Shortie: Family Goals

I went to this Oregon Coast this weekend with my husband, my parents, my three sisters and their other halves.

It’s strange to see my sisters that I have grown up with aging so amazingly, now that I’m 25 and married, my oldest sister almost 30 with 3 kids, a handsome husband and beautiful life, yet it seems like only yesterday that we were 6 years old playing in mud puddles out back my parents country home.

My parents had a wonderful time, having all their kids and son-in-laws (and son in law to be) together for the short time.

I imagine that must be the best feeling in the world. Seeing everything you have worked for your entire life come to fruition, and the people you have invested in being so happy.

It was a great weekend, and I hope I am as blessed that I will be able to see that from my own family one day.

Cloudy but still beautiful.

Short Story: The Encounter

Sarah casually walks down the street, taking in the cool night air around her. She is whistling the song “Don’t worry be happy,” as she strolls, thankful it’s finally her weekend, and she won’t have to return to the resturant for two whole days. There’s no one on the roads, which isn’t that unusual, since it is 2am, but a little strange to see absolutely no one at all. No cars driving, no drunk man stumbling home from the nearest bar, not even that ugly, orange alley cat that usually sulks around begging for food.

 Only her, and the traffic lights slowly blinking orange like they always do after 9:30 in Casper. No one anywhere. All alone in the world. 

She shrugs, and continues to walk and whistle. She likes to be alone. She wouldnt talk to anyone anyway, so what’s it to her if there here or not. 

The road she usually takes is blocked off, so she turns down an unfamiliar sidestreet and began a walk down a long grey tunnel. She likes the tunnel, her song echoes and makes her feel less alone. Something makes her suddenly stop, her song ceasing and the whole world goes quiet with it.

 Everything seems strangely familiar, like she’s already done this. She looks around at the tunnel…Its the tunnel from her dream. She had been here before. More than once. She turns back to go a different way, out of the tunnel. This time she’ll escape. But when she looks back at the path she had taken to get to the tunnel, every single light, in the shops, in the street, and even the comforting blink of the orange caution lights, had gone dark. The only way forward is the tunnel. 

She doesn’t want to go in the tunnel. There has to be another way. This time she’ll figure it out.  She takes her phone out of her pocket and turns on the tiny flashlight, in an effort to navigate back through the darkness. In the beam of her flashlight she sees a 7-foot tall figure, bony, gaunt and utterly terrifying. It’s oversized head houses two gigantic black eyes and his pale grey skin reflects the beam of light back into her eyes. 

She screams and drops her phone, the world going dark as the being reaches out for her. 

There is a a loud feedback noise that comes from seemingly, the heavens, speaking in a horrible foreign tongue. “Begin the test again.”

Digging Up The Past: Discovering Your Family Tree 

Now that I am getting older, I am becoming more sentimental, and I decided I wanted to put together my family genealogy. It was something I had always wanted to do, and I thought I would finally buckle down and take the trip.

Familysearch.com is a free site, and had some amazing resources. I had a wonderful, challenging time creating my genealogy. It was hard, required a lot of research, but was very rewarding. Here are some of my tips about how to start your family tree, and make it grow!

 Its Like Being A Detective: This type of research is hard, and unusual. In today’s information age, all data is directly imputed into computer databases. However, before computers, everything was handwritten. When these older documents were made digital, and imputed into archives, there may have been transcription errors from mis-reading handwriting. (For example, Mistaking the name “Sheri” for “Shen” if the cursive “I” was not dotted.) There are even simple errors now, for example, my mother’s name was misspelled on the 2010 census paperwork, her name was spelled “Mollie” instead of “Molly.” While these don’t seem like a big deal, trying to search for your ancestors in archives and old records with a misspelled name, such as “Janie Smith” instead of “Jamie Smith” could bring up a whole different set of results, and throw off the whole trail.  You have to continually be checking and comparing documents, and sometimes still the trail will run cold.

 Ask The Ones Who Know: Who knows the most about your family’s history already then your family? Stop in and ask your parents, grandparents, look at photo albums, and see what you can find. This will be a big help on your journey into the past. You may even hear some great stories. My grandma told me a great story about when she was a little girl, and her brother went off to fight in the war. He bought her a little dress during the time he was deployed, and was excited to give it to her when he returned. However, he didn’t return until 5 years later, and realized the little girl he knew had grown up while he was away, and the dress was much too small.

 Utilize Your Resources: There are tons of resources available, with more and more old records being digitalized daily. There are birth records, death records, marriage records, military service records, census records and more. The US census is taken every 10 years, and has been since 1790. Many of these more recent records are digitalized and available to search, except the year 1890, which was destroyed in a fire. Census records show the people in the household, their ages at the time, and also their status (son, daughter, father) which can be very helpful if you have three generations of men all with the same name! If you can’t find results searching one place, try searching through a different avenue. Maybe he died between 1880 and 1900 in Rhode Island? Try searching with the dates and last name. Think outside the box.

 Don’t Give Up: Sometimes it feels like you are at the end of everything. The trail’s gone cold on all your leads, you have no idea what to do next. Sometimes it’s best to just take a break for a couple days, and think of some new ideas. Other times, you have to go about things different ways. Try different names, try looking for marriage dates, or searching by location. You may find people in unexpected locations, or with misspelled names!

 Have Fun: This is your journey. You are learning about your past and where you came from! So take your time, and enjoy the experience.

Have you researched your family tree? What were some of your experiences?

Don’t Want to be an American Idiom

I am thankful to have been born in the USA for many reasons. Taco bell, the 4th of July, but mostly because I don’t have to struggle through learning English, with its nightmarish rules and expressions, as an adult. English is my native language, and I still struggle with the idioms, after 25 years! What does “Bob’s your uncle” mean, anyway?? Today I wanted to share my five favorite idioms, what they mean, and where they (may have) come from.

When The Sh*t Hits The Fan

Meaning: There will soon be messy consequences

Used in a sentence: “The sh*t is really going to hit the fan when they find out you’re not filing your reports!”

 Where this might have come from…

This idiom is related to, and may be derived from, an old joke. A man in a crowded bar needed to defecate but couldn’t find a bathroom, so he went upstairs and used a hole in the floor. Returning, he found everyone had gone except the bartender, who was cowering behind the bar. When the man asked what had happened, the bartender replied, ‘Where were you when the shit hit the fan?’ [Hugh Rawson, “Wicked Words,” 1989]

This expression alludes to the unmissable effects of poop being thrown in to an electric fan.

The first recorded use of this phrase is in Norman Mailer’s 1948 novel The Naked and the Dead. In this context, the use of shit is referring to problems or difficulties in World War 1, while the image of the rotating fan implies that those problems will be spread around.

Other more polite forms of the phrase include eggs, pie, soup, and “stuff”, ex., “when the egg hit the fan.”

Keep Your Eyes Peeled

 I have always thought this Idiom sounded slightly gross. The meaning of the phrase is basically, “Keep a good lookout, pay attention.”

Used in a sentence: “I lost my keys, so if you could keep your eyes peeled for them, that would be great.”

 Where this might have come from…

Apparently, there have been two versions of this saying used, as early as the mid 1850’s and early 1900’s. One uses the word “peeled,” (as above) the
 other uses the word “skinned.” (keep your eyes skinned) Its undetermined which one was first, but they both have the same idea of taking off the outside of your eye to make sure you are seeing clearly.

It’s possible that the literal peeling or skinning of vegetables or animals in order to open them is where the idea for this phrase comes from.

More Than You Can Shake A Stick At

 What a weird one. But then, aren’t they all? This phrase basically just means “a lot.”

Used in a sentence: “Have you seen that woman’s closet? She has more shoes than you can shake a stick at!”

 Where it may have come from:

One possibility is that it from the counting of farm animals, which could have been done by pointing a stick at each animal in turn. “More that you can shake a stick at” could just imply: “you could wave your counting stick until your arm falls off, and you still wouldn’t reach the end.”

Another idea is that it comes from battle, where it was popular in some cultures to shake a stick at the conquered enemy.

Get Someone’s Goat

 To let someone get your goat just means that they have succeeded in making you annoyed or angry.

Used in a sentence: “Ron’s constant whining really gets my goat.”

 Where it might have come from…

This idiom is said to come from horse racing, and was first used in magazines in the early 1900’s. Horses can be temperamental, and in order to keep their animals calm and relaxed, jockeys often kept a goat as a stable companion
for the horse. Goats don’t get flustered easily, and their presence in the stable had a calming influence on the horse. In order to ensure that a competitor’s horse didn’t perform well in a big race, rival owners sometimes stole the goat the night before the big event! The absence of the goat made the horse moody, and as a result it didn’t perform well in the race. So when you say that someone has got your goat, you are comparing yourself to the horse, who is upset and angry.

Close, But No Cigar

This one I’m sure you’ve heard before! This idiom basically implies “To fall just short of a successful outcome and receive nothing for your efforts.”

Used in a sentence: “We were only one point away from winning last night! So close, but no cigar!!”

 Where this might have come from…

This saying was first heard in the 1935 “Annie Oakley film. There may have been a time in the 20th century where cigars were among the prizes that could be won at carnivals, (however this has not been confirmed.) If this is true, then this could have been a popular phrase at the carnival games, shouted to contestants who came close to winning a prize, but just missed it.

What is your favorite idiom, and what does it mean?

Science Fiction Authors That Were(n’t) Ahead of Their Time

I love science fiction. Its why I play video games. Exploring new worlds, killing aliens, space travel, life on Mars, all the things that may or may not ever be possible to humankind right at my fingertips.

I ran the idea for my blog post of the day: “Sci-Fi Writers That Were Ahead of Their Time” past my husband this morning, and he told me that these authors weren’t AHEAD of their time, that they were ON time, and we wouldn’t have science fiction as it is today without them.

So here is my top four list of science fiction authors that were ON time, and we have sci-fi as we know it because of them:

Jules Verne: This popular author is most well-known for his stories “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” If you haven’t read these books, you have undoubtedly seen one of the numerous movie adaptations. The thing that I think is the most amazing about Jules Verne is that he lived in the late 1800’s, before any of the technology for the ideas in his books would have ever been imagined. He was just curious about what was under the sea, and inside of the earth.

HG Wells: Author of “The Invisible Man,” “War of the Worlds,” and “The First Men in the Moon,” his titles are slightly spooky and I’m sure pretty alarming at the time, before people had ever heard of anything like this! Giant aliens attacking the earth? An invisible man?

George Orwell: I’m not exactly sure if Orwell should be on this list, as I would probably say that his books are more political commentary than actual Science-Fiction. However, his book “1984” is an amazing and terrifying classic. Perhaps not the first of its kind, but I believe it had an influence on Science-Fiction, as well as popular and political culture. Some movies that carry a similar tone to his book are: “12 Monkeys,” “Blade Runner,” and “Total Recall,” not to mention Ray Bradbury wrote his classic story, “Fahrenheit 451,” only four years after Orwell’s “1984” was published, so Bradbury may well have been influenced by Orwell’s writing also.

Ray Bradbury: “Fahrenheit 451” and “The Martian Chronicles” are amazing full length books, descriptive and imaginative. The “Martian Chronicles,” written in a journal-like format, is an interesting story about a family’s life on Mars. My all-time favorite book by Bradbury is “The Illustrated Man.” This is a short story collection, based on a man’s enchanted tattoos. The unique idea is intriguing, and every sci-fi story within is captivating. Many people don’t like short story collections because they’re not detailed enough to get pulled into, but each story in this collection is unique and captivating from beginning to end.

Thinking about these creative men being the first to have the science fiction idea is astounding to me. Thank you for your work gentlemen, and creating my favorite genre as it is today.

What do you think? Who are some other great authors that made science fiction what it is today?

If Life Had Video Game Rules

I was in my office today, and I suddenly had the strange and random thought….what if my life was like a video game? (Office simulator 2000? They probably already have that.)

Here are some things that would probably happen (and be okay) If my life ran with video game rules.

Granted, I am mixing together a whole bunch of video game mechanics, and physics from different engines. But, here’s what I came up with.

-Drive to work. Crash into everything, miraculously, car is okay. Also hit 5 people. Short police chase, but they soon forget about me after I hide under a bridge for 10 minutes.

-Get in random fight with coworker. Because why not? They will forget and be my friend again as soon as it is over.

-Why is person blocking the doorway???  I CANNOT GET OUT.

-Running everywhere. Must kick open all the doors.

-I can somehow carry 20 items, even though I am just wearing a blouse and skirt. Where am I carrying these?

-Every time I see something interesting in someone’s bag or on their desk I will steal it.

-If I don’t want something anymore, I’ll just throw it on the floor.

-Okay to walk into any room at any time.

-Jump and squat and jump and squat. Now, emote.

-Break open anything that looks fragile. It may have loot.

-And of course, leave in the middle of any conversation or any job.

-Also totally ok to steal peoples cars to get out of there.

 Did I miss any? What other things happen in a video game that would be uncomfortable in real life?