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Debate in a Box (Party Game Edition)

What will we do now that the Presidential debates have ended for the next four years?

If you are unsure what to do for entertainment, create your own Debate in a Box, Party Game Edition. Host mock debates with your family and friends. Here’s what to include:

  • Rules. Just make some rules up. It doesn’t matter what rules you decide upon because they will all be ignored once the debate begins. One choice is to write the rules on paper and toss the paper once the debate begins. Another is to just write them all on a Magnadoodle and erase them once the debate begins.
  • Broken timer. It’s better for this game to have a broken timer than it is to have one that actually works. If it did work, you would ignore it. So this is the chance to repurpose that broken timer from Aunt Sally’s estate.
  • Rock’em Sock’em Kit. If you have an old Rock’em Sock’em, you could just have the 2 candidates fight it out to see which one wins. If you can’t find an old Rock’em Sock’em, then substitute with arm wrestling. Or, if you’re bored during a debate, drag out a Rock’em Sock’em, choose who will play which candidate, and go for it with a trusted friend.

Variations. We all know debates aren’t meant to be boring. So change it. Have one seated, another standing, and a third walking around arguing while the audience members are dying to see violence break out so they can shout “Fight! Fight!” like in Bridget Jones.

Variations to Add More Fun

If you get tired of a plain old debate, take heart. You can add variations to spice the debate. For example:

  • Pin the Transcript on the Moderator. Before the debate actually begins, the debaters chase around the moderator and attempt to pin a transcript onto the moderator’s clothing. A moderator can only hold a transcript for one debater. But the one who gets the pin wins a fresh advantage. At any point during the debate, the debater who pins the transcript can proclaim, “Check the transcript,” at which point the moderator agrees with that debater’s assertion, and that debater automatically wins not just that debate but all future debates.
  • Honey Boo Boo Lookalike Contest. During the debate, challenge your debaters to act like they are Honey Boo Boo. A Honey Boo Boo debater has many choices for behavior: pretending to fall asleep, making dirty faces, giving death glares, laughing inappropriately, and making inappropriate comments whenever possible. Regardless of who wins the debate, the better of the Honey Boo Boo impersonators wins an all you can eat Red Herring Feast, complete with deep fried hot dogs topped with nacho cheese, sketti from the family’s special recipe, and deep fried cookie dough served on top of deep fried oreos. And if few enough table manners are shown in the eating of the Red Herring Feast, the debater might just win the next Honey Boo Boo spin-off.
  • Smile You’re on Debaters’ Camera Contest. During the debate, the debaters compete to see who can give the kindest, most congenial smiles, no matter what the other person says.  The debater who most maintains composure wins the debate.
Audience variations:
  • For a family friendly guide to watching debates with children, I recommend the Pass the Popcorn variation. With this, select a “tell” or quirk from one of the candidates which occurs on a regular basis. Each time that quirk happens in the debate, pass the popcorn. Yes, this is a bland version of a drinking game. It’s also child-friendly. I considered making popcorn shots but was told on Twitter that could become a choking hazard.

Obviously, with game day variations, not all can be done the same day. It’s up to you to decide how you want your debate game played.

Which will you choose?

Flawed Moms, Perfect Praise

Triple Layer Chocolate Turtle Cake

Not all pictures are worth 1,000 words. Some, of delectable food, fail to tell the adventures behind them. Like the one I took of our Easter dessert, a turtle cake made by my daughter.

Lots of the rest of the day weren’t picture perfect. I woke up with an earache which started my day in a bad mood. With Sudafed, it only sounded like ocean waves in my left ear. As I rushed before church to get dinner ready to go, I ran late. I was so busy taking care of the dinner details I neglected to make time to take care of me.

When I put on my Easter dress, I realized I either needed to shave my legs or wear hose. Except I didn’t have any hose because I threw the last pair out when they got a runner.  How fast can I shave my legs and not cut them? But I got to the church in time and squeezed into the pew.

As I sat, trying to collect myself, I thought I would read this Sunday’s readings and clicked on the icon on my Droid. Except I hit the wrong button – the one that blasts Catholic radio that I thought I deleted from my phone. “Oh shit, shit, shit,” I hissed hoping I didn’t once again embarrass my family with this mistake at church. The phone volume was down. Disaster averted, except I just whispered shit in church on Easter Sunday morning and was now praying that the elderly couple sitting in front of me were hard of hearing and hadn’t heard me. I then sat pondering that you can take the girl out of the trailer park but the trailer park still stays in the girl, and my mouth is sometimes my thorn in the flesh.

Then it was time to sing the first song, and I couldn’t see the words. I’m too young for bifocals and now keep a pair of reading glasses in my purse. Once I got them on, I was able to see to read and sing. This weekend was the first time ever at church I realized I absolutely couldn’t see to sing without them.

So I’m the flawed mom. Strike one – an earache and I’m not hearing right on that side. Strike two – I just cussed in church. Strike three – I can’t see without the reading glasses and keep forgetting it till it hits me.

This time, however, I’m not out. My misadventures continued after church. I grabbed a casserole lid just out of the oven with my bare hand and burned my left hand. I’m left handed. So during our perfect Easter dinner feast, I sat with my left hand in ice water and had to have my husband cut my food because I couldn’t hold anything with my left burned hand. I’m left handed and struggled to eat our perfect lunch holding my fork in my right hand. The food was wonderful.

Four hours later, the burns are such that I can now type so long as I stop every few minutes to put my thumb on ice.

But I realized through my misadventures, that I’m a flawed mom but it’s ok on Easter Sunday. My imperfect adventures that amuse my family – most of the time – make my praise on Easter Sunday perfect. God fills in my gaps, even the big ones, and loves me just the way I am.

We sing in Mass, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Then we sing it again. Finally, we conclude, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

With that perfect peace, this flawed mother can still sing perfect praise.

Felonious Farts

Jail cells at the Southborough Police Stationphoto © 2009 my_southborough | more info (via: Wylio)
Two  middle school boys were just suspended from school for making obscene gestures on their school bus. The gestures in question? farts.

As the mother of a teen-aged son, I had considered flatulence a disgusting fact of life but never worthy of such punishment. Especially when I ride in a car full of teen-aged boys, somebody lets one rip, and we all lower the car windows as we gasp for oxygen.

Sounds like a good idea. They should go beyond the school suspension into the criminal court system. Listed below are levels for the new zero tolerance party for the felonious fart.

School Suspension:

The boys in question merely farted for the entertainment of their bus-mates. A school suspension fart is one filled with sound but little substance, signifying nothing but entertainment value.


  • Class A - Fart stinks and causes respiratory problems for those in close proximity. Some report that animals run, paint peels, and babies cry upon their emission.
  • Class B – Fart has offensive noise and scent that disrupts the activities of others in the same room, bus, or automobile.
  • Class C – Fart has a mildly offensive scent, enough to be noticed. Choosy moms don’t choose to be in the room with these toots.


  • Murder – Fart in which the offender ingests a large amount of gas-producing foods, i.e. beans and deliverately choose the blast site, resulting in the death of those in near proximity and requires a Hazmat unit for environmental cleanup. Some of those exposed to the blast who survive may experience chemical poisoning and extreme suffering.
  • Class A – Farts involve dealing with gaseous substances in an amount over 3 grams of methane produced and those farts that result in the serious injury of others.
  • Class B – Farts involving dealing with gaseous substances in an amount under 3 grams of methane produced and those farts determined to be aggravated battery or arson attempts.
  • Class C – Farts involving possession of gaseous substances in an amount over 3 grams of methane and farts defined as intimidation with a deadly weapon.
  • Class D – The lowest level of felonious farts, these include DWF (driving while farting) as a second offense; farting as a common nuisance; and farting so badly outdoors that the smell enters nearby residences.
  • Habitual Offender – In some circumstances, those convicted of second felonious fart offenses may also be convicted as habitual fart offenders and sentenced to additional jail time.

RIFO Act: Those who conspire to emit farts with others in the pursuit of other crimes can be subject to confiscation of their assets. Or at least their Wii, PS3, XBox systems, smartphones, and all texting devices for the forseeable future.

Hmmm. Would a legislature pass such a criminal code?

I wonder if there is a 12 Step program for the student who farts in the middle of his achievement test, gets so tickled he quits answering questions, and gets a bad score as a consequence.

With all the violence and other problems facing our society today, what should I make of authorities who declare war against our common enemy: flatulence?

If Dogs Tweeted

Dog Shadesphoto © 2005 Joe Sullivan | more info (via: Wylio)
Note: dogs don’t RT. They RB (rebark). This was a conversation I overheard in my front yard, among our neighbors’ dogs, yesterday morning.

@YippeeSpaniel: Squirrel!

@BlackLab: RB @YippeeSpaniel Squirrel!

@GoldenRetriever: RB @BlackLab: RB: @YippeeSpaniel Squirrel!

@YippeeSpaniel: I’m small but I’m louder! RB @GoldenRetriever: RB @BlackLab: RB: @YippeeSpaniel Squirrel!

@PitBull: @YippeeSpaniel @BlackLab @GoldenRetriever Squirrel! #Snack

Pause – dogs in their own yards.

Ambulance drives by.

@BlackLab: Siren! #Loud

@GoldenRetriever: RB @BlackLab: Siren! #Loud

@YippeeSpaniel: I can bark louder than the siren and you big boys! RB @GoldenRetriever @BlackLab Siren! #Loud

@PitBull: Siren? #Blood #Snack

@BlackLab: I just earned the #GiveADogABone badge on Pupsquare in my own backyard.

@GoldenRetriever: @PursePup is jumping at her bay window again. She wants out.

@PitBull: How much is that doggy in the window? @PursePup #snack

@YippeeSpaniel: Guess who just got out of my collar! Digging under the cell wall now! Great escape soon!

@GoldenRetriever: He just brought me lunch. Dog chow. Again.

@PitBull: Dog chow? #snack

@YippeeSpaniel: Freedom! It’s been real!

@BlackLab: @YippeeSpaniel How bout that?

@GoldenRetriever: @YippeeSpaniel has left the backyard. and fled the block.

@PitBull: Guess it’s just a 3 dog night. Anyone for a #snack? There’s that darn cat.

How to Screw in a Social Media Light Bulb

Energy Star Light Bulbphoto © 2010 Jennifer Durfey | more info (via: Wylio)
This is an evening in the life of Janie Smith, a social media mogul who lives her whole life online. During this episode, Janie changes a lightbulb in her bathroom.

LinkedIn: Organized and implemented energy output and production study in domestic settings for market research.

Facebook: The new energy efficient light bulbs help save the planet and make me tingly inside.

Twitter: Crud! Bathroom bulb went out and we have no more light bulbs!

FourSquare: Janie earned the PartyAnimal badge checking in at WalMart at 2 a.m.

Twitter: I can’t believe how much more expensive new bulbs are.

Twitter: Hello! The store bathroom’s out of toilet paper, the soap is empty, and the dryer is broken.

Facebook Places: Janie checked in at WalMart with 20 other unknown people at 2:15 a.m.

Twitter: Really weird people shop here at night.

Twitter: How loud is the Airhorn app if that parking lot creeper dude follows me?

Twitter: Safe in my car.

Twitpic Caption: Stalker dude I saw at WalMart. Note license plate # if I disappear.

Youtube: How to add flair to your bathroom with new bulbs

Twitter: Broke the stinking new bulb when I was changing it. What’s that environmental stuff?

WordPress Blog Title: Environmental Cleanup of Light Bulb Breakage

Tumblr: Great article on safe cleanup of broken lightbulbs.

Quora: How do I clean up a broken light bulb?

Twitter: Finally! The light bulb is changed.

Janie’s daughter then posted on Facebook: My mom is a social media dork.

To which Janie wondered why her daughter would post such public information online. And why was it so hard to get up in the morning?

My Tri Fest Tow Truck Teaching Adventure

Get towedphoto © 2009 Emran Kassim | more info (via: Wylio)
I love Henderson, Kentucky, and its annual Tri-Fest that starts tomorrow. As I pulled into town tonight to teach a Facebook class at the Henderson County Public Library, they were beginning to set up. Cool!  They have great food, rides, and more, in their historic downtown district.  I parked across the street from the library and went in to prepare.

My classes are taught with my Facebook profile live, on big screen, with my own News Feed.

Just over halfway through the 2-hour class, a Henderson friend posted, “The police just towed all the cars off South Main Street for the Tri-Fest.”

I had parked on South Main Street.

So I excused myself and went across the street. My car was gone. When I tried to ask the festival workers where my car was, my Spanish wasn’t good enough to communicate. So I returned to my class.

“Is your car there?” The class asked.


“Do you need to end class to find it?”

“No. We have 40 minutes left. I can find my car then. If I can teach through an earthquake, a flash flood, and a storm that rips the front door off a building, I can teach through a towed car.”

I didn’t tell them that if I could hitch-hike alone through a thunderstorm in Ireland 25 years ago, survive a near-death hemorrhage during a pregnancy 15 years ago, and rebuild a burned out business 10 years ago, a towed car in Henderson was something I knew would have a happy ending. Somehow. The only thing to do was laugh about it.

This could be an example of Facebook problem solving for my class. I posted that my car was towed during my class, telling the class in the time that remained we would see if Facebook would help me solve my problem. Then we went back to our objectives list to keep going.

Friends posted phone numbers of who to call. I answered conversations while we kept on our to do list. Friends, both in Evansville and Henderson, offered me rides if needed. My friends Jo Ann and Joann both gave invaluable help. My phone started ringing with friends asking me if I needed a ride.

A grandmother taking the class posted on her own wall that my car had gotten towed. Her grandson commented, “WTF?” When she asked me what WTF stood for, I suggested she ask her grandson as I wasn’t going to say it in class.

After the class was over, I called the first number, a towing company who said they had towed nothing. Then I called the police. They had posted in the paper they would tow cars but acknowledged they had posted no signage that out-of-state visitors would see. They asked me what my car was.

“Blue. With 4 doors.” We just bought my car last month, and I was so rattled I could remember neither the make nor the model.

So I called my husband, who had just read my Facebook saga. “What’s my car?”

“You’re joking.”

“No. All I can remember is it’s blue with 4 doors.”

“You can teach any kind of computer class and don’t know your own car?”

“Nope. Not when I just taught a class for 40 minutes after it happened.”

“It’s a Mazda 626.” So I told the Henderson City Police, they told me who had towed it and gave me an address. They said there would be no fine.

A librarian offered to drive me to it, though the address didn’t match Google’s. We drove to the address given, and it was a crop production business. When I called the police, they insisted they gave me the right address and we were lost.

Then Nibby Priest, a dear friend who lives in Henderson, called me. He gave us the correct address, called the towing company, and they said they would have it waiting for me. As we struggled to find the towing company, he talked us by way of speaker phone through the neighborhood for the right house with the tow truck with my car on it.

Another librarian called me various times as we searched for my car, and she met us at the tow truck to make sure I was able to get my car and journey home. I was never so happy to drive to my home sweet home.

Lessons from tonight?

  • Even when bad things happen, good friends can help you survive them.
  • Henderson, KY and Evansville, IN are full of nice people willing to help others.
  • I don’t need to watch reality TV because I live it.
  • My life is a string of adventures that mix Charles Dickens with Bridget Jones with Lucille Ball.
  • If I teach the night before Henderson’s Handy Blues Fest, I’ll pick my parking spot more carefully.

Thanks to the Henderson County Public Library, Nibby, and all my friends who pitched in to help me find my car so I can click my heels and say, 

“There’s no place like home. And no car like my…..blue one with 4 doors.”

Physics and the Art of Parenting

Bad Parentsphoto © 2009 Ward Kadel | more info (via: Wylio)
After learning the military engaged in kinetic military action, I realized that I, too, have engaged in many types of action as a parent, and I should update my parenting vocabulary. Parenting and physics have a lot in common. At times, they can be unpleasant or uncomfortable, but they are key to the source and balance of the universe.

Glossary of Terms and Formulas to Memorize

Action = ability to parent

Potential Parental Action – Parenting that is stored, ready to take effect. This is when you see your kids playing Ninja karate fighters in the store aisle, you’re paying for your groceries, and you know if you don’t do something soon, they are going to knock over the whole candy display or Bubba Jr. is going to whack his sister Sweetie Pie till she falls and screams.

A potential parental action is calculated by PPA = mgh. Your action is the product of multiplying the height of Bubba Jr. with the acceleration due to gravity of his Ninja kick and the speed by which you can get to him.

Kinetic Parental Action – Parenting in motion. This is when you pay for the groceries with one hand while you use your parenting voice with Bubba and Sweetie Pie while you grab whichever one is within your grasp to get them to stop.

A kinetic parental action is calculated by 1/2 mv squared. Or it is the product of the mass of said children, the velocity or speed by which you can get to them times 1/2 since you will probably only be able to grab one of them at a time.

Total Parental Action, or TA = KA + PA – The total action of parenting, combining the potential of you know what you gotta do and getting it done. Your children may be engaged in random motion, but your actions are the sum of everything you do to encourage their random actions into some semblance of order.

Mechanical Parental Action – this is the movement or potential movement of objects used in parenting, which might include carseats, leashes, or other restraining devices. Unless of course Bubba Jr. is a Houdini who can hack any computer, pick any carseat lock, and broke the leash an hour after you put him in it.

Chemical Parental Action – some who parent rely upon chemical bonds to coordinate actions. Some medicate the kids. Others self medicate to survive parenting.

Electrical Parental Action – parenting associated with the motion of charged children. This is the type of parenting required after your child has consumed a Red Bull without your permission.

Heat – parenting action that is transferred from one parent to the other as a result in a difference of parenting expectations or standards.

This is the end of my first parental physics study unit. When I have energy, maybe I’ll write the next unit, “Momentum,” otherwise known as the parenting of teen years.

(This blog was inspired by my teens’ studying physics this year, which holds the same interest for me now as it did when I studied it.)

Ode to My Sharpie

Wherefore art thou, Sharpie? How do I love my Sharpies? Let me count the ways.

  1. Public Speaking. Writing cue words on a note card or paper makes it easier for me to glance and speak without reading.
  2. Grocery Lists. It’s easy to write with a Sharpie on my magnetic refrigerator list. Pencil is too faint to read. Ballpoint pens fade by the time I get to the end of the word. Sharpie works best.
  3. Organizing. When I’m doing something like planning my life or my business, I write notes with Sharpies. Sharpies keep me focused on the big picture, the forest, instead of being bogged down in the trees. I also think more creatively – I can write all over the page instead of logically like I’m more likely to do with an ink pen.
  4. Food preservation. When I can foods, I write the product and the date on the lid on top.
  5. Connect the Dots. Or Dogs. Once when a friend was napping, her son used their black Sharpie to connect the dots on their dalmation.
  6. Community Organizing. My son saw me make so many lists with Sharpies that when he was 5, he wrote a list of his friends he wanted to invite to his He Man Womanhaters Club… on the back seat of my car.
  7. Substitute Socks. Once, my daughter went to a choral camp and forgot to pack her mandatory black socks for the performance. The director informed the choristers anyone not wearing black socks would have black duck tape as a substitute. So she bought a value pack of black Sharpies and colored her ankles black. Then she decided to design her legs. She got no duck tape. She wore shorts showing off her artwork on her bus ride home from the final performance. When I called her on the trip home to tell her we were getting our family portrait taken as soon as she got off the bus, she burst into peals of laughter and hung up on me before telling me what she had done. When I finally saw her “art,” I was so relieved nothing was pierced, and her hair wasn’t flourescent, that I was relieved it was only permanent marker.

Hint: permanent marker can come off skin and carseats with soap and hot water. (I don’t know about the dog.)

Sharpies help me think outside the box and try new things. That can be a good thing. In an adult.

Mid Life Gone Social

Date nights are rare for parents, even when the kids are teens.  While we ate dinner at Gracies, I promised not to use my phone to text, Facebook, or Twitter while we ate. And I was so good I didn’t even sneak into the bathroom just to check messages!

I loved my fortune when it came, snapped a photo and used Hootsuite to post it on Twitter. And then had to reply to the comment a friend made.

After dinner, we went grocery shopping so I could buy enough food to fix spaghetti the next night for 20 hungry adults and teens. When I tried to decide how much meat and pasta to buy, I grabbed the phone, called my favorite cooking partner, and told her, “Phone a friend time. You’re my friend.  How much do I buy?” Saved once again, by my phone!

Richard said not a word of complaint as I replied to a few messages through the evening

Then I told him I was going to go urban and wear white flannel snowflake shorts on top of my red and black plaid flannel pajamas.

“I’ll snap a photo of you wearing them and tweet it,” he offered.

I said not a word.

“Think Ashton Kucher with Demi on Twitter, with the bikini shot. This would be your flannel shot.”

I nodded.

“Then I could post it on Facebook and tag you.”

I nodded again.

“Then I’ll alter the photo and use it in a blog for Copper Lion,” he continued. (our digital retouching business)

I nodded again.

“And when you’re finished, my turn. I’ll do my first video,” I finally replied.

“Good!” he answered.

“Topic? How I Bobbitized my husband,” I concluded in the most loving tone possible.


“I think we need to rethink our strategy,” Richard concluded.

Conclusion? I did not wear white snowflake short pajama bottoms on top of my flannel plaid pj’s. No photos were taken.

Our wedding vows included sickness and health, richer and poorer, but didn’t mention Facebook and Twitter.  Nevertheless, we’ve hung in there, through AOL, Myspace, today’s online flavor of the year, and will adapt to whatever comes next down the web.

NOTE: This blog began at 7:47 a.m. I asked on Twitter and Facebook which of a series of topics to blog today. Humor – or my attempt at it – won. This is my response.

Should I do more impromptu blogs, with YOU choosing the topics? You Tweet or Facebook me a topic, and I reply? If you think so, comment or contact me. This could be fun.

8:16 a.m. Finished 29 minutes after I began.

Rotisserie Wrestling

My Christmas was complete! I got a new rotisserie. I assigned putting the rotisserie together to my son, age 12.

The directions were in Spanish. We went through the kids’ Spanish dictionary to match the parts chart on page 3 to the parts names on page 4.

I’ve never trussed a chicken. We only had blue string. I imagined the chicken turning blue a la Bridget Jones and drove to the Dollar Store. They offered to sell me clothesline, so I bought it at the grocery store instead. 

Youtube showed me how to truss the chicken. The directions said to preheat the oven first. My son earned a 2nd degree burn when he got the bird into the oven. As the bird turned, a string dragged. The chicken legs shimmied as the spit turned.

My daughter tended to her brother’s war wounds while I saved the chicken.

I turned off the oven and quickly tied more string as the bird went around the spit. I tied it tighter together so it wouldn’t shimmy while spinning.  Then the spit rotated in the other direction. It spun backwards until all the string was undone.

I would not be conquered by a dead bird and a kitchen appliance! Off to Youtube I raced! I watched 3 more videos. We retied the bird so tight the spit wouldn’t move.

I didn’t want to get burned, so we took the top off the oven. My daughter helped me fix the spit. We won! The bird began spinning! The thighs shimmied and the belly flopped, but the bird was secure.

Five minutes later, my daughter called, “Mom! There’s a problem!”

One side of the spit fell onto the bottom of the oven. The bird rotated and shimmied. When we took off the top to fix it again, I earned my 2nd degree burn. My daughter tended to my war wounds.

This time, it worked. The bird still shimmied, but it cooked.

That evening, we enjoyed our own rotisserie chicken. Never mind that the oven got so hot it melted the chocolate chips in the cabinet above it.

My son and I nursed our burns, took some pain meds, and our family ate the conquered bird.

Never underestimate the power of a whole family against a single household appliance.

Yesterday, the rotisserie. Today, the smoker.

I wonder if my family will ever buy me a turkey fryer……

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