Wednesday, March 28, 2012

An Alphablog

I haven't written any stories in a long time. I have them in my brain, but my hands haven't been cooperating these past few weeks.

Instead, I've been obsessively reading A Song of Fire and Ice by George R. R. Martin. I finished A Game of Thrones, and now I'm about halfway through A Clash of Kings. My sister texted me to tell me not to get overly attached to any of the characters, since apparently anyone can die at any time. Fair enough...but if they kill Arya, I will be furious.

I did sit down to write a blog post a few days ago, but I got distracted and played Plants vs Zombies for nearly five hours instead. I couldn't sleep that night. Every time I closed my eyes, I kept seeing little waving plants and flaming peas flying through the air.

Still, there will be writing a-plenty in the next few weeks. I signed up for the Blogging From A to Z Challenge. The idea behind the challenge is to post 26 times during the month of April, with one post for each letter of the alphabet. Honestly, I don't know what I was thinking. I have a hard time keeping up with posting weekly; posting 26 times in the next month may very well be un-doable.

But I'm going to try.

On April 1st, I will begin the Clay Baboons alphablog. Here's the tentative title:

A is for Alien Abduction
26 Things That Annoy Me, Confuse Me, Creep Me Out or Otherwise Make my Life More Difficult

Catchy? Maybe? Hey, I said it was tentative.

In the meantime, enjoy these posts that I didn't write (but wish I did). Please note: some of them are old. I haven't linked to other people's awesomeness in a while. Sorry.

First of all, thanks to Anne at Writing by the Numbers and M at Feed me a Stray Cat for giving Clay Baboons blog awards. I am honoured and touched and basking in warm fuzziness!

Ash-Matic Does Affection for Animals
from Ash-Matic Does Things

Ash-Matic loves animals. Pretty much any creature is in danger of being tucked under his t-shirt while he runs down the road squee-ing. Just don't ask him which animal is his favourite. This post made me laugh out loud more than once.

A Boy That Men Make Drive
from Gweenbrick

When he was but a lad, Gweenbrick learned to drive from an ancient enraged cyborg who hated him on first sight. The traumatic experience ended with him huddled in the back of the car with a sobbing German exchange student. Let this serve as a cautionary tale for all of us.

Why the Pretty White Girl YA Book Cover Trend Has to End
from Hello Ello

You know how sometimes you find yourself nodding along and saying "yes" to your computer screen as you read? This was that post for me. Walk into any book store and you'll find an ocean of young adult books, most of which seem to have a picture of a generic pretty white girl splashed on the cover. It's time for the book publishing industry to move past this trend and embrace diversity.

Big Steve
from Southern Fried Children

"Big Steve was a back slapper, a hand pumper, and a chronic high fiver." Kelly is a true story-teller. This funny-sad-sweet description of an obnoxious, endearing oaf of a man tugged at my heart. Please note: that isn't a picture of Big Steve. It's a picture of Kelly, who writes Southern Fried Children. Just to clarify.

Bullies, UFOs and Me
from Crack You Whip

Tracie has a gift for tackling serious issues with humour, grace and hilarious illustrations. In this funny-sad story, she shares some of her childhood experiences with bullying. Research has shown that bullying will stop when adults in authority and peers get involved. Be a part of the solution.

Like a Filthy, Dirty, Disgusting, Obsessed, Dedicated, Fat Mannequin with a Cheap, Dusty Wig
from Super Earthling

You know how sometimes you get so involved in something that you forget to wash your hair for nine days? And then you want to go out, but you don't have time for a shower, so you just slap some powder on your head instead? Well, this post is about that.

Bad Friend

In this illustrated story, Adam faces some hard truths about his eight-year-old self, including the fact that he was sort of racist and sort of sexist and a pretty crappy friend. This post is both funny and a little bit sad. It made me feel a bit uncomfortable at times.

Raining on his Parade
from Catalog Living

Catalog Living is one of my all-time favourite blogs. The author uses the fictional Gary and Elaine to show us just how ridiculous staging and catalogs can be. Her posts are short and to the point, with only a photo and a caption in each one. This post made me laugh out loud. And I laughed out loud again while linking up to it. And now I just laughed out loud again while thinking about it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Day in the Life

Far too often, my day starts like this:

I wish that I could say that after that point my day is filled with intrigue and adventure, but I'd be lying.

My blog friend Sophia invited me to guest post on her blog (Sophia the Writer) for a series that she's been running for the past few weeks, "A Day in the Life". The idea behind the series is simple but interesting: aspiring authors share an ordinary day in their lives. Sophia's blog lets you take a peek inside the life of a woman who will - I'm absolutely certain - one day be a published author.

When I wrote my post, I realized something: I don't spend enough time writing. It's something that I need to work on. Time management is not my greatest strength.

Click here to see how I spend my time on an ordinary, insignificant Wednesday.

(Bonus: you'll get to see a picture of the Real Live Me.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ten (Other) Things That I Love

JP and I are leaving tonight on a (nearly two years after the fact) honeymoon. We haven't been on a trip together in about 5 years, so I think I'm probably going to have the week of my life. Because I'm technology-free, I won't be posting a new story or responding to comments until I get back. But I do have some stuff for you to check out!

First of all, I loved your responses to RABAC (jazz hands!) and the fight against CAPTCHA.

A few of you have asked if there's a button that you can put on your blogs. Well, now there is! Just copy the text in the box and paste it into your own blog. Together, we can make a difference.

I'll admit that, design-wise, it's a pretty crappy button. The words are too small and hard to read. But it will have to do for now. If anyone out there wants to make a better button, then I'll appoint you vice-president of the first and only chapter of RABAC (Robots And Bloggers Against CAPTCHA). It's a very prestigious position.

And now for something else...

What do The Concoctions of my Life, Does This Make my Blog Look Fat?, Just a Mum? and Mayor Gia have in common?

a) They're all hilarious blogs that you should read and follow.
b) They made me feel all warm and fuzzy by giving me blog awards.

A huge thank you, my friends! As always, I'm honoured (and just a wee bit embarrassed) when talented bloggers choose to offer me awards.

And now for ten other things that fed my brain or made me smile.

Thing One

Do These Make my Bones Look Fat?

This comic about an anorexic skeleton girl is brilliant. The penned illustrations are amazing and the satire is both funny and sad. I read it three times in a row, more slowly each time. Leauxra has some serious talent! She's going to be ridiculously famous someday, and I'm just glad that I got to meet her first. (from Does This Make my Blog Look Fat?)

Thing Two

Meet Big Murph

Big Murph is a chesapeake bay retriever. And he's not exactly the dog that his family expected him to be. As a fellow chessie-owner, I laughed hard through most of this post. I had such a hard time picking a picture for this link, because they're all so funny. In the end - after I stopped giggling - I settled on a picture of Big Murph flailing in the water while a kitten paddled by. Poor dog. (from A Touch of Embellishment)
Thing Three

Why I Hate the Snooze Button

The day after I read this post, my husband's alarm went off at 6:00. He proceeded to hit the snooze button for 48 minutes. So, yeah. I can relate to this post on Abby Gabs. Sleep: far too precious to be interrupted every nine minutes. (from Abby Gabs)

Thing Four

Fell in love with a boy

This post - a brief and beautifully written peek inside a mother's heart - brought tears to my eyes. Jillsmo's son has autism, and she is a constant advocate for her child and all families living with autism. (from Yeah. Good Times.)

Thing Five

The Bad Lady

This is like a public service announcement for what not to say on your son's first date. Even if the idea of your son on a date is cuter than baby orangutans in frilly bathing suits giving kisses to baby kittens with floppy ears. (from Coffee and Zombie Movies)

Thing Six

Women's Health Experts Speak Out

"Oral contraception is bad. Plain and simple. Why? Because I don't understand how it works and science scares me." This video from is laugh-out-loud funny. Watch it and laugh. And then cry. It feels like some parts of the United States are living the prequel to The Handmaid's Tale. (from Funny or Die)

Thing Seven

Why I Hated Going to Class in University

You'd hate going to class too if there were enraged carnivorous geese on your heels. A goose ran at me once while I was riding my bike. And he looked exactly like the blood-thirsty goose picture in this post. He won; I swerved on to the grass and went around him. (from Odd But Nice)

Thing Eight

How to Deal With Gamers

I think that a lot of us are probably either gamers ourselves (errr...not me) or love people who are gamers. This post provides some useful, easy-to-implement tips for helping us come to terms with living with gamers. You know, helpful tips, like stacking cups on their heads while they're distracted. (from Doodle Thoughts)

Thing Nine

I Almost Married Tony Robbins

Two of my favourite bloggers came together when MOV guest posted on Haley's Comic. I laughed out loud at MOV's hilarious story about how she almost got her dream job as an assistant for Tony Robbins (thanks, in part, to her fantastic organisational skills). And also, a cat peed on her. (from Haley's Comic)

Thing Ten

Thoughts on Post-Feminism: Just How Far *Have* We Come, Baby?

Justine at A Half-Baked Life is one of the smartest bloggers I know. She weaves thoughtful commentary with delicious and easy-to-follow recipes. This post combines her thoughts on today's feminism with a recipe for cinnamon streusel coffeecake. (from A Half-Baked Life)

If you love illustrated blog posts, check out my frequently updated pinterest board.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Internet Thinks I'm a Robot

This is a Public Service Announcement for Bloggers Everywhere.

We're going to call these PSABE from now on. Using acronyms is fun and clever. It makes long hard names easier to remember. So from now on, whenever you want to make a public service announcement for bloggers everywhere, you can just say "hey, I have a PSABE!" and everyone will know exactly what you're talking about.

(Note: you have to pronounce the p at the beginning and the e at the end, so it sounds something like p-sabee. With one of those "a" sounds that are neither long nor short, like in the word "far". See? Easy! Fun! Clever!)

Anyway, this blog post is a PSABE, but it isn't about PSABE.

This blog post is about CAPTCHA.

The best thing about a CAPTCHA is that it's fun to say.

The worst thing about a CAPTCHA is everything else.

What's a CAPTCHA?

Why, a CAPTCHA is (and I know that it's true because I copied and pasted it from Wikipedia): an acronym based on the word "capture" and standing for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart".

In layman's terms, it's those stupid blurry illegible letters that people have to type before commenting on some blogs. They're supposedly there to help keep blogs' commenting sections spam-free.

The other kind of Spam. Also - completely unrelated - I still think that it's hilarious that I snapped this photo at the filipino food fair at the Asian grocery store in my old neighbourhood. For the record: most filipino food is delicious. And not made from Spam.

In theory, a CAPTCHA is meant to deflect spam. In reality, a CAPTCHA mostly just deflects comments.

This screenshot is from Spirit Clay, where the fabulously talented Candace posts her amazing polymer clay creations. Please note the fact that I was commenting about robots.

It's at this point that I usually realize that the Internet thinks I'm a robot.

A sad robot who can't read or type.

Why do you hate robots? What has a robot ever done to you? Do you think that it's fair to cruelly mock their inability to read or type? Shame on you. Shame.

The default setting on Blogger has word verification on; you have to manually turn it off if you don't want to emotionally traumatize robots.

Luckily, it's an easy fix! You can turn off the CAPTCHA on your Blogger blog with a simple click of a mouse!

First, click on settings and then on comments in your dashboard.

Next, scroll down until you see "Show word verification for comments?" and then - and this is the important part - click on no.

That's it! Easy-peasy!

In fact, it's so easy that I'm going on an anti-CAPTCHA campaign. Robots and Bloggers Against CAPTCHA! I'm going to link to this post on every blog with word verification. Admittedly, that will be really obnoxious. But I think that in this case, the ends justify the means.

This isn't to suggest, of course, that CAPTCHA can't at times be a source of amusement. Sometimes they even make me laugh.

exhibit A:

I'm picturing a pudgy mustachioed stylist.

exhibit B:

One time while commenting on an infertility blog, I found myself typing the CAPTCHA "placenta importa".

(Disclaimer: I'm not 100% positive what ironic actually means. I'm pretty sure that reading healthy living blogs while eating spoonfuls of nutella counts, but that's about as far as I get. And also I just copied and pasted that joke about irony from an older blog post.)

I didn't make it up. Look! Proof!

I'm pretty sure that tweets count as proof. In fact, Twitter is probably the second most trust-worthy source of information, right after Wikipedia.

exhibit C:

Frack indeed.
* geeky Battlestar Galactica reference

We have to ask ourselves, though: is the rare amusing CAPTCHA worth this?

Is anything?

To be fair, I guess that being a robot can't be all bad.

If I were a robot, I would download a bunch of cool apps.

I would download an app that would let me sleep through the night without waking up, and an app that would make me a talented guitarist without actually having to learn to play, and an app that would make me invisible at will.

I still don't think that I'd like folding the laundry or dusting. I think that I'd probably hire another robot to do that, with all of my robot money.

But I would definitely download an app that would let me know the lyrics to every song.

(Did you catch that? We're totally robot dancing in that last picture.)

You can make the world a better place for all of us.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Z Factor

** Note: this story was first posted on Mothers of Brothers. I am reposting it here so that I can keep all of my stories in one place. **

This is me at a dance-based fitness class:

I get this big goofy grin on my face. The more I notice my grin, the wider it gets. I avoid mirrors, because if I see myself grinning like a maniac, I'll burst into giggles, which is even more embarrassing.

Sometimes, however, group fitness classes aren't funny at all. Sometimes they're serious and intense.

Consider, for example, the BodyCombat class that I used to take when I lived in the city. It was a combination of dance, yelling, and martial-arts inspired kicks and punches. During my favourite track, we had to fight 5 opponents and - this is the best part - gut the last one with our imaginary samurai sword.

Punch opponents one and two.

Elbow opponent four.

I took the sword-fighting track very seriously.

I took it so seriously, in fact, that the instructor called me out on it with a laugh: "That's what I like to see! Someone who's getting angry. Someone's who's taking them down."

I didn't tell her the truth:

I was invincible.

Which leads us to the central thesis of this post:

Inserting zombies into workouts can help you motivate yourself to push harder, farther and faster. I call this motivational tool the Z Factor.

Take running, for example. I like to watch episodes of The Walking Dead while I'm on the treadmill.

The tenser the scene, the faster I run.

What better motivation to run than hordes of the undead snapping at your ankles?

Best of all, the Z factor can also be applied to less aggressive physical activity, such as dance.

The Z Factor. It's infallible.

You're welcome.