Monday, May 27, 2013

Blast from the Past (Literally)

Yesterday, upon checking my email, I found a rather strange message in my inbox. It took me a moment to figure out what it was.



I have not graduated from Greenville. Thank you for the reminder, past self.

Actually, I have changed my major (and school) since then. Plus, the Greenville program was not designed for a two-year graduation anyway. A fact I did not know at the time.

Pushing the reasoning to the side, it was cool to receive a message from myself sent two years previous. I remember it now. In 2011, I stumbled across a site (FutureMe.org) that allows people to send emails to be sent at some point in the future. Having just gotten my Bachelor's and expecting to have my Master's in another 2 years, I sent a congratulations to myself.

There is a legitimate reason for me not having accomplished this goal, but maybe I could use this site for future shame motivation. Knowing that I will have an encouraging message congratulating me for the epic moments in my life will give me a little extra push to further enjoy the message when it arrives. Or, even better, I could send congratulatory messages to myself about things that are not on track right now. Knowing that the message is coming will be embarrassing if I have not accomplished it by the time it arrives, so I will have the extra motivation to try harder and make it happen.

Examples:

To be received 15 months from today:
Dear Future Brett,
     Congratulations on graduating Summa Cum Laude from LCU. Your dedication and perseverance paid off.
To be received on August 18, 2017:
Dear Future Brett, 
     Many congratulations on being hired into the TESOL program at the University of Maui. With your credentials and talent, there was no reason you should have doubted yourself.
To be received on December 3, 2017:
Dear Future Brett,
     Wow!!! You were promoted to the head of the linguistic department in less than one semester after being hired. Congratulations on having your skills recognized so quickly.
To be received on February 19, 2021:
Dear Future Dr. Minor,
     Good luck at the U.N. Cultural Relations division. They knew what they were doing when they hired you. After establishing peace in the Middle East during your Israeli/Pacific Islands language professor exchange, you were the obvious choice.
To be received on October 8, 2024:
Dear Future Intergalactic Peace Director Minor,
     The entire planet owes you their undying gratitude for talking down the alien invaders last month. You really went above and beyond using your language skills to help settle the grievances against them from the Orion Trade Alliance. Being welcomed back into the Alliance, they now have no need for the resources of our planet. The Nobel Peace Prize was well deserved.
Now that I am sending out these emails to myself, I have no choice but to do two things.
  1. NEVER change my email address.
  2. Avoid any shame by not accomplishing the goals I am being congratulated for.
The entire universe will become a better place because I discovered this website. Be sure to send them a donation.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Awards Fairy Is Back Again

As I got home from work today, a large sedan pulled in right behind me. Two large men stepped out followed by a short balding man, who I immediately recognized as Cecil Dungliteur. This is a man who I used to only know as the Awards Fairy. He has terrorized me several times, stolen the contents of my house on more than one occasion, and cost me thousands in legal fees last February.

To catch up on what he has done to me:
The Awards Fairy Came By
Return of the Awards Fairy
Awards Fairy Detox
The Awards Fairy Strikes Again
The Awards Fairy Is Still At It
The Awards Fairy is Foiled
Awards Fairy Get Even

I immediately protested, "NO! NO! NO! Get out of here. You're not allowed to be here. Get away from me."

The Awards Fairy just stood there smiling. One of his goons said, "Surely, you're aware that he judge threw out the order of protection." The Fairy added, "He should be. He was there."

The biggest one stepped forward and produced three envelopes from inside his suit jacket and threw them at my feet.

"What's this? You can't do your own dirty work anymore?" I asked the Fairy.

"I just brought them along in case you try something."

"In case I try something? I need protected from you."

The goon who produced the envelopes said, "The court didn't see it that way, Mr. Minor" and he stuck out his hand.  "Tip?"

I looked at his large hand. "You have got to be joking?!"

The other one took a step forward. I quickly grabbed my wallet. "All I have is a twenty."

"That'll do," he said as he snatched it.

They hopped back in the car and laughed as they backed over my mailbox.

I picked up the envelopes and made my way inside the house to open them. One of the envelopes was a bright pink, so I opened it first. A new award I hadn't seen before fell out onto the table.


The inscription on the back said that this Inspiring Blog Award was given to me by Jules McMurray at My Mom's a Whack Job on February 24. That was only two weeks after my court date. Why did it take so long for them to deliver it to me?

Since the judge put me on two years probation concerning these awards, I must follow them to the letter to stay out of trouble. This one appears to be pretty simple. I have to list seven facts about me and ten bloggers that inspire me.

FACTS:
  1. I got a lump in my throat when Michael showed up for Dwight's wedding in the series finale of The Office. I'm going to miss that show.
  2. Last week, I had a cooler full of human blood in my van all morning. (I'll not explain unless someone asks.)
  3. I have been accepted into Red's family to the point that I am referred to as Uncle Brett by her nieces.
  4. I have changed jobs again. I now deliver office supplies.
  5. I finally have a smartphone. My biggest reason for holding out on getting one turned out to be valid. I am always on it.
  6. I just got a new recliner. Now I have too many...if that's possible.
  7. I own over 60 ties, but haven't worn one in almost ten years.
BLOGGERS WHO INSPIRE ME:
  1. Rodney Lacroix of Mental Poo
  2. Stephen Hayes of The Chubby Chatterbox
  3. Jessica R. Patch
  4. Linda Roy of Mod Mom Beyond Indiedom
  5. Kianwi of Simply She Goes
  6. Rachael of Rachael's Insane Rants and Bizarre Musings
  7. Addman of Muppets for Justice
  8. Outlaw Mama
  9. A Beer for the Shower
  10. Kate Hall of Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine?
The other two envelopes contained the same award although they looked different. They were both the Liebster that makes its way all over the blogging world.
The first was from Shawn Yankey at Laughing at Life, 2.


Shawn is a professional stand up comic. Now, I have won blogging awards from a published writer, and a professional comic. Now I just need an award from a magician to have all the arts covered.

The second was from Alison Sommer at Off the Mark.


Alison will be speaking at TED Talks soon. That's another award from a person who is a star even outside of the blogging world.

The Liebster gets around everywhere and has several requirements. Each person gave 11 questions to be answered. I must make 11 of my own and then pass it on to 11 more bloggers (with less than 200 followers), as well as list 11 facts about myself. I double checked the judges' orders and it looks like I can combine the people I pass it on to, but not the questions. I have to answer them all.  Here they are.

From Shawn:
  1.  If you could choose to have any superpower, what would it be?
    The ability to do anything I can think of?
  2. What would you do for a Klondike bar?
    Buy one on sale.
  3. If you could be any cartoon character, who would it be and why?
    Pigpen from Peanuts, because people left him alone.
  4. What is your favorite movie?
    Pulp Fiction
  5. If you could be granted one wish, what would it be for?
    To have the superpower mentioned earlier.
  6. Why did the chicken cross the road, besides to get to the other side?
    He just got off work and went home.
  7. If you had the power to change laws, what would you make legal and what would you make illegal?
    Anything I wanted to do would be legal and it would be illegal to stop me.
  8. What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
    Spending time with Red. If she's not around, then reading a book or watching a movie.
  9. What is your favorite quote?
    If you do what you've always done, then you'll get what you've always got.
  10. In your opinion, do you think man has really been to the moon?
    No.
  11. What is your favorite quality in the opposite sex?
    They're not me.
From Alison:
  1. What is your happiest childhood memory?
    The adventures with my brothers.
  2. If you could have a super power, what would it be?
    Didn't we cover this one?
  3. What has surprised you the most about how your life has turned out?
    I still basically live where I grew up.
  4. If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
    I would have started college sooner.
  5. What is your ultimate vacation?
    Traveling to other cultures, eating the local food, and meeting the people.
  6. If I were to meet you in person, what is the first thing I would notice about you?
    My lack of social restraint.
  7.  If you needed to emigrate, what country would you choose and why?
    Norway. It has the least personal life restrictions.
  8. What is your ultimate way of relaxing?
    A good book.
  9. What instrument have you always wanted to play?
    Guitar
  10. What role or part would you play in a movie?
    I would love to be the bad guy.
  11. What's your favorite song when traveling?
    A mixture of Classic Rock.
Facts about me:
  1. I pour milk over cake and eat it out of a bowl.
  2. I can now access Facebook and Twitter from 18 different devices. I think I may be a robot.
  3. I sleep with three pillows, but one of them is so big it could be three pillows on its own.
  4. I have been the best man in 14 different weddings.
  5. I order soft drinks without ice. I hate when it waters down the soda.
  6. I have never gotten a piece of clothing caught in a paper shredder or garbage disposal.
  7. I love thunderstorms. BIG ONES!
  8. As evidenced by her last post, Red and I have very different taste in movies.
  9. I hate hummus. I have tried many different varieties. None of them are good.
  10. I just discovered Duck Dynasty. I get it.
  11. I just learned that due to my new job, I can write off my morning Mountain Dew.
Bloggers I am passing this award to:
  1. We Are Adventure
  2. Snaps and Bits
  3. Jeneral Insanity
  4. Antijenic Drift
  5. Wrinkled Mommy
  6. When a Lion Sleeps, Let It Sleep
  7. Valerie Nunez and the Flying Platypi
  8. In Shane's Brain
  9. The Train's Whistle
  10. Next Step
  11. Ash-Matic Does Things
 A few of these bloggers don't have their followers visible on their blogs, so I don't actually know how many followers they have. If any of you have over 200, feel free to ignore. I will not be offended.

However, ATTENTION BLOGGING WORLD!!!

I now have 200 followers. I have accepted the Leibster Award for the last time. I no longer qualify for it. Can you tell that I am heart-broken?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sign, Pole ... MAILBOX!!! - Revisited

Some of you may have noticed that my blogging has slowed down. Well, not really slowed down, but came to a screeching halt. My daughter would say a mugging halt, but I don't really know what that means. I love my blog and have no intention of stopping. However, after the A to Z Challenge in April, I felt that I needed a break. Plus, my graduate studies have kicked in harder.

I will start writing again soon, but in the meantime, I have picked up a lot of new followers and need to put up material. So, I will be posting some of my older posts starting today. The following was originally posted on September 20, 2012.



What to do? What to do?
School has been in session for a month and I have been broke for that entire time. The money issue has recently been resolved, but I still have this cloud floating over my head. Since summer is over, it's time to settle in and get serious about life for a while. I haven't really had much of a choice. Between both my daughter's school schedule and my own, plus not having any money, we haven't done much. This isn't truly a bad thing, but I think the awesome summer I just had and the abrupt halt to all the fun is bringing the winter doldrums on early. I'm getting a little stir crazy.

I've been reflecting on past trips and remembering several taken when the kids were younger. It used to be our tradition to take a small trip every Saturday. We usually kept it under a hundred mile radius, but it was something fun to do on a weekend. However, having small children was often a challenge on car trips. They traveled well, but sometimes I had to come up with something to busy their minds.

One car game that lasted for several years was born out of madness one morning. I married Christian's mother when he was three years old and it took him and I a little while to hit it off. You can read about our rocky relationship here and here. One day, I was driving into town and he was doing what he usually did when we were alone in the car. He crawled out of his car seat and was curled up in a ball on the passenger side floor.

He cried about being hungry.

He cried that we weren't going to see Grandpa.

He cried about forgetting his favorite toy at home.

He cried because his shoe fell off.

This was one of those days that I was trying not to pull out my hair and chuck him through the window. I was stressed and could feel the tension mounting more and more as he found new things to whine about. I was biting through my lip as his most recent wail reached a pitch that caused the dogs we passed to start howling. Suddenly, I had an epiphany. Small children are stupid.

It couldn't be too hard to distract him despite his thinking his life was in shambles. I looked around in desperation for an idea. Then, I saw it on the road ahead and started pointing. "Look, Christian, a mailbox."

Christian paused mid-sob as he raised his snot encrusted face. "What?"

"Right there, on the side of the road. There's a mailbox. We have one of those."

He popped up into the seat to see what had me so excited. Once he saw it, he forgot what he was upset about and smiled.

"Oh, Christian, look. There's another one"

He pointed at it and laughed. I innocently asked, "I wonder if there's more."

Who knew they were so much fun?
For the next twenty minutes, we pointed out all the mailboxes we saw. I made sure to let him find several of them first since it wasn't his fault I was smarter and more observant than him. Later, when his mom was in the car, he kept pointing out the mailboxes to us. She didn't question it.

This became our regular routine when in the car together. It kept him busy and more importantly kept him in a much better mood. However, mailboxes aren't always as plentiful as I would have liked them to be. If we hit a stretch of highway with no houses, he would revert back to his whiny ways, so I added telephone poles and eventually signs.

Any type of sign would work. Billboards, stop signs and mile markers were all fair game. So, trips in our car sounded like this: SIGN, SIGN, POLE, SIGN, MAILBOX, POLE, MAILBOX, SIGN, SIGN, SIGN, POLE, MAILBOX, POLE, SIGN!

As time went on, we began to apply rules to the game.
  1. You could not identify a sign, pole or mailbox that someone had already pointed out.
  2. Every 10 miles, someone was allowed to add something to the list (i.e. swimming pool, satellite dish, dog, etc.)
  3. In the event of a disagreement, the loudest person would get the point
  4. Kirsten was the only person allowed to identify water towers.
Once Kirsten was born and started playing this game that had been evolving for years, we gave water tower sightings to her. However, Christian loved to point them out as soon as he saw them (even when we weren't playing) and send Kirsten into crying fits. "Bubby took my tower. Those are mine!"

ME: "Christian, you know those belong to your sister. Give her back the tower."

CHRISTIAN: (pouting) "But I saw it first."

ME: "The mailboxes are yours. Her seat is not high enough to be able to see them. Give it back."

KIRSTEN: (throwing a toy at his face) "Yeah, Poopy Head. It's mine."

CHRISTIAN: "You can have it, Sissy."

KIRSTEN: (looking around) "Now I can't see it." (starts crying again)

Once getting that taken care of the game sounded like this:
(EVERYONE YELLING) SIGN, MAILBOX, POLE, POLE, THAT ONE'S MINE, SIGN, MAILBOX, SATELLITE, POLE, MAILBOX, DOG, SIGN, OH WAIT IT WAS TWO DOGS, SIGN, SIGN, MAILBOX, ANOTHER DOG, SATELLITE, DOG, NOPE THAT WAS A SMALL HORSE, MAILBOX, POLE, SIGN, POLE, CHIMNEY, THAT WAS LAST WEEK, NO CHIMNEYS, SIGN, POLE, SIGN, SIGN, MAILBOX, WATER TOWER

 CHRISTIAN, STOP IT!

Friday, May 3, 2013

A to Z Challenge is...OVER!!!

For all of April, I was participating in the A to Z Challenge, which involves posting every day of the month (except Sundays) with a letter of the alphabet as the theme for each day. (May 1=A, May 2=B, May 3=C, …) That was a total of 26 posts for the month.

Here is a link to every post. Click the letter to get the post for that day.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

I have been a part of month-long daily writing challenges before, but this one was more difficult to finish. The addition of a theme added to the challenge. The morning I woke up and realized it was May 1 and I would not have to be posting for the challenge again was a very happy day. I was so happy to have this behind me. I am done with the A to Z Challenge. It was a good feeling.

I rushed right over to the site to get my well deserved badge of honor to display on my page.

Isn't it beautiful?

Just when you thought
he was dead.
Upon grabbing my award to proudly display on my site to show what a writing stud I am, I noticed that the minions at A to Z want a little bit more. Just when I thought I had this behind me, now they want a reflection post. I may never get away.

I enjoyed the challenge. It was challenging.  There were many days that I did not feel like writing. Luckily, I already had the topics planned out and a few of them written before the challenge started. In the midst of the challenge, I changed jobs (including a week when I was working at both of them). One of my graduate courses wrapped up last week, so there was all the final papers and testing to finish. It was a busy month even without the challenge.

Despite the hectic schedule, I will definitely be participating again next year. I picked up a little over 50 new followers and discovers a few dozens new blogs that I will be following now. Of the close to 2,000 participants, I personally visited the blogs of over 700 and left comments. This was the most difficult part of the challenge.

All my personal craziness started halfway through the month. At that point my visiting of other blogs came to a screeching halt. Trying to read other bloggers became too much. I even got over a week behind on replying to the comments being left on my blog. I do not blame the challenge for this. My life just got really busy. I should be able to do better next year.

Tips for future A to Z participants:
  • Pre-write as many posts as you can. Since one of the big perks to the challenge is exposure, you want to have the time to visit as many other blogs as possible.
  • Visit as many other blogs as possible (see above point) and always leave a meaningful comment. By 'meaningful comment', I mean a comment that shows you actually read the content and did not just jump down to leave a link to your blog. Be sure to include a link back to your blog in the comment. I received several comments from people that I had a difficult time tracking down. Especially if they have several blogs.
  • Be sure to visit the blogs of everyone who left a comment on your blog. Do this in addition to making your way down the huge list yourself.
  • Have fun.