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Ooh-ooh that smell

Today, my friend and I went on a treasure hunt at a local used bookstore. The first thing that hit me when I walked in the door was that smell. You know what I'm talking about. It's old paper, decayed glue, and something musty. Sounds disgusting doesn't it?

Someone will probably tell me it's a health hazard, but for some reason the smell of old books is one of my favorites. There's just something about it that makes me happy. It reminds me of being curled up in a corner for hours, engrossed in a good story. It represents the countless hours I spent at the library as a teenager hunting for something interesting that I hadn't read yet.

It's embedded in those old Mary Stewart novels in the weird little library-edition bindings with no cover art.

It's bliss.

Today I walked in with a whole bag of books I'd already read, and came out with another bag almost as full of authors I love, and some new ones I haven't read before. Now I have a big pile of procrastination waiting for me right next to my favorite chair.

What could be better?

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Averse to versing

A few years ago when my kids started playing various Mario Bros. games, they started using a “new” word: versing. As in, “the Giants are versing the Dodgers”. They even turned it into past tense. “We versed the girls in soccer in PE today.”

This is heebie jeebies, nails on a chalkboard kind of stuff for me. And I didn't get where it was coming from until I started watching them “verse” each other on the Wii. For example, in the Shrek SuperSlam game, the announcer says, “Shrek versus Donkey!” Instead of thinking of versus as a preposition, the kids were hearing it as a verb.

It makes perfect sense to me if you think of it purely from a context standpoint. Kids are pretty smart after all. Especially mine. 😉

I still correct them whenever they use it, but give it another decade and “versing” may enter the Oxford English Dictionary as a new word. According to a recent Grammar Girl facebook survey, kids in English-speaking countries all over the world are using “versing”.

It also has an entry in the Urban Dictionary, use #2, and I found references to it on blogs back to at least 2005.

And here I thought it was just my kids and their friends. Hah! Nintendo has unintentionally created a new word for a whole generation.

I can't decide if that's cool or sad.

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Screw this

Today I didn't get a flat tire.

We were in Birmingham for my boys' swim meet (in which they each dropped many seconds over four events–yay!). Afterward, on the hunt for grass-fed beef–trying something new, joke away Rich–we decided to stop at Whole Foods. Haven't been to that pricey place in ages, but we stuck the cow and a few other things in a cooler with ice and were on our way out of the parking lot when the ominous thump, thump started.

But my flat tire indicator wasn't lit. Weird. We pulled over to check it out and this is what we found. My not flat tire. (Apologies to my Twitter friends who've already seen this.) 😉

Flat or not, we weren't about to drive 80+ miles on it. Nor on the spare.

Thanks to modern technology (iPhone) I found a tire place while my husband put on the spare. Two l-o-n-g hours of trying to ignore the extra loud baseball game on a TV with spotty sound (don't even know who was playing), tweeting, facebooking, reading saved articles on Instapaper (see, I knew that would come in handy), checking email, and completely depleting my already half-dead iPhone battery, they had patched the tire and put it back on.

My kids were gems, by the way.

The biggest surprise was that the screw was blunt. It's a mystery to me how something like that can get embedded in a tire, but I must have hit it just right. As we left, the guy behind the counter added the screw to a jug of items they've pulled out of tires. A motley collection of beat up metal of all kinds. Nails, screws, a flat wrench, wire, and so on.

I wish I'd taken a picture. It's fascinating to me that each piece of metal represented someone else's flat (or not) tire story.

Most likely much more interesting than this one.
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Nickel and dimed

I'm on a rant. I hate fundraisers. The elementary school wants me to buy something every other week. If it's not T-shirts, it's cookie dough, wrapping paper, or coupon books. The swim team–to which I already pay enough each month for a new car for God's sake–wants us to bake goods, sling pancakes, sponsor a swim-a-thon, and eat dinner at a local burger joint.

Clip box tops, turn in old phones and batteries, donate buckets and shovels for the new outdoor classroom. And on and on and on…

I know that for people who can't/don't want to pay the money without getting something in return, fundraisers are a great option, but for the rest of us it's nothing but a nuisance.

This is why my husband and I are so enamored of the all-inclusive vacation. Just tell me how much it will be up front and then leave me alone. My son's school offered this option. I took it. And they hit me up regularly anyway. Of course, if I don't come through, he feels like a pariah for being the only kid who didn't buy the T-shirt, cookie dough, or wrapping paper.

And we never order enough for him to get the stupid prize that's going to be cheap and unworthy anyway.

A couple of years ago my sons' school in VA had a cookie dough fundraiser for the PE department to buy Dance Dance Revolution. Never mind the irony of selling sweets to help the kids get healthy. I just didn't want the dough. So we wrote a check as a pure donation. The teacher looked at us funny, then took it. But here's the thing.

If I buy cookie dough, the school gets some cut of the money. If I write a check, the school gets all of it. Which makes more sense?

I really don't mind supporting my kids' schools, or their teams, but just don't nickel and dime me to death along the way.

Rant over.


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Good karma

Forget the 2008 Lamborghini Murcielago I was drooling over last year. You know, the one that looks like a fighter jet without the wings, and has the really cool doors that swing up like a Swiss Army knife? (Okay, maybe forget is a little harsh…)

I'm going green. My new drool-worthy automobile is the 2010 Fisker Karma. According to Fisker, it's the “World's First Luxury Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle”. It was designed as a more elegant alternative for the Prius-driving Leonardo DiCaprios and Ben Afflecks of the world. Oh yeah, and the King of Denmark's chauffeur has already had all the fun.

Environmentally friendly, and sexy? I'm all over it.

My husband bought a 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid and we love it. In warm weather city driving, he can get up to 55 mpg! When I bought my CR-V the next year, I was hoping Honda would have a hybrid version available, but alas, they didn't (and still don't). Still, downsizing from my old Ford Explorer took me from 18 mpg highway to as much as 36 mpg.

Just think of all the gas money and carbon emissions I would have saved on my old 70-mile round-trip commute between Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo, CA.

Sure, I lost a little cargo space (can't haul drywall anymore), but I doubled my gas mileage. It's cheaper to just rent the Lowe's utility truck by the hour for the few times I need the extra capacity than to pay an extra $10K for a Toyota Highlander Hybrid that gets the same gas mileage as my CR-V.

So back to the Fisker. At $80,000, we'll probably be in flying cars before I have the money for it, so I'll just have to drive one in my dreams. Hmm. Maybe my next hero can be rich and green… 😉

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Addicted to blog stats

I'm addicted to my blog stats page. It's kind of pathetic. These days I average about 30-50 views per day. That's not unique visitors, but rather how many pages are viewed. It could be one energetic visitor, or a whole bunch of people who show up and don't see anything interesting to look at.

I can tell which pages are viewed and how many times, but that's about it. Not quite as informative as the web site stats I used to get when I had my own site, but I can't complain because WordPress is free!

So back to those stats. It's always fun on Wednesdays when the guys over at Scrivener give me a shout out on Facebook and Twitter for my Tech Tuesday post. On one record day, I had 327 views (that was for the Templates post), mostly from Facebook. So, this week, I'll admit I was a bit disappointed when I didn't get a mention for the post on saving Compile Manuscript settings. I thought it was a really cool feature that a lot of people would be excited about.

Only 37 views this time.

One of the reasons I keep doing my Scrivener posts is because I've had such a good response. When I'm reaching that many people, I feel like I'm helping my fellow writers. I enjoy finding new tricks to make my life–and that of others–easier. Tech Tuesday has been my outlet for that and my penchant for teaching (that pesky know-it-all complex).

So, 37 views was disappointing. I really missed that “2” in the middle. 😉

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not bashing the Scrivener guys. I love Keith and David for all their hard work. I know Keith is busy working on Scrivener 2.0 and I'm really psyched about it. They don't owe me a weekly mention. I already got a fabulous program from them that makes writing so much easier than Word.

What I'm bashing, really, is me. For caring too much about how many people care about what I have to say.

There are far too many blogs out there for me to keep up with. Even good ones that I enjoy. I know this. And it's the same for everyone else.

It's my job to ensure I'm adding enough value that people want to come back.

The rest will follow.

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Around the world in 80 minutes

On Saturday, I had the good fortune to attend a cultural festival put on by military officers from more than 60 countries. They're all attending an Air Force school here in the U.S., and the annual event is set up to give American officers and their families a taste of the food and dress of countries they might never get to visit.

I was amazed at the variety of foods, but also at the many similarities among disparate countries. For example, I hadn't realized that rice was a staple for so many cultures. Yes, duh, but I never gave it much thought. My favorite was the saffron rice from Bahrain.

We had kimchi, something Greek with huge beans in it, chicken in peanut sauce, empanadas, quiche, and so many other interesting foods. I wish I could remember where everything was from.

The last thing I ate was Marmite on Saltine crackers. It's a spread–similar to the Australian Vegemite–that's apparently big in the U.K. The company's slogan is “Love it or hate it”. Quite apt for the brewed yeast mixture that tastes somewhat like bitter soy sauce. The verdict is still out on Marmite for me, but I'm glad I tried it.

I've enjoyed the opportunity to chat with the officers from Bahrain and Georgia (the country, comrade) that are in my husband's flight. Their stories are fascinating, and I love hearing about their lives at home and what it's like for them here. In my opinion, we all benefit from learning about other cultures and countries, especially if we can make a personal connection.

As much as I like to travel, there are so many places I'll never visit. I may not get the world tour, but at least I got a little taste of it here at home.