to watch "Memoirs of a Geisha", and I'm still kicking myself for actually spending money to rent the original "Twilight".

Yes, that's right, I'm that person. And I'm here to tell all of you other haters out there, you're not alone. They always screw up the book. It's never as good. To everyone who's ever dragged themselves to see a movie based on a book and walked away bitterly disappointed, I'm here to tell you that you don't have to do it. You can resist peer pressure, turn away from crappy movies and enjoy the untainted memory of a good story in its purest form!

Here's how.

First, resist the urge to read the reviews. Somewhere inside us is a sick, twisted need to have our opinions on books-turned-movies validated by hearing critics say it sucked. When they rave about how incredible it is, you start to wonder if you were wrong. So even though you hate yourself for it, you cave.

Step away from temptation. It will all go away.

Always check to make sure there's another movie you want to see when you go out with your friends. That way you don't get dragged to the literary flavor of the week. If you argue hard enough about Hollywood's inability to effectively transpose long, emotional, internal monologue into a decent film format, you'll convince them to wait until it comes out on DVD-or at least to wait until you're not with them so they don't have to spend the entire movie telling you to shut up while you rave about how much better the book was!

Speaking of books, let's move on to phase 3: Avoiding the family get-together. You know the routine. You're settling in for an evening with friends, and somebody pulls it out of the case. At this point, you have four options. You can fake a life threatening, fatal disease with bodily fluids spewing everywhere. You can beg your host to reconsider. Or, you can whip a book out of your pocket and curl up on the sofa, sneaking occasional, unnoticeable glances at the film between paragraphs to satisfy your curiosity. You might have to watch the movie, but at least no one will see you when you get sucked in.

What-ho? That's only 3 options, you say? You're right. That's because the 4th option is to launch into a stirring dialogue about how Hollywood always gets it wrong, how they inaccurately portray great characters, cut huge sections out of the book to suit time constraints and change the details any way they see fit. Resistance is futile. Your friends and family will pat you on the head, your host will assure you that this one is different, and the show will go on.

It was too depressing to contemplate.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

How to Play Pool without Embarrassing Yourself

Learning to clean up at the pool table is a useful skill. An admirable one, even. Not to mention a lucrative one from time to time.

Unfortunately, it's not a skill I happen to possess. When you're looking for a partner to play pool with, I am NOT the person you want on your side. That makes me completely unqualified to teach you ANYTHING about playing pool (aside from how to order another beer)!

Fortunately for both of us, there are people out there more talented than I am. So, for one night only, I'm going to quietly duck out and do my homework like a responsible citizen and leave you in the very capable hands of the YouTube pros.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How To Pretend You Know How to Dance! (Or at least make your date think you do)

Hello, hello, hello! Have you missed me? I've missed you. I think I need to write a blog on how to wriggle out of work in five minutes or less! In the meantime, let's get back to it! Here's a look at a subject that's near and dear to my heart...how to pretend you know how to dance!

You've seen them. I've seen them. The men and women in the slick slacks and hot dresses lined up against the wall of the club, just waiting for their chance to hit the dance floor. You can't wait for the show. Until the music starts!

There's nothing like a square on the dance floor to make you wish you'd stayed home with a book, especially if you happen to be the square!

Anyone can dance, but it comes more naturally for some than others. I strongly suggest you take the time to take some dancing classes to work on your rhythm and give you some slick moves for the dance floor. In the meantime, let's talk about how to fake it!

First and foremost, walk out onto the dance floor with confidence. Avid clubbers are piranhas. If you show fear, they'll eat you alive purely for the entertainment value.

Men, you've actually got it easy here. Grab your date by the hand. Spin her in. Spin her out. Now, start a simple box step. (If you don't know what that is, follow the link. Quickly.) Step forward two counts, to the side two counts, back two counts, to the side two counts, repeat ad nauseum. Lift your arms into an "L" shape, bob your shoulders in time with your steps and resist the urge to snap your fingers. Every once in a while, grab your girl and spin her again.

You won't win any awards, but you might have a fighting chance at a second date when you're done.

Ladies, you've got it a little rougher. The good news is, men aren't hard to entertain on the dance floor. I suggest you go with the simple Figure Eight. Without moving your upper body, drop your left hip and bring it forward. Circle back as your right hip comes up. Drop the right hip back down and repeat. Practice until you can make a figure 8 smoothly. This move can be done while moving up and down, left to right or back to front. As long as you do it slowly on a 1-2-3-4 beat it works with almost anything you'll find in a club.

Now, lift your arms slowly to shoulder level and make a small Figure Eight with your shoulders to go with your hips. Again, it won't be Saturday Night Fever, but you won't embarrass yourself out on the dance floor.

The important thing is to relax! Nothing screams "I'm faking it!" like the stench of stress rolling over the pheromone laden dance floor. Have fun.

If they chew you up and spit you out, you'll go out with a smile.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How to Sneak Candy into the Movie Theatre

I have to take a moment to share. This lit up my week. My husband and I went to see "Avatar" last weekend. Want to guess what I saw before I'd even finished parking? A HUGE sign on the outside of the movie theatre asking the audience to leave their grocery store popcorn and their cheap, sleazy gas station drinks at home.

Are they serious? Have you seen what they're charging for movie tickets these days? I know they have to make a buck and we're robbing them blind by slipping our own candy past their concessions, but give me a break!

There's a reason fewer people are going to the movies these days, and only 90% of that reason is the inability of the entertainment industry to come up with a well written screenplay the public actually wants to see. (Yes, I have proof. Just look at BloodRayne. 1 or 2. Take your pick.) The other 10% is the way they're robbing you blind with a huge mark-up on their concessions!

Sneaking food into movie theatres isn't hard. I've made a fine art of it over the years, first as a flat broke high school student then as a not-so-broke adult that remembers what it was like to be a flat broke high school student. Oh ye doubting Thomases, give these sneaky techniques a try (and follow the links for some even sneakier ones) and you'll never have to pay for theatre concessions again!

Buy a Man Bag

The first thing you need to do is start carrying a bag. You want this to look completely natural, so you're going to need to practice. A lot.

Suck it up men, it's all for the cause.

Change Your Shopping Habits

Sneaking food into a movie theatre isn't something that should be done on a whim. Careful strategy is required if the operation is going to be a success. For example, you need to make the right choice when deciding what food you're going to bring in with you.
Ice cream is always a bad idea, as are Fudgesicles, Creamsicles, ice cream sandwiches, Cookiewiches and any other variation thereof. You laugh, but it's been done! (No, not by me, thank you very much.)

Giant bags of popcorn don't travel well either. You're going to have a trail of crumbs rivaling Hansel and Gretel's bread crumb trail. Everything in your bag is going to smell like popcorn. You'll have strange birds assaulting you in the streets (like the seagulls weren't bad enough). You don't want to go there.

Small packages of Skittles, candy bars, Werther's Originals and (my personal favorites) gummy bears are ideal covert fodder. Why?

1) They're virtually untraceable. The theatre sells the same packages, so how are they going to know?
2) They're easily disguised. They slip into a purse, pocket, backpack or bra cup without leaving evidence behind.
3) They're easy to lie about. OF COURSE you always carry candy in your purse. You never know when your blood pressure is going to take a dip. Theatre staff aren't going to touch that one with a ten foot pole.

Soda can be a little trickier, since you have no good reason to be walking around with a bottle of Mt. Dew in your purse. Take my advice and sneak in water instead, especially if there's a good chance they're going to bust you. Water is healthier. It's cheaper. Thousands of people carry bottles of water in their purse/diaper bag/backpack every day. It's a win-win situation.

Purses and diaper bags are never, ever searched in movie theatres. I'm sure it's a privacy thing. I'm equally sure they don't want to risk running into a not-so-fresh Pamper.

Parents, don't be afraid to hide behind your kids! Nobody looks twice at a diaper bag filled with juice and crackers or a child's backpack stuffed with cookies. Children are notoriously picky eaters. No one's going to ask questions if they eat a grande sized bucket of popcorn but drag around a bag of Flipz because they refuse to touch the theatre's "homemade" pretzels.

Just don't let the little darlings talk. The turncoats will rat you out the first chance they get.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How to Tell When Someone's Lying Through Their Teeth

"The worst part of being lied to is knowing you weren't worth the truth."

Who's seen NCIS? Those of you who have, you know what-or who-I'm talking about here. Ziva. The walking lie detector. The interrogation goddess. Admit it, wouldn't you kill to have those mad skills?

Not everyone has the genetics, or the masochistic desire, to become an Israeli assassin (a reputation that's giving the Mossad's intelligence operations a bad rap). What they do have is the skills to tell when someone's trying to pull a fast one by lying through their teeth.

**Yes, I know "Lie to Me" is probably more meaningful here. I don't watch it. Sue me."**

The Eyes Have It

You know, I've heard it said that people who lie can't make eye contact. I'm going to say they're wrong, and here's why. People who can't look you in the eye feel guilty about something. They're also not very good liars. If they don't feel bad about what they're doing, they believe they have a reason to lie and there's no guilt involved, they're going to look you in the eye and tell you whatever it is you want to hear.

If you've ever had to convince a relative you loved the light-up Santa sweater they bought you for Christmas, you already know how hard it is to fake emotions. Most liars don't get it quite right. Their facial motions don't match up to what they're saying. The timing's wrong, the expressions are wrong, and they either hold it too long or not long enough.

Nothing says "I'm lying" faster than a school picture day smile. A smile that only involves the muscles directly around the mouth rather than the whole face and never reaches the eyes isn't heartfelt. It's there to placate you. The person is assuming that you have no idea what's going on, you're too stupid to live and you'll never know they aren't telling you the truth.

It's All in the Hips, It's All in the Hips

Unless they've taken public speaking classes, most people talk with their hands. When they do, their gestures are usually outward. They say the liar takes up less space.

It's true-sort of. Liars are more likely to touch their face, their ears and their neck rather than their heart or abdomen. They're also more likely to be still. Think about a talking head on TV. They're still. They're calm. They deliver the news without emotion. That's what a liar will do with a well rehearsed story.

It Wasn't Me!

Would you believe someone using contractions and bad grammar is more likely to be telling the truth? Liars gravitate toward much more formal responses-for example, "I did not" rather than "I didn't". The inexperienced liar is an English teacher's dream student. Does that seem horribly wrong to anyone else?

Disclaimer: A good liar already knows all this. These are probie mistakes no criminal mastermind is ever going to make. Confirm the lie one way or the other.

Monday, February 22, 2010

How To Build the Washington Monument Out of Playing Cards

If you ever want to leave your co-workers weeping in jealous misery, drag a deck of playing cards into work. No, I'm not suggesting you break into a game of strip poker or fleece them out of next week's paycheck. That would be mean. And wrong. And leave you with absolutely nothing to do on your lunch hour!

I want you to build a house on the corner of your desk using nothing but your good looks, your talent and your ability to intimidate your co-workers into staying out of your office!

Card houses are awesome, the ability to build one a sign of the gods. Why? Because most people can't do it. It doesn't have anything to do with their hand-eye coordination. They just don't have the patience to perfectly weigh the cards against each other or the ability to hold their breath for hours on end.

In December of 2004, Brian Berg built what was then (and may still be) the largest house of cards in the world. Picture found at www.SpikedHumor.com.

Since "Nobody move, nobody breathe" is about to become your new favorite catchphrase, you don't want to find yourself hoist on your own petard.

The first step to any successful card house is to smuggle in a deck of playing cards. I recommend grabbing a used pack from a Vegas casino. Their cards are guaranteed clean, free of the smudges and scuffs that go along with ordinary decks for perfect weight, and a surefire way to intimidate your co-workers.

Nothing makes you cooler in an office full of geeks than saying you picked up a deck from a dealer in Vegas.

Every good structure starts with a plan. I suggest you craft yours before you start putting cards together. You can build the White House, the Capitol Building or the Washington Monument if you play your cards right, but you need that plan to tell you how big you want to make your foundation.

To Make the Washington Monument

Now for the tricky part. You have to actually start building! Take a deep breath, and give your hands a shake. You don't want nerves getting in the way. Now take two playing cards and stand them up in a perpendicular manner on your desk. Very, very carefully, tilt them together until the tops touch, the cards form a triangle with the table and the structure is standing on its own.

Repeat ad nauseum to form the base, then start building up. Remember, that second layer can be tricky. Cards are slippery, and the slightest twitch will send the whole structure crashing down around your ears. I recommend building a base that's approximately four card triangles by four card triangles and maintaining those dimensions until you reach the top. At the top, do a 3x3, then 2x2 structure until you have the peak.

Take a picture, then sit back and preen. Some idiot's going to come by and knock it down in a minute. Enjoy the glory while it lasts.