Irrational Fears (and other things that just freak me out)

25 10 2011

Besides my more typical fears of drowning, being in a serious car accident, something horrible happening to my children, my house burning down, etc., I have a few really unusual, weird, and downright inane fears.  You will either relate, or you will chuckle to yourself at my irrationality.

clown from "Poltergeist"

clown from "Poltergeist"

  1. The clown under the bed.  If you’ve seen the first Poltergeist movie, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  I first saw this movie almost 30 years ago, but I still sometimes wonder if that freaky little clown is hiding under my bed waiting to attack me.
  2. Fish biting me while I’m swimming in a lake, river, ocean or any body of water.
  3. Sharks attacking me while wading in the ocean.  I freak out if I go out so far that the water is above my knees.
  4. Snorkeling.  I hyperventilate when attempting to breathe under water even while using a snorkeling tube.
  5. Scuba diving.  See numbers 2-4.
  6. Swimming with my head under the water, even in a pool void of fish and sharks.  (At this point, you may wonder how on earth I ever completed a triathlon that requires swimming.  Very, very slowly and inefficiently as I do not swim with my head under the water.  I prefer the side stroke and back stroke—strokes that do not require head submersion.)
  7. The squirrels at Long Hunter State Park, especially when I’m running there.  (Don’t ask.)
  8. Giving guests food poisoning with anything I cook or bake.  (This has never happened, but I always wonder if this next banana bread/casserole/soup/ will be the one.)
  9. A burglar hiding in my closet or shower.
  10. Centipedes.  I can handle spiders, cockroaches, and other such bugs.  Centipedes are another story.

Share with me what’s on your list.


Bucket List

13 01 2011

My bucket list is in no particular order, and it changes often.  Many items have to do with travel, a passion of mine, and some are slightly off-the-wall.

1.  Launch a grenade.
2.  Dance a Viennese waltz in Vienna  on New Year’s Eve at the largest Viennese Ball in the world.
3.  See Taming of the Shrew at the Globe Theater in London.
4.  Visit Venice during Carnival.
5.  Ride on the back of a motorcycle at a sport bike track day.
6.  Sky dive someplace amazing like in New Zealand.
7.  Hike the entire Appalachian Trail.
8.  Ride the Orient Express in first class.
9.  Fly first-class on an international flight.
10.  Learn to play the piano without effort.
11.  Learn to dance as if I were in the finals of Dancing with the Stars.  (Derrick Hough
would be my partner.)
12.  Run a Victorian bed and breakfast on a lake.
13.  Teach at a missionary school in Indonesia.
14.  Run an 8-minute mile for a 5K.
15.  Retire to Costa Rica.
16.  Learn to cut an onion efficiently, like they do in infomercials for Ginsu knives.
17.  Bungee jump someplace amazing like in New Zealand.
18.  See a lion capture a zebra on a safari somewhere in Africa.
19.  Visit every “Wonder of the World” old and new.
20.  Learn to speak, read and write fluent German, Chinese, Polish, Swahili, Spanish, and French.
21.  Give 50% of my income to charitable organizations.
22.  Grow my hair back to the length it was on my wedding day.
23.  Earn my MBA.
24.  Earn my Ph.D.
25.  Fly in outer space.

Pet Peeves

22 12 2010

I’ve been running low on ideas for blog posts these past couple weeks.  Today as I was visiting the loo at the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, the darn thing flushed of its own accord before I was ready.  Well that gave me a not-quite-so-pleasant surprise.  Thus, my list of pet peeves was born.  In no particular order, here they are.

  1. automatic toilet
    automatic toilet

    Automatic toilets that flush before you’re finished with your business.  You lean forward to get the toilet paper, and BAM!  Your bottom gets a cold short bath you didn’t ask for.  Thanks motion sensors.

  2. Snow.  My husband and I had this exchange today heading into Indianapolis, which was covered with several inches of dirty snow.  Matthew, “I love being where snow is.”  Kelly, “I love being where snow is not.”
  3. People who don’t express thanks when given a gift.  Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I think this is one common courtesy that has sadly fallen by the wayside.  I’d rather provide a gift or meal to a family of strangers who are thankful than to a friend or family member who can’t even acknowledge a gift was given.
  4. This one was originally going to be labeled “Idiot Drivers,” but that is a category I’m sure I fall into more than I’d like to admit.  Instead, I’ll call this one:  People who don’t use turn signals.  Such a simple act of courtesy so easily overlooked.
  5. People who flip me off because I drive the speed limit or come to a complete stop at stop signs.
  6. People who talk on the phone or text while driving.  I realize I am probably in the 1% of society that does not do either of these actions.  Are you really that important that the conversation can’t wait until you can conduct it at a safer time and place?  And texting?  Research has shown that people who text while driving operate their vehicles as if they were legally drunk.
  7. People who text while I’m in the middle of a conversation with them.  Is the person on the other end of the text that much more important than our face-to-face conversation?  If so, please be honest and tell me and then excuse yourself to answer the text.  Your attention is divided if you try to attend to both of us at the same time.  Maybe I’m the only who feels this way, but I feel cheated and demeaned when I am ignored in favor of your reading a text in the middle of our conversation.  Can the person on the other end of the text really not wait a few minutes until we’re done?
  8. Shopping carts with one wobbly wheel, which I inevitably choose just about every time.
  9. Glitter. 
  10. Play-doh.  The smell.  The texture.  Everything about this stuff turns my stomach.

Counting My Blessings

20 10 2010

As I held my 2-year-old son Jason last night, rocking him and singing to him before putting him to bed, I was counting my blessings.  My son is here.  With me.  Alive.  Unhurt.  Healthy.  Growing.  Learning.  Making silly sounds and informing me he was dog while I was trying to sing “Jesus Loves Me.”  He makes my heart sing, and I am so very blessed to have him in my life.  I often consider this as I’m praying for him and putting him to bed each night.  Last night was different.  I held Jason closer.  And longer.  And tighter.

Caleb Brown

Caleb Brown

This past weekend, a friend’s sister and family were camping at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee.  They have three small children.  They were hiking on Saturday and were at the bottom of a trail when a 25-pound boulder the size of a basketball broke loose and struck 2-year-old Caleb Brown, in the head.  He immediately crumpled in his mother’s arms—who was holding him at the time of the accident—and they thought he was dead then.  An EMT who was nearby on the trail took his pulse and announced Caleb was still alive.

Tim Brown, Caleb’s father, made it halfway up the trail before running out of steam.  Another hiker, who also happened to be an EMT, grabbed Caleb and continued up the trail.  He handed Caleb off to a firefighter who got him to the top.

Tim said, “God completely orchestrated that.  By the time we got to the top of the hill, there was a pediatric nurse, a doctor, at least a couple of other nurses, a police officer and a firefighter.  Everybody was surrounding him.  They knew exactly what to.  They were just hiking that day.”

Caleb was life-flighted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.  He’s been in a coma since the accident.  He’s battling swelling in his brain which necessitated doctors drilling a hole in his skull to relieve the pressure.  He’s on many medications that are now causing other unpleasant side-effects to his liver, kidneys and heart.  Caleb has also suffered brain damage, but his doctors are unsure of the extent at this point.

Over the past four days, I have cried out to God on this child’s behalf as well as for his parents and all those on his medical team.  As our home church group prayed fervently for this little soul Sunday night, many questions were raised and ideas explored.

  • While we pray for a miracle (our God is a God of miracles after all), we also need to pray for God’s will to be done.  Maybe God’s will is for healing, maybe it’s death, maybe it’s something in between.  We simply don’t know at this point.
  • I was reminded of this scripture from Job 1:20, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.  May the name of the Lord be praised.”  No matter what, whether in joy or in grief, we are to praise the name of the Lord.  Why is this easier said than done? 
  • Our leader shared a message he had heard years earlier from a friend.  When we get to heaven, might there be friends or family members telling us they wished we’d let them go sooner/quicker/earlier than we did?  While modern medicine has made life sustainable for even the most extreme and traumatic medical cases, is it really “living” if the work of the heart or lungs or brain is being done by a machine? 
  • Another member shared this thought.  No matter what the medical condition is—cancer, coma, multiple sclerosis—we will be healed one day.  Healing may take place while we are still on Earth.  Healing may also take place once we are in heaven.  Whenever and wherever it happens, our bodies will be healed.

So as I held Jason last night, I also prayed for healing for Caleb Brown.  I prayed for his parents, too.  I tried to imagine myself in their shoes.  What would it be like if instead of holding my son and putting him to bed, I was holding him while he was in a coma, unsure if he would live to see the next dawn.   I prayed that God would give them strength, wisdom and guidance as they deal with decisions they will face in their future—probable surgeries, long-term care, or possibly letting Caleb go.  I prayed that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” from Philippians 4:7.

Please keep this little boy, Caleb Brown, and his parents, Tiffany and Tim Brown, in your prayers.   You can also find more information below and get updates by joining his Facebook group.

Facebook Group:  Caleb Brown (current)

Tennessean story:  Minister, Father of 2-Year-Old Hit By Boulder Asks for Prayers (10-20-10) story:  Brown Family Has Thousands of New Friends Pulling For Caleb’s Recovery From Head Injury (10-20-10)

WSMV news story and video report:  Toddler Hurt By Falling Boulder at Fall Creek Falls (10-19-10)

English Gone Bad

16 09 2010

Last week I showcased “Chinglish” signs.  To be fair and impartial, I will now showcase the best American signage has to offer. 

Special thanks to for their “Teabonics” coverage. 

English Gone Bad

Note to Fox: Please inform your viewers, not infrom them no matter how much they thank you.

English Gone Bad

I wonder what language "lanoguage" is? I'm pretty sure it's not English.

English Gone Bad

And you're clueless.

English Gone Bad

How in the heck do you impeah someone?

English Gone Bad

But "you're" not smarter than a 5th grader.


English Gone Bad

Lier, lier, pants on fier


English Gone Bad

Only alliens spell aliens that way


English Gone Bad

Double-whammy! Bad punctuation and spelling.


English Gone Bad

Do they want us to keep boarders from crossing our borders?


English Gone Bad

You also didn't get the apostrophe in the correct place.


English Gone Bad

Poor Hugh. How do you think he felt when he found out he was a mistake?


English Gone Bad

Were you asleep when you made the sign? That would explain why you misspelled Constitution.


English Gone Bad

I don't know what an "offical" language is, but I do know what an "official" language is.


English Gone Bad

Maybe someone needs to wrok a little harder on spelling.


English Gone Bad

Respect our country by learning the difference between "are" and "our."


English Gone Bad

Teachers Against People Who Can't Use An Apostrophe Correctly!

English Gone Bad

If people took some time to just sound out what they write, they'd discover some of these mistakes before being viewed by thousands of more intelligent people around the world.

English Gone Bad

Repeal, maybe. Repeel, is that even possible? Once it's peeled, can it be peeled again?

English Gone Bad

Say no to ugly t-shirts with incorrect spelling!

English Gone Bad

Too irresisable not to post.

Spell check!  Enuf sed.

Interview with a Stranger

3 09 2010

I gave my Digital Media class this blog assignment this week:  If you could interview any living person, who would it be and why?  Include a list of 10-15 questions you would ask and include a picture.  I thought I’d participate in this one, but it’s proven much more difficult than I expected.

My short list included some of the standard people:  President Obama and the Pope as well as some Hollywood people—Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog) and Nathan Fillion (favorite actor of Whedon’s who starred in Firefly and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and who is currently known as Rick Castle of ABC’s Castle).

So while I was trying to think of someone, I tuned into The Office, which happens to be the funniest show on TV ever!  I wondered how fun it would be to interview Jim or Pam or Dwight or Michael, only to remember that they are fictional creations (even though I didn’t really specify in the directions to my class that the living person had to be real.)  Other than the story line, I realized I didn’t know much about the history of The Office, so as any good teacher would do, I looked it up on Wikipedia. 

Greg Daniels

Greg Daniels

Wikipedia taught me much.  I learned that the executive director, Greg Daniels, is also a veteran writer of two of my other favorite TV shows:  King of the Hill and The Simpsons.  My whole family is addicted to those two shows.  My two-year-old can hum the theme song to King of the Hill, and “d’oh!” was one of his first comprehensible words.  So on Wikipedia, I found my man—Greg Daniels.

After the first question asking to verify the spelling of his name (as any good student journalist knows) I would ask:

  1. What were you like as a child?
  2. How did you get your start in comedic writing?
  3. If you could write an episode for any show currently on TV (that you haven’t already written for), which would it be?  Why?
  4. Describe the plot of said show.
  5. How did you and your wife meet?
  6. Are you the “comic relief” in your family?  Explain.
  7. How did you and Mike Judge come up with the idea for King of the Hill?
  8. What is your favorite episode of any show that you have written for?  Why?
  9. In a bar fight between Dwight Schrute and Jim Halpert, who would win?  Explain.
  10. What is going to happen to The Office once Steve Carell, who plays office manager Michael Scott, leaves at the end of season seven?

Who would you interview if you had the chance?

High School Memories (Has it really been 20 years?)

14 08 2010
William Horlick High School, Racine WI

William Horlick High School, Racine WI

This post is dedicated to my 20-year high school reunion that is occurring right now, 550 miles away.  I truly wish I could have gone, but fate would not allow the trip.  I’m thankful I’ve been able to reconnect with a few high school classmates via Facebook, but I’d sure like to see them in person.  Actually, I’d like for them to see me.  I am a very different person now than I was 20 years ago.  But this post is not about how I’ve changed over the decades.  It is a random collection of memories from my time at William Horlick High School in Racine, Wisconsin. 

Freshman English with Mr. Kelly.  His weekly quizzes were always five questions with one bonus question.  The bonus question would be something like:  What color socks was John wearing in the second paragraph on page 37?  Somehow, I almost always got his bonus questions right.  I’m not sure what that says about me, but I really enjoyed his class.  And his mustache.

One of the most feared classes in high schools across America:  Physical Education.  I really had nothing to fear.  I wasn’t overweight.  I was a competitive gymnast.  I was fairly coordinated.  But still, it was PE.  All freshmen were required to take one unit of swimming.  I never signed up for it, and up until my senior year, I was always waiting for someone to tell me I had to take PE over because I hadn’t met the swimming requirement.  Thankfully, that never happened.

Riflery was probably my favorite PE unit.  The shooting range was in the basement of the main building, with a low ceiling and exposed pipes.  We could only shoot in the prone position.  I did pretty well.  That I can recall, that class was the last time I ever shot a gun.

Fencing and ping pong with Ms. Rush.  She had an eternal tan as well as the wrinkles to show that she spent way too much time in the tanning salon.  She was the only PE teacher who actually made us learn something about the sport we were practicing.  She gave us quizzes and a final exam on the history of the sport, scoring, the rules, etc.  Of course, I remember none of it now.

Duct taped "golf" ball

Duct taped "golf" ball (Mine was closer to the size of a grapefruit.)

Golf.  We weren’t allowed to use real golf balls since our “course” was the front and side lawn of the school property.  The coaches didn’t want any broken windows, so we had to make our own “balls.”  We each got a sheet or two of newspaper to crumple up as tightly and compactly as possible, ideally down to the size of a golf ball.  Then we duct taped it.  Needless to say, my “golf ball” was the size of a grapefruit and traveled a maximum of two feet regardless of how hard I hit it.

Spanish with Señora Christianson, four years in a row.  She began every class with “Pon tú chicle in la basura.”  I went on to minor in Spanish in college, but this is the one phrase that has stuck with me over the decades. 

Lunch, especially on Wednesdays—pizza day!  Ahhh, those soggy crust pizza rectangles with the large scoop of gooey rice pilaf on the side.  I would love to eat this just one more time to see what my adult taste buds would think.  Twenty years ago, this was my favorite meal each week.  Every other day of the week, I would have a plain hamburger with French fries.

Study hall first period senior year.  I remember getting permission to come to school late since I had study hall first period, and I was on the honor roll.  I never took advantage of that though, despite the 7:15 a.m. start time.  Study hall was held in the cafeteria, and the girl who sat across from me had just had a baby.  I remember being amazed that she was trying to finish high school.  I also remember being secretly thankful I was not her.

Sophomore year chemistry.  I loved balancing chemical equations, but I hated the labs.  The only lab I remember is the one that went horribly wrong.  Let’s just say it ended with the rubber stop on our beaker blowing off and shooting across the room and out the window.  Thankfully, our teacher had stepped out of the room, and thankfully the window was open.  Fate was on my side that day.  My lab partner and I did learn that a gas was created when we mixed the two chemicals together in the beaker.

Chemical Equation
I actually enjoyed balancing equations, but I wouldn’t consider myself a science geek by any means. I also loved diagraming sentences in elementary school. I would use different colors for the different parts of speech. I’m much more of a grammar geek than a science geek.

  My favorite class ever in high school as well as college:  Choir.  My memories of choir could be an entire post itself, so here’s the abbreviated version.
Horlick Madrigal Dinner, 1990

I am in the blue/white jester costume sitting on the far right of the front step.

Madrigals.  Eating right off the roast suckling pig in the kitchen.  Crying every night during “Verbum Caro.”  Wondering how many keys the priest would wander in and out of during his song.  So many more . . .

Czechoslovakia.  My first trip over the Atlantic.  My camera breaking right after we got off the plane.  Our host family presenting an interesting egg-rice dish for dinner, and Heidi and I later chowing down on chocolate bars in bed because we were so hungry.  Being hit on by some drunk guys in the subway, and our host student speaking to them in Russian to confuse them.  Our farewell party where just about everyone, including the chaperones, got drunk.  (I did not imbibe.)  So many more. . .

There were many “firsts” during those four years at Horlick. 

  • My first boyfriend (and kiss.)
  • The first person I knew to commit suicide.
  • The first time I “skipped” a class (though unintentionally.)
  • My first (and last) progress report from a teacher (sophomore history).  Progress reports were only sent home if a student wasn’t doing well.  For me, that was getting a C.  I forged my mom’s signature and brought my grade up in part by staying awake during the oppressively dull films the teacher showed–the kind where the cassette tape beeped, and you had to click the remote to move to the next frame.
  • My first time competing in any kind of sport—gymnastics.
  • My first car, an AMC Eagle Station wagon.  I managed to get three flat tires at the same time, and I ruined the rim of one tire trying to make it to my friend’s house.  My dad was not happy with me.

    AMC Eagle Station Wagon

    Not my original car, but a close doppleganger. I drove it to school every chance I got, though we only lived three blocks away. In the time it took me to drive to school, find a place to park, and then get to class, I could have walked from home in less time. But it was still cool to be able to drive myself to school.

Overall, I had a blast in high school, especially my senior year.  I don’t remember a lot the facts and academic knowledge I was taught.  The things I remember are far more important, especially the power of encouragement and influence. 

As a teacher myself, I realize full well the influence I have over my students, positively and negatively.  I think back to those teachers whom I couldn’t stand:  my junior physics teacher who talked to the chalkboard or my junior English teacher whom no one liked, and I do not want to be remembered in that light.  I want to be remembered the way I remember Mr. Pavao; the one teacher who took some time to encourage me to stick with something I loved and that has blessed me many times over in the past two decades.