James Franco is undeniably attractive

Like really hot.  But his hosting skills last night…lacking.

I don’t have much else to add.  Franco and Hathaway weren’t atrocious, but they were clearly not at ease.  Anne’s nervous speeches were reminiscent of her role of the awkward Mia on The Princess Diaries – the girl who threw up after giving a speech at the beginning of the movie.

But it’s not easy hosting a show.  And they weren’t responsible for the writing behind their speeches.  Also, the ceremony wasn’t terrible – it was just a tad lackluster and occasionally awkward.

Why am I writing about this?  What original input do I have? None.  But I woke up at 2 a.m. and watched until 5.30 am, and blogging about it makes the experience feel a bit less pointless.  I didn’t stay awake for the Best Picture award.

One observation: Watching the show in Sweden makes the crime of Melissa Leo’s F bomb quite comical, as the presenters here were cussing up a storm.  English swear words are generally the only thing I understand when I listen to Swedish.

Here’s a clip from an old, funny show.

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I really like silver toe rings

But I lose them and break them.  If I had a penny for every piece of jewelry I’ve lost – well, value-wise I’d suppose I’d rather have the jewelry back.  Pennies don’t add up to what they used to.

**

Supposedly a group of researchers asked a bunch of children what love is and came up with some cute answers.  I halfheartedly tried to find the original quotes/research, but couldn’t.  That’s not really the point though.  Enjoy!

What is love?

“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.”

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.”

“You have to fall in love before you get married. Then when you’re married, you just sit around and read books together.”

“When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.”

“Love is hugging. Love is kissing. Love is saying no.”

“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.”

“When you tell someone something bad about yourself and you’re scared they won’t love you anymore. But then you get surprised because not only do they still love you, they love you even more.”

“God could have said magic words to make the nails fall off the cross, but He didn’t. That’s love.”

Sometimes I’d rather cut my hair off than brush it

I suppose that makes me lazy.  But it gets crazy tangled and I can’t help imagine how much easier it would be to chop than to comb.  Luckily my 23 years has provided me with enough of a semblance of foresight to know that immediate happiness will not compare to long term angst over boy hair.  I’m not knocking short hair on ladies – I just personally can’t.

**

Last week I taught my Swedish kids how to make mini paper fortune tellers.  This meant I also had to teach them how to write fortunes.  Was I successful?  Judge a few sample ones for yourself:

“Your heart will explode.”

“You are glad.”

“You are good at English.”

“You will poop in the grass.”

“You will poop in your room.”

Now guess the gender and age of my participants.  Six and eight-year-old boys?  You are correct.

How to Make a Paper Fortune Teller

Materials: Paper. Pen. Markers/Crayons optional.

1) Start with a square piece of paper.

2) Fold it in half, and then open it back up.  There should be a crease dividing two equal rectangles.

3) Turn it 90 degrees to the right and fold it in half, then open it again. There should now be creases marking four squares on your paper.

4) Take the tip of the top right corner and bring it to meet the center of the paper.  Fold it down.  (It should make a right angle 90-45-45 degree triangle. ) Repeat with the three other corners. It should now be diamond shaped (or square shaped if you turn it).

5) Flip the paper over.  Take the corner tips and fold them into the middle, exactly like you did in step 4.

6) Flip the paper over again.  There should be four square-shaped flaps.  These are your finger flaps.  Take your index finger underneath one of the flaps and wiggle it around to pop it up.  Repeat with all the flaps.  If this is difficult, try folding in half and opening.  This should loosen it up.  If you haven’t been exact in your folding, some of the squares might overlap and tear.

7) Number and color as you like.  The fortunes go underneath the inside flaps.

Here’s a video I found online.

The last person to discover Strengths Finder

That’s right.  Me.  I’m the last person to discover Strengths Finder the book (and testing system).  I transferred universities and managed to miss all the freshman ‘discover yourself’ courses. But I’m making up for lost time.  When I was young, I never read the introductions to books.  I bought the ticket for the show, not the opening act.  Now I love introductions.  The intro to Tom Rath’s Strengths Finder is really interesting; he says that everyone is obsessed with developing their areas of weakness so that they can overcome odds and improve themselves, but what they should really be focusing on is their strengths.

Part of me is a big advocate of the well-rounded person – bravo liberal arts, make all the creative types take math and the science kids take drama.  Fill yourself out: if you have no empathy start listening to people (or watching Oprah?), if you are disorganized buy a calendar, etc.  But Rath isn’t suggesting we completely ignore problem areas; he is suggesting that we spend more time honing our strengths instead of weaknesses, because without natural talent, there is only so far we can get in an area.

The problem with sticking to strengths is, in different situations some areas of talent are more important than others.  And when it comes to the job front, employers across the board are looking for certain qualities.  You can’t go into most job interviews and tell them that what you lack in detail orientation and organization you make up for in creativity.  Even people working in artistic fields are expected to show up on time, meet deadlines, etc.  In cover letters, you describe yourself as hard-working, not able to make people like you.  Even in customer service fields.

I have never had a stalker

and I’m starting to feel a bit left out.  Is it my hair?  Am I not winking enough?  Maybe stalkers are like energy and there’s only a limited amount, and the celebrities and hottie-next-doors are taking up more than their fair share in the equilibrium.

One of my best friends in high school had a guy constantly calling/texting her and eventually sitting in a parked jeep with its lights off outside her house at night.  Another guy followed her to New Zealand.  She had no romantic history with either.

In college, my friend met a student online on one of those “incoming freshman” forums.  He was initially nice, but started insisting on meeting her.  He started sending her FB messages like “I saw you in the cafeteria today.  You were wearing a green dress.”  She got creeped out and told him to leave her alone, which he eventually did.  Unfortunately, he worked at our student bookstore and she refused to go in with me during most of our college years.

A different college friend met a 40+ limo driver who kept talking about giving her massages with oils.  He also lured her to his house with the promise of a gift.  I believe it was a push pen.

To be fair and balanced, I’ve heard my fair share of girls stalking men stories.  But for some reason, even if it’s the exact same situation, these girls are more pitiable than creepy.  One of those gender discrepancies that I condone.

**

Yesterday I was talking to a Swedish man about President’s Day.  He asked how we celebrate it, and I told him that we usually dress up as our favorite president.  And mangos.  Everybody eats mangos on President’s Day.

Really, what’s the point of a holiday that doesn’t involve some sort of costume/food tradition?

I also got the enviable task of explaining to said Swedish man the difference between nerds, dorks and geeks.

**

Yesterday my brother informed me that the Urban Dictionary entry he had made a month ago would be finalized any day.  It took me a moment to remember what he was talking about.  Ah yes, our January conversation.  I was complaining about his absurd “Scronking Bones” nickname for me. It went something like this:

“That’s so stupid.  It doesn’t even mean anything.”

“Yeah it does.  It means you’re really skinny.  And a bird.”

“Whatever.  It does not.  It’s not even on Urban Dictionary.  It definitely doesn’t exist.”

“Well maybe I’ll add it.”

“You better not.”

“I’m going to.”

“Fine whatever.  That’ll be kind of funny.  As long as you don’t tag my name.”

The conversation moved on and was, as I thought, forgotten.

Here you go, ladies and gentlemen.  The entry. That’s right, you’re reading the blog of a famous person.  Care to stalk me?

**

A couple of Iranian warships have entered the Suez Canal, and Israel isn’t happy.

“Israel considers Iran a threat because of its controversial nuclear programme, development of ballistic missiles, support for Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups, and promises to destroy Israel.

Fair enough.

**

For me, watching the Middle Eastern demonstrations is like watching craziness unfold in all the small towns you grew up in and their neighbors.  I spent my childhood/young adult years in countries including the UAE, Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt.  I went to elementary school with Ali Abdullah Saleh’s kids – I went to his son’s birthday party.  Nice place.

So it’s strange watching the news.  These cultures that I was in, but never of.

On a silly note, Gaddafi has been in the limelight lately.  I thought I’d add my two cents to that with this image that my brother sent me last year.  Click it to read his dialogue bubble.

“The house ad was in a special section we had done advertising nearby housing options around campus. It was a big push to make some ad revenue since we’ve been stretched kind of thin.

Thus it was unfortunate that the manager of “Raintree” apartments, buyer of a large, expensive ad in the section, called us rather distraughtly today. Turns out she is a Libyan refugee who found it a rather unpleasant shock to open up a copy of the paper and see her favorite person greeting her right next to her advertisement.”
**

Joshua Foer did an article for the New York Times about deciding to train for the USA Memory Competition.  It’s fabulous.

“What distinguishes a great mnemonist, I learned, is the ability to create lavish images on the fly, to paint in the mind a scene so unlike any other it cannot be forgotten. And to do it quickly. Many competitive mnemonists argue that their skills are less a feat of memory than of creativity. For example, one of the most popular techniques used to memorize playing cards involves associating every card with an image of a celebrity performing some sort of a ludicrous — and therefore memorable — action on a mundane object. When it comes time to remember the order of a series of cards, those memorized images are shuffled and recombined to form new and unforgettable scenes in the mind’s eye. Using this technique, Ed Cooke showed me how an entire deck can be quickly transformed into a comically surreal, and unforgettable, memory palace.”

“Before I could embark on any serious degree of memory training, I first needed a stockpile of palaces at my disposal. I revisited the homes of old friends and took walks through famous museums, and I built entirely new, fantastical structures in my imagination. And then I carved each building up into cubbyholes for my memories.”

**

I don’t think I hate small talk.  Oh sure, when it’s really shallow and dumb it can be annoying – but even then it’s more of a necessary evil.  It’s a precursor, a testing of the grounds for an actual conversation.

People Hate Small Talk Because:

1) it puts them on the spot for conversational topics, etc.

2) it’s often in a new situation with new people.  the newness makes them self-consious

3)  it’s fake.  it’s drivel.

4) they’re introverts and shouldn’t be let out of the house anyways

My Solutions:

1) read my blog and use it as inspiration for fascinating topics

2) judge the people around you.  self-consciousness is like energy: there is a fixed amount.  by judging others, you’re making them feel self conscious, in turn transferring your own self-consciousness to them

3) start reading People and watching E! in your free time.  eventually you will start to care about trivial and shallow things.

4) that was a joke.  really.  I, myself, have been described as a “freakish extroverted introvert,” which is kind of like being an introvert. except better.

“I love you.”

is not, as I guessed, the most common phrase in movies.

No, according to my younger brother and whatever source he uses, the most common movie phrase is something entirely different.

“We’ve got to get out of here!”

I had a hard time accepting this.  “Seriously?  Not ‘I love you’?”

“No.  And if you think about it, it tells us something really interesting about the human psyche.  Why do we watch movies?  We want –”

“I don’t believe you.  It’s inaccurate.  How could they have possibly searched through all movies ever made?”  I pictured a guy with a remote in one hand, a notebook in the other, marking down any notable phrases.

“Machines!  They had machines do it.”

Believable?  Maybe.

But back to “I love you.”  In honor of Valentine’s Day, I am providing you with a wonderful link to an old humor article on the topic of love.  I am also giving you the link to an NPR piece about an artist who drew pictures based on the “Missed Connections” section of Craigslist, and a link to an article dealing with six worded love stories.

And here’s a video:

Getting an E2 visa for Korea

If you are applying for an E2 visa to teach English in Korea, here are some tips:

1) Start the process immediately. It will take a few months.

2) FBI background check: Authorized and Apostilled. Go to the FBI site and follow their instructions. It costs 18 dollars, payable by credit card, money order, or cashiers check. Don’t forget to request an FBI seal and signature.

“The CJIS Division will authenticate U.S. Department of Justice Order 556-73 fingerprint search results for international requests by placing the FBI seal and the signature of a division official on the results if requested at the time of submission.” (FAQs).

If you don’t request the seal and signature, you will not be able to send it to the Washington DC Secretary of State office to get apostilled. (20 dollars, payable by check or money order.)

3) University diploma: Notarized and Apostilled. My university provided the notary service and offered to mail it to the Secretary of State office for me. Check with your university. Other places to get your original diploma copied and notarized include UPS, banks, and embassies/consulates. Fee will vary.

Q. But what does it mean to get something notarized and apostilled?

A. In this case, the Korean government wants proof that your documents aren’t fake. The notary signs a a document, stating that it is a real copy of the original. The Secretary of State apostille confirms that the notary’s signature/seal is correct.

The FBI background check and College diploma are only two of the documents you will need for your visa. You will also need your contract, a copy of your passport, letter of reference, sealed transcripts, etc. Talk to your recruiter. I posted information on the background check and diploma because the process is confusing, especially from overseas.

Tip: If you are applying for a teaching position in Korea, but are not living in your home country, you might want to enlist the help of friends/family for the notarization/apostillization of your documents.