Watermark

 

If you lived in the Minneapolis area in the summer of 2007, no doubt you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing in the moments after 6:05 pm on August 1. I was sitting in my living room, when my husband called from work about 6:20 and asked me if I had heard that the “35W bridge over the Mississippi had collapsed” and I remember sitting down on the sofa, stunned, trying to turn on the TV. Those initial moments were filled with confusion, as I thought he meant the bridge over the river in Bloomington. It wasn’t until I started to see the news reports that I realized it was the bridge near downtown Minneapolis, and along with thousands of others became mesmerized by the horrific images on the screen. Little did I know that among the victims was a distant cousin who I had never met, and now I never would, and a young woman who would soon have an impact on my life, but I wouldn’t realize it until years later.

That August day was like many others, hot at 92 degress and a bit muggy.  Picture yourself in the car driving home from work, or to some evening event. Perhaps you’re speaking to a loved on on the phone, or listening to music. You might have the window open in hopes of a breeze if your AC isn’t working, or if you were lucky and it is, the windows all up. Traffic is moving slowly since 4 of the 8 lanes are closed for bridge resurfacing and there is quite a bit of construction equipment about. Suddenly, you feel a slight jolt, a little bump, and wonder what it is, and then, without warning, the road under you is just gone and you’re free falling. You’re in your car, plunging toward the Mississippi River, along with other cars trucks, concrete, steel girders, rebar, gusset plates, dust…The sound is defeaning, then silence. You’re under water, or perhaps on the remainder of the bridge at an odd angle, or pinned under concrete or another car. In the water you desperately try to get out of your seatbelt and then out of your car, in the murky water. Some did, 13 did not; among them Peter Hausmann who initially made it out of his car, then dove under water again to try and help a woman and her child get out of theirs, and was pinned underwater by debris by her car.

That fall, after the collapse, I was working at a health insurance company here in the Twin Cities as a nurse case manager, and I can still remember being told to do whatever we could to help the victims. Normal rules were waived, dollar limits on services or lifetime limits, even waiving out of network restrictions.  We were given permission to go above and beyond what we normally did, to ensure their care went as smoothly as we possibly could with the least amount of stress to them given that they had already endured so much. I was involved in the care of a young woman who had been injured in the collapse, and due to the nature of her injuries I ended up speaking with her mother about her care rather than her. Her mother and I spoke fairly often that fall, which was good and bad…bad that they had to speak to me at all, but good in that they had someone on the other end of the line who could help. My recollection is that when I first started talking to her mom, there was a lot of frustration on her part because of the issues and roadblocks they had encountered, one of which had to do with being billed for her daughter seeing out of network doctors at the hospital she was sent to. Keep in mind she wasn’t given a choice where she went, people were triaged to hospitals based on their injuries and how many people had already gone to other hospitals. She also had no choice in the doctor she saw. So why should they have to worry about paying extra, when the choice was taken away? The answer was, they shouldn’t, and ultimately I worked to make sure they didn’t. That’s just one example of the kinds of things we helped with.

Last summer marked the 10th anniversary of the collapse, and as we approached August 1 there were the expected stories on our news channels, in the papers, and on the radio. Stories from survivors, and from the families and friends of those who didn’t survive, making sure that their loved ones aren’t forgotten by recounting wonderful stories about them. One of those stories came from the family of Peter Hausmann, a man who who I later learned from my mom was a cousin of my dad’s. (Between my mom and dad, they once counted all their first cousins – there were over 200! It’s not surprising we didn’t know some of them when you start getting to the second cousins, the “once removeds” and so on.) I don’t know exactly which level of cousin they were, but it wasn’t first cousin, I know that. After seeing a video about him on WCCO -TV, I wish I could have met him. He seems like he was a wonderful father, husband and man of faith, and I expect he’s very proud of his family and how they have carried on.

I also found myself wondering what ever happened to the young woman that I had helped to provide care for 10 years ago. I found out she is doing amazingly well, and is living her dream – in New York. She’s acting, singing and dancing in the theater there, doing what she always wanted to do. I don’t know how to explain what it felt like when I learned that, except to say that my heart feels so full of happiness for her. Now, seeing her photo, her face is full of joy and enthusiasm, of wonder and beauty.  When I saw her picture, my chest filled up and I started to cry. It was an amazing moment, knowing that she’s on her way to fulfilling her dream,  and I think about the fact there is that one brief moment in time that her dream almost didn’t get to happen – perhaps 20 or 30 feet in either direction and she may have died, but she didn’t. She inspires me, when I’m not sure if I can meet a challenge, or if I want to stretch myself. I just think about her, and I’m reminded what determination can accomplish. The most amazing part is, I don’t think she was ever aware of me, and certainly has no idea that 10 years on she is still having an impact.

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So many of us were impacted in one way or another, forever marked by the water: some literally, but most, invisibly. Today, a memorial stands near the site of the collapse, in memory of those who died that day. A granite slab with the names of those who died bears the following inscription :

“Our lives are not only defined by what happens, but by how we act in the face of it, not only by what life brings us, but by what we bring to life. Selfless actions and compassion create enduring community out of tragic events.” 

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Things Mom Never Told You, Vol. II

From time to time I find these little helps referred to as “lifehacks” by many, a term my husband detests. I’ve put a couple of them together to share with you, and over time as I come across more I will keep doing so. I want to make you all a promise right out of the gate – I will never share something with you that I haven’t personally tried. I won’t tell you it works if I can’t prove it. Where possible I will share photos or a video. If something is an epic fail, well I’ll tell you that too as I think that is just as valuable. So with that, I bring you the next edition of “Things Mom Never Told You”.

Have you ever wondered how to….

…Really get the top of your travel coffee mug clean?

Me neither, until my husband took a good look at mine one day and said “um, honey, this is pretty nasty. You might want to give it a scrub.” Now, I rinsed out the top of my travel mug faithfully EVERY time I used it, with HOT running water. I have a spillproof Contigo, so I even held the button open so water ran through it. You’d think it would be clean. Nope. I tried soaking it a few hours in denture cleanser tablets…followed by a vinegar bath….followed by a mild bleach bath. Nothing worked. I even took old flannel sheets and ripped off little strips and poked ’em into the corners. Got lots of crap out, but I could see it still was gunky. After a bunch of searching on the internet (because we all know if you find it on the internet it’s true!),  I found the magic solution.

Mix a solution of about 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 water, enough volume to cover the top of your mug. Put it in a container large enough that it is a couple of inches higher than the mug top, and set it in the sink. (Do not omit this critical step! You’ll thank me later.) Add a generous tablespoon of baking soda, and watch it foam like CRAZY! When it’s done, you can put a lid on it and agitate, although you’ll need to take the lid off every few seconds to let the air out. You’ll be grossed out at the gunk that comes out of your lid. I’ve done it now 6 times, and still getting gunk out of mine, as you can see in the video that I posted online. In that I don’t put a cover on it, but just stirred it around a bit and let it sit and soak.

You can continue to add baking soda, until you don’t get any more foaming up. At that point the vinegar is neutralized and you’ll need to have fresh water/vinegar for cleaning. This also works to de-gunk the lid of your coffee carafe if you have a thermal type pot, and I even did the drip basket on our coffee maker and got some results. I expect it will work with anything with nooks and crannies you can’t get into. I keep hearing how good vinegar and baking soda are as cleaners, as both are cheap, so don’t be afraid to use them. A 1 lb box of off brand baking soda at my grocery store is $0.69, and a gallon of white vinegar is $2.99.

Another good use for vinegar is to soak an old rag or paper towel with it and wrap it around the base of your sink tap and handles, where they get calcium built up. snug it up and let it sit there for a half hour or so, nice and wet. (If you use a paper towel you may need to rewet it periodically with more vinegar as it will dry out.) When you remove the rag, much of the build up can be wiped away, and most of the rest will scrape away pretty easily with a razor blade.

…Get the most out of your tubes and bottles of lotion and makeup?

Got this one from my awesome manicurist Brenda, to whom I shall be forever grateful. I think this is one of those salon insider secrets no one wants you to ever know, but I’ll share anyhow. So…when you think that tube of moisturizer, conditioner, hand lotion…whatever it is…when you think you’ve shaken it a dozen times and tapped it on the counter ten more and just can’t get another drop out of it, here is what to do. Go and get a popsicle stick, a small zip top bag, and a scissors. Cut the tube apart near the opening, maybe 2 inches (less if it’s a small tube) and use the popsicle stick to scoop out what is left in the tube. You might even find some residual you can scrape out of the other end too, so don’t forget to check that side as well. I put the stick and the parts of the tube in the bag and close it up in between uses, so that whatever I’m scooping out doesn’t dry up over the course of the next few days, since the tube is now open to air. If you won’t be using up the product in the next few days, transfer it to another container that seals up well but is smaller. For one rather expensive  hair product I got 4 additional applications out of the tube!

To get additional liquid out of small glass bottles, try reforming a paper clip. Straighten it out first, then put a small loop on the end and bend the loop 90 degrees to the rest of the clip. You’ll probably need a needle nose pliers for this, and may even need to use the pliers to get the paper clip far enough into the jar, so keep it handy. You’ll also need a small container to put the residual liquid in. Tiny travel containers or containers with screw on lids from camping stores like REI or Gander Mountain work really well for this. Check out the  video below. In fairness, I’ll offer the following disclaimers: I could have spent a little more time scraping out the bottle to get more out of it or perhaps made my scraper a better design, but I wanted to demonstrate what could be done for the video. You nay come up with a better way to do it, so feel free to let me know in the comments if you do.

As an addendum, I ended up getting about 5 additional applications out of that bottle.

 

Have fun!

The Yummy Sound

My husband and I were enjoying decadent breakfast of French toast made from homemade cinnamon raisin bread yesterday morning, and mid-way through the first couple of bites he made the yummy sound. You know the one, especially if you’ve seen the movie “Young Frankenstein” (if you haven’t, that’s a different conversation, and shame on you!). Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 6.54.06 AMWe started going back and forth with how many times a day we use quotes from that and from Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 7.03.50 AM“The Princess Bride” which happen to be our two favorite movies. Between the two of them, there is probably a quote for just so many occasions. Don’t believe me? Well let’s see how many I can come up with. 

 

You made the yummy sound. To acknowledge that someone has shown appreciation for how something tastes. Which is only the right thing to do, after all. 

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. What a nice way to correct someone who’s using a word incorrectly, with a little bit of humor. Especially if you can sound like Inigo Montoya.

Go back to the beginning. Stuck on a problem? Can’t find that thing you lost? Start over.

What a meanie. When all else fails go back to your basic schoolyard taunts and pouts.

Honey, did you see I put another hamper in the bathroom? This one’s for your shirts, the other’s just for socks and poo-poo undies. When your husband crabs about the shirts not getting washed separate from his poo-poo undies, here’s your solution. Now I’ll grant you this is a lesser-known quote. I just think saying poo-poo undies is too darn funny. 

Let’s all go have some sponge cake and a little wine. At least once a week.

Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has. Sound advice for a good many things.

Get used to disappointment. Parents of teenagers, memorize this, and practice it until it rolls off your tongue readily and with ease. Imagine the satisfaction you’ll feel using it on them whenever you hear “It’s not fair!” followed by the foot stomp and the inevitable turning around in a huff. If you’re ready with this, you can interject it between the stomp and turn.

I’ll explain and I’ll use small words so that you’ll be sure to understand, you warthog faced buffoon. Feel free to substitute some other insult, but reserve this for some truly small-minded individual that refuses to listen to reason. 

Have fun stormin’ da castle. When friends are going off on a grand adventure. 

I admit it, you’re better than I am. See…it’s just not that hard to be gracious and make someone feel good about themselves. 

Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. On the other hand, it’s also not hard to be sarcastic. You should probably use this one about 1/10 as often as the one above. With someone who usually thinks they’re better than you are, but this time really boffed it. 

It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. We usually use this when looking at bugs or other vermin, as in “oohh, see that wasp? He’s mostly dead. Mostly dead means it’s slightly alive”. Typically followed by “Kill it!”

Are you a rotten liar! Parents of children, see above at teenagers.

Yes, you’re very smart. Shut up. Parents of children, ditto. Delivered, of course with all love and affection due to them. And maybe a hug too.

Inconcievable! Handy for a variety of things, but don’t overuse it. Look how well that worked for Vizzini. And remember, never go up against a Sicilian, when death is on the line.

Let me explain…no, there is too much. Let me sum up. If you tend to overexplain things, this one’s for you! Hear it in your head and maybe learn to cut yourself off?

I’m not a witch, I’m your wife. If your hubby ever tells you “acting kinda witchy, aren’t you?”, well here’s your comeback. If you’re feeling really sassy you can finish the quote, but I’ll leave that up to you. (In the spirit of fairness, my husband has never told me that I’m acting witchy. He’s too nice of a guy.)

Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped. Substitute anyone’s name for Tyrone’s, tilt your head and shrug your shoulders a bit at the end and look pitiful.

Get some rest. If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.  And of course this follow up must be delivered deadpan. 

Gently! Anytime anyone needs to be reminded to slow down, take it easy or be careful. Just remember, the “ly” at the end has to be said going up like it’s a question.

As you wish. Men…husbands, boyfriends, significant others. Memorize this. Commit it to memory. Brand it on your brain.  When you screw up (notice I didn’t say if) just plan to use this at least once a day for a week, perhaps longer depending on how badly you screwed up. 

Now I’m off to do some castle storming of my own, as I head out to face 2 degrees above zero, a brisk winter morning here in Minnesota. And since I’ll be dealing with traffic not once, but twice today, by the end of the day I’ll likely need a little sponge cake and some wine. 

 

SKOL Minnesota Vikings!

You’ve heard it said that Minnesotans are hardy folk. We roll with the punches, we have thick blood to handle whatever cold old man winter can dish out, and then flip around in the summer to deal with heat, humidity and mosquitos. Ohhh, the mosquitos. But nothing is more heart pounding for us than a good football game, and we had that in spades last night. While I’d love to tell you the story of the #MinneapolisMiracle, Case Keenum and the little team that could, I think that Mike Freeman does it far better than I could ever hope to, in today’s Bleacher Report:

Skol Mary: Case Keenum Keeps Surprises Coming, Delivers a Miracle in Minnesota

 

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Go Vikes!

 

Why Bother With Gender

“The best a man can get”…the the words roll around in your head for a moment. Do they sound familiar, or maybe feel like they should be sung? They should, they’re part of a jingle that Gillette has been using since 1988. I’ve heard the jingle countless times over the years but until recently I hadn’t given it another thought.Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 10.51.42 PMPerhaps because of all the attention that is being given in the past few months to inappropriate sexual behavior and sexual harrassment by men in a position of power, toward both women as well as other men, I’m on heightened alert.  But when I heard it the other day it suddenly rankled with me – why just the best a man can get? Why not a woman? Do women also not deserve their best shave at an equal level? So I sent them a tweet, not really expecting a response. To my surprise, they not only responded but rather quickly (before 3 pm that day):

 

I understand companies make and market things specifically for women, and that there can be a legitimate reason for doing so. Bicycle saddles are one thing that immediately come to mind. Because our pelvises are shaped differently, and what is called our ‘sit bones’ end up being in different places, as a woman you want to have a bike saddle that is designed specifically for maximum comfort. (Your sit bones are the bones in your butt that come into contact with the saddle when you sit on it. Google it for pictures if you need to.) But razors? Really? I’ve used a Gillette Quattro for years, as noted above, and really don’t see any reason not to. I’ve peeked at the Venus website, and see a lot of cutesey colors for women and a couple of things that seem to be invented to try to get women to think they need this line because it’s better for a woman’s delicate legs and curves than a “man’s” version. Seriously? Come on, Gillette, get into the 21st Century. At least it doesn’t appear that they’ve put a “tampon tax” on the base razors, however the refills are another story. Comparing the prices for a 3 blade refill (5 count), at Target the Mach3 costs $9.99 and the ComfortGlide Vanilla Creme Scented refills (I swear I am not making this up!) are $14.99 – for 4. The Venus Swirl,a 5 blade razor, is marketed as “adjusting to every curve” is $29.49 for 6 refills! You could buy the Fusion 5 razor with the flexball technology, which adjusts to curves as well and then your refills would be between $14.99-17.99 for 4, depending on which blade you picked. Talk about a ridiculous “tampon tax” (and another reason I keep using my plain handle) or gender based price discrimination.

Other places this price discrimination shows up is in personal care services such as hair salons and dry cleaning. Some salons will use the excuse that women’s hair is longer and more difficult to cut and/or maintain, therefore they will charge more. My recommendation is to find a stylist with the following motto: “I don’t care how much hair falls on the other side of my scissors, here is what it costs.” That’s what one I used told me a number of years ago, meaning she didn’t care if it was a trim or full on cut, man or woman. It was all the same price. Some dry cleaners are doing better now and giving the same prices for clothing, just charging higher if something is specifically delicate. I wonder if perhaps our ability to have a voice like this and raise awareness quickly through the media is why. 20 or 30 years ago before the internet, there might have been an article in a magazine, or a newspaper, and folks would get annoyed and mad, but then it would die down. Today with something appearing online and links being emailed, tweeted and retweeted and going viral in hours and days (Dear God, may I please have a blog article written so well that this one day happens to me?) there is power in our online words.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I like being a girly-girl. I’ll dress up, put on make up, hose and heels, a little perfume and lipstick and I like looking nice and hope that in addition to my husband telling me I look nice, I might even turn a stranger’s head. But it just hacks me off if I feel like something is being marketed or sold to me just because I’m female, and for no other reason than that, or if it’s assumed that because I’m a woman I’ll like something pink, or frilly/lacy or delicate. Go into any hardware store and you can find tools that are marketed “for her”. I’m not talking about the ones with slightly smaller grips, or lighter in weight either. Nope, they’ll be in delicate girly colors like pink, or light blue, which is just so doggone important to me when I’m rewiring an outlet you know, or putting in a new light fixture, both of which I have done successfully and on my own without help from anyone, and NOT using a pink or blue tool. I have, however used the impact driver we own which is from Milwaukee in a lovely unisex red. (A really big thanks to my honey, great purchase you made! A thousand apologies to you for my ever doubting we needed it.)

What are some things you’ve seen that are marketed to women that really shouldn’t be? Have you ever tried communicating back to the manufacturer about it? I’d love to hear what happened!

 

 

 

Boom Goes the Dynamite

lamps

I have no idea how this will come together, but when I hear this phrase it always makes me want to laugh a little and the corners of my mouth start to twitch. So at the very least i need to put this much of a post to paper, and start out. Who knows where it will lead. Flight of ideas? The Diane Henders method of beginning a blog post? Suddenly before you know it, you have the whole thing put together and there it lies before you. It’s taken shape and come together and is a thing of beauty…a work of art. A blog post worthy of at least being long-listed for the Man Booker award. It’s insightful, deep, relevant and so in tune with the times. It hits at the heart of modern society, seeming to understand the soul of the middle aged adults of today and….blech. What drivel.

OK, maybe I blather and babble, but part of what I said was true, that phrase does turn up the corners of my mouth when I hear it and I have no idea why I think it’s funny. It almost makes me feel like a baby…imagine one not quite old enough to crawl, sitting up and seeing something that jut delights them. They clap their chubby little hands together and giggle with delight over and over again. Inside, that’s how I feel. The little baby is clapping and giggling.

Life seems so serious lately, and it occurred to me recently that perhaps we aren’t giggling enough. Reader’s Digest has a section called “Laughter:the Best Medicine”, and I have to say it’s true. We feel better when we laugh, endorphins are released. You get more oxygen, release stress, soothe tension in the short term and and improve the immune system, relive pain and improve your mood in the long term, among other  benefits according to the Mayo Clinic.

It’s easy to find things to laugh at too, just look around you, there are no shortage of them. Darwin Award winners abound! If you have pets, I’ll bet like mine they do ridiculous things from time to time. The most recent example is courtesy of my husband, and a purchase he recently made of yet another one of those things I just don’t get – a fidget spinner. But hey, he’s amused by it so that’s enough for me, and what’s even better, so is our cat, Inara, who has now figured out how to make it go on our hardwood floors. The sad part is, I was thinking “look how smart my cat is” until I did a search on YouTube for ‘cat playing fidget spinner’ and got ‘About 3,140,000 results’. Amazing and deflating all at the same time.

Go to any shopping mall, and just sit and start people watching. It won’t take long before you’re laughing at least on the inside, and probably shaking your head thinking “who dressed you this morning?”  From the mismatched tops and bottoms, to the absurd footwear, I mean really. Are they just there for my amusement and delight? Honestly, now I understand why guppies eat their young. And goth – I didn’t even know that was still a thing! I look at kids dressed up like that and want to laugh out loud. There is nothing like working hard at putting on a costume that says “I’m unique, I’m not mainstream, I’m not like the rest of you, I’m going against the tide” and then hanging out with 10 of your closest friends who look exactly like you.

Christmas decorations are up on a lot of houses now. Ours are done, and we try to keep it tasteful, not too many. We’re not going all Griswold on the neighbors, but I have noticed as I’m out and about there are some interesting things folks do with lights. I’m not quite sure of why people wrap only the trunk of a tree and quit when they hit the lower branches. Then there are the newest decorations, the laser lights on the entire side of your house. I’m old fashioned I guess, I love the look of lights nicely attached to the edge of the roofline, but I know it can be risky to get up on a ladder and get them attached, so you best know what you’re doing for that project. Otherwise ALL the neighbors are going to laugh at you when you explain why you have casts on both legs and are on crutches in the middle of winter. (I remember when a girlfriend’s husband slipped on the ice one year after a few too many holiday beverages during a poker game, breaking both wrists. Ponder for a moment how an accountant explains casts and sweatpants to the office…but you might not want to ponder that scenario too long. Let’s just say she was thrilled when the casts came off.)

The Minnesota Vikings played the Green Bay Packers last night in one of their regular season match ups. For the first time in 24 years, the Vikings shut out a team 16-0 (and in 46 years for the Packers that they were shut out!) boom-2028563_640Granted, it may well have been due in part to Aaron Rogers being out with a season ending injury, but I believe we still would have won regardless.  I mean come on, anyone who’s been watching the Vikings this year knows this team is on fire, with their 12-3 record. They’re in the playoffs, and the Packers aren’t! (That’s my nana-nana-boo-boo moment to my former neighbor and friend Corey, who I’m pretty sure doesn’t read my blog, but then again, I might be wrong. If I am, and he does, Corey, consider this the big raspberry I’ve waited years to give you.)

For a real corker of a “Boom Goes the Dynamite” moment, I leave you with this. A TV stunt that went awry, and ends up being funny but could have ended so very badly. It is pretty amusing, but clearly, don’t do this at home.

Merry Christmas everyone, and may all your “Boom Goes the Dynamite” moments be safe ones!

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Giving Thanks

This is such a strange time of year. Many of us sit at a table, surrounded by family members we’re obligated to spend time with but don’t really want to see, we try to make nice for a few hours and pray to God no one brings up politics while we stuff our faces with way too much food, alcohol and goodies. And pie. Pumpkin, pecan, mincemeat, pumpkin, lemon meringue. Oh, and did I mention pumpkin pie?

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This year is different for me, for a number of reasons. I’ve been out of work for 5 months now, looking faithfully every week for something that suits my skills and career path. It hasn’t been easy, not being able to find something, and I’m sure as difficult as it’s been for me, it’s likely been even harder for my husband. So as I think about what I am thankful for, he really is first on my list: he’s my rock, a source of quiet strength and support at all times. He pushes me to be my best in everything, but knows when to let me be. I’m thankful that we were wise enough to have money tucked away so that I can not worry (ok I worry, but at an appropriate level) about our finances during this time. Yes, we’ve cut way back on spending, and the list of things we need or want to get when I get a job is growing ever longer, but that’s ok. I’m thankful we have a home that isn’t in need of major repair, that we replaced the furnace a couple of years ago now that the temperature is dropping into the teens here. I’m thankful that we’re both healthy, that we have enough to keep us busy in and around the house when I’m not job hunting. I’m thankful for the fact that I can not only make Christmas gifts for friends and family, but that I have enough craft things in my home already to do it, and don’t need to buy much of anything so we’ll be able to have a very affordable Christmas this year.

I’m also thankful for so many other things around me. As the news of David Cassidy’s death broke on the news services, and I was immediately saddened and thought  for the first time, “we’re old!” But I’m so thankful for the joy he gave all of us young girls as teens, and that we got to have him in our life for a time, however remotely. Come on, admit it. You know you had his poster on your bedroom wall back then. I’ll admit it, but we were so young and silly and and young pre-teens and teens just thought he was so dreamy. I found an article yesterday on CNN that is worth a quick read that is a hoot, with a few facts about him we never knew. Take the time to read it, if you were a fan it will make you smile.

I’m thankful for my friends, who listen when I need them to, and who are just there to make me laugh, or hang out, or allow me to reciprocate for them in kind.

Speaking of my friends, I am especially thankful for some new ones this year I didn’t even know that I had. When I was laid off 5 months ago along with the rest of the team I worked with, I was just getting to know the team I’d worked with for only 4 months. We were all telecommuters, and worked from coast to coast, and were on different projects, so we didn’t all interact with each other every day. That meant after 4 months I was still just barely getting to know some of the team. After we were all let go, a group of 5 of us started group texting. It’s become a sometime support group, a virtual happy hour, and a wonderful sisterhood. So I am so grateful for Salpy, Jamie, Kathy and Blair, I don’t know what I would have done without you wonderful women.  Along with them, my friend Morissa, who has also been an uexpected source of support and assistance that I never saw coming. Along with all my other fantastic friends who listen, guide and help me look for jobs, I wish you joy and blessings this Thanksgiving.

What are you especially thankful for this year?

 

Death of the Editor II – Update!

For those of you that read this when I published it 15 days ago, here is a fun update. I sent Andrew Rafferty (@AndrewNBCNews) an email in early October, and tweeted him on November 7, letting him know that his article where Ben Sass asked President Trump if he was recanting his oath of office had some typos. Those typos remain in the story as of November 22. Apparently Andrew either a) doesn’t read email and/or tweets,  b) doesn’t give a damn about how poor his product is, or c) both.

I also emailed Carol Kuruvilla () on November 1, and tweeted her and the Huff Post on November 7, about her story on the pastor being banned from a university. Huge kudos to Carol, she corrected her story within 24 hours!! Thanks Carol.

I’m a fantastic editor. No really, just ask any co-worker or fellow grad school student whose document or presentation I’ve nitpicked to death. (I’m also a currently unemployed project manager but hey, I can edit, so if anyone wants to hire me, you can contact me through this blog!) I find all kinds of typos and mistakes in other people’s work, although I must confess if you go through my posts you’ll likely find things I’ve missed, since my eagle eyes seem to fly off when I own it. I do try to remember to run things though spell and grammar check, but occasionally get lazy, or just forget. Be that as it may, as I said in a prior post, it does seem nearly all of the editors that once checked things for printed format have been deemed unnecessary in the digital age. Poof! So I continue to collect evidence for your amusement, although the first example isn’t an online one, but nonetheless, should have been caught by SOMEONE before it was printed on the wrap.

From People Mag online, September 28, 2017, in an article about HRH Prince Harry (yes, I confess, I love to read stories about him. I’m fascinated by the man he’s become.)Screen-Shot-2017-09-28-at-7.58.33-AM

From NBCNews.com (10/12/17), in a story about Senator Ben Sass asking President Trump if he is recanting the oath of office:

Screen-Shot-2017-10-12-at-5.25.37-AM

and the same article, a few paragraphs later:

Screen-Shot-2017-10-12-at-5.30.12-AM

(It should read ‘past’, in case you’re wondering. The days are what are past in this context. Passed is what you do with a hat. Or gas. And yes, I did email the article’s author on this, sheesh. Hence the screenshots. As of 11/6/17 it had not been corrected.)

From The Huffington Post on 11/1/17, in an article on a Pastor who was banned from a university after speaking out about Trump because the university’s president is a Trump supporter.University

(Seriously? NO ONE caught that? I could’t help myself. I emailed the HuffPost on it. Shame on them for not using spell check. As of 11/6/17, this has also not been corrected.)

Since no one is apparently reading email anymore either, I’ve also taken to Twitter to raise the alert. Maybe putting the message out in front of thousands will make ’em wake up and edit. I know, it’s not my job to police the world, and you can’t legislate stupidity. But I sure can have fun trying!

What great editorial misses have you spotted lately? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Word of Advice

Note: Since first publishing this blog article back in March of 2016, I’ve found myself back in the job market. Today I was looking at my own advice for job interviewees, and found it needed some updates that I had missed, probably because applying for jobs and interviewing has changed a lot over the years.  I’ve also done more with Craig’s List/Ebay etc, and am updating those sections as well.

Job Interviewee – Take a shower, groom yourself for Pete’s sake. Put on professional clothes and shine your shoes, lose the gum and brush your teeth. It really IS true, you never have a second chance to make a good first impression. This advice applies whether your interview is in person, or is a video interview. What’s that, you say? A video interview? Yes, Virginia, a video interview. Today’s businesses are beginning to use video interviews as initial screening interviews. The HR representative can record themselves asking a series of questions, and then the interviewee has a predetermined amount of time to respond. It saves the HR rep a lot of time, by not having to schedule the calls or bring people into their offices. You do, however, need to treat it as if it’s a true face-to-face interview. Test your system first, make sure your lighting is good, that you don’t have a distracting background behind you. I invested in an inexpensive photography backdrop that I hang up behind me, and put that up. If you set yourself up facing a window you’ll get nice, diffuse light that is flattering, but if that’s not available make sure you at least have enough light that your face can be seen.

For in person interviews, learn how to shake hands. Do you have any idea how many people I’ve shaken hands with that don’t know how? If you aren’t sure how to, then you probably don’t do it well. Go ask someone you know that is a confident business person to evaluate yours and help you improve because a limp handshake is horrible, and look people in the eye when you shake their hand.

Drive the route to the interview BEFORE you need to do it so that you know how long it takes. Don’t be late. If you’re going to be late, call. If possible, send a handwritten, yes, I said handwritten thank you note, and if your handwriting is illegible (you know who you are) then print. If you only had a phone interview or video screening, you may only be able to send a thank you via e-mail, and then you should do it that way, but that’s only if you don’t know an address for your interviewer. If you have an actual address, a handwritten note is always better etiquette.

Craig’s List/Ebay Buyers – Have you ever sold anything on Craig’s List or Ebay? If you have, then you know what an adventure it can be, but it can just as easily be a pointless exercise in futility. We’ve been cleaning out our crawl space, trying to get rid of a few things, make a little money, you know the drill. I’ve learned a few phrases that are rather helpful. “Cash is king” and “cash talks, bullshit walks” are my two favorites that my husband is continually beating into my brain. Now I started out being a Craig’s List softie…”oh, you need a day or two, sure, get back to me, I’ll hold it for you…”, or negotiating simultaneously with one buyer who then couldn’t deliver on time, going with a second who could then feeling bad when the first wanted more time because “I promised him he could buy the item, even though he didn’t have the money right then” or feeling like I needed to answer every email, and telling people that I had other buyers and what the conditions were. However, after being taken advantage of a few times, I’ve changed, become a radical hardliner. Gavel down, BAM! “SOLD to the first one at the neutral (and safe) meeting place with paper money that passes the counterfeit test wins the prize.”  For all you potential buyers on Craig’s List out there, here are some helpful tips.

1.Don’t email me to tell me “I’m interested.” I’m tempted to reply “that’s nice, so what?” Because I don’t care if you’re merely interested, I only really care if you want to BUY IT.  So if you really want to buy my item, tell me you want to buy it and when you want to meet, otherwise stop wasting my time.

2. Read the dang ad AND look at the pictures. I took the time to take photos, at different angles, to show you lots of information. I also said in the ad that the item a) works, b) does or does not have scratches c) is new or is used, etc. Now if you want more information about it that I didn’t put in the ad, that’s a different story, please go ahead and ask for it.  But don’t waste my time asking about what’s already there.

3. Don’t contact me unless you’re interested and plan to follow through. This week I had someone tell me she wanted something, we exchanged messages about connecting, then she dropped off the face of the earth. Meanwhile I had another person waiting to see if the item was still available.  I mean really, did you want it or not? If you changed your mind, I don’t care, you’re not hurting my feelings, just say so. Stop wasting my time for the love of…(are you seeing the theme?)

4. If you ask me to ship you the item because you’ve decided you don’t want to drive to me, realize it’s an inconvenience for me, act accordingly. Don’t dictate terms of this to me, I’ll choose my shipping agent, thanks.

5. And here is the kicker. If you ask me to accept money through PayPal, then you pay the fees to transfer! You came to me knobhead. I’m not taking a loss in my profit as a convenience to you.

Ebay Buyers – There isn’t as much to say here, probably because it’s an online bidding process and Ebay has already taken a lot of the guesswork out of it for you. The best advice I can give is to just pay promptly, because I won’t ship anything until your payment has come through. So any delays on your part will result in a delay in receiving your item.

Grocery shoppers – it’s just like driving (assuming you’re in a country that drives on the right side of the road). Carts on the right please, although I’d love to know if it’s opposite across the pond, where they drive on the wrong side of the road.  Do they move grocery carts on the left side of the aisles as well? : ) But how hard is it really, to get your cart out of the middle of the aisle. When you stop to get something off the shelf, just move to the side. Don’t stop in the middle. Look around. The aisles aren’t 3 carts wide. If you’re in the middle, ain’t nobody getting around. My parents brought me up to be polite, Minnesota nice, to say a gentle “please”, and “thank you”, and “excuse me”, and to cover my mouth when I burped in public. I am SO over that in the grocery store now (The Minnesota nice part. I’ll still cover my mouth when I burp in public, I promise Mom), it’s a firm and vocal “Excuse Me” that’s a whole lot closer to East Coast than the Midwest.

Anyone under the age of 35 – chronologically or mentally. Remove the phrase “I deserve” and “entitled” from your vocabulary and attitude. You don’t, you aren’t. Period. The world owes you NOTHING, you have to earn it. When you act like they do, you not only show your immaturity, but I really want to swat you off my shoulder like a gnat. Scat, go away!

Just sayin’.

 

Things Mom Never Told You, Vol 1

From time to time I find these little helps referred to as “lifehacks” by many, a term my husband detests. I’ve put a couple of them together to share with you, and over time as I come across more I will keep doing so. I want to make you all a promise right out of the gate – I will never share something with you that I haven’t personally tried. I won’t tell you it works if I can’t prove it. Where possible I will share photos or a video. If something is an epic fail, well I’ll tell you that too as I think that is just as valuable. So with that, I bring you the inaugural edition of “Things Mom Never Told You”.

Have you ever wondered…

…What to do with old toothbrushes?

Bet you always wondered what to do with a) your old nasty squished toothbrush or b) the free toothbrush you get from the dentist that you don’t like/use because you have an electric one. Well stash em all over your house, because they’re amazing cleaning tools. They’ll get the dust out of little crevices on your appliances, in grout and corners, in windows, in your car. Firm bristles scrub well too, and aren’t just for getting light cleaning done. We have them everywhere! I’ll even wrap a sanitizing wipe around one for some of the cleaning, like when I’m cleaning the caulk around the sink to get into the tiny crevices.

…New use for old flannel sheets

I cut mine up into small pieces, and I’ve used some as dusting rags or glasses cleaners as they don’t give off lint, others for wrapping up delicate items before packing away like china or other breakables. If you cut off the edges that have the elastic on the bottom sheets you can use those too. They also work well for staining and painting rags.

…Breathe new life into old plastic flower pots (or other plastic stuff)

Get a large bucket that you don’t mind ruining. I use a Homer bucket – you know the ones I’m talking about, from Home Depot, the big orange project buckets. You’ll also want plastic or latex gloves you can wreck, just get a cheap pair of the dishwashing kind. Next select 2 (or more) colors of spray paint that you like and want to have together on an object. Finally, choose the item you want to work with for this project. For this project I picked a plastic flower pot.

IMG_1287I’m doing this one with the color it is, which is the mock terra cotta, but I’ve also done it by first spray painting it with white primer so that my base was white. IMG_1288

You can also see this pot wasn’t new to start with, and was pretty sun bleached and dirty. I did scrub it up with some simple green but you don’t need a new one, just a well cleaned object.

 

 

Step 1. Fill up your bucket with cold water, deep enough to fully submerge the item. Take the bucket outside and put it on the ground, either in the grass, or on something that protects the area underneath it.

Step 2: Set up some method for drying the item you’re going to cover. You may want to hang it to drip dry, if possible. I have several large “S” shaped hangers that were originally used to suspend birdhouses or birdfeeders from trees, and I now use them as hangers from trees to spraypaint items or as my dryers. If you don’t have a way to suspend outside, you can hang the item from a garage track with something underneath, or even inside as long as you have something underneath to catch drips.

Step 3: Take your spray paint and spray on the surface of the water, alternating colors. You can spray in concentric circles, or vary it up. Do a bunch of concentric circles, then start a new set next to that. You’ll need quite a bit on the water’s surface though. (I know, in your mind you’re thinking “that much?” Sorry I can’t be more specific. It’s a learning process.) After you spray on what you think you need (add more for good measure), take a popsicle stick or tooth pick and with the tip lightly pull a bit through the paint, so you’re creating a bit of a pattern on the surface. You don’t need to do much, and if you try to do too much you’ll get paint sticking to the stick and start pulling it out of the water.

Step 4: Put on your gloves, then pick up your item and SLOWLY immerse it into the water. I recommend starting with the top of your item, so if you run out of paint, and have to respray and resubmerge it will be toward the bottom of it, not the top. For the first time, however, dunk the item all the way under water and hold it there for about 30 seconds, which helps the paint to start setting up and harden.

Step 5: Remove it from the water, hang it up and let it drip dry. Voila! You have a crazy new painted pot!IMG_1745

IMG_1245Here are a couple of other things that I’ve done as well. The table was originally black, we then spray painted it a light blue. I decided to try the two colors but it was too big for the bucket.

IMG_1209

In a flash of inspiration (and sheer stubbornness because my husband didn’t think I would be able to find anything large enough to dunk it in), I lined our wheelbarrow with plastic and then filled that with water, and took the table apart into two pieces, dipping those separately.

 

 

 

 

IMG_1259The shell was a plain white/cream. I did that in a magenta/pale pink to accent in our bathroom. In hindsight the pale pink barely shows through, it almost looks like it’s the white, so I could have selected a different color for more of an accent. Don’t get me wrong, I like it, and can tell the difference between the pink and the white, it’s just subtle.

 

…Remove Old Stain

OK I admit this one isn’t something most of us run across too often, but the need we had and product we found for the job was such a revelation that I have to show it to you. We had an old aluminum canoe that was under a deck when the deck was restained, so the canoe had oil-based stain that dripped onto it. We didn’t notice it right away…or even later…we saw it probably a year later. Ugh. Fast forward to about 18 months later when some friends asked if they could borrow the canoe. Now it’s not a new canoe, it’s probably 30-40 years old, and has gotten banged around on rocks a fair bit, so it’s scratched, dinged etc. But stain? So I did a little research and found on something called Motsenbacher’s Lift-Off #4, Spray Paint and Graffitti Remover. It doesn’t dissolve the paint, it breaks the chemical bonds between the paint and the surface it’s on. Here are some initial before and after shots:

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In the top photo I had already started to remove stain when I realized I’d better get a posterity photo so I quick shot one, hence the little gap on that middle spike. On the bottom photo you can see the left spike of stain is gone. I literally sprayed on the Lift-Off, waited 2 minutes, then used a plastic scraper (like the ones you get from Pampered Chef) and just a tiny bit of elbow grease to get it started. Once it started to come off, it truly peeled off. Once my husband saw how well it worked he said he’d finish it up, then decided he would also give the canoe a good overall scrubbing. Here is how it looks now:IMG_1424.JPG

Crazy, aint it? I linked to a YouTube video on the product name above so you can learn more about it if you would like.

 

I hope you found this fun, informative and/or helpful. Volume 2  is already underway, packed full of more great tidbits!