Wizard of Ahs


2successOnce upon a time, there was Toastmasters. If you wanted to give speeches (for work; I could explain, but let’s just say it was the olden days) you could join a club in your area – sometimes even at your workplace – and practice your presentations. THEN, someone else would give a speech about your speech, and other people around the room had tasks like “Who used the Word of the Day,” and “Ah Counter.”

The Ah Counter, or as some clubs called them, the Wizard of Ahs, kept track of everyone who stood up to speak that meeting and humiliated them by sharing how many times they used fillers like “um,” “ah,” “you know,” “okay,” prolonged “ands” and “sos,” aaaand, let me see, what else…?

Some people thought it was mean to have an Ah Counter because it was public shaming and negative reinforcement, but it certainly made people more aware. Tough love, we used to call it.

My Toastmaster days are over, and my YouTube days are in full swing. When I need to know how to pry the bumper off my phone, tie a gi belt, or suture my own wounds, I turn to the most trusted source on the internet.


The people in these videos are 84% helpful, but the AAAAHHHHHS! As I write this, my daughter is watching an origami tutorial. I keep hearing the word, “Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.” And it’s only 4 minutes long!

Thank you very much, technology: everyone with an idea and a phone can make a video and upload it – and they do!

It’s enough to make a Toastmaster deviate from parliamentary procedure.


Unprofessional! I’m out of here on my unnaturally long legs!

Lately, someone told me I need to stop writing a blog with all these wordy-words and switch to video. Well, I don’t want to! I like to read, and my readers like to read. I don’t usually have anything to “show,” and as a consumer of media, I’d rather read an opinion than watch someone bloviate for 12 minutes.

(If you see me in a video, brush up on your Morse code, because I will be trapped in a bunker.)

The next time you encounter a YouTuber or (even worse) a Facebook Live sort in real life, please, grind their phone under your heel for me. Or at least tell them practice and editing are their friends.

If you’re as old and croctchety as I am, find me on Facebook, twitter, or leave a note here!

Mixed Emotions



I’m socially awkward. It’s part of the reason I spend my free time writing essays to myself instead of going out with real people and building friendships.

I see my social media friends’ posts from bars, sporting events, exotic locales, and think, “like.” Good for them, being alive, and all that jazz.

That’s my threshold:  It’s your birthday? Great. Kid going to state in basketball? Nice. Sick pet? Sad face. (See? I can even mix it up.)

I also have some friends I suspect are even more socially awkward than I am. This is because, while I would like to like their posts, which may be 80% one emotion, they throw in an opposite emotion, which becomes an enormous psychic sticking point for me.


Take this totally fake example:

I want to thank all of my virtual friends who supported me through the publication of my first book. You are the greatest, and without your love and kinship, I would not have had the courage to approach the agent who got me a deal with Random House AND a motion picture option. I can finally realize my dream of opening a charitable foundation for animals disfigured by land mines. 

Unfortunately, I celebrate alone, as my husband of twenty three years has just left me for a man who calls himself Sugar Weasel.

Tonight, I raise a glass to all of you as I shop for a private island where I will write the next six books in what Random House sees as a series. Blessings!


What just happened?

My initial idea is to “like” this post, but notice the moldy bit right in the middle. I don’t want to seem callous. So, I look through all of the new “reactions” available on Facebook. Since there’s no “fly in ointment” emoji, I consider the next logical possibility: the wide mouth and eyes “oh damn” face. But, before I can commit to it, I chicken out.

Ten minutes later, I check back to see what better-adjusted people had to say. Nothing. It seems like everyone has hit the same stumbling-block. Gee, I feel like we should be more supportive, but this is hurting my brain.

Maybe we can look forward to gifs in the future that allow us more than one facial expression. XD, :(, 🙂 and finally 😛 – “I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster, and now I fell sick.”

Oh damn.