Friday, May 28, 2010


March 28, 2010

Some of you revealed (in public comments or private emails) whether you asked or guessed (see last Sunday's entry). Others of you wanted to know where I stood on Ask/Guess. I believed, when I wrote the entry, I was an "guesser" evidenced by my lack of salesmanship. I think people who are natural-born sales people, have that "no harm in asking" approach to life. I look at myself when I'm at a lanyard workshop and have to laugh at how protective I am of everyone's right to beg off buying a lanyard. I hardly even like to suggest the option.

On the other hand, I don't have much of a problem asking my friends to donate shoes or garage sale items for good causes. In fact, my current ask is for youth soccer uniforms. I have a friend who is helping someone who is forming children's soccer leagues in Egypt and will take all sizes and colors of soccer uniforms. Let me know if you are ready to get rid of all those old polyester jerseys and the drawer full of black shorts and thick knee socks you have accumulated.

Someone suggested I may have truncated the options by limiting the choice to ask or guess. Instead, I should have included "tell" to account for those people who neither "ask" for a favor, nor attempt to "guess" whether the target person is amenable to the "ask." Instead, they just read the situation and start telling people what to do. I think the person who suggested this thought I fit into that category. Surely, they jest.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ask or Guess

May 23, 2010

Wow! We had a great workshop on Friday. Thanks to everyone who came. If you couldn't fit it in, we'll see you next time!

I often tell my students that there are two kind of people in the world: those who put people into two categories and those who don't.

Lately, I have wondered about a different demarcation: people who ask for favors and are willing to hear either "yes" or "no," and those who will only ask if they are relatively sure the answer is "yes."

People in the first category could ask almost anything: Will you give me $100? Can I stay at your house for six weeks while my landlord repaints my apartment? Will you dog-sit my six poodles? They ask without remorse and are perfectly willing to hear "no" without hard feelings.

People in the second category don't want to put someone in the position of saying "no" so they go to great lengths to figure out what they think the answer will be before ever asking. If they think the answer is no, they won't ask.

That these two categories of people exist (I think they do, but you may or may not agree) is not a problem per se, especially when "askers" are dealing with "askers" and "guessers" are dealing with "guessers." Trouble can arise, however, when the two groups interact.

I think a "guesser" finds herself in agony if an "asker" asks too big a favor. The "guesser" probably thinks the "asker" is expecting a "yes" and will be sorely disappointed with "no" (thinking to herself, they wouldn't have asked if they didn't believe the answer would be "yes"). She might also think the "asker" is rude for asking, while all the "asker" wants is to hear "no" and move on. An "asker" might not read the signals of a "guesser" trying to discern the answer in advance without having to ask.

Why do I know about this? As a child, Davis was an asker. Erin was a guesser.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


May 18, 2010

Sucking in the joys of an early start to summer vacation!

Friday (May 21) we will kick off the first summer lanyard workshop (of course, not everyone has started their summer, but colleges are done, and many of the Bryan public school students finish tomorrow. The rest of you can just come after school and/or after work and pretend you have the luxury of starting your summer.). Please take a moment (less than a minute) to click on the survey to your left and give me some feedback about when I should hold workshops this summer.

We will also be sending Sarah Radencic, super science teacher, lanyard supporter extraordinaire, and fantastic friend to Erin, off on her new career at Mississippi State University on Friday afternoon. Even if you don't want to bead a lanyard, consider stopping by to wish her well and to toast her future successes.

Last Saturday Walter, my mom, and I went to Davis's graduation ceremony. It was resplendent with pageantry--colorful regalia, beaming young faces, funny hats (I can't find a photo of the Master of Sid Richardson who announced the graduates from that college wearing a mortar board that looked like he was wearing a small crocodile head with dangling pom poms, but use your imagination). Luckily, not all of the 1500 eligible graduates chose to walk the stage, but enough of them did that we got to spend more than a few hours (four plus) sitting on our comfy benches three rows from the top of the gymnasium.

Afterward, Walter and I attended a lovely reception before driving all of Davis's stuff home from college. Davis stayed behind. No, not because he couldn't bear to leave, but because he and eleven of his best friend had planned an epic, post-graduate road trip (Houston-Carlsbad Cavern-Painted Desert-Grand Canyon-Hoover Dam-Las Vegas-Yosemite-Los Angeles-Disneyland-home).

I had devised a cunning plan to check out these friends to make sure I could trust them with my baby boy. During the reception, as Davis introduced each of them, I checked out their footwear.

Here's the theory: during the ceremony, I noticed a wide variety of shoes (and in some cases, no shoes) on the graduates. Some wore flip flops. Others had high tops and (apparently) shorts. Others treated the ceremony with a little more gravitas and wore dress shoes or close-toed, sensible shoes. I figured what shoes they chose reflected something deep in their make up (perhaps their upbringing, maybe something even more innate and deep-seeded). I was hoping for cautious, risk-averse shoes since the feet inside was going to be driving Davis on a multi-thousand mile journey.

I was not disappointed. I met friend after friend with mom-approved footwear.

After I had satisfactorily observed the shoes of two of the three drivers, I asked to meet the third. The group standing around me looked at each other, trying to remember who the third driver was. Finally, someone said, "Oh, it's BenBah" and looked tentatively around the room. Someone else allowed as how BenBah might or might not be around. I asked Davis if I had ever met him.

Davis said maybe not, but I would remember him from the graduation ceremony. Since I had just watch a thousand people dressed like wizards from a distance close to the furthest point away from the stage, I kind of doubted that. Someone piped up that of course I would remember BenBah: "He was the guy that pulled the perfect John Travolta disco pirouette, grabbed his diploma, pumped both arms, then towered over the startled University President for the briefest moment before enveloping him in a bear hug." Davis added: "He's the most impulsive guy I have ever met!" Someone else added that "when you ride with BenBah you always arrive first" (mentally, I added, "if you arrive at all.)"

I have to say that even closed-toed, leather shoes with a reasonable heel would not have comforted me at that moment.

We have asked Davis to text us every day when they arrive at their destination for the night. The first text came in last night at 10:42 p.m., fourteen hours after they left Houston. Only seventeen more texts to go before he is home and safe.

I posted this on the Repore (and Facebook), but not all of you click over there, so here is the graduate, whom I love:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


May 12, 2010

I had the absolute pleasure of hearing Nico and Adam play at their piano recital last night. . . everything from baroque, through classical, the romantic period, and even contemporary. I adored hearing and watching these very talented young men, but not half as much as when they came in first and second in the intra-studio practice competition. They have been logging practice units since January, and all that time with the ivories paid off. Don't they look happy? (NOTE BENE: Adam doesn't smile bigger than this.)

I, too, am smiling. Today I gave myself whiplash by driving over to The Woodlands this morning to help Lara and Charon with a workshop at the John Cooper School then rushing back to College Station by 1:00 to give my last final exam of the semester.

I can't say enough about the young men and women who helped us bead this morning. The seniors at the John Cooper School are dismissed from class during May. Instead of going to class, they do a series of public service projects under the heading of May, I Help You. Isn't that a totally cool idea? Today was lanyard day
, and the thirty or more high school students who voluntarily rolled out of bed to come and bead by 9:00 did fantastic work AND the school staff were enthusiastic with their donations for all the beautiful lanyards they made!

My honors students who had their final with me this afternoon also made me smile. They worked extremely hard all semester and kept up a cheery mood as well. One of them brought a cake to the final so we could all celebrate their last college final while they filled their blue books.

Friday, May 7, 2010


May 7, 2010

I have not written about the lanyard project here very much because I don't want tire you on the topic, especially when I have a whole website and Facebook Group devoted to it. However, the news on lanyards has been quite exciting lately with many different things happening.

This post is to remind you that the end of the school year is quickly upon us and if you haven't thought about teacher gifts for that special person who tolerated nurtured your precious baby through the year, I have just one word: lanyard.

This design (#1 and #2) is especially for pre-school and early elementary teachers, and Erin's dear friend Nico specializes in these. These two are made up and ready to go, or we can do special orders with the small beads between the alphabet beads in your school colors.

I don't ordinarily taken pictures of the lanyard inventory because: 1. I'm not a very good photographer and the photos don't do them justice; 2. They usually turnover so fast that the ones people want disappear before they place their order; and 3. I also don't ordinarily have the time to keep up with the process of labeling and uploading. I have a helper this week, so I have begun the process of doing a little show and tell, in case you are interested. I have about 40 more that I need to shoot.

Most people make about a $20 donation per lanyard (minimum--$15) which I think is a very good premium for a donation and a lot better than a coffee mug.

100% of every donation you make goes to CNCF. Walter and I underwrite every dime for all supplies, travel, and shipping and we have plenty of generous bead donors and people that give liberally of their time and talent. There is no administration costs that have to be offset by what we receive.
The last time I heard from the CNCF, we were approaching the level of giving where we could fund a Young Researchers Award.

These photos don't give justice to the sparkle: the way the light glints off the beads, the way the beaders' eyes sparkle, or the way our children would sparkle if we funded a cure for neuroblastoma.

To order one (or more), send me an email ( specifying which one you want. If you would like to order and pay securely on line, go to Erin's Dream Lanyards and use the handy order form on the right column headed Order Lanyards.

Thank You!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


May 6, 2010

Where did the week go?

Last Thursday I was celebrating the end of teaching for the semester and planning what I would do with my copious free time between the end of classes and my finals, which are scheduled for the 12th. I looked up yesterday and realized that May Day had come and gone without me getting to my desk to pay bills. I did get that done yesterday, avoiding having to live through record-breaking temps with my A/C turned off for failure to pay my electric bill.

I do have a shiny car, thanks to the Shammy Car Wash.

I did finish The Arabian Nights. I had doubts myself over the last couple of months, and if I had registered an account at Intrade we could have watched the price shoot up from subprime to 100 last Friday and Saturday.

I do have sore arms from my hepatitis A and B and tetanus shots for South Africa.

Seems like pitifully little in a week. Either the week has zipped by full of minutia or I've accomplished zip.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


May 2, 2010

Walter and I know of at least three teams walking in Erin's memory this Friday (May 7) at Veteran's Park for the Brazos Valley Relay for Life.

I think I will have to do some costume changes over the course of the evening, since at least two of the teams designed very cool t-shirts.

You have already seen the one from Mary Branch (available by raffle.  Send questions to Ginger Freeze at

The one that Erin's Youth Group is wearing is available for the cost of the shirt (Email Shelley Nemec at  Here's the front:

And here's the back:

The "Must Have" of the night might be a tattoo.  Erin's soccer team is walking from 7-9 (they have a game on Saturday and can't stay up all night), and they will have EB Butterfly temp tattoos available for 50 cents apiece or 3 for a dollar or email Lisa Villalobos at to reserve your tats.  (I think they measure about two inches square):

It's time to get your gear.