Posted in Humor, The Joy and Wisdom of Children

Magic Dream Spray

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Do other folks out there do what my family does?  All get iPhones and set up a little Family Group Messaging System?  Well, my two daughters Amy and Emily, along with Donna (even though divorced now, we remain the best-est of friends) have done just that.  And it’s such an incredibly efficient strategy for staying in touch, bothering each other constantly and having SO MUCH FUN!

The other night, daughter Amy (and mother of grandsons Daniel, 7 and Gabriel, 4) sent us this text.

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I LOVE faith-stretching strategies such as that!  My response:

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A bit more of Amy’s explanation:

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Me:

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End of discussion until a couple of days later when we received this text from Amy as she, Orte and the boys were driving down to Florida for the weekend:

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Family … magical.

Maybe that’s what family is … Magic Dream Spray.

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Posted in Humor

NONCMA (Neal’s Online Norton Convo with Mark Anthony)

Recently my laptop somehow got a Most Terrible Virus which shut my e-world down for a while.  My first thought: “Why me?!  What have I done to deserve this?!”  (FYI:  When distressing things happen to me, the idea of a Happiness Blog completely escapes my consciousness.  Happy?!  Are you CRAZY?  And I start to think about writing a Pity Blog or a Hate Blog.)  

On a tangent, I wailed the exact same “Why Me?” refrain, only louder and with man tears, when they cancelled Cop Rock back in 1990.  You don’t remember Cop Rock?  Fine, here’s a clip from the show–which has been listed among the Five Worst Television Programs of All Time.  That really hurts my feelings BECAUSE I LOVED IT!  What’s not to love?  Cops singing, Gleefully, the storyline!  Hello.

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Anyway, my computer got sick, and I sure didn’t feel like singing.  I had to restart in Safe Mode and do all kinds of actions, such as holding one finger on F7 while I balanced on one foot.  Nothing worked.  I even asked Jesus for help.  Finally, frustrated and lonely, I somehow made an online connection (Jesus’ help?) and started frantically downloading antivirus software right and left, kind of like Kathy Griffin making fun of Oprah and yelling in a frenzy, “Look under your seats!  Tickets for everybody!  You’re all going with Gail and me to Bali!”

An hour later, with my computer running smoothly, I regained my balance, on both feet.  But it seems I had downloaded a few too many antivirus programs, including Avast!, McAfee, Trend Micro and Norton, most of which offered trial versions and then started to charge after a few weeks.  So today I realized I needed to do some cancellation, or get another part-time job.

I contacted Norton, and here’s (finally!) where my story begins.  Unable to get ahold of a literal person (is “literal” needed there?), I made a sort of appointment for an e-talk chat with a Norton customer service representative.  Here’s what I initially saw on my screen:

“Thank you for contacting Norton Support. We are currently experiencing longer than expected wait times. You have been now been placed in a queue and our next available expert will be with you soon.”

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A few minutes later:

“Thank you for your patience. One of our experts will be with you soon.”

[To be honest, I didn’t really have to have an “expert”–just anybody who knew a little bit about cancelling my trial version would be cool.]

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And soon after:

“You are now chatting with Mark Anthony.”

[I felt like I used to feel when my time finally arrived to sit in Santa’s lap.]

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Neal Saye: I am trying to cancel my Norton trial version.

Mark Anthony: Welcome to Norton Support! My name is Mark, I’d be glad to assist you with regards to canceling your trial.

Neal Saye: Thank you.

Mark Anthony: Neal, may I ask why are you canceling your trial?  Are you no longer using the Norton product?

Neal Saye: I already had an antivirus package on my computer.

[I was too embarrassed to admit that I had a Bali trip worth of antivirus programs protecting my laptop.]

Neal Saye: So I do not need another.

Mark Anthony: I understand Neal, but under this account nsaye@georgiasouthern.edu, I don’t see any trialware on it.

[His use of “Neal” started to make me feel as if I was talking to, I don’t know, maybe an old college buddy I hadn’t seen in eons.]

Neal Saye: Well actually that’s what I saw when I looked too. But I got a Welcome to Norton email at this email address.

Mark Anthony: I see. Okay let’s see if the product key for your trial is still on your computer.  Can you check on your My Documents folder if there’s a Symantec folder?

Neal Saye: [Panicking]  One second.

[I had no clue what he was talking about.  “Product key”?  Huh?]

Mark Anthony: No problem, Neal.

[That’s easy for him to say.  He’s a customer service representative.]

Neal Saye: I don’t see one there.

[Embarrassed.  Afraid he would dislike me because I couldn’t find the damn key.]

Mark Anthony: Okay, if you are sure that there is no Norton trial program installed on your computer, and I don’t see any trialware on your Norton account nsaye@georgiasouthern.edu, there’s no need for a cancellation, the one you received on your email is probably a Norton account greeting that you have signed-up an account.

Neal Saye: Okay, but if I somehow get charged, may I get a reimbursement?

[Beet red.  Made me sound SO cheap.]

Mark Anthony: You may at anytime contact us back.  If in any case you get charged, we will be more than happy to process a full refund.

[So happy.  He cares.]

Neal Saye: Thanks. Also aren’t you either a famous singer or a Shakespearean character? What are you doing working for Norton?!

[I don’t know why I say such things to perfect strangers, but it seemed right at the time.]

Mark Anthony: I get that a lot Neal, and you’re most welcome.

Mark Anthony: Anything else I could assist you with today?

[I would like to have engaged in more banter about my singer/character joke.  People close to me tell me that I’m not really a very funny person.  But that I think I am.  And that’s what makes people laugh.  I never know whether to take that as a compliment or insult.]

Neal Saye: Thanks again for helping me, Mark Anthony. That makes me happy. Speaking of happy, I write a happiness blog–check it out sometime at NealEnJoy.com. I’ll mention you!

[Rule of business: Never miss an opportunity to sell yourself.]

Mark Anthony: That’s great Neal.  I’ll be taking note of your blog and will check it out.

[Great response.  We will see if he does.]

Neal Saye: Have a great weekend!

Mark Anthony: Thank you for contacting Norton support, feel free to contact us anytime if you have further concerns. Have a great day!

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I suppose there’s no real moral to this blog story–maybe just this: customer service representatives are people too.

Posted in Holiday Joy, Humor

Staring Contest #4 (Thanksgiving/Early Christmas Version)

Minding my own business over the weekend, peacefully walking along the river in downtown Savannah, not at all trying to start something that would have to be finished, my joyfully calm day became something altogether darkly different when an overly confident Toy Soldier started to–.

Wait, let’s back up a second.  Some of you know that I occasionally find myself, through no fault of my own, smack dab in the middle of the most painfully demanding staring contests.  Renaissance men, famous football coaches, even Pirates all have been my adversaries in this universally accepted battle of true manhood and endurance.

Anyway, back to my story.  As I was trekking through the lobby of the Riverfront Marriott, hoping to find some free holiday punch and maybe a cookie to further cheer me, and thinking about the feasibility of writing a letter to Santa at my age (that confession might be borderline funny if it wasn’t so very true), I heard a Snicker, a Snigger, and felt inexplicably Scorned, Scoffed.  Initially thinking, Ebeneezer Scrooge-ishly, that the interruption might simply be the result of the fried duck and waffle breakfast I demolished earlier at B. Matthew’s on Bay Street, my sauntering slowed as I heard/felt the intrusion again.  So I turned casually around …

… only to see a Smirk, a Sneer on a colorful (I’ll give him that), sorta French-looking Toy Soldier.  I tried to be polite and friendly (afterall I write a happiness blog), but TS obviously had other plans, jerking his head one way, then the other in an only-partially-successful effort to intimidate me.

Finally after what felt like only minutes later, the feeble, old-enough-to-be-MY father concierge told me (rather rudely in my opinion), that I had to get out of his lap, and that no, his table was not big enough for both of us to sit behind.  So I marched right back over to the Toy Soldier (he was perched by the only exit), knowing a battle awaited.  Gathering my gumption, I flung myself headlong into Staring Contest #4.

And as is usually the case, whenever I stop trembling, Neal’s courage arrives.  Holiday revelers gathered round, about half of them backing up TS, the others for yours truly.

Big deal that his fans were more festively dressed and enthusiastic than mine.

The battle intensified.

And even though I really had to use the bathroon after having sipped all the concierge’s cocoa, I held my own.  The game I’m talking about.

And I …

Won!  How?  I can’t give away all my secrets.

Later.  I’m outta here.

Posted in College Teaching, Humor, Savannah Joy

SCAD-ing Outta Retirement

BFF’s–Blog Follower Friends (or anyone at any restaurant where I’ve eaten for the past two and a half months; or at the Post Office; or at Savannah’s coffee shops) know that on June 21, I retired from Georgia Southern University after teaching English there for twenty-four years.  [First retirement postSecond retirement post.  My final GSU Walking Tour.]  And I had such a fun retiring summer!  Sitting in my backyard, visiting a vineyard, embracing the Savannah Asian Festival, getting put in jail, exploring a fort, going to a Savannah Sand Gnats game, Tybee Island partying, etc.

But then summer started to come to an end, and (as all teachers know) the REAL new year started–the Academic Year.  I grew a bit restless.  And thought about getting a part-time job to keep me off the streets and such, but neither of my Top Five Prospective Second Careers panned out:

1 Tug Boat Operator.

2.  Little Caesars Sign Dancer.  I became interested in this one because the LCSDers at the corner of Montgomery Cross and Waters here in Savannah always seem SO enthusiastic.  So I researched the job a little.  Here’s the description and qualifications from the Little Caesars website:

“Get paid to dance and have FUN!  Part-time Sign Dancer job available!  Are you an outgoing energetic individual looking for work? Are you someone who can attract attention? Do you like having fun at work and staying positive?”  So far, so good.  Work SHOULD be fun!  And I write a happiness blog!  This job seemed right up my alley.

“If so, this is the job for you! We are looking for a part-time Sign Dancer who can hold a sign and have fun at the same time. We are not just looking for your average sign holder. We are looking for someone who can dance with a sign and attract attention.”  Again, surely I could HOLD a sign and have fun in a non-average way.

Requirements:

  • You must be very ENERGETIC and get people’s ATTENTION!!!
  • You must be in decent health. You will be outside.
  • You must be able to wave at passing cars while on duty.  I’m friendly!
  • You must be able to stand the entire shift.  I’m a teacher.  I stand all the time!
  • You must have reliable transportation and arrive on time.
  • You must be able to pass a drug test.  What about Allegra or Tums?
  • You must be at least 18 years old.  I’m SO over 18!  This job is MINE, I thought!

But alas, after hours practicing with a broom in the backyard, I came to find out that Little Caesars wants sign dancers who are not quite so OVER 18.

3.  Quality Control Praline Taster at River Street Sweets(Pure pralines, NOT turtles!)  Jen, can you HELP ME OUT HERE??!!

4.  Famous Italian singer. 

5.  Part-time CEO of Apple.  Afterall, I HAVE read the Steve Jobs biography, I have an iPhone, and I realize that Jobs and I have a whole lot in common, well except for the LSD, and the no-deoderant issue, and the need for absolute control (okay, maybe we have that one a little bit in common).

Anyway, recently I started seeing all those pencils and notebooks and protractors (is there really such a need for those things nowadays?) and composition books (does anybody else out there like to smell, really smell, composition books?) at just about every store I entered.  And, still frustrated and pouting with hurt feelings over the Little Caesars debacle, I decided to go to Craig’s List to see what kind of jobs were available.  Bad idea.  I won’t even begin to tell you what kinds of “job opportunities” I saw there.  So after an hour and a half, I left that site.

Then, after Googling “part-time job” + “$250,000 per year” + “low-to-no work requirement” and only getting hits for “U.S. Vice President” and “Ostrich Feather Fanner for the Kardashians,” I got down to business and Googled “part-time job” + “Savannah” + “education,” and an adjunct position posting at SCAD came up.  SCAD is the Savannah College of Art and Design, an incredibly beautiful and innovative art school scattered primarily throughout the historic district of my city.  Thrilled, I looked into the requirements, and soon after was asked to come do a teaching demonstration.

Initially terrified that I COULD NOT TEACH ART (well, actually I can do some cool little foam-board pictures with macaroni, dried pinto beans, glitter and Elmer’s Glue), I stopped hyperventilating and realized I would be teaching composition (my old stomping ground).  The demo and subsequent interview process went well, and they offered me the job!  (I figure I can work in the macaroni pics eventually.)

Doing a tad of research about SCAD faculty, I discovered on the college website that SCAD faculty include:

  • Emmy® Award winners
  • Academy Award® winners
  • Fulbright scholars
  • Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize winner
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship recipient
  • British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award nominee
  • LEED-accredited professionals
  • U.S. patent holders
  • Scholars published in academic journals
  • Best-selling authors
  • AIGA Award winners
  • Character animators for Beowulf, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Chronicles of Narnia
  • Illustrators for The New Yorker, Time, Disney and NASA
  • Visual effects artists for Titanic and Jurassic Park
  • Sequential artists for Dark Horse, DC Comics, Marvel, Cartoon Network and Warner Bros.
  • Producer of Fried Green Tomatoes and The Breakfast Club
  • Writer for The Cosby Show and As the World Turns
  • Script Supervisor for Driving Miss Daisy

WOW!

I felt a bit overwhelmed.  But then I checked back a while later, and lo and behold, something about Yours Truly was added!

  • Finalist, Eighth Grade Spelling Bee  (perhaps would have gone further but spelled “Georgia” as “Jeorgia” due to nerves)

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I am thrilled, THRILLED to be a part of the SCAD faculty on a part-time basis.  I will be teaching international students English composition.  I’m looking forward to this next phase of my teaching career and life.

Here’s the building where I teach:

It used to be the old Savannah jail.

I put retirement in jail.

Later.

Posted in Humor

The Revelation of Riboclavin (And a Dog Stealing Cabbage) (You Know You Have to Read This Post)

As faithful blog followers know, I have a buddy “named” Riboclavin who is quite a character.  (And of course we all know his name isn’t REALLY Riboclavin, come on, but as I said in a post from way back, “I’m just not very good at giving people fake names if they don’t want their real names ‘published’ on my blog because, heaven forbid, the ‘tens’ of people who follow my blog might see their name and … and … idk.”)  Anyway, here he is, rocking.  And even though that dualistic rocking chair looks über huge, Riboclavin looks comfortable and relaxed.  And, really,  isn’t that what counts?

[By the way (true story), on my 16th birthday, I received a rocking chair from my parents as my main gift.]  [Therapy has helped.  But only so much.]

Ribo loves two things in life (maybe more than two, but right now only these couple come to mind).  One, he LOVES his dog MisterDillHarris.

Here’s MisterDillHarris with a big ole bone:

Two, he LOVES (or maybe hates, I’m not sure) his obsession with health, or actually his perceived lack of health.  The guy can be standing in line at the movies to see, for example, Miley Cyrus in The Last Song, and all of a sudden he HAS to take his temperature.  Don’t believe me?  Well, here he is taking his temp.

And, look, here he is taking his dog’s temperature:

(For me, pretend this is normal.  Thanks.)

So anyway, recently Riboclavin texted me a video link, and as usual, made NO attempt to introduce or explain the link.  You can surely understand by now my trepidation and why I came two hairs close to deleting the text and pretending I never received it (as I do with any unwanted or ill-timed text, email, voicemail, regular mail, fax, postcard, Hallmark card, smoke signal, etc.).  Afterall, his most recent link took me to a medical site where a disgusting surgical procedure was in full “operation,” causing me to gasp and snort and vow to never speak to Riboclavin again.  But for some reason I decided, even with the high risk,  to open the link.  And I was pleasantly surprised!  (If you’re near wood, please knock on it for me.)

Here’s the video, entitled “Dog Steals Cabbage.”

Now isn’t that cute … and happiness-worthy?  Please tell Riboclavin thanks, and wish him good health.

Posted in Humor

Staring Contest #3

There I was minding my own business in beautiful downtown Fernandina Beach, Florida, when out of nowhere a sign warned me of pirates in the area.

Now don’t get me wrong; I know there are some good pirates out there–I’ve even met a few.  So when I ran into this guy,

I tried to be nice and smile.  But like the kind of pirate who gives the whole kit and kaboodle a bad name, this one IMMEDIATELY starting taunting me, making fun of my glasses–and my mother–and then challenged me to a staring contest.  For the first time since I had started to tremble, I took a deep breath and smiled again.  Why?  Faithful blog follwers know that staring contests are my speciality.  Renaissance men?  No problem!  Famous football coaches?  Like I’m scared of them!

I accepted, and the feud began.

He had trouble looking me directly in the eyes at first.  But then we really got into the heat of battle.  I WAS not backing down for no blame cutthroat pirate!

So who won?

Let’s just SAYE the victor ain’t got no peg leg and leave it at that!

Next?