Sunday, July 14, 2019

Fanboy Expo 2019 - Saturday Recap

Ok. My plan was to get a selfie with Walter Koenig (Chekov from Star Trek), an autograph from (and maybe selfie with) John de Lancie (Q from Star Trek) and Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver, Stargate SG1), and an autograph and selfie with Cary Elwes. Here's what I was getting signed: A hardback copy of Elwes' book about the filming of the Princess Bride and a DVD set of "Legend," a short-lived TV show from the mid-90s starring Anderson and de Lancie. 

I got to Fanboy Expo around 1:45 p.m. First I got in line to meet John de Lancie, as the line was pretty short. Richard Dean Anderson's booth was right next to de Lancie's but he wasn't there. I figured I'd swing back by after meeting up with my friends Mary Beth and her mom Beth (here on out I will refer to them as "the Bowmans" 🙃), as I knew they were in line for Cary Elwes. I got an autograph and selfie with John and was smiling so huge that my cheeks were hurting afterward. I am such a fangirl and I own it proudly. After our photo (which wasn't actually a selfie--one of the volunteers took the photo with my camera) John glanced to his left and asked "Is Richard over there?" as he knew I'd want his autograph next on the DVD. He was most likely on break. I thanked John for coming to Knoxville, completely forgetting to say how much I loved his portrayal of Q, and went in search of the Bowmans.

John de Lancie 

They said the line was long but I had no idea HOW long until I found them. There were SO. MANY. PEOPLE. ahead of them. We exchanged hugs, and they invited me to be in their group picture with Cary. I said of course! So we stood and stood... and stood and stood... and stood some more. The line was moving pretty slowly. As time moved on they started panicking because they had to be at church (Mary Beth is the music leader). They had to leave no later than 5:00. We were SO close but still not close enough for them to be able to take advantage of the the packages that they had bought. So they gave me their fan package tickets, which included 2 autographs and 2 selfies with Cary. They told me which pictures they wanted autographed (and I totally forgot when I got up there and didn't trust my instinct and chose the wrong ones but hopefully they'll still like them 😭) and sweetly said their friend Noel and I could use their selfie tickets. Shortly before they left they came up with the idea to take selfies and then ask Cary to hold those up while I took a picture with him, so technically they would be "in" the picture with us. Genius!

Cary Elwes

When Noel and I finally got to the front, I handed in the two autograph tickets and then paid for my own autograph. I tried to hand over the selfie tickets but the woman had moved on to something else. I walked up to the next volunteer and held out all that I had--two photos for the Bowmans, my book, plus the two selfie tickets--and pleaded something like "Please tell me what to do next and where to go" because I was so very confused and discombobulated--and starstruck because Cary had come over to the table to sign things. They gave the photos and book to Cary and he smiled at me and started signing. Then he asked me my name and shook my hand, saying it was nice to meet me. I explained to him that the two extra autographs were for my friends who sadly had to leave the line before they made it to the front. He thought that was the nicest thing ever and complimented me. Next I asked him if he would hold the picture of the Bowmans--he said I could do it (a very judicious way of saying "No"). So we took that picture with me holding their picture up, using their friend Noel's phone (Noel didn't care to be in the photo). Afterward Cary asked me if he could hug me for being so nice and I was like WHY ARE YOU SO WONDERFUL?! AND OF COURSE! But then my brain shoved my heart out of the way and was like "HEY. FOCUS. You had TWO selfie tickets and you've only done one photo." So I spoke up and said "Um... I think I get two photos, right?" And the lady back at the beginning of the line went "You were supposed to give those to me!!" WOMAN. I literally showed you ALL FOUR TICKETS in my hand--you took two and then moved on to the next person. How is this MY fault? I remained calm but also stood my ground, because I hadn't yet received what I was entitled to. Cary was quick to diffuse the situation, saying we'd get it all figured out. Also he hadn't signed my book yet and the volunteer/photog pointed it out, so he did that. 

Then the lady said "Ok she has two photos," so Cary and I moved back into position and I gave the volunteer photographer *my* phone for this one. I asked Cary if I could hug him in this one and he said yes. I. Was. On. Cloud. Nine. He thanked me for being patient, I thanked him for coming to Knoxville, and then it was over. My cheeks were aching again but I didn't care cuz I was floating on air.


Oh, that sweet air. It felt AMAZING to be out of that cramped line and have room to walk wherever I wanted. My feet were KILLING me but I was FREE! 

By this time it was almost 5:30 and I decided to see if I could get Richard Dean Anderson's autograph. I figured they'd closed the lines since the floor closed at 6 but I asked anyway, as I didn't see an "End of Line" sign. I walked up to two volunteers at a table and asked if the line had been cut off. I repeated myself, as the woman didn't hear me. Something like "I know it's close to 6 so I thought I'd ask." She snapped at me that the line was closed. "That's what I was ASKING. Thank you," I said and walked away. Don't get short with ME just because YOU can't hear. 🤬

So I have plans to go back tomorrow and get an autograph and picture with Richard, attend his panel, and get a picture with Walter. Cross your fingers! 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

18 Questions for a New Year's Reflection

** ADAPTED FROM: 20 Questions for a New Year’s Eve Reflection **

Eighteen Questions for a New Year's Reflection

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year? I received the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty award at Pellissippi State!

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened? Relearning how to deal with migraines (after having not suffered from them for about a decade).

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year? I discovered a new (to me) band and they're now one of my favorites (We Are Scientists)!

4. What was an unexpected obstacle? A smaller course load in the fall semester.

5. Pick three words to describe 2016. Shock, loss, disbelief.

6. What were the best books you read this year? Dating An Alien Pop Star* by Kendra Saunders and Oh Myyy!: There Goes the Internet by George Takei.

7. With whom were your most valuable relationships? I always value my long-term relationships (parents, brother, best friends from elementary school) but some of the most valuable this past year were rekindled and renewed relationships with friends from college and grad school.

8. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year? I lost about 35 lbs.

9. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally? I decided to be more upfront about things (instead of avoiding certain topics and conversations) while also deciding to close off parts of myself from people I can no longer trust.

10. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually? I finally learned why the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son was wrong in questioning of his father's actions (grace).

11. In what way(s) did you grow physically? I joined a gym and started working with an awesome trainer (Kellie B Fitness).

12. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others? See #9.

13. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)? Professionally: Continuing to come up with ideas for making my Music Appreciation classes more engaging and working with new private students. At home: Getting rid of a bunch of stuff I no longer use (via Mercari, LetGo, and charity).

14. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)? Professionally: Enforcing new rules and figuring out which ones don't work. At home: Cutting down on clutter.

15. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year? Worrying about things over which I have no control (it's a favorite pastime).

16. What was the best way you used your time this past year? Working on my new website a bit at a time, over several months. It's now live!

17. What was biggest thing you learned this past year? I learned what attendance policies don't work for my courses (to my liking).

18. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2016 for you. You only have room to grow if you step outside of your comfort zone.

What about YOU?

*The Kindle version is currently FREE!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Teaching Nightmare

Okay, most recent dream. I was teaching at a new school and it was the first  day of classes. I was running late because I couldn't find my classroom.

I went to a room, sat down, and realized it was a Spanish class. But for some reason I stayed there for a while and listened! At some point, several students got up and moved around. I took this opportunity to leave. The teacher asked me where I was going and I replied on top of the hullabaloo "I'm a teacher." He sort of chuckled, then asked me to repeat myself. I said, a bit louder, "I'm a TEACHER!" He thought this was hilarious and proceeded to laugh in my face as I struggled to get out of the classroom.

I was carrying a purse, a bag with work materials, and my shoes. That's right, I'd been walking around this whole time in my stocking feet.

I wandered around for at LEAST 20 minutes looking for my room. It was listed as "MC" in my paperwork, which was new because apparently the original info given to me was incorrect. MC meant section M (of the building), room C. I went to a help desk and the dude made eye contact with me, totally ignored me, then walked away. I waved as if to say "Um, HELLO, I need help." A more accommodating woman showed up next. She explained that the dude decided I didn't need any help "because [I was] able to wave." What?!!

When I finally found the room, it looked like a fast food drive thru, set very close to other identical drive thrus. My class was standing around, but someone took me away to do something. I set my stuff down on a counter and that's when I realized that my shoes were missing. But I couldn't be bothered with that. I exclaimed to the person who was leading me God-knows-where that "I can't play music in that environment. It's a music class and I CAN'T TEACH A MUSIC CLASS WITHOUT PLAYING MUSIC!"

That's the last thing that happened before I woke up. This is actually a more elaborate version of a recurring stress dream I have, in which it's the first day of school and I can't find my class. I also often dream that it's the last day of classes and I've just discovered there was a class I was supposed to teach that I didn't know about. Gotta love being a teacher with an active imagination and lots of built-up anxiety!

Originally written April 10, 2015

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Make the internet a better place...

Okay, I admit it. I'm on the internet a lot. Sometimes it's for work--uploading students' grades, searching for images to improve my powerpoints, updating Robyn James Trio records, etc. But it's usually for fun--reading about friends on Facebook, taking stupid quizzes, and reading BuzzFeed lists. I'm making a concerted effort to change my experience when using the internet.

Some of you have probably read about the person who stopped liking things on Facebook. There's also an article about a person who started liking things on Facebook. To each his/her own. Hopefully most of you know that many websites (including Facebook) track your web activity and then cater their ads to places you visit. Also, Facebook monitors everything you like and follow, and then suggests other pages based on that info. The person who stopped liking everything did so in order to see if his/her Facebook experience changed.

I don't remember that person's results, but I can tell you from personal experience that it gets better when you stop liking everything. Facebook can still tailor their ads to my shopping preferences, but it doesn't know what pages to suggest to me anymore. My feed used to be plastered with ads from some stupid boot store. Thankfully, those ads tell you which of your friends like the mentioned store. Once I stopped liking those friends' posts, the boot ads disappeared.

So the first goal of this post is to make sure my readers are informed. The second is to explain to my Facebook friends why I've been using a lot more emoji (Facebook calls them "stickers") lately. Instead of clicking "Like" on every post I find amusing, informative, or inspirational, I take the time to give a more detailed response by commenting. If I have something specific to say, I'll type that. But other times I just want to convey an emotion that the post elicited. So far I've found something to cover almost every reaction. Hopefully you now understand why there are so many monkeys, Snoopy faces, and other cartoonish characters all over your feed...

Also, it's just fun to make use of all the emoji out there. How can you not resist these?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

TN Science Bowl 2014

Wanna feel old? Volunteer to help out with a grade school competition. Wanna feel old and stupid? Volunteer to help out with a grade school competition in a subject you never mastered.

I always did well in science, but it was not my favorite subject. For four years now, I've volunteered to help out with the TN Science Bowl (#TSB to the cool kids). I got involved through Pellissippi (where I work); every semester they send out emails asking for volunteers. I decided to respond one year, and the rest is history.

For those of you who don't know what a competition like this entails, it's basically like this: Teams from different high schools around the state gather and go head to head, answering questions in the topics of biology, chemistry, physics, math, earth science, general science, and astronomy. The teams have a very short amount of time to answer the toss-ups--as an observer, it seems like you blink and the timekeeper says "time." If a team correctly answers the toss-up, they get to answer a bonus question and are given more time for that. Whichever team has the most points at the end of two rounds advances to the next round. Eventually there is only one team left. The top three teams win money, as well as the winner of the Civility Award (which I'll explain later).

There are different roles that a volunteer can fill:

  • Moderator
  • Science Judge
  • Rules Judge
  • Scorekeeper
  • Timekeeper
  • Runner
  • Crowd Control
  • Civility Award Judge
  • Registration
I've volunteered to be a Civility Award Judge all four years, though one year I was drafted to be Scorekeeper when one didn't show up. That was a stressful day, because I hadn't trained for the role of Scorekeeper! There were lots of rules to keep up with. A competing student actually had to correct me at one point because I had incorrectly awarded points to someone! #yikes

This is the first year since I started that I wasn't able to volunteer, so I thought I'd share some of the highlights of last year's Science Bowl, from a volunteer's point of view. All the Civility Award Judges met at 6:45 am (ugh) to register and go over the rules for evaluating the teams. Basically we observe the students interacting with each other and with all the adults, rate them on several aspects, and then tally our results to figure out the winner. Each judge is assigned several teams, and no team is observed twice. Most of these kids are very well-behaved, so it's really about looking for those who go above and beyond with their behavior/attitude.

In addition to adults who volunteered to be runners, there were also Boy Scouts who helped out. In the first room where I observed, this adorable Scout was serving as a runner. We both sat at a table in the back of the classroom, out of the way. Seriously, this kid was one of the sweetest kids I've ever met. Before the competition began, I chatted with him about what it's like to be a Boy Scout. Once the competition began, we sat there quietly playing with a puzzle that was given to all of the volunteers. It's called a Rubik's Snake or Twist and it's WAY too much fun. The Scout and I kept comparing shapes while the teams were hard at work answering questions. Here are a couple of my creations:

It's the letter "R." Can you see it? :)

I don't know what this one is. A train? A house?

I had a major #geek moment when one of the questions dealt with the second law of thermodynamics. For those of you who don't know, my favorite band's most recent album is entitled The 2nd Law. The overall theme of the album is energy use, entropy, and all that. I'm glad I was sitting at the back of the room so that no one could see me having a fangirl moment. #squee

The teams rang in using buzzers that were connected to a large box in front of the Science Judge. These buzzers were apparently very old because every year there's at least one malfunction. But last year, it was absolutely ridiculous. They wouldn't buzz when students pressed them, and then they buzzed when no one had touched them. It was funny at first but it got old pretty quickly. I wish someone would donate a new buzzer system! We blamed the malfunctions on the Ghost of Science Bowls Past...

Despite all the equipment errors and whatnot, it was a good day overall. There was even a kid dressed in a banana suit. I unfortunately didn't see him, but I'll bet it was hilarious! I'll bet he did it to psych out the other teams. Or just confuse them so they couldn't answer any questions?

Every year I ask myself, "Why do you get up before the sun to volunteer for something?" Then I watch all these talented kids compete and I remember. It's so rewarding to see them get excited about science. Oh, and the goodie bags and free doughnuts don't hurt either.

Got any favorite volunteer experiences to share?

Changing Priorities

I know it's been forever since I blogged and I'm sorry! I have a ton of dreams to share with you all. I just haven't had time to sit down and transfer them from the scrawled notes on my phone into readable blog narratives. So I'm not here to share a dream just yet. As my frequent readers know, I usually remember my dreams in great detail. And since it's currently 2:00 in the morning, I'm here to share a shorter message.

I don't make new year's resolutions. When I want to better myself I make the decision to do it right then, no matter what day of the year it is. Today (well, yesterday really) I decided not to waste my time when it comes to reading things on the internet. I send so many articles to my Kindle to read later (I do this so I don't have to stare at the computer screen for too long) that I'm way behind in my reading. To give you an idea: It's February and I'm still reading digests that I sent to myself in November.

The subject matter of the articles I save varies widely--anything from album reviews to social and political commentary to celebrity interviews to Wikipedia entries. I'm also not ashamed to admit that many of them are BuzzFeed lists. BuzzFeed is a great way to escape for a moment from grading papers and writing tests. But I get so caught up in reading "50 Things That Remind You Of Your Childhood" that I miss more important content like "How To Flip Your Classroom" or "How To Get Your Students To Practice."

So I've decided that if I see a BuzzFeed list or some kind of tell-all article about who Matt Bellamy is or isn't dating, I will read it at that moment or forget about it. I will no longer bookmark them or email them to myself. The articles with more important subject matter will be sent to my Kindle (via Instapaper, a great site).

My time is precious and my brain can only hold so much information, so why waste valuable space in my noggin (and hours of my long days) on reading about what stupid thing Kanye West did at the most recent award show?

What about you? Do you need to give up something in order to make space for things that really matter?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Muse dream with a Mozart ending (Warning: adult language)

I was sleeping in my dorm room. I awakened to the sound of someone getting in bed next to me. I could've pretended to stay asleep, but I wanted to know who was here and why. I turned and saw that it was Beth, one of my best friends from college. She and my senior year college roommate, Jennifer, were coming back from some kind of gathering. Then I remembered--it was Jennifer's birthday and I'd missed her party. But I was sick and hadn't been feeling well, hence my being in bed. It was dark outside and I tried to read the alarm clock. I think it said it was 5:30 in the morning. They had been partying hard, and they weren't done yet. Apparently they were just taking a break, and were returning shortly to play some kind of game. I was feeling better (and also feeling left out) and wanted to help celebrate Jennifer's birthday. So I asked what kind of game they were playing. They explained, and I decided to join them.

The game was being played in a large symphony hall with the usual slanted floors that went lower as you got to the stage. It involved using controllers that looked and felt just like real guitars. Apparently the game was kind of like Guitar Hero but with an actual band and orchestra on stage. The band on stage was Muse, much to my delight. A lot of my friends were there, including Julia, another best friend. Most of the players were in the audience (or maybe they were just spectators?) but for some reason I was on stage in front of the orchestra, stage right. I was being silly and dancing around like some rock guitarists do. It caught the attention of Matt (Muse's guitarist) and he smiled at me. This made me happy to no end, and I gyrated more with my guitar controller.

At one point, Matt and Dom (Muse's drummer; but if you know me at all, you already knew that) were yelling out something about someone named "Grace." They were doing it in time to the music and it was pretty funny. Julia, who is a relatively new Muse fan, asked me "Who's Grace?" She was pretty far away from me so I mouthed to her "She's a fan of the band." She couldn't understand me, so I mouthed it again. I didn't want to actually yell it because the music was very loud.

When the game was over, I didn't want to leave. I also wanted an excuse to get near the band and ask them where they were hanging out after they were done with this (apparently they were rehearsing with the orchestra for something). Morgan, the guy the band hires to play with them when they tour, was stage right (which is odd because in real life, he's always stage left), sitting at an upright piano (what, no grand?!). I noticed someone's guitar controller on the floor and saw my chance. I picked up the white guitar with black control knobs and looked for a stage hand to give it to. I found one, and mentioned that I found it and thought I should turn it in. The guy took it, and now was my chance because I was only a few steps away from Morgan. I screwed up my courage, and just then the conductor of the orchestra spotted me.

The conductor stopped the rehearsal and called me out. He yelled at me, saying that I was disrupting the rehearsal and bothering the band members. He humiliated me in front of my peers in the audience, the orchestra (which included colleagues of mine), and my favorite band on the planet. I turned to see Morgan looking right at me, a mix of anger and pity on his face.

I'd had it. The conductor was completely out of line and blew things way out of proportion. I stormed to the front of the stage, turned to the conductor, and yelled at the top of my lungs "You...are an asshole!" The audience met my outburst with rousing applause. I bowed graciously, then exited stage right. They continued applauding as I walked up the center aisle of the auditorium. Once I got to the top (the entrance to the hall), I had a wonderful idea. I swung open the doors, leaned over, and stuck my butt out toward the direction of everyone on stage, a la Mozart in the film Amadeus. I think I also shook my butt a bit for good measure. I was met with more applause as I left the hall.

Once outside the hall, I saw people seated around the area. I told several groups of them what had happened as I walked by and they all met me with smiles and pats on the back. I felt vindicated, and it felt good.

The End.