Coming to a Water Tower Near You …

No one who knows me would ever label me an outdoorsy sort of person, though I do have a great love and respect for Nature, provided that She behaves predictably and allows me to keep a respectable distance from those aspects of her that I find disconcerting, disgusting or otherwise unappealing. However, when Nature begins to bear an unnerving resemblance to an Alfred Hitchcock film, my appreciation for her beauty and majesty is replaced by an uncomfortable anxiety and a powerful urge to hide.

During the past several weeks, my daughter and I have become increasingly creeped out by a flock of very large birds that has taken up residence on our local water tower. They perch on the various bars that support the water tower and on sunny days, they often sit there with their wings spread wide, a posture that we find particularly creepy and gargoylish. Sometimes, particularly on foggy mornings, a little group of them will perch instead at the top of a tall dead tree (got goose bumps yet?).

I’m not sure what kind of birds they are – they appear to be bigger than those obnoxiously loud blackbirds and smaller than pterodactyls. They’re probably black vultures or some kind of hawks. As far as I know, they haven’t caused any problems – no one has complained about mysterious disappearances of small pets or having had their car decorated with monster sized bird droppings. At the same time, I couldn’t help but notice that there is plenty of roadkill around for a hungry scavenger to munch on, yet I’ve never seen one of these birds come down for a snack. So, what are they doing up there? What are they waiting for — reinforcements?

One could easily be spellbound watching the birds, though staring too long can induce vertigo. If you must know, the birds have me in a frenzy and feeling just a little psycho.

Ignorance isn’t Bliss; It Wears Diapers and Cries 23 Hours a Day

For those of you who may have thought I painted an unfair picture of adolescent boys in this recent post, Irrefutable Proof that Adolescent Boys Rule the World, I’d like to balance out the scales a little and talk about teenage girls.

A recent government study surveyed thousands of teenage moms about that whole complicated getting pregnant thing.  The survey reveals that about half of the girls were not using birth control when they got pregnant, mostly because they just didn’t believe they would get pregnant.

I know lots of teenage girls who are smart, savvy and responsible, but there is no shortage of those who are hopeless immature well into early adulthood (and beyond, but let’s not go there).  Biologically, the part of their brains responsible for making good rational decisions just hasn’t fully developed yet.  They still engage in magical thinking, ignoring inconvenient facts* and instead making decisions based upon what they want to do because they want to do it.

You need go no further than your TV to confirm this phenomenon.  Yes, a single episode of  MTV’s Teen Mom will provide irrefutable proof that some teenage girls repeatedly make inexplicably stupid decisions, especially when it comes to their baby daddy, who may be an a**hole, but whom they nonetheless love, except when they are seething with hatred for him. Of course, let’s give them a little credit too; it’s not easy finding time to care for your Blissful Bundle of Consequences when you’re so busy crying, texting, screaming at your parents and getting arrested.

The only surprising thing about this study was a comment by one of its authors, a CDC senior scientist, who said, “I think what surprised us was the extent that they were not using contraception.” Really? You found that surprising?  Are you kidding me?

*(Not to be confused with politicians, who also tend to ignore inconvenient facts.)

A Journey of Wishes

Many of you know that I volunteer as an advocate for children in foster care and that One Simple Wish, which grants wishes to children in foster care, is one of my very favorite non-profits. I’m thrilled that they’ll be visiting our little city of Mount Airy, NC, in May in honor of National Foster Care Awareness Month.

Please watch this short little video about their journey to visit 30 cities and grant 30 wishes in 30 days.  If you can offer any support, it’s much appreciated. If you can’t, that’s okay too, but please consider sharing a link and spreading the word.

(Please excuse this brief departure from snarkiness and sarcasm. It will return just as soon as I get annoyed at something.)

Education for the Real World

As a huge proponent of education, I’m always excited to stumble upon new educational opportunities. After all, college is not for everyone and learning should be a lifelong endeavor. And, in these tough economic times, educational opportunities that prepare one for a lucrative career are especially valuable.

Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I share with you this remarkable opportunity, the New York Reality TV School. I know there are those of you out there who long to be a Real Housewife, a controversial toddler beauty contestant mom, or a contestant on the Amazing Race, Project Runway or Cupcake Wars. Perhaps you simply want to have your life chronicled ad nauseum like the Kardashians or the Gosselins. Whatever reality TV dream floats your boat, the Reality TV School wants to make it a reality.

Students can choose from an intensive one day seminar, an extensive five week course, or one-on-one coaching that will allow them to “take their place as authentic, confident and vibrant real people, entertainers and personalities on any reality TV show.” Among the many important Reality TV skills students will learn to master are things like auditioning, Reality TV conflict, the “re-contextualizing of actual events,” and dealing with extreme personalities in close quarters.

Certainly, the curriculum provides a good foundation, but I’m hoping the school will expand and cover other critical topics, like:

  • How to create drama out of thin air
  • How to be offended by even the most benign comments
  • How to use alcohol to ramp up the action in any social situation
  • How to pretend that dressing like a hooker is classy
  • Cosmetic surgery primer – what to nip, what to skip
  • Intensive workshop on inserting the F word into virtually any sentence
  • Choosing your frenemies
  • Pathetic victim vs. outrageous bully – how to choose the right on-air persona

Finally, for those successful graduates who make it big in Reality TV, there should a graduate-level program to propel students from short-lived fame to long-lasting (i.e., beyond a single TV season) fame and fortune. Topics would include:

  • Parlaying your fame into your own line of clothing, perfume, jewelry and other “must have” stuff for a vast consumer population of Reality TV wannabees.
  • How to stage a lavish wedding that earns you big bucks
  • How to time your divorce so that it yields maximum controversy, aka publicity
  • Pros and cons of celebrity rehab programs
  • How to make those pesky criminal charges work for you, including a mug shot workshop taught by Nick Nolte and the LAPD

You know, even if this type of educational opportunity is not for you, we’ll all benefit from the professionalism of well-trained Reality TV stars.  Surely some philanthropist out there will see the value of this education and start a scholarship program. Education, it’s such a beautiful thing.

Irrefutable Proof that Adolescent Boys Rule the World

We all know that from a very young age, visionary techie prodigies like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (and later Mark Zuckerberg) changed life for all of us in a very profound way. Yesterday I discovered that adolescent boys are continuing to make their mark on our lives in ways we can’t even imagine.

Here’s the scoop.  I just got a new laptop to replace my geriatric desktop computer, which is significantly past retirement age. My son was helping me transfer files from the old computer to the new computer (and by “helping,” I mean he was doing it for me). Along the way, he was pointing out cool stuff on my new laptop, only a tiny percentage of which I will remember.

One feature he introduced me to was the little tiny microphone symbol at the end of the Google search bar. If you click on it, you can speak the term you want to search and Google will type in what it thinks you are saying. (I know that some of you are smacking your heads and saying, “well, duh!” but I freely admit I have a lot of catching up to do.) For instance, if you say “six seven eight,” Google will type in “6 7 8.” However, Google doesn’t always understand what you’re saying, so, for example, when my daughter said “Hogwarts,” Google typed out “wart warts port ports.”

Could these be members of Google's speech recognition software team?

But, Google has some strange quirks in its speech recognition software. Often, when it couldn’t figure out what we were saying, it would type out “New York” or even “New York New York the bathroom,” and once it randomly typed “Tom Selleck.” All that was puzzling enough, but then my son clicked the little microphone symbol and clapped his hands. Google typed out “poop poop poop.” My daughter tried “hahahaha,” and Google typed “boobs boobs boobs.” The only rational explanation for these responses is that Google’s speech recognition software team is made of up adolescent boys – the 12 year olds thought it would be hysterical to use “poop” as default search term, while the 15 year old boys had nothing but boobs on their minds.

I suppose this is all relatively harmless, but I have a nagging suspicion that the top secret code that will launch the nuclear arsenal of theUnited States is something like “boobs poop poop New York the bathroom boobs boobs,” and that, my friends, disturbs me.

Here She Comes, Miss Not So Young but Oh So Vain

Good news! If you were in this pageant back in the 1950's, there's a new pageant for you to enter!

Those of you who just can’t turn your eyes away from the train wreck that is reality TV have surely caught a glimpse of Toddlers & Tiaras, where insane mothers living in an alternate reality pretend that they are doing their tiny toddler daughters a profound favor by forcing them to participate in beauty pageants. Perhaps you also saw a recent episode of Dr. Phil, featuring a mom who thought it would be a great bonding experience to enter (and win) the very same beauty pageants as her teenage daughter, a lovely young woman who will now spend the rest of her life attempting to regain a scintilla of self-esteem.

If, in your heart of hearts, you watched and were secretly thinking, “gosh, why isn’t there a beauty pageant that I can enter?,” I’ve got a gift for you!

“It’s time to recruit for our Over Forty Beauty Pagent (sic) in South Florida, We are looking for women who are 40 and over, have a bikini body and a positive attitude for our event in South Florida at the end of January, 2012.” 

This was posted verbatim on a LinkedIn discussion group, so that mature professional women like myself could propel their careers to new heights by claiming this coveted crown. Sadly, I am not in possession of a bikini body (nor have I ever been) and no one has ever accused me of having a positive attitude, at least not with a straight face.

But, I know that plenty of my fine blog friends are over 40 and must surely be rockin’ bikini bods and sassy attitudes, so I felt compelled to share this wonderful opportunity. Please let us know if you enter so we can cheer you on. (I hear Bert Parks may even make a guest appearance from the great beyond to serenade the winner.)

Also, I am desperately hoping that TLC will turn this into a reality TV show, thus providing endless fodder for future blog posts.



What’s Wrong with You?

WordPress kindly sent me a summary of my 2011 blogging achievements and my first reaction was, “What’s wrong with you people?!”  Sure, I’m happy I have readers and subscribers and grateful that I’ve made blogging friends who care enough to leave comments on my blog, but that does not outweigh the disturbing fact that most people found their way to my blog by searching the following terms (or some version thereof): Ronald McDonald, Snooki and the Sisyphus Corporation.

I take responsibility for exercising poor judgment in mentioning Ronald and Snooki on more than one occasion, but why are you all so interested in them? For goodness sake, Ronald is a mascot – he’s fictional!  And Snooki? Well, she’s arguably fictional as well.

As for the Sisyphus Corporation, while the myth of Sisyphus is fairly well-known (he’s the guy who must spend eternity pushing a boulder up a steep hill, only to have it roll back down and have to start the process all over again), the Sisyphus Corporation does not exist in fact or myth. I MADE IT UP!  I know the economy stinks, but were you seriously hoping to apply for a job opening at an imaginary company?

I smell desperation and it’s not pretty. What do you say we drag at least one foot out of the muck for 2012?  I hereby vow not to falsely raise hopes for those who are job-hunting by sarcastically making up fake job openings at non-existent companies. I also pledge that after this post, I will not mention Snooki or Ronald McDonald in my blog for the rest of the year, no matter how blog-worthy their behavior may become (I’m already regretting this one).

And you? The next time you have the urge to type something like “Kardashian” in your google search bar, take a deep breath and type “Mother Teresa” instead. Just do it, it’s good for you.