Friday, July 31, 2009

Clean Your Room!

Awwww, Mom! Do I HAVE TO?!?!?

Yes, you do, and don't come out until it's spotless!

Believe it or not, this was grown-up me arguing with my inner whiny teen, earlier today.

I am a good mother, wife, and housekeeper (shudder) for lack of a better word. I'm no neat freak but I have a beautiful home and I like it to stay that way. It's tough, though. My mother watches my tots, both under the age of 5, every day and they are in the house, most days, all day. In my pretty house. Eating crumbly corn chips. Using sticky stickers. Brushing linty, furry stuffed animals. The mess doesn't end. There's no shortage of things that need to be vacuumed or straightened or put away. Somehow, we manage. Most days I'd be horrified if I had an unexpected guest but in reality, we are hardly ever more than an hour away from a presentable home.

Except for our bedroom.

To say it's messy would be the understatement of the century. Forget dust bunnies, I have dust PONIES in there!

How does this happen?

Believe me, I have read all of the articles about how your bedroom should be a beautiful and serene haven of relaxation. Better yet, it should be an exotic retreat for you and your spouse to connect on a romantic level.... hang on.... can't... stop... laughing.

Okay, I'm done. I've heard it all but the fact of the matter is, nobody visit the bedroom. At least, not in my case. It's the place to hide everything so the rest of the house doesn't look like a dump. Under my bed is the graveyard of unused video game consoles. On my dresser are the shoes my son wore for his Christening. He's now almost 3-years-old. It's the room with the huge pile of pants that (thankfully) are much too big on me now but I haven't quite figured out what do do with. Hell, it's the room that we never got around to adding window trim and closet doors to when we built our house 6 years ago!!! 90% of the things that happen in there happen in the dark anyway. Who cares if my sweaters are hanging there exposed?!?! It's dark... I can't see them!

Why the sudden urge to kick my own ass into cleaning it? There could only be one reason. I'm having overnight guests and one of them will be using my bedroom. PANIC!

This was a MONUMENTAL undertaking. I actually took a half-day off work to do it! There were about six-billion receipts from Christmases past, costume jewelry all tangled up into something resembling modern art, enough orphaned socks to assemble a formidable sock puppet army and an oscilloscope. Yes, I'm married to an engineer and no, I don't know what he was planning to measure with it in there.

I washed my sheets and my comforter. I emptied the waste basket. I straightened my many, many shoes. I stowed away those over-sized pants. I waded through the muck and dust and the occasional spider (EEEK!) and, eventually, found my bedroom.

It seemed impossible that I had finished the job. I didn't come out, as per my own orders, until it was spotless. And I'm so glad! It looks lovely. I should invite more people to come stay in my bedroom...umm...that could mean something other than I intended.

I am happy to report that the end result is just like that haven of serenity and relaxation I've always read about... only without closet doors!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Google Voice Telephone Game: The Results Blog

Last week, I blogged about the hysterically inadequate transcription service employed by Google Voice. I gave an example of a transcribed message that would lead you to believe the caller was having a stroke when they left it. Finally, I invited you to call me with some... uh... creative voice messages. You responded in kind.

Below are some of the funnier transcriptions I received since the Telephone Game was underway. I thought it would actually be more interesting and amusing if you don't get to hear what the caller actually said.

Not sure what this is about but sounds like this message was intended for a coach named Dean, not me.

A Shakespeare buff (I think.) Either way, I plan to re-evalutate my relationship with this person who, according to the transcription, thinks my name is James. Original "To Be Or Not To Be" text.

This caller's purposely cryptic message gets even more cryptic with images of dogs parking and flying.

Personally, I've never seen a sleaze triangle. I know you're probably curious so "scared process it was a box" was actually "scarecrow said in the Wizard of Oz" and "maxwell physics" was "math, not physics".

Sounds like a drunk dial from Captain Jack Sparrow who's currently working third shift as an office assistant in an building with a bad leak.

I think JK Rowling would love to know that Google voice translates VOLDEMORT to "hold of more", AVADA KADAVRA to "a part of the barbara" and DUMBLEDORE to "on the floor".

What do these results tell us? Does it mean that Google Voice SUCKS and is a waste of time? No. Of course not. It's FREE and, besides, I "less than three" my Google Voice account. It just means text-to-voice isn't perfect. It means that you should go the extra mile and listen to the voice file. You might be thinking that you could get the gist from the transcription, but here's why you shouldn't go by interpretation alone.

"Don't forget, I'll see you at the game." could be misconstrued to read "Just for that, I think you're lame."

"This is your mother's seamstress, I'm calling to find out when to meet with you." might be transcribed to "This is Roger's mistress. I'm calling to find out what he sees in you."

"I might be late, I'll have to text you from the car." could be erroneously translated to "I might be late, I'm having sex in the bar."

Listen to the voice mail before jumping to conclusions. Don't be that guy (or gal) that we read about in our twitter feed "Mistranslated Google Voice message leads to public humiliation."

Sidebar: I had both of my kids try to leave a message but Google Voice didn't seem to hear them at all... if only...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Telephone Game Goes High-Tech: An Evaluation of the Google Voice Transcription Tool

Technophiles world-wide are chomping at the bit to get their very own invitation to Google Voice. I was thrilled to get my email invite on Friday and I must admit it's pretty slick.

If you don't know about Google Voice, Google gives you a FREE phone number that will ring your other phones, send you texts, deliver voice mails to your email inbox, transcribe your messages and much more. I haven't even played with all the awesomeness yet.

First, I had the challenge of acquiring my phone number. The interface gives you the opportunity to request combinations of letters and numbers. Therefore, I was left typing in as many combos of the ideal awesome phone number I could imagine. (845) JTROCKS, (845) 2CALLJT, (845) JEANTAG. I think I did this for 20 minutes. Eventually I was successful with (845) 475-84JT. Not bad. I got the "4JT" in there. I later looked over the buttons on the telephone and came up with the mnemonic (845) ISJT4JT but I'm not sure what that means or if it'll help anyone remember anything.

I found some of the advanced set-up features employed some backward logic, like setting up a schedule of when NOT to ring a certain number, instead of when TO ring the number. After burning a few brain cells, I figured out the best schedule for me. I made a few test calls and let it go to voice mail so I could check out the transcription feature. First time, it got my message 100% straight. Second time, it said "transcription failed". I don't remember exactly what I said but apparently it confounded the system.

Then, today, someone called my Google Voice number. I missed the call and it went to voice mail. I was in a meeting when I got the transcription and it was all I could do not to wet my pants.

I listened to the accompanying voice file and it wasn't even close to this! Transcription fail. This is a person who typically speaks loudly and clearly. Maybe it was a bad connection. Who knows?

This whole thing got me thinking of the telephone game. You remember the game when you'd whisper in the first kids ear "I brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch" and by the time it get so the last kid it was somehow "I thought I'd beam up a hand wrench for a bunch."

This gave me an idea! (Can't you almost see the little light bulb above my head) Let's play a High-Tech game of Telephone. I'll put my Google Voice number on "Do Not Disturb" from now until Sunday 7/26 at midnight. That way all calls will go straight to voice mail. I invite all of you to think of a really creative / complex message to leave me. Don't make it too long because there may be a character limit. Once all the calls are in, I'll screen capture the text messages (or at least the funny ones) and post them here. I'll blur the names and numbers to protect the innocent. I'd imagine, that, much like the original telephone game, the more complex words will get horribly and hilariously mangled.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Chicks Are Just Nuts

I should preface this by saying that I don't KNOW anything. I am not an psychologist or an endocrinologist, nor do I play one on TV. This is just what I've observed in my 30-plus (plus, plus, plus) years of being a girl and being surrounded by girls.

Girls are nuts. And not just for a few select days of the month before or during a visit from her unwelcome Aunt / friend / guest (or whatever euphemistic personification you choose to employ to reference her period.) We are crazy just about all the time. Sometimes it is blatant, out-there bitchy crazy. Sometimes it's quirky, cute, endearing crazy but, color it what you like, it's extreme dysfunction at its finest.

I am lucky enough to have some of the best girlfriends a gal could ask for. Each is beautiful, funny, charming and charismatic in her own way. And every last one of them has some kookiness, neuroses or what have you, that makes them unique and special.

First there's my BFF. I adore her right down to her toes. She totally gets me. I should say we get each other. I know how important it is to her to get a birthday card on or before her birthday. Not an e-card. A PAPER birthday card with a stamp on it and everything. It defines her as a person and is probably the cornerstone of our friendship. And not just any card. It has to be either extremely clever and witty, earth-shatteringly sentimental, beautifully hand-crafted or all of the above. (The maker of THAT card would be RICH beyond his or her wildest dreams!)
She'd be over the moon with this one here. I think that flower is crocheted!

I worry and fret over buying and mailing this card for weeks. I've lost SERIOUS amounts of sleep. But I don't fault her for it. Quite the contrary. I love her for it. It's who she is.

Another of my dear friends is terrified of monkeys. I am talking ALL KINDS of monkeys. Cute little furry ones, hat-wearing cigar-smoking ones and chest-beating king-kong type ones (yes, I know those are apes but she lumps them all together into one big scary poo-flinging, bug-eating family). She doesn't even like inanimate monkeys. She hates Curious George. Why do you ask? Did she have some sort of extreme monkey-related trauma?

(I just noticed that I seem to be going for the all-time hyphenated-word world-record. I think I'm going to start awarding myself points -- I've got 13 so far.)

Nope. No monkey-related (14 pts) incidents. She doesn't trust them; thinks they are just plain shifty and doesn't like that they "think they're people". A few months ago when that woman was mauled by her pet monkey, my friend said, passionately, "You see! I told you so! Nobody listens to me. That's what people get for hanging around with monkeys!" But it is such a part of who she is. Anyone who knows her should know that a gift of a playful monkey office plaque that reads "Welcome To The Jungle" would NOT be well-received (15 pts) and might even warrant an end to said friendship.

As a matter of fact I'm pretty sure I just heard her scream. Sidebar: I have another friend who's always been that way about squirrels. They just give her the heebie-jeebies (16 pts).

This is how crazy we girls are. As I'm sitting here writing this I'm trying to figure out who to include so they don't feel left out but at the same time figure out what I can say about them that they'd be okay with! I'm getting stressed about it. I need to take a coffee break.


As I said before sometimes, it's 24/7 quirkiness. Sometimes it is hormonal. Personally, I get near homicidal every now and then as the witching hour (or week) approaches. It's not every time, just sometimes. It's very strange because I feel like a sane person trapped in a crazy person's body, watching myself fly ridiculously off the handle because my kids won't eat their dinner (which they never do, but TODAY it's a suddenly the worst thing they've ever done).

I'm also convinced there's some kind of pheromone reaction between men and women as it comes down to the wire. As I grow more irritable, my husband grows exponentially more aggressive and irksome. I think that whatever pheromones I'm emitting cause his testosterone levels to increase and, as a result, push every last one of my buttons. I'd love for someone qualified to study this phenomenon through one-way (17 pts) glass.

While I'm playing scientist, I'd like to add that I don't think all the insanity that befalls us ladies during pregnancy is attributed to pregnancy hormones. Some of it is but I see some of the same things happening to my friend who is an adoptive-mom (18 pts) waiting to bring her daughter home. Maybe it's some type of "mommy hormone" that we're born with. When I was pregnant and getting toward the end, my nesting instinct went into hyper-drive (19 pts) and I was just freaking out about the tiniest things. One of my big ones was that the silverware in the drawer needed to be lined up. Because everyone knows the first thing a baby does when it gets home from the hospital is go get a fork and knife from the utensil drawer! My adoptive-mom (20 pts) friend is doing the same sort of thing. Cleaning out garages and closets. "Why do we have that broken shoe rack in here? This baby can't possibly come here and see a broken shoe rack!!! What kind of parents ARE WE?!??!!"

Often there doesn't even need to be a baby on the way for us to get like that. The "mommy hormone" can show itself at any time because it's always there. Back to my BFF. I got her this beautiful photo album for Christmas that she'd been eying. She thanked me and said she really wanted it because it matches some of her other ones and she wants to get rid of the ones that don't match because she doesn't want to "Look like a hobo." Yup. That's the first thing people notice about hobo's. They're woefully unmatched photo albums.

I realize this is getting long and I could go on and on and on about the women in my life and their zany antics. I could write multiple books about my own dysfunctions. Case and point I'm keeping score right in this post of a game that nobody else is playing and has no goal. I'll summarize by saying that we are mega-complicated, (21 pts), self-critical, (22 pts), super-neurotic, (23 pts) unsound creatures but if we weren't we wouldn't be nearly as interesting!


BTW, 23 points was the goal. I win!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Local Woman Blinded By Cereal Bar Crumbs

News at 11.

Sometimes I think this sort of thing only happens to me. How is it that I open a cereal bar wrapper, a perfectly average thing to do, and get crumbs in my eye?!? I wasn't testing out some fancy, new-fangled way to open the package. I wasn't showing off. I wasn't trying to open it while kick-boxing. Just sitting at my desk opening a wrapper and got a flurry of crumbs in my eye.

My daughter is clumsy too. Her pediatrician said, "Clumsiness is genetic. Is anyone else clumsy in the family?" I sheepishly raised my hand. Sorry, baby girl. You won't be the star of the basketball team. My bad.

I can assure you that the crumbs in the eye thing is not an isolated incident. Scarcely a day goes by that I don't drop something, stumble, get hit with a flying object, slam my finger in a door or otherwise make an idiot of myself.

Hours after my mid-afternoon yogurt, I realized I had a huge drippy blob of yogurt on the neckline of my blouse. I had talked to someone for over a half-hour, completely unaware! Mind you they didn't tell me either, unless I missed some subtle nods and gestures, which, I'll admit, is entirely possible.

The other day I about cut off the pad of my pinkie in a VSlicer. It is still all bandaged up. I'm reminded of my mishap every time I hit the return key.


If you don't have an experience with a VSlicer, it's one of those things you would've seen Billy Mays (God Rest His Soul) hawk on TV. It's two over-sized razor blades in a V-formation encased in plastic with a handy guard for your safety. Didn't use the guard. Ooops. There should be a law against people like me owning and using devices like that. There isn't.

Last week I burned myself on a microwave Chicken Quesadilla. The cheese was like molten lava. Of course, the warning on the package said, "Don't touch this thing for at least a minute, you moron!" (or something like that). I'm the reason they write these package warnings.

During the holidays, I went out at night to put something on the patio table on my friends back porch. She neglected to tell me the porch was tiered. I slipped and completely wiped out with half my body on the top tier and half on the bottom tier. When she went out there the next day she said that the imprint in the snow was reminiscent of a crime scene chalk outline.

It would seem that I'm mostly a danger to myself, not others. I do have a few friends who've been the victim of flying pieces of celery, bonked in the head with rubber stress balls or soaked to the skin with an ice-cold margaritas. They might disagree but I can say, with certainty, that nobody was hurt in the making of those incidents. The stress ball friend said it hurt but I think he's just a big sissy.

It's only about half the time that my misadventures are a result of my own lack of grace. The rest of the time, it would seem that I am a magnet for tiny disasters.

For example, this weekend at a Fourth of July BBQ, the wind caught hold of some one's plate and it hit me in the head. How can I be blamed for that calamity?

I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business as they power-washed my building's windows. Why am I suddenly wet? The window was open just a tiny crack. Just enough to give me and my iMac a little shower. Fabulous.

Another time at work my boss's son was playing with one of those rubber stress piggies that the eyes bug out of when you squeeze it due to the strange, nameless liquid inside. Who do you think got covered in Made-In-China Mystery SARS Goo? Yours truly.

I'm so used to it. I'm never surprised when these things happened. My reactions are typically:

Why wouldn't that pig toy explode all over my face?
Naturally, I dropped cheese in my purse.
Of course, my phone fell out my purse into a mud puddle.
Yes, I got pineapple pulp in my eye. So what?

What can I do? It's part and parcel of who I am. I've come to expect these mishaps and laugh about them, as have those around me. At the same Fourth of July party, my friend's mom said, "I'm disappointed. I expected you'd fall!".

Apparently, my reputation precedes me.