April 30, 2013

Thank You For Flying Introvert Airlines

Being an introvert has a direct impact on how I fly, or at least which airlines I fly. While I'm sure it's a fine company (and this is just my humble opinion), Southwest Airlines just doesn't appeal to me with its open seating plan.

Which seat is mine? (Courtesy: Southwest.com)
Call me old fashioned, but I want to know what my seat is before I get to the airport and certainly before I walk on the plane. I can understand the intrigue for some people. Getting to decide where to sit perhaps makes them feel empowered. But when introverts are traveling alone, they really don't want to have to decide which stranger to sit next to. Nothing personal to strangers; it's just the way we are.

This whole business of having to check-in online 24-hours in advance if you want to get a good "boarding group" on Southwest also is highly unappealing to me. I remember being on a business trip a couple of years ago. Most of the people in the group happened to be flying Southwest. Luckily, I was one of the few attendees on a different airline. On the penultimate day of training, I could see many people stressfully keeping an eye on the time so they could dart across the hall to the computer lab (cell signals were weak in the building) to check-in online and get a good boarding group.

I, however, had a stress-free afternoon having known for weeks in advance that I'd be flying home in seat 23D, or whatever it was. Yes, just give me my own seat, and I'll be a happy traveler.

I'm not suggesting that I will avoid Southwest no matter what. They have many flights out of Texas. So when there's a significantly beneficial difference in price or flight times, it's still sometimes the best option, even for me. But if there's a comparable flight that's close in price (Jet Blue is usually the only one similar) and time, then I'll go with the airline that gives me my own seat.

April 27, 2013

True: Elevator Escapade

While crashing a Star Trek convention sounds interesting, the true story from last weekend's "Is It True?" post was the coke-splattering elevator escapade in an Atlanta hotel.

I'm assuming the poor guy must have dropped the plastic coke bottle in the parking lot while walking into the hotel. Otherwise, I'm not sure why there would have been enough pressure built up for the bottle to burst when the elevator doors hit it.

I really did back up and just stand there watching in awe as his soda sprayed all over the inside of the elevator. It's not that I didn't want to help. I think I was just stunned by what I saw.

An interesting side note to this hotel story: Staying there was such a horrible experience that after the trip I sent a polite but firm letter of complaint to the CEO of Ramada. (Yes, this was before email was mainstream.) When I first checked in at the hotel, the keycard they gave me wasn't programmed properly, so I couldn't get into my room. I lugged my suitcase back to the one slow and slamming elevator and down to the front desk to get a new card.

Once I finally got into my room, it was swealtering hot because the air conditioner was broken. So back down to the lobby I went to request a different room. There were other problems too, but it's been too long to remember those details.

Anyway, the general manager of the hotel wrote back and offered me a free two-night stay at the hotel as long as it was after the Olympics because they were already booked through the summer of 1996. But alas, by the time I tried to book another room there a couple of years later, the hotel had changed owners and names, so they wouldn't let me cash-in on that free stay.

As for the Star Trek story, it was based on actual events but the main part of the story was false. I really did wind up staying in the same hotel as a Star Trek convention in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area while I was in town for a football game in the early 90s. And I really did have to force myself not to laugh while I was on the elevator with a bunch of fully-costumed Trekkies. But nobody said a word to me, and I certainly didn't crash their party.

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April 26, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 18

--- 1 ---
I would have made a really great monk had I not been called to married/family life.  I came to this astute, albeit humorous, conclusion while my wife and I were talking about the role introverts can play in Catholic life. She mentioned the power of prayer and those monks that take a vow of silence. While many people would probably have a hard time keeping quiet, I could easily go days with out talking. Cloistered life is ideal for introverts!
--- 2 ---
I think our UPS driver is an introvert too. He no longer rings the doorbell like he used to. I didn't mind when he'd ring the bell and dart off before we'd get to the door because at least we'd still know there was something there. But lately he doesn't even ring the bell. So occasionally I'll be rushing out the door to get the older kid to school and discover that there had been a UPS package sitting outside our door all night.

--- 3 ---
I'm having a telephone standoff with an unknown person at a local number. I'll explain in a moment. But first, here's my phone philosophy: If I don't recognize the number on caller-ID then I don't answer the phone (excluding calls to my work number). I'm not sure if that's an introverted tendency or if everybody's like that. Back to the standoff: At least once a week for the past couple of months, the same local number pops up on my phone, and I always let it go to voice mail. But the person never leaves a message. I've searched the number online, and it's not one of those listed on telemarketing complaint sites. I figure that if it's important, the person will leave a message. The ball's in your court, mystery caller.

--- 4 ---
Our Whirlpool microwave was pronounced dead on Tuesday, April 23 at 6:55 p.m. after only six years. Like a doctor not wanting to lose his patient, the repair guy sadly proclaimed, "I hate to condem things since it's my job to fix them." There are some theories on the Internet about over-the-counter microwaves (cool people call them OTCs, apparantly) not doing well directly above conventional ovens and in the direct line of heat and grease. I'm not sure if that's true, but we're moving on from Whirlpool and trying another brand.

R.I.P   2007 - 2013

--- 5 ---
I love it when bizarre plays happen on the baseball field. This one last week was a doozy. Who would have ever thought that a baserunner would be able to successfully steal second, attempt to steal third, wind up back at first and then try to steal second again and get thrown out all within a few minutes in the same inning. It sounds like an Abbot and Costello routine. If you think you're confused now, wait 'til you see it:

--- 6 ---
It's  a bird, it's a plane. No, it's the Major League Baseball logo. While I was watching a game online the other day, my six-year-old saw the logo that pops up during commercials and asked if it was supposed to be a bird. Check it out and see for yourself. I added an eyeball to make it a little more obvious and now, sure enough, it's a bird:

Major League Bird?

--- 7 ---
Do you want to have an oinking good time? I couldn't pass up the opportunity to snap a picture of this pig candy dispenser I saw at World Market. It's just like a Pez dispenser except, well, the candy comes out the other end.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.
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April 20, 2013

Is It True? - Vol. 3 (Hotel Hijinks Edition)

This round of Is It True? involves some serious hotel hijinks. Something really crazy happened to me while staying in a hotel during a trip to see a major sporting event. But only one of the two stories below is real. Can you tell which one is true?

#1 Where No Introvert Has Gone Before

Back in the early 90s, I was staying in a hotel in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area on a short trip to see a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. It was a big hotel with ample conference and convention facilities.I wasn’t particularly tired the night before the game, so I decided to wander down to the lobby area and have a drink in the bar. I don’t remember exactly what floor my room was on, but it was a tall hotel and I was somewhere near the top.

I took the elevator, and as it made several stops on the way down, something unusual started happening. Various characters from Star Trek were getting on the elevator. No, not the real actors. These were hardcore Star Trek fans. You see, unbeknownst to me at the time the reservation was made, I happened to be staying in the same hotel that was hosting a big Star Trek fan convention that weekend.

I was never much of a Star Trek fan and generally don’t like science fiction at all. So for me, it was quite humorous to see people taking their fandom so seriously. I had to bite my tongue and not laugh out loud.

By the time the elevator was close to the lobby, it was quite obvious that I was the only person in the elevator not wearing Star Trek garb. One person finally said something like, “Dude, where’s your costume?”Thinking quickly for a comedic response, I said, “The airline lost my luggage.” Someone else asked what my costume was going to be. I blurted out, “Spock.” Then several of the people told me I should still come to the party and even offered to buy me a drink to drown out my sorrow.

Normally my introverted instincts would have led me to cut off the conversation right there and dart away from this crowd as soon as we got to the lobby. But I took a chance and went for it.Yes, indeed. I was the one un-costumed (and unregistered) attendee at a party for Star Trek aficionados. I only stuck around long enough to have two drinks and was highly uncomfortable trying to make small talk on a subject I neither knew very well nor liked. But it made for quite a funny story to tell at the football game the next day.

So is it true? (Or highly illogical?) Did I really crash a party of Trekkies?

#2 Elevator Escapade

Back in the early 90s, I was staying at a hotel in Atlanta on a short trip to see a couple of Atlanta Braves games. This hotel was undergoing a major renovation a few years in advance in the 1996 Summer Olympics. And frankly, the hotel should have closed during the construction because the facility was atrocious.

Most of the lobby was cordoned off for construction, and only one dilapidated elevator was functioning for the entire hotel. This elevator was extremely slow, and when the doors closed, it always made a loud slamming sound. During my stay, many other guests and I grumbled about how awful this place was while standing and waiting for the one elevator to arrive.

One evening I walked back into the lobby and was heading toward the lone elevator. Another guest was in the elevator and saw me coming as the doors started to close. Like most people (hopefully) would do in this situation, he reached out to stop the elevator doors from closing so I could get in.

This is when things got interesting. You see, he must have gone out to get some dinner for his family because in his arms were a couple of pizzas and two big plastic bottles of Coke. When he tried to stop the elevator doors from closing, he haphazardly attempted to balance the pizzas and one bottle in one hand and arm while holding the other bottle in his other hand. He used that other hand, the one with the bottle in it, to block the elevator doors.

Remember what I said earlier about the elevator doors slamming shut? That’s exactly what happened, except they slammed right on his plastic Coke bottle and then opened back up. Somehow the force of the elevator doors was strong enough to burst the bottle. So all of a sudden Coke started spraying all over the place!I was stunned and stood right there outside the elevator (and even backed up a little bit so I wouldn't get sprayed) as this poor man was trying to corral his spraying Coke bottle while trying not drop the pizzas and the other bottle.Maybe he did drop the pizzas. I don't remember.

Before I could even think of trying to help him, the elevator doors closed, and off he went.I pressed the button, and when the elevator finally came back, the doors opened, and nobody was inside. But the walls and floor were soaked with Coke. I don’t know who he was, but I owe Elevator Guy an apology.

So, is it true? Did I really stand there while someone who was politely trying to hold the elevator ended up getting splattered with Coke?Only one of the these stories is true, and it’s up to you to figure out which one.
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April 19, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 17

I'm sorry if this is a sad one, but this week it will be "7 Somber Takes Friday." Whenever there's a major tragic news event like the Boston Marathon bombings or the Texas fertilizer company explosion, people often ask, "Where were you?" when you found out. There's nothing special about what I was doing when these two tragedies occurred. But this does make me reflect on other major news events in my lifetime. So for my 7 Quick Takes, I will share where I was and what I was doing at seven select moments in history.

--- 1 ---
Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster, February 1, 2003: I was driving northbound on I-35 in Austin and saw something unusual in the sky. It looked like a very silvery and reflective object flying through the air with what appeared to be a white trail behind it. It was similar to when you see an airplane with a vapor trail, except this object was flying much lower in the sky than a plane with a vapor trail. It definitely looked strange, but apparently not strange enough to know there was something terrible happening. I got home shortly thereafter and saw a frightening news report on TV that NASA had lost contact with the Shuttle Columbia somewhere over Texas.

Space Shuttle Columbia Crew: God bless them

--- 2 ---
World Trade Center Attack, September 11, 2001: I was asleep when the planes hit the Twin Towers. That year, I worked an afternoon/evening shift for an Austin TV station. I was awakened by my pager with a message that said something like this: "All staff report to work immediately." The first thing that crossed my mind was that a passenger plane must have crashed at the local airport since that's the type of emergency that TV newsrooms always used to prepare for. But the next thing I did was turn on the TV and see what was really happening. I hurried off to work and was there for a long time.

The Survivor Tree in NYC (Courtesy: WABC)

--- 3 ---
Death of Florida Governor Lawton Chiles, December 12, 1998: Governor Chiles was nearing the end of his last term before retirement. On this day I had worked an exhausting early shift, something like 3 a.m. to noon, at a fledgling statewide news network in Tallahassee. After I got home, I fell asleep while watching news coverage of the Clinton impeachment proceedings. For some reason, I woke up right as a news anchor interrupted the coverage with word that Chiles had died while working out. I shed a quick tear then headed back to work. About 12-hours later, Lieutenant Gov. Buddy MacKay, who had just lost the governor's race to Jeb Bush, arrived back in Tallahassee from an out-of-state trip and was hastily sworn-in to serve as governor for a few more weeks until Bush's inauguration. It was kind of emotional for us sitting in the TV station control room watching this because the emergency swearing-in ceremony made us think about the swearing-in of Lyndon Johnson after JFK's assassination. Yes, I know, these were much different circumstances. But it was still a very powerful image.

Florida Governor Lawton Chiles 1930-1998

--- 4 ---
Atlanta Olympic Park Bombing, July 27, 1996: I was home watching overnight Olympics coverage after finishing my shift as the producer of the weekend 11 p.m. newscast for Tampa's NBC station. My employer was spending big money on the Olympics and had numerous staffers (but not me) temporarily relocated to Atlanta to work our main newscasts from there. While I was watching the regular coverage, NBC announced something about an explosion with multiple injuries in Olympic Park. As a dedicated news person back then, I immediately hopped in the car and went back to work since I knew our newsroom wasn't staffed during the overnight hours on weekends. It was a frightening time because I was getting many phone calls in the newsroom from relatives of some of my coworkers in Atlanta wondering if their loved ones were okay.

Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta

--- 5 ---
World Series Earthquake, October 17, 1989: I was sitting in my college dorm room watching the World Series pre-game coverage from San Francisco on ABC, hosted by Al Michaels and Tim McCarver. McCarver was in the middle of a sentence when suddenly, the picture and sound went out, and ABC put up a green "World Series" graphic on the screen. Then the network showed an episode of the sitcom Roseanne until they were able to get news coverage on the air. (As a huge baseball fan, I had to include this one.)

ABC's 1989 World Series graphic

--- 6 ---
Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster, January 28, 1986: Coincidentally, I was in ninth grade science class when the shuttle exploded shortly after liftoff. I recall someone coming into the classroom to let the teacher know what happened. Lunch was right after that class, and I vaguely remember hearing some younger kids (I went to a school that spanned from kindergarten to ninth grade) at lunch laughing and saying, "The space shuttle blew up!" Yes, that sounds repulsive. But I think we can write that off as children not realizing the severity of the situation.

Space Shuttle Challenger crew: God bless them

--- 7 ---
End of the Iran Hostage Crisis/President Reagan's Inauguration, January 20, 1981: This one's different than the others since it marked the end of a tragic event. But I remember the day well. I was in fourth grade, and the teacher let us watch TV coverage of the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan which also included updates about the end of the 444-day hostage crisis in Iran. It's not so much the "where was I?" factor that stands out for this one. What I really remember was the front page of the Palm Beach Post the next morning. There were two large photos-- one of the freed hostages and one of the new president being sworn in. Above the photos was a large headline which said, "Day 444 - Day 1." It's possible that I may still have this newspaper wrapped in a bag and buried in a closet somewhere in our house. I'll have to look for it.

Hostages arrive home

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

(All photos in this post are from Wikipedia unless otherwise noted.)
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April 15, 2013

Bubble Parenting

At what age are children old enough to be allowed to wander off in the neighborhood to play with their friends? I wish the answer could be never. I'd prefer to keep my children in a bubble and follow them around wherever they go to help them, shield them, guide them and teach them. I know I can't do that forever. But I'll sure try!

When I was a kid, my brother and I were allowed to hop on our bikes and ride off pretty much wherever we wanted to go as long as we returned on time. But times have changed. Or at least the awareness of the potential dangers out there have changed.

Our older daughter will be seven in just a few months. While some of her neighborhood friends seem to be allowed to play without being under the direct and obvious watchful eye of a parent, we've tried hard never to let our kid out of site while she's outside playing. We've always been highly protective of her. Whether that's because she had an unfair share of medical procedures early in her life, or we're just protective people in general, I don't know.

We've been okay letting her play at other kids houses as long as we know and trust the parents. And we were slow to accept the concept of sleepovers. In that case, we really, really need to trust the parents. In fact, the first time our daughter slept over at friend's house was just a few months ago, and out of necessity, when her baby sister was born.

But now she's coming upon an age where some of her neighborhood friends are asking if she can ride off with them and play on their own.  I'm just not ready for that yet. And I don't know if I ever will be.

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April 12, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 16

--- 1 ---
Our baby will be baptized next month, and it’s sure to be a much different experience for all of us compared to our first daughter’s baptism back in 2006. When she was one day old we found out she would need emergency surgery. So I pressed the nurse call button in the hospital and said, “We need a priest in room 203, stat!” (Well, I didn’t really say stat, but that would have been funny had I thought of it at the time.) Anyway, the priest baptized her using a Styrofoam coffee cup of Holy Water at the sink in our hospital room. Don’t worry, it counts.
--- 2 ---
The baby and I didn’t get to hear much of the special Divine Mercy Sunday service this past Sunday afternoon. She was being especially noisy, so I spent most of the time pacing outside the chapel door until she showed me no mercy and spit-up all down the front of my shirt. Of course, this is what babies do, and it can happen any time. So as long as the little one isn’t actually sick, I try to keep a good sense of humor about these things. To share in the joy, I texted my wife from outside and said, "I am covered in spit-up." 

--- 3 ---
I’m saddened by some of the chatter in baseball this season about the National League eventually having to adopt the dreaded designated hitter rule. I understand the reasoning now that there are an equal number of teams in each league, and there's interleague play all season long. But for me it just comes down to what makes the game more interesting. Managers have tougher decisions to make in the NL in determining when to take their pitchers out, and that's more exciting.

--- 4 ---
I took great interest when I read that it’s “baseball week” in the cafeteria at my older daughter’s elementary school. We usually pack her lunch, but I was still curious about what type of baseball-themed food they would be serving. Don’t get excited. It looks like regular elementary school food:

--- 5 ---
If my daughter walks up behind your car wearing her new light-up shoes, you may mistake her for a police officer and pull over. Check out how bright these things are:

--- 6 ---
When we went to bed the other night, my daughter's first loose tooth was hanging by a thread, so we placed bets (figuratively) on when it would fall out. I guessed it would come out in the middle of night. My wife guessed it would come out and breakfast. And my daughter guessed it would come out at lunch. (Or did she say dinner?) Well, my wife won.

--- 7 ---
All the tooth talk reminded me of this funny Colgate toothpaste commercial from 1996. A kindergarten teacher quizzed her class by asking what color various objects were. When she asked about the color of her teeth, the merriment ensued:

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.
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April 9, 2013

True: I Like Mike

Well, that didn't take long. Just a couple of hours after I posted the Is It True? stories about a funny quote of mine in the newspaper, a sharp-minded former high school classmate came forward on my personal Facebook page with firsthand knowledge of which story was true.

It was story #1. In 1988, I was quoted in the paper saying, "I like Michael Dukakis because his name is fun to say."  Not only did my old classmate remember the quote, but he also recalled the results of the high school mock presidential election. I told you he had a sharp mind! According to Chris Molanphy, Bush won the student vote by a three-to-one margin while Dukakis won the faculty vote by a two-to-one margin. Interesting.

Story #2 was fiction. Fortunately, I was never quoted in the newspaper saying I had once delivered a pizza to Dukakis. I did, however, sprinkle some truth into this tale. Former Major League Baseball pitcher Joe Niekro's daughter really did attend my college. A few years later, his son went there too and is now the school's head baseball coach.

Now that the truth is out, I leave you with a bit of comedy from 1988. Thanks to some stranger on You Tube, here's the classic Dukakis automated podium lift from Saturday Night Live's debate parody, poking fun at this not-so-tall stature:

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April 7, 2013

Is it True? - Vol. 2 (Presidential Edition)

It's important to be careful what you say because you never know what may end up in the newspaper. That's the focus of the second round of  Is It True? Many years ago I said something ridiculous about former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. And sure enough, it was printed in the newspaper. But only one of the two stories below is true. Can you tell which one?

#1 I Like Mike

I was not quite old enough to vote in the 1988 presidential election between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis, but the newspaper conducted a mock election at my high school. In addition to voting, students had the opportunity to jot down a few comments about why they chose their candidate.

As a bit of a wise guy in my younger years, I decided to have a little fun with my ballot. So I selected Dukakis and wrote, "I like Michael Dukakis because his name is fun to say."

I don't remember who won the mock election when the story came out in the newspaper. But in addition to the results, they printed several students' comments. And guess whose comedic comment they included? Yes, my quote was one of them. The newspaper actually printed my joke and attached my name to it. I had no idea that the newspaper would take me seriously. Oops.

Is it true? Was I really quoted in the newspaper making a silly comment about voting for Michael Dukakis because his name was fun to say?

#2 Dukakis Delivery

When I was in college, I volunteered for the monthly school newspaper. In a meeting to discuss potential story ideas, another student said she wanted to write about students at the college with interesting political or celebrity connections.

She mentioned a few examples (my favorite was that former MLB pitcher Joe Niekro's daughter  attended our college at the time), most of which were students that were related to local or state elected officials. But then she mentioned a few sillier ones, including a student from California who worked at a restaurant back home during the summer and refilled the water glass of a famous Hollywood actor. Sorry, I can't remember which actor.

Being the wise guy that I was in my younger days, I said, "Oh yeah? I once delivered a pizza to Michael Dukakis." Some people in the meeting laughed, and others asked if I was serious. I never actually answered the question about being serious. But I did confirm, in what I thought was an "I'm kidding" voice, that my hometown was very close to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton where Dukakis was a visiting professor.

I didn't end up contributing to the next edition of the paper. So when it was published, I was shocked to see my Dukakis quote in the story. I had no idea that the writer would take me seriously Oops.

Is it true? Was I really quoted in the newspaper making a silly comment about delivering a pizza to Michael Dukakis?

Only one of these stories is real.

Sorry, Mike! (Courtesy: Wikipedia)

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April 5, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol 15

--- 1 ---
What a humbling experience it was to participate in the traditional washing of the feet ceremony at Mass on Holy Thursday. This is the second time I've had the honor of doing this. The first was back in 2005 when I was going through the RCIA program at another parish. This year I was asked to be one of the 12 taking part because of my position in one of the ministries. It was a much more powerful experience this time around, probably because I know a lot more now than I did back then. Here's the crucifix pendant I received during the ceremony.

--- 2 ---
At Easter Mass, my six-year-old daughter got a special treat from her favorite deacon. During the sprinkling rite, he made to point to walk right over to her and give her a direct shot of Holy Water. Later, at the point in Mass when everyone offers each other a sign of peace, he stepped down from the altar to give her a quick handshake then hurried back into place. We were sitting in the front row since we got to the church very early. Naturally, I wouldn't have it any other way.

--- 3 ---
After thinking about it for a long time, we finally had all of our downstairs carpet replaced with laminate flooring. No matter how often you vacuum and shampoo carpet, it just never seems to get clean enough, especially with two small children in the house. For those in the Austin area, I would highly recommend Simon & Sons Flooring in Georgetown. Yeah, I know it's not the most exciting website in the world. But they sure do take good care of their customers.

--- 4 ---
Magic carpet
I suppose one way to prevent your carpet from looking dirty is to choose a color like this. It is the carpet at my workplace. I call it a magic carpet because it makes things disappear. Trust me, if you accidentally drop a piece of food like a raisin or a chocoolate chip, don't even bother trying to  pick it up because you'll never find it. 

--- 5 ---
It's funny the way kids' bread-eating preferences evolve over time. Of course, my daughter went through a lengthy phase of not wanting to eat the crust, so we used to cut it off when we made her sandwiches. Thankfully, she got over that after a few years and has been pro-crust for a while. For a long time she despised the concept of eating the end piece from a loaf of bread. Then one day last year she decided to try an end piece and loved it. For the next few weeks she would request the end piece whenever we opened a new loaf. But that phase passed, and now she is back to being an ardent end piece opponent. And if that's not enough, the other day she decided that she didn't like bread, period. Rather than putting a sandwich in her lunchbox for school, she just wanted the turkey slices and piece of cheese with no bread.

--- 6 ---
One of my daughter's first grade friends threw up in the hallway at school the other day. Fortunately, there was a teacher nearby who immediately called for cleanup and took the poor girl to the nurse's office. It reminded me of an incident back when I was in third grade, and the classmate sitting next to me threw up all over his desk. He was kind of stunned and didn't say anything; and the teacher, Mrs. Babcock, didn't notice. I immediately raised my hand, and so did the kid on the other side of the sick student, but she didn't call on us right away. So my poor friend had to sit there with a mess on his desk until the teacher finally noticed.

--- 7 ---
Courtesy: Oriental Trading
My daughter and I got a kick out of this nose pencil sharpener that we saw in a catalog. (Only $6 per dozen at Oriential Trading!) But what was even funnier was that when I tried to tweet about it and call it a schnoz pencil sharpener, the auto-correct function on my iPhone wanted to change it to a "Schnozzola" pencil sharpener. 
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.
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