Category Archives: Random

Closing Ceremony of Olympic Blogging

Psst…. the Olympics have been on for the last two weeks.

And as I get ready to settle in for a night of Closing Ceremonies from London, I realize none of the ideas I had for posts about the Olympics came to fruition. But I don’t want my little blog to miss its time in the sun (or rather the overcast, in honor of our host nation). So a few concluding thoughts:

No Silver Lining?

The silver medal pouting and whining has been well-covered throughout the games, most hilariously in this Tumblr blog: http://mckaylaisnotimpressed.tumblr.com/ and most scientifically in this article. It’s easy to understand the disappointment a silver medalist feels at missing the gold and the euphoria a bronze medalist feels at making the cut.

But seriously, from gymnastics (which personally I felt there was way too much talk from commentators about how “emotional” the gymnasts are) to track to diving, I can’t remember ever seeing so much sulking when being named the second best in the world. Perhaps I don’t relate to this as the closest I have gotten to this level of competition was when I placed second in headline writing at Texas’s annual statewide UIL competition for high school journalism. And I was freaking ecstatic!

I can only imagine that our mandate to identify “overwhelming favorites” in each sport and competition is as much a factor of this as the athlete’s own goals. I hope that all of the Maroney’s, Komova’s and Bo’s leave can leave London with a feeling of pride in their amazing accomplishments. I’ll even share my UIL medal.

Olympic viewing

While I would love to pour over every story, competitor profile, host nation factoid and ageless Bob Costas smirk that comes around only every two years with Olympic coverage, I just don’t have the time. Especially if I am also going to stay up to date with Big Brother and Bachelor Pad (not to mention working, eating and sleeping).

In this Olympic period, I perfected watching a five-hour broadcast in 45 minutes and did not feel like I missed anything. For future reference, choosing from the following short-cuts can be effective if you are pressed for time:

  • No back stories. (This is difficult as these human interest pieces of the athletes are just as much a part of the games as the competitions, but use your judgment — do you need another story on Michael Phelps?)
  • See Ryan Seacrest, fast-forward immediately. Same with Mary Carillo. It’s the only way.
  • So much time is spent on the athletes getting to their starting position or replaying the race THAT JUST HAPPENED five times. This is especially true in swimming and track. So I say you can watch Usain Bolt win, but not celebrate his victory for 15 minutes. Use your time at work the next day to watch highlights online.
  • No medal ceremonies. Unless the gold medalist is crying.

Lasting Images

I’m too scared to post actual images for copyright reasons, but some things that I will remember as the London games come to an end are:

  • The eventual 400m men’s winner Kirani James from Grenada switching racing bibs with South African double amputee Oscar Pistorious after Pistorious didn’t qualify for the final race.
  • Anything involving Pistorious. He’s inspiring, humble and hot. And has that great South African accent. But mostly for the inspiring part.
  • NBC keeping the camera close to Lebron James and Kobe Bryant during the Opening Ceremonies. You know, because we never get to see how they react in a major sporting event.
  • The random appearance of Bob Costas’s awesome Harry Potter glasses.
  • Allyson Felix. How adorable is she? I will buy all 214 items that she will soon be sponsoring.
  • Any Bela Karolyi interview. I like to guess at what he might actually be saying.
  • The P&G “moms” commercials. And all of the parent reactions.
  • William, Kate and Harry. Swoon.

And so much more! But now it’s time to wrap these games up. As a whole, I like the summer Olympics more than winter, but the winter Olympics have figure skating, so on to 2014 in Sochi, Russia!

What were your favorite moments of these Olympics? Are you ready to go to bed at a decent time again?

Search Stories

Often times, when I’m really busy and have important deadlines to meet and to-do lists that are four pages long, I stumble upon the biggest time wasters ever.

This week was no exception. I’m putting the finishing touches on a 7-day itinerary for a Spring Break trip I am leading for 14 students to Washington D.C. and New York City. And what do I find… Google Search Stories Video Creator.

I haven’t done a lot of research on it as I went immediately to playing, so I don’t know if it’s new or if I am the last person to find out about it. But either way, I couldn’t step away from it.

These 35-second clips are nothing more than a promotion for Google and a method for forcing users to set up YouTube accounts. Creating a YouTube channel is a little out of my comfort zone. I feel I should start making covers of music like this video I am currently obsessed with. And don’t even get me started on the data “they” are collecting on me.

But when I find something like this, my distraction from immediate priorities knows no bounds and my will must be done. You just input your searches, what Google method you want to use (Images, Blogs, News, etc.) and choose your music.

While I definitely plan to make 1,054 more of these for absolutely no reason other than my own enjoyment, I do actually think they would be great for quick marketing purposes for those with no budget and with no technical skills. This could be useful for us higher education professionals and student organizations to promote events and programming. You could get very funny and creative with these. And they are already online and easy to share. Again, no technical ability needed.

I created two “search stories” about the areas I’m most engulfed in right now.

Perhaps it’s just the need for procrastination, but I am hooked. At least until the next distraction comes along.

What are your favorite time wasters?

And Now, A Poem…

Winter Break is coming to an end
The reality of work is just around the bend
My job is great
There is nothing to hate
But end-of-vacation blues are hard to mend.

This break has been calm and serene
Sometimes it’s nice to not be seen
There was sleep and travel
And watching the Cowboys unravel
And all the fuzzy things the holidays mean.

Still trying to finish a book
Kindle broke, should probably get a Nook
I wanted to read three
I guess it wasn’t meant to be
Because vacation goes by like a quick-glance look.

January is cold, but it isn’t all gloom
Since our favorite TV shows will finally resume
Midseason programming is usually trash
But I’m counting the seconds to NBC’s Smash
And football will thankfully be over soon!

There’s one thing I don’t get into much
New Year’s goals, I don’t have a bunch
My resolution is the same
As I always proclaim
Start brushing my teeth at work after lunch.

So on we go to 2012
Best wishes for all to be happy and well
May it be wonderfully fitting
For, I don’t know, a June wedding
And maybe just a little less Adele.

The End.

Happy New Year readers! Thanks for all your blog love and support. May going back to work tomorrow, if you haven’t already, not totally suck.

Life In Bullets

You might recall I have a blog. She’s been a little silent through October and up until now, which is ironic because the month itself was anything but (not to mention that I am usually anything but). Professionally and personally, October always seems like the busiest month of the year. Am I alone in feeling that way?

But we soldier on. So, in soundbite format, here’s what’s been occupying my time in the last month:

  • One strike away. Twice. Heartbreak.
  • Siri.
  • The new television season.
  • American Horror Story on FX.
  • Reading online obsessively about American Horror Story.
  • Having nightmares because of American Horror Story.
  • Attending weddings.
  • Planning a wedding (I have a dress!).
  • Alternating between sweaters and flip-flops because Dallas is ridiculous.
  • Trying to find the right energy bar or post-workout food/beverage to stave the blurry visions and headaches off I’m getting after my personal training.
  • Drinking more water.
  • Forgetting to drink more water.
  • Turning 34. Will it be as busy as 33?
  • Trying to figure our where in the world is Matt Lauer — otherwise known as the annual reminder that no matter how great it actually is, your job totally sucks in comparison.
  • Counting the minutes until Thanksgiving.

What’s missing from this list? Books. Blogging. Google Reader. The part of me who loves to read and write has been absent lately. While I have my theories as to why (most of them surrounding horrific scenarios derived from American Horror Story), I think it’s just a simple matter of focusing on other things.

I miss reading and blogging and I think my life is fuller and more balanced with these hobbies around, but I also don’t feel the need to force them. They then move from hobbies to obligations. It’s kind of how I feel about our “passions.”

Hopefully my inner hipster-sitting-in-a-coffee-shop-with-a-composition book-and-an-e-reader will resurface soon. In the meantime, please share some book recommendations below and/or what you are enjoying this new TV season!

Thanks for reading!

Cool Sketch… or Just Sketchy?

Sometimes odd and special things happen on a random Tuesday morning. I was working at Starbucks while my new office was being painted. Typing away at the big group table, my sister and niece surprised me with a brief visit.

Fast-forward about 30 minutes and all patrons are being evacuated for a drainage issue (which is not what you want to hear when it’s YOU coming out of the bathroom). The gentleman who had been sitting across from me stopped me on the way out to give me this sketch.

Beyond being great proof for my boss that I was actually working, the picture captured time with my niece and was beautifully crafted. I was truly touched. Yes, I was caught off guard and thought it to be a little odd, but I also couldn’t stop staring at the drawing my entire ride to work and for the rest of the day.

Excited, I shared the sketch with my friends on Facebook, where it received 20 “likes” and 33 comments. (Not like I care.) (I hardly ever notice or judge my self-worth by things like that.) (I’m just saying that’s close to “It’s a girl!” level of responses.) The comments were divisive — between the “how cool and special” variety and the “creepy and weird.” Finally, a friend wrote this comment:

I don’t think it is creepy at all. People are so hyper sensitive these days instead of just seeing it for what it is.

I understand that because of my niece’s presence, the potential creep factor increases, but I can honestly say I felt nothing but goodwill from this stranger. You could tell he truly enjoyed sketching and the “reveal” to the unsuspecting muse (Too much? I know, but I’ve always wanted to be a muse, humor me).

Through the Facebook comments, I also learned that this artist, Geoffrey Williams, has been spotted at Starbucks many times and even sketched one of my friends before. This prompted me to Google him. I found another blog post from 2008, where the blogger wrote about how this stranger surprised her family with a sketch of them eating dinner. She didn’t seem to mind at all. And from her bio on her blog, she was also fighting Stage IV small cell lung cancer. I can imagine when living that battle, you don’t worry too much about randomness or creepiness. It’s just another unexpected moment in life that should be cherished.

So it begs the question — are we too sensitive? Have we become so cynical that an act of kindness from a stranger immediately evokes “run for your life” responses? I hope not. Because as I have seen these past couple of weeks, it is sometimes strangers who are there when you most need it. More on that below…

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Switching gears, most of you have probably read about (or perhaps even have a personal connection to) the Berry family of Houston. If you are not familiar, the parents, Joshua and Robin, were tragically killed in a head-on car accident coming back from vacation. The three children were also in the car and the two boys (9- and 8-years-old) are paralyzed from the waist down with spinal cord injuries. Their 6-year-old sister was also injured, though not as seriously.

The struggle of these children as they face a long road of rehabilitation both physically and emotionally has inspired Texans (and beyond) to act. Communities are rallying to raise funds to support the children and their family and friends who will be caring for them.

You can help too! If you’d like to read more about this family, please visit the Facebook page that has been set up to keep everyone updated and to promote fundraising activities. There is a link to donate, and if you are in Dallas, next Sunday, July 24, there will be two bake sales taking place.  It’s a small way to make a big difference in the lives of these children and their family.

Cleaning, Confronting, Procrastinating

The pressure is on. I’m two weeks away from moving in with JB and I’m determined to start this new chapter of my life with as little clutter as possible. That requires that this packing experience be different from my last few moves. Instead of just taping the drawers and moving furniture, storage bins and cabinets filled with papers and mementos as is, I have to: Actually. Go. Through. Them.

Crap.

This has been a daunting task. And it’s forced me to confront the area of my condo that makes me worry I will one day be featured on A&E’s Hoarders: The Hall Closet.

In The Hall Closet, I have kept bags, filing cabinets, and other storage contraptions that contain every document, payment confirmation, health benefits summary, etc. that I otherwise didn’t know what to do with, but figured I might need one day. It’s like the bank vault for an identity thief. I knew over the years that I should go through them and purge all of the old and unnecessary paperwork, but I kept procrastinating and then the idea of it just became too overwhelming. And the cycle continued. (Wow, I really do sound like a hoarder, though I promise it’s not that bad.)

The Hall Closet has residents like this bag bill payment organizer:

I have given myself small goals each day, which makes the project more manageable. And with the advent of bulk shredding options (including your local Office Depot where they will shred while you watch), this undertaking has fortunately been far less confounding than I was fearing.

You see, my problem is not an inability to get rid of things. It’s the paralyzing feeling of not knowing where to put something or how to discard of it properly. So I do nothing. And then, when I’m under the gun, I realize it wasn’t actually that difficult of a predicament. So I encourage all of you — confront your Hall Closet or Under The Bathroom Sink or whatever it is that you turn a blind eye to. As always with  moving, I am reminded that it’s so much better to live without the clutter.

And that means digital clutter, too. So to distract myself from going through phone bills from 2006, I have also been cleaning out my DVR.  There are now only three items left that I can’t seem to delete.

The Friends and Will and Grace listings are my favorite episodes from those shows that I captured on reruns. And of course the Lost series finale which I’m not sure I have the mental strength to re-watch, but can’t erase. If you’re curious, the Friends episode is the trivia game about each other the crew plays resulting in the girls losing their apartment to the boys. The W&G one is Grace grieving her break-up with Woody Harrelson’s Nathan character.  It’s when I really started to wonder if the writers spied on me for their Grace inspiration.  As for Lost, it turns out it was purgatory all along! (Just kidding.) ( I think.)

Well, I have a stack of cable bills from three apartments ago that aren’t going to shred themselves, so I should stop procrastinating. I’m sure you’re reading this out of procrastination for something else, so just go do it!

But first, what task do you dread? How do you just make yourself do it? Why don’t I just buy DVDs of my favorite TV shows? (I thought I would ask that question for you.)

A Quick Post On Resiliency

Photo courtesy of Luke Donald

This weekend I was a little obsessed with the U.S. Open (thanks to JB). And today, I have been overly obsessed with this Oakley advertisement congratulating the champ Rory McIlroy.

(As I wrote in the caption, this picture was from Luke Donald’s Twitter post. Donald is currently the No. 1 ranked golfer and happens to be a fellow Wildcat. If you’re not familiar with him, you can drool over his pictures read more about him here. If you’re still in college, stop tailgating at football games and get thee to a golf tournament!)

But back to Rory McIlroy. Which could have been the Open’s tagline for the weekend: Back to McIlroy. He dominated the 4-day tournament and went wire-to-wire (that means he led the entire four rounds; I learned it this weekend and now I throw it around because I’m a golf expert) to be crowned champion.

The story is sweeter (and explains the pictured ad) because McIlroy was also in the lead going into the final round of the Masters tournament back in the spring before the wheels came off on the final day and he fell off the leader board completely. Immediately, he handled this defeat with poise and, obviously, resiliency.

This advertisement resonated with me not because of my fledgling interest in golf, but because in my job, I see students struggle every day with resiliency, with bouncing back after an obstacle or adversity. I struggle with it myself. We’ve developed such an “everyone’s a winner” society with children that I think sometimes we forget how much one can learn from their setbacks and falls. I like the ad’s wording about “owning your defeats.” We don’t have to always make excuses for our shortcomings or setbacks, we just have to own them. We’ve been taught to learn from our mistakes, but I worry the younger generation is losing the message. And consequently, losing their resilience.

But Rory’s victory is an example of what it really means to own your defeat and grow from it. And at only 22-years-old, he is a great model for today’s youth… and for those of us who are old enough to type phrases like “the younger generation.”