It’s a Compulsion. It Really, Really Is.

I’m on Day 3 of being without Facebook and it’s amazing how often I’ve gone to open up the app on my phone, and how natural-feeling it is to want to be on Facebook. Very weird and disconcerting.

For example, I’ve been working on covering up our gas fireplace. I hate fireplaces and wish we didn’t have one at all (although I DO like wood-burning stoves and wish we had one of those). We haven’t used the fireplace since 2007, and while we have done maintenance on it (new chimney cap, fixing a crack, cleaning out the chimney), we have snuffed the pilot light and closed off the gas. We also keep the damper closed (but it still remains open at least 1″ all the time because it can’t be closed completely). But it’s just an eyesore and in winter our TV room is freezing because of that 1″ gap in the damper causing a major vacuum that sucks out the heating. So I decided to do something about it.

And there is where Facebook and blogging are different and will take me a while to recalibrate. With Facebook, I take a picture of the fireplace when I’m done, write something pithy, and hit “post.” But on blogs, pictures speak a thousand words, and so before/during/after pictures make a difference. Alas, I only have an after picture. ANd now that the project is done I’m sure as heck not going to take it out!

Anyway, rather than go to the expense of clearing out the fireplace and getting rid of the gas line completely, I decided to fake it. I bought some rigid foam and MDF board from the local big box, and had the MDF cut to the size of the opening of the fireplace. I got a can of black spray paint and painted one side of the MDF, and stapled the foam to the other side. I then put the painted black board in the fireplace opening. The result? Looks pretty good. Now instead of looking at cobwebs and dusty fireplace logs (yep, it is that bad), you don’t see anything. It’s just a black hole.

But rather than have just a black hole I decided to put something decorative in front of it. Now, I’m not one to put giant vases on either side of my fireplace, or cute old-timey suitcases. That’s not my style at all. I looked at a lot of pictures trying to figure out what I liked AND that would work with two kids, two dogs and cat who all get rambunctious (okay, so maybe the cat doesn’t get rambunctious, but she does like rubbing up against stuff (that sounds bad but that’s not how I meant it)). In the end, I opted for simplicity and ordered a summer firescreen that had fake candles on it. It came yesterday, and you know what? It looks pretty cool. What’s awesome is that the candles have a remote control and run for 4 hours before shutting off automatically. And once you turn it on, it remembers the next day and automatically comes on at the same time every day. How cool is that?

As I said, I have no “before” or “during” pictures because with Facebook I’m not typically in that mindset. But here are a couple afters for you:

Going forward, if I do projects I’ll be sure to remember to do before/after pictures. Although our next home project isn’t nearly as exciting. We’re having the pediment decoration over the front door replaced. We were originally thinking about having a fully-structural gable built, but the contractor we wanted to use never came back with an estimate for the work. After several ignored emails, we gave up and asked our handyman to schedule time to put up a new pediment. I guarantee now that we’ve scheduled the handyman for November 4 and paid a 50% deposit, the contractor will email me with some amazing quote for making our door go from this (ignore the junk laying around the front door – this was taken while our landscaping project was going on and the landscapers dumped everything on the front stoop):


to this:


But he’ll be too late. He had his chance to respond to the emails, and didn’t.

In other news, we’ve been invaded by wolf spiders now that the weather is cooling down. At least once a week for the past couple of months I’ve found a spider coming for me. The bug guy came today for his semi-annual termite inspection and I asked him to spray a little extra on the inside of the garage since that’s mostly where they come into the house. He obliged and I’m hoping those dang spiders stop coming in. A few weeks ago one started charging at me when I was in the laundry room – he was between me and the door into the TV room and I was screaming my fool head off to get someone to come kill it before it “got me.” *shudder*

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Let’s Talk About TV

Time for TV Talk!

Are you watching, “Black-ish?” Because if you aren’t, you should be. The most recent episode, “Crime and Punishment” addressed the issue of spanking children and was hilarious. I laughed throughout the whole episode, especially when the mom was trying to dodge her younger son’s cuteness overload. So. funny. If you have Tivo, record it! You won’t be sorry!

Another show I love is “New Girl.” This is my current watercooler show. Last week’s episode featured Nick acting as the loft secretary – and has provided me with a theme song as well. The show has had some bumps along the way, but I still love it.

I also love “The Mindy Project,” but mainly because I think Mindy Kaling is hilariously gifted. She’s someone I want to have over for dinner so we can be BFFs.

I’m still an avid “Doctor Who” fan and really like the new Doctor, as portrayed by Peter Capaldi. They’ve only had one dud episode so far this season (Robin Hood) and even that one had some funny bits in it. The kids watch the show with me every week, and CootieBoy and I hope the weather cooperates this year so that we can get to Gallifrey One in California next February.

I’m trying out other new shows, such as “Gotham” and “Jane the Virgin,” but am not sold quite yet on either one (although I like “Jane” more than “Gotham.” I’ve also cut out some shows I watched last year – such as “Reign” and “The Originals.”

I’m also glad that “About A Boy” came back – I was worried that it was cancelled because I never heard anything after I heard it was on the bubble last season. I’m also excited that “Community” will be making a comeback via Yahoo! since the network cancelled it.

What are you watching that you can’t miss? Anything you recommend that I should check out?

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Taking a Break from Facebook

The joke in my church small group is that if anyone needs me, I can always be found on Facebook. While that is mostly true (having Facebook on my phone make it easy to leave FB open all day even while I’m at work), I would also like to think that if I take Facebook away, I would be fine.

After hurting the feelings of some folks through my anti-MLM post a few days ago (three people defriended me altogether, and I noticed this morning that at least two others have chosen to hide *all* their posts – not just their non-MLM posts), I have made the decision to take a vacation from Facebook until December 1. I’m deleting it from my phone (which is where I use it 90% of the time) and removing the quick link on my desktop at home. I even debated whether or not to keep Messenger on my phone, but decided now that it is a separate app from Facebook I can keep that so people can contact me if they want to. I think a couple of my other apps on my phone will automatically update to Facebook (like my TV watching or my Swarm check-ins), but other than those automated check-ins, the plan is that I won’t be personally active on Facebook.

I’ve uploaded a “Gone Fishin'” graphic to my page and deleted the app from my phone. Tonight when I get home I’ll delete the link of temptation from my desktop computer. My hope is that by not being on Facebook I will accomplish four things.

First is to let my MLM friends post with abandon without fearing that they are annoying me. I don’t mean that in a passive-aggressive way. I didn’t intend my original anti-MLM post to make people feel like they couldn’t post what they want on their walls. Heck, people post stuff all day long that I disagree with (politics, religion, etc.) and I’d never tell them they CAN’T post. So perhaps my not being there for several weeks will let them breathe easy and feel more comfortable about posting.

Two is to put Cootiehog to good use again. I’ve let it languish for far too long, which is a shame. I left NetworkedBlogs a while back, so the updates won’t post automatically to Facebook anymore – I’ll trust that if people are interested they’ll come here to find out how the rest of October and all of November are going.

Thirdly, a friend of mine this week asked if I ever considered being a writer. I told her that yes, over the years, I’ve thought about it but never got past the first chapter or two. When contemplating the Facebook Fast, I realized that not only can I work on Cootiehog, but I can participate in NaNoWriMo and see what kind of end product I come up with by November 30. So last night I logged into my account, cleared out the cobwebs, and am eagerly trying to figure out how to go about writing The Great American NaNoWriMo Novel.

And lastly, I won’t lie – my quiet times with God have been paltry over the years. And yet I’m still able to carve out plenty of time for Facebook. My hope is that by getting rid of Facebook for the next several weeks I’ll be able to carve out time to really concentrate on doing a quiet time – and not during lunch at work (which is normally when I do it, when I actively pursue doing it).

So to my THREE (!) known readers (KF, MBM, and JS – you liking these shoutouts?), you’ll see a lot more of me over the next several weeks.

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The Life and Grades of a Fifth Grader

At the beginning of this school year, I made an agreement with CootieBoy that if he made the honor roll every quarter at school this year that I’d let him get an X-box next summer. He has been working so hard these past nine weeks and his final grades were given out this weekend.

His first quarter grades were: 98 (Science), 98 (Social Studies), 94 (ELA) and…84 (Math).

That 84 in Math is one single point away from being a B.

What’s tricky is that out of 23 individual grades received in that subject during the quarter, his average is actually 87.5%, which is a B. But the teacher weights different projects in that subject.

But that’s not all – a few weeks ago the teacher sent out an email stating that she was changing the way she teaches math because so many kids were struggling (which was true – The Boy got two 60s in a row just before she made the switch). Had she done this a week earlier, I’ve no doubt his official grade would be a B because he would have not gotten the two 60s. Since she made the switch he has gotten 100s on every single math project. And, as I said, even with the two 60s if you don’t weight the projects differently, his average is 87.5%.

Another sticky wicket is that if you average his four individual grades for Math, ELA, Science and Social Studies, he has a 93.5% average – which is a high B (94 is an A). But the school doesn’t do it that way – they expect an A or B in each class to make the honor roll.

One more thing I’ll add – CootieBoy is definitely a rewards-based kid. If he thinks he can earn something awesome in return for extreme effort, he’ll do it. But the minute he realizes he has no chance? All bets are off and he won’t put in ANY effort. I pity the future employer that doesn’t reward his endless overtime with a pay raise, bonus or flex time. *lol*

So what would you do?

Would you:

A) put an asterisk by the first quarter and acknowledge that he WOULD have had a B if the teacher had changed her teaching method one week sooner?

B) accept his math average as an unweighted average of all his grades – making his grade an 87.5% instead of the 84% reflected on his report card?

C) wait until the end of the year and see if his end grades for the YEAR are As and Bs?

D) say he can’t earn the reward at all since he got an 84 in math this quarter?

I honestly don’t know what to do. I want to keep him motivated – he’s been doing so well – but I truly never thought he would get a C this year because of the work he’s doing. And not only doing it, but doing it on his own – his teacher gives very little homework, but what homework he gets he does in a timely manner and without protest (a pleasant change from prior years).

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Making the Case Against Facebook

Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy using Facebook. In fact, when I joined Facebook in 2008, my Cootiehog level of participation took a huge hit and I went from posting every day (sometimes multiple times a day), to once a week, to once a month, to a few times a year. Readership and commenting plunged from a peak of nearly 1,000 unique readers to a few dozen. But Facebook was quick, easy, and
(eventually) on my phone. It was so much easier to post a quick quip than spend time coming up with a worthy post to put on the blog. I kept the blog because I had a few long-distance friends who were NOT on Facebook and were still interested in keeping up with our goings-on (hi, KF and MBM!).

But I’ve noticed in the past year or so that my Facebook feed has gone from being about my friends to more about the products my friends are selling. No longer do I see pictures of people on their vacations with family – now I see before and after pics, or receive countless invites to candle parties, nail sticker parties, cooking utensil parties, jewelry parties, makeup parties, skincare parties, healthy living parties – you name it, I get it.

I decline every single one. Because if I go to one just to be polite, I’ll feel like I have to go to them all. I’m not that polite. I don’t have time to be that polite. If I was that polite I’d be going to 15-20 parties a month and feeling guilty when I don’t spend money after listening to the spiel about why this! product! rocks! I’m not exaggerating – I have THAT many friends doing MLM sales.

And listen, I don’t begrudge these women their home-based income earning (it’s all women – not a single male in the bunch). I have one friend who is so successful that she quit her full-time job because she makes more hosting 6-7 parties on the weekends than she did working as a paralegal in DC. She is a rock star for her MLM company and was eventually elected to the Board of Directors because she is so good at it. I get it – there is money to be had. I’ve seen the company cars that have been earned, and the all-expense paid trip rewards. I know MLM selling can work.

I’m just not interested in reading about it.

Last night I whipped out my phone to catch up on the day’s Facebook posts, only to have post after post be about products, not pals. I put my phone away. But then I brought it back out and posted that as much as I loved my friends, I was going to have to hide the posts of ones who insisted on using their personal FB pages to hock their wares. And I’m obviously not alone in that feeling – within a couple hours of my post I had many friends (non-MLM) who “liked” my status.

In my mind, MLM marketing should be done on FB pages, not personal posts. I have one friend who created a FB page for her MLM business a few months ago. She invited me to join the page – I elected not to. After a few weeks of promoting the page in her regular feed, and building up the readership there, she finally stopped posting about the biz on her regular FB profile. She exclusively uses her FB product page to exalt her product and the results of using said product. Her posts went back to being about her life as a singleton, her job, her cat, her vacations, her life. Maybe once a month she’ll post a link to her product page and let people know about it. Once a month is much more preferable to 3-4x a day. And it was a blessing because I felt like I didn’t have to skip all her posts anymore.

It’s bad enough that Facebook is forcing advertising down my throat every time I click into the site. I don’t want my friends doing it too.

In response to my post last night about hiding the friends who were wasting valuable FB wall space on MLM, one of my friends responded that she posted about her product all the time because she was really invested in it and that it WAS a major part of her life. She said people were probably sick of reading about her kids or her running regimen. She also apologized for offending me.

It’s not that I’m offended by the posts – the posts aren’t offensive. They are just excessively present because *everyone* is doing it. I responded that I LIKED reading about her kids and her running regimen. And I do.

I like reading about kids being late for school, a new restaurant being visited, a longstanding football rivalry, the latest book that you read, the college class you are taking, that movie you want to go check out, your hatred of the gym but the importance of going, the new Bible study your small group is starting, your feelings on the latest episode of “Walking Dead,” your desire for political ads to go away, your excitement over good concert tickets, the toils and tribulations of potty-training, excitement over lower gas prices, your excessive overtime that you wish you would end, your lunch, your frustration with (or love of) Common Core curriculum, your upcoming vacation, your advice on how to handle a teenage girl who isn’t responsible enough to have a phone, the silly thing your dog did yesterday, your marathon training, the prank you played on your sister, your opinion on whether WNC or ENC BBQ is better, how hopeful you are about your latest job interview, your lament over Christmas ads before Halloween, the new house you bought, cars running out of gas, your desire to retire to some tropical beach, your favorite memory from high school, how much you love the new [insert singer’s name here] song, the time you were climbing a fence and got stuck at the top, how much you saved at the store this week playing the grocery game, excitement about the mission trip you are going on, how you miss your husband who is traveling for the next few days, about your new baby (be it human, feline or canine), your beach pics, your mountain pics, your food pics, your hanging-at-the-bar pics, your cat pics, your poolside pics, your selfies, your beer pint pics, your home reno pics, your kid pics, your vacation to Europe pics , your TBT pics, your
look-at-this-new-kind-of-Oreo pics.

Those are the things that made me enjoy Facebook when I joined in 2008, and the same things I enjoy reading in 2014. So keep posting those things. I’ll read every single post and enjoy every minute or it.


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