Friday

Sorry, Apple. Arctic temps did not overheat my iPhone




I just stepped indoors after spending a few hours doing some outdoor projects. The mercury never went above 20 degrees (F). And the windchill apparently has made the day feel like a sub-zero day.

After shrugging off my winter coat, I reached into my jeans pocket for my smart phone, which doesn’t seem to be so smart, after all.

Here’s what my iPhone screen said:



Temperature
!
iPhone needs to cool down before you can use it.


Really, iPhone?

Somebody better get Siri on the line – stat! Something ain’t right here. My iPhone definitely does not need to cool down.

And I just have to chuckle. Why is the iPhone suddenly bilingual? Oh, wait. It’s more than that, as multilingual emergency-only messages are now cycling across the screen.


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Thursday

Death by Sorority



"Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

I agree wholeheartedly with Mark Twain, who said that first. Many years ago, as an undergraduate student, I was officially certified as dead, but I am really quite alive, thank you!

Sorority life nearly killed me, at least on paper! A national Greek fraternity signed my death notice.

Yes, it’s true.

It all started with a happy beginning. Or so it seemed at the time.

As a college freshman, I enthusiastically participated in the sorority rush. My friends and I enjoyed being courted by all the right Greek houses. We were duly impressed by the tales of philanthropic programs, charitable donations, and volunteer efforts. Mostly, we probably hoped we might gain advantageous social connections by linking up with the right people.

Finally, on Pledge Night, we hovered in our dorm rooms and waited for the candlelight processionals to arrive.

One by one, each sorority came calling, announcing the names of the girls they would invite to join. When my favorite group called my name, I could hardly stand it. I was so excited! I flew into a sea of happy hugs.

Moments later, blindfolded and bound by the wrists to 20 other naïve freshmen, I was led through a muddy field to an unknown location. The hazing had begun.

The wake-up call came all too soon.

Caught up in tradition, our entire pledge class banded together and endured humiliating rituals, beer showers, raw egg shampoos, and worse.

Finally, our initiation day arrived. Veiled in secrecy, we promised lifelong loyalty to the sisterhood.

The following weekend, I strolled into my boyfriend’s fraternity house and found one of my sorority sisters trying to seduce him.

So much for sisterhood!

Then my sorority sisters killed me. So they say.

Final exams came and went, and summer arrived. Reaching my home, along with my sanity, I decided to resign from the sorority. That fall, as soon as the term began, I typed a letter to the chapter president.

My resignation was accepted, on the condition that I pay the fall membership dues. I refused to do this, of course.

A few months later, when I arrived home for the winter break, an official-looking letter awaited me on the desk in my room. Stamped as registered mail, it bore familiar Greek lettering over the return address. The letter was from the national office of the sorority.

Puzzled, I sliced the envelope open with one finger. What was inside? It was a death notice with my own name embossed on it!

Was this a threat, or simply wishful thinking?

Many years have passed since then, and I am very much alive. And I have never doubted my decision to withdraw from the supposedly select sisterhood that falsely declared me dead.

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Friday

Holiday shopping gone bad: My worst holiday gifts from A-Z



What are the worst holiday gifts you have ever received? I’ve gotten some doozies! Bet you have too.

Sure, it’s the thought that counts.

I’m touched that people actually remember me during the holiday season. I’m truly grateful to be loved, especially at Christmastime. And I truly appreciate the thought, effort, and even expense that go behind every gift.

Having said that, here are the worst gifts I ever received, from A to Z. I hope this will prevent others from purchasing or receiving similar items. (Please consider the spirit in which this is intended, just for fun.)

Anything from Hot Topic. What am I, Goth Mom?

Bird claw. My brother hunts. He dried the claw, drilled a hole through the stump and made me a key ring. Eek!

Cupid socks. Gee, which holiday is it, again?

Dishwashing soap. Seriously! Where is the Grinch when we need him?

Electric shaver. Is there a message here?


Glitter art kit: Ever tried to vacuum up glitter?

Halloween decorations. Has someone been shopping a post-holiday closeout sale?

Ice cream maker. Who’s gonna churn it?

Jump rope. I have enough bouncing parts without this!

Kite. What am I, 12?

Lava lamp. Are you trying to give me 60’s flashbacks?

Musical duck. As if last year’s singing bass wasn’t bad enough!

Nose-hair trimmers. Even Grandpa wouldn’t take ‘em.

Owl (plastic). What a hoot. Who knew?

Pink polka dot leggings (for a grown woman). Who do they think I am, Miss Piggy?

Quilted potholders. Get real. By Christmas, my baking days are over for at least a month. Besides, we’re still recycling last year’s fruitcake.

Recipes. What am I, taking orders? This was not a recipe file or book, just certain recipes the giver wanted me to make. (Aha!)

Spider. OK, it was rubber, but it still creeped me out!

ThighMaster. Was this a not-so-subtle hint, or what?

Underwear. We’re not talking lovely lingerie here, but basic tidy whitey undies. Even long-johns would go over better.

Vacuum cleaner. Sure, that’s romantic!

Wicked widgets. A chocolate fountain, s’mores maker, pasta-puller and fajita machine are simply space-takers after the first use. And would someone please explain why the same person gave me toasters, five years in a row?

eXtravagant regifting. Certain family members tend to overfill gift bags with oddly assorted items that clearly came from their students or staffers. We’re talking "A+ Teacher" apple ornaments, dollar-store bath items, hokey notepapers, cutesy socks and more.

Yachting magazine. Pretty pictures, but I don’t think a schooner and sailing lessons were included in the gift.

Zilch. Yep, believe it or not, some people never remember. Not even a card. Gee, did I forget them this year too?

That about sums it up for my worst holiday gifts from A to Z.

Please don’t tell my family or friends, just in case they have already wrapped some of these items and placed them under my tree! When I tell them I love their gifts, I don’t wanna be  busted!

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Sometimes kids’ mistaken words make more sense than the real ones.




Let’s call it practically portmanteau. What is it?

OK, portmanteau combines two real words to make a new one. The word portmanteau actually means “suitcase” in French. It occurs when a couple of words are packed together.

Additional examples include bionic (biological + electronic), brunch (breakfast + lunch), simulcast (simultaneous + broadcast), smog (smoke + fog), and televangelist (television + evangelist).

Often, catching cultural buzzwords arise as portmanteau words. Chillaxing (chilling + relaxing), emoticon (emotion + icon), and ginormous (gigantic + enormous) demonstrate this phenomena.

Still, the most spot-on versions of portmanteau often seem to pop up in kids’ mistaken words.

Maybe you know some children who have unwittingly created their own long-lasting verbages (at least in family usage), simply by mixing up words they think they have heard adults say.

In our family, we have a few of these intriguing terms, which have lasted for generations.

  1. Funderworks – These are the explosive displays the older members of the family set off on the Fourth of July.
  2. Kneel socks – This term relates to any stretch stockings that extend all the way up to the knee.
  3. Meat love – This tried-and-true family recipe features ground beef and certain secret ingredients, fashioned into a loaf and topped with ketchup – tons of ketchup.
  4. Place maps – This word started with the use of those handy laminated world and USA maps for individual place settings at the family dinner table. The term caught on and has since referred to any sort of place mat, whether it features a map or not.

What wonderful mistaken words has your family added to its own vernacular? And what stories or memories do such terms recall?

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