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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Happy Days

My dad was up in Minnesota in December because he was having an estate sale. He's been living with me for a little over a year now and we're working toward selling his house and moving him in with me for good. But while he was home, he found more old family pictures.

This is kind of amazing because when he and I had gone up last April, we'd brought boxes and boxes of pictures back to Atlanta. We literally shipped 21 boxes from Minnesota to Georgia and almost all of them had at least some photos in them. Many of those boxes were at least half full and my front room is still loaded with boxes my dad needs to sort through yet.

But yes, he found more photos. He said my mom had put them away and he handed me the envelope to look through.

They were all pictures of me as a kid. How awesome is that?

One of my favorites shows my mom sitting in the kitchen and I'm standing next to her on the chair. I couldn't have been more than 18 months, I think. I was really still a baby. Mom was smiling up at me and I was smiling too. There's a second shot of that same scene, but this picture includes my grandfather and he looks as if he's laughing uproariously.

My other favorite is me wearing what appears to be my dad's hat and my mom's jacket. :-) The picture (sadly) got scratched up because it's been floating around loose for years.

This got my dad going on other photos and he kept handing them over to me to look at. One thing struck me: I'm smiling in almost all of them, even when I appear unaware that there's a camera there. Baby me, toddler me, little girl me--always smiling. I thought it was pretty cool to have a childhood that happy.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Mandela Effect

A few months ago, I heard about something called the Mandela Effect. Per a Buzzfeed article I read, this "is what the internet is calling those curious instances in which many of us are certain we remember something a particular way, but it turns out we’re incorrect."

This intrigued me because months before I heard the words Mandela Effect, I had my own experience with it. I saw something online about the Berenstain Bears and I was like, that's not right. It's the Berenstein Bears. I was so positive about it, that I thought the author of the piece I was reading was wrong. Until I reached the picture of the book cover.

My memory of books, TV, movies, music from when I was a kid is pretty good and this bothered me. I was rarely this sure of something like this only to be totally wrong. And guess what? In the Buzzfeed article one of the examples of the Mandela Effect is the Berenstain Bears.

This is where I sheepishly admit that it was probably just remembering incorrectly on my part. Actually, most of the examples given at Buzzfeed are easily explained away and I can't say I experienced any of them except for the bears. Still, it's intriguing to think about the possibilities of alternate universes somehow merging.

Actually, the most intriguing part is how many people remember something completely differently than reality. What if there is something to this? That was my writer's brain cranking up. There are so many possibilities for stories here.

If you'd like to read more Mandela Effect memories, there's a website for that. I find this whole thing fascinating.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Happy Music Playlist

At the beginning of December, I blogged about a podcast I listened to that talked about using music to pump up your happiness level quickly. I listed a few of my songs in that post. Afterward, the podcast team posted a Spotify playlist with all the songs people suggested. It's a very long, long playlist. :-)

Here's a link to the podcast website, specifically the episode where they linked to their Spotify playlist. It's a little buried in all the text, but it is there, I promise.

I haven't made it very far on this playlist, but I will say that some of the choices surprised me. I didn't find them uplifting at all. I'd expected to have a little more consistency in what constitutes a song that increases happiness. If I'd made a guess, I would have gone with fast music that makes one want to dance--basically my choices of happy music.

That's not what's on this playlist. At least that's not a lot of what's on this playlist, at least so far. I do have a long way to go yet.

However, one of my choices did tie for first place per the podcast episode. Katrina and the Waves Walking on Sunshine. I know I have very eclectic taste in music, but it's nice to know that at least one of my songs was in the majority.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

Language is an interesting thing. How it changes, how we use it, the regional differences, and of course, the differences between English spoken in the US versus English spoken in the UK. I admit to being a total geek when it comes to linguistics/usage.

Recently, I had a chance to think about yes, yep, and yeah because of a self-realization. I almost never use the word yes. In fact, I'm the most likely to use it as an expression of excitement, like when my baseball team scores the winning run in a game, I'll holler yessssss! But in conversation? It's almost always yeah.

I know that yeah is considered lazy and colloquial, something that shouldn't be used professionally or in formal circumstances, but it's really difficult to change.

Some research shows that changing yes to yeah or yep is natural for English speakers because it takes less breath to say yeah and yep is even easier. This is per an answer on Quora about why three different ways to say the same thing emerged.

The title I used for this post makes me think of the Beatles, but my language pattern was in place long before I ever heard of them. Heck, it was in place long before I ever heard any rock music. As I blogged at the beginning of November, my parents didn't listen to music very often. Their radio station of choice had news, weather, recipes, etc.

It makes me wonder if yeah is a Minnesota/Minneapolis thing. Minnesota had a lot of settlement from Norway, Sweden, and Germany and the word for yes in all three languages is ja.

This answer makes the most sense to me, so I'm going with it unless something better comes along.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Favorite Childhood Valentine's Day Memory

I was scratching my head, trying to come up with a blog post idea for Valentine's Day that hadn't been done six million times before. This is what I came up with: My favorite childhood Valentine's Day memory.

One of the things I liked in grade school was that everyone needed to bring a valentine for all their classmates, that way no one was left out. We also decorated shoe boxes into which the cards would be dropped. That's my favorite memory--the box I decorated in (I think) third grade.

Everyone usually just put construction paper over the shoe box and a few hearts and called it good, but in this particular year I did more. I made my box look like Snoopy's doghouse.

It turned out super cool and I even brought a plastic Snoopy from home and put him on top of the roof. Do I need to say that I won the contest for box decoration. I'm sure I have a picture of it somewhere among the huge stash of photos my dad brought from Minnesota, but I haven't been able to find it. I hope I do one day because I'd like to see it again. I'm sure it's much more impressive in my mind than it was in real life. :-)

I love doing artistic stuff, but sadly, wasn't gifted with a lot of ability. I think that's why this memory is a favorite of mine.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Compulsive Yarn Buying

Why didn't anyone tell me that buying yarn is addictive?

I'm buying yarn for class projects--I signed up for a few more crochet classes on Craftsy and one of them involves making a blanket and a decorative pillow. This required I buy some blanket yarn, which is soft and beautiful and I'm in love with it and already trying to figure out what else I can use it for.

Then I went looking for easy and free patterns online. Most of the yarn manufacturers have these available. I found a ton of patterns I wanted to do, but I limited myself to buying yarn for only three of them. It was so hard. There is so much beautiful yarn available and so many cool projects to be made and I wanted to buy all of it. And buy and buy and buy. The emails telling me about yarn sales are not helping either. When I can save $3 a skein, how can I not buy it?

Sadly? Luckily? (I'm not sure which word I'd choose) my dad is living with me and he's the spending police. Every time I get something he starts interrogating me about it and asking why I spent money on it. It's held me on check on the yarn purchases. Barely.

Because I got a promotional email from Lion Brand yarn with this awesome kit that was on sale. It's for a shawl/stole/wrap thing that's just so incredible and would be perfect to keep at work. That way when it's cold, I could take it out and wear it. And believe me, the way they run the air conditioning in the office, it is frequently cold. This is why I bought fingerless gloves.

There's also a kit on Craftsy for a scarf that has the most incredible yarn ever. Want.

Seriously, I could list off like 50 more projects all with super cool yarn and I literally have finished zero projects at this point and have barely finished my first crochet class.

I never knew all these yarns existed. I never knew they'd be as addictive as buying books or shoes or office supplies or planner stickers would be. WHY DIDN'T ANYONE WARN ME???? Not that it would have made a huge difference, but maybe I'd have been better prepared to resist. In the meantime, I'll have to rely on my own personal spending police to keep me in check. At least until I finish all the projects I have in queue right now.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Happiness Photos

The Happier podcast had a new challenge: Take a picture every day of something that makes you happy.

That's a cool idea, I thought. I have my phone with the camera and I'll just take pictures. And then I started thinking about it. I don't take pictures very often to begin with. A couple of years ago, there was some challenge out there to simply take one picture a day and I failed that miserably.

Frequently, I don't even think about taking a photo until well after the fact. Sometimes well after the fact. This has happened more times than I can count.

Sometimes I do think about taking a picture, but my phone is either 1) at my desk 2) in my bag 3) somewhere totally inaccessible in that moment. The desk one happens to me at work. Like every year Delta Technical Operations purchases and assembles bikes for Toys for Tots. There are all sizes from the tiniest child to young adult and these bicycles line the main hallway every December. I like to take a picture of it to share on Facebook or Twitter, but I don't think about bringing my phone with me until I see the bikes.

While the bikes certainly fall into the Things That Make Me Happy category, they're long gone now and children are (hopefully) happily riding them. That wouldn't have counted for the challenge anyway, though, since it's supposed to be 2017 things.

Sometimes I think we can too caught up in recording everything with a photo that we forget to experience the moment. Experiences should be felt, not merely photographed. But in all honesty the primary reason I decided not to do it was that I knew I'd fail and that wouldn't make me happier. Maybe someday I'll give it a shot, but for now, I'll just focus on things I have a chance of accomplishing.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

It's Starting to Look Like Something

My crochet lessons are finally starting to produce work that looks like it could be something. Eventually. :-) We started out by chaining stitches forever and I was getting bored (even though I freely admit I needed the practice), but then we started making swatches!

Double Crochet:

Single Crochet:

Half Double Crochet:

Little squares of crochet might not look like that much, but I think of them as the beginning to a scarf. Just like a billion more rows and I can keep my neck warm. Although I'm in Atlanta and I never even wore a scarf in Minnesota unless it was below zero and it just doesn't get that cold in Georgia. So, yeah, probably not going to make a scarf.

There is a pattern for a little basket I'd like to make. It's labeled as a beginner pattern, which I need, and I could use it to keep my car keys corralled. I just have to master the lesson about crocheting in the round and that is proving to be tricky. I foresee much practice ahead.