Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Today = Fail

Today was one of those days. Things did not go as planned. Mostly because I couldn't get my sh*t together for longer than 40 minutes at a time. This is especially annoying since on an ordinary day, I totally rock.

My husband got on a plane this morning and will be out of town until tomorrow night. I am not joining him primarily because of the mountain of things going on at work.

I work in IT and there are some important things that all happen to be occurring over the next three weeks. One of those things was scheduled to happen today. Suffice it to say that an application was going to be down for a couple hours for maintenance in order to accomplish something that we've been trying to do for several months now. By tomorrow, my client will be happy and order will be restored. Except, of course, that I forgot to hit the "Submit" button that would tell everyone that it was happening. So today I sent out my email to make sure that everything was ready for our big event and.... whoa... nobody told the users. We can't be down for two hours without telling everybody that we're about to be down. That would make me one of the typical annoying IT folk who doesn't care about their users. And let me tell you something folks, I am absolutely the most user-friendly IT person you've ever met. So we have to reschedule all because I missed one little step. (I could easily blame this on the fact that I barely have enough hours in the day to just get through the email in my Inbox, much less actually act on it. Or I could blame it on the fact that I would like to delegate some of my tasks, like pressing the Submit button, but we don't really have anyone I can delegate to. So let's just chalk it up to... oops.)

The rest of my day was a scramble to reschedule what was supposed to happen today, communicate to users, get approvals (again), all while trying to assure the clients on my other four projects that all their issues (completely unrelated to project #1) are being handled as well.

Five o'clock comes. I head home. I would've stayed late to try and get more done, but with the husband out of town, someone really needs to be home with the 4 year old and 9 month old. (Even though the four year old is actually quite self sufficient, really.) 

Anyway, I get home. And 10 minutes after the nanny walks out the door, I realized that I left my 5 day old iPad at work! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I think about it. I could leave it there. But I'm not going in to work tomorrow. And it's my BRAND NEW IPAD! And it's not like things frequently go missing from work, but it has happened. And if I go into work on Thursday and it's not there I'm going to be kicking myself. But there's no Daddy. I'd have to bring both the kids. They've both eaten, but by the time I get to work and back, it'll be 30 minutes past bedtime.

I decide to go for it. I figure they'll fall asleep in the car on the way back. We drive the 30 minutes there. We go in. I get my iPad. We stay an extra ten minutes as my 4 year old has a jolly old time looking in the drawers of my cubicle and seeing his picture on the wall and just generally exploring where Mommy works. We stop in my old cubicle that is still unoccupied to show him some cool toys. Baby is getting fussy and I didn't bring a bottle, so I pile the kids back into the car. I get 10 minutes from the building when I discover...

I left the GD iPad in the old cubicle!!! S.O.A.B.!!! It was really everything I could do to not start swearing like a trucker in front of the kids. So I went back. Again. Got the kids out of the car. Back into the building. Got the iPad. Put the kids back into the car. Drove home. Baby transformed from fussy to extremely unhappy. He was SCREAMING in the back for the entire thirty minute drive home. Like, can't-catch-his-breath screaming. It was so sad.

But I got home. I gave him a bottle while simultaneously helping the 4 year old put on his jammies, pull back the covers, and climb into bed. I rocked the baby and eventually got him into his crib.

And so I'd normally be all gripy about what a crummy day today was (and it was) and how I hate when my husband is out of town. But today I'm only semi-gripy. Because the reason my husband isn't here with me is because his grandma's funeral is tomorrow. And I feel like I should be there, but I'm not. And I know that right now he his trying to be supportive to his father and his grandfather who just lost their mother and wife. So as much as my day really sucked, I will always know that I've got everything that really matters. Even if 1/3 of that everything is sleeping 600 miles away tonight.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I Got Me a Facebook Username

A couple days ago, I was telling you all about my little quest to get a username on facebook. Well, I am happy to announce that I now have a whopping 26 fans on my Facebook fan page! So thank you to those of you who helped me out. I now have a facebook URL. *Drumroll please*

You may now learn about all that is happening on both my blogs at....


Saturday, May 28, 2011

How Does Prayer Work?

I have spent a lot of time in my life praying. I obviously don't any more. (If you're new here, I'm a former Catholic, now atheist.) I have prayed for big things and little things. Prayed for strength, prayed for others, prayed for guidance, prayed for a boy to fall in love with me. (Ok, that last one might be a tipoff that it's been a long while since I believed in the power of prayer.)

But back when I DID believe in the power of prayer, I don't think I ever really thought about it. Now that I'm an atheist, I find it utterly bewildering. My list of questions about how prayer works has grown longer the more I've thought about it. He are some of the highlights:

Does God ever respond with specific intervention based on prayers? Why? Why would God help guide you to your lost wedding ring, for example, but not give the folks in Japan a heads up about the tsunami that's coming. If the tsunami is all a part of God's master plan, then didn't he have a plan that involved you losing your wedding ring? And if his plan also involved your finding it, doesn't that mean that He wasn't really answering your prayers so much as following the master plan He had already laid out? So basically, God really only follows His own master plan and will "answer" your prayers if it's something He was already planning on doing anyway.

Also very perplexing for me: prayers to saints. Now I have heard people say hundreds of times to pray to such-and-such a saint for assistance with some particular problem. First off, I thought the first commandment says to put no gods before me. If you're praying to someone other than God himself, that seems a little close to the line on that one. I've had a devoutly Catholic friend explain this to me this way: you're not praying TO the saints as though they are answering your prayers, it's more like you're asking them for help, like you would a friend. That sounds a little better to me, but I'm still a little perplexed. 1) I think there are a lot of people praying to saints who aren't making that distinction. 2) If you're gonna ask someone for help, why not go directly to the big guy himself? Why ask for help from some saint when you can ask God. You know He's listening anyway. 3) Why would you need help from a saint anyway if God's on your side. Is God swayed by a good word from St. Peter on your behalf? (I'm assuming not.)

Anyway, I just know that most everyone I know believes that God answers their prayers. I think that most people also believe that God has a greater plan that we do not fully (or even slightly) understand. It would seem to me that these are conflicting beliefs. I don't get it.


Just a reminder. I'm open to all comments, whether you agree or disagree with me, so long as you're respectful

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quantitative Friending

There was a time in my life, just a few years ago really, that if you had asked me something like, "How many friends do you have?" I would have looked at you like you had two heads? It is a ridiculous question. I have lots of friends. I have a small group of friends that I've known since junior high. I have friends from my first college. I have friends from my second college. I have friends from many of the clients I have worked for. (I've spent many years of my career as a consultant.) I now have mommy friends. But how many? That's ridiculous.

Except now in the age of social media, we have all kinds of ways of tracking the quantity of our relationships. Let's see:

Facebook personal page: I have 114 friends. This does not phase me at all. I ignore many friend requests. I post lots of personal stuff on my page, so unless I'm ok with you knowing details about my kids, you don't get friended.

Facebook fan page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rubyspikes/165410406852718?sk=wall): I have 17 fans. (No, that is not a typo.) Unlike my personal page, this one seems a little more insulting. A) Because 16 is just pathetic. And B) because it means that people don't want to see my blog posts in the FB feed. "Really? But I thought you liked my blog?" In actuality, I don't really care. So far, I have only been using it as a FB notification method for new blog posts. So if you subscribe to my blog in some other way (RSS, email, etc.) you don't really need another way, and I get that. But I need 25 to get myself a FB URL. Can you say www.facebook.com/rubyspikes ? (Yes, I know it doesn't work. I just told you that I need 25 fans before they'll let me have it!)

Twitter (http://twitter.com/): I have 206 followers.I really don't know how this happened. But even if half of those aren't 'bots, I impress myself. Because that number seems HUGE to me. Especially since here is a sampling of my recent tweets:

Riveting stuff, huh? You should totally go follow me on Twitter.

Blog 1: Sarcasm 101 (you are here): 30 followers, 7 email subscribers, 770 page views last month. (These numbers are sad, I know. I started my blog in March though, so cut me some slack.)

Blog 2: Little Ants (http://little-ants.blogspot.com/) (the rainbows & unicorns side of me... stop laughing. It's a small side.): 15 followers, 2 email subscribers, 279 page views last month. (These numbers are even sadder. But who wants to read adorable stories about my kids? Basically, their grandparents. And really, that's who this blog is for.)

OK. That's all the easy stuff. But then there is also the SLEW of websites that will offer additional information about how loved (or not) you are. Here are some:

Alexa (http://www.alexa.com/): Tells you where your website ranks among all sites on the web. Sarcasm 101 Alexa rank =  6,071,394 among all websites. (Personally, the fact that is has a rank at all I find pretty amazing.) Little Ants = no ranking.

Follow Friday (http://www.followfriday.com/): Tells you how many people have recommended you to other tweeters using the #FF hastag. I have been recommended 7 times. (Really? Did I thank all of you? Thanks!) I rank 113, 234 globally.

Klout (www.klout.com): Tells you how much people respond to your tweets. And what topics generate the most response. My Klout ranking is 54. I am influential (most recently) on blogging, politics, debt, facebook, & tweetdeck.

Note here that I just started using TweetDeck, so the reason my tweets generate a lot of responses is because they look something like this:

More amazingness. Don't you want to go follow me on Twitter? (Yeah, I didn't think so. What are those 206 people thinking?)

Who Unfollowed Me (http://who.unfollowed.me/): A website that, once you register your Twitter account, will keep track of which of your followers dumps you. Apparently I have lost 4 followers in the last few days.

So What Does All of This Mean?
So if you've stuck with me this long, I have an important announcement for you: It doesn't mean anything. Go ahead, look at the numbers. It's fun. But PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, do not put to much stock into them. They mean so very little.

In the real world, do you care if every person that you work with is your buddy? No. Do you care that you're not still friends with every person you went to high school? No. Are you glad for the handful of really great friendships that you have with the people you really love to spend time with? YES!

I know that we all want to think that what we're putting out there is great stuff, but just remember that not everyone is gonna' love what you're putting out there... AND THAT'S OK! So don't fret if your blog numbers are low, or if you're facebook fan page doesn't have enough fans to even allow you to get a URL (Hello! Here's the link again in case you missed it.), or if you lose a few Twitter followers.

I have unfollowed exactly two people on Twitter because I know how much some people fret about losing followers. But here's the thing about me: I am both a prude and an atheist. The two people I unfollwed: one regularly retweeted Bible verses and the other was regularly talking about getting high. (Not a fan of the illegal drug use. Have at it people, I just don't want to be involved. Especially not when it's 75% of your tweets.) And I think that both of these people should continue to be exactly who they are and be perfectly self-assured enough to be fine with the fact that someone like me may not be interested in following them on Twitter. So I may end up unfollowing some more people in the future. If I do, please don't take it personally. And if you ever want to unfriend me or unfollow me or hide my facebook posts from your feed or not include me in a Twitter list or unsubscribe to my blog, go for it. I promise I won't take it personally either.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Miss Scarlet or Mrs. Peacock

This post written for The Red Dress Club's memoir meme.
(My first ever... deep breath)


My parents got divorced when I was pretty young, 3rd or 4th grade. For the first few years after the divorce, my  younger brother and sister and I would spend weekends with my dad at his apartment. There weren't any other kids around, so we pretty much had to play with each other. We'd watch movies on my dad's VCR, wander through the small patch of trees behind his apartment that, to us kids, seemed like an entire forest. Or we would stay inside and play board games. One of our favorites was Clue.

My sister and I always fought over who got to be Miss Scarlet. (Look at that box. Is there any other character a little girl would want to be?) The game board had pictures in each room of the flooring or other textures that would appear in the room, like a book cover for the library, or green felt in the billiard room.

As kids, there wasn't much strategy in our method of play. We chose which room to go to next because we liked the picture, such as the cool flooring in the ball room, or the hall rug. Once we discovered that a billiard room had pool tables, we liked that room a lot, too. Nobody liked the ugly kitchen, except that it had one of the four secret passages, which seemed about like the coolest thing in the world. Our weapon choices were also based on which were the most fun. Candlestick and revolver were big hits; lead pipe and a little plastic rope, not so much.

Sometimes we would get my dad to play with us. These games were always significantly shorter than the kid-only versions. We were always amazed at how quickly he could figure out who did it! You see, my dad never let us win. Never. He didn't even go easy on us. He just played the game, and even though we were three kids under ten, he played just the same. And he always won.

Until one day... he didn't. Over time, I had figured out how to play. I figured out to go to the rooms I needed to go to. I figured out it was better to be Mrs. Peacock than Miss Scarlet, because hers was the only piece that could get into a room on the first turn. I figured out how to ask for two items I already had so I could learn something out the third. I figured out how to mark my little answer sheet so that I knew what was going on when other people passed cards back and forth, even if I didn't see the card. I had learned how to play. And I beat him.

I cannot remember anything about that game. I don't know who did it, with what, or in what room. I don't remember if my brother or sister were playing with us. But I remember the feeling. I remember feeling so proud of myself, of what I had accomplished. Up until that moment, it seemed impossible for me to ever beat him. And then it suddenly became possible. I had done it.

These days, I never let my four year old win the games we play. Sometimes he gets frustrated and tries to instruct me where to put my X in tic-tac-toe, realizing that he's about to lose. But he has already beaten me at Memory, and I hope that I am building in him the same sense that he can fail over and over again, but if he keeps at it, he will eventually prevail.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

What the **** Tennessee???

It's been a while since I was thoroughly annoyed by one of our idiotic states, but Tennessee is seriously working overtime to get into the mix. (If you missed the other states that annoy me, they are: Illinois, South Carolina, and South Dakota.)

So what is Tennessee doing that it has now won my Stupid State Award? Really, what hasn't it done? Let's take a look, shall we?

First off, I'm sure most of you have heard by now that the Tennessee senate passed SB 49 on Friday, nicknamed the "Don't Say Gay" bill, that would prevent science teachers from discussing homosexuality with their elementary and middle school students. They can't talk about it! Can't acknowledge it's existence. Gay kid in the classroom? Sorry. Kid with gay parents in the classroom? Nope, still no. How about kids in the classroom with eyes and legs who are sure to walk around in the world and see gay people, even if they are not gay themselves? No, no, and no. Children in Tennessee classrooms cannot be exposed to the idea of homosexuality. Now I don't think anyone thinks that grade school children should be taught about the details of sexuality, but that's not what we're talking about. What the bill states is that teachers cannot discuss homosexuality. At. All. Really? As if gay teenagers need something else to make their lives harder. Hello, Tennessee! Have you not heard of the It Gets Better Project? Do you not recall that this was a response to a gay COLLEGE student killing himself because of the unbearable stress of being ridiculed by his peers??? Apparently, promoting "family values" is more important to Stacey Campfield (the bill's sponsor) than protecting the emotional well-being of the children of Tennessee.

Oh, but don't worry. The gays aren't the only group that the Tennessee legislature hates. Oh no. They hate the Muslims, too! SB 1028 aims to save Tennessee from the threat of terrorism by regulating any organization that "adheres to sharia". Now I'm not a Muslim. I've never been a Muslim. But I've read some of this bill, and it is asinine. Here's an example. The beginning of the bill sets out to define what sharia is, and therein explaining why it is a huge threat to the people of Tennessee. Here's one of the things it says:
Sharia requires all its adherents to actively and passively support the replacement of America’s constitutional republic, including the representative government of this state with a political system based upon sharia; 
Got that? So if you are an adherent of Sharia law, you, by definition, want it to replace the US Constitution and the US government as a whole with Sharia. Which sounds pretty terrifying, were it not completely inaccurate. I'm not sure what kind of religious scholars they consulted while writing this bill, but here's what a quick check of Wikipedia says:
Muslims believe Sharia is God's law, but they differ as to what exactly it entails. Modernists, traditionalists and fundamentalists all hold different views of Sharia, as do adherents to different schools of Islamic thought and scholarship. Different countries and cultures have varying interpretations of Sharia as well. Sharia deals with many topics addressed by secular law, including crime, politics and economics, as well as personal matters such as sexuality, hygiene, diet, prayer, and fasting
Really, all you need to know is this: "Muslims... differ as to what exactly it entails." But they all agree that it's a code of conduct for moral behavior. Sharia is what tells Muslims to pray five times a day or to abstain from drinking alcohol. By banning adherence to Sharia, they are basically stating that Muslim-Americans are banned from practicing their faith. (Yeah, this sounds completely Constitutional.) The Sharia defined in Tennessee's SB 1028 is as ridiculous as stating that:
Evangelical Christians believe that every word of the Bible is the literal Word of God and that God's Laws supercede the laws of man. God's laws are enumerated in the Bible and include supporting the ownership of slaves, polygamy, and the stoning of adulterers.
You know. That really isn't that crazy. I think we should keep a closer eye on those Evangelical Christian types. You know how they are always getting into trouble for all the adulterers they're stoning.

Dammit, Tennessee, don't go hiding behind your fake pretenses of "protecting children" and "protecting family values" and "protecting our citizens from terrorism." That's a bunch of crap and we ALL know it. You don't like gays and you don't like Muslims. And now EVERYONE knows it. Can you please go back to hating in the privacy of your own homes instead of insisting that your hate becomes legislation? Because it just makes you look like a bunch of asses.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Top 10 Rapture-Related Tweets

I was going to write a lovely little post about the upcoming rapture on Saturday, but my peeps on Twitter have been keeping me laughing so much with the rapture-related humor, that I just haven't gotten around to it. Alas, the fun is about to come to an end. So I present to you, my top 10 favorite rapture-related tweets.

I put that first one in there in case you're not following me on Twitter. You should know what you're missing.

Happy Rapture Eve, everybody!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Queen of Procrastination

I know that most everyone procrastinates from time to time, some more than others. But I have got it down to a science. When I was a senior in high school, I was voted class procrastinator. And in the many years since then, I have really honed my procrastinating skills. So tonight I present to you: a case study in procrastination.

A few weeks back, I had a ton of work to do. I had housework and work work. Laundry, dishes, toys everywhere, documents to write, emails to send, etc. So what did I decide to do? Create myself a blog, of course! It wasn't very well thought out. I kind of did it on a whim. As a result, I'm probably going to spend the next year having to fix up my spur of the moment blog since I didn't really think it through first. But overall, I've been diggin' being a blogger. (That's right, I'm a blogger now.) Blogging is cool, yo'. (Does yo have an apostrophe?)

Then, in the last week or so, work has been even crazier. So I come home and I do even less housework because, dude, I've been working hard all day. So now I'm sitting here on my couch with my laptop on my lap. (Duh!) But by now my blog is two months old and has a whopping 19 posts. And it is SOOOO two months ago. Meaning it's is no longer a method to procrastinate, it is now the thing I'm procrastinating on.

Now even though I haven't written a blog post in over a week, I decided that I would spend my time tonight.... creating a Facebook fan page for myself! (Of course!) I've got a whopping 19 followers. They've been clamoring for me to have a presence on Facebook. And by clamoring, I mean that no one has mentioned it. But all the other cool blogs have Facebook fan pages, so I wanted one, too. And it gave me an excuse to not write a post tonight because I was busy doing something important to develop my blog. Yeah, yeah. I know it doesn't do any good to develop a blog fan base if your blog doesn't have posts. What's your point? I have a fan page! Whee! New shiny toy!

So once I created the Facebook fan page, it was late, meaning I really should have gone to bed. But that, of course, means that I did not go to bed. Instead I decided to write this blog post about my new Facebook fan page. Yeah! And now I'm at the point where I would put a link to that fan page right here (insert link here), but whoa! WTH? I can't get a URL for my fan page until I have 25 fans. 25??? Geez, Facebook! I only have 19 followers. Such a high bar! Ah well.  Here's the link to the Rubyspikes info page.

And now my work here is done. I avoided writing a blog post by creating a fan page for myself, then avoided going to bed by writing a blog post about the fan page. And now that I REALLY should go to bed, I think I will go Like myself on Facebook. And when I'm done, maybe I'll come back and write a comment on this post. Then maybe I'll Tweet about the post and about the new fan page...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Shocked at OBL's Location? Welcome to the Party... 9 Months Late

In the week since Osama bin Laden was killed, there has been a lot of talk about the location of the compound and its proximity to the "West Point of Pakistan." While I agree that this definitely raises some serious questions and demands further investigation, I would like to remind everyone of one very important point:

The President and others close to this mission have been aware of the location of this compound since August of 2010. 

So the shock you're experiencing now, is nine months old to the President. We all applaud the astounding skill of those involved in the mission to find, track, and eventually kill OBL. Do you not suppose that any of these bright individuals has not also thought to look into the ties that may or may not have existed between the multiple people who lived in the compound and those outside it?

Nine months people! The US government has been watching this place for nine months! So everyone just calm down. I am fully confident that if the CIA was able to locate OBL miles from the Pakistani capital, then they certainly had the foresight to follow that courier every time he took a breath outside the compound, much less paused to ask the local military officer "for directions."

So Congress can do its little dance where they act outraged and "demand answers" to questions regarding what the Pakistani government and military did or did not know. But I've got a pretty good feeling that the CIA already has a pretty good base of evidence to tell us what the truth of the situation is.

The thing is, there's a lot of that information that we're never gonna' know about. So people, next time there's an election, take it seriously. Because these are the people who decide what to do with that information. Make sure you're electing someone that you're confident will make the right decisions in the situations that you'll never know about.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

We Don't Need the Picture

I am so very thankful that President Obama has decided that he will not be releasing the photos of dead OBL. So. Very. Thankful. If it wasn't a done deal that I'll be voting for him in 2012 (which it was), it is even more certain now. What great leadership, in spite of what will be certain dissent among some. What attention to national security and concern for American lives instead of political points. I never thought that President Barak Obama would bow to such trivial pressures and indeed, my hopes have been realized.

I know there are many out there who believe the president made the wrong decision. Here are a few reasons why I am certain he did not:

  1. There are certainly people out there for whom a picture of the dead OBL would be the last straw, inducing them to join a radical group opposed to the United States and our interests.
  2. OBL was shot twice in the head. In the face, in fact. The photo is certain to be gruesome.This can only add to ability for our enemies to use the photo against us.
  3. A photo will not prove to any non-believers that OBL is dead. This is the country that gave us the Birthers movement. If there are people in this world, even this country, that believe that OBL is not dead, a photo of him dead is certainly not going to be convincing.
  4. If we suppose that there are people who don't believe OBL is dead who would be convinced of his death if they saw a photo (and again, I suspect that number to be very small), how are we harmed by the fact that they don't think he's dead? Sure OBL was a symbol. If you believe that he is not dead, he remains a symbol. But if you do believe that he's dead, he remains a symbol. If there are people out there who don't think he's really dead, I say who cares? There are also people who believe that the moon landing was faked, 9/11 was a government conspiracy, and the world is flat. Seriously, there are people who really believe that the world is flat. Next.
  5. Some people have cited the idea that 9/11 victims families should be able to view the photo because they deserve closure. If showing the photo could bring back a single victim of the 9/11 attacks, I would do it. In a heartbeat. But it won't. The only thing it could do is add to the death count. And the victims' families, I imagine, can not possibly want more Americans to die because of OBL.
  6. If just the photo alone is not enough to serve as a recruitment tool for terrorist groups, picture this: dead OBL on a T-Shirt. I imagine that they would have become available within 24 hours. T-Shirts, baseball caps, door mats, toilet paper, you name it. You know how we Americans felt when we saw people celebrating 9/11? That is how many young Muslims would have felt watching arrogant Americans partying on television with a picture of a mutilated, lifeless OBL on their T-Shirt, probably with huge writing saying something ignorant like, "My Christian President can kick your Islamic Fundamentalists Leader's ass." Or maybe not. They'd have to concede that President Obama is Christian, and that seems unlikely.
So thank you, Mr. President for being our leader. Thank you for being the grown up. Thank you for protecting Americans in uniform and civilians, around the globe and here at home. Thank you for putting national security ahead of political maneuvering. Thank you.

You already had my vote in 2012, but I'm from Chicago, so now you'll get my second and third votes as well.