The Dancing Nancys

A few weeks ago, I had the agony pleasure of attending a teacher conference.

Both of the speakers were named Nancy.

The name Nancy is not too common these days.  It is one of those names that was huge (according to my mom, Crazy Pat) in the 60s and fizzled shortly thereafter.

I have a friend whose mother AND mother-in-law are both named Nancy.  This is almost as rare as finding a 100 bill in an old purse.  Yeah, it barely ever happens (although I feel like searching in vain through all of my old purses!)

The two Nancys, or as I referred to them, Nancy Squared or the Dancing Nancys, both took turns going through the PowerPoint presentation.  They also both color coordinated their outfits. I have not seen too many royal blue printed dresses, but amazingly enough, they each had one on.  Matching Nancys!

Nancy #1 was the rule keeper.  She informed us of special “norms” she expected from us throughout the two-day conference.  She specifically stated that we were to put away our computers, smart phones and iPads, and were not to use them under any circumstances unless it was break time.  As she was sternly giving stating this ridiculous important rule, everyone was packing their laptops, iPads and phones guiltily away.  Funny thing about Rules Nancy, she constantly broke this rule.  Each and every time the other Nancy took over presenting, Rules Nancy would get on her iPad and iPhone.  Hmmm.  Gotta love some irony!

Another interesting thing I learned from Super Rule Breaker Nancy was a phrase called “Equity of Voice.”  Unbeknownst to me, this is a very important norm to help motivate those who don’t participate to participate and motivate those, like me, who participate too often, to shut the heck up.  Who knew this even had a name!  Sadly, the very prestigious sounding “Equity of Voice” did not prompt the quiet ones to speak up, nor did it stop the ones who continually add to the discussion.  So much so that when the Nancys were having trouble getting anyone to raise their hands and share (hey, I felt scolded into refraining from using my Equity of Very Chatty Voice), they would shoot over a death stare to my table for a response.

Sharpies. One of the workshop highlights .

Nancy #2 was a fast speaker who didn’t read directly from the slides, thank goodness.  She was intent on getting the information to us so we could break into groups and write on sticky-note-like poster boards with primary colored markers.  Fast Talking Nancy also had a stray piece of hair that kept migrating to her lips.  Why did I notice this? Because, she had to keep pulling it off of her lipstick.  I began to take a tally.  The totals: Hair in lipstick – 38, Fast Talking Nancy Lipstickhair – zero.  Poor Nancy #2.  Oh wait, scratch that.         Do not feel sorry for Nancy #2 and her lipstick saturated hair.  She started reading directly from the power point slides.  Epic power point fail. Ugh.

Coffee. The gets-me-through-everything elixir.

After awhile, I became frisky.  I decided that I would not, under any circumstances, look for a clock in the room.  I made it an hour and seven minutes before my eyes deceived me and scoped it out.  9:37.  How would I survive not one, but two days of bone-crushing boredom, silly rules and the crazy, dancing, matchy-matching, Power-point reading Nancys?  Maybe by sneaking quick, longing looks at my iPad?

I survived by writing about the Nancys, drinking waaaay too much coffee and daydreaming about finding a twenty in an old purse.



Say Cheese

I love taking pictures.  I have always loved it.  I am not a professional by any means, but it is a little hobby of mine.

My dad liked to take pictures.  He had a Vivitar SLR camera that he took to Disney World when I was nine.  I remember being so interested in that camera – the weight of it, the feeling of looking through the viewfinder, and the connection we had because I admired the camera so much.

When I was in junior high, my dad got me this great little camera that took a disc instead of a film roll.  It was a lot like the little Canon Digital Elph point and shoot cameras of today.  It fit perfectly in a back pack and was fun to use!  Plus, if you looked really closely at the disk film, it looked like little, itty bitty photo slides.  Coolness for a very gawky time of life.

In high school, I got another camera.  It was a Kodak film camera – the real film, not a disk, and I remember settling into my dark closet and putting the film it in so I didn’t expose any of it (because sometimes I could get more than 24 pics on a roll if I did that – score!)   I was on the staff of the school paper and by my junior year, when I moved to Ohio, I got a Canon Rebel SLR for me.  Unfortunately, there was not a school paper at my new school, but I loved that camera.

When I got to college, my major was journalism with a minor in English literature and another minor in (drum roll here) photojournalism.  The good thing was that I got two photography classes in.  Bad thing was we had to use slides.  Right around that time, and before the end of my freshman year, the university removed the photojournalism option for a college minor.  If one wanted the photojournalism degree, it had to be their major in the school of the arts. So back to taking pictures for fun.

One of my favorite pictures I have ever taken. Ever. It was also pouring down rain. She is beautiful, isn’t she?

Which leads me to today.  I like taking pictures. I like cameras.  I still have my original Canon SLR, but I also have two Canon Rebel DSLRs  and a Canon Digital Elph (for my pocket).  I also am into digital video editing, and teach Broadcast journalism at school along with updating the district’s webpage. Whew.

In my post about being a digital hoarder, I mentioned I have over 25,000 pics in my iPhoto.  My kids are the subjects in most, and are never surprised when the camera comes out and I chime, “Say cheese!”  They now roll their eyes at me, but smile all the same.

But I want to get better at taking pictures so this past summer and fall, I took two digital photography courses with DSLRs.  They were really informative and sparked a new level in taking pics for me.  It was time for me to do something for me, which can be very hard sometimes for moms to separate ourselves from our little ones.  I knew it was time to rediscover what I liked about photography so long ago – and find out how to push myself to taking better pictures – manually instead of relying on auto.

iPhone pic of Squishy drawing.

On my blog, I try and take most of the pictures I post with my articles.  I am somewhat of a freakish purist.  However, my neighbor two doors down wasn’t home last night so I had to use Disney pictures of the witch from Snow White instead.  Just kidding.  Kind of… I do find that it is so easy to take shots with my iPhone on Hipstamatic (which I love).  I also adore the fact the iPhone pictures float through “the cloud” and land on my laptop in iPhoto – ready for my blog.  Hooray!  Photos made easy!

I know I should use pictures I take with my DSLR, but sometimes I am just a little lazy.  There are days when I just don’t feel like uploading them, editing them if needed and all of that hoorah.  Maybe next week.

But, hey, it is pretty outside so I am going to call it a day and run and take some pictures of my dudes with my real camera for a change.

Say cheese!

A School Bus and a Sheriff Sandwich

What is the likelihood that I would be sandwiched between a school bus and a sheriff on my way to AND home from work?  Oh, it is very likely only for those few individuals lucky enough to be me.

This morning, I was to be at school for a 7 a.m. meeting.  It was 6:46 and I ended up behind a school bus.  Stop, start, stop start.  I look in my rear view mirror (yes, I was putting on mascara at one of the many stops) and – low and behold – there is a sheriff behind me.  I thought, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious for me to get my phone out, too?” But I put the bad angel idea away and continued on.

I knew exactly where the bus was going to turn (this getting behind a bus has happened to me before).  On a regular day, I would put my Mario Kart skills to good use and be ready to floor it to the moon as soon as the bus made the turn (vroom, vroom motor sounds go here). But today, that just wasn’t going to happen.  I gently pressed on the gas and cautiously glided up to the posted (but completely inane) speed.  Mr. Sheriff was still behind me, and I had half a mind to ask him to give me a police escort to school because I was going to be late.  Bad, bad angel.

Finally, he turned down a side road and went on his merry way.  I was so happy my tires squealed, my heart leaped and my foot became made of lead.  Made it to school at 6:58.  Whew.

After school today, I was merrily driving home anticipating the extreme amount of homework my fourth grader String Bean will have (and his complete excitement and willingness to do it – ha), when a bus pulled out in front of me.  “Here I go again,” I thought and then hummed the horrible White Snake tune. Within two miles, a sheriff pulls behind me.  By this time I am estatic.  Twice in one day – this is one for the record books.

Luckily, he turned following the bus.  Whew.

I could write and say this is a metaphor for life hinting at me to slow in on down.  Maybe it is a metaphor telling me watch my speed or calmly go wherever I need to go.  Maybe it is a metaphor for my life phase – hanging somewhere in the middle if you will.  But, I really don’t think it is a metaphor at all.  I think I was just caught between a school bus and a sheriff.  Twice in one day.  A little sandwich of coincidence. Lucky me.

Did I mention I took a photo of the bus? Yeah, I did. I didn't have the nerve to turn around and take one of Mr. Sheriff though. I thought that might be a bad idea.

I’m Honking About It

“I’m honking about it” was one of the more recent auto-corrects from my iPhone.  It was actually in response to a text about trying out for a certain musical and now my friend may think I have lost my mind.  Or that I am driving through my small town laying on my horn.  Or that I am tapping lightly on my horn like when I don’t want to be rude to the person in front of me, but the light has changed to green. Or that I am considering changing to Aflac.  Honk.

Today, my lovely auto-correct fixed my message to my husband (aka The Captain) who is currently at the theater while I am honking all over Northeast Ohio.  My text to him was originally supposed to be this: “I will take care of dinner.  I love you.”  But turned out like this: “I will take car to diner.  I live you.”  Usually, I am pretty good at proofreading texts before sending, but this was the one that got away.  His reply was a simple “?”.  I feel like a simple “?” also.

On another note, The Captain is very new to texting.  He does not like to use any emoticans or any texting shortcuts like brb, lol or ttyl.  In fact, I did text him a very un-classy “fml” once when I crashed my mommy hauler mini-van into another car, and he did not respond.  Later, he told me that he had to ask around what it meant and one very kind friend of ours told him (politely) that it was “f*%$ my life.”  He then texted me and asked my why I would text him something so awful.  I told him because I was angry about the van.  He texted back, “You have a good life.  Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”  I texted back a sad face – :(.  I didn’t get a reply.

A few weeks ago, mind you he has had a new iPhone since September, I texted him a little funny story about the sticker that I wore on my shirt for the entire day (one that has the size of the shirt on it, and no one was kind enough to tell me about it until the end of the day).  Yeah, how cool is that?!  After it, I put the usual “Lol.”  He texted me back stating he didn’t understand why I put lol on the text.  He said I was not using it in the right context.  I texted back “???” and he called me.

Laugh out loud or lots of love?

Captain: Allison, why are you texting LOL after a funny story?

Me:  Hmm, because it was a funny story.

Captain:  That is just plain weird.  These texting shortcuts have to stop.

Me: It was a good thing to text after my shirt fiasco.  I thought you would think it is was funny.  What is the issue?

Captain:  The issue is that LOL means Lots of Love, so I don’t recall what that has to do with a size sticker on the front of your shirt.

Me:  What?

Captain:  It means lots of love, right?

Me:  It means Laugh out Loud.  Seriously?  You thought it meant lots of love? Awww, that is really sweet, but, seriously, it means laugh out loud.

Captain:  Ugh.  Texting is so annoying.  But, now that you mention it, that does makes sense.  I wondered why my friends kept putting it on their texts.  I thought it was strange.

Me:  (ROTFL) OK. (Giggling) I will be home soon.

The latest series of texting snaffoos goes like this:

Captain:  What do you want for dinner?

Me:  idk

Captain:  What do you mean you don’t care?  By the way, care starts with a “c” not a “k.”

Me:  IDK means I don’t know.

Captain:  Oh.  OK.

I think from now on I am just going to let him think what he wants to think about the texting shortcuts.  Maybe I will even tell him that in certain contexts fml means “for my love.”  Or, maybe not.  Idk.  But at least, every time I think (or honk) about it, I am ROTFL.

A book I got my husband for Christmas. It is hilarious!

Ring my bell

Made you look!  Nothing too crazy in this post, I can guarantee.  I just can’t get the 1979 disco song out of my head.  It makes me want to sing it REALLY loudly and annoy all of those around me.  So, just three short hours ago, I busted into this song as we all were working Squishy’s homework.  Ring my bell, my bell, ring my bell.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that bells rule my life.  As a student, it was the bell that beckons one from class to class.  As a teacher, it begins again, although chatting with friends in between bells (or classes) is rarer and more precious.

I feel ruled by the bell, not saved by the bell.  A bell/alarm wakes me up, a bell signals me that I should be at school – which is ironic because students are not even in the building at that shiny morning time of 7 a.m.  A bell lets me know that is is OK to make copies, try to go potty and even just sit down at my desk.  The bell rules my life.  This year, there is not a bell after lunch.  In fact, there is only a late bell.  It kills me.  Why?  Because I am so conditioned by the bell to be in my classroom on time.  Ring me Pavlov, please.

This afternoon, before breaking into song and really making my husband crazy, I figured out that my iPhone has a bell-like signal when I receive a text (duh) AND, here is the important thing, when I SEND one.  The receiving texts signal is a no brainer, but the sending one, now that is new.  Sad thing is that I have had this phone for over six weeks and just now heard it.  Maybe the bell is not loud enough. Who knows.  Maybe I just need a mind-piercing school bell.  Ha.

When I was in the corporate world, many moons ago, I remember reading an article in the paper (the real one, not the online one – lol!) that business people were so distracted by bells and whistles such as alerts, email notifications, and the like that they were off task after they heard the sounds.  The article stated to try and NOT be ruled by the sounds of modern technology. This was 1996.  I wonder what the article would have said if it knew of the future that held thousands of bell tones, text notifications alerts and email zip sounds and the fact that I just noticed I had a sending text sound on my super dee duper iPhone.

Maybe I need a bell at night to signal me that it is time to go to bed or stop writing this silly post.  Ring my bell.