Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cubicle Courtesies

A few days ago, I forgot to bring my headphones with me to work. As a result, I spent a lot more time than usual listening to the goings on in the areas immediately surrounding my cubicle. It was a constant reminder of why I try to never forget my headphones. So for those of you who work either in a cubicle or in an office with cubicles, I offer up these friendly suggestions.
  1. Your cubicle is not a bathroom.Do not do anything in your cubicle that you also do in your bathroom at home. This includes cutting your fingernails, brushing your teeth, and preening in front of the mirror. No one wants to listen to the sound of fingernail clippers while they are at work.
  2. Put your cell phone on vibrate.This is especially true if you have a ring tone that you think is particularly funny or particularly awesome. Chances are, you're the only one who thinks it's as awesome as you do. Your coworkers are tired of hearing it. Shut it down. This is also especially true if you have a family member who calls you ten times per hour to check in or ask a question or whatever other reason they have for bombarding your officemates with the sound of your personal ring tone. Again: Shut. It. Down.
  3. Mute the volume on your computer.
    You never know when some random website you're visiting when you're supposed to be working is going to start playing some crazy video or have blaring background music. Best to just keep your computer volume muted just in case Also, DO NOT set your computer to play a sound of any kind when you receive emails. It's 2011. You probably get a lot of email. You probably don't even notice that sound going off any more. Guess what? Your co-workers notice. Enough already.
  4. Speaker phone is an option, not a requirement.
    Do not answer all of your calls with the speaker phone option. I know it's cool that you don't have to cradle the handset with your shoulder while you're typing and talking to the person who called you, but you should not carry on every phone conversation using speaker phone. In fact, if your employer has not seen fit to give you a door, then go ahead and assume that they only gave you that speaker phone option because they got a good deal on the phones and for most of your calls, you should not be using speaker phone. The people who work near you probably have their own work to do. They don't need to participate in, or even hear, your every conversation. Pick up the handset.
  5. Your cubicle is not a meeting room
    Yes, I know that it's large enough to fit five people in there. And your computer is right there, allowing for easy demonstration of your brilliant work. But there is a reason that office buildings with cubicles also have meeting rooms. That reason: doors. The people who sit on the other side of the cube wall from you who are not a part of your little discussion group, really could probably work better if the friendly debate between you and your co-workers took place in a room with actual walls.
  6. Take your water cooler conversation to the actual water cooler
    If your, "Hey, how was your weekend?" comment to a co-worker passing by your cubicle turns into a 25 minute conversation about your kid's soccer coach and how you think your kid was completely in the clear on that last penalty and how you were not at all out of line when you approached the referee to ask about the penalty and how you can't believe that your kid is being penalized because the coach doesn't like you.... yeah.... There are probably people nearby who would find that story fascinating if they weren't trying to meet a deadline. But guess what... they are. Because they are at work, dontcha know!
  7. Your cubicle is not a cafeteria
    Yes, you may eat lunch at your desk. Sometimes things get crazy and you don't have time to go out. Or you may be one of those people who just likes to eat lunch at their desk. That's fine. But the people who work in the next cubicle over should not be able to deduce the contents of your entire meal because of the slurping, chewing, crunching, and chomping that is audible three cubicles down. And under no circumstances should you open a packet or can of tuna in your cubicle. Do I really need to explain why?
  8. Mind the microwave
    If you have a microwave at work and that microwave is situated near people's cubicles, please try to think about them when you put stuff into said microwave. Do not put stuff into the microwave and walk away. I don't care if you're just going to be gone three seconds. Don't do it. Because three seconds turns into 10 minutes when you run into the guy from Purchasing that you've been trying to touch base with and then the bag of microwave popcorn that you set to popping has turned into a office-clearing, odorific stink bomb. And while that's unfortunate for everyone in the office, the person whose cubicle happens to be right next to the microwave, well, let's just say that that person isn't going to be your biggest fan.
  9. Knock when entering
    I know that cubicles don't have any doors. In fact, we are all acutely aware of that fact. But if you enter someone's cube who appears to be working intently on something and they don't seem to notice your arrival, knock on something to let them know you're there. Do not just keep walking into their cubicle until you're practically on top of them and then say, "Hey!!!" really loudly. Really, folks, that's just not nice. Not only is that person likely to have a heart attack from the shock, but if they don't, they may seek revenge by sticking a bag of burnt popcorn in your desk drawer after you leave for the night.
  10. Know when to keep walking
    It's good that you have friends at work. And it's good to stop by and say hi and find out how their weekend was or how their project is going. But if you stop by to say, "Hi," and the person appears to be typing so frantically it's as if they weren't even typing real words and were just banging away on random keys the keyboard... Yeah, they might be busy. You might want to come back later. And if you do go ahead and say, "Hey, Bob! How's it going?" and Bob answers, "I am so busy! I've gotta get this proposal done before 10:00 for a meeting with the VP's." Your response should not be, "That sucks. So, got any plans for the weekend." Dude. Bob is busy. His plans for the weekend now include burning a couple bags of microwave popcorn and planting them in your desk drawer for a Monday morning surprise. Move it along.
So, in conclusion: Don't be gross. Keep it down. Be quiet. Be quiet. Be quiet. Be quiet. Be quiet and don't stink up the joint. Again, don't stink up the joint. Don't scare people. And... be quiet.

Any questions?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

This Week in Tweets: Actually Don't. You'll Die.

Hey, folks. I've been a little absent from the social media world the last few weeks. Real life craziness and such. So sadly, I have only seen about 9 tweets in the last two weeks. Fortunately for you, 5 of them were pretty funny. So it's a short list this week. Next week, I'll be back to regular strength.

My personal five favorite tweets from this past week.

This week in tweets made possible by: @BeggingAnswers @MarinkaNYC @LOLGOP @FozziesRevenge @CaitsConcepts

Now go... follow the funny.

(FollowtheFunny is a Twitter list of the tweeps that have recently appeared on my This Week in Tweets.)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Rubyspikes Guide to Doing Disney World with a 3 Year Old

We are headed to Disney World tomorrow. My kids are 4 and 1. We went last year as well when my son was 3 and my baby was still in utero. We stayed in Orlando for a week. The week after we got back, a friend of mine was also going with her 3 year old. And since way back then I didn't have a blog, I wrote her an incredibly long email explaining the tips and advice we'd picked up having just spent a week at Disney World. Since we are going tomorrow, I thought I'd dig it out and remind myself what my Disney World advice for a 3-year-old-centered trip was. We may need to tweak some things since this year we will have a 4 year old and a just turned 1 year old. But what I really learned was... damn... was I a woman waiting for a blog or what? Talk about a long email.

Our Plan

  1. We decided that our vacation was going to be all about the 3yo.  Since I was pregnant and therefore couldn't go on any rollercoasters anyway, we decided we would ride and see what we thought the 3yo would like and not the fun stuff for grown-ups.
  2. Our original plan was going to be to see one park per day, starting with Epcot, then Animal Kingdom, then Hollywood, and finally Magic Kingdom.  The thought was then the parks would get better from the 3yo's perspective every day.  We threw that plan out because I was worried that in my pregnant state, I might decide that by day 3, I was done walking around in the heat and we would still not have even made it to Magic Kingdom.  So we decided instead to start with Magic Kingdom.  (I was very glad we did.)
  3. We did not do Busch Gardens, SeaWorld, or Universal.  We did spend two whole days playing in the pool and wandering around at Downtown Disney.

Our Advice
After a couple days, we had a pretty good system going. Here is what we learned and what worked very well for us.

  • We got to the parks every day when they opened.  So Magic Kingdom by 9.  The others by 8:30-8:45.  The parks don't officially open until 9, but all except Magic Kingdom let you in early, so you can begin your walk to the furthest reaches of the park where you're normally headed anyway.  This was huge in terms of enjoyment.  We could hop on to rides with almost no wait for the first hour or so.  We rode Winnie the Pooh twice in a row the first day and Buzz Lightyear twice in a row the next day.  The crowds are smaller.  The heat isn't overwhelming.  Overall, I was so glad that we did it, even though every night I questioned whether I really wanted to get up that early the next morning.  It was always worth it.
  • We left the parks around mid-day (around 1) everyday.  Four hours from opening until 1 was a lot of walking.  By 1, it's really hot and really crowded.  We'd grab a shuttle back to the hotel and take a nap or go to the pool.  We planned to have the 3yo to take a nap during that time every day and then head back to the park in the evening, when it was cooler again and he was rested. But we never made it back and were never sorry about it. We just enjoyed the hotel amenities (pool, playground, etc.).  The only day we stayed longer than 1 pm was our first day, and we stayed until 3.  By the time we got back to the hotel, we were beyond exhausted.  Had we tried to do that every day, we would have probably quit the parks after 3 days.  (I was also pregnant, so I was done sooner than maybe I would have been otherwise.  But still, better to not exhaust everyone the first couple days.)
  • We did not stay on Disney property, nor did we buy a meal plan.  Instead, we went grocery shopping the first day.  Every day we brought sandwiches, carrot sticks, grapes, string cheese, and 8 bottles of water.  When we got hungry or just a little hot or tired in the park, we would find a shady spot and have a snack or a sandwich.  Saved so much money over eating in the park every day and even more on the amount we would have spent on water.  It was HOT! And water is expensive in the park.
  • We brought our stroller instead of getting a Disney stroller.  So we threw all of our "stuff" (food, water, etc.) into a large beach bag and put it into the basket under the stroller.  Disney strollers have no room for "stuff".  The 3yo was not much of a stroller-lover when we're at home, but he almost never walked at the park.  This was fabulous as he didn't get tired or cranky very often.
  • Bring a change of clothes.  I knew to do this, but forgot the first day.  There is a little place called "Donald's Boat" in Toontown.  It's tiny, but it has a mini splash-pad.  The 3yo got soaked and it was so nice to have the opportunity for him to cool off.  (Did I mention it was hot.)  Afterward, it would have been good if I had some dry clothes to put him in.
  • Use FastPasses.  We got better at this by day 2.  I had read that you shouldn't get a FastPass for anything with a wait under 30 minutes.  This probably works great if you're not with a pre-schooler.  For us, we got a FastPass for anything that offered them.  The first day we waited 20 minutes to get on Peter Pan.  That was probably pushing it for the 3yo.  The next day, we got a Fast Pass for Peter Pan, rode Small World (which was right across from PP) twice in a row (5 minute wait and a 10 minute air conditioned ride and the 3yo loved it) then took a string cheese break.  By that time, our FastPass window was open and we walked right on with no wait.  Another time we got a FastPass for Winnie the Pooh and then rode the carousel three times in a row.  The carousel was so not crowded that we didn't even get off and get back in line, we just rode it three times.  The 3yo probably could have stayed on 5 more times.  So don't wait with the kids unless you have to.
  • The 3yo's favorite rides were Buzz Lightyear, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan (all three have long waits and FastPasses), the Speedway (long wait, no FastPass), Small World, the carousel, and the Jungle Cruise (FastPass).  He did not like:  Pirates of the Caribbean (too scary/dark) or any of the 3D movies we saw.  Some of the 3Ds were a little scary in parts (It's Tough to Be a Bug gets kinda scary for little ones), but even the not scary ones were not a hit for us.  He'd like them until stuff started flying at him and then he wanted the glasses off.
  • The 3yo did not like the characters.  I thought I was prepared for this.  But he said he wanted to go see Pluto and we waited in line and as soon as we got to be 2nd in line, he insisted that he didn't want to see Pluto.  So we didn't force it.  The rest of the trip we would go and look at the characters, as long as the 3yo "didn't have to say Hi."  He finally came around and got his picture taken with Buzz the last day.  But I was glad we found this out before we stood in the crazy long line to see Mickey and Minnie in the Judge's Tent in Magic Kingdom.  He was a little better with the "face" characters, like the princesses, but the "furs" were a little overwhelming.  Even the ones he loved, like Woody and Jessie.  He only wanted to see them from a distance.
  • We got 5-day hopper passes for the whole family.  The price difference between 3-days and 5-days was so small ($5 more per person) that we figured we'd just go ahead and get the 5-day.  We learned once we got there that if you buy the 3-day, you have 14 days from the date you first use it to add on more days.  So we could have bought 3-days and added on 2 more days for $5 each if we wanted to go more.  Had we done that, we probably would have ended up going to the parks 4 days instead of 5.
  • Do not worry about the FastPass end times!!!!  I had read this somewhere and confirmed it when we were there.  When you get a FastPass, you have a "window" when you're supposed to return.   They do not look at the end times!  They will check to make sure you're not coming in too early, but that's it.  So don't worry about trying to dash across the park to make it to a ride you have a FastPass for.  In fact, we got a FastPass for the Jungle Cruise on Monday and didn't use it until Wednesday.  (We did make sure to go after start time window, since that's what they look at.)
  • Get FastPasses as soon as you can.  Once you get a FastPass for one ride, it will be an hour before you can get another one.  But as soon as that hour is up, you're free to get another one.  You do not need to use your current FastPass first.  So if your hour is up and you happen to be passing by Winnie the Pooh, grab a FastPass if you think you'll want to go on it again.  We would grab a FastPass as soon as we walked into the park, even if there was no wait.  So, for example, we'd grab a FP for Buzz Lightyear, then jump on the ride (not using the FP) with no wait.  Later that day, we'd come back and ride it again with our FP.  The sooner you get a FP, the sooner you'll be able to get another one.
  • Personally, I would recommend against Dumbo.  I know, it's a classic, that's why we rode it, but it didn't really seem worth it. The 3yo wasn't really clamoring to do it anyway.  We went the first day and got in line about 45 minutes after the park opened.  It already had a 35 minute wait.  This was way too long, especially for a 90 second ride.  And when we asked the 3yo about it later, he said he liked it, but not nearly as much as the others.  So unless the kid is asking to ride Dumbo, I wouldn't encourage interest.  And if you do walk past it and your kid expresses a little interest, there is a stationary Dumbo "car" just like the ones on the ride just outside the ride where you can take pictures of the kids on a Dumbo.  That might be enough to satiate the desire without having to stand in line forever.
  • The PhotoPass people are really convenient (they are the official photographers who take your pictures with the characters or in front of the castle or tree of life, etc), especially for pics of the whole family, but the photos are pricey.  $15 for a 5x7.  And they are totally fine with you taking your own photos.  We got a couple PhotoPass photos, but I would have taken the pictures of the 3yo and Buzz myself if I knew it was going to be $15.
  • The 3yo liked the Safari at Animal Kingdom, but either get there when the park opens or get a FastPass.  The day we rode we got there when the park opened and walked right on.  By the time we finished the ride, the wait time had grown to over an hour.
  • We spent about 90-120 minutes at Epcot total.  There is so very little for the little ones to do.  We went on Nemo and then did Turtle Talk with Crush.  The latter, he didn't really care about.  I don't think he really got that the turtle was actually interacting with the people.  So to him, it was just a really boring movie with Crush.  He liked the Nemo ride, but that's about all there was to do at Epcot that interested him.  There was a cool character greeting spot, but that wasn't his thing.
  • We did Hollywood our last day.  It was a total bust.  Most of the shows are outdoors and it was crazy hot the day we went.  Sunny.  91 degrees.  86 percent humidity.  I was dying to take him to the Playhouse Disney Puppet Show, which featured Mickey, Little Einsteins, and Handy Manny.  But when we got there, the stage was outdoors and the viewing area was not shaded.  I couldn't imagine standing there for a 20 minute show sweating our butts off.  So we ended up going to two attractions, having lunch, and leaving early.
  • Before you decide to go to an evening parade/fireworks, do a daytime parade first.  The 3yo wasn't that into the shows with the characters nor the parades and they didn't hold his interest for long.  So it seemed silly to keep him up until 10 to see the lights parade.
  • Be prepared for the heat and humidity.  I don't have any advice on this, really.  It's crazy humid.  It's the biggest reason we were done by 1:00 every day.  But just know going in:  it's going to be hot.
  • We spent three of our five days in Magic Kingdom.  There was just so much more for the 3yo to do.  Granted, we rode most rides about 3 or 4 times (Buzz Lightyear I think we rode 7 times), but he loved it.  And since we weren't trying to cram a bunch of rides into a single day, when we'd get off a ride and he'd say, "Can we do it again?" there was no stress about doing it again.  By the second day, we knew which rides he liked and what the wait times were.  So for day two we knew which rides to grab a FastPass for and which ones we could jump on with little wait.
  • We ate at two restaurants in Downtown Disney:  Rainforest Cafe and Fulton's Crab House.  Both had mediocre food and were crazy overpriced.  We ate at Ruth's Chris one night, too.  Price was about $15 more than at Rainforest, but with awesome steaks.

So that concludes my thesis on going to Disney World with a 3-Year-Old (or at least MY 3-Year-Old).  Now seriously... is it any wonder that I started a blog?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

FAQ for my Facebook Friends

Dear Facebook Friends,
This is a blog post just for you. There are about 100 of you and I love you all. It has come to my attention that there may be one or two of you that are unaware of the fact that I have a blog. (Gasp!) There are also some of you who do know about my blog(s), but are a little puzzled by it, my facebook fan page, my new obsession with Twitter, etc. So here you are: All your questions answered. Well, maybe not all of them, but at least the ones you’ve actually asked me when you’ve run into me IRL. If you have others, let me know.

1. You have a blog?
Yes, I have a blog. This is it. It is called Sarcasm 101. (I actually have another blog, but we’ll get to that in a second.) I post about 3-4 times a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. I write about my experiences with social media; my views on the news, politics, and the world; parenting; things that I think are stupid; ask questions of my readers about their faith; and present a weekly summary of stuff I see on Twitter that makes me laugh. Yes, it's a lot like the stuff you've listened to me drone on and on about when you actually see me. And I know that if you know me IRL, you probably do not need more of this in your life. But if it’s been a while since we’ve hung out or if you just want to know about the latest thing that happens to be annoying me, you will find that here. (Also, FYI, it turns out I am way funnier on my blog than I am IRL. At least that’s what my dear husband tells me.)

2. You have another blog?
I do! It's pretty exclusively stories about the boys (the little ones, not the husband). It's called Little Ants. It is 100% grandparent safe. It is mostly only adorable if you find stories about other people's kids (specifically mine) adorable. Oh! And the boys have pseudonyms on Little Ants: Flik & Z. (Get it? They're movie ants!)

3. What’s with the Rubyspikes?
Rubyspikes, or Ruby Spikes, is my pseudonym. It's also my Twitter handle. There isn't really a story behind it. Well, there kind of is, but it's really lame and boring. So basically, Rubyspikes is just me; only the online me. 

4. What’s a fan page and why do you have one?
A Facebook fan page is just a public page on Facebook that anyone can Like; mine is Rubyspikes. Why do I have one? Well, because I have two blogs and between them, I post at least a few times a week, if not more. When I first started blogging, I would post the link on my personal page every time. I know some people clicked the links, some people ignored the links, and some people really wished I would stop with the friggin' blog links all the time. So for my dear friends who love me but aren't all about seeing my blog posts in their regular feed, I created a fan page. This way, if you want to keep up on the blog posts, you can Like Rubyspikes. If not, feel free to not Like. 

5. Fine. How do I like your fan page?
Really, do not feel like you have to Like my fan page. Hubs isn't a "fan", but he is a regular blog reader. And even if you're not a blog reader, I know you still like me. So we're all good; no worries. 
Now, if you do want to Like my fan page, it's pretty easy. Click on this link: Rubyspikes Facebook Fan Page. When you get there, click the Like button. Once you do, you will see my Rubyspikes updates in your Facebook news feed. These are 98% links to the latest blog posts, but there's an occasional random status update in there, too.

6. What if I only want to read one of your blogs?
There are actually a couple other ways to "follow" my blogs, each of which work independently, so you can choose to follow only one of the blogs. Alternative way #1: Bookmark the blog and then check in every now and then. (I do not recommend this method. It is rather manual. There are easier ways.) Alternative way #2: Up at the top of this page, there's a little box that says, "FOLLOW BY EMAIL" above it. Enter your email address and every time I publish a post, you'll get it in your email. Easy peasy. Alternative way #3: Google Friend Connect. (That's the little box on the right that shows how many members this site has.) You know what, that's a little too complicated. Stick with the first two options. You'll be happier that way. (Unless you want to read some more blogs. In that case, GFC is awesome.) 

7. Do you mind if I read your blog?
I am surprised how often I get asked this question. Of course I don't mind if you read my blog! If I didn't want people reading it, I'd write in a journal instead of on the Internet. And I'd probably stop telling people about my blog. And if we get together, feel free to mention that you read it if, especially in the event that I start telling a story that you've already read about on my blog. I tend to tell the same stories IRL because most people I know IRL don't really read my blog. So if you do visit here often, feel free to tell me to skip on to a story I haven't already blogged about.

8. What is up with the Twitter thing?
I know! You don't get it at all, right? Neither did I a few months back. Just trust me, it's awesome. In fact, I cannot relegate it's awesomeness to this one little section of this post. Maybe I'll explain all of it's awesomeness in another post. So if you want to hear all about it, you'll have to come back later for the full scoop. :)

So... Did that answer all of your questions? What did I leave out? What do you still want to know. Let me know! 

Monday, September 5, 2011

This Week in Tweets: He Made Michele Bachmann for That

I'm a couple days late this week. I was traveling for the holiday weekend and then returned home to find a truck had taken out our phone line, which should really be called our Internet line since I didn't really care too much about the loss of my land line. So even though they were ready on time, you are just seeing them now. Sorry for the wait, but here they are... my personal ten favorite tweets from this past week.

This week in tweets made possible by: @gonnakillhim @iamcaroline @adaddyblog @cheeseboy22 @cecilyk @ohmommy @borowitzreport @laurnicole @sarcasticegg

Now go... follow the funny.

(FollowtheFunny is a Twitter list of the tweeps that have recently appeared on my This Week in Tweets.)

This Week in Rubyspikes
Because even if can't spend every waking moment on Twitter, you still shouldn't have to miss out on me.

Don't you just LOVE it when you look back at previous stuff you've written and see typos. "Hello, world! I am an idiot!" (In case you hadn't noticed.) Ah well. C'est la vie.