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Category Archives: technology

How to make enemies and alienate people

We’ve discussed here before how to win social media, both on Facebook and Twitter. Most of the advice boils down to Wheaton’s Law, which is:

Surprisingly, this is very, very difficult for a lot of people. I’m not sure if this is because they truly like being dickish, or they don’t REALIZE they’re being dickish, or it’s too hard to think, so therefore they just say whatever crosses their minds the minute they sit down at a keyboard…but whatever the reason is, the dicks seem to outnumber the people with something real and helpful to say online, most specifically in the comment sections.

Most people I know are, for good reason, aware that if you read an article online, you don’t, under any circumstances, read the comment section. Why? Well. Because here be dragons, of course.

For every kind, helpful and relevant comment online, you have to wade through people being racist, sexist, or just downright weird, and it starts to turn your stomach and despair for the human race.

But what about if you CAN’T avoid the comments? What if it’s your job to be the one to POLICE the comments?

I will never not love this guy. FAVORITE POLTICIAN EVER!

I will never not love this guy. FAVORITE POLITICIAN EVER!

One of the aspects of my current job is social media. Five days a week, I’m in charge of the work Facebook page and Twitter account (along with my other multitudinous tasks, of course. I’m a busy bee. But I am a HAPPY busy bee, so there’s that, then.) I not only schedule the posts our readers see, I’m in charge of reading their comments for a few reasons – to see what they’re saying (it might come in handy in the future); to see if there are problems (sometimes they tell us about typos/errors in the article or on the site, which we can hopefully quickly fix); and to make sure things aren’t getting off-topic or squirrelly.

Things often get off-topic and squirrelly.

Twitter isn’t bad, only because people in this area don’t use Twitter as much as I wish they did. (It’s a great resource for a newspaper – we can get the news out almost immediately and have a constant stream of it going to our readers. It just hasn’t taken off around here like it has in more populated regions. I think it will, eventually; we’re just late adopters.) The people who follow us on Twitter are respectful and polite, for the most part, and I never feel like I’m wading into The Princess Bride‘s Fire Swamp when I check our Twitter page.

fireswamp

The Facebook page, however, is a very different beast.

Now, please don’t go into this thinking I don’t appreciate – and even enjoy – a vast majority of our commenters. We’d be nowhere without our readers, and I love that they’re out there and paying attention.

It’s the fringe contingent that worries me. And keep me busy hiding their comments. And sometimes shaking my head and thinking, “oh, I don’t…oh, oh no.”

SO. For those people, I’d like to give you a quick list of pointers. You are very quick to complain when your comments disappear, vocally and angrily; you are very quick to shout “CENSORSHIP!” and “THANKS, OBAMA!” when you think you’ve been silenced. Hopefully, this will help you navigate the waters of our social media more successfully.

HOW TO NOT BE A DICK ON PUBLIC SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES

  • Watch your language. I don’t know if you’re aware, but Facebook has a helpful function for those of us that moderate a public page. We can choose to have comments with swear words immediately hidden, so only we can see them. We very much utilize this function, as we have every intention of being a public page, and the last thing we want is some hapless child stumbling upon you cussing the hell out of a news story. Also, you kiss your mother with that mouth? Good grief, yo.
  • Stay on topic. Of course, there’s leeway here. I’m not saying there’s one path to greatness, people. But if we put up a post about, say, a fundraiser picnic, and you start rambling on about how angry you are that there are so many mosquitoes this year and there’s no global warming because of that LIAR AL GORE!, that’s just confusing and you might be a conspiracy-crazy. I’m not saying I’m blocking it, but people are going to think you’re a looney.

    Except for you, Mulder. You can comment any old time.

    Except for you, Mulder. You can comment any old time.

  • Remember: since it’s a public page, everyone on your timeline, as well as anyone in the world, can see what you’ve said, and hover over your icon and see your profile. It’s just the way Facebook is set up, my little chickadees. You give up your anonymity when you comment on a public page. If you’ve got your page locked down, when they go to look at you, they won’t see much…but you’re still not anonymous. Your name is there. EVERYONE NOW KNOWS YOUR NAME. And your comment shows up in your friends’ newsfeed. I have a friend of a friend who’s very involved with commenting on social media sites. Every time he comments on our paper, my friend says, “I see So-and-So commented on your work Facebook page again!” Everyone’s seeing what you say. Keep that in mind when you comment. If you’re not being a jerk, you have nothing to worry about. If you are, however…well, your mom’s probably seeing that (assuming your mom has Facebook. My mom doesn’t. I’m one of the lucky few.) Do you want your mom seeing that? Are you sure?
  • Personal insults? Really? What grade are you in? We have had to take down entire posts because people randomly started insulting the other commenters, the people in the article, random politicians (seriously, if I never see another non-ironic “THANKS, OBAMA!” it’ll be too soon), and, in one weird thread, God. (Yes, some guy started really insulting God, like, over and over. SO MAD AT GOD.) That counts as off-topic, and it counts as just downright mean, people. STOP IT. I get it. You are filled with all of the hatred. You are ready to explode like a hatred volcano. Sometimes *I* am the target of the hatred volcano. Sometimes my beloved coworkers who wrote the articles are (and it takes every bit of my precarious self-control to not respond with a very biting “WE ARE RUBBER YOU ARE GLUE!” rebuttal, because when it comes to my coworkers, I am such a Momma Bear.) But if you go too far, I’m hiding your comments, buckaroo. I don’t like meanness. I don’t like the idea that people are walking around with a stomachache because someone was mean to them for no reason on our social media. Make a new plan, Stan, and screw off home.

    Oh, is THIS who's to blame. UGH THANKS OBAMA

    Oh, is THIS who’s to blame. UGH THANKS OBAMA

  • Why you gotta be so dirty? SO MUCH NAUGHTINESS. I’m immediately hiding your comments saying female politicians got to where they are “on their knees” or that the local taco place sells “fish tacos that remind me of my ex-girlfriend.” Seriously? What are you hoping to accomplish with this comment? Like, cracking up your friends with a “HEE HEE DIRTY COMMENT ON A PUBLIC SITE?” or “UNGH I AM SO SEXY THIS IS LIKE AN OBSCENE PHONE CALL FOR *EVERYONE*!” I don’t even know. I have ALMOST the least tolerance for this. The LEAST tolerance is saved for…
  • On my watch? No racist, sexist, homophobic comments. Not going to happen. Don’t even try. And if they happen when the other people I work with are on social media, I’ll sometimes randomly check and hide your comments EVEN THOUGH I AM NOT WORKING. Yeah, you heard me right. I FEEL SO STRONGLY ABOUT THIS, I DO THAT SHIT FOR FREE, YO. You don’t get to have a public forum to spew your hatred. Sorry. I know, right, FREE SPEECH? Well, we run the page, and you lost your right to free speech when you commented on it. We have the right to moderate. And until the day my fingers fall off, I will not allow you to put hate speech on our site.
  • Acting too cool for school is actually the stupidest thing ever. We get a lot of “who cares?” or “slow news day” comments. Did you really take time out of your day to write that? Actual time you could have been spending on something else? YOU obviously care, because you took that time out of your day. And no, it’s not a “slow news day.” There’s no such thing. If we posted the article, we think someone can benefit from reading it; if it doesn’t resonate with you, maybe…oh, I don’t know, don’t feel like you have to comment? It’s not like you have to comment on everything. No! Really! You don’t have to! I know, freeing, right?
  • Maybe spell/grammar check? I’m a little more stringent about this than others. I hate ALL typos. It’s what I do for a living; you can’t really blame me. Most people don’t care if you make a few. But I’m talking about the people who write a comment like “For teh all people eat fodo there waffles, good yunger.” I don’t…what does this mean? Do you even know what it means? Is it a puzzle? If I solve it, what do I win? (Is it waffles? That’s a worthy prize. I’ll take it.)
  • Don’t try to sell me a car. We randomly get a Ugandan businessman who spams about 15 of our posts with a huge long “CARS FOR SALE!” comment. We block him; he comes back in another incarnation about a month later. We’re going to keep blocking you, buddy. No one wants your used Buicks. And how would they even GET here from Uganda? Logistical nightmare.

These all seem common sense, right? Yeah, you’d be surprised. If you’re looking at the comment section of a public site, know that most likely, even though your blood pressure is up? Most of the worst comments HAVE ALREADY BEEN TAKEN DOWN. I know. Humbling, right?

So the next time you’re going to comment on a public page, take a deep breath, think, “Is this a dick move? Should I do this? Am I building someone up, or knocking someone down? Do I have a valid point? Is there even any REASON for me to make this comment?” If you can answer all of your questions and still look yourself in the eye in the mirror…you are welcome! Comment away! If not…maybe start a blog where you can say what you want, with no fear of The Powers That Be shutting you down.

...or you'll make Ron Swanson annoyed. You don't want to make Ron Swanson annoyed. Trust me.

…or you’ll make Ron Swanson annoyed. You don’t want to make Ron Swanson annoyed. Trust me.

And, to those of you with actual, helpful, intelligent comments to make? THANK YOU. You make my day/month/year. Keep on keepin’ on, you guys. You make what we do worthwhile.

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A shocking and surprising revelation! Ooh! Aah!

I have a confession to make. It’s going to shock and awe you, so prepare yourselves. Probably take a seat? Get yourselves a cool beverage? Take some deep breaths?

Are you all prepared? Jeez, I hope so.

I have fallen madly in love with e-reading.

I KNOW. I totally fought it, you guys. Kicking and screaming. I was all YOU WILL TEAR MY PAPER BOOKS FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS. A couple of years ago, I found out that I was going to get a Kindle for Christmas, but when my dad found out, he told my brother’s girlfriend “OMG DO NOT GIVE HER THAT SHE WILL PITCH SUCH A CHRISTMAS FIT!!!” so she exchanged it for something else and I don’t even remember what right now. When I talked to her about it a couple of days later, she said she still had it; did I want it? (She’s very generous, no joke.) And I thought about it, but decided against it. I didn’t think I would use it. And it seemed like a very expensive thing to take that I wasn’t going to use. (I wouldn’t have pitched a Christmas fit, though. I’m very gracious about receiving presents I won’t use. I put on a very nice face and am all, “Oh! Wow! SO NICE! And thoughtful!” and such and the person doesn’t even know I’m planning where in my closet I will stash the thing.)

I don't ever even make this face. This face is a dead giveaway.

I don’t ever even make this face. This face is a dead giveaway.

Oh, SIDE NOTE, and speaking of Dad, I spoke to him this evening, and he was VERY UPSET ABOUT SOME THINGS. First, Mom was making him go to this three-day church thing where you go listen to these friars talk about…I don’t know, being friars, I guess (Dad says that none of their last names are Tuck, and they don’t wear brown robes with rope belts, so I think this friar thing is really overrated) and that means he’s going to miss Survivor. MISS! SURVIVOR! Can you even imagine? Who will yell at Jeff Probst if Dad is listening to the friars talk about being friar-y? And THEN he told me that Mom has a COLD and he has to SIT next to her at church and WHAT IF HE CATCHES THAT COLD? He is an old MAN, you know! THIS COULD BE IT! He might be ONE COLD AWAY FROM DEATH! And, guess what else, GUESS WHAT ELSE! There was some ice he slipped on the other day and he fell, and now he is QUITE SURE he has BONE FRAGMENTS from his BACK in his BLOODSTREAM that are WORKING THEIR WAY to his HEART, because that’s what happens, Amy. THAT IS WHAT HAPPENS. So as you can all see by this very lengthy side note, Dad is totally on the way out, and he won’t even get to watch Survivor as his last request. IT IS ALL VERY SAD.

Dad has become convinced his dimples are surgically implanted. He calls him "Fake Dimples" Probst.

Dad has become convinced his dimples are surgically implanted. He calls him “Fake Dimples” Probst.

OK, let’s get this train back on the tracks. Choo-choo!

So I fought the relentless wave of literary technology. I got my books from the library; once and a while, I’d buy one. This worked out just fine, mostly because I was poor and library books are free, you guys.

However, I was lucky as hell to get an amazing job in December, and along with this amazing job that I actually enjoy going to on a daily basis comes an added bonus – a real paycheck. A paycheck that covers the bills AND leaves money for additional things like new phones and Netflix and such. And I kind of wanted a tablet. And I thought, well, I could get a Kindle. That’s a tablet AND an e-reader. It’s the future. I really should get with the future. EVERYONE is in the future. Every single person. Except me.

I have a terrible sense of direction. I'm sure I missed the exit and accidentally got off in Parsippany.

I have a terrible sense of direction. I’m sure I missed the exit and accidentally got off in Parsippany.

And I thought of all the sad tree-books that were not getting read and all the publishing houses that were losing money and possibly going out of business and it totally made me sad-face like I was probably betraying all those books that got me through all the hardest times of my life. But it is the FUTURE. The future! Who am I to deny the future, really?

Then I got my Kindle in the mail. And it was – oh, my. It was so pretty. SO PRETTY. And I got a snappy orange case and it was very easy to set up and install all of the apps onto and it hooked up easily to the wireless in my house (whew, thank goodness I got wireless for the laptop last year, I’m using the wireless for SO MANY THINGS right now) and then it was time for books.

So I took books I had on my laptop Kindle app, which I barely used and it annoyed me the most because I hate reading books on the computer screen, and moved ’em on over. Then I had some books gifted to me from a wonderful friend. So I had a LOT of books on the Kindle.

One was a Stephen King/Joe Hill short story I hadn’t read yet. “I’m not really CHEATING on paper books if I read this one short STORY,” I thought.

How can I resist a new King/Hill story? HOW, I ask you?

How can I resist a new King/Hill story? HOW, I ask you?

So I brought the pretty new Kindle to bed with me.

That’s where the trouble starts, you guys. The bedroom. Every single time. It’s what your momma warned you about.

THE KINDLE WAS SO PRETTY. And so easy to use. And the pages were so bright and crisp and easy to see. And you can just pop on over to the next page with a simple swoop! and then there you are. And you can hold it in one hand. And you can totally snuggle under the covers easier with it. And and and…

Oh, you guys. I totally dig the Kindle.

So, so much.

Also, it’s a lot easier to read it in the light booth at the theater than attempting to keep your place and prop up a book on the sound board while you’re trying to keep your place in the script and run the cues. And you can highlight passages you like and you can bookmark where you are. (Highlighting is a problem in library books. I’m the jerk who makes little light pencil marks and puts in a billion bookmarks so I can write down the passages I liked when I’m done reading. Then I erase them, I’m not a total asshole. In library books. When I OWN the book, I write all OVER that sucker.)

I promise I don't do this. PROMISE.

I promise I don’t do this. PROMISE.

So, I take it back. I take back all my hatred of e-readers. I take it all back. You were right, all you people that exhorted me to please, please, PLEASE get off my ass and get an e-reader, already. I LOVE IT.

Also, one-click ordering might be my downfall. And the Kindle – which is actually a Kindle Fire HD – displays graphic novels GORGEOUSLY. So did I actually buy all of Joe Hill’s Locke and Key graphic novels tonight and spend an exorbitant amount of money on them because I wanted to own them all? Yes. Yes, I did. SO PRETTY.

"Locke and Key" is GORGEOUS. Also beautifully-written. If you're not reading, I highly recommend it.

“Locke and Key” is GORGEOUS. Also beautifully-written. If you’re not reading, I highly recommend it.

Do I still have (and read) paper books? Yep. I have a pile and a half from the library I’m working my way through. And some that I own. All the paper books. I don’t HATE them. I’m reading one right now, actually. I’ll never stop loving my paper books. They make up most of my decorating scheme, anyway. What would I do if I got rid of them? The place would be SO EMPTY. Dumbcat would be SO CONFUSED.

I owe you an apology, e-readers of the world. I’m sorry I was so yelly about you. You are actually the most awesome. I don’t know that you will be the downfall of paper books – I’m assuming you will not, I think there will always be a market for paper books – but I’m completely and totally head-over-heels for you, and I keep downloading more and more books and just looking, lustfully, at your gorgeous homescreen with ALL THE PRETTY BOOKS like JEWELS.

This isn't mine, but so, so pretty, right? I look at mine ALL THE TIME. And sigh. Happily. It's like a LIBRARY you can keep in your PURSE.

This isn’t mine, but so, so pretty, right? I look at mine ALL THE TIME. And sigh. Happily. It’s like a LIBRARY you can keep in your PURSE.

Yet again, you roped me in with your awesomeness, technology. Someday I will learn not to doubt you. Maybe. Probably.


Who the hell is Guzman, autocorrect?

I’m attempting to blog from my Kindle. This might be disastrous. Also, I might miss a cue. I’m making the director nervous. I’m so not paying attention fully.

The show is going well and is lovely. This is our first full dress rehearsal. We have one more, then pay-what-you-will Thursday, then opening night. Eeee! Exciting, right?

Yesterday at tech funny things happened, like the purchasing of do-rags (and the incorrect wearing of them) and many giggle-inducing moments. One actor’s hat was too small. “He looks like a fat Zorro,” friend A. said. Today he has a new hat. I miss fat Zorro. He was like a cartoon.

It was kind of like this, only a cowboy/Zorro hat. Google image search is not being at all helpful. This is like fat military guy and that's not at all as funny as fat Zorro.

It was kind of like this, only a cowboy/Zorro hat. Google image search is not being at all helpful. This is like fat military guy and that’s not at all as funny as fat Zorro.

Also, a very bright blue light was installed in the booth; friend A. and I can’t look at it or we risk burning out our retinas. I told the costume designer I was going to come in wearing body glitter; in this light, I’d look like a Twilight vampire. Bite bite bite emo bite.

OMG, maybe it's not a blue light, maybe it's EXTRATERRESTRIAL IN ORIGIN. Eep!

OMG, maybe it’s not a blue light, maybe it’s EXTRATERRESTRIAL IN ORIGIN. Eep!

And someone here believes everything here can be repaired by shooting canned air into it. I’ve been saying that for everything that goes wrong. Actor drops a line? Canned air. Broken prop? Canned air. Costume doesn’t fit? Canned air. Too-small fat-Zorro hat? Canned effing air, baby.

Or maybe he has a huffing problem, I didn't even think of that. Heh, "Blow Off."

Or maybe he has a huffing problem, I didn’t even think of that. Heh, “Blow Off.”

Today, I brought the car to the shop. For four hours. And $700. Things I got for my money: two new tires, new rear brakes, new transmission gasket and pan, various labor. That seems like a lot, yeah? It’s more than my monthly rent, yo. And the catalytic converter is still borked. That needs fixing soon, too. And will be $700 more dollars, huzzah!

(Autocorrect on the Kindle changed that last word to “Guzman” for some reason; I spent ten minutes silently snort-laughing about “And will be $700 more dollars, Guzman!”)

Luis Guzman, autocorrect? Do you mean Luis Guzman?

Luis Guzman, autocorrect? Do you mean Luis Guzman?

It is now the next day. It took me most of the night to hunt-and-peck out about 250 words on the Kindle. That…seems like not the best way to be blogging, yo. I only screwed up one sound cue terribly, and in a funny twist, it wasn’t even when I was blogging. ALSO, the Kindle is very good for reading in the light booth; I am very pleased with this purchase. AND, I did make you a video of rehearsal, but it is too far away and too small and very quiet so I will not post it here. I can’t figure out how to zoom on the iPhone camera. I was easily able to zoom with my Android phone. Why is this so difficult, iPhone, I ask you? Hmm? I sent it to Andreas (WHO, by the way, I will be meeting in LESS THAN A MONTH) and he said it was very hard to see and hear. Then I was able to watch it today and he was very right. So, no. You cannot see it. Sorry. It is not indicative of the good work the cast is doing over there.

(DUH ME. I just researched it and NOW I know how to do it. I’m…technologically challenged, leave me alone already.)

I do wish you could have seen fat Zorro, though. I am giggling just thinking about that right now, and it’s been like 48 hours.

This is half the length of a me-post, but I don’t know when I’ll get to blog again, so at least it’s SOMETHING. I’m going to see American Idiot tonight and then reviewing it for the paper, and then one more dress rehearsal, then pay-what-you-will (which is also final dress), then opening night. Send me break-a-leg vibes! Also, send me stay-awake vibes, I’m totally exhausted!


I Thought It Would Be Funny: A Day of Adventure With The Nephew

I have actual real things to blog about. Real topics. I KNOW SHOCKING. Like, I have them all saved with notes and such. But my brain’s all scattery and I have a million other things bopping around in it so I can’t actually force myself to sit down and concentrate on them.

It’s a day off today for me, which is so nice, I can’t even tell you. Yesterday? I TOOK A NAP. I haven’t taken a nap, other than when I’ve been sick, in probably years. Because when I take a nap, it throws off my sleep schedule. But I didn’t have to get to bed overly early last night, and I was sleepy in the afternoon (even though I totally slept well the night before) and I thought, you know what? I’m going to take a decadent little siesta. And I DID. And it was GLORIOUS. And I still slept last night, too. And had trouble waking up when the alarm went off this morning. So apparently, this long weekend was for sleeping. All the sleeping. Every last bit of it. And it’s been GRAND. I only wish I could bank all that sleep for the days I’m not getting enough.

Aw, look, a little sleep bank. I like that.

Aw, look, a little sleep bank. I like that.

I also finally took down the Christmas decorations (yes, I’m aware Christmas was almost a month ago, I hadn’t gotten around to it yet) and cleaned up the house a little and wrote and watched television and paid bills and petted Dumbcat and baked cookies and talked to my parents and did all good things. It was a very productive day.

And TODAY, I woke up to an email with the best news EVER EVER, which I can’t go into detail about yet, but will as soon as I can (it’s good, it’s SO SO GOOD) and also in fifteen minutes I’m taking off to spend a few hours with The Nephew in his new house. I can’t wait to see him. The cookies referred to above were for him, by the way. I can’t bring him gifts EVERY time I see him, that’d be absurd, right? So in lieu of gifts, I’m bringing him and his mom some homemade chocolate-chip cookies. Not JUST cookies, but my SPECIAL chocolate-chip cookies, which are the best recipe I’ve ever tried and they’re utterly delicious. I think he’ll approve. (I mean, the kid loves his desserts. His face gets all excited when there are desserts involved. Apparently, the last time he was at my parents’ house, he opened the fridge and stuck his finger in a cherry pie “just to see what it tasted like.” Hee!)

So my house smells like baking right now. I’m pretty sure if a man were to come over here, I could woo ’em with the scent alone. Just saying.

And I have another busy week coming up – dinner with friends Wednesday, theater stuff Friday, work Tuesday-Saturday. Plus I really need to start reading those one-acts for the play festival we have in July. It is my job, after all. Sigh. Those aren’t going to be a fun read. They never are.

Also, for no apparent reason, my apartment is like a fridge right now, even though the heater keeps going off. So that’s perplexing. WARM UP, APARTMENT. I AM CHILLY. Like, I’m seriously thinking of purchasing a Snuggie.

ZOMG, look at all the uses. SO MANY USES!

ZOMG, look at all the uses. SO MANY USES!

Now, time has passed since I started this. I know, it’s like the magic of blogging, right? I am home from my adventure with The Nephew. And it was TOTALLY an adventure. Listen, even if things aren’t an adventure, I make them so. That’s the way I am.

So first, I’d never been to either The Nephew’s new house, or the town he currently resides in. So it was GPS time. I popped in the address. All was well! All was good! I got in the car! Yay, yay! I put on loud, cheerful music! Ba-BAM! Ready to go! The town is about half an hour away, so here we go!

About five minutes into the drive I realized something was terribly wrong. TomTom was giving me the silent treatment.

This is the face TomTom would have been making. Had TomTom a face. Which it doesn't. Because it is a machine, sheesh.

This is the face TomTom would have been making. Had TomTom a face. Which it doesn’t. Because it is a machine, sheesh.

I didn’t have it on mute. I had the volume turned all the way up. Everything else was working perfectly. TomTom was just not telling me where to turn. So I could SEE where to turn, but the whole point of TomTom is that you don’t have to take your eyes off the road much. You can mostly listen to it, and every once and a while when it gets confusing, you peek over briefly. Well, I had to peek over ALL THE TIME once I got off the highway, because the rest of the trip was all small roads and traffic circles and such, and TomTom was all “we’re playing the game of who can stay silent the longest” and THAT was disconcerting.

So I finally got there – while beseeching TomTom to please talk to me, what’d I do, baby, please talk to me, don’t do this, you’re only hurting YOURSELF, TomTom, I can’t lose you, DON’T DO THIS TO US, TOMTOM, think of the good times, don’t give up on us, baby! – and there was the house! And I knocked and no one came to the door and I was all, “Oh, well, this is bad, maybe it’s all a dream” but then K. came to the door because The Nephew had been in the bathroom.

AND THEN THERE WAS THE NEPHEW!

He ran into the hallway all happy-faced and big-eyed and said “Aunt Amy Aunt Amy HELLO!” and LAUNCHED himself up into my arms for a big hug and I picked him up and gave him that big hug and he said “I want to show you my room!” and I said, “I want to SEE your room!” and he said, “OK! Let’s go!”

So he gave me a kiddo-tour of his new place. “This is my KITCHEN! This is my LIVING ROOM! This is the BATHROOM! Where you PEE! This is MOMMY’S room! THIS IS MY ROOM! That is the basement, sometimes you have to go down those steps.” He gave that door a very mistrustful look. Can’t say as I blame him. Basements are a frightening affair.

I don't trust you, basement.

I don’t trust you, basement.

“Do you want to play with me?” he said. When your beloved nephew asks you such a thing, the answer is always yes. No other answer will do.

So we played with Thomas the Tank Engine trains, and some Toy Story 3 dolls (Lotso Bear was the badguy, and Buzz Lightyear and one of those little “the CLAW!” aliens were the good guys) and a wrestling playset that had a spinny circle in the middle that launched the wrestlers into the bouncy elastic side of the ring, and that made him laugh and laugh (there was a monster on the side of the ring, and he was very careful to tell me, “this isn’t a real monster, though. It’s just a TOY monster.” I get the feeling someone had to tell him that once or twice.) We also played with some Matchbox cars. Mostly this involved him driving them off the dresser and me catching them as they crashed. “Do they like crashing like that?” I said. “YES! They LOVE it!” he enthused. OK, then, well, it must be true. He also showed me his books (“You could read ALL of these to me!” he said) and his bed (“I sleep there!”) and his Wii (“You can’t bang on this, or it breaks, right, Mommy?”) and he kept running from room to room like a little Tasmanian Devil so I got dizzy. I think parenting might be exhausting. Why didn’t you people warn me parenting is exhausting? Kids don’t sit still very often, is what I learn whenever I see The Nephew. They are always go-go-going.

Lotso is TOTALLY a bad guy. The Nephew and I are in agreement on this one. "He put them in the FIRE!" The Nephew said, in a scowly way.

Lotso is TOTALLY a bad guy. The Nephew and I are in agreement on this one. “He put them in the FIRE!” The Nephew said, in a scowly way.

He also wanted me to participate in “Family Fun Night” which apparently entailed watching movies on Mommy’s bed. “But it’s day! Can we have Family Fun Night during the day?” I asked. “Yes we can!” he said. “Well, it’s like Family Fun Night has no rules!” I told him. He thought about this very seriously. “No, there are rules,” he said. “No hitting, no biting, no lying, and…um…no hitting.” “Those are very good rules, The Nephew,” I said. “I try to live by those rules every day, myself.”

(I didn’t tell him I’m not always successful. He’ll learn that soon enough, why burst his bubble now?)

Then he had one of the cookies I made. “These are EXCELLENT,” he told me. Hee! Excellent. Nice. Also he had some lunch, but mostly he didn’t want that lunch. He doesn’t like eating very much. So instead of eating, he dripped soup all over and put his sandwich in the soup and dripped THAT all over and nibbled his sandwich and apple like a baby bird.

Then he did a thing which made me realize for the billionth time I would be a terrible mother.

He, for no real reason, tore off a piece of sandwich and dropped it in his chocolate milk. Then he tried to retrieve it, but he couldn’t because it was too deep in the cup.

“Well, I can’t drink my milk now!” he announced.

“You shouldn’t have put sandwich in there. Do you want some water?” his mother said.

This was not the answer he wanted. I think he wanted her to replace it with a whole new cup of milk. He got the dangerous pouty lower lip.

“No. Maybe I could get it out with my fingers?” he said, tearfully and doubtfully.

“No, you already tried that. You know that doesn’t work. You could drink the milk with the sandwich in there. It’s ok,” his mom said.

This brought on a full-on toddler tearstorm. “NO I CANNOT!” he wailed.

“Well, The Son, why did you put your sandwich in your cup in the first place?” she asked. K. is a very good mom. She is the most patient. I was standing there trying not to giggle. Because he was SO SAD about that piece of sandwich in his milk. Good gracious.

SO SAD!!! *not The Nephew; dramatic re-enactment only

SO SAD!!! *not The Nephew; dramatic re-enactment only

“I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE FU-HU-HU-NEEEE!” he sobbed.

That’s when I totally lost it and had to turn away so he didn’t see his beloved aunt cracking up. He put a piece of sandwich in his milk because it had comedy potential; the joke backfired, and now he was left with chocolate milk that tasted of grilled cheese sandwich. ZOMG LIFE WAS SO HARD. Also, this seems an apt analogy for a lot of things I do in my life. I’ve had a lot of things backfire that I did because I thought they would be fu-hu-hu-neee.

K., with a totally straight face (I think if you’re a mom you have to probably practice keeping a poker face in the mirror, or something) said “What if I fished that out with a spoon?”

His tears IMMEDIATELY stopped. “I want to do it.”

“If you eat two bites of your sandwich, I’ll let you do it,” she said. TRICKY! And SMART!

He promptly ate two sandwich-bites and then fished the offensive sandwich-piece out of his cup and drained the rest of his chocolate milk. SUCCESS AND VICTORY FOR THE LITTLE GUY!

He also started punching his mom really hard in the leg. “I thought there was no hitting?” I said. “This is not HITTING,” he said. “This is MARKING. It’s like TAPPING but HARDER.” Then he did it a few more times. It sincerely looked like hitting to me. “Marking marking MARKING!” he said gleefully. “I think it’s time for a new rule,” his mom said, with painful-face. “No hitting, biting, lying, or marking.” The Nephew made a VERY sad face at this news. “It is just HARD TAPPING!” he wailed. Aw, kiddo. I think you might be a lawyer someday. You really have a very good answer for everything.

Then it was naptime and time for Aunt Amy to morph back into her alter-ego, “just plain old Amy” and go home.

I got one more launched-from-across-the-room hug and sandwichy kiss and I told him I loved him and I would see him soon. “OK!” he said gleefully. Aw, buddy. In the grand scheme of things and people, I love you more than anyone. Shh, don’t tell everyone else, they’ll get a complex. I also gave K. a hug, don’t even think I didn’t.

Then I got back in the car and guess what? TomTom apparently got over his snit and was talking to me again. What the hell? THAT was weird. When did my TomTom become like a passive-aggressive teen boyfriend?

And now I am back in my strangely freezing apartment and Dumbcat is keeping my legs warm because it’s like a fridge in here still. VERY MYSTERIOUS.

There was my Monday in a nutshell. A very large and long and probably rambly nutshell. Thanks for the day off, new job, you’re the best.

Hope you all had lovely long weekends! Real posts with real content soon. I hope. I think. We’ll see. I have topics and everything. I promise! Really! Would I lie to you? I can NOT lie to you. That would be breaking the rules of Family Fun Night, you see. That’s a total no-no.


My phone is psychic but pretending it’s not and it’s worrying me, yo.

I’m fairly sure my phone is psychic. Or perhaps haunted.

No, no, wait, hear me out.

OK, so one of the reasons I got the iPhone is that I could put a ton of music on it. My master musicologist, sj, has been the most helpful with this, even when I was freaking out and all “ZOMG SJ I CANNOT DOOOO THISSSS” and she made a video for me and everything. She’s the best.

So I managed to put music on my phone. Which was VERY exciting. I was able to have Google Music on my last phone for about 5 minutes before it was all “NO INTERNAL MEMORY!” and made me delete it. *glares at old phone*

So I currently have about 850 songs on my phone. I could have more, but I gave up on turning all of my CDs to digital files halfway through the project because there were just too many of them. I am a master at giving up when something is too hard. Don’t even think I’m not.

I spent about three hours going through all the music in my iTunes (which sj showed me how to get out of my Google Music) and selecting the ones I wanted and putting it all on the phone. It was a huge endeavor that took up a large chunk of one of my Sundays off.

HOWEVER! Since sj is the smartest, she knew the following:

  • if I had music and Pandora on my phone, I could listen to music ANYWHERE I WAS
  • I just had to buy a little adapter-thingy and I could listen to music in my CAR (I don’t have a fancy car – it only has a tape player. But for like $10, you can get a tape player adapter thingy and listen to your phone in your car. Which I didn’t even know existed.
See? This is how those of us with old-ass cars make things work, yo.

See? This is how those of us with old-ass cars make things work, yo.

So I have been merrily listening to my own music for the past week or so. Even better, if we’re quiet about it, we can listen to music at work! I know, I work at the best place, right? Friend A. showed me how to make the phone play through the computer speakers (which I thought would be a big huge deal but come to find out I just had to plug the phone into the speaker wire. I never said I was technologically savvy) so I can now listen to music at my desk while I’m toiling. (A lot of my work involves doing things that I can listen to music while I do, so that’s nice. It’s a nice thing to have playing. It makes me happy.)

ANYWAY, so my phone is psychic.

Here is an actual email exchange with the magical sj the other day. I am italics. sj is bold. In case that wasn’t obvious.

How is it possible that the shuffle function on the phone has just played three Beatles songs in a row? There are like 850 songs on here. Yes, quite a few of them are Beatles songs…but the sheer odds of that are kind of miniscule. I think the phone has become sentient and is screwing with me. If I don’t email you tomorrow, it’s because the phone has killed me in my sleep.

Wait, let’s see what the 4th song in a row is. This is like a little test.

Hmm. Hole’s “Asking for It.” IS THE PHONE TRYING TO SAY I’M ASKING FOR IT? Oh, crap, I think I’m in trouble.

The next song was “Hero.” I’m pretty sure the phone is trying to tell me not to be a hero, here.

HAHAHAHAHA!  This is the best email ever!

The next song was “Skip the Charades.” THE PHONE KNOWS I’M ONTO IT.

Gulp.

You need to do one of those “iPod on shuffle” posts!

I was just thinking I probably should. But the haunted phone might not like that. IT MIGHT KILL ME.

See? My phone is psychic and/or haunted. It might be trying to tell me something.

The other day, it played a song that I love. Love love LOVE. So I played it over and over and over and OVER. When I finally moved onto something else, the first song the phone played was Denis Leary’s “Asshole,” so I’m pretty sure it was making a judgment about me and my obsessive need to listen to sad songs over and over. I think the phone was all, “THAT’S NOT WHAT I’M ON SHUFFLE FOR, AMY.” And therefore I think it might hate me.

HOWEVER, I also think the phone loves me, because sometimes it seems to know exactly what I need to hear right when I need to hear it. This morning, I needed Brandi Carlile’s “The Story.” I really, really did. Yes. I know I could have just manually made it happen, but that doesn’t seem fair. What was like the third song that popped up today? Yep. “The Story.” THANK YOU PSYCHIC PHONE!

Anyway, in honor of sj, let’s see what an iPod on shuffle meme looks like. Then mock it, probably. My guess would be that we will mock this meme. But who knows what will happen, the world really is our oyster, here.

Whole world, baby.

Whole world, baby.

OK, here, I found one, let’s see what happens. Apparently you put your iPod (or phone, or whatever) on shuffle and see what happens and then answer the questions. I like questions.

1. What do people assume when they first look at me?
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel. (Well, that’s distressing. Unless that’s a compliment. Do we think that’s a compliment?)

2. What will be a big challenge in life for me?
“Burning Down the House” by The Used. (Hmm. Am I burning down the house? Am I burning down someone else’s house because I’ve been scorned or something? Will I have a house fire? I don’t like the tone of this meme.)

This makes me nervous, this little cartoon. Someone thought this was a good idea? Yikes.

This makes me nervous, this little cartoon. Someone thought this was a good idea? Yikes.

3. Am I a good boyfriend/girlfriend?
“Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” by Chuck Berry. (This doesn’t answer the question at ALL. Also the question is stupid.)

4. Do I have a Secret Admirer?
“We Are Young” by Fun. (Um. This meme is ridiculous and not working, and also strangely capitalized.)

5. Will I ever become manically depressed in my life?
“If I Had a Hammer” by Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger. (A. Who asks questions like this? B., Apparently I’m going to be depressed and maybe kill someone with a hammer. Sigh.)

7. Is someone trying to kill me?
“Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye. (Oh, see, this one totally answered the question, someone from my past is attempting to murder me, I knew it.)

8. What is my sexual preference?
“I’m Looking Through You” by The Beatles. (Again, this is a very bad question, and the answer doesn’t have anything to do with this. SIGH SIGH MEME.)

9. What am I afraid of?
“Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison. (I’m afraid of the person who introduced me to this song. He was a total jerk and also I think a crazyperson. But I love the song. This is making me tired.)

10. What will I be doing in a few years?
“I Know Him So Well” from the Chess Original Cast Recording (I’m going to be…euphemizing in a few years? So well? Rock on, future-me.)

11. What is some good advice for me?
“18 Wheeler” by Pink (OK, I’m down with this, since one of the lyrics is “You can push me out the window/I’ll just get back up/You can run over me with your 18 wheeler truck/And I won’t give a fuck” so that’s good advice, then. Thanks, Pink.)

12. What should I do instead of this quiz?
“Fake Plastic Trees” by by Radiohead (I think this means ANYTHING is better than this quiz. ANYTHING EVEN FAKE PLASTIC TREES.)

13. Will you get married?
“Hit So Hard” by Hole. (I’m…gonna take that as a no, then.)

14. What is the story of your life?
“Magical Mystery Tour” by The Beatles. (Yep. That works. That works just fine for me.)

15. How can you get ahead in life?
“Fire and Rain” by James Taylor. (Um. I’m pretty sure there’s a fire in my future. This is…well, worrisome, to be honest.)

16. What is the best thing about your friends?
“Girlfriend” by Julia Price. (What about my guy friends? This meme or quiz or whatever is very long, and making me exhausted.)

17. What song describes you?
“Once” by Pearl Jam. (OK, now I think the phone is just screwing with me. NONE OF THESE MATCH UP AT ALL.)

18. How does the world see you?
“The Chain” by Ingrid Michaelson. (“So glide away on soapy heels and promise not to promise anymore and I will take the chain from off the door.” WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH THE QUESTION. The answer is nothing. It has nothing to do with the question.)

19. Will you have a happy life?
“Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. (Apparently that’s a yes? Although I think the song was ironic? So maybe a no? SIGH.)

20. How can I make myself happy?
“At the End of the Day” from the Les Mis original cast recording. (Well, this clearly means I need to go see “Les Mis” in the theaters, then. In order to be happy. That’s alright.)

21. What should you do with your life?
“Ode to Billy Jo” by Bobbi Gentry. (I should…hide the fact I’m gay and jump off a bridge? Yes. Yes, that makes sense, phone. Thank you. SO much.)

22. Will you ever have children?
“I Speak Six Languages” from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee original cast recording. (This is about kids. Kids that can SPELL. So it’s tangentially related. Hmm.)

Alright, so I think it’s fairly clear that the phone, which up until now was all psychic, wanted nothing to do with this stupid meme and decided to play dumb, and therefore screwed with me during this so I looked like an idiot. WELL-PLAYED, PHONE.

Also, and this has NOTHING to do with ANYTHING, so SIDE NOTE, but why didn’t you people warn me that Despicable Me was SAD? Urgh. I’m all snotty and tearfaced right now. I can’t watch a cartoon movie without weeping, I swear. It’s very distressing. Stupid cartoons being all emotional.

*sniff*

*sniff*

Off to bed for me. Long day of longness. I need to get more sleep, sometimes.

If the phone kills me in my sleep, I’m totally blaming all of you for not believing me it’s psychic or perhaps demon-possessed.


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