A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

22 November 2006

The Age of Innocence...Before We Knew About Guidelines

This is my first in a series of what I like to call "versus" blogs. What I intend to do, periodically, is to take two sides of things and attempt to convince you why I am right. ;) Hey, I'm from Jersey originally...and I'm a woman and I'm very competitive...so that's my plan. I welcome you to challenge me...in a nice way...not just "you are wrong, you moron"...to see your perspective. Some planned to come are Krispy Kreme vs Dunkin' Donuts and Hoagies vs Everything Else They Claim Is.

My topic this time around I think is quite appropriate: Stuffing vs Dressing

Now, as you might have just read...I am originally from New Jersey and have been living here in the Montgomery area for the last 17 years. Up in Jersey, we always referred to it as "stuffing"...hence shoving it in the dead animal's orifice and cooking away...to be retrieved later as is usually the order of business.

Now they tell you "don't stuff things in the bird's cavity...if you do...you are going to risk harmful bacteria...and if you must...shove it in there loosely so it gets a chance to cook". Well, this is probably a wise idea...but for all those years my parents didn't so much as have a meat thermometer and we survived. I run around now changing forks each time I turn a piece of meat - clean the counters dozens of times and make sure everything is cooked to bacteria-ridding degrees as per the USDA's guidelines. Ah the days of being able to eat raw hamburger and over-easy eggs. Nowadays...well, you can't even chomp down on raw spinach or lettuce without worrying about it. But I digress...back to the matter at hand...stuffing.

Stuffing is stuff you basically shove into another thing...the thing usually being a nice dead piece of animal. You can stuff poultry, seafood, pork, beef, lamb, and whatever animal I might have missed...you know, like goat and wildebeest. Oh...wildebeest is terrific by the way...seriously...it is.

I think "dressing" came about as it sounded too cretinous...no stodgy inherited-thru-the-ages rich folk would kowtow to the nouveaux riche or heaven forbid, sub-classes and call their stuffing "stuffing"...or even worse, "stuffin'". They needed something to differentiate themselves...think of watching Daniel Day-Lewis in "The Age of Innocence" reluctantly accepting the snobbism of late-19th century Victorian era well-to-doers "dressing" up...all because Winona Ryder slyly weaseled her way into his good graces...altho we all knew he really wanted to stuff things with Michelle Pfeiffer instead.

"Dressing" also sounds like anything you could put "off to the side to compliment some other food". Kinda like a glorified condiment..."Oooh...would you like some dressing with your smelts?" "Uhhhh...isn't that JUST ketchup?" "Why, yes it's just ketchup...but it IS off to the side in one of those tiny little paper tub-like devices only seen in fast food places and seafood restaurants of lesser stature at the beach...I mean...uh...um...it's a 'condimentier'...it's like one of those fancy individual salt servers with the equally miniature spoons...because heaven forbid 'shaking' our own salt is soooooo beneath us." Also, "dressing" seems like it's supposed to mask the otherwise unpleasantness of the other food...it has to "dress it up" - as it really can't "stand alone". Face it...when was the last time you actually served smelts...and did you serve them alone? I nearly rest my case.

So, I decided I'd do the only logical thing I could think of because I didn't have time to quiz a cross-section of people this late in the day...I Googled. And this is what I just found...whether or not it's one-hundred percent accurate is anyone's guess...but it does rather foot the bill and serve my purpose and theory on stuffing/dressing.

So, tomorrow as I am stuffing my stuffing into a separate oven-safe casserole-type container...which will also be temperature-tested with a thermometer before it comes out of the oven and ever sees the artificial light of day in my kitchen...I will reminisce about how you once could cram as much stuffing as you made into the turkey without fear of death. And even IF you went to a relative's house for Thanksgiving...you never had to "dress" for dinner...just the opposite in fact, as that weird "uncle" of yours inevitably and unfortunately...always ended up loosening more than just his belt.

15 November 2006

The Fun Zone

I've just now seen video of the Fun Zone (Montgomery, AL) here on television...and all I can say is that the manager (I don't know her name...I've only been hearing information on the news here for the past few hours) and anyone else responsible who had the forethought to move 31 children out of that (part of the) building before weather warnings were even issued, really needs to get some great recognition. Without those timely actions there could have been...and most probably would have been...lives lost. They really deserve some praise...and more than just at the local level.

I've just heard the name "Lisa Elliott" (sp?) mentioned by the owner of Fun Zone, Lisa McIlwain, stating that Elliott is the manager of The Learning Zone...I am not sure if she's the sole person responsible or if there are others, but I did hear the owner credit her for moving the children out of the building. Again, all involved should be duly acknowledged.

They have since given credit to Liberty Duke...and I definitely wanted to make that known here as well. She did a wonderful thing and again, I hope she gets the recognition that is due her...altho I think just knowing what she's done in her heart and the gratefulness of the parents has got to be such a terrific feeling in and of itself.

Fun Zone: The Aftermath of a Possible Tornado

14 November 2006

Einstein, Heisenberg and Bohr...Oh My!

What happens when you combine lying in bed trying to get back to sleep with thoughts of helping your child memorize a bunch of scientists for her Science Olympiad competition? You get "brilliant" wacky ideas to explain other theories...at 4:00 in the morning I had transformed into a postulating potentate.

Oh, not one of those run-of-the-mill boring scientists...I have the benefit of absolutely no real technical knowledge on my side...but gobs of B-movie sci-fi melodrama. Now that doesn't mean I am without some knowledge...I could probably beat the pants off most celebrities who compete on Celebrity Jeopardy!, but let's just keep that our little secret. Please??

I am a great believer in the power of mnemonic memorization skills..."No, Ashley Olsen, that has nothing to do with films Keanu Reeves has been in...but you can't really remember what they were about"...it does, however, have to do with remembering something by remembering something else...like that "ROY G. BIV" thing. So once these bits of info are floating around in my head...after coming up with a bunch prior to the competition and drilling them into my daughter's brain...eventually they tend to group together and spiral out...much like that DNA Helix that Watson, Crick and Wilson are so famous for establishing in our minds.

As Bette Davis once infamously said with such finesse, "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night"...so I, too, advise you to strap yourselves in as you are about to be taken on the ride of your lives...inside my brain. Okay, it's not so much a ride like one of those extreme rollercoasters...more like those slowly revolving teacups at Disneyland. Pasteur? Nah...can't do anything with that. Salk? Nah. Röntgen? Röentgen? The spelling...the spelling...can't anyone get it right? And what ARE umlauts anyway? We should use more umlauts...slowly revolving teacups...slowly...revolving. Hey, how about that Hubble guy?!

The universe is expanding...Hubble said so, so it must be true. I wouldn't win an argument with Hubble...I can barely win one with my son. But...how do we know this to be true. Einstein didn't even like it...he wanted the universe to be static...an expanding universe wouldn't support his findings of a "cosmological constant" universe. Einstein, by his own assertion, called this his "greatest blunder".

Einstein also had a heated debate which lasted years (until Einstein's death in fact) with Niels Bohr, Danish Nobel Prize winner in Physics, over Quantum mechanics...a role which Einstein pivotally played and then later tried to discount as he firmly believed that there were no accidents...everything was predictable...nothing was up to chance if you knew the factors going into it..."God does not play dice with the universe". Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and Bohr's own beliefs in Quantum physics put the mathematical and scientific community at odds with Einstein...who searched endlessly for an elegant equation to express it all...in essence, to literally read God's mind. Bohr's counter to this was to say to Einstein, "Stop telling God how to roll his dice"....Einstein, even more determined, shunned the community he was such a pioneer in to work feverishly to prove once and for all that nothing was up for chance...if you knew the values of the "dice" you were throwing, their velocity, their angle, the rate at which they were dropped, the distance, etc., you would indeed be able, not to "predict"...but to say with certainty, how they would fall...thereby tossing out that whole "uncertainty principle" once and for all.

But let's head back for a moment to the uncertainty which dwells in my head...let's say the universe isn't expanding as we know it...but everything in our little corner of the universe is contracting...we are getting smaller...everything else, as Einstein surmised, is indeed following the laws of a cosmological constant universe. I don't know how many of you have ever seen the 1950s classic sci-fi film, "The Incredible Shrinking Man" (if you haven't...you should...there's more to it than meets the eye...no pun intended)...but this is an exceptional analogy of how I can explain my "Ambien-induced theory". Cue obligatory segue to a voice-over sounding disturbingly similar to Rod Serling...only we can't use the stark contrast of the white smoke against that black background...we have to be socially aware even tho it loses all that "aura" mystique which this set up so needs. "Consider if you will...that if you change your size but everything around you maintains the same dimension...you will perceive yourself as getting further away from your surroundings, when in essence, you are just shrinking...albeit shrinking in a vast void larger than anything we can imagine, yes, even larger than Paris Hilton or Tom Cruise's ego." The minutiae that our world becomes against the backdrop of this vast expanse would seem as if everything else were rushing away from us, and at considerable speed, thereby causing the only effect that we could rationalize in our brain...that we were indeed the same proportion in size...but that everything was expanding around us.

I would love to believe there is nothing left for chance in this world...that everything is done for a purpose...with a clear purpose in mind...and if you held the key to unlock that purpose...there before you would befall riches the likes of which we have never fathomed. And even without a fancy equation...I can tell you that...for certain.

06 November 2006

The Theory is Relative

E = mc² oh sure, we've all seen it before...Einstein's Energy = Mass x speed of light in vacuum² ...but I am suggesting another equation for it...Education = Mass x Collaboration² . Face it...if you have enough people en masse grouping together and applying what they know to education and to educating others...that's some pretty powerful stuff going on there...and not just for destruction...but for creating...for creating a lasting love of science...or whatever else you happen to be teaching.

And that's just what happened Saturday at the University of West Alabama in Livingston at the Science Olympiad competition for students in the 3rd-6th grades. What? You didn't even hear about it? Well, I'm here to tell you that is definitely a shame...as Bill Nye would put it..."Science rules!" And these kids ruled! They should ALL be commended for undertaking such a task...on a Saturday of all days...forgoing their day to sleep in, their soccer games, their sleepovers...for a cause...a cause that literally went unreported. Oh, sure...ABC news out of East Mississippi/West Alabama reported this...but I think it should have gotten more notoriety than that...and not just because my daughter participated (and won first place in all three of her events...hey, I can brag, she's my kid, after all) - but because there are so many children out there who are doing something positive in their schools who never get mentioned...who go unnoticed in their community...unless they do something bad. That is just not right...it's extremely prejudiced in a society that prides itself on trying not to be.

I'll be completely honest here...I didn't know there were any of these competitions until my daughter started participating two years ago. And that is sad. Personally I think there should be many more schools getting their students involved in these competitions...and many more news stories reporting about them. It's not just about winning...altho, yes, it's always nice when you do...but it is about getting kids involved in something they ordinarily wouldn't. As my online friend just stated to me a couple minutes ago about a school competition where he lives in California..."It's done with kids at all grade point levels...which means the coaching is all important". The key here is to instill in children that they CAN have fun at these events...and they can learn something from it...which is an all important key: If you make learning fun...you learn without it being tedious. And we, as parents, educators, and adults...owe it to children, be it ours, or someone else's...to inspire them to keep plugging away at it and someone will take notice.

Well...I noticed this past Saturday, for what it's worth...and I would like to sing the praises of all those involved...especially those at the University of West Alabama's campus (which hosted this event)...and the people at Alabama Power (who helped sponsor the event)...and of course the individual school coaches and young adult volunteers...but MOST of all...the children who wholeheartedly delved into this with such positive attitude and gave up many, many hours of their free time for the chance to become involved in something very worthwhile which hopefully they can remember all their lives. Would a little memento such as a newspaper clipping with their names in it be too much to ask for? I certainly don't think so...I think they are definitely worth it...they are OUR future, and that's extremely relative.

(I will try to get all the names and post them here at a later date.)

As promised...and graciously supplied by the University of West Alabama's Science Olympiad coordinator, Ms. Ketia Shumaker...who, with her team, did an exemplary job hosting this past Saturday...I give you the names of the students who participated (in no particular order) and their coaches/volunteers:

Linden Elementary School (Linden, AL) 2 teams

Aiyana McCaskey
Kyana Reese
Willisia Bruno
Alaiya Taylor
Anthony Poellnitz
Christien Rogers
Sapphire McCaa
Diamond McCaa
Shana McCorvey
Jeanneatta Taft
Diamond Miller
Jasmine Taylor
Akeyah Little
Anthony Aldridge
Willie Hudson
Tierra Jacobs
Quinesha Smith
Senteraca Brown
Velma Harris
Martes Wheeler
Kathelin Bishop
Tamara Tucker
Tajiona Monroe
Alexis Johnson
Kennedy Sewell
Jacori Gray
DeQuinton Bell
George Dial
Eddie Parker

St. Bede Catholic School Blue Team (Montgomery, AL)

Broghan Freeland
Mary Frances Miles
Matthew Neo
Tara Bourke
Ann Marie Dean
James Sherman
Chad DuBois
Paige Barranco
Lindsay Guin
Stone Miller
Tiffany Camacho
Jordan Heymann
Alex Castanza

St. Bede Catholic School Gold Team (Montgomery, AL)

Marisa Pickard
Kristina Vanella
Giselle Simms
Connor Preston
Sean Federspill
Andrew Roberts
Will Littleton
Michael Moussalli
Geoffrey Myers
Zach Hulcher
Ashley Kim
Ryan Norris
Jacob Hulcher

US Jones Elementary School (Demopolis, AL)

4th Grade-U.S. Jones

Jeremy Chu
Meredith Hill
Bailey Petrey
Nicole Martin
Wallace Tutt
Tripp Perry
Caleb Washington
Nick Tyson
Kathlene Saliba
Jervarkis Hurns
Andy Tarpley
Taylor Cooper

5th Grade U.S. Jones

Makaila Eicher
Riley King
Michael Brooker
Stephen Stewart
Heath Stanford
Jess Harwell
Sam Yeager
LaKendra Bruno
Brantley Kilgore
Wesley Dunn
Chase Compton
Josh Tyson

5th Grade Team B- U.S. Jones

William Tutt
Chandler Stuedeman
Grabbie Lay
Branden Spiller
Zoie McPherson
LaTimberly Washington
Jordan Williams
Kathleen Jackson
Rachel England
Charlie Parten
Morgan Godwin
Madelyn Couch

3rd, 4th & 5th Grade U.S. Jones

Cal Logan
Will Webb
Rachel Smith
Amanda Martinez
Jennifer Belcher
Megan Akins
Jessica Adams
Troy Pontilas
Alston Dinning
Mikala Thornton
Trent Crepps

Livingston Elementary (Livingston, AL)

Team 1: Livingston Tornadoes

Daja Hale
Ashley Willingham
Richard Jones
Latera Hodge
Mantricia Densmore
Anfrenee Rencher

Team 2: Twirling Tornadoes

Keiavis Mitchell
Drayton Foy
Jeremy Hines
Scoteesha James
Anfrenee Rencher
Eryson Crockett
Tamara Pickett

West Alabama Preparatory School (Demopolis, AL)

Caitlin Andrews
Carolyne Baker
Allen Campbell
Melanie Campbell
Kimberly Campbell
Drake Holtzclaw
Noah Long
Spencer Martin
Seth Strable
Nick Vann
Allen Walker
Susan Walker
Cassie Warren
Garret Edwards


Livingston Elementary

Jacqueline Hill
Aubrey D. McElroy
Tywannia Spencer
Ollie H. James
Angela Dubose

US Jones Elementary

Mary Stuedeman
Mrs. Mackey
Stephanie Polk

Linden Elementary Teachers

Angie Scales
Deborah Boykin
Sara Blackmon
Shirley Johnson

Linden Elementary High School Student Coaches

Quantarryia Harris
Miltesha Anthony
Quentin Thomas
Samantha Jones
Brittany Bright
Renae Jones

St. Bede Catholic School

Nick Bourke
Melanie Grayson
Larry Meiers

West Alabama Preparatory School Coach

Roger Campbell

Again, I would like this opportunity to congratulate each and every one of these people on a job well done...you are to be commended. Give yourselves a well-deserved round of applause...you certainly earned it.

02 November 2006

Of the Haul and Warhol

Well, Halloween has come and gone again..."Party City" had a whopping two cashiers again...Houdini failed to show up again...and sure enough we were late to hit the houses again. Consequently our candy haul was drastically reduced. I don't even EAT candy...but the thrill of begging door-to-door for free diabetic-coma inducing substances, most of which will get thrown out around Christmastime still is fun to me.

My 19-year-old son still dresses up...he doesn't "technically" go up there with my daughter to "Trick or Treat"...as he doesn't have a bag...but people see two...and they toss more into my daughter's bag...or urge him to "take some, too"...which is good as he's the one who sucks down the majority of the sweets. This year he wanted to dress up as an Anime character from "One Piece"..."Sanji" to be exact. This is where "Party City" came into play...as he needed a blonde wig...a blonde wig that apparently had to be procured Halloween day when they only have two cashiers...and 87 people in line. Yes, we waited longer in line than we ended up gathering candy later. Now since they don't sell wigs that look like "Sanji's" hair...especially that shade of blonde...we had to get a platinum-coloured long-haired wig and then cut it (and when I say "we" I mean "me") to resemble his hairstyle. I must say I did a pretty close facsimile to it given the fact my cutting skills stop at being able to neatly trim 8 1/2" x 14 inch paper down to 8 1/2" x 11"...and even then I bend it back and forth and rip the excess off...so I don't think that really qualifies as "cutting".

Then he scurried around the house looking for items to complete his "look"...meanwhile my daughter comes home from soccer later than I would have liked and I had to get her put together. This year she decided she would go as a cat again, which meant we didn't have to shell out another $25 for a costume to get $5 worth of candy. Hey...you do the math...you know how much candy you can buy AFTER Halloween for $25??? So after sewing her tail onto her leopard-print cape and drawing on her nose, whiskers and eyes...we were nearly set to leave. My son comes out dressed in a suit, actually looking better than I've seen him in years...and I totally blow his costume prepping self-esteem by telling him "You look like Andy Warhol"...and then promptly showing a photo of him online. I told him that people aren't going to know who Sanji is and are going to assume he's Andy Warhol. I then get told by both him and my husband that no one will say it...as no kids know Warhol. I tend to disagree and figure at least the adults handing out candy will indeed figure he is. Again they disagree.

So, off we go, I reiterate, MUCH later than I had wanted...driving over to the "good candy" place which shall remain nameless...where two houses always get into the Halloween "spirit" to the max...one with strobe lights and everyone dressing up and trying to scare the kids. Personally, I think it's a family of psychiatrists and psychologists...and this is the way they drum up business...kinda like those dentists who toss in toothbrushes embossed with their info along with their candy. Oh...the kids surely will need therapy after going there...plus I think more than half of them run off without taking any candy which is also part of their brilliant plan. Now don't get me wrong...I'd actually walk around where we live for candy, but we all sit on large lots and there are like maybe five kids who live here. By the time we'd walk around the block we'd have gotten about three candy bars...plus we'd have gone six times as far to get them...in the dark since we don't have streetlights...therefore we do our yearly pilgrimage miles from home.

First house we go to...this conversation ensues:

Lady: "Hey, nice costume...you're Andy Warhol, right?"
My Son (loud enough for me to overhear): "That's who my MOTHER said I looked like...I'm Sanji."
Lady: "I don't know Sanji...but you DO look like Andy Warhol."

I am totally reveling in the moment...and the next...and the next. I was redeemed. Yes, as I figured, he didn't get one "Hey, you're Sanji"...but did in fact get a few "Warhol" comments.

Actually I thought it would be pretty nifty to dress as Warhol...and quite original...and I told him...not that it helped much...but I did honestly believe it. In fact I even told a couple of my friends about the whole thing...and they thought it was quite funny...and, as one put it..."I bet it WAS funny...for about 15 minutes". I'd really like to take credit for that comment, but I can't...but I can take credit for making one awesome looking Warhol wig even if my son didn't want to humour me and take a can of Campbell's soup along with him.