Friday, December 10, 2010

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Mom, today I learned that a certain daughter messing up my printer isn't a complete disaster...as long as I can bring my laptop to church...and someone scrolls for me.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cheer up, Isis. It was only a cold.

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 Mom, today I learned that cats who see their playmates hauled to the vet in one of these lose their desire to cuddle with their humans really quickly.

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Lucky for us, they get it back once they've had a chance to cuddle with their buddies again.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Mom, today I learned that visualizing this scene was all I needed to do to remain calm during my MRI.  Apparently, triumphing over acrophobia helps you beat the snot out of claustrophobia.  Also of note:  I have a ridiculously long liver.  I don't know what that means, but from the looks on the faces of the MRI techs, I think I could make a good living with the circus. Then I could work on my coulrophobia...

(Author's note: My mom HATES this picture, and I find a way to make her look at it at least once a year.  I'm a good daughter, no?  See her reaction in the comments!)

Stupid Product: The Teva Stiletto

It has always been my contention that fashion designers are really just people who sit at home and think, "What will I make for the lemmings today? Who cares? I could slap my name on a used gum wrapper and people would pay $500 to wear it."  Today's stupid product, the  Teva Stiletto, illustrates this quite well, I think.

A collaboration between the Grey Ant company, run by a New York fashion designer I've never heard of, and Teva, the hiking shoe/sandal company everyone's heard of, the Teva Stiletto is like some kind of awful genetic experiment gone wrong.  It's a "hiking" stiletto that is as useless as it is ugly, and it can be yours for only $330!

The site hocking these worthless shoes advertises their worthlessness in bold letters just above the ridiculous price, telling potential buyers that these are not recommended for hiking or mountain climbing.  I agree.  Other hikers would laugh a girl off the mountain if she dared arrive at the trailhead in these shoes.  The fact that she'd break her ankle on the first incline or fall to an untimely death halfway up is secondary.

In my research for this Stupid Product, I watched an entire YouTube video (which I will not inflict on you) of a woman talking about this shoe.  According to her, people are up in arms because the Grey Ant company slummed in collaborating with Teva.  Am I the only one who thinks the outrage should be headed in the other direction?

Teva is the face of hiking.  Teva is the shoe brand all the other hiking shoe brands have locker pictures of and wish they could eat lunch with.  Teva doesn't just rule the school. Teva is too cool for school.  In other words, Teva is BETTER THAN THIS!  Just watch.




Teva, you make me sad.

There are only two sets of people in this world I can imagine will fork over hundreds of dollars for these stupid shoes: wannabes who think they're models and actual models who can't seem to make it across a runway without falling down.  On that note, I leave you with the following:



This is what fashion does to you, people.  Don't be a lemming.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I found today's You've Gotta See This video in my work for Mahalo.com this week. I was a reviewing a writer's page on one of Lady Gaga's songs and the site suggested I might also be interested in a page on the singer before she was famous. Even though my interest in the page I was on was strictly Quality Control related, I found myself clicking over to see what was there.

What I found were a number of videos depicting a beautiful and amazingly talented singer without an ounce of raw meat or purple latex anywhere on her body. Stefani seems downright human compared to her current Gaga persona, and her music, far from the autotuned, techno-pop craziness she feeds to the masses today, is actually, you know, musical.

This video features the artist formerly known as normal at an NYU talent show singing two original songs, "Captivated" and "Electric Kiss." I am so captivated (really, there's no other word) by the first that I may spend the next few weeks learning the piano part by ear so I can sing it to my husband whenever I feel extra sappy (read: every day). The second song, and its message about what fame does to a person, is simply a case of the artist becoming her art. Irony at its finest, Stefani, or was it just a vision of your future?

Enjoy a glimpse into the past of someone who has since been assimilated into the pop culture machine. I would have liked to have known her when.

We don't need no stinking McRibs!

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Mom, today I learned that people don't need to drive to a fast food restaurant to eat disgusting food. They can make it in the comfort of their own homes! (There won't be any comfort left once they eat it, but what can you do?)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Stouffer's: The Choice of Only Children

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Mom, today I learned that if I want to feed my family with this...


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I'd have to pick a favorite. 


(That's 3 servings per "Family Size" box, in case you can't read it.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chemically yours, Pepsi

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Mom, today I learned that the act of adding actual sugar to a soft drink has become an event.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Time Magazine it is!

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Mom, today I learned that when I see a choice like this in a doctor's office examining room, I think the doctor is testing me and choose the more mature magazine, even if I am interested in the fact that Christina Aguilera can talk.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

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Mom, today I learned that if you have to note that your chocolates are made of chocolate, I don't want to know what other kinds of chocolate you sell.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It was with sadness that I learned of Leslie Nielsen's death this week, and I immediately knew I wanted to make him the subject of today's "You've Gotta See This" post. This video comes from Nielsen's move, "The Naked Gun." Richard and I are in the habit of singing his character's version of the National Anthem from time to time, just for laughs. (We do this at home, not on occasions when reverence for the song is necessary. Don't send angry emails!)

Leslie Nielsen will be sorely missed. Surely, you'd agree. (I know you would, and I'll stop calling you Shirley.)

We should have Thanksgiving every week.

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Mom, today I learned that all it takes to get me to organize my fridge is a 22 pound turkey and the threat of dinner guests. I'm basking in this glow for at least one more week before things go back to normal.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ridiculous. Ludicrous. Absolutely unnecessary.

As a blogger who specializes in lampooning Stupid Products, I've seen my share of things the world doesn't need. Nobody needs a Placenta Teddy Bear. There isn't a human alive today who truly needs the Easy Toothbrush.  For sure, there isn't a dog or cat alive who needs a Rear Gear Butt Cover.  I know this because I have sense in my head, and so I feel confident in saying that just as no one needs the above Stupid Products, the world does not need a remake of the movie "Footloose". Why? See below:

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As you can see, this DVD is in excellent condition. The actors listed are all still alive and all gave fine performances in the film.  Copies of the movie can be found anywhere movies are sold.  It's complete, intact, and as beautiful as the day the film was released in 1984, right down to Kevin Bacon smoldering at me from the cover.  Hello, Kevin. You're looking young and handsome today.  I like to dance, too.  You can come shake up my town any time you want.

Apparently, this film has been in the works for most of the year, so maybe you'd already heard about it.  I thank you for trying to shield me from the terrible news. Unfortunately, the internet spilled the beans, and I was not saved from the torment of such a travesty.  My immediate reaction was to cut loose and kick off my Sunday shoes and aim them at the head of the director.  Alas, he chose not to film in Utah like his predecessor.  That was wise.  This is a death penalty state, after all.

The original actor hired to play the Kevin Bacon character, some television actor named Not Kevin Bacon, ditched the project shortly after it began, probably because he realized he was not Kevin Bacon and had no business attempting to play the role.  A new actor named Wishes He Were Kevin Bacon has stepped in, parading around in all his blasphemous glory, pretending (badly) to be Kevin Bacon.  Rounding out the cast are the actors I'm No John Lithgow, Dianne Weist if You Squint, Never, Ever, Ever Going to be as Cool as Lori Singer, and What Do You Mean, I'm Not Sarah Jessica Parker.  May God have mercy on their careers.

While I have absolutely no intention of ever setting eyes on this ridiculously unnecessary piece of cinema, I will try to be a good blogger and refrain from judging any of my readers who venture out to the movie house in a fit of morbid curiosity and see this movie.  Emphasis on try.  Note, I did not say I would try very hard.

In the meantime, I will amuse myself with this bit of Kevin Bacon awesomeness and know that no one, but no one, will ever be Ren McCormack but the man who is only a few degrees of separation from everyone.  I love you, Kevin.

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Mom, today I learned that Miriam losing her white collared shirt does not necessarily spell Children's Choir disaster.

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At least not as long as I'm able to improvise...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

(Author's warning: The website hawking today's Stupid Product includes a video YouTube has flagged due to questionable content. I was questioning whether to add it anyway, so no loss. Watch at your own risk. Also, this blog post contains the word "penis" which I don't think is a problem, as that is the correct term for that part of the male body. If you think the word is obscene, feel free to replace it in your mind with whatever word you normally use.  Just be sure to giggle like an 11 year old after you do that.)

Folks, I've spent every day of my life as a woman.  9 months in the womb, I was a ball of womanhood just waiting to be born.  Prior to that, well, my beliefs tell me I was a woman then, too.  I have never been ashamed of this fact.  Being a woman is something I very much enjoy, and no man on earth will ever manage to make me feel less than for it.

So ladies, I would appreciate it if you didn't try to bring me down, either.

By "ladies," I'm thinking specifically of the women involved in the making of today's Stupid Product, the Stand2Pee Instructional Video. This is a product produced by women and marketed by women on the presumption that most women are not happy with what nature gave them in the urination department. Here's a snippet from their website (grammatical errors left in because I'd get a hand cramp typing [sic] that many times):

The ability to pee standing up is a skill most women have wished they could do at various times in their life. Most women gave up this dream as a toddler when attempting to copy a boy, it ended miserably and your mother chastised you by saying only boys can do that.

Ah, the tortured dreams of every three year old girl resurrected in a snap by a $20 DVD.  Yes, ladies, your mothers stomped on your hopes and forced you to become less than every man, but you too can rise to your peeing potential!

You know, there's a phrase for the phenomenon they're describing there.  It's called penis envy, and it came from the debunked and cocaine infused theories of one Sigmund Freud.  As a psychology major, I must learn Freudian theory as a cautionary tale, a stepping stone to psychological theories based on true, peer reviewed research.  As a woman, I must work hard not to vomit on my shoes as I learn it.  I am no fan of Freud, unless we're talking about the character on "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure."

When I was three, I'm pretty sure I dreamed of being Wonder Woman.  I don't remember ever wanting to urinate while standing, and I can't think of many instances in my life when I've felt God dealt me an unfair hand because I have to sit or squat.  Now hear this: Sarah Clark is okay with the sitting and the squatting.  (Add that sentence to the list of things I never thought I'd say...DONE!)

Taking a gander at the website's FAQs, I see that someone has wondered why she can't just learn this skill on her own and avoid paying for a DVD to show her how. The response to this? That would be as ill advised as a person teaching herself how to fly an airplane.  AN AIRPLANE!  The maker of this video has elevated herself to the level of a flight instructor.  She also points out that the video doesn't only teach the technical skills. It also helps break down the psychological barriers a woman faces in learning upright urination.  Please see my thoughts two paragraphs up about what this woman does not understand about psychology.   


If you're a woman interested in learning this skill, feel free to fork over the cash, but I'm telling you, you only need to goof around in a shower a few times to see how easy it actually is.  Not that I've done that... More than anything, I want women to know that we're a-ok the way we are.  You don't have to be ashamed of your equipment, no matter how much the (and I quote the website) "pre-eminent global expert on Stand2Pee" thinks you should.

(Thanks to Jenn R. of Chubbuck, ID, for today's Stupid Product idea. I'd like to also thank Jenn for helping me to realize there is a real place in my country named Chubbuck.  I can die happy now.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

You've Gotta See This: TSA Parody

After writing this week's Outrageous News post, I knew I wanted to poke a little fun at the TSA in today's You've Gotta See This post.  Finding the right video on YouTube was no easy task.  Most of the TSA related videos are of a more outraged, angry nature. There was the 71 year old man with a knee replacement and the 16 year old girl with a prosthetic leg both having to strip to their underwear from the waist down in full view of the public.  And then there was the woman with nipple rings who was required to bare her breasts AND remove the piercings with pliers.  Then there was the Dallas Cowboys fan frisked in Philadelphia for no reason other than wearing the wrong jersey to the airport.

Oh, TSA. People really hate you.  Maybe you should try baking cookies or piping in happy music to your checkpoints or not violating civil liberties or something.  When I was having trouble with a neighbor, a wise friend encouraged me to bake her a pie and to stop doing virtual strip searches every time she came by the house, and that really improved things.  Just a thought.

This video is a parody, and like any good parody, it's based on more truth than fiction.  Isn't it great to know there's a government agency tasked with making sure no one manages to board a plane with an intact pair of nail clippers?  And that infant formula...WHEW!  The things someone could do with that!  But of course, if someone's on the no fly list and his parents have turned him in to authorities more than once, they'll give him the red carpet treatment all the way to the plane.  I mean, he wasn't carrying any lotion or toothpaste.  That would have been a national emergency! 

But how do they know how long it is?

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Mom, today I learned that when they say this tape is invisible, the REALLY mean it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Raise of hands: How many Mother Load readers are flying over the Thanksgiving holiday?  Are you ready for this?



Would-be air traveler, John Tyner, was not ready for an "enhanced pat down" experience when he entered the San Diego International Airport this past weekend to take a trip with his father in law. According to Tyner's blog, linked above, he had checked the TSA's website to ensure that he would not be subjected to the new advanced imaging technology screenings. Unfortunately for him, the website was outdated.

Like any normal human being with an ounce of personal dignity and an understanding of appropriate conduct, John declined to step into a scanner that would have projected a picture of his naked body onto a computer screen in another room. When he was pulled aside for a pat down, he told the TSA official that he would have the man arrested if he touched Tyner's groin.

Things got ugly from there, with Tyner being escorted from the screening area by police and TSA agents and then detained in the airport after securing a refund from his airline for the flight he would now not be able to board. Throughout this ordeal, he was not threatening or out of control. He expressed a complete willingness to give up his flight in the cause of maintaining control over his own body. I know this because he had his camera phone video running through most of the exchanges.

Before he was finally able to leave, he was threatened by the TSA with a civil lawsuit and a $10,000 fine for leaving the security area before the screening was complete. He was not allowed to leave the airport until he pointed out that the agents were unlawfully holding him there. Apparently, the TSA has opened an investigation of Tyner and is now threatening an even larger fine.

This is a humor blog, so my readers are used to me finding the funny in the news stories that catch my eye every week. While I'd like to give you what you're used to, I find nothing funny about this story. Nothing. But it's a story I think has to be told and retold until something is done about it.

At what point did we become a nation in which it is all right for a stranger in a uniform to either view our naked bodies or grope our private areas because we happened to purchase a plane ticket? When did we stop believing in the 4th amendment? A police officer needs a warrant or probable cause to search a drug house full of criminals, but an airport rent-a-cop in a costume is allowed to put his hands on the genitals of a law abiding citizen for nothing more than a desire to fly and a refusal to become a victim of virtual voyeurism?

The TSA is quick to say that the scanners are optional, as if submitting to a government enabled sexual assault is somehow better. When I have to choose between someone viewing my naked body and someone touching my clothed body, you haven't given me a reasonable choice. It's like presenting me with a plate of vomit and a plate of feces and then smilingly telling me it's okay because it's optional.

The uproar over these scanners and pat downs is growing.  Aside from the invasive nature of the scans, there is controversy over whether or not they are safe.  The government assures us that the low level radiation is no cause for concern.  They also told the people of Southern Utah in the 50s that above ground nuclear testing was completely benign.  Pardon me if I'm not ready to believe them just yet.

It should also be noted that these machines and government sponsored fondlings do little to increase actual safety in the sky.  Mother Load reader, Jauna G., of Las Vegas, pointed out to me that she could be scanned at her airport but end up on a connecting flight with someone from an airport that does not have the scanners.  Is she more safe because some low wage government employee with a high school education was able to see her breasts if the guy from another flight has a bomb in his underwear?

And what of all the people who don't get scanned or assaulted?  If a terrorist is not randomly assigned to forced exhibitionism, what then?  If you think giving up your civil liberties is okay because it makes you more secure, please, please, please look at this logically and see the error in that belief. Safety from terrorists is an illusion, an illusion that is allowing our government to shred the bill of rights and feed it to us with a side of bull excrement, and we're supposed to be grateful for it.

And what is safety, anyway?  Are we to give up sexual safety for ourselves and our children in trade for supposed safety from terror?  What is safe about allowing a stranger to fondle the groin of my child?  What is safe about allowing someone to do that to me?  As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I have already had that safety violated.  The government is not allowed to violate it again.  I will not be pimping out my body as a payment for the privilege of air travel.

I'm not alone in this feeling.  A website called We Won't Fly.com is urging travelers to take a stand against these invasive procedures by contacting airlines and government officials with their concerns.  People all over the country have let the airlines know they will not fly under these conditions. November 24th has been declared National Opt Out Day, and outraged citizens are urging travelers to opt out of the scans and force the TSA to do the more time consuming pat downs, which will delay flights and cause airline lobbyists to work harder than the lobbyists being paid to promote the machines.

A TSA oversight hearing will be held in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, November 17. The link gives information on the time and the Senators who will be present, along with their contact information. If you have strong feelings about this issue, let them hear them.

Some may think I'm making a big deal out of nothing.  Please know that if anyone else did what the government is allowing TSA officials to do to innocent people, the government would make a very big deal of it, indeed.  I see this going to the Supreme Court, and I pray the justices have enough common sense to rule these searches unconstitutional.

Happy Holidays to all.

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Mom, today I learned what kind of dolls psych professors play with when they're not teaching theory. Why it doesn't have darts sticking out of it is anyone's guess.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lifestyles of the fluffy and pampered.

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Mom, today I learned that doggie water at my sister's house is fancy business.  My goodness...what some people do for their pets.


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We don't do anything like that at our house.

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Nuh-uh.

Friday, November 5, 2010

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Mom, today I learned that if you tell a slumber party full of 11 and 12 year olds that the prize for winning "Do You Love Your Neighbor" is a face full of sour cream, they will not realize you're joking and will, instead, play their guts out for a chance at it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spamity Spam! Wonderful Spam!

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Mom, today I learned that there's only one way to respond to an unexpected email such as this...


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With dignity and maturity.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Does this mean Max Hall hates me too?

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Mom, today I learned who Max Hall is.  The University of Utah logo made me realize I probably should know that already, so I looked him up.  He used to be the quarterback for BYU.  This is, apparently, a big deal, as the University of Utah and BYU are longstanding rivals and people who go to my school are supposed to care.

This is what happens when you neglect football to focus on your education.  Let that be a lesson to you!

Stupid Product: The McRib Sandwich

Bad things are happening at a McDonald's near you. Check it out.



Because I choose not to have TV in my home, I was not initially aware of McRib: The Return.  I had to learn the terrible news from a sign outside a McDonald's restaurant.  I was driving my kids to children's choir rehearsal when the news hit, and I nearly plowed my car into the one in front of me in my shock and bewilderment.

One look at that sign had me screaming in horror.  "Who let it out of its cage?!" My children, who have never had the dubious honor of eating one these things, were confused by my outburst.  I explained to them that the McRib was a product forged in the fiery depths of Hell and that eating one would result in expulsion from the family.

Okay, so I didn't go quite that far.  I did, however, describe this sandwich as "bluchy."

I know some of you must be disagreeing with me right now. I mean, this is a sandwich that keeps coming back because people keep demanding McDonald's bring it back.  It's safe to say there are McRib fans in my readership.  Feel free to leave a comment on why you think this sad creation has some redeeming value.  I'm more than happy to preach to the choir of McRib haters like me. (Oh, what beautiful music we make!)

So why do I hate the McRib?  This thorough and fairly disgusting deconstruction of the McRib sandwich will give you a pretty good indication.  The McRib patty is loaded with calories, fat, and cholesterol, yet somehow remains completely devoid of actual rib meat.  Newsflash to McDonald's: If it's a patty, you can't call it a rib.

Since 1981, McDonald's has cheerily sidestepped the great "ribs or no ribs" question by forming their McRib patties into the shape of real ribs.  In 1981, I was just turning 5. Do you know what this kind of food fakery does to a 5 year old child?  Do you want to hear about my first experience with actual ribs and the tears and toothaches that followed? Bad form, McDonald's.

And what's with the "limited time" thing?  If you have this many fans of a product, why not offer it every day?  Why keep people waiting and wondering and TRACKING the McRib every year?  If people like this thing so much, why deprive them of it?

I think the answer to those questions would blow the lid off the curious case of the McRib lovers once and for all.  If this were available every day, people would take a closer look at it and realize that this fatty, pork derived patty is the most disgusting fast food creation ever invented, and that's counting the KFC Double Down Sandwich!

How do I know this? Because these exact sandwiches were available for dinner every 3 weeks at the treatment center where I used to work.  We'd get a new troubled teen on the unit, and she'd praise her good fortune upon learning the McRib was somehow available to her.  6 months and many of these sandwiches later, she'd be staging a fight on McRib night in hopes of being served peanut butter and jelly in the time out room as a punishment. 

I hear this MdRib resurrection is only around for a limited time, so if you love it, I'll pray for you.  Also, you should hurry and get one before they're gone. If you're a teenager, you could consider a life of crime and a chance at a treatment center vacation to get more, but I wouldn't recommend it.  The therapy's hard, the beds are uncomfortable, and you'll be sick of it after the 2nd month.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

If you're new to the Mother Load, today's post is on the blog to inform you of the most important thing you need to know about me.

I love Weird Al Yankovic.

I love him. I love him more than I love chocolate, more than I love Star Trek, more than I love poking fun at the unfortunate grammar decisions of others. Long time readers of the Mother Load know that all three of those things are pretty darned high up on my list of loves.

The only reason I'm not married to Weird Al today is that we've never officially met. Also, he married She Who Must Not Be Named before I even had a chance. (Actually, Suzanne is quite lovely, and I hope someday to call her my friend...the friend who stole the man I love.)

Anyway, I was over at Weird Al's website today, as I am wont to do, and saw a link to this wholly fake but completely hilarious trailer for a biopic of Weird Al's life. Ten points to Mother Load readers who identify the real Weird Al in the video.  Just don't gaze at him too lovingly.  He's mine!  Okay, he's not mine, but he should have been!

(Note: Al has never actually been an alcoholic, he never dated Madonna, and his real life parents were loving and supportive.)



Great. Now I want soup.

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Mom, today I learned that the Double Rainbow thing is getting out of hand.

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Seriously out of hand.

Monday, November 1, 2010

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Mom, today I learned that when a dear friend offers to take my kids for the evening, "...so you can work," this is what I will do instead.

(Author's note: The dear friend in question was more than happy to learn how I took advantage of the kid free night.  Someday soon, I'll talk our husbands into taking the kids for an evening, and I'll make steak for her.  Googoo eyes will depend on what she wears to dinner...)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I've almost made it through my first week in my new role as a QC team member.  Almost.  I've been working on these page reviews off and on for just over 7 hours now.  Other off and on work includes a paper due in the morning for my Psychology of Love class (Just try to say that without Barry White's voice in your head.) and some coding for my other job. I'll likely get about 2 hours of sleep tonight, if I sleep at all, what with the deadlines looming in the morning.

My head is wobbly, my fingers are SCREAMING, and I've had more caffeine than any human should ever be allowed to have, but there's a big smile on my face (not a caffeine related smile. No, really!).  While I hope to avoid spending next weekend this way, I'm pretty okay with how this week went.  Lost sleep tonight equals time with my family over the last few days, time I wouldn't have had at my previous job.
 
Life happened this week in the form of a funeral, a play, a couple of parties, and Halloween (with its requisite anti Trunk or Treat rant).  A flexible schedule may mean that I'm zombiefied every Monday morning, but if it means I get to take part in life as it happens, that is okay by me.

The zombie look is in now, anyway.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dear overworked faithful,

I want to begin this letter by saying that I appreciate the work you do for your various congregations.  You tirelessly plan fun activities that bring your fellow church members together in fellowship. You are sometimes reduced to begging to get people to bring a salad or a batch of cookies to an event.  You often stay late after an activity ends to clean up the messes left by others.  You have a hard job.  I know this.  There is not enough green jello in the world to make me want to do this job. 

Except on Halloween.

Every other month of the year, I'm praying to my Father in Heaven in gratitude that I'm not the one who has to plan the pot lucks and the campouts for my congregation.  October comes, and I'm lobbying for a seat on the committee.  Why the annual change of heart?

Trunk or Treats.

(Aside to Mother Load readers who are not familiar with the phenomenon of the Trunk or Treat, it is an activity held at a church or other venue in which children can do their trick or treating from car to car instead of from house to house.  The trunks of said cars are often decorated, and prizes are sometimes given to the most creative, most scary, etc.)

I don't have a problem with trunk or treating as a concept or even as an activity.  Okay, I think the name is ridiculously twee and don't like to say it out loud if I can't help it. (This is probably because I didn't think of it myself first.) But the actual event is fairly fun.  My trunk is never decorated other than in the, "Oh my gosh, when was the last time you cleaned that thing?!" theme, but the kidlets don't seem to mind as long as I have candy to share.

What I find hard to stomach is when a trunk or treat becomes something my husband has referred to as a "trunk or street." (Blast! Another clever phrase I didn't think of myself!)  That is, when a trunk or treat becomes a direct competitor with traditional trick or treating.  Either you go to the church and hold out your bag to your fellow church goers, or you pound the pavement the traditional way.

I think in areas like the ones where I grew up, where Mormon children are few and far between, this kind of choice has little impact on the community as a whole.  In my elementary school in Lawton, Oklahoma (Go Sullivan Village Vikings!), there were exactly 4 children who went to my church. I was one of them. The other three were my siblings.  If our family had decided to leave our house on Halloween night and head on over to the church for a trunk or treat, people in my neighborhood would simply have developed the mistaken belief that Mormons don't celebrate holidays and would have gone on their merry ways to the other homes on Dorchester Drive, collecting candy and enjoying the night air.

Not so in Utah.  When the majority of LDS families are celebrating the holiday at the church, in many cases, entire city blocks go dark.  People of other faiths then find themselves with bowls full of candy and no one to give it to, or they're out on the sidewalks with their little ones, ringing doorbells that never get answered.  Every now and then, they might encounter a cutesy sign inviting them to "come on over" to the church to get some candy.  For reasons kindly Mormons don't seem to understand, that is not always a choice their fellow community members want to make. Maybe they have strong beliefs in opposition to our faith. Maybe they've had a not so pleasant run in with a not so pleasant Mormon.  Maybe they're just shy. (But really...should it matter why people don't want to come to our church?)

And so, we have a holiday in which a tradition has been abandoned by a majority, sometimes without so much as a mention to any who are not of their faith, and the cohesiveness of a community suffers as a result.  A dear friend of mine had 100 trick or treaters at her door last year.  This year, she made up 120 treat bags in anticipation of the rush.  10 children rang her doorbell.  Everyone else was out at the church, a church she is not a member of. 

Her daughter in law took her daughter out for her very first trick or treating outing, only to be met with darkened door after darkened door.  She had no idea her neighborhood had other plans for the evening.  She had not been invited to them.

Activities Committee members, I implore you to think of the quiet impact these activities are having on your neighbors.  Think of the people who set out on Halloween with their children, only to find themselves excluded and forgotten.  Think of what it must look like to them when the members of the majority religion in an area choose to pack up their toys and go.  You surely don't intend to exclude others, but in removing yourselves from your communities, you surely do.

I'm not out to end the trunk or treats.  I'm just asking that you consider holding them on a different day of the month.  I will be forever grateful to the Activities Committee chair in my own church who has planned our little congregation's trunk or treats on a day other than Halloween each year she's been in the position.  She hasn't made it an either/or proposition. 

Maybe in writing this, I'm like the guy who raged against the clock because he wanted to preserve the tradition of the sundial. Maybe I'm like the print journalist who rages against the blogger because the medium has changed.  Maybe trunk or treats are about progress, and my children's children will wonder why we ever roamed the streets in search of candy in the dark.

Maybe.

Or maybe I'm just a Mormon who remembers what it was like to embrace the diversity of a world outside of Utah and wishes those around her would do the same inside the state.

Yours humbly,
Sarah Clark

Friday, October 29, 2010

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Mom, today I learned that even though these aren't actually "cookie diapers," as we previously misread them to be, the first impression will keep us from ever buying them. Ever.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

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Mom, today I learned that Kindergarten Halloween parties are just as fun as they were when I was a kid.

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And just as rewarding for me as they were for you!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday marked the beginning of a new Mahalo adventure for this blogger.  A couple of weeks ago, Susan, the head of the Quality Control department asked if I'd be willing to consider a job on the QC team whenever Mahalo next expanded its pool of writers.  After learning a bit more about the responsibilities and the perks of the position, Richard and I agreed that it sounded like a great opportunity.  I let Susan know and then settled in to wait.

I didn't have to wait very long.  Only a week had passed when the official job offer came to me via email.  I had a week to finish up my last writing projects before shifting roles.  I sent a mature and dignified response to the offer, closed my laptop, stood up from my desk and screamed, "SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!  They like me! They really, really like me!"

As it turns out, elation was short lived.  It was quickly replaced by anxiety.  I've spent the last couple of days poring over the new spreadsheets and reviewing previous QC notes and making my own spreadsheet to help me with checking and scoring pages...and doing everything else I could think of to avoid actually checking that first page.  Today, I've run out of arbitrary prep work and have no other choice but to get down to the business of editing text, computing scores, and, in some cases, assigning rewrites. 

It's not a mentally taxing task, but as a writer, I know how writers often feel about their work.  Even if it's 500 words about the various means of cultivating eggplant, we take our work pretty seriously.  "My writing is my SOUL," a writer might say. "How do you put a score on someone's SOUL?!"

I'm making this easier on myself by remembering that standards, scores, and the QC team are the things I like most about Mahalo.  In an internet full of mediocre content farms employing writers who are happy to just slap pages together for a share of the ad revenue, Mahalo stands out for its commitment to quality.  Any time I ask a writer to redo a page they've completed, I just have to think of that, and the task won't be so hard.  If I still find it hard, I can always take the matter to my immediate superior: my cat, Quill, who monitors my work from the space between my laptop and the wall. 

After reviewing my first page, we had the following exchange. 

Me: "Overall, it's pretty good work. I saw a few formatting errors that were easily fixed, and I corrected a couple of typos.  However, I had to mark down for two instances of bias in the second section.  What do you think?
Quill: "Meow," which can be translated to mean, "The numbers don't lie, Sarah. You have to send it back."

Seriously, who's going to argue with a smart cat like that?

Houson, we have an lolcat in the house.

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Mom, today I learned that when I told Quill he'd have to get a job if he wanted different food, he took me seriously.  Apparently, he's training for the circus...or the internet.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm doing things a little differently today.  Instead of a YouTube video filled with music or kittens or questionable decisions, I have decided you need to see something a little closer to home.  My home, to be more specific.  My bathroom, if you want to get technical.

The video I would have shown you has been postponed until next week, and in its place, I submit to my readers and fans a true story.  "Haircut: A Story of Hope."


It was late October, 2010. Hard times had come upon the Clark household. Richard's usually loyal and hardworking hairdresser had shirked her hairdressing duties for an appallingly long time. Hair grew from his scalp like a tangled forest of overgrown shrubs and threatened the back of his neck, dark brown tentacles reaching ever closer to his shoulders.

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Day after hairy day, Richard remained optimistic. His hairdresser had always come through for him before. Surely she would find the time to rid him of this vile nest atop his head. Maybe it would be today...or...today...or...today. Weeks had gone by, and the smile had begun to waver. A few weeks more, and he had begun to harbor thoughts of firing his absent hairdresser.

"You know," he said to her on the evening of the 26th, "I could just pop on over to Super Cuts..." Her look of alarm silenced him momentarily.  Richard then apologized for having entertained such a thought and accepted her promise that the haircut would occur that very night, no matter what obstacles she might face.

A more unforgiving man might have laughed at her promise and left her for a hot pair of scissors at a salon, but Richard was moved by the earnestness of this woman and vowed he would give her one more chance.

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The fact that she was cute and in the habit of preparing him his favorite foods for dinner may have influenced his decision somewhat.

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Kissing may also have been a factor.


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Whatever the case, Richard chose to stay at home and wait patiently for her in the appointed place.  He felt the stirrings of hope within his chest as she finished her night's work and descended the stairs into the lower floor of their home.  This was it!  He would be burdened by the weight of his hair no longer!

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The cheery buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz of Sarah's clippers was sweet music to Richard's ears, and he felt his soul lift and lighten as tufts of hair, so much hair, found their way to the floor beneath his feet.  This was the feeling of life! This was the feeling of FREEDOM!

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About halfway through the haircut, Sarah stopped and surveyed her work.  "You know," she said, thoughtfully, "if we stopped here, you'd look like almost every boy I went to high school with.  90s hair is bound to make a comeback within the next few years.  Want to get a jump on it?  I could leave it like this..."

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Richard replied that he would give the matter deep thought and get back to her the next time she cut his hair.  For now, he preferred her to plow on ahead.  And plow she did, removing layer after layer of stubborn hair from his head.

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The most stubborn of this hair resided in the Cowlick of Lost Dreams and Many Tears, but Sarah persevered, battling the hair demon with her Clippers of Destiny until it was no more.

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And then, just as soon as it had begun, the haircut was over.  Richard, emboldened by his new look, adopted his most sultry expression and asked Sarah if there might be anything he could do to repay this generous favor. His eyebrows waggled provocatively, the corners of his mouth turning up in a scandalous manner.

Sarah, her eyes twinkling, smiled back and said, "Hot chocolate sounds lovely."

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"SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!"

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Mom, today I learned the people at the Driver's License Division have a sense of humor.

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This is the line for the number you take to get into the actual line.

Monday, October 25, 2010

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Mom, today I learned that someone bashed in my driver's side door while I was in class today.

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The damage was so bad, I couldn't even get my key to turn in the lock.

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Then I learned that that had less to do with damage to the door and more to do with the fact that I was trying to open the wrong minivan.  THIS is MY driver's side door.  (Chip off the old block, wouldn't you say, Mom?)

Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, tell my younger sister, Carla, about today's Outrageous News story.  She's been through a lot in her 32 years, and a blow like this could threaten her very life, a life she has lovingly devoted to the Man of Steel.  She is a Superman fanatic in the truest sense of the word.  I submit the following:


So, the story (which we are NOT sharing with Carla) is that DC Comics is unveiling a new version of Superman who resembles Robert Pattinson, of Edward Cullen fame, in the graphic novel, "Superman: Earth One."  This reimagining of Superman involves hoodies, skinny ties, and low cut man jeans.  It also relegates the Man of Steel to brooding hipster status, trading muscles for moodiness.  That's right.  Smallville's own is going to be a brooding, skinny pretty boy.

I have three words for DC Comics right now: No.  Also?  NO!  And finally, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Long time readers of this blog know I'm no fan of the Twilight series of books and movies.  I taught the relationship of Bella and Edward as a cautionary, "What not to do" example in the teen relationships groups I ran while working with troubled adolescents.  I attend the movies as a quiet heckler, counting the number of times my eyes roll back into my head and awarding myself with dessert if the number exceeds 100 (it always does).

I have no love for Bella Swan, whom I see as a codependent damsel in distress with no personality of her own outside of her relationship with a man, but it is her vampire boyfriend, Broody McBroodsalot, whom I find the most annoying.

Here's my impression of Edward Cullen:  "Bella, I love you. I know I've just met you, but your blood smells really good, and I want to drink it...like...a lot. Also, I hate myself.  This will become a theme.  I hate myself for that, too.  I hope you don't mind that I treat you like a child and I creepily watch you while you sleep without your permission and disable your car and get my vampire sister to hold you against your will so you can't see your friends.  It's all because I love you...and because I hate myself, and you know...haters gonna hate. Excuse me, I have to go smolder and brood and be emo now.  Gosh, I hate that I do that."

Sigh. And this is the direction DC Comics has decided is the right one for Mr. Clark Kent.   DC, if my sister gets wind of this and you break her heart, I will personally hurt every single person involved in this project.  Superman himself wouldn't be able to save you.

He'll be too busy wallowing in self loathing and shopping at the Gap to hear your cries for help. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mahalo Moment: Halloweeeeeeeeeeeeeen!

Mahalo is in crazy Halloween mode this month, and we writers have been tasked with updating and improving most of the existing Halloween pages.  One look at Mahalo's main page is a good indication of why. It's Halloween central over there!  (Psssst...the page on pumpkin seeds was my update.  You're welcome.)

I know Halloween's a trending topic right now, so Mahalo is featuring the pages they know people are looking for, but secretly, I think the VIPs over at headquarters are just super stoked for the big day.  There's nothing like costumes and the promise of candy to bring out the kid in even the most mature of web developers.  "And we'll have candy corns and cupcakes and spooky music, and I'm going to be a pretty, pretty princess!"

I think I've learned this week that I'm influenced quite a bit by the pages I write and edit.  I had decided not to roast pumpkin seeds this year, citing a lack of time, but writing a page on all the easy and delicious ways I could do it has changed my mind.  There are three carved pumpkins at my house already, but I'm going to be buying two more just so I can try some of the recipes on the how to page.  (Seriously, did anyone else know you could season pumpkin seeds with curry?  If yes, will you kindly explain why you kept this information from me? Hmmmmmmm?)

The same thing happened when I wrote a page on how to make perfect sushi rice.  There was a sushi run shortly thereafter.  Ditto for a page on grilled salmon.  Of course, I wrote three pages on "Glee" actors this week and still have no desire to watch the show, so maybe it only works for food.

If the Glee actors ever appear on a cooking show, I'm in big trouble.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

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Mom, today I learned that I look hot in black and white.



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Super duper hot.