Thursday, June 30, 2011

End of June Question #7

I'm on someone else's computer today and for some reason it is not letting me edit my previous posts, so I will go right ahead with question #7.

Today you can pick and choose. Answer one, two, or all three questions.

1. Have you ever met someone, and within seconds or minutes knew that this person was meant to be your friend? Tell us about him or her.

2. What TV show do you hate to miss?

3. Assuming you have the proper resources at your disposal, what would you like to invent?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

End of June Question #6

Sorry, I was absent yesterday and not near a computer. But I am back today, better than ever, stronger, and maybe even a little bit cuter.

Cranium-stretching question number six:

Do you have an affinity for a place (town, city, vacation spot,) other than your hometown? This would be a place where as soon as you get there, you feel "home."  Why do you love this place?

Monday, June 27, 2011

End of June Question #5

Here we go, ladies and gents. Burning question number cinco:

Have you ever performed or spoken in front of an audience of more than ten people?

Auntie M says: Yes. I don't especially like it but I have done it several times.
As a child, I was painfully shy and a nervous wreck having to recite in class or give a book report.

Sandy says: yep with you every week and also at aerobics! :)

Septembermom says: In September, I'm going to be a rookie CCD teacher. That should be an interesting audience. I better start working on some engaging material :)

Jill says: I always hated public speaking too. Now I do it all the time.

My answer: I did a few dance performances, performed in a Les Miserables reader's theater, have spoken before large crowds (up to 200,) and am a teacher.  Like many of you, I dreaded speaking before others. but now it's no big deal.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

End of June Question #4

I've really loved seeing all your answers to my nosy questions. Next up is mind-probing question #4.

What can cause you to feel almost instantaneously angry?  [I'm in trouble if you say, "People asking me dumb questions!"]

Septembermom says: Hearing about a case of child abuse on the news.

Adam says: I don't like it when they'll say something on the news, say a robbery or some crime, basically proving it with video, eyewitness reports, etc. then CLOSE it out by saying "...allegedly". Like what was the whole point of that report if you aren't going to vouch for it?

Auntie M says: Ah, it seems today there are so many things, many of them petty.
I'll nod to Septembermom, child abuse.

Jill says: when people underestimate or dismiss my kids.
Winston Smith says: Politicians!  Duh!

Anonymous says: .... m i l ..... :) enough said

My answer: I'll agree with a lot of the others--anything that involves abuse or injustice toward children.  
I also have a couple of petty things that make me angry.
1. When I feel like things in my surroundings are becoming disorganized or cluttered I can only put up with it for so long, then I snap. Anger seems to come out of nowhere.
2. When I stay up until 2:30 A.M. to finish a romance novel in which the author has taken us on an eleven year journey with the characters, culminating in their first kiss in the last few pages, only to have them both decide they didn't feel anything with that kiss and that they should remain "just friends." 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

End of June Question #3

Thanks to those who responded yesterday!  Today's question is involves transportation.

Question #2:  Have you ever traveled in a helicopter, submarine, hot air balloon, or limousine? Tell us about the experience. 

Auntie M says: Helicopter, from one airport to another in NYC. Kind of scary, as I recall. Never been in a limo. For the most part, I think they are silly.
Septembermom says: Look at all the fun that I'm missing over here! I would love to travel in a hot air balloon, but I know hubby would never go for it. One time I was in a limo as part of a mostly Greek bridal party. Everyone spoke Greek but me. I felt like they all had some secret conversations. 

My answer: I have traveled in a helicopter three times: Once as a child at a festival, once over the Utah mountains, and once over beautiful Lake Powell. All three times were a little nerve-wracking, but the last two times especially since the pilot took great joy in pretending the helicopter was failing and in flying almost completely sideways. I was in a submarine once, in Disneyland. Does that count?  I was also in a limousine once, when daughter Em was born, because the hospital sent each new mother and child home in a limousine. Never been in a hot air balloon, but it's not on my bucket list so I don't care. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

End of June Question #2

I loved the answers you gave yesterday, especially because I learned some new things. Thanks for playing along! If you missed the first day, you may jump in at any time.

Question Number 2:

Have you ever hurt someone's feelings and still regret it to this day? Tell us about it.

Controlling My Chaos says: Yes. I "replied to all" on a political e-mail that was sent to me by a friend. I was annoyed that she sent it to me, knowing I did not share her beliefs, and I responded negatively. It hurt her, and I will always regret it. :(

Auntie M. says:  The only incidence that comes to mind is this. I hurt a friends feelings at lunch, and later apologized and we were fine. A couple of years later I found out she was a hypocrite, not only with me but with all our mutual friends. She has since died. The other friends don't know what I know about her and I don't plan to ever tell them. Let them remember her however they wish.

Septembermom says: Once we were in a heated argument with one of my husband's aunts. We were all stubborn over a certain issue. I said a few things to her that I regret to this day.

And here's my answer: Years ago I was a struggling single mother working more than one job. At a church gathering, a woman I knew by name-only came up to me and said, "So, Randi, what do you like to do for fun?"  I immediately went into "me, me, me" mode and started saying something stupid and selfish like, "Fun? I don't have time for fun. My whole day is consumed with work, my girls, more work, then getting up to do it all over again." Blah, blah, blah...

Later, a mutual friend called me and asked me to explain how the interaction went. She told me the woman said, "Boy, Randi sure shut me down. I tried to initiate a friendship with her and see if maybe she wanted to get together sometime, but she made sure I knew loud and clear that she wanted no part of it. Her whole attitude was 'Don't bother me.'"  Was she correct in her assessment of me? Yup. That's exactly how my attitude came across and and soon as the mutual friend told me, I felt shame for my behavior.  I intended to apologize and maybe later invite her to go out for a bite to eat, but I procrastinated and never did it. Yeah, I was a jerk.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

End of June Question #1

I looked at my calendar and noticed it was June 23.  It seems hard to believe that June is almost over, especially since it hasn't been that long since it snowed here. For some reason, knowing that there are only eight days left in June, caused me to start thinking deep thoughts (Oh, stop laughing. Right now.). Assuming that you think deep thoughts too, I decided to spend the rest of June asking the Quangsters some questions.

From now through June 30, I'll be asking a daily thought prompter. Your job, should you expose yourself by accepting the assignment, is to answer the question by responding in the comments section. At the end of the day, I'll answer too--unless my answer seems really hokey after reading all your brilliant thoughts.

So, without further a due adieu ado, here is your first question: What grammatical error really bugs you?
Just kidding!

Ok, now that I got that out of my system, here's the real first question:

Your spouse or your best friend surprises you by presenting you  two tickets to a concert you have been dying to attend. Who is performing at that concert?

Here are the answers:
Anonymous: The Beatles and Elvis
Auntie M: Frank Sinatra and k.d.lang
Sandy: America
Adam: Ronnie James Dio, Danzig, and Jim Morrison
Septembermom: Dave Matthews

And now for my answer: Josh Groban. Not only is he an inspiring singer, I think he is an amazing human being too. He has no pretenses about being famous, and treats his fans like they are neighbors from his childhood. Sign up to be his friend on Facebook and you'll see what I mean.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Inexpensive Father's Day Gift

    Each Sunday I spend an hour and a half with a group of about 25 children, give or take a few, teaching them cool scripture stories and lessons. We play fun games, hear inspiring accounts, and sing lots of interactive songs. I needed a quick and low-cost  gift for them to present to their dads on Father's Day.

    Enter the Bic permanent marker. Oh yeah.

    I was on Facebook one day and noticed that the Bic page had free coupons for $5 off their set of 24 permanent markers. Our local Walmart had these for $12.87, so with my coupon, each set was only $7.87. I got two sets because it is standard for companies to allow you to print each online coupon twice, and because I needed two sets to make sure that no Dad ended up with a girly color.

The leftovers. What shall I do with all these leftover markers? Hmm...I know! 
Give them to the teachers! Score.

    I then  went to my trusty Microsoft Word program, opened a blank document, then clicked on the little envelope icon which took me to the make-a-cool label-page. I chose label size 8463 and made some highly original tags to go with the pens. I'm so clever.

Label size 8463 gives you 10 labels per page. I printed these on card stock, 
then used my handy dandy paper slicer to cut them apart.

Voila! [That's vwah-lah, not viola or wah-la. Ergh.]
I used black, green or gold ribbons to attach the card to the pen. I had the ribbon 
on hand so it didn't cost me anything additional.

This little project ended up costing only about 33 cents per gift, thanks to Bic's mondo coupon.

Note 1: I was probably pretty stupid for purchasing all different colors. I can hear it now, "My dad hates green. Why can't I have the red one? She budged and I would have gotten the red one if she hadn't pushed me out of the way. "  In my defense, I choose to hand out multi-coloreds instead of all black because some fathers have more than one child in the Sunday school. This way a dad with three kids gets three different colors. Oh, and Walmart didn't have enough black-only ones.

Note 2: If you are a frugalista like I am, and you are not getting in on all the cool Facebook deals, repent now!  Most big companies will give you a truly rocking coupon if you "Like" them on Facebook. Last week I got two FREE cans of La Victoria enchilada sauce, by liking La Victoria on Facebook. They gave $2 coupons to "likers" and you are allowed to print twice. Since Walmart had 28 ounce enchilada sauce for $1.88 each, I got two cans for NADA. 

Note 3, Stupid Disclaimer:  None of the above-mentioned companies compensated me for mentioning them in my blog post. As mentioned though, they just might compensate you with a coupon if you give them your Facebook soul.

Note 4: What is up with Blogger's stupid spacing problems anyway?  Things look peachy in my preview, then when I publish there are huge spaces between lines.

Note 5: I really don't care if you copy my label word for word. Doesn't bother me in the least. Have at it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Post Card Project

    Salt Lake City, Utah.
    Honolulu, Hawaii.
    Nashville, Tennessee.
    Dubuque, Iowa.
    Ansbach, Germany.
    Oxnard, California.

    The other day I was sifting through a box of mementos and uncovered a stack of postcards that I had received from friends over the years. The locales listed above are just a few of the places my friends have gone to or lived in. I enjoyed re-reading some of their comments:

     " The flowers and shrubs are just gorgeous. You would just love it."

     " It's supposed to be 80 degrees and sunny here. That just means when I am big and fat this summer, I'll be miserably hot!"

    " I thought this picture would make you feel better--men are weird here too."

    " I went on my first Volksmarch--a 10k walk in the woods. Very popular over here."

    " Remember, some things cannot be taught, but must be remembered from a time long ago."

    " We went inside the two buildings in the front of the picture."

    My heart was touched that friends blessed me with little insights into their lives, whether they told me where they had visited, described what it felt like to be pregnant in the summer in the south, or imparted a tidbit of wisdom.

    The majority of the postcards were sent over ten years ago. It's a rare event to go to my mailbox these days and find a postcard waiting for me. They've been replaced by email, blogs, and Facebook. Why send someone a postcard when you can upload a picture or a video to Facebook, and your friends can see you in real time?

    I appreciate these technological advances. Computer Geek's kids are in Dublin right now, and I spent part of tonight going through photos of lush Irish greenery. I can chat with my sister, even though she is in a remote African village, trying to find homes for children with AIDS.

    Yet, there is something irreplaceable about the simplicity and beauty of a postcard. If you feel that way too, leave a comment under this post. The first ten people who leave a comment, will receive a postcard from me. I don't care if you live across the street from me or if you live in England, you will get a postcard. I'll even write on it. All you have to do is promise to send a postcard to someone else this summer. (Don't worry, I have no way of checking whether you actually send one or not---Computer Geek's skillz aren't that good. Yet.)

(If you are one of the first ten to comment, please send an email with your name and snail mail address to foreignquang [at] gmail [dot] com.  For obvious reasons, please don't leave your address in the comment box.)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rat Fink Key Chain Winner!

And now....the reason you all got up early on a Monday morning: The winner of the set of three Rat Fink key chains , chosen by the master of all things Anash!  I have emailed the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond with a mailing address.

Congratulations, Anash, and thanks to all of you for participating!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

When the video gods smile upon you...

I babysat little grandson, Chunk, today. He was watching his favorite DVD, a Mickey Mouse adventure, and zonked out while the movie was playing. We tried waking him up because we knew he didn't have much longer to stay, but he was out. I videoed Weston's attempts to wake him up, and we laughed as we realized the video in the background was playing sleepytime music. You may have to crank up the volume, but I promise you, we did not plan this.

Monday, June 6, 2011

You Dirty Rat Fink! [And a Giveaway!]

    What do you remember about your childhood playtime? Do you remember sitting in front of a video game for hours at a time? Do you remember having a bike with twenty different speeds? Do you remember getting new toys for your birthday, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, the first day of school, the last day of school, when your tooth fell out, when your friend had a birthday, because someone picked on you at school, because you got an F, because you got an A, when you went on vacation, when Walmart had a sale, and whenever you went shopping with your parents?
    Me neither.
    We didn’t have video games, my bike was a no-speeder, and we got toys three times a year—birthday, Christmas and maybe Easter. And I’m now so old that I have to tell people how superior my childhood was to the childhoods of today. It’s my right.
    One day, in the late 1960’s, while I was playing outside in my yard (for the younger crowd, playing outside is kind of like a reality show video game,) I found a treasure. Camouflaged by bright green grass, was a little green plastic figure about one and a half inches high. The words “Rat Fink” were emblazoned across his tiny chest. He had sharp pointy ears and a long tail. I couldn’t believe my fortune. I played with him for days, then kept him in a little gold box that I fondly called my “treasure box” until I was an adult. Although I didn’t really know who or what Rat Fink was, I remember when kids got mad at each other, they would exclaim, “You rat fink!”
    Flash forward to 1997. I moved to a small town in Utah. After living there a few years, I began to notice something odd. Our town would hang Rat Fink banners all along Main Street for a few days during the summer. I would question some people I knew, but no one seemed to know why the town would hang Rat Fink banners. I got nostalgic for my childhood toy, because the rat on the banners was “my” Rat Fink.
    In 2008, I was reading our local newspaper and was astounded to find that Ed Roth, aka “Big Daddy,” the creator of my beloved Rat Fink, had been a citizen of my town at the time of his death in 2001. His widow holds a Rat Fink convention every year, which draws counterculture artists from all over the country, hence the banners. The artists convene at his widow’s home to reminisce about Big Daddy, to re-create his artistic style, to pin stripe some hot rods, and to rev their engines up and down Main Street. That was the first year I went to the Big Daddy/Rat Fink museum on his widow’s property. Although I it’s not my favorite style of art, I still appreciate Ed Roth's talent and legacy.
    While in the Rat Fink store that year, I saw something that nearly made me cry. Hanging on a rack of key chains, was a little green Rat Fink figurine, almost identical to the one from my childhood. Little RF is on my key chain today.
    Weston, his friend E-Gore, and I went to the museum again this year. It wasn’t far—I can almost touch the museum from my back yard as only one property separates us. I can hardly believe that a museum of its size, as well as visiting hot rods and artists, fit on her property. For a few days in June, there is a constant parade of show cars driving up and down my dead-end street.  I can do my gardening to live rock music. And for those few days, I am transported back to the late 60’s.
    The pictures I took don’t do justice to the magnificence of the place.

E-Gore and Weston, hanging out in the museum
Yeah! Rat Fink!

Ev-er-y-thing is Rat Fink around here.

The Rat Fink store is to boys as the Twilight store is to girls.

They got matching Outlaw t-shirts.


I could have nightmares.

 Move, little Rat Fink, so you don't get run over!

The Man.

The Potty Car. Don't ask me what it runs on.

They'll draw on anything. Seriously.

This convention center is in her backyard.

Don't you fink he looks scary?

"My" Rat Fink is much cuter.

Man Heaven.

Mrs. Big Daddy's back yard.  I'll take this one.

A true "green" car.

A fuel tank maybe?

Watch out for men with paint brushes.

And now, what you've all been waiting for---the giveaway!
Yes, one lucky Foreign Quang reader will win a set of three 
Rat Fink keychains!
These adorable little Rat Finks come in lavender, hot pink, and jade green. 
You will have the honor of knowing that I too am carrying around a green one. We'll be twinners!
What do you have to do to win?
Just leave a comment here and you will be automatically entered to win.One entry per person.
(Unless you are a spammer, then I purposely won't choose you. No Rat Fink for you, no siree.)
Winner will be chosen by on Monday, June 13, 2011 at 8:00 A.M. Please make sure you leave an email address or have one visible in your profile so I can contact you for 
mailing info.  
May the Fink be with you!
[Sorry, the giveaway is open to U.S. residents only] 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Reading and Writing and Flipping Around the Gym

    Late December. Back in some unnamed year. I had just emerged from the womb and was snuggled in the hospital bassinet thinking to myself, “Criminy—don’t you guys have anything to read around here?”
    Not so with my son. He abhors reading. He has NEVER read a book for pleasure. In fact, I would venture a guess and say that he has read less than ten books in his entire twelve year lifespan, and then only because he had to read a book to get a passing grade on a required book report. Sad, isn’t it?
    I’ve tried, I promise you. I subscribed to the Lego magazine, hoping that if he wanted to know about a product he would have to r-e-a-d the description. I bought him the entire Percy Jackson series hoping he would be intrigued with his own set of books (packed in a treasure chest no less!) and actually crack them open. I have complimented him when he successfully sounded out a large word, hoping that he would finally say, “Hey! Words are cool!”  I have bought him reading software, hoping to trick him into thinking that reading is actually a really cool video game! But no. He would rather do things like this:

    Well, summer is now upon us. That means he will want to do things like go swimming and flip off the walls on open-gym night.  You know, things that cost money. (The library is free, did I mention that?)  Since I have learned a few tricks in my twenty-seven years of mothering, I came up with a brilliant idea. Ya wanna go swimming—ya hafta read a book. Priceless, huh?  Ya wanna go flip around a gym? Ya gotta read TWO books. (Open gym costs twice as much as swimming.) When I presented this genius of a plan, I was answered with the typical tween boy response: What?
    Last night was the first night that he tried to get out of it.
    Weston: You’re just trying to make me like reading and I will never like reading.
    Me: I’m not trying to force you to like reading. I am trying to force you to read a book.
    Weston: I don’t like reading.
    Me:  I know you don’t like reading. However, reading is an essential part of life and I
    want to make sure that you’re at least comfortable with it so it’s not as painful for you.
    Weston:  But what if someone sees me?

    Egads! No! What if someone saw Weston reading a book! He would be marked for life. He would never get invited to airsoft games. Girls would shun his very presence. He would spend a long, lonely life, sitting at his loom and counting his gold.
    Happy ending: Weston read a book yesterday and although he estimated it would take him two weeks to finish, it actually took only an hour. He got a $3 credit and since he had some of his own money, he got to go to open-gym. With friends. Friends who will never know that Weston read a book. It will be our little secret.

(And just so you know how mean I really am, with every book he reads, he has to turn in a book report using capital letters at the beginning of a sentence and periods at the end. I know! Brutal, huh?)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Let the European Adventures Begin!

As of this writing, Computer Geek’s children, Gnome and Neo, are in an airplane somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. When I wake up tomorrow, they will be in Dublin, Ireland, the first leg of their European adventure. Our last name is one of those “O apostrophe” names, so they thought Dublin as a first stop was rather fitting.

Gnome had the idea several months ago, to hike through Europe. The idea became an obsession after she read Eat,Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. She then read Chris Guillebeau’s The Art ofNon-Conformity and the obsession became a concrete plan.

Gradually, they both realized that biking may be a little more realistic than hiking, if they wanted to visit all the stops on their desired itinerary. They purchased bikes and equipment, and read travel books. In May, they moved out of their apartment, and in with us, to save money for the trip. One of the most common phrases around our house during May was, “RickSteves says…”  

Gnome did a great job of taking care of the trip details. She called airlines to make sure they could check their bikes, and to be prepared for all possible fees. All her diligence though, couldn’t prevent problems one day into their trip.

They left yesterday to drive to the Las Vegas airport. Gnome was told by an airline employee over the phone that it would cost $50 each to check their bikes, as long as they didn’t weigh more than fifty pounds. Yet, when they checked their bikes, and they came in at fifty or under, they were told that it was actually $200 each to check in the bikes. Paying $400 was not in their plans, especially since they were only quoted $100.
Okay, I have a twisted sense of humor. I had an LOL moment when I realized the box said 
"Do not lay flat."

When they landed in Boston today, they were in for another surprise. The airline employee told Gnome over the phone that the airline would automatically transfer their bikes from the Las Vegas-Boston plane to the Boston-Dublin plane. They would have a 12 hour layover during which they had hoped to see a few sights in Boston. But it was not to be. The airline said that since the layover was too long, they could not transfer the bikes, meaning Gnome and Neo would have to hang out in the airport with their awkward fifty pound bike boxes until shortly before boarding. We’re hoping the rest of the trip isn’t as aggravating.

We are very proud of their decision to take some risks and have an adventure.  If you would like to be a part of their progress you can check out their blog here. They will update as soon as they find an internet hot spot in Ireland.

Gnome, getting ready to pack the car

 He doesn't look excited, does he?

It's a good thing they get along or this would be a very long trip.

Hoolie gets to go see her pa, who's also toured Europe. When will it be poor Hoolie's turrn?

See, Dad? It all fits!

This is where Computer Geek began weeping.
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