I Promise You Won't Learn A Thing From This Blog

The official blog for author Ashley Chappell. Check back every week for a few laughs at my expense or, if you know the love-hate process that is writing, commiseration.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Hidden Microsoft Razzzzzberry

Sometimes I almost believe my computer at work is conspiring against me. Sometimes it’s easier to believe than others. Those are the times that I have multiple MS Office applications up at once and I’m working so hard on something that hitting a quick Ctrl + S completely slips my mind. That's when the hourglass happens.

The blasted #%@$^$ hourglass. I wait for a while, watching it taunt me with its lazy turns until it finally comes to a complete stop. With what few shreds of optimism I have left, I walk away to fix another cup of coffee in hopes that whatever process has hung up my computer yet again will have worked its way out, but it always ends up the same.

Hard reboot. And on the third hard reboot this morning I noticed something in the Windows logo that has always slipped by me before. Microsoft KNEW what they were doing to us when they sold us Windows XP, and now I have proof! And they thought they were being so sneaky...

Microsoft Raspberry
Microsoft has been giving us the Raspberry all along.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A little mid-week treat...

Yes, I know it's not Thursday yet, but this was too near and dear to my heart to not share. I feel this way Every. Day. And though I don't mean to be a grammar snob, I do at least have the courtesy to wait until the offender has left before commencing the merciless  ridicule (though trite and self-serving it is).

Owly Images
Now go forth and sin no more

For my friends who also suffer from this malady: Benadryl just won't cut it for this one. But this will.

Happy editing!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dietary Tactics: From Electroshock to Chloroform

Time for a show of hands. How many of you began this year with a resolution that sounded something like this?
"This year, seriously, for real, I'm GOING to get in shape and eat better. I mean it. For real this time."
Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. Each year this resolution gets just a little bit longer with the addition of more emphatics, as if throwing in another "for real" and "seriously" makes it a more concrete vow.

So far this year I'm not doing too badly (it may be because I upped the ante with this resolution and even threw in a "no backsies" this year). I've been a pillar of strength, a maven of whole foods, and calorie counter extraordinaire... Provided that I am exposed to no temptation whatsoever, that is. Temptation - delicious chocolates on someone's desk, the smell of pizza baking, suddenly remembering that box of cookie mix in the cabinet... Well, that's where it all falls apart.

You see, my ability to resist junk food can be represented as an inverse function of my proximity to junk food. I'd even place a pretty big bet involving limbs and other appendages on the notion that this is true for the majority of the dieting population. No amount of Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, or protein smoothies in our shopping cart can protect us from the fact that the checkout line is secretly a candy bar ambush waiting to happen.

And you know exactly what I mean on this one - how many times have we finally grabbed that Butterfinger and thrown it on the belt in a hasty rush of embarrassment JUST before the last item was scanned? And that look on the cashier's face as they hand it to you after scanning, asking "Would you like to keep this in your purse?" Which is, of course, a question that is very difficult to answer with a mouth full of Butterfinger.

Another terrible danger for me is the BOGO sale. BOGOS just provide me with the opportunity to justify buying multiples of something that I try to make a once weekly treat in this way: "Well, I'm going to buy at least 4 per month, anyway, right? So it only makes sense for me to go ahead and buy 4 and reduce 50% of the cost, right?"

Right. This logic recently led to the following scenario: Freschetta Brick Oven pizzas are our weekly Date Night treat and tradition. Following the above logic, in week 1 I buy 4 Brick Ovens on a rare BOGO sale at Publix and by week 2 I was down 4 Brick Ovens and SOL on the pizza front by the next Date night.
Pizza Heart
Nothing says love like a pizza heart
Now, armed with the full knowledge of my weaknesses, it's beginning to look like drastic measures are in order. Conventional methods of dieting (ie, simply not eating crap) don't appear to be enough by a long shot. So to augment my dieting regime I'm going to institute a series of new tactics in the fight against temptation.

1.      Time-locking Freezer. This one is aimed primarily at my pizza fixation. From now on, all Freschetta Brick Ovens and other frozen temptations will go directly into a freezer that can only be accessed once per week. In the event of a violent craving and break-down of self control, any attempts to bypass the locking mechanism will result in a moderate to severe electrical shock.
2.      Convenience Store Blinders. This applies to grocery store checkouts as well. The blinders must be put on immediately prior to entering any establishment that likes to keep enticing junk food displays in the periphery of the checkout counter or, in extreme cases, on the counter itself. It works for racehorses, and I’m at least smarter than your average mare. Right?
3.      The Dieter’s Select Menu. Petition local restaurants to maintain a menu for dieters. This menu will steer them directly to only the healthiest selections by describing non-healthy foods in terms of nutritional and chemical content rather than the mouth-watering adjectives that tend to talk us out of the Garden Salad and into the ¾ lb Cowboy Burger with two slices of melted cheese, crispy golden fried onions, and delectable special sauce. On the Dieter’s Select Menu, that burger just became a Cowboy Slab of Fatty Low-grade Cow Meat with Arteriosclerosis and Possible Heart Failure.

And in the event that all of these ideas fail...

4.      Big Scary Enforcers. Hire a team of ex-paramilitary soldiers of fortune to act as full-time body guards. And since no one wants to appear pretentious enough to carry around an entourage of body guards, this mission will have to be undercover and black ops. You’ll never see them until you go to take that bite of cheesecake, or start putting that money in the vending machine... and when you wake up, just consider the headache leftover from the chloroform a good tradeoff for the fatty calories from which they just saved you.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Why You Should Send Hate Mail to Dictionary Editors

As I develop my blogging skills and decide what subjects to tackle each week, I’m noticing that my blogs tend to be largely reactionary for the most part. Whether serious or tongue-in-cheek, so far I’ve blogged for the following reasons:

1.      To vent.
2.      To revel in irony.
3.      To poke fun at some quirk of my own or of humanity in general.
4.      Some combination of all of the above.
5.      To share stories in writing, or solicit feedback to help me improve.

So far, those 5 pretty much sum up the contents of my blog to date. Now I’m going to add a glorious 6th motivation for blogging:

6.      To keep from cringing in front of someone at their poor grammar.

Everyone needs an outlet. And today when I heard the phrase ‘A whole nother’ for the third time, I knew I needed that outlet ASAP. This is a phrase that I hear pretty often since moving to the beautiful state of Alabama (Note: That was not tongue-in-cheek. I genuinely love this state) and it seems to be pretty prolific throughout the Huntsville area, though I can’t say I recall ever hearing it before I moved here five years ago. Each time I’ve heard it I cringed inwardly and fought the response that was just begging to escape...

I want to roar: “THAT’S NOT A FREAKIN’ WORD!” ‘Nother,’ they say. Not ‘another.’ Not ‘a whole other’ as would be the correct phrase here. Or, I’d even give a person liberty with ‘A-whole-nother’ if they wanted to put it in writing. I kind of have to allow that considering the numerous liberties I take with hyphenated word creation when vocabulary fails me. And while I’m the first to admit that I’m a complete grammar snob, this is always one phrase that grates on me in particular.

So I decided to write a blog about it. And to be especially snarky and smartass, I thought I’d make a point of looking in the dictionary and symbolically pointing to the big blank place where ‘nother’ would be entered if it were an actual word and not some corruption of speech... And this is where Mssrs. Merriam and Webster failed me. In fact, I would even go so far as to embrace the meme and call it an Epic Fail.

‘Nother’ now has an entry. Granted, it’s listed as informal usage in speech, but simply having that slot in the holy book of all that is language legitimizes it while at the same time dropping the English language one rung farther down the ladder of bastardization. As a logophile, I feel utterly cheated. In fact, I’m frightened to live in a world where instead of publicly flogging those who use words that don’t exist, we add those words to the dictionary! But I suppose it’s probably easier in the long run to recognize poor grammar as language rather than hiring a squad of grammar police armed with dictionaries and parse trees to enforce lexiconian (yes, I just made up that word) law (and yes, it should be law).

I know my chances are pretty good of hearing this phrase at least once more today and I know that when I do I will still cringe internally and fight the urge to correct the perpetrator. But knowing that the lords of the dictionary have now deigned to embrace ‘nother’ into the realm of language, my typical internal roar will be little more than a futile mew: “THAT’S NOT A FREAKIN’ WORD!”  I’ll think meekly, knowing that in this argument my legs have been cut out from under me because now someone can look up the offending word and say, “But it’s in the dictionary!”

Once upon a time, words had value, they had meaning, and even the ability to use them correctly was a thing of value and pride itself. But once the words that are used incorrectly make their way into the dictionary as language, well, that’s a whole ‘nother’ ball game.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Beware the Post-it-ocalypse

*Shhhhh* Try not to be obvious, but look at that cluster of Post-its on my monitor. Does it look like more than were there yesterday? This one... I don’t remember writing this one. It looks like my handwriting, but did I really write a note to myself to “Ck Rm in AM?” And what did it mean? Maybe Check Room, or Chuck Ram, or Cloak Room – did I leave a coat in a cloak room and forget to pick it up?

Oh, no. There’s another one, and I don’t think it was there a few minutes ago. That can only mean one thing...
The Post-its are Breeding
I know my lunch was under here somewhere...

They warned me about this. I swear I didn’t mean for it to happen.

It began so innocently... A Post-it here, a Post-it there, just a few reminders to jog my memory, maybe a few shopping lists and even a recipe or two. Then a few more notes containing ideas and then a lot of notes with questions, and a few with answers.  I think that’s when it happened. Somehow, along the way, I have transferred my full consciousness to the now thriving colony of Post-its that surround my monitor.

The Post-it Questions without Post-it Answers have begun to collaborate with the Post-it Ideas and possibly the Post-it Recipes and are creating little Post-it Answers of their own. That’s the only explanation for how the answering Post-it for “How to compress .pdf packages” became “Blend 1 cp. .pdf with 2 GB of eggs, roll flat, bake 2 hrs.”

It can only be a matter of time now before they realize their full potential and rise up against us, ever-growing as one colony meets another, absorbing new thoughts until it becomes one giant Post-it organism, mimicking life as an amalgamation of the short, punctuated thoughts that make up the cells of the beast.

And here I sit in the knowledge that, through my own carelessness, I was the one who birthed this beast. I have doomed us all.

*Shhh!* Did you see that new green one? I swear it said “Redrum...”

God, what have I done?