Old Geezer Invitational Part 2

I'm out frolicking in the sand and surf of Jamaica at the moment, so please leave a message at the beep. Don't worry though, I've arranged for this lovely repost to help keep your mind off of the fact that you're in blah winter and I'm in Paradise.

*Originally posted on 5/12/07*

As promised, here are the pictures and even a video (A VIDEO! Am I riding this technological wave or what?) of Quirky Dad's springboard diving competition. The competition covered all age groups, ranging from the 4 year old kids with their little tiny bodies in their little tiny Speedos, to the "Masters" (read: Geezers) in their 50's and 60's, with the not so little tiny bodies but still little tiny Speedos. It was quite a sight to behold.

Photo (From left to right): Dennis, Dad, Steve and Deborah, Masters at the Southeastern Diving Championship, May 12th 2007.

I must admit that when I went, I completely expected the Masters division to do a couple of simple dives like the pencil jump and maybe a cannon ball or two. I mean, some of these people are grandparents. They've had hip replacements and knee surgeries. I figured that they would totter out to the edge of the board, do a simple little age-related dive, and we would all clap and help them out of the pool. End of story. I was soooo wrong. These people are competitors, and they're not going to let a little thing like age stop them. They're stronger, more talented, and certainly braver than most 20-somethings, including myself.

The dives were beautiful and complex, and the same dives that the college students were doing. (Only Dad was better than most of the college students). He hasn't lost a step at all. He still flies through the air effortlessly, twisting and flipping like he was in slow motion before sliding into the water with barely a ripple. When he dives, you forget that this guy is a half a century old. Instead, it's rippling muscle and power, grace and fluidity. It may sound cheesy, but it's poetry in motion.

Video: Dad on the 1 meter board

Photo: Dad diving off the 1 meter board.

Dad competed in the 1 meter and 3 meter boards, doing 8 dives on each. 4 dives are required, and the other 4 are ones that you pick, either for the difficulty level or because they're your best. They include front dives, back dives, reverse, inverted (you jump backwards away from the board, but then tuck your head back towards it...these scare Mom to death), and twists. In addition, each of these categories can involve a straight dive, pike, tuck, or free (a combination of straight, pike, or tucks). (See diving 101 for more information and pictures).

Photo: Dad flies through the air

Dad was fabulous, and the judges were suitably impressed. He won gold in both 1 and 3 meter boards, and the announcer said that he set a new pool record for the 1 meter. Not bad for a guy who hasn't competed in 30 years. He'll compete again next weekend in Miami in the USA Masters National Diving Championships. Go Dad Go!

Photo: Dad with gold medal after winning the 1 meter competition.

There are two morals to this story. One is not to judge an old geezer by his cover, and the other is that you're never too old to live your passions. Don't let the young whippersnappers tell you that you're too ancient to do anything. Age is nothing but a number, and inside the 50 year old diving champion lives the heart and soul of the 25 year old diving champion. I'm so proud of you Dad.


I'm out frolicking in the sand and surf of Jamaica at the moment, so please leave a message at the beep. Don't worry though, I've arranged for this lovely repost to help keep your mind off of the fact that you're in blah winter and I'm in Paradise.

*Originally posted on 3/9/07*

We're learning about Motivation in my management class at school. Basically we learned that we're a very cynical bunch, and are not at all motivated by anything. The most fun we had all night was reading through Demotivators, which are the opposite of those Motivational posters you see in companies everywhere. Check them out. If you don't have time to check them out, then just read the best ones that I've picked out below, but you'll miss seeing the pretty pictures that go along with them.

My favorites include:

When birds fly in the right formation, they need only exert half the effort. Even in nature, teamwork results in collective laziness.

Sometimes the best solution to morale problems is just to fire all of the unhappy people.

A company that will go to the ends of the Earth for its people will find it can hire them for about 10% of the cost of Americans.

Leaders are like eagles. We don't have either of them here.

It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon.

The race for quality has no finish line- so technically, it's more like a death march.

When you wish upon a falling star, your dreams can come true. Unless it's really a meteorite hurtling to the Earth which will destroy all life. Then you're pretty much hosed no matter what you wish for. Unless it's death by meteor.

The tallest blade of grass is the first to be cut by the lawnmower.

Tennessee Living

I'm out frolicking in the sand and surf of Jamaica at the moment, so please leave a message at the beep. Don't worry though, I've arranged for this lovely repost to help keep your mind off of the fact that you're in blah winter and I'm in Paradise.

*Originally posted on 6/19/07*

Since my little visitor map indicated that I have several out of state visitors, and even some international visits (howdy international visitors!) I wanted to take a moment to welcome you all (even if only virtually) to the great state of Tennessee. I have compiled a quick guide to Tennesseans (and the south in general) based on commonly asked questions.

"Do you live on a farm?"
I do not live on a farm. Yes, there are farms in Tennessee, but not nearly as many as you would think. I live in a subdivision. I have neighbors on either side of me. Sometimes while driving, I will pass a field of cows, but I think they belong to the University of Tennessee Ag campus, so they do not count. (UT keeps all kinds of animals, most of them under the heading, "students").

"No farm? Where do you keep your sheep and goats then?"
I do not have stock animals. (See "I do not live on a farm" above). I do not own chickens, or cows, or goats, or horses. I get my eggs from Kroger's, and the only goat I've been close to was in a petting zoo (and he was leering at the hem of my shirt with malice in his eyes, so I didn't hang around long). Not really overly fond of things with hooves.

"What's with the 'Bless your heart' thing?"
I am a fan of bless (your/their/his/her/etc) heart. Contrary to what anyone above the Mason-Dixon line will tell you though, this is not meant as a slight. This is said to express sympathy, even if you're just expressing sympathy that the person you are blessing is an irreversible idiot. (The difference between the North and the South is that Yankees will just tell you that you're an idiot. Southerners will tell you that you're an idiot, but we'll also pity you for it). Need to express sympathy? Try bless your heart. "His dad is in the hospital again, bless his heart" works just as well as "She's got the brains of a turnip, bless her heart". In cases of extreme or heartfelt sympathy, use "Bless your pea-pickin' heart". Pea-picking hearts always convey more sympathy. Not sure why.

"Do you have an outhouse?"
Um, no. You have no doubt gotten this impression from that tv show, The Beverly Hillbillies". May I just say that that is a grossly exaggerated stereo-type. We've had indoor plumbing for some time now. At least 2 years.

"Why aren't you wearing overalls and running around barefoot?"
The Beverly Hillbillies obviously did a number on you, bless your heart. Look around you. Whatever the people passing you are wearing, chances are that someone in Tennessee is wearing the same thing. Shoes included. Unless of course, we're at home, or in the yard, or at the beach. Shoes are optional then.

"Why do you talk so slowly?"
Yes, we probably talk a little slower than everybody else, but that doesn't mean that we think slowly too. We do this deliberately to make you drop your guard before we dazzle you with our brilliance and wit. We also tend to have what is often described as a drawl, and we also extend single word syllables into much longer words to express dismay. (My grandmother is the best at this. My grandfather's name is Ed, but when she says it, it comes out as "Ey-yy-yy-yy-d!" Never less than 5 syllables. The longer it is, the more shocked she is at whatever he did).

"What's with the word Howdy"?
It's just friendly. Think, did you ever see a movie where the bad guy jumped out and said "howdy" before blowing someone away? No they did not. (And if you know of a movie where they did, then just keep it to yourself because I'm trying to make a point here). Howdy is just a casual, friendly greeting. Howdy has no ulterior motives. Howdy is not snide or snooty. Howdy is genuine. Try it sometime. You'll make lots of friends.

"What is sweet tea?"
Oh. My. Goodness. Sweet tea is just the nectar of the gods! All you northerners don't know a thing about how tea is supposed to be. It's a drink and a dessert all in one. And it doesn't count if the tea is unsweet and you just dump some sugar packets into it. Nonononono. You have to add the sugar when the water is boiling so that it all dissolves. I find that a cup to a cup and a half of sugar per gallon of water works well. Then you add your tea bags and let it seep for a while. Then you pour the tea over ice cubes so that it's good and cold. (All tea is iced tea...if your tea is still hot, you haven't waited long enough before drinking it. The coldness really brings the sugar taste out). Tea is for hot summer days and parties and church socials and after mowing the lawn. You'd think you'd died and gone to heaven.

"What is UT?"
UT does NOT stand for Utah, or worse, the University of Texas (Even though they pretend to be us, right down to the orange). UT is the University of Tennessee. Period. The main campus is right here in Knoxville, but they've got other campuses like UT Chattanooga (UTC) or UT Martin (UTM) and a space institute somewhere, but first and foremost, UT means Knoxville. The colors are orange and white, and mascot is the Volunteer, and the favorite pastimes are football and women's basketball.

So there you go, a crash course in East Tennessean. For homework, repeat the following phrase:Howdy! Would you like some sweet tea while we watch UT destroy Florida (bless their hearts)? With enough practice, you'll be ready to visit the great state of Tennessee. And we'll welcome you, because we're decent folk, and you can't help the fact that you weren't born here in the first place. Bless your heart.

When the Dog Drove

I'm out frolicking in the sand and surf of Jamaica at the moment, so please leave a message at the beep. Don't worry though, I've arranged for this lovely repost to help keep your mind off of the fact that you're in blah winter and I'm in Paradise.

*Originally posted on 5/25/07*

A few days ago in the post about Road Trippin' (which I thought was a great play on words because not only was it a road trip, but it was all crazy like we was trippin', yo) I mentioned the teeny little dog-driving-the-car incident that has completely marred my driving record. (There were a few other "incidents" after that one, but it was the first, so I figure that was what started the downward spiral). What really bothers me is that unlike most automobile collisions involving 17 year olds, this was completely NOT MY FAULT. I mean it. Really.

Anyway. It happened on a Saturday. Saturdays are yard mowing days at the Ancestral House of Quirk, and because Steph and I made for convenient slave labor, we were unrelentingly pressed into service. My job was to mow the big field behind the house with the riding lawn mower, and because it was hot and I have no fear of skin cancer, I figured that it would also be the perfect time to get a tan. My yard mowing apparel? Tiny cut off jean shorts in the Daisy Duke styling, a tube top (oh yes), and no shoes. (Cue the redneck girl from the trailer park theme music here). Anyway, I was mowing away when suddenly the lawn mower ran out of gas. No big deal. There's a little gas station roughly a mile from the neighborhood, so I'd just pop over there (any excuse to drive) and fill up the gas can. It didn't occur to me to change clothes or even put on shoes. Suffice it to say that when you're 17, a tube top and tiny shorts makes for a perfectly good outfit. And I'm not shy. Toss the gas can in the car, grab Daddy's credit card, and I am on my way.

Another thing you should know which also has a large impact on the story: We had a Golden Retriever at the time named Bear. Bear was large even for Golden Retrievers, and didn't quite have the intelligence that the breed is usually gifted with, bless his heart. (Bear's theme song: "Do-dee-do-dee-do". Also, if dogs could talk, Bear would probably also say things like, "Awww Shucks". You get the idea). Bear usually lived in the fenced-in backyard, but with all the manual yard labor that was going on, he had slipped through the gate and was gleefully off to cause general dog-driven havoc around the neighborhood. And that was where I found him.

I was cruising through the neighborhood in my stylish '89 Chevy Corsica (detailed in a hot fire-engine maroon), when I spotted Bear the wonder-dog, standing in the middle of the road, thinking deep thoughts. ("Do-dee-do-dee-do"). Being the animal lover that I am, and knowing that Bear didn't have the sense to get out of the way should a car come up (once Bear ran into the side of a car. Seriously. Ran right into the side of it as it was driving by. And you thought I was kidding about his theme song), I decided to stop the car, load Bear into the back seat, and have him accompany me the rest of the way to the gas station. What a picture we were! Redneck trailer park girl and her lovable, if hopelessly dense, dog on their way to the gas station to get some gas for the mower. Sounds like it could be a TV mini-series, doesn't it?

Anyway. Everything was fine and dandy, except that Bear, the dog of no great intellect, was also the dog of no great obedience, and he decided that it would be muuuuuuch more fun if he were to ride in the front passenger seat instead of the backseat. So he climbed over the consol with apparent brainless ease, despite my attempts to keep him in the back seat. You may think that you have enough upper body strength to keep 125 pounds of willful dog in the back seat while your bottom half is strapped down with a seat belt, but I seriously doubt it. I know I didn't. After a few minutes, I was like, "Fine. Ride in the front seat. See if I care", at which point Bear, having gotten his way, was content to just look out the window. And that would have been that, if it wasn't for this one intersection where the entrance of the subdivision meets the main road.

Anyway. There I was, innocently sitting at the main road, waiting for a gap in the traffic. The road cleared, I pushed the gas pedal and the sudden forward motion of the car causes the dumb dog standing in the passenger seat to lose his balance! He stumbles forward and (stay with me here) HITS the gear shift (the Corolla is an automatic) and KNOCKS THE CAR INTO REVERSE! My foot is still pushing on the gas pedal, so the car suddenly lurches backwards...right into the car behind me! I swear its true! Their hood is totally mangled. The guy driving jumps out, runs around to his back seat, and unsnaps two toddlers from their car seats to make sure that they're okay. The little boy climbs out of the car and says with his little whimpery kid voice and Precious Moments eyes, "Does this mean that we won't be able to go to the pool party now Daddy?" I felt so lousy! I was ready to kill the dog, who is straining to push his head through the (closed) passenger side window at this point.

If that wasn't bad enough, I'm standing beside this busy road in my signature tube top and tiny shorts without shoes, and guys in passing vehicles are slowing down to yell things like "I can teach ya how to drive honey!" The cops show up, take in the outfit and shoelessness with raised eyebrows and ask for my driver's license, which I suddenly recalled that I did not have with me because I had accidentally left my wallet in my locker at school on Friday, "cause there was a pep rally and all right at the end of the day and who wants to take their purse to a pep rally, ya know"? Completely understandable, right? Mr. Police Man writes all this down without saying anything, but the raised eyebrow got higher. I'm also trying to explain to the cop why the dog was in the car, and how he lost his balance and fell into the gear shift, and that's why we ended up backing into the car behind us at a high rate of speed, and I'm sure this kind of thing happens all the time, right? At this point, it's obvious that the cop doesn't believe a word of this story. (His eyebrows have lifted so high that they are technically no longer on his head. They are floating in the air six inches above him). As a matter of fact, he goes back to his car and calls for backup! Backup! Like he's going to arrest the crazy girl and he wants to make sure that he has help in case she's a biter. The kids are now jumping up and down to get a better look at my stupid "puppy" in the car, completely unaware that he's the one who started this whole mess. Stupid dog. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to jail at this point, so I borrow my/the dog's victim's cell phone to call Mom and Dad and let them know. I've managed to keep it together up until this point, but as soon as Mom and Dad pull up, I dissolve into complete hysterics. I'm not one of those people who cry to get out of infractions involving the police, but apparently it works. The people I/the dog hit were patting me on the shoulder and telling me about their first car accidents (not caused by a dog), the police were trying to smile cheerfully as they slipped their tazers and handcuffs back onto their belts, and even the stupid dog managed to look sympathetic. In the end, I was not thrown into the clink (although I did get 6 points on my driving record for letting the dog drive), Dad took Bear back home, and I learned a valuable lesson: If you see your stupid dog standing in the middle of road looking clueless, do not stop! Just go ahead and hit him. At least that way you only damage your own car and not the guy behind you.

What Kind Of Car Are You?

I'm out frolicking in the sand and surf of Jamaica at the moment, so please leave a message at the beep. Don't worry though, I've arranged for this lovely repost to help keep your mind off of the fact that you're in blah winter and I'm in Paradise.

*Originally posted on 2/17/07*

What Kind Of Car Are You

I've been taking all these self-assessment tests for my management class. It's supposed to tell me what kind of management style I have. Sadly, I learned more about myself with the car test than all "management" tests combined. This test tells me that I'd be a Mazda Miata. All those other management tests could come up with was "Sociopath". Like that's any help.

I'm a Mazda Miata!

You like to soak up the sun, but your tastes are down to earth. Everyone thinks you're cute. Life is a winding road, and you like to take the curves in stride. Let other people compete in the rat race - you're just here to enjoy the ride.

Take the Which Sportscar Are You? quiz!

100 Things

I'm out frolicking in the sand and surf of Jamaica at the moment, so please leave a message at the beep. Don't worry though, I've arranged for this lovely repost to help keep your mind off of the fact that you're in blah winter and I'm in Paradise.

*Originally posted on 5/15/07*
100 Things

I saw this on BigMama's blog, and it seemed like a pretty neat thing to try to do. The idea is to come up with 100 things about yourself. Hers was good. We'll see about mine.

1. I was born in 1980, which is a convenient way to remember how old I was in any particular year. 1987? I was 7. 1992? I was 12. Easy.
2. It was in June, so my birthday party of choice was the pool party.
3. I don't have pool parties anymore. It's a shame really.
4. My dearest husband has the same birthday. Same day, same year.
5. Not the same hospital...that's just weird.
6. I always feel guilty that I want to eat in a seafood restaurant on our birthday, but Tony hates seafood.
7. He takes me to the seafood restaurant anyway. He's just good like that.
8. When I was 5, I wasn't wearing my seat belt and fell out and Mom accidentally ran over me with the car.
9. I got to wear a cast on my leg afterwards. I thought it was really cool.
10. Mom didn't. She still feels terrible about it.
11. I have a sister who is three years younger than I am.
12. When we were little, I would eat all the carrots out of her beef stew, and she would eat all of my potatoes.
13. We would split the meat chunks.
14. She's currently away at Harvard Law School, so no one eats my potatoes in the beef stew anymore.
15 . I really miss her.
16. My favorite class in high school was art.
17. My least favorite was anything having to do with math.
18. Except for geometry. That was okay because at least it had shapes.
19. I never had braces.
20. Or glasses.
21. I probably need the glasses now but am in denial about it.
22. I took Latin in high school because Mom thought it would help me if I took a job in a scientific field.
23. I didn't.
24. I can't remember any of the Latin either.
25. I went to the University of Tennessee for undergrad.
26. I met Tony while we were sorting packages in the dorm post office.
27. We went to Krystal for dinner that night.
28. I like the Krystal chiks. Tony wasn't impressed.
29. My graduation present from Mom and Dad was a 75 gallon fish tank. I picked it out myself.
30. My first job out of college was with a global logistics company. I filled out the forms to get the cargo through US Customs.
31. It wasn't as much fun as I thought it would be.
32. Mom and Dad both work in pharmaceutical sales.
33. Mom's specialty is women's health.
34. We discuss the ramifications of having an inverted uterus over lunch.
35. Trust me, you don't want to know.
36. My favorite healthy food is broccoli. I could eat broccoli every day forever.
37. My favorite non-healthy food is chocolate. I could eat chocolate every day forever.
38. Not together though.
39. My pet peeve is when people use "their" instead of "they're", or vice versa.
40. I haven't decided yet what I want to do when I grow up.
41. I don't swim because I don't like to stick my head in the water.
42. Water goes up my nose and I choke.
43. The blowing-the-air-out-through-your-nose thing doesn't work for me.
44. I do a mean dog-paddle though.
45. I'm not good at small talk with strangers.
46. I only have a few friends, but we're very close.
47. I think I'm pretty easygoing.
48. I'm a night person. Anything going on before 9am should be illegal unless it started the night before.
49. I'm a killer bingo player.
50. I can never remember what beats what in poker.
51. I married Tony on April 5th, 2003.
52. We played "Another One Bites the Dust" at our reception.
53. I had the most beautiful wedding dress ever.
54. I'm still trying to think of a reason to wear that dress again.
55. I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful husband.
56. I don't tell him that often enough.
57. I drive a convertible.
58. I think the wind in my hair is better than therapy.
59. Cheaper too.
60. My favorite spot in the house is the air chair on the screened-in porch.
61. I also like soaking in the bathtub.
62. I like reading cheesy romance novels because no matter what happens to the characters, there's always a happy ending.
63. I just like happy endings period.
64. I have two Siamese cats, Mason and Dixon.
65. Dixon is a Mama's Boy. I think he's trying to prepare me for motherhood.
66. It's not working.
67. Before we moved back to Knoxville, Tony and I lived in Norfolk VA.
68. Before that, I lived in Atlanta by myself.
69. Living alone taught me a lot about myself.
70. Like that I'm a terrible housekeeper.
71. I like to make lists. To-do lists, project lists, grocery lists, book lists.
72. I have lists of all the different lists I have.
73. I like to build things.
74. My last project was a homemade rain barrel. It's connected to a homemade soaker hose. It turned out well.
75. I like to garden.
76. My success rate with plants is about 50-50.
77. I'm hoping the rain barrel will improve those odds.
78. I'm working on getting my MBA in the evenings after work.
79. I really like school. I wish I could afford to be a professional student.
80. Or a professional list maker.
81. The song that plays over and over again from the neighborhood ice cream truck irritates the crap out of me.
82. I do like ice cream though.
83. I do day hikes on the weekends.
84. I'm hoping that the hikes counteract the effect that the ice cream has on my thighs.
85. I need to go on longer hikes.
86. Tony's pet name for me is Goose.
87. Or Little Goose, Baby Goose, Silly Goose, or Bad Goose.
88. Tony got me a Blackhawks jersey with Goose on the back for Christmas one year.
89. I'm a Cubs fan by marriage.
90. I've been a hockey fan forever.
91. I don't like my knees. They just look awkward to me.
92. I'm afraid of needles so I never give blood.
93. I hate the little dog next door who keeps coming over to poop in my flowerbeds.
94. I fantasize about drop kicking him back to his own house.
95. I would never really kick an animal.
96. The humane society commercials make me cry every time.
97. I look terrible when I cry.
98. I want to leave the world a little better than I found it.
99. Even if that's just by making one person smile.
100. I encourage people to embrace their inner quirkiness. It's a compliment.

Little Sister

Well, it's the Seester's birthday today. Exactly 26 years ago, she abruptly crashed my party, taking all of the attention, and forever screwing up my detailed plans to be the indulged only child.

Sigh. The best laid plans of mice and three year olds.

Still, as siblings go, I suppose she's not so bad. She's smart, and funny, and she thinks on my wavelength (poor kid). She gets my obscure jokes and still laughs at my snarky remarks. She is incredibly adept at translating what I'm saying when I'm not saying anything. She understands the unbreakable power of a pinkie swear, and can still recite large portions of Muppet Treasure Island with me. We settle disputes with Rock, Paper, Scissors, and she always throws scissors first (I'm not sure if she realizes that...I may have just blown my advantage there). She's loyal.

And even though there have been times that she's made me crazy, most of the time I must admit that I have gotten somewhat attached to her in the last two and a half decades.

Heeeeeeere Job Job Job Job!

So I've been kinda stalking this company for awhile. They claim to have no job openings, but I am not deterred. After much introspection, I thought it might be fun to work with them. (And no, I'm not even uttering a hint of who they are because I don't want to jinx it. Jinx rules are very specific about these things. Tony and I didn't even tell anybody that we'd looked at our future house until they agreed to our offer and the home inspection passed. My mom was all like, "What do you mean you bought a house? What house?" So you'll just have to stay in the dark. I'm dangerously close to the line just for bringing it up now).

Anyway, I've been harassing this company for a few weeks now, and even though they have no idea who I am and have never ever claimed to have a job position available, I have still managed to finagle a promised 30 minutes of their time so that I can meet them and talk with them more about what they do. I'm hoping to wow them with my wonderfulness so that when the economy does crawl its way back out of the toilet and/or someone already there mysteriously disappears while trekking through the Himalayas, they will immediately think of me. For the job opening, I mean...not for being responsible about the missing person (although I'm not confirming or denying anything without my lawyer present).

Maybe they'll have something sooner than they think. Maybe it'll be years before they call. It doesn't really matter. I'm thinking long term here. The idea is that eventually I'll get something that I can be passionate about.

Until then, I'll be out setting bear traps in the Himalayas.

Dressing My Age...

So the other day I was out shopping and found the cutest little printed t-shirt. Normally I don't buy cute little printed t-shirts, but this one was pretty and on clearance, so I figured why not? I put it on today with jeans and my blue converse (added bonus! They totally match my chucks perfectly!) and reveled in all my cute cuteness. It was a teeny bit cold this morning for just a t-shirt, so in a blast of inspiration, I added my bolero jacket and headed out to run some errands. I was feeling pretty sassy right up until I glanced up at the giant poster of someone wearing almost the EXACT same outfit hanging at Target checkout seems Hannah Montana was feeling sassy in her shirt too.

Let Me Check My Calendar...

So I'm having trouble with the job hunt. Not so much because of a lack of jobs, but because of a lack of will to work. For this, I blame the recent bout of intoxicating spring-like weather that we've been having. With this weather, I find myself waaaaay too busy to go to work. For instance, first I wake up and eat breakfast. Then I spend roughly 45 minutes inspecting the pots in the windowsill to see if any of my new seedlings have sprouted yet. Then I go out and sit on the back porch for two hours to watch the birds eat at the bird feeders. (We have cardinals, doves, and black cap chickadees!) I pick out some new songs to add to my music playlist, read the day's blog entries, and check the 7 day weather forecast. Then I go to the gym for a workout, have some lunch, and run by the library. The afternoon is completely booked with reading in the sunshine and checking to see what spring bulbs are poking their way up through the ground. Then it's back to my sunny spot on the porch to contemplate important things like what I feel like making for dinner. Even second shift jobs are out...evening is for a little tv and a soak in the tub. See? The calendar is booked. And given my busy schedule, I just don't see where I can find the time to go sit in a stuffy windowless cubical.

Finding Your Mad Skillz And The Jobs That Appreciate Them

This is just a quick note to say that in the event that you find yourself in the mood for a career change (or a new career period if you are a recent graduate), but you can't decide what it is exactly that you want to do, I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this mucho fabulous book called 150 Best Jobs for Your Skills.

Because over the past few weeks I have read, oh I don't know, maybe a BAZILLION career help books, and this one is hands down the best for helping you figure out what jobs might be good for you based on your skill set. (You would think that would be a no-brainer, matching jobs to skill sets, but you'd be surprised. Most books either tell you to do what you love and never mention the skills involved, or have pages and pages of tests that will tell you what strengths you possess, but not what jobs use them. It's really very frustrating when you think about it).

For example, let's say you end up taking an aptitude test or two, which tells you that you are a good communicator and you like math. But they won't tell you what to do with that. Or, if you have a really in-depth test, it'll say something like, "If you scored well in communication and math, you should be a math teacher". Which is all fine and dandy except that you're like, "But I don't want to be a math teacher! The pay stinks and I hate kids!" And you'll go on to the next test, and it'll tell you to be a math teacher too, and the next one, and the next one, until you either become a math teacher and hate it, or you end up spending the rest of your adult life unemployed, living in your parent's basement, and eating Cheetos that you found under the couch cushions because you think that math teacher is the only job that ever uses your particular skill set and you just don't want to be a FREAKING MATH TEACHER!


Enter this book, which not only has the assessment to see which skills you possess, but also contains lots of wonderful lists of jobs that actually use those skills, AND actual job descriptions of each job, so not only do you know the job title, but also what it does. Plus the lists are organized by pay, growth, number of job openings, education requirements, and if you can be self-employed or work part time. Nice to know when you're picking out your future career.

So...looking for a new career? Don't know where to start? Get this book, 150 Best Jobs for Your Skills.

I promise you don't have to be a math teacher if you don't want to.


So what do ya'll think about the new 'do? Pretty snazzy, huh? This new and improved look is courtesy of Ashley over at Great Gabbie Designs, and I must say that I think it is lovely. After seeing the mess that I had created for myself on Excel, she graciously agreed to help me out and create a new design for the blog. She is a saint and I love her.

That's not to say that I made it easy on her, of course.

Being the ever meddlesome helpful blog owner, I tried to convey the "vibe" of the blog and the look that I was going for. I gave Ashley invaluable input and contributed to the overall design process by suggesting things like, "I'm looking for quirky-professional" and "I like coral...but not too much coral. Just a little. In moderation. Or maybe green instead. But not green AND coral. Or maybe with blue?" And I told her that I like floral prints but not flowers, quirky but not too quirky, and swirls, stripes, and polka-dots, but don't make it look cluttered.

It's a wonder she didn't run at that point.

Then as soon as she agreed to do it, I instantly transformed into one of those high maintenance people that emailed her basically every day going "Is it done yet? Did you finish it? Can I see it? Where is it? Huh huh huh huh huh?" To which she very politely emailed me something like, "CHILL WOMAN BEFORE I COME THROUGH YOUR COMPUTER LINE AND KILL YOU!" (Well, that's not what she said, of course, but that might have been the underlying theme. It's so hard to read tone through email).

However, being the consummate professional that she is, she nevertheless toiled tirelessly for days and days before presenting a wonderful design to me, to which I replied "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Hey! Do you think we can add more blobs? I feel that additional blobs would symbolically represent my particular brand of wit and quirkiness". And that was about the time she put a note up on her site that said she was no longer doing blog designs.

Pure coincidence, I'm sure.

In the end (and despite my "vision"), I think she has managed to create something beautiful and unique and streamlined while still maintaining that certain quirkiness that you have all come to know and love. If Ashley ever decides to accept blog designs again (or anything else you may want designed), I highly recommend her.

Ashley, thank you so much for putting up with me and creating my new and improved look. I dub thee "Quirkalicious".

On Prodigal Robots

Oh ya'll, it is a day of rejoicing in the House of Quirk! The prodigal robots have returned!

Anyone who knows me knows that housecleaning and I are not friends. I mean, I like a clean house as much as the next person, but house cleaning is just not one of my gifts. I am not one of those women who relieves stress by giving the carpets a good shampoo and scrub. (Although if you are such a woman, please come over and I will let you de-stress all you want at my house. I have windows that need cleaning too if you're having a really crappy day). That said, I have discovered that I cannot count on the steady appearance of roving bands of compulsive cleaners, looking for a house to scrub. And despite the "Welcome Free Maids!" sign in my yard, I needed another way to keep the house livable without expending too much effort.

Enter the robots.

I know I have blogged before about the AWESOME awesomeness of Roomba the Robotic Vacuum, but I think it bears repeating because YA'LL, IT'S A ROBOT THAT VACUUMS! Add to that Roomba's awesome robotic partner, the Bissell SpotBot, and a happier woman than I has never lived. While I lounge on the couch and eat cookie dough think deep thoughts, the Roomba scoots around vacuuming to its heart's content and the SpotBot tackles carpet spills and stains like nobody's business.

I thank the Lord daily that He has allowed me to live in the age of such technological wonders.

Anyway, for the past two or three years, everything has been just peachy in my world of domestic robotic help. Both robots toiled away at their daily tasks with nary a complaint. Then disaster struck. Inexplicably, the robots went on strike. Together. A couple of weeks ago the Roomba slipped a disk and refused to move anymore. Then, in a suspiciously suspicious coincidence, the pump on the SpotBot broke, effectively drying up the carpet sprayer and putting an end to my stain-removing nirvana. I begged. I pleaded. I threatened. I told them both to just walk it off, but to no avail. The robots wanted maintenance, and they knew exactly where to hit me where it hurt: my dirty carpet. I had no choice but to give in to their demands and bring in professional help.

Since both of them had managed to hang on until their respective warranties expired, Roomba was shipped off to the Robot Shop (a mail-order robot repair business specializing in Roombas), where a new brush motor and drive belts were installed. It took them three weeks, but they got it all taken care of. In comparison, the Bissell SpotBot was chauffeured around the city by yours truly until we found an authorized Bissell Repairman. The pump was replaced and hoses were flushed. And happily, both robots returned today, all fixed up and content to once again aid me in my battle against the evils of cat barf on carpet.

Some of you who are still living in the dark ages of pushing your vacuum around by hand are no doubt wondering if all this robotic upkeep is worth it. I mean, I just had to shell out $150 for robot repair for the two of them. But considering that just about every machine will experience wear and tear at some point, it's not that big of a shock. I mean, you wouldn't get rid of your car just because you had to to replace the air filter, right? Besides, knowing that while I sat here and prattled on the ol blog, those robots were industriously cleaning away in my living room, I'd say that they're worth every penny.

On Sun And Sand And Cat Barf

Oh ya'll, the writer's block? It mocks me. I've started about a dozen posts over the last few days, and I'd get about halfway through each one and then go, "This is the dumbest thing I've ever written". And then I'd just shut the computer down and go away because ya'll just don't deserve to be subjected to that kind of literary torture.

Except while that works for a day or two, I've let it drag on long enough that I'm now getting random email messages like, "Hey! Are you dead?" and "Did you lose your fingers in a tragic combine accident?" To which you will all be relieved to know that the answer to that is no, although come to think of it, that would give me something interesting to blog about.


Anyway, the truth is that things have just been annoyingly normal around here, what with the laundry and the running to the bank and the cat barf and all. (What's with the cat barf, you ask? Well, not to be horribly graphic or anything, but apparently there is a feline stomach flu parading shamelessly around my house, and each of the cats have caught it in turn. So for the past week or so, the house has been filled with the peaceful, symphonic melodies of "HORK! HORK! HORK! BLARF!")

I know. It's just been magical around here.

I've been fulfilling my cat-mommy duty by thoroughly marking each spot so that I can tell Tony where to scrub when he gets home. (What? You think I have the stomach to get down on my hands and knees and pick up cat barf? Pffft!) I will, however, make a point to blog about it, which I distinctly promised myself I wouldn't do because "This is the dumbest thing I've ever written". And not to mention kinda gross. But there you go.

In other, non-vomiting news, Tony and I have booked our vacation for the year. Originally, it was Tony's turn to pick where we were going since I picked the cruise last year, and he immediately chose Alaska. (He's always wanted to go. Personally, I'm not sure what the draw is for a place that has snow and glaciers and entire months were the sun doesn't shine, but it was his turn, so what can I say?) The easiest way to get to Alaska is to cruise there, but cruises don't start heading that way until May or June, and we were afraid that I would have started work again by that time and I wouldn't have access to vacation yet. So rather than shorten the trip, Tony decided to postpone his Alaskan cruise until next year and go somewhere else this year. And because I'm suffering mightily from winter-itis at the moment, I was all too happy to substitute a warm, tropical beach getaway in place of grizzly bear tracking through the polar ice caps.

Our next choice was the Dominican Republic, which I hear is just lovely this time of year, but at the last minute we read about several outbreaks of dysentery in the area, and even I'm not willing to risk a week of vomiting and bloody stool for some warm tropical sunshine. (Hmm. We seem to be back to discussing vomit again. And you thought the part about the cat barf was bad. Sorry about that).

Anywho. Right as it seemed that all was lost and Old Man Winter would have us locked in his icy grasp forever, we found a lovely deal to an all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and since we loved Jamaica the first time around, we immediately signed up for some fun, sun, and copious amounts of (dysentery-free) jerk chicken at this place:

So in less than a month, while the rest of the world suffers through blah February, we'll be off enjoying sand and surf in sunny Paradise. And may I just take a moment to say "In your face, Winter!" (followed by a lovely victory dance involving lots of arm flapping and strutting like a chicken) because I have been snowed in long enough.

And the cat barf is really starting to get to me.