Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday seems like a good time for Throwback Thursday.

Last week I mentioned that I have procrastination issues and can never seem to do Throwback Thursday on an actual Thursday. This week is no different.

This picture was taken in the Fall of 1993 when Lori, Rick, Jake and I piled into my car to go to an APO conference on the Baylor campus in Waco. Whoever decided to let the most boring city in the Southwest Conference host an event should have been shot. Luckily, back then Xi Delta wasn't a dry chapter, so we made our own fun.

For you youngsters out there who don't recognize what I'm doing in the picture, I feel sorry for you. But, I feel compelled to explain. I am using a Bic mechanical pencil to spin a cassette tape to rewind it. While driving. It was a skill that just doesn't translate to the 21st century.

I should point out that it is likely that that particular cassette is Meatloaf's single "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" because I put it in and then we'd start talking and I wouldn't get to hear it, so I'd play it again. And again. Ultimately we listened to that song (or parts of it) so many times that my friends threatened to do me bodily harm. Or to walk back to College Station from Waco. Good times.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Procrastination Edition

Yes, I know today is Monday, not Thursday. I just kept putting off posting my Throwback Thursday picture until today. You'll survive. 

So, today's TBT pic is me with Marie Osmond from the summer of 1987.

Glamorous Marie and a very blonde Shelley.

Let's start off the story of this picture by pointing out that my teeth are not showing. That's because I was a few months shy of being 15, and was wearing braces. For the first time.

So anyway, in the summer of 1987, my parents threw me in the backseat of the Grand Marquis and we had a family vacation/road trip. If I remember correctly, we headed north and drove through the Oklahoma panhandle and then hung a right in Kansas. We went through Arkansas at some point, but our destination was Branson, Missouri. Yes, we took the long way to Missouri. The really excrutiatingly painfully long way to Missouri. To this day I am thankful for my Walkman, an awesome cassette tape collection and a generous battery budget.

Anyhoo, we obviously went to a Marie Osmond concert while we were in Branson and stayed after to get our pictures taken. I was totally playing it cool (and hiding my braces) by not smiling a big smile, but I was actually pretty excited to get my picture taken with her. Why? Well, only because I LOVED and ADORED Donny and Marie when I was a little girl. I not only had the Donny and Marie lunchbox, I also had the Donny and Marie Stage Show. The Stage Show was this platform kind of thing that had a moving track and a background that looked like a concert stage. You put this little plastic gadget on the ankles of your Donny and Marie dolls (which I also had, thankyouverymuch) and stuck it into the track. It would make it look like Donny and Marie were dancing around on stage. When it worked. The dolls pretty much always tipped over and fell. I'm fairly sure it's because the plastic hair on both dolls was MASSIVE and made them extremely top-heavy. (I really wish I still had the lunch box, dolls and stage show. I could probably make a killing off them on eBay.)

So, that's the story of me getting to meet Marie Osmond. It would have been even better if I could have met Donny, too. He's still cute today.

I got this pic from a story about Donny. Click to read.

Even though it has nothing to do with this TBT picture, I feel like I should add that about a week after our vacation, I went to band camp and caught the chicken pox. No one should have the chicken pox at 14 years old and a month before they start high school. Just sayin'. I missed summer band as a freshman and got picked on when I was finally able to be there. It sucked. I still have the scars: physical and emotional. (I might still be just a little bitter. I don't care that it was 27 years ago.) 

Okay, I'm going to wrap this up before I get into how Stacie S. threw mallets at my head and how all the upperclassman boys in the band were SOOO cute. Some of them might actually read this blog and they don't need to know that.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My billion dollar idea: Goodreads + Amazon = for book nerds

So, a Facebook post and consequent discussion with my friend Kristi got me thinking on a billion dollar idea...

Here's the conversation:

Later, I realized that in addition to browsing the titles in Goodreads, I also really like the social aspect of it. You can read a book, rate and review it, and discuss it with others. And on Amazon, like Kristi mentioned, I like the "you might also like" feature (although, I am REALLY glad they don't send emails like the one I suggested above). And then, the light bulb went on... 

"I should create a dating website for book nerds!" 

Yes, you read that right. Online dating for bibliophiles. It would take the bookiness (totally a word) of Goodreads, mix it with the relentless sales drive of Amazon and sprinkle in a little bit of 

Can you see where I'm going with this?

Users would sign up and create a profile that includes rating and reviewing at least ten books (to sort out the non-serious readers). Their customer emails would go something like: 

"You gave On the Road five out of five stars. User Kerouac1973 also gave it five stars. Would you like to discuss On the Road with Kerouac1973? If so, here are some great sample topics, courtesy of Shmoop

  1. We counted at least five different times where Remi says, "you can’t teach the old maestro a new tune." Does On the Road make an argument for or against this statement?
  2. You may have noticed that the book is in five parts. How do you think Kerouac's editors choose to divide the story (i.e., what are the starts and ends in each section), and how do these divisions create narrative flow?
  3. yada, yada, yada..."

Genius, right? Because I know that I suck at flirty chit chat, but I can discuss books with the best of them. In this scenario, I might even be able to claim that I've got some game (assuming it's even possible for a middle-aged woman to have game. Please tell me it's possible.)

Anyway, I've already started thinking up clever names for the site. Or at least I've tried to. All that I've come up with is "" but I'm afraid that would attract pyromaniacs rather than book lovers.

Anyway, I really want to make this happen. Now I just need to find someone who can create a website and write complex algorithms. Hmm, I suppose I need a computer nerd. Guess I'm going to have to start hanging out in the Dungeons and Dragons section at Barnes and Noble. *

*This is not an insult. My dear Vin Diesel plays D&D and even wrote the foreword for the 30th anniversary D&D book

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Beware the goats of March (updated)

Today is March 15. Any of you familiar with Shakespeare know to "beware the Ides of March." Well let me just tell you....

A few years back, my dad bought a billy goat that had been born on March 15. Naturally, Dad named him Ides. Ides grew to be a 300-or-so-pound goat that smelled, well, exactly like what you would expect a 300-pound goat to smell like. He also had a mean streak. 

Beware the Ides of March, indeed. 

I know these are calves, not goats...but I couldn't find a picture of Ides and these heifers are also from my parents' farm and are about the same size as Ides, so you get the idea. And actually, they're way cuter than Ides. And had much better temperaments.
Photo credit to my Mom and Dad.

UPDATE: Mom found a picture of Dad feeding Ides in the good ole days when Ides hadn't quite gotten to the 300 pound mark yet.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Who needs to join a gym when you have student assistants?

Today one of our student assistants (who I assume is majoring in Ninja Tactics and Stealth Maneuvers) walked up right behind me and started talking to me before I even knew he was there. He just about scared me out of my skin and definitely gave the rest of our coworkers a chuckle. I'm very proud I didn't yell "HOLY HELL'S BELLS" right there in the middle of the office.

Anyway, my heart was racing and it took me awhile to catch my breath. I'm calling that my cardio for the day. And since I'm being healthy, I think I'll go have some grapes. Fermented ones. That come in a bottle. Okay, dammit, I'm gonna have some wine.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I am a freaking humanitarian. Practically a saint.

Mother Teresa. Mahatma Gandhi. Nelson Mandela. Me.

Great humanitarians, one and all.

I know, I know. You're thinking, "Shelley, what on Earth could you have in common with those great people?"

Well, in addition to being exceptionally humble, I, like all those benevolent souls, value and protect human lives. I just go about it a little differently.

You may recall that we experienced the horror of Daylight Savings Time last weekend. Humanity has brought many evils upon warming, terrorism, Justin Bieber...but no evil of our own making is worse than Daylight Savings Time and losing an hour of sleep, because we all know we really lose more than an hour of sleep. And if you know me, you know I value the importance of life and sleep. Not necessarily in that order.

So this year, I was prepared. I put a plan in place to combat the effects of DST. Simply stated, I was focused on PREVENTION. On Sunday night, I made enough dinner to have leftovers for Monday night, so that I didn't spend all day Monday being exhausted from DST and also dreading having to go to the grocery store or cook after work. I also brought FOUR Diet Cokes and TWO Route 44 teas to work on Monday so that I would never come down off the caffeine high long enough to rip someone's head off due to sleep-loss-related crankiness. 

Those two simple steps were all it took to prevent me from strangling someone yesterday. Those two simple steps SAVED LIVES.

I'm a freaking humanitarian.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

People (particularly college students) are weird.

I probably don't have to tell you this, but people are weird. College students are especially weird.

This isn't going to be a rant about how they wear Sponge Bob pajamas to class or nerd out over "Humans Vs Zombies" every semester (although I could really go off on either of those topics). This is about how their finely-tuned suspicion of people over the age of 30 isn't as finely tuned as they think.

The State of Texas offers a $1000 tuition rebate to undergrads who meet the degree/hours attempted requirements AND who actually take the time to apply for it before they graduate. You'd be surprised to know that when I work at the University's graduation fair, I practically have to beg students to apply for this free money.

These are the same students who will apply for credit cards on football game day just to get a free foam spirit finger and who will drink the mystery punch at a party at a house they've never been to before. Despite that kind of trust when it comes to their credit score and physical well-being, when I encourage them to turn in an application that has no obligation, no fee and that could potentially get them $1000, they look at me like I'm trying to get them to sell their souls to the devil or (gasp!) do something as awful as commit to the Columbia House CD offer.

College kids are weird.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Google Play rest and relaxation station...aka...the night Deepak Chopra tried to kill me over the internet.

A month or so ago, I was at my doctor's office nearly in tears because I'd been having trouble sleeping. "I just can't manage to get the stupid mental hamster to stop running in his wheel when I go to bed."

My doc smiled, said "Interesting analogy, Shelley" and then made some suggestions to go with the prescription he was writing. The suggestions were the usual: turn off all electronics at least two hours before bedtime. Cut off caffeine after 3pm. (GASP!  I have altered it to a considerably more reasonable 6pm.) And find some relaxing music to play when I go to bed. 

I confess, the orders about electronics and caffeine were met with disdain and a typically-Shelley sarcastic reply, but the music suggestion sounded reasonable. So that night I grabbed my tablet and searched "rest and relaxation" in my Google Play radio stations. 

"Rest and relaxation" pulled up a station called "yoga and relaxation." I clicked on a few of the tracks to see what they were like. I got babbling brooks, lightly chirping birds, tinkling chimes. "YES! This is EXACTLY what I need!" 

So I proceeded to crawl in bed and get lost in the sounds of nature coming from the tablet on the nightstand right next to my head. Just when I got to the point when I wasn't completely awake, but also not completely asleep, I heard a man's deep voice say "take a deep breath and relax..."


In what my only-half-awake self knew was ninja-like grace, I threw off the covers, grabbed Thor (my police style flashlight/beatdown stick) off the nightstand (where Thor lives) and proceeded to violently swing him in the general direction of the voice. (My fully-awake self saw the covers later and realized that there was probably very little ninja-like grace, but likely plenty of sluggish, ungainly flailing.)

I threw on the bedroom light, still menacingly waving Thor around. (Quite frankly, I'm lucky I didn't knock myself out.) My adrenaline level was through the roof and I was breathing like I'd just run a mile. (Truthfully, I've never actually run a mile, so that's pure conjecture, but you know what I'm getting at.)

Once I determined there was not actually a man in my apartment and my breathing slowed enough that I could hear again, I realized that the man's voice was coming from my tablet. The track currently playing on the "yoga and relaxation" station was New Age guru/best-selling author/creepy-in-the-middle-of-the-night-dude Deepak Chopra. By then he had moved on to telling me to raise my arms over my head and stretch the way a flower stretches to the sun, or some crap like that. 

I stifled the desire to throw my tablet across the room, straightened the covers, put Thor back in his place of honor on the nightstand, turned off the lights and crawled back in bed. Needless to say, the adrenaline still pumping through my body prevented any hope of getting any sleep that night. Only I could follow the doctor's orders for sleep and end up more wide awake than ever. The hamster was having a ball that night.

I had a follow up with the doc a couple weeks later. He asked if I was following his orders to get better sleep, so I relayed the scare, which I have since dubbed the "Deepak Debacle", to him. He nearly fell out of his chair laughing so hard. He was literally wiping tears from his eyes. I was silently pondering how he'd feel about being strangled with his own stethoscope.