Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Does this fall under Love & Logic?

Friday, August 29, 2014 By

AUGUSTA, GA - Emerson is sitting in my office, cheerfully playing with her iPad, while I finish up a couple of small tasks.

"Mama? Can I have two dollars?" she asks.


"Ugh! You diddin' even let me tell you why I wan-ned it."

I cock my eyebrow at her. "You are thirsty. You could drink the bottle of water that you know I have in my purse. But you'd rather go downstairs and get an entirely different bottle of water out of the vending machine. It makes you feel like a grown-up, you love machines, and the conveyor belt is hilarious."

Y'all. She made this face, exactly:

"Fine. You're right," she says. "But can I? It's just two dollars."

"Emerson, the 'just two dollar' requests add up to more than just two dollars. Eventually, all the dollars are gone. I'm not made of money," I toss out the phrase that every parent uses and triumphantly shove some papers in a file folder.

"Ohmygosh!" she exclaims. "If you were made of money, I wouldn't even ask you for any! Because then you'd be giving me pieces of your skin! That would be horrible!"


"Okay, then." I reach into my purse and pull out $1.25. She squeals and holds out her hand.

"Wait a second. I'm not giving this money to you because you asked," I explain. "I am giving it to you because you thought critically about the sentence I used. That's an important skill."

She prances out the door. With my money. And possibly my dignity.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Here's how obtuse I can be

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 By

AUGUSTA, GA - So, a couple of weeks ago, I went to the traditional Breakfast & Briefings at Fort Gordon, hosted by the Fort Gordon Alliance. I got there at 6:30 a.m. to set up the booth, and only a few folks were there.

A gentleman standing nearby struck up a conversation with me, and we chatted for a few moments as I put out brochures and set up the digital display. He is a detective at the fort. Has been for 15 years. Fishes in his off-time.

People began arriving and I talked to interested parties about the GRU College of Education and our new programs and our well-respected established programs. Then I'd hop back behind the booth to refresh brochures or mints or whatever, and crack a quick joke with him.

This went on for about an hour, until I realized, quite suddenly, that I was annoying him. "Well, I'll let you concentrate on detecting stuff, sir. Nice to meet you," I said, and bowed out.

It took another hour for it to hit me. Big guy... Dark suit... Lapel pin... Detective...

Aw, sheesh. He was security for the Assistant Secretary of the Army and the Governor, both of whom were at the breakfast that day. And I was distracting him from his job. Good gravy.

"See?" I told B.C. and D.H. in the office. "Y'all need to tell me when I'm accidentally annoying someone by behaving like a puppy and being their instant best friend. Because it will take me an hour to figure it out on my own!"

"Can we hire you an assistant for that?" D.H. laughed.

"Right? I need it," I laughed back. "Just to follow me around and point their finger at me: 'No. Move on.'"

What's that, you say? Stacey's being a dork, again? I'm on it!

Monday, August 25, 2014

If you have to tell people you're smart... you might not be

Monday, August 25, 2014 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - It's 2:30 p.m. on a day that the office hosted a potluck, and you know what that time is. That time is Cake Time.

"Cake, cake, cake, cake, cakey-cakey, cake, cake," I sang to myself as I walked down the hall to the office kitchen. Yes, I really did. It was peach pound cake, with sliced fresh peaches, fully deserving of impromptu singing.

I plated it up and chatted with the admin for a minute before walking back to my office. Ooops. Door's locked.

I walked back down the hall to the office manager.

"Hey, Tammie, you're aware that I have a college degree and stuff, right?" I asked, through a very educated mouthful of cake.

"Yyyyeeeesss?" she cocked her head at me.

"Because I just locked myself out of my office, and I don't want you to think I'm a total idiot," I grinned.

"Well, don't beat yourself up too much," she said. "PhDs and EdDs come in here to tell me the same thing."

Friday, August 22, 2014

Product Review: Atkins Endulge Chocolate Caramel Nut Chew Bars

AUGUSTA, GA - Tastes like a Snickers. I liked it. 

End of story.

... what? You want more?

Okay, the sample I was sent was pretty old. The chocolate had that pale cast to it in spots, and it was a little dry and crumbly. But still surprisingly tasty, and I wager the ones you buy in stores are fresher. If you want a lower-carb, lower calorie, slightly higher protein alternative to a candy bar, this is a great option. 

                       Atkins Bar                                                 Snickers Bar
Calories:                130                                                           250
Carbs:                   17g                                                            33g
Protein:                  5g                                                              4g 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The most frequent reason I punish my child is for talking

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - Emerson had her friend, Kayla, for a sleepover, which is always hilarious. I crashed about 11 p.m., but woke at 2 a.m. to the sound of giggles...

I stumble to the bedroom and stop in the doorway, mouth agape.

"We're playing," Emerson says.

"With BOMBS?" I retort.

Every toy she owns is on the floor. Her chair is overturned. Her bed is stripped. The air mattress is deflated. There is a suspicious number of beverage containers and snack wrappers mixed into the mess. They laugh. Apparently, my concern is hilarious.

"This gets cleaned up before we go to the movies tomorrow, right?" I frown.

"Right," they reply, in unison.

"Okay, good. Now, it is Oh-My-God Thirty, and heading towards Mom's-Gonna-Kill-Me O'clock. What do you think that means?"

"Uhh, it sounds like you might need to learn how to tell time," Emerson laughs. Then sees my stony face. Because at Oh-My-God Thirty, mom is the only person allowed to make jokes.

Immediately, she begins stammering an apology. "I'm sorry. That was very rude of me and I take it back."

"Thank you. Bed time," I say, as sternly as one can.

"Yes, ma'am!" They scramble under covers and I flick off the light... and laugh silently all the way back to bed. She's a smarty-pants, but she comes by it honestly.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Life Pro-Tip: How to fix broken makeup

Monday, August 18, 2014 By

I stole this image from Because I no haz photography skillz.

AUGUSTA, GA - One of the benefits to not wearing a lot of makeup is that the products I buy last longer. It also means that I have a better-than-average chance of losing or breaking it.

A while back, my sister kindly gifted me with some wonderful organic makeup. And it took me about two months to drop my compact and break the powder. Sigh. I have stored it in a ziploc bag in my bathroom cabinet since then. Too attached to ditch it.

That was more than a year ago.

But, apparently, I could have fixed this a long time ago with a pretty simple solution:

All you do is gather the scattered remnants of your powdery makeup - whatever it is, eyeshadow, powder, blush, etc. - and put it back in the container. Then you take rubbing alcohol and drip it evenly over the mess, until just saturated. Use your finger, a spoon, or something similar, to smooth it out. It should dry in a couple of hours, good as new. Read more detailed instructions here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

One reason to love Augusta

Friday, August 15, 2014 By

AUGUSTA, GA - I'm having lunch with a friend from out of town, and we are enjoying some awesome Pho Bac in Evans.

Him: "I hate Augusta. There's nothing here."

Me (gesturing out the window of the restaurant): "How can you say that? Look that parking lot across the street. We have thousands just like it! I can give you a tour!"

Okay, I was being sarcastic. There's much more to do here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Evolution is for real

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - Emerson and I are having one of our gloriously goofy conversations. She's full of energy and wearing her sassy pants. It's infectious. It may have inspired me to undermine all of science in one conversation.

Em: "Mama, which My Little Pony is your favorite?"

Me: "Pinkie Pie. She's hilarious."

She's insane.

Em: "Mine's Twilight Sparkle."

Me: "Dude. I know. Your whole bedroom is covered in twilight sparkles."

Em: "She's an alicorn."

Me: "Yeah, I'm pretty sure I've watched every episode with you, sweetie."

Including this giant ball of cheese.

Em: "That means she's a unicorn and a Pegasus."

Me: [facepalm]

Me: "Yes, I kno- Ooh, actually, she's not a Pegasus. Pegasus was the name of a specific winged celestial horse. If you're not talking about the actual Pegasus, you'd just call it a horse with wings... or whatever."

Em: "Wull, it doesn't even matter, because Pegasus aren't even real."

Me: [raising an eyebrow] "You don't know that."

Em: "Mom. Seriously."

Me: "I'm just saying. Maybe they were real, and they all died out. Like the dinosaurs."

This is one of Emerson's favorite songs.

Em: [gasps, delighted by the idea] "And maybe unicorns did, too!"

Me: "No, unicorns are real."

Em: [frowning] "No, they're not!"

Me: "You don't know that, either."

Em: "Wull, I never seen a unicorn."

Me: [smirking] "What about rhinoceroses?"

Em: [laughing] "Those are - MOM! Be serious! Those are just rhinoceroses."

Me: "Maybe they're just really fat unicorns."

Em: [belly laughing] "But they don't have any hair! Unicorns have beautiful fur and long manes."

Me: "Maybe they have alopecia."

Em: "What's alopecia?"

Me: "It's where your hair falls out."

Em: **blink**

Me: "Or maybe they're in disguise."

Em: "That... That's just... AWESOME! Maybe they're hiding from Discord!"

Me: "Maybe."

Em: [running for the front door] "I gotta go tell Kayla!"

Me: "Wait, I thought we were just joking around..."

[Door slams]


Well...  that's still less traumatizing than the story my dad told me.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A conversation with cognitive dissonance

Monday, August 11, 2014 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - I get angry with people sometimes. I try to keep it to myself, try to understand others' perspectives, try to remind myself that we all experience our own struggles. But when people lie, manipulate other people, bully someone weaker, or engage in mean behavior for the pure sadistic enjoyment they get, I feel angry.

And yet, those people I can let go. Those people are unlikely to change, and sticking with them through the process of the improbability will only result in heartache for me. So I cut them out of my life, whenever possible. Sometimes, family or professional ties require us to continue to engage them in some way. All I can do is minimize contact and refuse to personalize their issues.

One thing I have trouble letting go, however, is when a person - confronted with facts in contrary to their personal opinion - refuses to consider their position in light of those new facts. That is called "cognitive dissonance" - more specifically, "confirmation bias." Anyone who has had more than a 10-minute discussion about politics has probably encountered it.

I find myself arguing with people stuck in this mindset, even though the very definition of cognitive dissonance is the irrational denial of facts contradictory to their opinion. The definition of insanity, of course, is doing the same thing the same way repeatedly, and expecting different results. Sigh...

I'll give you the example that makes me crazy:

     Recently, I was talking to a friend about travel. He's done a lot of it, and is planning more. He'll visit Asia next year, and I asked if he'd ever considered a trip to India.

     "NO!" he exclaimed. "It's the most rapist country in the world!"

     I stopped and thought.

     "Really?" I asked.

     "Yes," he declared. "I watch the news every day. Every day, rape in India. All the time. Rape, rape, rape."

     I cringed, mentally, as he tossed the term around. But his declaration just didn't sit right with me. Obviously, rape is a serious issue in India. But declaring it "the most rapist..."? I was perhaps choosing the wrong hill on which to die, but I couldn't let it go.

     "Well..." I ventured, tentatively. "I wonder if that's really the case. It seems kind of the issue du jour, as opposed to something based on measured coverage."

     He shook his head. "It's all over the news. You should watch the news more."

     I should watch the news more? I worked in the news media for years!

     I don't have cable, but I get my news online from a variety of reputable news sources: MCNBC, Fox News, CBS News, the BBC, "The New York Times," CNN (Oh, how the mighty have fallen), "The Wall Street Journal," "The Guardian," even sometimes "CBS Sunday Morning" and "The Daily Show." I'm all up in the news! And there has been no lack of coverage of violence against women in India and in the Middle East. Still, there's more to the story, as they say.

     I saw it then. I saw him doubling down, not wanting to be wrong. Not wanting his knowledge of the world to be shaken. He'd rather insult me by calling me under-informed or naive than confront what might be his own misconception. And that pissed me off.

     "You're asking me to believe that there are more rapes per capita in India than in Somalia and the Congo, where it's regularly used as a tool of population control," I snapped. "You're saying that there are more rapes in India than in a country where gangs of armed men regularly attack villages and systematically rape every woman and child in the camp."

     He stared at me. I don't usually go off on this stuff with him. We just don't have those kinds of discussions. Our friendship is based on a mutual love of cooking interesting foods and watching stupid comedies.

     "Look, I think part of the issue with rape is a lack of reporting," I tried.

     "That's what I'm saying!" he exclaimed.

     I held out my hands: "Hang on. Not media reporting. Statistical reporting. One of the issues with crime statistics is that they're based on reported numbers, and then those numbers are enhanced by projected statistics about how many crimes go unreported. And that depends on there being a reporting structure in place. Rape goes under reported, even in countries where a reporting structure exists. In the U.S. and Canada, in most of Western Europe, in many countries, there is a federal mandate that these crimes are reported and tracked. But there's hardly a working government in Somalia and the Congo, in Venezuela and Iraq, and in a lot of countries, women can be killed by their own family for even a rumor that she has been sexually violated. There is a hard push in India, a lot of outrage, about violence against women. I think what we have is a story cycle that hasn't run its course, and a country making some attempt at maintaining reporting structure."

     He opened his mouth, then closed it again and shook his head. Nothing I said was going to get through to him, it seemed. And after less than two minutes, I was already exhausted with the conversation.

     "Look, I'll just Google it," I said, and pulled up a number of articles. "...Holy crap."


     "No. Look. They all say the United States is the highest in terms of number of rapes."

     "Really?" he asked, disbelief etched into every line on his face.

     "Really." I showed him the articles, and shuddered. There's just no perfect measure of crime statistics.

     He handed me back my tablet and shook his head.

     "I see it on the news every day," he said. "India is the worst."

And there you have it. Even when confronted with (what I think were) reasonable arguments in contradiction to a belief, and even when handed a number of hard statistics countering that belief, the desire to maintain one's perception of the world wins every time.

I'm not real sure where I'm going with this. It's just a part of the human condition that frustrates me. And I'm sure I'm guilty of it, as well. I guess maybe I'd like to request that we all take a moment when talking about an issue and consider our own biases. I'll even listen a little more carefully to Megyn Kelly on Fox News. I did rather enjoy her hilarious attack after a male colleague called maternity leave a "racket." 

Just don't expect me to extend that same courtesy to Sarah Palin's new online "news" channel, or Ann Coulter's weekly attention-grabbing temper tantrum. In those instances, I think, ignorance would most definitely be bliss.

Friday, August 08, 2014

DIY Fail

Friday, August 08, 2014 By

AUGUSTA, GA - Um, I think you've all seen my DIY, crafting, and Pinterest fails in the past. For example, I had to go out and buy spackle after my successful (eventually) attempt to hang a pot rack from the kitchen ceiling. And also to make so many extra, unnecessary holes that it looked like Al Capone had shot up the place. There were the cake pops, that ended up looking like reindeer poop... sigh.

But last week was the home improvement fail to take the cake... pop.

Emerson's bed is a four-poster princess deal. I bought it second-hand from one of those million-dollar-home neighborhoods in Columbia County - I've talked about my frugality before - so I figured it was good quality. It is. It's lovely.

It looks a lot like this bed. Or... it did.

Except... when I was trying to reassemble it at home, I realized that the previous owner had somehow stripped the wood inside the two foot-board posts and had stripped the bolt onto which the foot-board posts attach.


I had a lot of other stuff to do, and the two foot-board posts weren't structurally useful or aesthetically necessary, so I shoved them in Emerson's closet. Until last week when the thought that they had been sitting there for more than a year just really irritated me.

Okay, actually, I was hanging up her clothes and they tipped over, fell, and whacked me in the head. But anyway...

I examined them closer. There were signs that the previous owner had tried to do some kind of repair herself. There was a significantly sized puddle of clear glue that covered the screws in the right hole, and a smaller puddle that surrounded the screws in the left hole, which had also been partially removed and then stripped.


I thought I was going to have to replace the bolts and the posts entirely, until a friend convinced me that Gorilla Glue repairs all. I wouldn't be able to remove the posts at a future date - they would be permanently attached to the foot-board, but that wasn't a huge deal. I can fashion my impromptu lightsaber or jousting pole out of other materials in the future.

Here's the thing, y'all. I'm actually not really very good at putting things together. Or taking them apart. Or... anything. But glue? I know how to do that.

I do. Who needs directions on how to use glue, right? I mean, you squeeze the glue. You put the things together that you want to stick. You hold in place for a couple of minutes, and - voila! Done. Right?


Turns out (that's going to be the name of my autobiography: "Turns out...: Tales of Misdirection and... What Was I Saying?") that reading the directions on even mundane items like a bottle of glue can sometimes be necessary. Gives me new respect for whoever writes those ridiculous warning labels.

Because it turns out that Gorilla Glue EXPANDS TO 3-4 TIMES ITS SIZE as it dries.

See? It kind of foams up.
I set the posts, held them in place for about 5 minutes, and then walked downstairs. Thirty minutes later, when I went up to check on them, there was glue bubbling out of every hole and slowly trickling down the sides of the bed. And it was already setting.

Worst of all?  .... It had adhered one corner of her bed to the windowsill.

Nothing but the sheer force of my will would separate the window from the post. I had to brace both feet against the wall and pull. Then I had to scrape off the glue. I did my best, but I fully realize that I'll be sanding and painting a couple of spots.

Moral of the story? Don't let me do your home repairs.

And always read the directions.