The Obligatory “How Are You?”

I work in an office. And I love it. I get to sit at a desk all day, but I also get to walk back and forth around the office. I’ve learned a lot in my almost year of full-time work. But my favorite life lesson by far is the culture of the obligatory office greeting.

Each morning, you get to walk into the office. And the first time you see each person, you have the following conversation:

Person 1: “Hi, how are you?”

Person 2: “Good. How are you?”

Person 1: “Good.”

Person 2: “That’s good.”*
*This last comment is optional. I approximate that it occurs in 30% of obligatory office greetings.

I have this conversation with 15-20 people per day…it feels like…it’s probably more like 5 people. And I don’t mind it—because it’s habit at this point. It’s just an observation.

I’ve always wanted to set aside one day to actually answer the “How are you?” question truthfully. It would surprise people if I came back with, “Kind of bloated, thanks.” Or, “I developed this weird rash.”

Although I’ve always want to do it, I never will. I will continue to respond with the required, “Good. How are you.” And I’ll enjoy it.


Adventures in Writing—The Series Comma

I write for a living. (Which is pretty awesome if you ask me.) So there are daily arguments—mostly civil—about grammar. Which tense should this be in? Did you just end that sentence in a preposition? Who, whom, which or that? These  conversations stir up nostalgia for dinners at home—arguments about whether it’s James’ or James’s (still unresolved) over a homemade meal of Pizza Hut.

Most questions can be answered with a quick look into our most favoritist book—the AP Stylebook. Sometimes I agree with it, sometimes I don’t (it took them until 2011 to change “Web site” to “website”). Even so, I abide by its many rules.

One of the first AP Style rules you learn, which is now being adopted by other styles, is not to use a series comma (aka serial comma, aka Oxford comma). I honestly don’t have an opinion either way—I use it because AP says so. My natural writing style has become to not use the series comma except in complex sentences. For example:

I want ice cream.

Oops. I got off track there. Let’s try that again.

Simple: I had French toast, an English muffin and a British accent for breakfast.

Complex: I had orange juice, hash browns, and a bacon and egg bagel for dessert.

The series comma is a point of heated discussion in the writing world. There are those devoted to the non-use of it, and there are those devoted to the use of it. The former tend to be communications folks; the latter academia.

While I’m a non-user, I still find the following images humorous (click them to view full-size). They make you stop and go, “Hmm…did JFK and Stalin really hang out with each other?”

Megan's Meanderings Series Comma

See what they did there?

Series Comma Eggs

And there?

I had to read each of these a few times before I understood. And while I don’t exactly agree that these are correctly depicted, I do find them laughable.

There will forever be stylistic disagreements in grammar. Until they’re all resolved, I’ll keep my AP Stylebook close.

My Super Sleep Study

I had to do a sleep study yesterday, and, well, it wasn’t what I was expecting.

I thought it was going to be awesome–sleeping all day? Sounds like my kind of study. False.

Apparently in the sleep study I had to do, it’s about how long it takes you to fall asleep. So instead of taking nice, long, relaxing naps, I got to fall asleep then they’d wake me up. Five times over a 7-hour period. Five times! That should be cruel and unusual punishment.

In addition to the whole “getting woke up when all I want to do is sleep” thing, the day was lonely. It was seven hours in a room…by myself. I had a nurse who came in and told me when it was time to nap (and, of course, wake up), but that was it. No other human contact. I did have phone and email, but it just wasn’t enough.

To measures all my brain activity (which I’m sure was off the charts), I had to wear electrodes. I had like 12 of them around my head–by my eyes, on my chin, behind my ears and all up in my hair. They made it hard to move, hard to get comfy and really hard to eat the delicious hospital lunch.


All the awesome electrodes attached to me. You can't even see the ones on my head.


Many, many cords that were attached to me all day.

So for those of you wanting to participate in a sleep study, make sure you’re doing one of the long, overnight studies…not one of the “we’re going to wake you up every time you fall asleep” studies. Trust me.

I’m pretty sure I was more tired after the study than I was before it. Oh, and I still have goop in my hair from the electrodes. Sweet.

Things You Learn in a Racquetball Court

racquetballI’ve started working out again. I know, I’m pretty much one month on, one month off. It happens.

This time when I went, the basketball court was taken up by stupid little kids, so I played racquetball by myself instead. I had some major realizations while I was in that enclosed space:

  • Racquetball courts are what I imagine solitary confinement to be…except bigger and less sweaty.
  • If you play the short way (against the side walls), it’s really hard.
  • Who decided to spell racquetball with a “c”? Why can’t it be “racketball” or even “raquetball”?
  • When you play alone, you can hit the ball as hard as you want without worrying about hitting your friend and giving her a bruise (sorry, Tracy).
  • You shouldn’t try to do wall jumps, even if you’re by yourself.
  • I feel rebellious when the door recommends that I wear protective eye gear but I don’t.
  • You should play on the courts without windows if you want to keep your dignity.
  • My backhand needs some work.
My racquetball session was a great time for reflection. Next time, I’ll take paper and a pen so you can enjoy all the unnecessarily unnecessary thoughts like these.

Cedar Valley Chase

I haven’t blogged in a while, but I’m ignoring that fact and jumping right back in.

This weekend was the Cedar Valley Chase, pretty much the best event ever. This is the second year I’ve been on the planning committee, and there’s no other event I’d rather help plan.

The event raises money for the Cedar Valley United Way. It’s a strange event that we liken to the Amazing Race–teams of two race around Waterloo/Cedar Falls completing mental, physical and silly challenges. First team to the designated finishing point wins bragging rights and $250…but mostly bragging rights.

This year’s event went great. No major accidents, no major flubs and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.

Cedar Valley ChaseEach committee member takes responsibility for a couple of the challenges. Mine were:

  • Gromphadorhina Portentosa – Participants had to hold a hissing cockroach for 30 seconds. I was excited about this one because I knew it would creep people out. I did test the challenge by holding the creepy crawler, and no one can say I didn’t.
  • In Hot Pursuit – Participants had to run around a building and find the six open rooms. Once they found the rooms, they had to answer trivial pursuit questions. If they didn’t get one of the first five questions, they got downgraded to child-level questions.
  • Starship Troopers – With the help of one of my fellow committee members, we planned a physical challenge with the National Guard. Participants had to do a minute of push-ups, a minute of sit-ups, do a 100-yard “dash” (they could walk), and then shoot a paintball gun at six targets. I tested this one too, and I was sore for about 3 days after I did so.
We had some other fun challenges too:
  • .08 – Participants donned beer goggles and had to throw a football through a hoola hoop. The goggles make everything lean to the left, so it’s tougher than it sounds. Despite being called .08, we gave participants the .25+ BAC goggles.
  • Disgruntled Fowls – Real-life Angry Birds. One of our committee members is a super duper artist, and she created a homemade Angry Birds set up. It was pretty much awesome.
  • Arrr*hic*rgh – Pirate beer pong. Participants had to wear an eye patch, hold a sword and play beer pong. The eye patch throws your depth perception off, which makes it hard to make the cups and chase down the ping pong balls.

We had a total of 46 teams, and we got some sweet news coverage. We got an article in the Courier, coverage on the KWWL news and a video from the Courier.

If you want to see the pictures from the event, they’re on Facebook.

If you want to keep up on when the chase is happening next year, like the Chase on Facebook.

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Yea, I used the over-used reference to the Wizard of Oz. I don’t care. I couldn’t think of anything better. I write all day; I can’t be expected to write good when I’m off work!

Enough about my copywriting angsts.

This weekend, Jessie and I went to the Omaha Zoo. We got up at the crack of dawn on Saturday and made the 4.5-ish-hour drive down there. We were afraid of access due to flooding, but we made it there just fine.

I’m not sure if you remember, but Saturday was hot. Really hot. Walking around outside was exhausting (and sweaty), but it was awesome to see the zoo and all its creatures.

My favorite part of the zoo was the gorilla gallery (or whatever they called it. I like gorilla gallery). They had 10+ gorillas, including several huge ones and one little baby. They pretty much lazied around all day…except the baby, who played for a while then slept.

Megan's Meanderings Omaha Zoo Gorilla

One of the lazy (giant) gorillas. Just hangin' out in the tree.

Megan's Meanderings Omaha Zoo Gorilla

One of the really big gorillas showing is size.

Megan's Meanderings Omaha Zoo Gorilla

The baby gorilla playing with the zookeeper.

Megan's Meanderings Omaha Zoo Gorilla

The baby gorilla after playing. Too cute!

Alright. Enough of the gorillas. (I have plenty more pictures of them, trust me. You can see them here.)

The other memorable moment of the day was the jungle exhibit. Remember how I have a bad past experience with a bat? Well, there were dozens of bats flying loose in this exhibit. Gross! Jess got a little bat pee on him, but I walked away clean. Thank goodness.

Megan's Meanderings Omaha Zoo Bat

One of the icky bats. See how big these frickin' things are!? They were flying all around me. Pretty sure one touched me.

Here’s a video of these suckers flying around us. It’s tiny because I shot it on my camera. You should be able to see it okay if you make it full screen mode.

Those (along with going to Carrabba’s and eating our weight in Italian food) were the most memorable parts of our journey.  Those, and the fact that I only got sun on my shoulders so I have a really weird tan. If you haven’t been to the Omaha Zoo, I highly recommend it. But if you don’t like bats, avoid the jungle exhibit.

A bat shit on my head…and other Sturgis Falls adventures

This weekend was Sturgis Falls in Cedar Falls. Jess and I got out and enjoyed it as much as possible. We had some fun times…and some weird times.

Friday night we went to Tourist Park to see a classic rock cover band. They call themselves the Monsters of Mock. They covered Bon Jovi, Motley Crue and Poison. The lead singer like to mess with us, as at one point he said, “This is my favorite Poison song,” and started singing Don’t Stop Believing. He was kidding, but that’s not funny. That’s rude.

Friday night was pretty uneventful. Saturday was a different story.

Saturday morning Jess and I volunteered for the Cedar Bend Humane Society, walking dogs in the parade. Jessie specifically requested a small dog for me, but apparently they didn’t get that memo. When we got there, they handed me a 50-pound dog, Shadow, that had been in a kennel all day. Let’s just say it took me for a walk/run.

Megan's Meanderings Shadow

This is Shadow. He's got a lot of energy, but he's very sweet.

After that dog didn’t work out, Jess traded dogs with me. Yet another 50 pounder, Lexi. She was calm when it was with Jessie, but with me, she got really hyper, and I wasn’t strong enough to hold her down. Awesome.

Megan's Meanderings Lexi

This is Lexi. She's too strong for me, but once she was with someone who could control her, she was super sweet. And really good with kids.

Onto dog three. A 60-pound, 100 percent muscle boxer/bull-mastiff–Yates. Again, I couldn’t handle him. We were fine if we were just standing there, but the second we started walking, he’d drag me along. Apparently parades are full of walking, so that dog didn’t work out.

Megan's Meanderings Yates

This is Yates. He's big. And strong. But you should still adopt him. He's super sweet, just a little big/strong for me.

Eventually, they got smart and realized I wouldn’t be able to handle any of the big guys. I mean come on, look at me. I’m tiny. So they gave me a small dog (wish they would have done that in the first place!). His name was Skip. He was adorable and really good with the people in the crowd. According to Jessie, he also had worms. Yay. If you’re looking for a dog, go adopt him–the worms will clear up.

Megan's Meanderings Skip

This is Skip. Adopt him. You can't resist those eyes.

The parade was fun, but trying to wrangle those 50-pound dogs was exhausting. We took a 4-hour nap after the parade. And I’m still sore. NBD.

After our nap, it was time to go out again. We headed to Tourist Park to see Arch Allies, a Journey/Stix/REO Speedwagon tribute band. We had already seen them four times, but another time wouldn’t kill us. We’re fans. As always, they were awesome. But the highlight of the night wasn’t the band.

Right when we got to the park, I felt a big rain drop on my head. I didn’t think much of it and just hoped it wouldn’t start pouring. Jess and I got out wristband, beer tickets and drinks and sat back down to enjoy the show. As the show’s starting, Jess goes, “Megan, you have something in your hair.” Awe, dammit, I though.  It wasn’t a rain drop. I was right. It was bat shit. A bat legitimately shit in my hair. But it was okay because, as Jess said, “It was probably just a bunch of digested bugs.” That made me feel better (ok no).

Like the loving boyfriend he is, Jess cleaned the digested bug bat shit out of my hair. We stayed the whole time to see the band, and my bat shit hair continued to be the joke of the night. I’m okay with that, it made for a good blog post.

Sturgis Falls is always an adventure…just usually not as much as this year. We’ll keep going back, in hopes to eventually get revenge on the a-hole bat that pooped in my hair.