Explaining Irony to Writer’s Digest

Remember a bit ago when I told you how I explained irony to my daughter?  (Reminder: pain relief spray crashed down on her head.)  Well, my writing friends, here’s one for you that just arrived in my inbox.  Enjoy!

writers digest goof

Update – 6/28/2016

I must stop trying to be overly clever.

Perhaps Writer’s Digest University should contemplate taking their “Introduction to Copyediting” course that begins June 30th.  They could apply their new found knowledge to e-mail subjects.

writers digest goof

Thanks Kathy for letting me know that my “joke” fell flat.

Hiatus and Compromise

Oh my dear blogging friends, I have missed you.  The insanity of May flowed into the craziness of June and my poor blog suffered.  In hindsight I should have told you all I was going to be missing from this space, but alas, I just went and left no forwarding address.  Now refreshed and full of stories from a week’s vacation I return ready to blog again.

For starters, let me just say I have finally figured out this “vacationing with a child” thing.  Now, 8+ years of parenting has taught me that the second I utter such words that hubris will destroy me leaving me in the land of horrid vacations for years to come. I shall not be daunted!  I believe this knowledge will endure!  The key to successfully vacationing with a kid is… duh duh duuuuhhhhh…. compromise!  Let’s look at some pictorial evidence from my recent Tour de Soutwest Colorado, shall we?

In order for child(ren) to enjoy the seven mile hike to Lizard Lake, you must first incentivize them with a gnome home contest.  Then, when the whining and complaining part of the hike begins you may be lucky enough to notice a bonanza of snail shells (What?!?  In Colorado in the mountains???  It’s like Mother Nature was on the parent’s side) which will lead to the creation of a snail-shell-walkway which will result in a champion gnome home.  Everyone is happy, especially the gnomes.  Tune in, because I am certain this home will be featured on gnome HGTV for years to come.

Oh, not more hiking.  We adults love hiking, and somehow we think if there is a waterfall at the end the children will like hiking too.  That may work for you, especially if the hike is short and the waterfall is amazing like this one is, but maybe, just maybe, giant inflatable pool toys are more amazing?  Try coupling the success of passing a swim test with an hour of “Water Ninja Warrior” competition – where your child legitimately crushes you on 6 of 6 obstacle runs. (She’s over a foot smaller than me, how was I supposed to fit?  And don’t get me started on her strength to weight ratio….)  The whole way up to that waterfall there will be nothing but joy, especially if you couple the hike with really great rocks in the path.

Oh dear God. You are not done hiking yet?  You want to hike to a cave?  A dark creepy cave?  Well parents, just stick a horseback ride on the front of that cave hike and let Yuma the horse do the majority of the hiking for you. Sure, you won’t be able to walk for a couple days while you develop real understanding of the term “saddle-sore” but your kid will love every minute of the ride there, and then might even surprise you by being the only family member willing to follow the guide “just a little farther into the cave.”  Try not to hang your head in shame while you let your kid go spelunking into the depths of a cave with some guide you met less than an hour before.  She’ll probably be fine and besides, your butt hurts too much to crouch.

EVEN MORE HIKING?!?!  What are you insane?  Is this a death march or a vacation, I ask you?  Well, if you can hike in a creek and, I don’t know, pick up even more cool rocks then maybe you can squeeze one more hike in.   Note: we may have failed on the rock portion of “take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints” goal of hiking, but that’s okay, because you are done hiking now, right.  RIGHT???

Let me tell you, at some point you have to put your butt down.  Sure the top of the sand dunes are very tempting, but that sand is hard to walk on and after awhile there is so much of it in your ears you can’t hear the pleading, “Can’t we just go a little farther?”  Fine, go a little farther, but me and your backpacks of water and snacks are staying here, far away from the sand ledge of death – which somehow didn’t claim my family (or any other lives) during our trip.  You go on to the top.  I’ll wait for you, even without any rocks to gather.


Survival. Costco style.

Oh blogging buddies, how I have missed you!  As those of you with school aged kids know May is a crazy month filled with soccer games, school plays, Mother’s Day, field trips, and in the Afthead house, the little Afthead’s birthday.  In preparation for the big birthday party this weekend we stopped by Costco for some party food: popcorn, candy, and wait a second…what is that?

Across from the popcorn was a big paint bucket that said “Food Storage”.  Always looking for a better solution to plastic bags and Ziploc containers I had to check it out.  After reading a bit I realized that this bucket did not hold what I thought it held.  This bucket contains 390 “delicious just-add-water” meals.  When enjoyed eaten these meals will supply the family of four 2000 calories per day for thirty days, and the contents are good for twenty years!

Wow, so many questions before I purchase though…  First off, I calculate that a family of four eating three meals a day for 30 days needs 360 meals.  Since this has 390 meals I wonder what the extra 30 meals are for?  Picky eaters?  A snack every fourth day?  That mutant rat that snuck into the emergency shelter with you?  Can you have a family of five eat for 10 days and then pick who doesn’t get to eat the rest of the time?  With a family of three, we could eat for 43 days, unless those random extra meals are important somehow.  What a deal!

Next, there is the highly touted “Gamma Lid” featured in the Costco online write up.  I don’t know why a Gamma Lid is important or what it does for your bucket-o-food, but man, I feel like more of my buckets need a Gamma Lid.

Oh, and the reasons you might want this bucket are so important to note.  You might want it because, like me, you relish the idea of not having to cook for your family for 43 days and paying a mere $114.99 to sustain yourself.  However, that is not the benefit according to the bucket.  You need this in case of


Mother nature can be unforgiving when we least expect it.  Have the peace of mind that being ready provides, confident that you have the basic necessities to survive the unexpected.  Live Life Ready.

Whoa there.  Let’s all start singing the old Sesame Street song, One of these things is not like the other… Is anyone else aware of a Mother Nature derived economic disaster?  Maybe a tornado ripped through the Federal Reserve?  I had to watch the video online to get clarification, but that just played peppy music and showed me a happy lady with a white chunky necklace making some “Creamy Cinnamon & Rice” from the bucket.  I also got to see her twist open the Gamma Lid!  Based on the video, I also think the meals come with garnish like lemons, parsley, sour cream, fresh strawberries, jalapenos and whipped cream.  Yum!  Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh….Come on, sing along if you watched the video!

Well, I didn’t buy the bucket, because my husband and child dragged me away from the display before I could really understand bucket’s worth, but with all my additional online research I may just have to join chunky necklace lady and plaid shirt man (who appears on Costco’s site stocking his shelves with what appears to be a tenth bucket) in “living life ready.”  Mmmm….tomorrow I think I’ll twist open my Gamma Lid and enjoy some Cheddar Cheese Grits with Green Chilies, Chicken Flavored Vegetable Stew and Creamy Mashed Potatoes!

Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh….wait…there is a “3,986 Total Serving 1-Year 1-Person Food Storage Supply” option for only $4,499.99 and a “31,500 Total Servings 4-Person 1-Year Food Storage” option for $3,999.99????  I’m going to need to do more research…

AAA Battery Emergency

Normally when I see these trucks I am driving and can’t snap a good picture – they have all turned out so blurry, especially on the highway – but today, gasp one parked!  I love the idea of emergencies that need AAA Batteries Delivered and Installed.

  • Help!  I’ve got friends and family over to watch the big game and we can’t get the volume to turn up using my remote control!
  • The incessant beeping of the smoke detector is driving me insane.  I thought all of these things took a 9-volt!
  • The ridiculously tiny flashlight I keep in my  medicine cabinet to look at sore throats is so dim, I can’t tell if we should go to the doctor!
  • The cats are destroying my furniture ever since the laser pointer stopped making the super-duper-fun red dot!
  • It’s Christmas morning, and guess what we forgot to buy?  None of the new toys work!

It makes me feel secure knowing that my AAA Battery emergencies can be solved with a simple phone call.  I’m so glad I’m a member.

Does this translate at all to international readers?  As this is my second hysterical battery post I worry that I am alienating all those readers from across the pond that use some other battery nomenclature.


“He > I” why context matters

I was driving home from the grocery store today and saw a really interesting window sticker on the car in front of me at the red light.  The sticker read:

He > I

As a person with an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering I have taken a lot of chemistry.  A year in high school.  Two semesters of basic chemistry in college, two semesters of organic chemistry, a semester of surface chemistry, and too many chemical engineering classes to count.  I know chemistry.  So this window sticker fascinated me.

Helium is greater than Iodine

The light turned, we all started driving, and my brain turned.  Helium is 2 on the periodic chart, and Hydrogen is 1, so Helium is greater than Hydrogen, but that’s about it.  Iodine is…oh my gosh…how can I not remember where Iodine is?  I mean five years of chemistry and I can’t remember that?  What is wrong with me?  But I know it’s not lower than Helium.  Are they talking about some other property of the elements?

A few more minutes of pondering when I realized that the sticker probably wasn’t about Chemistry.  It was probably about God.  Oh.  Right.  Like He, God, is greater than I, a mere mortal.  I came home and told my husband about the story, and he said, “Yeah, that’s totally about God.”  My knowledge from four years of engineering school overwhelmed my zero years of going to church.

Then my lifetime of researching stuff took over and I Googled the sticker.  It’s a clothing store in Hawaii.  Their front page says:

He>I Hale’iwa Hawai’i

Guess I’m an idiot and my husband is an idiot.  The sticker is about Hawaii.  But I don’t get it either.  How does Hawaii come out of He>I?  I can’t get the word play to work.  So I went to the about page of the site and read.  Turns out it IS about God, but not about Chemistry at all.

Their about page says, “Most people have a story about when they first discovered what our logo (HE>i) means – either by figuring it out on their own or having someone share the meaning with them.”

I’m totally sending them my chemistry story.  I think they’ll love it.

Image by Alchemist-hp (talk) (www.pse-mendelejew.de) (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A Powerful Snow Day Meme

Yesterday my daughter came home with a plan.  “Mommy,” she said, “I learned at school today that to have a snow day we need to put a frozen spoon under our pillows, flush an ice cube and wear our pajamas upside down.”  With that pronouncement she went to the cutlery drawer to pick out which spoon she wanted to go into the freezer, and I followed after her to get clarification that “upside down” meant “inside out.”  I wasn’t sure how we were going to pull off upside down pajamas.

Not wanting to mess with a potential snow day, I had her freeze a spoon for me and my husband.   I dutifully flushed an ice cube and then let her flush one.  We both wore our pajamas inside out, but couldn’t convince Mr. Afthead to turn his boxers inside out.  A frozen spoon went under her pillow, under my pillow, and was snuck under Mr. Afthead’s pillow.  He didn’t really want a snow day, or at least that was his justification for not playing along.

I posted the recipe for snow day on Facebook, and was inundated by replies from my limited list of friends that their kids had also proclaimed the same, or similar snow day procedures.  One mom worried because her spoons weren’t frozen, but the power of the elementary school crowed could not be overwhelmed by a single family’s inability to freeze their spoons or a dad’s unwillingness to wear nontraditional oriented pajamas.

The 5:30 oh-my-God-someone-has-died automated phone call from the school district and the foot of snow told us that our careful plans had worked!  Do not question the power of the snow day meme when implemented en masse.

How do I make it work?!?

 The instructions on the back of my new clock are confusing.  Do I need a C battery, or not?  Perhaps I need two AA batteries, which are included?  Perhaps some other alternative energy source is provided-solar panels or fusion-but when that runs out I’ll need a C battery, which is not included.  What if I’m not in the USA, the only country where this statement is applicable, is the battery included or is there a different power requirement altogether?  What would happen if my husband took this on a business trip to the UK?  Would he get additional clarification?

My friends, the answer, if required, is not included.

Signs of less than the apocolypse

It’s been a rough few days at the Afthead house, so today I bring you my favorite sign from a local water park, so we can share a laugh.  Every time I see it I want to jump in the pool and stay under as long as I can, swim a lap without coming up for air, or just stand in front of the sign and hold my breath like a petulant child.  That’s the kind of scofflaw I am.

Now, let’s all just take a deep breath …and hold it.

Surface screen showing date far into the future

Hello from the future!

Today I logged into my writing Surface and was shocked by the date that appeared in the corner of my screen.  Apparently, while walking downstairs to my study, I miraculously transported almost 64 years into the future!  I’m feeling pretty spry for 103 years old, and look darn good if I do say so myself.  My 66 year old cat jumped onto my desk: for sure a record for world’s oldest cat.

The future was not without disappointment.  I was horrified to find that my Surface was still running Internet Explorer 11 and Windows 8.1.  Still no invitation to upgrade to Windows 10 either.  A quick glance out the window verfied that there are no flying cars, at least, not that I could see from the basement.  I’m off to see if Google still exists, and if it does, try to find where my ancient husband and 71 year old daughter are.  I bet they’ve been worried sick.