31 December 2014

No More Resolutions - Make New Year Goals

Two years ago I listed 5 Stupid New Year Resolutions. I've since read back through these to get a deeper understanding of why they don't work.

Each of the resolutions I mention are huge commitments, sacrifices you make "up front" which do not produce immediate results. So, rather than making one stupid resolution, I'm setting 10 goals for 2015, and here they are!

Start Graduate School

Okay, so I cheated. This one was already in progress because I had to get accepted first, which happened in November. My first class starts January 12th in the new year. I am officially a graduate student at Purdue University working toward a Masters in Communications.  I am humbled to have been accepted!

Advance My Career

Notice I didn't title this "Get a Promotion" or "Get Another Job." This is because achieving a goal should be at the control of the person establishing the goal. I cannot control getting a promotion or being hired at another organization. What I can control are the things I do in order to elevate myself so I am perceived to be the cream of the crop. Helloooooo out there! Here I am!! Another option in career advancement could be starting a business.

Outline My Memoir

But Diane, you're only...oh, never mind. You ARE old enough. You know what? Fuck off.

Attend a Writing Retreat

For all of you who have done this already, I ENVY you! I can see myself in the mountains somewhere, sitting at a bay window in a log cabin and sipping a cherry vanilla espresso. Who am I kidding though? I'll just be some washed up romantic with writer's block. Oh well, I guess a day on the slopes, hot soup, and a blazing fire will get me in the mood to write. Who's with me?!

Attend the Tallahassee Writers Association Conference

I haven't missed one since becoming a member and I know why. This is the mother of all conferences, so if you have even the slightest interest in writing, YOU. MUST. ATTEND. THIS. EVENT. Period.

Attend the Florida Writers Association Conference

This is the best excuse for making a trip to Lake Mary in October. I wish I hadn't missed it this year, but I had to support Tim's run in the Marine Corps Marathon in D.C. I will not be missing this event in 2015, the entire event, not just one of the days.

Get Back Into Yoga

This is not like joining the gym. Embarrassing enough, I already am a member and this is a free activity provided twice per week. Why did I stop going? Because, I couldn't keep Tim from giggling because he couldn't contort the way some of the 90 year old men in the class did. I think I can get Chelsey to partner up with me. She might take it more serious than Tim.

Take Gourmet Cooking Classes

The Food Network planted the larva, but now I have a full grown bug driving this desire to blanch, roast, bake, and grill. This will not be a very cost effective journey because I won't eat any of the things I want to cook. Any Guinea pigs out there willing to risk food poisoning? I'll be happy to compile goody baskets.

Finish My GeekSsentials Website

I started this site because I wanted to offer up services to the local Tallahassee area small businesses. I know how difficult it is for businesses to get out there, especially start ups, and word of mouth just isn't going to do it in this economy. With companies having to fork out more in health care costs and penalties, there's much less financial resources going into marketing and promotions. Hello out there! I work with your budget.

Institute Mom's Night Out

A new thing I plan to start with my kids is called Mom's Night Out. That means once per month, one of them has to take me out to dinner, lunch, or a movie. I get to pick up the tab. Hey, what better incentive is there for such a wonderful occasion?

Happy New Year, everyone!

Do you have goals for 2015? Tell us what they are in the comments below!

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27 December 2014

The Merry Christmas Blogathon

Thank you to Maria Zannini for hosting this fun event for bloggers! We are supposed to serve up photos of our Christmas spread. However, my partial family ate out for Christmas dinner since there were only three of us. Everyone else traveled north, so it wasn't worth the trouble to make a spread, at least not of food.

Not all is lost though. I still took photos of our fun filled day. From presents to stocking surprises and family portraits, here are the Christmas day photos from our home.

The stockings were hung from our
decorated mantel.

Even the dogs and ferrets had stockings!

First Christmas tree with butterflies...
and fake snow. When does THAT ever happen?
Don't judge!

We're doing this from scratch.
I swear.

My group. I know. The gingerbread man
looks creepy as hell.

Chelsey's less creepy group. Psst! The candy cane
stripes were made with food color gel, leaving
 the cookie inedible. She gets it honestly. :)

You distract them; I'll grab the cookies!

Family portrait. Not sure what the dogs
were looking at, maybe the ferrets?

Chelsey with her new Lenovo laptop/tablet.
Now I get to reclaim my Macbook. Woot!

In the voice of Austin Powers, "Do I
look sexy? Yeah, baby!"

They don't like sexy, you turd ball.
They like cuteness. See?

Of course, the ferrets had to check out the wrapped boxes. Look what fun Santa brought them!

Thanks for sharing your Christmas fun on this Blogathon. I'll be enjoying all of your photos on the 29th. Can't wait!!

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23 December 2014

Cooking Inspiration for Writing Horror

I don't understand why it is that every time I'm cooking something, whether for myself or for others, I get this sudden urge to sit down and write. It's the complete opposite from when I actually sit down in front of the computer, where I'm expected to write, and nothing comes to fruition in my tiny noggin.

I need to get these things off my chest because they're disturbing, these things which come to mind while I'm cooking.

Mixing Eggs

I think the same thing every time I poke egg yolks in a bowl and start whisking away at them with a fork. Drowning eyeballs blink back at me and brains scatter about the bowl screaming, "Noooo, please....!" And you know those bubbles that form when you've whisked away fast and furious? They balloon up and pop like in a cauldron of some witch's brew.

Seriously, this is what I see.

It's even more fascinating when you dump the mixture into a skillet waiting with a thin layer of piping hot oil. The fizzing and hissing, along with the bubbling, inspire me to write something horrific. It's excitingly violent.

Rolling Dough

I like the yeast dough, that stuff you have to let sit a while so that it puffs up nice and airy. I never understood all that making it bigger and airy. Aren't you just smashing out all that air when you punch and roll the dough? Duh.

Can you imagine
how this might end up if dough could punch back?

I don't do a lot of baking. Much of this I witness on the Food Network. Every time I see this rolling of dough, I get a sudden urge to write about my last mammogram experience. The mammogram is no joke. Get one every year if you can. Just don't look up into the mirror while your boob is smashed down to an eighth of an inch between two Plexiglass plates. You'll never look at rolling dough the same.

Pancakes on a Griddle

Anyone else addicted to watching pancakes form on a griddle? It's like I can't take my eyes off the holes. I try to count them as they appear. Things get overwhelming when they multiply exponentially, so I watch the batter dry instead. I find myself wanting to write about craters forming on the moon's surface and folks trying to escape while molten lava fills in on all sides until the tiny people are forced to jump into pits filling with fiery rage.

Looks like a flattened moon, doesn't it?

Then it's time to flip the pancake and the batter splats out the sides, just like I imagine a batch of lava spilling onto a flat surface. I should try red velvet pancakes next time.

Hot Dogs in a Microwave Oven

They always split at the tips, kind of like how a flower blooms, or a screaming alien. From the middle of each tip, the very first second, there go the ends. Boink. And they're steaming hot after 3 seconds. For some reason the middle of the dogs stay warm. I thought the microwave cooks from the inside out?

Painful, right? The creators of Alien
could have saved a lot of money using this image.

Hot dogs cooking in a microwave is the only activity which makes me think of human flesh and how it might blister and split when baked too long in the Florida sun. Skin cancer is no joke either. Stay out of the sun as much as you can, wear sun screen, and see your dermatologist annually.

Hamburgers on a Grill

A hamburger is supposed to be grilled on high heat. When done right, it gets that pink, bumpy texture everywhere and the bumps are surrounded by bloody streams   and this white solidifying  juice around the perimeter of the patty - always looks like a large canker sore to me. I know gross, right?

You're lying to yourself...
if you don't think this looks like some sort of STD.


So why does cooking reflect this imagery? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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14 December 2014

Thug Style Seems to Work

Classes start the 2nd week of January, 2015, but God has already taken me to task and is preparing me for my journey.

The first validation came in the form of a rare and challenging moment. It was in the midst of my attempting to acquire seats on a flight after having paid $1,100.00 for airline tickets to Roanoke, VA. Being a software developer, I understand systems go down at routine intervals for maintenance and such, thereby leaving websites unavailable to provide services. I also appreciate the alternative option of picking up the phone and calling the number provided in order to finish my transaction and ensure a product with which I will be satisfied, namely, a flight with assigned seats which will allow me to travel beside my companion and love of my life.

This was my ordeal while attempting to access the telephone version of whatever system assigns seats at this particular airline:

Airline recording: Please state your confirmation number using words in place of letters, such as C as in Charlie or P as in Paul. 
Diane: G as in God, B as in Boy, D as in Dog, K as in Kelly, 2, 5. 
Airline recording: I'm sorry, your answer is confusing. Many words sound the same. Please distinguish your letters and remember, C as in Charlie or P as in Paul. Please state your confirmation number. 
Diane: G as in Good, B as in Boy, D as in door, K as in Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, 2, 5. 
Airline recording: I'm sorry, your answer is confusing. Many words sound the same. Please distinguish your letters and remember, C as in Charlie or P as in Paul. Please state your confirmation number. 
Diane: How about F*** OFF?!!!! 
Airline recording: One moment while we transfer you to someone who can further assist you.

Further assist? You haven't assisted me AT ALL. You've only managed to waste my damn time!

THIS is why I chose the Communications Program...in the name of progress, of course. It's in my purpose statement, I promise. :)

Do you find this form of open-ended communications a waste of time? When is it appropriate to provide some human intervention?

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08 December 2014

Word of the Day - Security

Word of the Day


freedom from danger, risk, etc.; safety.
freedom from care, anxiety, or doubt; well-founded confidence.

Tim and I walked out of Walmart this evening with a handful of purchased goods and the security alarm went off. I was like, "Screw it. I'm running to the car." And I did.

I know this seems childish, but I'm tired of those things going off because some lazy cashier didn't swipe to deactivate the magnetic strip on my new PC game. That's right, it's mine. I paid for it. As definition number one states, I have the freedom from danger, risk, etc. Why? Because I have a receipt that says the product is mine. I am free from the danger of going to jail for shoplifting.

Last I checked, running is not a crime.

Walmart folks probably know they have a loose policy because human error almost always accounts for 99.9% of false alarms. So when these devices go off, nobody cares. And you know what? Nobody came after us either, and then I wondered why.

What if they had come after us? They would have checked our receipt and discovered, yet again, their security system is flawed.

Staff policy enforcer asks, "So, if you were innocent, why were you running?" 
"Because your fat ass was chasing me!"

Um, yeah. I think I did.

So why even bother to have this system in place if you're not going to run after us and check our receipts, or only do so discriminately? Sure it would be embarrassing to cause such a ruckus in the parking lot, but if you're using the alarm system as a deterrent, then you have to police a little better than this, right?

The funnier matter is watching the alarm go off on other folks who haven't gotten fed up just yet. They look around all astonished, turn back toward the store workers, hands and bags in the air hoping for assistance, and all the while, they have shock and disgrace written all over their faces.

WTF!? I paid for this shit!

A worker then walks toward the victim, who has now attracted the attention of every single person in the store, and says, "Oh, that's okay. Someone probably just forgot to swipe the security strip on a product you bought." They wave at the customer and motion for her to go ahead and leave, as if that customer had been officially detained somehow.

This is an example of the second definition of security. The store worker has the freedom from care, anxiety, or doubt; well-founded confidence. She's confident that something didn't get swiped. How so? Because, SHE forgets to do that shit all the time!

I wonder if you can sue major businesses when their security policies cause undue embarrassment and emotional duress like these stupid false alarms, because if you don't enforce properly, this becomes a bullying mechanism at best.

What security systems baffle you due to their uselessness?

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02 December 2014

Social Analytics and Your Story

Have you ever wondered what your impact is as a start up author or publisher, especially if you don't have big business behind you? Stephen King and Dean Koontz don't have to ponder such things because someone else is doing that grunt work. This leads to a very popular question among new authors and publishers in today's digital world, because "sales numbers" are not as important as influence. At least, not at first! We're trying to establish a base and haven't even considered sales. How do we gain traction from the beginning?

We are coming into an age where information is freely available and people out there are proving that this data is more important in gaining power and influence than are sales numbers. Information is freely provided because it is acquired at less cost than past methods. As with drug addiction, if you peddle the product for free and if it's good stuff, they'll come back in droves!

You save money and effort while using today's freely acceptable modes of pushing your data. Facebook is free, Twitter is free. You have all these avenues of marketing potential. But, what do you sacrifice by navigating in the dark with no direction? Your time! And, with little feedback.

What's missing? Analysis and decision making are lacking. All this data means nothing when the other guy is using theirs to make decisions which beat you out in the market place. They know what the data means and they know how to produce more content via reviews and conversational feedback, which in turn allows them to target in a way to maximize on the knowledge they gained by analyzing the mined data they have accumulated. Say what?

Simple terms. What do they have that you don't? Direction and a budget, sustained by years of branding and accumulating that base you're trying to establish.

Here are the questions you need to ask yourself when promoting your product.

Brand: What is your message?

Stephen King: I can produce horrific stories that will make you lose sleep at night.

Mission: What goals have you established which will live up to your brand?

Stephen King: I will write 3 novels that will creep you out!

Scope: How will you reach your goals without diluting your brand?

Stephen King: I will write from my heart and not listen to all these folks who give feedback saying that I should do something other than write 3 novels that will creep you out.

Feedback: What feedback will you utilize to reinforce dedication to your brand?

Stephen King: I will not wait for feedback in the form of fan mail and gratuitous visits to my estate. I will go out into bookstores and institutions who invite me to speak and I will listen to my consumers, the readers of my books. If they're not happy, it's time to change my brand or the execution of my message.

What is your message to your audience?

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