MOTM Highlight

I spent my annual week in Key West at the Parrot Convention, Meeting of The Minds at the end of October/beginning of November. A common question I get after that event is, "What was your favorite part?"

The overall answer is, "Spending time with my friends." Truly. Not only do I get to spend serious quality time with my Bestie, Jim (who lives in Minnesota so we don't get to spend much time together), I get to see literally over a hundred people that I know. Actually, it's probably more than a hundred. I also get to spend time with my favorite band, Jimmy and the Parrots. Love those guys and the gals that travel with them!

But, there's always one event during each convention that stands out as a "favorite". This time, it was Mac McAnally's solo show at the Casa Marina.

If you have the remotest chance to see Mac solo or with a small group, take it! Not only is he a supremely talented musician (seven time winner of the CMA Musician of the Year Award gives him some serious street cred), he's also the humblest and funniest guy on stage. I can't help but compare him to Lyle Lovett - they both have that dry, self deprecating humor that you can't help but love and they're great storytellers as well. I'll give Mac the edge on the latter.

I wonder if he'll play drums next time?
Mac started the show with just him and his acoustic guitar. By the time he was done, he had played keyboards, electric guitar, mandolin and harmonica. He joked, "I'm just going to use all the props they left on stage." There were quite a few as it was set up for Club Trini to play after his set.

My favorite muppet!
Not only do I think Mac is talented, I find him adorable. And, the hair, man do I love that full head of ginger hair! They auctioned off a brunch with Mac for the next day. I didn't want to win for two reasons. One, I was scheduled to be on a plane to go home. Two, I was afraid I'd make a complete fool of myself because I would be so giddy to be with him.

Mac was cool about the auction, too. "Now, I know what it feels like to be a t-shirt".

The entire set was magical and you could see that Mac was enjoying it all as much as we were.

Yeah, I think it's safe to say he was having fun.
Mac closed the set with a message for us. That we Parrot Heads should be proud of everything we do for charity and music and our participation and registration for the convention enabled all of the musicians to come down and play for us. He then thanked us.

Thank you, Mac, for a wonderful memory.

**Photos courtesy of Ron Horne who does a fantastic job of capturing the moments at MOTM.

Old People + New Technology = Oil + Water

Subtitle:  Don't ask the old, drunk broad who needs cataract surgery to take pictures with your new phone.

I really love the pictures my iPhone 6 takes. Definitely a step up from the 5. The only problem is that the interface is a bit problematic for a neophyte. Or, an old person. Or, someone with a flip phone.

The big white circle on the screen is what you need to press to take a picture. However, once you find that circle, you also need to press AND lift. If you don't lift your finger up, you'll get a burst of pictures.

That's why I got 53 (seriously, 53) of these:

The flash apparently doesn't work in burst mode.
We finally got one that looked like this:
Not bad except...
Hey, now EVERYONE is in the photo!
Yeah, I asked Barb to take our picture in our matching shirts. Hilarity ensued as she took the aforementioned burst then cut off one of our members. She got her revenge, though, when Tammy took the final picture and Barb photo bombed it.

Even if you've mastered how to use the big white circle, there's the potential for confusion between the big white circle and the three intertwined circles. If you click on the latter, you get options to apply filters to your picture.

None is good. I like None.
If you're apparently randomly pressing on the screen to get a picture taken, you can unknowingly get a picture with a filter.

Like this one:
Bottoms up!
It's actually kind of cool. Makes me think of a faded picture from the 70s. I just don't think they had Shotskis in the 70s. Or, if they did, I was too young to know about them.

Of course, I also got 44 bursts that look a lot like this:

I wish there were a camera setting that shut down every option except taking just one, simple picture. They can call it the "Technology Challenged User" setting. We kids would be using that like crazy when asking our grandparents to take pictures for us.

OK, in my case, asking my parents to take a picture for me. Or, my old, drunk, vision challenged friends.

The Reign Of The Terrors

Two people posted this on my Facebook timeline yesterday.

Completely represents my life right now. Samwise and Starbuck are wearing me out with their at first amusing hijinks that have turned into Tourette's inducing antics.

I've pretty much accepted that I'm going to get woken up in the very wee hours of the morning so they can engage in a battle of who gets to snuggle closest to Mommy's head and therefore cut off her oxygen supply. That's actually somewhat adorable because they purr a lot when they play the game.

What I'm refusing to accept is that Starbuck is determined to get on the nightstand now. Why it's so fascinating, I don't know. Maybe it's because she's trying to get my Chapstick or knock my glasses down as a play toy. I probably reach over and toss her to the other side of the bead a half dozen times during the night. I don't get her every time because, most mornings, I wake up to find my phone on the floor.

And, for those who say I should lock them out of the bedroom, I tried. I just wanted a few more hours of sleep one morning so I forcibly ejected Starbuck from the room. I didn't see Samwise anywhere so I thought he was already. Nope. A fact I found after I had crawled back to bed and he started scratching at the bed.

He got tossed out, too, but got his revenge. He reached under the door and caught his paw on one of my shoes. He then proceeded to pull the show towards the door to bang on it.

I gave up and got out of bed.

The other recent shenanigans involves making household objects into toys. Not only the items below but also a sock and a ball point pen have been favored.

I truthfully believe the slipper weighs half as much as he does.
Mascara is not a toy.
Neither is a USB cord.
Purple eye liner pencil - not a toy.
The eye liner has become the go-to favorite. I'm trying to remember to close the bathroom door but I forgot for about 30 minutes this morning. I heard the rustle from the basket of eyeliners and other cosmetics but, by the time I got there, the purple was MIA. A quick search through the house did not turn it up.

It's my favorite which is probably why Starbuck is torturing me by "favoriting" it in turn.

It's not like they don't have any actual cat toys, either. They had plenty scattered all through the house. I collected them all up in to the toy basket with the hopes that they would think they're new discoveries.
That's a lot of damn toys.
The only thing thats keeping them unharmed is that, like all children, they're so sweet when they're sleeping. I just need them to get to the age when they sleep all the time.

Where I Am A Dope

Here's the deal. I received two smart keys when I bought my bitchen' car. I used one key and tossed the other into a kitchen drawer. 

A couple of years in, the key I was using started losing its mojo. I would have to stand really close to the car to lock or unlock the doors and the same with the trunk. Since I always worry about axe murderers chasing me down, I didn't want to have to spend those extra few seconds of running time fiddling with how close I needed to be to reach the safety of my car and lock myself in. So, I put the "used up" key in the kitchen drawer and started using the fresh one.

That bought me another year or so but then that key started failing. I knew I needed to replace the battery but, dang it, it just seemed like so much work. It could also have meant a trip to the dealership where they would charge me a gazillion dollars. I did nothing except I took to putting my purse (where I store the key) right up to the door so I could unlock it. 

Until that didn't work anymore. 

I knew when I had to start extracting the key and manually unlocking the door that the battery was super low but the car kept starting when I hit the button so I dilly dallied some more.

Until that didn't work anymore.

So, there I was in the early morning (actually mid-morning for you annoying early birds) trying to get to work when the button did nothing. I knew there was supposed to be a hidden spot somewhere to place the manual key to start the car but I couldn't find it. I pulled out the owner's manual only to find that it wasn't the right one for my model and year so the picture and described location of where to put the key wasn't accurate.

In the meantime, it was a billion degrees out and I was starting to sweat. Literally. My bangs were ruined for the day.

I went back in to the house to get the other key and prayed it had enough juice in it to start the car. Thankfully, it did.

I made it in to work and asked one of my colleagues at the Help Desk for access to a tiny screwdriver to see if I could somehow break in to the battery compartment to see what battery was needed. Because, my wrong owner's manual didn't have that information, either. He and I tried but gave up for fear of completely breaking it.

That's when I thought to do what I should have from the beginning. Go to the all powerful google.

I found this video and it made it all seem so clear. It even showed me what type of battery to get. So, on my way home from work, I went to Walgreen's and bought the batteries and thought it would all be a piece of cake.

I was wrong. I discovered I lacked the digital strength to open the compartment with just a dime. I tried a quarter thinking I could get more leverage. It was too big. I then tried a table knife. Still not right so I went back to the dime and managed to get just one of the keys to open. The other was beyond me. I put the new battery in then put the other key and battery in the cupboard to wait for Steven to come over and manhandle it.

The next morning, I headed out to the car and tried to unlock it. No go. At this point, I started freaking out a little bit and wondered if it was the car's locking system that might be the problem. Who knows how much that would cost to fix?

But, I calmed down, opened the door manually then tried to start the car, hoping for some spark. Failure. At this point, I went back inside of the house and rewatched the video.

Here's what I learned.

It really helps if you put the battery in with the correct side facing up.


After more forceful and painful pressure, I was able to open the key, flip over the battery and snap it all back together. Amazing how that actually made it all start working again.

I still don't have the other key's battery replaced which will probably kick me in the ass at some point.

And, I still don't know where the key goes for the manual start which will also kick me in the ass.

But, it's all working now so I can live in denial that the situation will ever change.

A Family Affair

This post could also be titled "They Pay Us To Have These Conversations".

We have an IT team meeting every other week. The idea is to share any accomplishments and bring everyone up to date on your current projects or issues. This morning's meeting was off to a bad start with a conversation about the coffee tasting like "ass" so I should have suspected we'd get derailed.

One of our colleagues started his update with, "I'm growing out my beard and I'm calling it Mr. French."

A little background for you. This particular colleague grows facial hair like no one I've ever seen. He can have a fu manchu one day then muttonchops the next. So, it's not unusual for him to be doing something like this.

A little more background for you. We have a lot of people under 40 and some under 30 in our department. They have no idea who or what "Mr. French" is.

I said, "Oh, from A Family Affair. Brian Keith was the star." Another person said, "Yeah, and he had three kids." I corrected him, "No, he was the playboy uncle in NYC and Mr. French was his manservant. The kids were Sissy, Buffy and..." I couldn't come up with the boy but the Mr. French wearer said, "Jody."

Yep, that was it. Although, he only knew because he had just looked it up.

I then said, "Buffy had a doll...I can't remember her name but lots of little girls got one."

Sugar Daddy chimed in at one point, "Was this show even in color?" Implying that we were so old, shows weren't in color when we were children but, aha, he was barking up the wrong tree on this one. Definitely in color.

An hour later, I was walking out to lunch when it hit me, "Mrs. Beasley!" I pulled out my phone and emailed my Mr. French wearing colleague ASAP. I knew he was probably worrying about not knowing the doll's name. Or, he had completely put it out of his mind.

Who remembers Mrs. Beasley?
The show ran from 1966-1971. I probably saw episodes as a wee tyke but most likely remember it from syndication. I do remember when the girl who played Buffy (the youngest girl) died from a drug overdose when she was only 18.

I don't think I had the doll but I "feel" like I did. If I did, my Dad no doubt threw it out before I had given up playing with it. He's like that.

By the way, I am available for team trivia if you need a ringer.

I Blame Hollywood, I Blame The Movie Studios, I Blame Peter Jackson, I Blame The People Paying To See These Movies

Man, do I have a bone to pick with a lot of people!

One of the movie options on my overseas flights was The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug. I hadn't seen the first entry in the trilogy so I passed on the second but considered I might want to watch it next time. So, out of curiosity, I watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on HBO On Demand.

It should be called The Hobbit: An Unnecessarily Long and Aggravating Reimagining Of A Classic Story That You Loved.

Yeah, that's a long title. But, fitting for how ridiculously long the movie was. To call it bloated is kind. It was beyond overstuffed!

Sugar Daddy and I were discussing the initial movie and the first thing that got to him was the Dwarves singing as they put away the dishes. I told him I thought it was in the book but it's been so long since I read it, I wasn't 100% sure. That made me think about a lot of other things in the movie that I don't recall from the book so I did some research.

And, by research, I mean I reread the entire book.

I did have to tell Sugar Daddy that not only did they sing with the dishes, they sang even more that night in Bilbo's house. His reply was, "Yeah, but did they sing for 45 minutes like it was in the movie?" No, it was just a few stanzas. I had to agree with him, though, it felt really, really long.

I'm all for a little poetic license to make a film version of a book more understandable or even a better story.

I'm NOT for adding a gazillion characters and extended scenes so that you can take a 300 page paperback and make it into three movies that are each so long that your body is crying for a biobreak during them.

Oh, and making Bilbo into some sort of action hero by defending Thorin in a scene that "sorta" came from the book? Don't get me started on that or I'll go off for another fifteen paragraphs.

These guys - in the book.
I'm cool with them.
This guy - not in the book and completely unnecessary to the story.
So not in the book. Seriously, Legolas?
I can only imagine his addition was to appease Orland Bloom's fan girls.
Galadriel? Oh, come on now!
And, apparently in a love story with Gandalf!?!?!? 
I don't know how much money someone would have to pay me to watch the next two movies. I know I'm not paying a dime to see them. Not even continuing to see Richard Armitage and knowing that Benedict Cumberbatch is in there will entice me to allow myself to get angered at the spectacle.

Call me a curmudgeon if you will but overwhelming the audience with CGI and extraneous plot and characters does not entertainment make.

School Golf Sign Challenge

We "sell" golf signs every year at Parrot Grande. The signs are displayed on the course during our tournament then on the stage on Saturday night. People can put whatever they want on a sign - birthday wishes, embarrassing pictures of someone, business promotions, etc.

Signs were a little light this year when Tkay had a great idea - a challenge of which College or University could get the most signs. I upped the ante a bit when I said I would use the winning sign as my Facebook profile picture for a week. Considering my feelings for the University of Arizona (or that school as I call it), it was kind of a big deal to me.

I sent out the following challenge:

The Challenge Is On - Be True To Your School!

Our Parrot Grande Golf God, Russ, has thrown down the gauntlet. Who can show the most pride for their school via a custom Golf Sign for the weekend? 

Russ is doing an Aggie sign. Is that actually even a thing besides a nickname for Agatha?  Tammy is countering with an Ohio State sign. At least a Buckeye isn't a made up object. Though, it's hardly as awesome as a Sun Devil. Just sayin'. I don't even know what Canadian team mascots are like - a super friendly employee from Tim Horton's covered in Maple leaves and drinking an highly taxed Molson?

We have lots of other schools and regions represented in our group. There's at least one person from Michigan who, frankly, needs to do a sign just so we can remember which school is which. Is it Michigan Spartans? We also have someone whose school color is orange. Orange is the color of a child's drink. It's not exactly majestic like Maroon and Gold are. Those are grand school colors! Oh, and you Nebraska people - calling it Scarlet is just trying to make red sound fancy. Fancy does not equal Nebraska.

Signs are $25 each and are considered proceeds towards our charity. Email your art work and sign design to ...

All signs will be displayed on the golf course on Saturday morning then inside the ballroom on Saturday night.

To make it a little more interesting, we'll have an independent judge pick the best sign and I will make it my Facebook profile picture for a week. (That just made the U of A peeps salivate. For you U of A peeps, salivate in this usage means to display great relish at the sight or prospect of something.)

Don't let me down fellow Devils!

Two people volunteered to judge the contest and I gave them no guidelines at all except to pick a sign based on their personal criteria. 

Man, was I happy when I saw their choice!

Great job, Rocky Soderman!
They chose it because it not only represented the school, it represented Parrot Heads and the event as well. 

I shall proudly use this as my Facebook profile - maybe even for more than a week!

Not Quite A Master Painter

The Tempe Center for the Arts is running a weekly series called Art After Work. The gist of it is that an instructor walks you through replicating a painting, most of them by Master artists. My Chick Poker pals, Angela and Stacey, went with me and the artist we were imitating was Monet and his water lilies.

The class ran from 6 to 8:30 (we got out closer to 9) and all of the supplies were provided. It was $35 but we also got a voucher for $8 for booze or, as I like to call it, "Creativity Juice".

When we walked in, this was the picture our instructor had done that we were going to copy.

It wasn't quite the Monet water lilies I was thinking we would be doing but, oh, well.
The first thing our instructor told us to do was to draw out the lily pads and flowers lightly in pencil. She explained how to divide the canvas into sections and how to estimate the size of the pads. Helpful. We started drawing then she gave us the next step which was to erase the flower lines and paint them in white followed by filling in the ocher (or as the common man might call it, spicy mustard) pads.

Our paint colors - I had very little blue left by the end.
I was dutifully following the instructions because I am a rule follower as everyone should be. Not so my companions.

Um, nothing was said about starting on background colors!
Stacey and Angela abandoned all pretense of listening to the instructor and went their own merry ways. I, however, lack the creative genius (or even an inkling of skill) to do that so I continued to follow all of the prescribed steps.

My finished piece was close enough to the model that I wasn't ashamed. Not exciting enough to hang up anywhere, though. Maybe my Dad will want it. But, I'll have to sign it for him first.

Eh, not too shabby.
I'm not one for muted pictures nor do I have the technique to make the color go on smoothly so I always have a lot of bright, textured and thick paint on my canvases. However, the instructor gave out several tips on applying paint, combining colors and creating a "wash" with paint and water that goes on lightly over existing color. I filed all of the information away into my mental painting database.

Whatever. ;)
Of course, Stacey had the coolest picture that was completely different than the original example except there were pads and flowers. Every time we do something crafty, she's consistently the one who excels. And, she only had one glass of Creativity Juice to my two. Dang her. If I weren't 100 times better at Poker than she is, I would have to dump her as a friend. ;)

A different take on it.
Angela ended up with lily pads, water and flowers but in a very different fashion than prescribed. From a side view, it looked like cacti to me. Still cool.

It's always fun to see how every one else approaches a project. Many in the class (there were close to 25) strayed a bit from the model with a very small minority just going their own way. Some whipped through the painting process while others were still working when time was up. You could tell there were some seasoned painting veterans as well as some complete newbs.

We enjoyed it but decided that the sessions where you can bring your own wine and not all paint the same picture were more fun. So, we'll be looking for another Living Social or Groupon to do that again. I think it's a great value to play around with paint without investing a small fortune into buying my own supplies. And, finding space in my tiny house for a work space.

Oh, and keeping everything from the little terrors that live with me. I left my painting in the trunk of my car to dry since I knew there was nowhere I could put it in the house that they wouldn't get to it then drag paint all over the place.