Category Archives: Oh my

Confessions of a Reality TV Lurker

Photo Credit: (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit: (Creative Commons)

As a teacher of teens, you’d think I’d have my fill of freakish behavior. Like I need to watch more on my own time? Ah, but I do.

Reality TV is, like, a lurker’s Shangri-la. Yes, these shows are scripted and heavily edited. Yes, the contestants are chosen because of their entertainment value. But the mix of personalities makes a fascinating study in human behavior.

Years of essay writing have me listing these in reverse order, with my favorites at the bottom. The first three I surf, watching only snippets. Because too much drama is too much. But the last three? Those I go to school on.

SayYes-LogoThe right dress can make all the difference to a woman. As a “non-girly” girl, I marvel at how this works. And at how much money some gals can blow through–other people’s money! As for their opinionated friends and family, oh my word. Get over yourselves, people. You’re not the one wearing the dress. And is airing your fine opinions worth damaging your relationship with the bride?

ProjectRunway-LorealLogoThe designs that contestants come up with fascinate me. Combine a bolt of cloth, accessories, and attitude. Voila, an outfit. Not necessarily an attractive outfit or something I would wear, but still. The something-from-nothing is a hook, and also the fact that the designers must actually do work. I tune in for the final 15 minutes.

TopModel-LogoI watch to see the photo stills at the end. How is it that the camera loves certain faces? And how can an image be so vastly more glamorous than the actual girl? And how important is it for an attractive young woman to keep her petty complaints to herself?

Treehouse-Masters-LogoBecause Pete Nelson is just so likable. The camera work is excellent, the locations are easy on the eyes, and who doesn’t want a tree house? This is another show where the “stars” are workmen, not drama queens, and they love what they do. This one I watch from start to finish.

DirtyJobs-LogoDitto for Mike Rowe. He delights in being Everyman, is comfortable in front of the camera, can toss off one-liners with ease, and willingly puts himself in shiver-worthy work situations. Plus the man’s a darn good writer.

SharkTank-LogoThis one is my current favorite. I like the banter, the crisp intelligence, and the practical advice. Again, I’m watching working people who have learned by doing, and the questions they ask are excellent. In the process I’ve come to realize that I am more than just in business for myself. I am an entrepreneur–a scary word! –both as the creator of my fiction and its promoter. As a marketer, I kind of stink!

In our social media-driven world, what I need to learn about getting out there–being likable, being real, being myself–is a lot. So this teacher is going to school, Reality School, with Pete Nelson and Mike Rowe and the six Sharks. And I’m reminded about what NOT to do from the others.

Are you a Reality TV lurker like me? Which shows are your favorites? Ah, but are there some you love to hate?


My un-sorry hired help

Can you blame me? It's like prison in that purse.

Can you blame me? It’s like prison in that purse. Let me out! Let me out!

I write historical fiction but I live in an age of automation. Which is absolutely wonderful because…

I don’t have to deal with the drama that comes with hired help. Or so I thought.

Because I DO have hired help. It’s just that my workers are not human.

Electronic gadgets are supposed to be “seen and not heard,” right? Lately mine have been letting me down.

Are they sorry for the trouble they cause? Ha, not on your life.

And I lose my work. Sigh.

Like it’s MY fault that Laura loses her work?

Today I’m sharing caught-in-the-act photos. A furry friend would be more trouble, but his “I’m sorry” picture is so much cuter.

See me rock the adorable vibe.

Ha, see me rock the adorable vibe.

But hey, I'm like 50 years old. (and I'm not THIS far off)p

But hey, I’m, like, 50 years old.
(And no way am I THIS far off.)

Not every cute pet is sorry...

Ah, but not every cute pet is sorry

Writerish Pack-ratting

My laughably fat self-made textbooks.

My laughably fat textbooks. Yes, that’s Wile E. Coyote’s calling card: “Have Brain, Will Travel.” Just what students need to hear.

I’m blogging today at Laura Hile about my ginormous self-made textbooks. As the school year progresses, these become almost like weapons! The photo shows how huge a simple composition book can become.

But don’t picture me as the noble teacher, scouring the Internet for information to share with students.

In truth, I’m a pack rat, and these textbooks are more for me than for my students. I’ve simply found an honorable use for all the quotations and articles and cartoons I hoard. And I keep collecting more-more-more.

My most pressing struggle during the 400 Bags for Lent challenge has to do with papers. (Well, and the garage.) But I’m wondering. Does my handicap in discarding papers have a connection with being a writer?

What about you? What do you struggle to get rid of?

40 Bags for Lent

Clutter multiplies. Here, my sons' shoe pile.

Clutter multiplies. Here, my sons’ shoe pile.

This year I’m taking up a challenge for Lent.

Well, kind of.

I’ve never really celebrated Lent, being from a non-denominational church. But I think Lent involves sacrificing something I like.

And I must like clutter because I keep stepping over and around it.

So I’ve joined up with Anne Marie’s group at White House Black Shutters to de-clutter. She has chosen the 40 days of Lent. I am all right with that. It’s not exactly spiritual, but then again, perhaps it is. For I will be casting out personal demons of sloth and negligence.

You won’t find me hauling out a giant garbage bag each day, although I surely need to. This is about small, consistent, daily victories.

I write 500 words every day. I organize one small area at work or home every day.

Easier said than done, I know. But I am determined. Today, for example, I cleaned out one desk drawer. Victory!

And now I can put a nice X on the calendar.

Want to come along? There’s even a Facebook group for support.

Peppers or Horses?

chocolate-covered-jalapenos-3023Valentine’s Day is drawing near, so I went looking around the web for gift possibilities. I had my eye out for something that is not the same old thing.

First I discovered this unusual treat: chocolate-covered jalapenos. They’re touted as perfect for one’s Valentine, being both hot and sweet.

Um, okay. Definitely different. (Have you tasted these? I think I’ll stick with strawberries.)

And then I stumbled upon Trotify, a device that makes your bike sound like a horse.

Trotify-2-537x358Yes, you read that right, like a horse. (Who thinks of these things?)

And how great is this? Because it’s a gift for someone who has everything!

Even a nerd, for some assembly is required.

Perfect for the hipster, recalling the charm of urban horsemanship without the fuss or bother.

Just right for the history buff too … if she rides a bicycle. And doesn’t mind a making little noise.

Golly, what would Jane think of this whimsical device? (What would my school principal think, if I rode my Trotified bike through the halls?)

So which would you prefer to receive for Valentine’s, the pepper or the horse?

Before you answer, watch the little video.

An engagement ring for Christmas? Hmm . . .

christmas-engagementAccording to WOKV, a state court in Georgia recently ruled that Christopher Ned Kelley owes his former fiancee Melissa Cooper, with whom he lived for more than a decade, $50,000 for cheating on her. He had fathered her child and given her a $10,000 ring, promising to marry her. Cooper had resigned from her job to raise their child, depending on Kelley to provide for his family, but when she found out Kelley had cheated on her for a second time, she sued him for fraud and for “breach of promise to marry.” She also broke off the engagement and kicked him out of their home.

His defense was that he never intended to marry her. Here’s his statement: “I never initiated the concept of marriage with her, outside of giving her that ring,” he said. “I never said the words ‘will you marry me’ to her.” I guess the ring and the baby were a ploy. He said that she was actually his prostitute. He paid for things, and she provided sexual services for him.

Georgia abolished common law marriages in 1997, so she had no grounds there, and I don’t understand why she didn’t break it off the first time he cheated on her. Besides, he is clearly not husband material. He doesn’t even know the difference between a statement and a question.

I think the case is interesting. Gentlemen, be warned. If you give her an engagement ring and a baby, you have promised to marry her, even if you have cleverly avoided asking the question.

In Regency times, engagements were legally binding. Before a formal engagement, young ladies were expected to be chaste, but once the engagement was announced, the rules were substantially relaxed. Therefore, a broken engagement ruined both the reputation of the lady and the pocketbook of the gentleman. Because the woman was unlikely to find another suitor with such a blot on her character, her male relative could sue the jilter, most often resulting in his payment of a fine (250 pounds). Occasionally, the man would choose instead to marry the lady, though I would not have been amenable to that arrangement for a daughter of mine. That’s too similar to the redneck “shot gun weddings” of them thar hills.

Think before you post that pic.

I know famous people, and I'm one of them!

I know famous people, and I’m one of them!

“Increased frequency of sharing photographs of the self, regardless of the type of target sharing the photographs, is related to a decrease in intimacy,” says a study conducted jointly by the University of Birmingham, the University of Edinburgh, and Heriot-Watt University.

Don't mess with my baby girl. She knows Samuel L. Jackson.

Don’t mess with my baby girl. She knows
Samuel L. Jackson.

These folks could have saved themselves a bundle of money by simply asking regular Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram users what they think of a flood of “selfies.” I don’t have Instagram, but I can look a the pictures on it, so I have formed an (ahem!) opinion. Many people who constantly share pictures of themselves tend to have fewer deep friendships and more shallow relationships. They are living their lives through the social media without much personal contact with other people.

However, if you already have a relationship with the people viewing the “selfies,” you probably won’t irritate them into blocking you or “unfriending” you. Some of your friends will even like keeping up with you in that way.

I have observed that there are several types of “selfies.” Some are funny and quirky, and I like those.

Patrick Stewart and I are best buds. He's the best "Star Trek" captain, hands down.

Patrick Stewart and I are best buds. He’s the premier “Star Trek” captain, hands down.

Some are taken to prove the person met a famous person. I get it.

Just don't tell Nancy about this.

Just don’t tell Nancy about this.

If I met Colin Firth, and he agreed to a picture with me, I would jump at the chance.

Others border on the pornographic; somebody’s mom and dad need to monitor their children before a pedophile finds them.

Then, there are those shots in the bathroom mirror right after a girl gets ready for a night out. She’s looking good, and she wants everyone to know it.

Here’s a free clue: Don’t take pictures of yourself in the bathroom – ever.

My least favorites of the “selfies,” which are by far the most numerous, are the “I have my shirt off to show you my ripped abs, my ‘assets,’ or my new tattoo” varieties. Just hashtag it #yesiamnarcissistic.

Tell me that's not Bruce Willis in a Hawaiian shirt. At least he has his shirt on.

Tell me that’s not Bruce Willis in a Hawaiian shirt. At least he has his shirt on.

Another thing to think about before you post that pic – nothing ever really disappears from the internet, and it could come back to bite you. People have lost their jobs over posts. Stalking is at an all-time high, and it’s easy. Google your own name and see what comes up. Scary stuff.

And, yes, I did meet Patrick Stewart and Ronald Reagan.