10 February 2007

Count me out

I went to a leadership conference for college students today, a freelance assignment for the newspaper. I only try to do assignments where I can either have fun or learn something. I suppose this falls under the latter category, because suddenly I was far, far out of my element. It was like a trip to the land of the Path Not Taken.

I have a theory: smart people fall into about three categories. There are smart people with no social skills and boundless enthusiasm for one small slice of the world. We call these people engineers, scientists, inventors and geeks. Then there are smart people with lots of enthusiasm and lots of social skills. Those are the business leaders, ministers, salespeople. And last are the smart people with good social skills but endless, grim humor and cynicism. Those are the journalists, bloggers. You know the type. You probably ARE the type.

So there I was, a journalist trapped in the middle of Future Business Leaders - the type of people who have been in student government since fifth grade. People who volunteer for things. All the time.

I hoped to do my usual disappearing into the woodwork thing. Lay low, take notes. One of my journalist mantras is "Don't be the news," a reminder to stay out of the middle of the story, no matter how strong my feelings are about what is going on.

The first act was a motivational speaker named Nancy. She was peppy! She was convincing! She had a catch phrase, which was "It's ZING time!" (no, I am not making this up).

ZING time meant that it was time to get enthusiastic and involved. As in ama-ZING! She had these students chanting "It's ZING time" and shooting both hands in the air ("An exclamation point!") to show their utter enthusiasm for ZING.

Guess who wasn't ZINGing along with the crowd? Miss Journalistic Crankypants. It wasn't that I was trying to be a jerk. I was just doing my job and staying uninvolved.

After a few ZINGs, Nancy stopped.

"Excuse me," she said, fixing her gaze on me. "But you're sitting there and smiling at me and you aren't participating."

Oh crap. I was sitting at a round table in the middle of a huge meeting room and now 100 college students were staring at me.

"Why not?" she asked me.

"I'm a reporter," I said. "I'm just trying to maintain my...um...journalistic distance."

"Well now," she said. "We're all going to watch as she does it for all of us. "

ZING? I was supposed to ZING?

"What time is it?" she shouted, looking at me expectantly.

Message to Nancy: don't play battle of wills with a non-joiner. Because resisting peer pressure has been my stock in trade my whole life. I am the fifth child in my family, and one thing I learned early was that, the more people try to goad you into something, the worse idea it probably is (examples: Eating that unsweetened chocolate. Saying "Shit" at the dinner table at age 4. Thanks, sibs, for teaching me about peer pressure).

I sat there like a rock. The crowd groaned and "OOOOooh"ed at me dramatically.

I sat there, tension building. I could feel my heart pounding a bit but I didn't flinch. Nancy leaned over expectantly. Silence. I held my ground. Our gazes locked. She realized that she had met her match, her ZING-less rival.

"Oh well, we can still go on and get our energy back," Nancy said, recovering nicely. "What time is it?" The crowd roared "It's ZING time."

I did get a good rush of adrenaline from being singled out in front of so many people. My shaky notes for the next few minutes attest to that. But damn it, I held fast to the code of the non-joiner - don't let them grind you down. Because if you participate, the ZINGers of the world win.

(Nancy later apologized for embarrassing me in front of the crowd. She said she had thought I was a staff member, which would have been a lot more fun. I thought it was actually kind of amusing because I am weird that way. Also because I thought "I am SO blogging this.)

09 February 2007

Friday Fishwrap

Though it is hard to wrap fish electronically, I will give it my best shot.

It has been PostingLiteTM this week. Not because I don't have anything to say, but because I have so much I want to blab about that I don't want to overwhelm my Dear ReadersTM. I have noticed that whenever I go over 300 words or so, only my most faithful and literate fans take the time to read the thing.
Slow internet access tonight. I was trying to watch a video of last night's Colbert Report and it was so jerky that all of a sudden had a flashback to Max Headroom. If you are too young to remember Max Headroom (yes, Heather B., I am talking to you), my condolences. You missed 5 episodes (or was it only 4?) of The Best TV Ever.
Today was the last day of my tenure as the Person Who Sits Next to the Front Door at work. They have been remodeling the lobby, so the emergency door next to my desk became the front door temporarily.

Thank God. Andres the security guard and I survived six weeks of hell. Six weeks of having my 300 closest co-workers enter the building and observe what I was working on (or fooling around doing), accompanied by a whoosh of cold air and blast of cologne each and every time.

For Andres, it was six weeks of sitting in a stairwell, looking at a blank wall. For the first three, he didn't even have a light. We are both glad it will be over, but him more than me, I think.
I got forcibly transitioned to the new Blogger tonight. Bastard assholes. Not that the new Blogger is so bad, but I don't like being made to do things I don't want to do.
My dad went to the doctor because his ears were hurting. They found he had some impacted earwax, which they promptly made worse as they were trying to get it out. Since the treatment, he is practically deaf as well as legally blind. Poor dude turns into Helen Keller at age 88. Hopefully the earwax issue will be resolved on Monday. Why does this stuff always happen on FRIDAY??
I have created a monster. I usually get home from work long before my neighbor Jay, so I give his dog a treat to tide him over til Jay gets off work. Today I came home after Jay, who had let Oskar in the hose with him. I heard the dog throwing himself against the back door, dying to come out and get his biscuit. Oops.
Mr Stapler finally got bored enough to begin reading my blogroll. He said "I don't like some of those blogs you have linked on your blog. Some of them are stupid." So I feel I must issue a disclaimer: I have no responsibility for the content of blogs linked to from Red Stapler. Some are by people I added just because they have nice, shiny hair.

And a note about Mr Stapler. He is critical. It is the chief feature of his personality. He might say analytical. Right, critical. He makes Pauline Kael seem like Jeffrey Lyons.
I am still loving my improv comedy class. I still suck, but like my teacher says, "If it is good, say it. If it is bad, say it with twice as much conviction."

08 February 2007

The obligatory Anna Nicole post

Mr Stapler and I were talking about Anna Nicole's untimely death.

Mr Stapler pointed out how she always seemed to have a lawyer or two around.

"You'd think," he said, "That she would have had a better outlook, having been surrounded by so many lawyers."

I think that may be the funniest sentence I have ever heard, especially coming from a reformed attorney. Yes, Mr Stapler, nothing quite cheers the heart like a lawyer.

07 February 2007

Reformation Day

It was a day for ironing out the kinks in one's past, apparently.

First the Fabulously Reverend Ted Haggard announced that he is "completely heterosexual." Mmm hmm. Anyone ever heard that one before?

And then our Dear Leader decided to send his Spokesliar, Tony Snow, out to defend his record on global warming. Snow said Bush has been talking about it since 2000. Yeah, talking about it as in "But it's not worth doing anything about (claps hands over ears, chants "layder layder layder")"

I feel like getting in on this Reformation thing. Let's see...Oh, yes, did I mention - I am always very patient? Well, starting today I am! Believe it!

Do you have anything to reform about yourself? Spill!

ROFL again

Today is the big day to announce January's ROFL Awards, sponsored by Cristina of Mommy Off the Record and Izzy of IzzyMom.

My award goes to this post about making up Viagra slogans by Andrea of Little Bald Doctors. My favorite: "Can You See Me Now?"

I already linked to it from Linkateria, but when the awards came around, I knew it needed one.

I also laughed my butt off at some of Ree's posts about a gala dinner on Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, but I awarded her last month and didn't want to seem like too much of a sychophant psycho blog stalker.

06 February 2007

Top 10 Ways Reality TV Sucks

10. What not to wear: Clinton is ok but someone needs to slap Stacy. What a wench.
9. The Apprentice: More chances to view Donald Trump's hair. Do we need that?
8. The Bachelor - how romantic did THAT turn out to be? Some boffing in hot tubs and then a breakup two weeks later. How is that different from dating?
7. Fear Factor: if I wanted to watch people do disgusting things, I would have had children.
6. The SuperNanny and the Dog Whisperer need to get married and stop making the rest of us feel bad about how messed up our kids and pets are.
5. Top Chef - Sam could cook. Sam was hot. Sam was mature. What would have been so wrong with making Sam the Top Chef?
4. Survivor - The fact that I have never seen this show, but that I know all about the guy who walked around naked in the first season - why is this taking up real estate in my head?
3. The Real Life Bitches of Orange County - do these people need more encouragement to act shallow and stupid?
2. My Super Sweet Sicksteen - See #3. Except at an early age. One can only hope for a random meteorite to strike.
1. You tell me! What is your #1 reason reality TV sucks?

04 February 2007

Lovely things

I love me some Etsy. This site is like a huge mall of handcrafts. Not only is the site design among the cleverest I have ever seen (try shopping with the Time Machine 2 - so cool!) but there be treasures there.

Here are some of my favorites:

Pencils! Who woulda thunk that such pretty art could come from slicing up pencils? Jen Maestre is a wild woman with the pencils!

Ceramic jewelry that looks kind of rustic, from Block Party Press.

Rachel Austin's art uses recycled maps as a base. I love its whimsical look.

If you like dessert as much as I do, PukaShell's little creations will make your mouth water. How does she do it?

And then there's Project Grab Bag, turning old cans into pretty earrings.

These are just a few of my favorites among the thousands of Etsy shops. I may never have to buy a gift from the mall again.
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