If Jack Bauer Really Is Infected With A Deadly Virus…

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If Jack Bauer really is infected with a deadly virus that will leave him dead inside of 2 days, then maybe he’ll finally…

  1. …donate his mint condition VHS edition of Young Guns II to the Smithsonian Institution’s American History collection.
  2. …give Tony Almeida that 20 bucks he borrowed on the day that the Chinese diplomatic delegation kidnapped him and shipped him off to prison.
  3. …call his mother (Oops, word is she bought it at CTU Medical years ago. My mistake).
  4. …abandon the “Fingers that I’ve cut off the hands of international terrorist suspects” cataloging project.
  5. …catch up on all the American Idol he missed.
  6. …quit changing his clothes every 2 hours.
  7. …download the ringtone he’s always wanted but was too embarrassed to have the President hear.
  8. …have that Snickers bar he bought from the candy machine at work 8 years ago, but never had a chance to eat.
  9. …go 24 hours without killing someone.
  10. …take a sick day.

 

Guest Posting – Dance With Wind

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Today is Jake’s birthday (the big one-one), so I thought this guest post would be appropriate. Happy Birthday, kiddo!

Dance With Wind

By Jake Scheir, inspired by Nyein Way’s poem of the same name

Wind is a force of invisibility

Wind dances like seaweed in the tide

Wind is the color of everything but yet nothing at all

Wind touches my heart in very many ways

Wind has the fragrance of a summer day with freedom

Wind tastes like a new start for the year

Wind is a beautiful apparition

Wind is a cup of water in the dessert

Wind is everything and everywhere

Saving Money, With Facebook!

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How do you know we’re officially in a recession?

Well, not long ago I bought 2 pairs of sale-priced earrings at Talbot’s, and ended up returning them because I liked them, but I didn’t love them.

Mind you, Talbot’s is the kind of store where the words ‘on sale’ are rarely spoken, and actual sale events are attended only by women in disguise who are hoping that their peers from the Junior League don’t catch them scoring an $80 scarf for $27.50.

Talbot’s shoppers aside, if you’re an average girl or you know an average girl, then you know the power of the irresistible merchandise markdown. For many of us women, passing up a good buy can be a little like making a corned beef sandwich with white bread; it’s possible, but it’s just not done.

For me, returning the sale items was momentous because I was raised by the queen of all bargain shoppers; jumping on a sale is in my genes.

Mine is the Mom who saves all the really good coupons for triple coupon day. Mine is the Mom who regularly finds high quality, adult-sized clothing items for $2.00—and not at Goodwill either. Mine is the Mom who always holds up the line at the supermarket because some poor checkout girl made the unfortunate decision to charge tax on the Yoo-Hoo, when everyone (or maybe just my Mom) knows that in the state of New Jersey only carbonated beverages are taxed, and YooHoo, while chocolatey, smooth, and strangely refreshing, is NOT a carbonated beverage.

But, just as folding the church bulletin every Saturday night ruined me for any future voluntary folding responsibilities, I’m sad to say that my mother’s bent toward saving ruined me for hard-core thrift. I may be hard-pressed to pass up a good sale on earrings, but I’m certainly not driving all over Creation so I can save 50 bucks on a new printer. And I won’t give one coupon to every member of the family so that we can get 4 discounts instead of just one. I don’t go for the grocery store door-busters, either, because the way I see it, at the end of the day, the 25 cent Pop Tarts are still just as bad for you as the $2.99 ones.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me; I give my mother credit for her dedication to saving money. She’s certainly a lot more disciplined about it than I. Even in these tough economic times, I’m certainly not buying 10 furnace filters just because they’re marked down to 10 for $10. Instead, I’ve come upon a new money-saving strategy: Facebook.

We all know that on its worst days Facebook is a tremendous waste of valuable time. But knowing myself as I do, I can honestly say that it’s probably better for me to be on Facebook than at the mall. Gone are the days when I’d buy a new trinket or chotchkie just to break up my boredom or give myself a boost. Now, for the low, low cost of a couple hours of my life, I’ve given up retail therapy in favor of clever banter, goofy photos, meaningless quizzes, and unlimited cyber-friendship.

That’s what I’m posting as my Facebook status right now, darn it: “Cheryl Scheir – she may be wasting time right now, but she’s sure not wasting money.”

See, Mom. I done good. And I didn’t have to drive all over New Jersey to do it.

Scheir Madness – On the Radio!

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I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until Friday for the next installment of “Scheir Madness.” That’s because I’ll be busy today talking to Char Binkley, of radio station WBCL’s Mid-Morning program. The program has a partnership with Today’s Christian Woman magazine, where my article, “Capable, Called…and Exhausted” has just appeared. At 9:30 this morning, Char and I will be talking (live on the radio!!) about my article’s topic: women who do too much.

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ll be on the radio giving “expert” advice, but if anyone knows about overdoing it, it’s me. In high school, I was the girl who freaked out so much about her schoolwork that the principal told me to play hooky once in a while. I’m the one who once set up tables and chairs for a missions dinner in the church gym almost singlehandedly—while I was pregnant. And I’m the one who used to think that you had to mulch the garden every time you expected visitors. Yup, that was me, but no more.

I know that tomorrow is Thankful Thursday, but I’m thankful today for the opportunity to share what I’ve learned from my perfectionist tendencies and my overachieving attitude. It has been exciting to see my article in print (it appears in TCW’s March/April issue—I can get you a copy if you’re interested). And I’m looking forward to the interview (it’s not a local Dover station, but you’ll eventually be able to listen on the station’s web archive at http://www.wbcl.org/programs/MidMorningTCW.asp; to listen click on “Click to Listen”—it’s today’s show, so give the station a little time post the recording).

Thanks everybody for your support and encouragement, and thank you, God, for showing me “the most excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31): that whatever any of us does is just noise if it doesn’t have the key ingredient, love.

Summer Reading, Part II

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I have a feeling that reading is all I’ll be doing this summer, considering that my summer reading list has now expanded by 3 dress sizes! Thanks to everyone who has provided suggestions so far—I always appreciate a test drive.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, perhaps), I made the mistake of reading a bunch of book reviews last night (click here to read them; they start on page 13), and they are all super-intriguing. Needless to say, they are now on the list:

The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet – Neil deGrasse. This one’s about the decision to demote Pluto from the Big 9, the ensuing backlash, and the special place that Pluto occupies in pop culture and Americans’ hearts.

Keep Watching the Skies! The Story of Operation Moonwatch & the Dawn of the Space Age – W. Patrick McCray. Seems that the only American folks tracking the Sputnik in 1957 were amateur astronomers; this book tells the stories surrounding that effort and shines a light on the current role of amateurs in astronomy.

The Last Witch of Langenburg: Murder in a German Village – Thomas Robisheaux. Oh, the paradoxical life of an accused witch: confess, burn, but know that you’ll still go to heaven…because you’ve confessed…and possibly because you’ve burned. This one is the (true, I think) story of a hard-living woman accused in 1672 of witchery. Seems that Monty Python was not far off on this one.

The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution, and the Birth of America – Steven Johnson. This is the story of Joseph (not Jason) Priestley who both discovered that breathable air comes from plants and ended up founding the Unitarian Church. The science fact that plants make oxygen is so basic, so what I want to know is, where has this story been hiding? I’m reading the book just to find out what in the world this quote means: “epic breakthroughs happen when…energy flows and settlement patterns and scientific paradigms and individual human lives come into some kind of mutually reinforcing synchrony that helps the new ideas both emerge and circulate through the wider society.”

Real page-turners, I know, but we might all be surprised. Happy reading!

Heavy Metal Band Names Inspired by Colicky Babies

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  1. Zombie Mommie
  2. Twysted Baby Syster
  3. Maximum Disturbia
  4. Underwörld Öffspring
  5. Daddy’s Little Two-Headed Scream Factory
  6. Exorcist on Speed-Dial
  7. Mother’s Gouged-Out Eyes
  8. Emergency Sedation
  9. Nursery in the Hotel Hell
  10. Earplugz

For more Metal Fun & Games, check out Doogie Horner’s Heavy Metal Band Name flow chart–long live the double umlaut!! Plus, here’s one of my all time favorite Fresh Air interviews with Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford—totally worth a listen, no matter what your musical sensibilities.

Thankful Thursday – 3/19/09

shampoo_5401I am so thankful for National Public Radio–really! Just today I heard stories about the anti-shampoo movement (known as “No Poo,” it advocates once per week–or less frequent–hairwashing and eschews conventional, plastic packaged shampoo), singer Elvis Perkins (son of Psycho star Tony Perkins, and the gloomy troubadour that I think I always wanted to be), and Senator John Lewis’s annual Civil Rights pilgrimage to Selma, Alabama–one of the hearts of the American Civil Rights Movement.

Home run today, Morning Edition. I laughed, I cried, I reflected on the consequences of racism, and I considered the relationhip between my personal appearance and the sustained health of the environment…all before 9 am.

I’m also thankful to Andie for suggesting that Thankful Thursday postings appear on both the Scheir Madness Thankful Thursday page and the blog’s main body. Good friends are certainly a lot to be thankful for!

How Now, Brown Cow

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The other day I had a very grown-up lunch with a very grown-up friend where I ate lovely grown-up food and enjoyed decidedly grown-up conversation, but for some reason I found myself ordering up a decidedly un-grown-up beverage: chocolate milk.

There must be some 30-year-old association that’s burned into my psyche which connects counter stools, fried food, or perhaps even the offer of breakfast at any time of day with this great American classic. When I found the chocolate milk order coming out of my mouth, I immediately qualified, “I always have chocolate milk at diners,” as if somehow it’s a mandatory thing, like mashed potatoes with gravy, the BLT, or the three egg omelet.

That’s right. Adam and Eve on a raft, and wreck ’em. Plus one brown cow for the old broad in the booth.

This is one of the culinary preferences that I kind of can’t stand about myself. I still like cotton candy. I could eat pizza three times a week. Necco wafers still amuse me. Give me a school lunch and a half-pint carton of chocolate milk and I’m a really happy person.

Maybe for me chocolate milk is about more than just taste; maybe it’s about nostalgia. When I was a kid I barely walked 30 feet to the bus stop, and I certainly never led a cow to market, but, let me tell you, to this day I’m astonished that a school cafeteria-sized carton of chocolate milk used to cost 7 cents. White milk was just a penny less—and that was in the ’70’s. What do you think the kids did back in 1950—gnaw a penny in half to pay for their milk? Barter a handful of oats? Turn in a sugar cube every time they forgot to pack?

No, silly, everyone knows that back in the ’50’s kids rolled home for lunch on their handcrafted roller skates, carried their books with makeshift belt straps, stopped to skip rocks on the ponds that inevitably popped up along the route home, and greeted their beaming, beautiful, incredibly well-dressed stay-at-home mothers with a polite, “Hello, mother, are there any chores you’d like me to do before I go back to school?”

I must admit, though, that while I liked chocolate milk, I never really understood strawberry milk. On that rare occasion that our school actually had it, it was the rare kid who actually drank it. But you know what? I kind of wanted to be that kid, darn it, because, in my opinion, that kid really had it going on. He dared to be different. He liked what he liked and, man, he didn’t care who knew it.

I mean, I wasn’t going out on any kind of limb with my chocolate milk pick. For goodness sake, every kid who ever lived (except my kids, of course) is into chocolate milk, so I was just going along with the crowd—me and my proletariat preferences. But that kid? He was on the crest of the post-chocolate wave, like he was a really big man because he was hip enough to know that chocolate milk is so, I don’t know, nursery school.

But look at me now. I’m 39 and still ordering chocolate milk, and now the shoe’s on the other foot, isn’t it? I’ll bet it took that strawberry milk kid about 5 hot seconds to jump on the conformity express when he got out of college. Yeah, he may have had that brief stint in the Progressive Students Alliance (no doubt because of some girl), but sometimes all you’ve got to do is show a person the money, and they’ll leave the strawberry milk in the dust. Strawberry boy’s probably all grown up now, spending most of his time and all of his energy mopping up after his 1990’s day-trading gaffs and feeding a 15 can a day caffeine free Coke Zero habit. Meanwhile I’m drowning my sorrows in a nice tall glass of chocolate milk, enjoying lunch with my friends on a regular basis, and writing for this cushy blogging gig.

Now that I think of it, next time I’m out for lunch I’m going to get me a PB & J—that’s how confident I am in my 39-year-old skin.

But, waitress, cut off the crusts, will you? I’m driving.

Summer Reading List: Suggestions Wanted (it’s never too early to start!)

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OK, everybody, I’ve got enough books on my what-I-want-to-read list that I’m officially open to suggestions for summer reading. I know we’re 3 months away, but considering that I’m only on page 15 of a 111-page edition of The Little Prince (which I’ve been “reading” for 2 weeks), I think that the summer is a do-able target. Plus, right now my “to read” pile is 5 books deep, so I figure that there’s almost no way I’ll get through what I’ve got already, unless I do some serious advance planning.

In a typical weekend at the beach I can blow through 3-4 books (Archie comics not included), so the more suggestions I get from you, the more time I’ll have to spend at the beach, which will really work out for me. I like fiction and non-fiction, love essay collections on just about anything, enjoy memoirs, and am always interested in international or historical topics. I’m open to classics, especially ones that I read in high school and may get a new perspective on the second time around.

I really don’t like sci-fi or fantasy unless it is very L-I-T-E; if it’s about another world or got its own language I’m probably not going to hang on for very long. I really don’t love self-help or life enrichment books, especially ones that start every chapter with an anecdote from the life of a now-disillusioned former beauty queen or a man who is married to a woman that he admires to the point of nausea (mine, not his).

I have a sweet spot for project books (like The Know-It-All, in which AJ Jacobs reflects on reading the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica; Driving Mr. Albert, in which journalist Michael Paterniti drives cross country with Albert Einstein’s Brain; and Sacred Sea, in which writer and radio producer Peter Thomson road trips it to Lake Baikal in Siberia and learns that if someone offers you vodka on the Trans-Siberian railway, you shouldn’t say ‘yes,’ but you really can’t say ‘no.’). I also like to rip off high school summer reading lists, because they’re way more interesting now than in my all-women’s Catholic high school days.

But enough about me, I want to hear from you.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

From Andie: All Creature Great and Small

From Meg: Reading Lolita in Tehran

From Shannon: Silent to the Bone

From Kristin: Lucky

From Luke: John Adams

From Carol: Pillars of the Earth

From Hayley: The Harry Potter Series

From me: Don Quixote, The Three Musketeers, The Grapes of Wrath (it’s been 21 years since I didn’t read that last one in high school; considering we’re in the midst of “The Great Recession,” it seems like it’s about time)

Drop me a line, and, if possible, loan me the book—I’m looking forward to your suggestions!!

Guest Post: The Birthtime of Color

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If you’ve got a fever and the only prescription is springtime, then this is the guest post for you. It’s a poem written by my son, Jake—he said it made his teacher cry. Enjoy!

The Birthtime of Color

The birthtime of color, the start of the year

The birthtime of nature, the race of the deer

The birthtime of life, the space of the birds

The birthtime of animals, squirrels striving to be heard

The birthtime of plants, trees wave in the breeze

The birthtime of air, bees gather nectar with definite ease

The birthtime of water, fish swim in the waves

The birthtime of bushes, kids race in the maze

I think it is clear, of what we hold dear,

That spring is a powerful thing

And you should not waste

A single moment of it.

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