Friday, August 30, 2013

Setting Goals for the New School Year

            Well, it’s that time of year again.  School is starting up, despite everyone I know wishing they’d wait until after Labor Day.  Apparently parents and kids have no vote in such matters that impact their lives and schedules. 
            And so we dutifully buy backpacks, notebooks, binders, pens, and send our kids off in the wee morning hours (another no-vote) to attend a school whose schedule we did not endorse and whose curriculum we question.
            Incidentally, anytime you have a question you can’t answer, or you’re confused about why something is happening, the answer is always the same: Money.   

              But I digress.
            Oh, well.  At least we can be good parents and urge our children to set goals for the new academic year.  Goals are good, right?

 Let me share with you some of my kids’ goals over the years, unshared with me at the time, but held dearly in their hearts.
            The first goal is one I actually heard about on the last day of school one year, when a son of mine came home and announced he had reached the ONE GOAL he had set for the year. 
            I was thrilled. “What was it?” I asked.
            “To wear shorts every single day.”  I kid you not.  Shorts.  Even through the winter.  This took bravery and cunning, to be sure.  And many an insistence to a worried mother that “I’m not cold.”  And, sure enough, he didn’t get sick.  Oh, if only this were Daredevil School—my kid could have been Valedictorian.  Or at least get an A-plus in Shorts-Wearing 101.  Our family is nothing, if not focused upon the things that matter most.
             The next goal I learned about at the Awards Ceremony held just before the end of the year.  I was notified that another son would be receiving a certificate of merit, and I wouldn’t want to miss it.  Oh, boy, what to wear?  Shorts?  Nope—something dressy, something appropriate for the mother of the Governor’s Award Winner or the Honor Society Scholarship Recipient, or the Your Kid Is Amazing Commendation.  I waited and waited as illustrious awards were handed out for stupendous achievements in science, mathematics, drama, music.  Oh boy, they were saving the best for last!  My kid was going to win the Nobel Prize in Everything.  Finally his name was announced and he marched up on stage to receive his award for perfect attendance.  Yes, that’s right, never missed a day the whole year.  It was a moment of parental pride, I can tell you.

            And the last goal was one I learned of two years later, at a party where a son and one of his high school buddies were regaling us with tales of their senior year. Suddenly the buddy produced a photo of my son holding up a school handbook and pointing at it.  Hmm. 
            “I can’t believe he got the handbook re-written,” the friend said, clearly impressed.  “He said he was going to get more tardies than anyone in the history of the school, and he did it!”
             Well, words fail me and you both, don’t they?  Turns out my kid, who graduated early and went on to a local junior college, kept coming back to Auto Shop so he could work on his Mustang, and by strolling in late every day, finally accrued enough tardies to cause the administration to forbid any early graduate from waltzing back into Auto Shop as if he owned the place.  Of course, they worded it differently, but that was the gist. 
            “That’s so cool that you made history,” the buddy laughed, clearly missing the difference between famous and infamous.
Let’s take another look at these goals—shorts, attendance, and tardies.  Am I the only one who realizes they spell SAT?  Yep, believe me, I am the only one.
Here's a goal for you: Watch one of my Your YouTube Mom videos every week, and buy one of my books.  You'll have 16 or so by Christmas, and your shopping will be done! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Steal These Passwords!

            I am about to do you another favor.  Remember the last time?  I gave you the amazing, can’t-miss idea of shooting seeds from a gun.  See that one here:

and before that, the million-dollar idea of putting Beano in dog food, which you can see here:

            Today I’m going to save you from identity theft.  What you need is a password that will foil the hackers once and for all.  My ingenious idea is to use words that almost nobody spells correctly.  Your hacker is a techno/math person, probably not a spelling bee champion, thus he will never be able to figure out whether Mediterranean has two Ts, two Rs, or both.  If you use two or three of these words strung together, you should be safe into the next century.
            Herewith my list of words most people struggle to spell. You will love it.  See if you can make a short phrase with them, add a few numbers and dollar signs, and you’re home free:
Memento  (How about Gandhi misspelled diarrhea, but left a memento?)

Caribbean (How about the liaison’s judgment was indispensable in the Caribbean?)

Consensus (How about the consensus was that the chauffeur assassinated the restaurateur?  Although that would have to be a pretty famous restaurateur.)

Acknowledge (I acknowledge that graffiti in a cemetery can be rather embarrassing.)

Here are some more that you can play with:  deductible, accommodate, harass, occurrence, committee, Fahrenheit, prerogative, mozzarella, irresistible, apparently, publicly, Medieval, existence, calendar, privilege, acknowledgment, noticeable, camaraderie, permissible, inadvertent, achieve, foreseeable, mischievous, independent, separate, commitment, and acceptable.
            Then again, just in case your hacker can spell, you can take these words and mangle them into spelling oblivion, and use variations he will never think of, like Fairunheight, Mid-evil, comroddery, or calennndar with three Ns.  And if you speak another language, oh my, you can make it kaksi kertaa niin vaikeaa.  That’s Finnish for twice as difficult.  No, I don’t really speak Finnish, but I’ll betcha the hackers don’t, either.
            Thankfully, humor works in any language, and you can enjoy these amazing observations on a regular basis, just by subscribing!  Type your email address into the little box on the right.  I promise not to steal your identity.  Then watch my 60-second videos on youtube, in the box above that.  Heck, I can keep you busy all day!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Poetic-- or Pathetic-- License?

            Nobody likes their driver’s license photo; I get that.  But still we are asked to show these IDs at banks, stores, and airports, and we do it without much angst because we’re all in the same boat.

            Until now.  I have jumped overboard, my friends.  Over into the sea of INSANELY HIDEOUS PHOTOGRAPHY.   For the first time ever, I am considering paying the extra fee for a new picture, or getting a separate ID entirely.  I guarantee you cannot beat this story.

            Normally the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) mails me my new license every year three years, for being an exemplary driver.  What do they know?  But they do it.  Years go by.  Finally I have exceeded not the speed limit, but the time limit, and they write to say I must re-take the vision test.
            No biggie.  My hair is up in a messy bun after a morning of housework, and I’m not  wearing any makeup except for some lip gloss.  I’ve thrown on an old T-shirt and some jeans, but since it’s only a vision test and thumb print, I’m not worried. I grab my daughter, Nicole, and we zip over to the local DMV.
Wisely, I have made an appointment.  This saves the local news from having to cover a mass homicide.  CRAZED MOTHER OF FOUR TAKES OUT 42 CITIZENS AT LOCAL DMV.  I am not good at waiting two hours in government offices.

Sure enough, I’m called right up to Window 15 for my vision test. I pass with flying colors.  And then, in a horrible twist of fate, the gruff woman behind the counter tells me I have to get a new picture!
“No, no,” I explain.  “The letter just said vision and fingerprinting.”
“It also said a photograph,” she argues, and even though she has not read the same letter I have received, I do recall a bit of fine print at the bottom that I skimmed, so I decide not to wage a war over this.  
I take my hair out of the bun and shake it loose.  It looks worse. I also have an immediate hot flash that leaves my skin as shiny as if I had smeared it with Vaseline.  (Why can’t there be cold flashes?)  Nicole frowns; she is better than any mirror.  The woman snaps my picture and I step away for the next impatient person to have their turn at a mug shot.  Nicole says, “You have a piece of chocolate on your lips.”
What?  I reach up to pull it off and it isn’t chocolate at all, but a BIG BLACK GNAT that has flown into my lip gloss, choked on it and died. 

 Now I realize that my new photo is  going to look like a drenched, squinty mole who has just gorged on a wad of greasy cheese, with hair looking like I’ve got my toes in a light socket and am being electrocuted, and with a BUG stuck to my lips! 

 “I am shredding that thing the second it arrives,” I say to St. Bob after I get home.  “I’ll have to call and reschedule another picture or something.” And here’s where he tells me it’ll cost big bucks and they’ll still probably use the same photo.
            Sure enough, the license arrives in the mail and looks even worse than I had imagined.  Picture the same electrocuted mole wearing the fright wig, shiny face filling the frame, and a big black smudge on its lips, like a mug shot of a drunk who chews tobacco and can’t keep from drooling.
            Naturally my family is no help.  They call me “Bugsy,” they suggest other creatures that could get mired in my lipstick, they compliment my “gnatty” attire.  Finally they email me the poster of Jodie Foster with a butterfly on her lips from the movie, The Silence of the Lambs, and wonder why I didn’t choose that insect instead.  

And no, I am not going to post my photo here, you’ll just have to imagine it.  And be grateful, at last, that your photo is infinitely better.
This true story worked its way into my book, “Funeral Potatoes, The Novel,” which you can buy here:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Counter Intelligence

            You may remember that a couple of weeks ago St. Bob bought a misspelled car.  I wrote about it here:  https:/ And when he called each of our kids to ask them why Mom was refusing to ride in it, every one of them guessed it was because of the misspelling.  They were right.

            So Bob, in another move that proves he has earned Saint status, decided to peel off the offending “Cruze” sign with a hair dryer and dental floss (no small task, because then you have to dissolve the glue residue and buff it smooth), and replace it with a new name.
            He toyed with ideas and finally decided Bugatti would be the most hilarious, since Bugatti makes the most expensive cars in the world, at two and half million dollars a pop.  They also go from zero to 60 in 2.4 seconds.

            He found a company that sells stick-on car lettering and ordered B-U-G-A-T-T-I.  Simple enough, right?  But what came in the mail was B-U-G-A-H-I.  Well, it’s easy to see what happened.  Somebody wrote the two Ts close together and somebody else read it as an H.  You would think people in the car industry would realize that Bugahi is not the name of an actual car, but no.  This is what I call Counter Intelligence.

            So we shuffled around the letters, to see if there was a way to use this odd assortment.  Ubi Hag was one idea.  Sort of sounds like Uber Hag, a superlative bag lady of sorts.

Another idea was Hui Bag. My mother used to describe nonsense as “a lot of hooey” and this could be a whole bagful. Gai Hub was an idea, if this car had been a gathering spot for gay people. But, again, misspelled.

Ahi Bug is a thought, if you like Hawaiian Ahi Tuna and can picture this car as a bug on its skin.

And then Bug Ai could be another misspelled label for Bug Eye.  We could actually go on all day with this. 

Finally Bob decided to call and tell them to send two Ts so we could do it right.  But as long as he was on the phone with them, he figured he’d add another word, just to acknowledge the discrepancy in our car and his dream car.  Here’s the final result:

I’m just glad he didn’t rearrange the new ones to say Gabby Butt.
Now you can be a saint, too!  Subscribe to my new youtube video channel and learn life skills in under 60 seconds— I’m Your YouTube Mom.  Just click on the photo at the top right to check them out, and tell your friends!