Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 59- Helped a college student

Helped a College student

People seem to think because I write and I"m a teacher I know something about the English language. Of course anyone who has read this blog knows otherwise.

Still people ask me for help and I'm more than willing to help out. Especially if I like them.

This morning as I was dropping my daughter off at daycare, my daycare provider's son approached me. He's in college and he found out about a scholarship oppertunity the night before. The deadline was in three days. He asked me if I could read his paper and give him feedback.

"No problem."

When I got into work- before I pulled out my laptop I sat down and read his paper. It had a lot of strong points. I made a few suggestions and wrote them out. I work with his dad and I gave him the paper. I hate my handwriting and my spelling is awful (in case you couldn't tell by now) so I went over it with his dad.
His dad seemed very grateful for my help. I suggested he give it to another teacher to read since I"m not an expert.

Would I do it again: Sure.
Cost: Nothing
Effort: Lots of brain power early in the morning but besides that nothing overwhelming.
Time: 10 minutes

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 58- said something nice to everyone

Day 58 Said something nice to everyone.

Now when I say everyone, I really mean the 8th graders I teach and the 8th grade team.

8th grade is tough year. I used to say by March 8th graders turn into "almost people". This is the time in their lives when they are trying to figure out who they are. They are no longer clones of their parent's values or mirror images of their friends. They start to question values, rules and morals. They make mistakes. They learn from them. They are the victims of bulling and also the bullies. All of these things help them form the model of an adult they will one day be.

The simple fact is-- I never know what sort of impact any little thing makes. A smile at the right moment might make a student's day. An eye roll might ruin their perception of school. Gestures, words, eye contact--- students absorb all of that, they interpret it and use that to form their view of reality and themselves.

Sometimes they are misinterpreting what they are seeing and it's distorting their view. Sometimes they need someone to say something directly to them.

A few months ago I had a former student e-mail me and say she was really grateful for all the support she had gotten in middle school. She's graduating a year early. I e-mailed her back gushing with pride.
She responded back with -- no one had seemed as proud of her as I was. In high school teachers aren't quick to tell you that they are proud of you.
I was kind of horrified and decided to tell all my students how proud I was of them.

This is similar to the drama club kids, but my 8th graders are different. I know them better.

First off during our 8th grade team meeting I said something nice to all my co-workers. Comments ranged from "Watching you makes me want to be a better teacher." to "You are the smartest person I know, and every time we talk I feel like I walk away learning something new."

Then during my three Gt reading classes I stood in front of every student and said something nice about that child. Comments ranged from, "Students like you give me hope for the future." to "I've noticed how hard you've been working and I want you to keep it up."
Each kid received a personalized complement.

Everyone, from teachers to students, seemed moved by my comment. I can't say for sure how it impacted them, but I know that if a teacher had something nice to me, I would carry that with me for a long time.
However I do know, I'm don't know how to take a compliment myself. Whenever someone says something nice to me, I thank them and feel awkward. Lots of times I feel like I don't deserve the compliment. Maybe it's the Irish Catholic guilt in me. Overall I hope I didn't embarrassed any of my students and I hope I made the feel cared for.

would I do it again: Yes most likely at the end of the year.
Cost: nothing
Effort: It was hard coming up with something nice to say about everyone
Time: 30 minutes ---10 minutes per class. Total of 85 students and 10 staff members

Friday, February 26, 2010

day 57-Took a picture

Took a Picture.

Yep the title sounds lame, I'm aware of the situation, but that's what happened.

This one my Hubby pointed out to me.

As a family we were walking around the Aundrel Mills Mall after dinner. My daughter wanted to see "the animals." The animals translates into the fish tank at Bass Pro Shop. Besides Ocean City, and the fine city of Baltimore Aundrel Mills is one the top tourist destinations for the state of Maryland. The Bass Pro Shop is one of the key attractions. Their fish tank is a big attraction for the shop.

Yep, people love this fish tank.

Me, I couldn't care less. Yes the fish are big. Very big. My two year old LOVES them.

The fish tank had about three families there.


While my daughter was looking at the fish, pointing to each one and commenting on them, my husband noticed a couple. They were a young couple early twenties with a very little baby. The baby was probably about six weeks old.
I remember when my daughter was six weeks old, I was paraniod about everything and constantly wanted to take pictures of her.
The family was struggling trying to take a picture of the fish in the tank and the baby (the baby was clearly outside of the tank in his mothers arms---I just wanted to be clear on that)
My hubby pointed at them, "Hey, Erinn, you could do something for Project Nice and go help them take a picture."
I'll be honest, I had no idea they were there. I was in my own little world completely unaware of the world around me.

I walked over to them and said, "Hi, would you like to me to take a picture of you with your baby."
They pointed to the fish, "We're trying to get the big fish in the back to come up here so we can take a picture of it."
Sigh... it's an animal, it's not going to come to your beck and call. In fact, if you bang on the tank, it's going to stay in the back of the tank.
I smiled and said, "Well there's not too much I'm going to be able to do about that, but I can take a picture of you and your family."

I think they really wanted a picture of the fish but they were willing to take a picture with their 6 week old baby.
I took their picture- a fish swam into the shot so that made them happy.
They thanked me and I walked away.

Would I do it again: Sure,
Cost: Nothing
Effort: Taking the picture
Time: 30 seconds

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 56 Wrote a Letter to a Solider

Wrote a letter to a solider.

My husband suprised my for Valentine's Day by handing me 7 good deeds for Project Nice. He had never offically signed up. My husband is a quiet supporter, asking me if I had done my nice thing for the day. But I never expected him to do Project Nice for himself. He's very shy and doesn't like talking to people. He was able to do all the things in 3 days.

One of his nice things he did was to sign up to write letters to soliders.

He signed up at to write a letter every week for 3 months. I was highly impressed by this. It's a HUGE undertaking.

To help me do project nice, he gave me this week's solider

I wrote a letter to a solider. You would think this would be insanely easy for me, since I spend most of my day writing. Nope. I was only given a name and an address. It's very hard to write a letter to someone you've never met, what do you talk about?
According to Google I should ask the solider questions and share a little bit about myself. Yep, I did that. I told the solider about a story that happened to me in a public bathroom and about Project Nice.
I thanked the solider for her service and all that she has done.

I hope it make her smile. I don't think soldiers get nearly enough recognition for all that they do.

Please take a moment to go check out the website. It's an amazing organization.

Would I do it again? Yep. I'll help out my husband whenever he needs it.
Cost: A stamp ( I don't remember how much that costs)
Effort: I struggled with this one.
Time: about 20 minutes

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 55 Walked a neighbor's dog

Walked a Neighbor's Dog

Remember when I helped a neighbor rescue her dog? While I was walking my dog on Thursday night I ran into her. I asked her how the pregnancy was going. She said it was going well. Our dogs started to pull. I asked her, "Do you mind if I walk your dog sometime. Maybe this weekend?"

"YES! Please do." she cried as the dog pulled her along. She knew all about Project Nice, so I didn't have to explain it to her.

I bundled up, and trekked down the street to her house. I rang the doorbell and waited awkwardly outside, the dog was barking. My neighbor had been sleeping and I woke her up. She opened the door, grabbed his leash and handed me the dog. "Thank you so much."
Charlie (the dog) and I walked around the neighborhood for about a half hour.
He didn't pull me once. It was a perfect experience. I wished my own dog was that good.

When we got back to his home, my neighbor invited me in. We chatted for a few minutes. She stated she was exhausted and the pregnancy has really made her tired. I completely understood.
She was very grateful that she had one less thing she needed to do and her dog was taken care of.

When I got home my dog got jealous and I walked him too.

Would I do it again: Yes I completely understand how hard it can be to be pregnant. Just wait until the baby comes... I didn't have the heart to tell her, she has no idea what tired is.
Cost: None
Effort: I walked- that's about it.
Time: an hour- 30 minutes to walk Charlie, 15 minutes to talk to her and 15 minutes to walk my own dog.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 54- Tell Someone I'm Proud of Them

Day 54- Tell Someone I'm Proud of Them.

When I came up with this idea, I had one student in mind. It was a former student who went off to high school. I had always been worried about him and I every time I talk to a high school teacher I ask about him. I kept getting the same feedback. "He's doing great!" Every time, that totally made my day. I e-mailed his guidance counclier to see if I could come into school and tell him in person how proud I was of him. I wanted say it in front of the guiance councler so there was another adult present. The guidance councler never e-mailed me back. I'll try again.

However, I wanted to do something else not for that one student but for my students. I wanted to say something nice to every one of them. And I will. But with the snow and assessment and a major project looming I don't know if I will have time before the deadline.

But Friday the 19 was my last day of drama club- we put on a play and we raised $625 for charity. Cindy worked with the charity and the back stage kids. I worked with the actors.

Just before show time I had everyone line up in their spots and I said something nice about every single student. There were 24 actors and 3 backstage kids.

Each comment was made for that child, ranging from, "I hope my daughter grows up to be just like you" to "I can't wait to see you act as an 8th grader because you're amazing."

Kids are hard to read, some I think were a little embarrassed because an adult was saying something nice to them. Some kids looked like they were going to cry. Every kid had the same excited look in their eyes when I walked in front of them to say my nice thing.

Drama club kids are different from my normal classes. They WANT to be there. Most of them I don't teach or will never teach. The day of the play will be the last time I see them.

This year was very hard between the snow and swine flu, we had 23 kids drop out. Yep we had a total of 45 kids try out and get parts. 23 dropped out. I'm not sure why there was such a high turn over.
But I wanted EVERY kid who stuck it out to know I was proud of them and not in some blanket general statement I say to everyone.

Would I do this again? I will be doing this again. You'll see a similar post later.
Cost: None
Efforts: it was a lot of rapid firing from my brain
Time: 5 minutes.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 53- Gave away a blanket

Day 53 Gave away a blanket.

Remember yesterday when you read about my experience giving blood? Remember how I said I won a blanket?

After I won my blanket and the initial thrill of victory waned. I realized I had ANOTHER blanket.
We have an abundance of blankets (I bet Nerdfighters thought I was going to say an Abundance of Katherines). My hubby lined all the couches in the house with blankets since our cat Chooch liked to lay on the tops of the couches and my hubby didn't want the cat hair to get embedded into the fabric of the couch.
Now that Chooch is no longer with us, we have like a million blankets.

A million and 1 with this Red Cross blanket.

While I was waiting in the Donation Room-- waiting for my blood NOT to get drawn, a man approached me.
He was wearing a suit. I had noticed him before, during my many different locations of waiting. I assumed he was a business man or a lawyer or something and wanted to donate blood.
It was a Saturday... not a normal suit day.
He sat down next to me, "Hello," he said. "I was talking to your friend in the other room and I was wondering if I could buy your blanket."
"No, here you can just have it."
"Are you sure you don't want any money?"
I shook my head, "No, it's fine you can take it." Then I explained all about project nice.
He hunched over a little bit. "That's what your friend said." He paused, "It's going to my little sister. She lost her mother a week ago. I just got back from the funeral and I thought that the blanket would mean a lot to her."
Oh my God. I practically shoved the blanket in his hands. "Here no take it."
The we started to chat for a while. He spoke, I listened. I wished I had listened more carefully, done all the techniques my teacher education classes had taught me. But I also was texting Cindy and my Hubby to see where they were. I also didn't know what to say.

This happens to me lot, people tell me their life story. I'm fine with it, I love listening to stories, I try to give advice when it's appropriate. I guess I'm not a very threatening looking person. It also happens to my mom a lot, but she's very shy. I'm very proud of her for doing Project Nice. I know it's hard on her.

Back to the man, he was having what could only be the worst week of anyone's life. His Step Mother (who he considered to be his mother) passed away, she was a nurse completely healthy, went to bed and didn't wake up. His girlfriend broke up with him the next day. (For a rant on that, see my other blog) He needs to move back in with this father and help raise his sister, she's 12.
What was he doing at the mall? His cat had eaten a peice off of his camcorder and he was going to radio shack for a new piece. He didn't even know about the blood drive and when he saw it he wanted to donate blood in memory of mother.

Normally the reaction is what happened to the other person. This time it's my reaction. Sometimes we forget that everyone around us has feelings. That people aren't just objects taking up space. We never know what sort of day someone is having when we encounter them.

Life and time is precious.

When I told him about Project Nice, he wanted to sign up. I gave him the e-mail and the blog address. Do I expect him to check it out, not at all. He has a lot more on his plate than I do. I was amazed he took the time to talk to me to ask about my life.

I'm sure he was running on auto pilot and he just needed a stranger to talk to. Sometimes that's all we need. Looking back I wish I had done more for him, but what else could I have done?
Probably not texting... that was VERY wrong on many levels.

He made for an interesting experience. He even tried to find goodie bags for me and Cindy when there was a rumor 98 Rock had run out.

There's a lot of good people out there and some of them are having a rough time. Let's look be thankful for our lives and be nicer to one another.

Would I do it again: yes.
Cost: Nothing- a free blanket.
Effort: Listening to his story made me want to cry. I might have if I wasn't so nervous about giving blood.
Time: 30 minutes

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 52- Give Blood

Give Blood

So I planned on doing this awhile ago. I have a list of of 31 things I wanted to do this time around. Number 5 on the list was give blood.

I have very strong opinions about blood-- I believe it belongs inside of me. I should not fill up a bag of it for any reason. I don't know how much I need to live but I'm sure most of it is in my body.

Out of every thing on the list this was the one I was most afraid of.

Mostly because I heard it hurts.

There are three things I'm afraid of: bees, being locking in a bathroom over a weekend and pain. I'm really not a fan of pain. For example when I was in the hospital to give birth to my daughter the nurse asked me "Have you given any thought of how you wanted to deliver your baby? Did you want to do it naturally?"
I said, "Lady, I've been here for 15 minutes and I'm pissed you haven't given me anything yet."

To sum up, I'm not a fan of pain.

But after the snow storm, the Red Cross had a shortage of blood because blood is only good for 5 days and no one could get out to donate. Besides I thought what better way to help a stranger then to give life.

I think donating blood is very admirable so I was already to do it.

I went to the Red Cross website and read what to do if you are a first time donater. I kept hydrated all day.
I made an appointment in the Columbia office. When I told my husband about it, he said that 98 Rock was doing a blood drive at the Glen Burnie Mall and I could win prizes.
I opted for that place instead.
I also wrangled Do Good Crew member Cindy to go with me.
The blood drive was from 10-4, we got there around 2:30.
We signed our name, read the booklet of infromation about giving blood and got our number. I was 93, she was 94.
I should say how amazed I was at how many people were there. There were probably about 15 people waiting to give their information, 20 giving their information and another 20 donating blood. Apparently everyone else doesn't the fear issues that I have.

While we were waiting one of the volunteers started a trivia game. I rock at trivia. Anyone who knows me, know I hijack conversations so I can sprinkling a tiny dose of useless knowledge in there.
When they pulled out a trivial pursuit card-- I knew I had it! (Unless they asked a question about spelling something or sports-- then I'd be screwed)
The question was about music-- I answered before they could finish the last word of the question.

I won an American Red Cross Blanket--- YAY for good free stuff, karma is coming back in my favor. <--- There will be more on the blanket tomorrow.

I went back after 30 minutes of waiting to answer my medical question. (They had forgotten I was back there)
They drew my blood to test if I had enough iron-- I did. I got a band aid and everything.
This process took about another 30 minutes. Then I was ushered into the "donation room" Again I waited.

I will discuss what happen in the waiting room tomorrow.

Cindy came in a few minutes later.

Two chairs opened up next to each other. HERE WE GO!

I sat in the chair. The nurse tied the rubber ribbon around me. I asked her how long she had been there, "I've been up since 4 am, we got here at 6 am. I'm exhausted."
Uh Oh!
I said, "Um I have very tiny veins, when I get blood drawn I normally need a butterfly needle." (That's what they used on my two year old daughter to get her blood).
"We don't use the butterfly needles here, because of how much blood we take."
"Oh." See I knew this because my husband told me... this was one the many times I wished he was wrong.
"We'll see how thin they are." She started to poke at my veins. "Um lets try the other arm."
Again poking. She called another nurse over, who also poked.
The nurse shook her head, "You have very thin veins, the needle with rupture your vein. You also have a nerve under the vein." She paused. "It's going to be bad-- very bad. We can't take your blood."
"Really?" Very disappointed. "Well thank you for having my best interest in mind."
"We're SO sorry." The first nurse said, "But you can have a cookie." <-- I do like cookies.
I looked over at Cindy who was pale. I reassured her, "No, the needle's not really that big. I have baby veins. My veins are so small I should probably be dead, you'll be fine." I looked up at the nurse, "can I stay?"
"Oh. Cindy you'll be fine."

I left, got my free goodie bag (I use the term loosely) and ate a cookie while waiting for Cindy.
If you want to read all about my experiences of walking around the mall, you can read it at my other blog.

Would I do it again-- NOPE I CAN'T. STUPID BABY VEINS
Cost-- nothing
Effort-- way more then needed
Time: 2 hours.

This was my first EPIC FAIL!!!!
I felt like I should post it because some of the Do Good Crew are having their own EPIC FAILS themselves. I wanted them to know they aren't alone.

As I am writing this, Cindy is not having a good day. She's been sick. She blames giving blood and now I feel VERY guilty.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 51 Posted Review for products

Posted Reviews for products.

I don't know about you, but I always read the customer reviews of a product before I buy anything on-line.
And since I was trapped in my house with a sick toddler, I figured I would review some products she loved.
A part of me always wonders who has the time to make these reviews. Then I think they are probably not blogging everyday about nice things.

Event: I reviewed three products:
Step 2 Party time Kitchen --- this was her birthday gift
"I am going" by Mo Willems.--- Zoey and I LOVE the Elephant and Piggie books. This is his newest one. Possible the best break up book of all time
On the Farm Jig Saw puzzle by Doug and Mellisa. --- She puts this puzzle together at least 5 times day. My favorite part is the horse.

As of yet there has been no reaction to my post. But I hope it helps someone.

Would I do it again? Sure, it was pretty easy-- it's just a matter of finding the time to do it.
Cost: Nothing
Effort: about as much effort as it takes to write a blog
Time: 30 minutes total.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 50--laundry again

Wow Day 50... 50 days of doing nice things. That's pretty impressive number. What should I do to celerbrate this?

Hmmm. I need to think about this.

Last time I put change in the washer and dryers at the laundry mat, I felt like I had done it wrong. I had never been in laundry mat, expect for the ones at the dorms in college. I dumped all my quarters in one kind of machine.

When I started Project Nice up again, I wanted to it differently.

The first time I went, it was in the middle of the day and my daughter was running around all crazy.

I figured the best time to go would be after the storm and people could finally leave their house. Expect that didn't happen. Real life got in the way. Once I got out of the house, I had a lot of other things I wanted to do and the laundry mat fell off the list.

I figured some time after six would be a better time, after work, there would be more people and I could put quarters into the most popular machines.

I drove over at 6 pm and the parking lot was almost empty. There was one person loading up her car with clothes and another car was unloading.
Hmm so loading a bunch of machines with quarters isn't going to work.

I appoarched the man walking into the laundry mat, "Hi, I was going to drop these quarters into machines but it would be better if I just gave them to you."

He blinked at me, there was a language issue. "I have plenty of quarters." He showed them to me.

"Oh, well you can have these."

He said, "I will call my brother."

"Ok. See I'm doing this thing where I"m nice to people, and I'm being nice to you."

I think he thought I wanted to trade the roll of quarters for bills.

"hold on." He said.

I went inside and started repeat the same mistakes I made last time. I dropped three quarters into dryers.

He came back in. I tried to hand him the quarters but he wanted me to count out how many dollars there were.

I counted out $9.25 and left them on the washer. "Well they're all yours." I said and walked away.

"Wait! You're giving them to me?" He said.
"Yep, I'm doing something nice for people and today I'm being nice to you." He seemed very moved by this. He kissed my hand and told me "Thank you, I will remember you."
"Oh, just be nice to someone."
"I will."

His reaction caught me off guard because I thought he understood what was happening. But it wasn't until I walked away leaving the quarters that he knew I was giving them to him. He seemed very impressed and moved by this act of kindness.

As soon as I got into my car, he was on his cell phone talking to who I would assume was his brother.

Would I do it again: Not sure, out of all the things I've done, this was the first time I felt unsafe. It was dark and I was the only woman. Not too many "danger red flags" went up, but I didn't feel as secure as I would have liked.
Cost: $10.00 in quarters
Effort: It was hard to explain the situation.
Time: 5 minutes to drive there, ten minutes to explain and do everything.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 49- Made Cookies for the Police

Made Cookies for the Police
I like cookies. I assume everyone likes cookies.

I wanted to make cookies for the police in Howard County, but I was very afraid they would be thrown out. I doubted if the police would trust a stranger dropping off food at the station. I didn't want them to think they were poisoned or something. Hmm how to get my cookies to the police.

Good News: One of the Do Good Crew- Megan works for the Police. YAY. And Megan is in my writers group and promised to deliver the cookies.

One my last free day off due to the snow, I baked 48 pillsubury break and bake cookies and 16 other cookies. Not all the cookies made it into the container. Some were too yummy and I had to taste them for quality control. Others didn't look pretty.
The first batch was very soft and smooshy--- my favorite kind.
The second batch was a littler crispier.
The third batch was the most crispy but not burnt-- that's a big fear of mine.

I wrote a note thanking the police for all their hard work and explaining that the cookies get softer the further down in the container you go.

According to Meghan they were a huge hit. People stopped by to say thank you. Very cool.

Would I do it again: Sure.
Cost: $10 in materials- the break and bakes were not on sale according to my husband.
Effort: Preheating the oven and carefully placing them on the cooling rack without breaking them
Time: About an half an hour.


The Do Good Crew came up with a list of charities we like.

World Charities

Local homeless shelters

Children Charities Make a Wish <--- Do Good Crew Danielle said, "my cousin who is severely disabled. I also do a fundraising walk every June for Children's Hospital Boston (which is part of the Children's Miracle Network and where my cousin is treated). They're not cool little start-ups or anything, but they're the ones that mean the most to my family"

Animal Charities

Other Charities

Safeway will also round up the the nearest dollar and donate it to Hati

Thanks to the Do Good Crew for coming up with the list (in no order what-so-ever)
Susan, Andrea, Kathy, Mary, Dawn, Bev, Diane, Danielle, Lori, Stacy, Meghan, M, and Cindy and Jim.

Big News: We have FOUR people of the Do Good Crew who have completed and e-mailed me their deeds!
YAY Linda, Jim, Debbie and Susan!!!
Linda's can be found here on her website!

Great work guys!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

day 48- Bought coffee for strangers

Bought coffee for strangers.

Last time around when I bought coffee at Dunkin Donuts for strangers I had someone bow to me. Pretty cool. I wanted to repeat the experiance.

After dropping off the magazines I drove to a different Dunkin Donuts than the one I went to last time. It was a Ghost Town. There was only one other person in there. She was older then I am. She ordered a coffee. I stepped up and said, "Let me pay for that, I'm doing this thing called Project Nice and today I'd like to buy your coffee."
She blinked- disbelieving. "Are you sure?"
I stepped forward and handed over my debit card, "Yep."
"Well I hope something nice happens to you today."
I placed my order for breakfast and while I was doing that a father and his two sons came in. I told the cashier, that I would buy his stuff too."

There was a big debate between the father and the sons about which donuts they wanted and if they were going to get strawberry milk or chocolate. After the father ordered I stepped in and said, "Can I pay for that, I'm doing this thing today where I'm buying people's coffee."
Now the father had already ordered his breakfast, his coffee, two donuts for his sons and a strawberry milk. Clearly it was more then a coffee.
"Oh I don't know."
I had already handed over my card to the cashier while he was thinking about it, she swiped my card.
"how about this," I said, "why don't you pay for someone else's breakfast."
"I'll do that. Thank you."
As we were talking another family walked in. Perfect.
I walked out with my breakfast and coffee in hand and a good deed was pasted on.

This gives me the idea for PROJECT SUPER NICE... more to come on this later.

Would I do it again: Yep. PROJECT SUPER NICE
Cost: $16.00 between my breakfast, the woman's coffee and the breakfast for the family.
Effort: Mostly it was hard to explain the situation... sometimes I forget not everyone is doing Project Nice.
Time: 5 Minutes (the same amount of time I would have taken me to wait for my food.)

Personal note: I'm starting to hit a wall. This is around the same time in December when I started to hit the wall. This time around I'm not as motivated, maybe it's the 10 days of snow, but I need some cheerleaders.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 47 Delivered Magazines to the Emergency room

Donated Magazines to the Emergency room.

You know when you're at the doctor's office and all the magazines there are five years old and hold zero interest to you? Yeah I hate that. I've long given up on waiting rooms to provide me with entertainment. Thank you Steve Job's and your amazing invention the i-Pod.

Do you know what's worse? Waiting in the Emergency room. No one is ever there for a good or fun reason.

When I was going to Borders to place happy notes in books, I bought a bunch of magazines.
When I got home I went through some more I had lying around, cut off my address and stuck them in a bag.

I drove to Howard County General Hospital where I delivered my daughter and dropped them off.

There were a few Scientific America, an Everyday with Rachel Ray, Motor Trend, Entertainment Weekly, and a Self.

When I walked into the waiting room there was no one waiting (Note to readers: if you get hurt the best time is a Monday @ 8am. Please plan your injuries accordingly) but there was also no magazines.

This might be because of Flu season.

I walked over to the receptionist who was on the phone. She put the call on hold, "How can I help you."
"I have these magazines I'd like to donate."
"Great, you can give them to me. Thanks."
I handed them to her and that was it.

All in all a pretty underwhelming experience but I hope it makes someone's day a little brighter.

Would I do it again? Sure, it was easy and I hope it helped someone.
Cost: $10 for magazines
Effort: Not too much
Time: 1 minute to cut off my address, 10 minutes picking out magazines, 5 minute drive to the hospital.

Monday, February 15, 2010

day 46- Notes in books- take two

Last time around I left notes inside books I really enjoyed, this time again, I did it a little differently.

Last time I hand wrote all the notes-- I hate my handwriting, I'm ashamed of it, so it was a big deal to write it. This time I typed it.

Last time I picked random books I really enjoyed.

This time I picked test prep books and I put inspirational quotes on the paper.


I wrote up 16 different happy notes. I printed them out and cut them to size. Then while my family and I were driving around after dinner, we stopped by at Borders. Yes the same Borders I went to last time.

I stuck the notes in SAT prep books, GMAT, LSAT, Nursing Test Prep books, Praxis, AP exams, and GRE books.

I put notes in like:

Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out- Robert Collier

Good Luck on your tes.


I don't know- but I know I would be pretty excited to get a note like that. I'm a terrible test taker. The idea that someone cared enough to stick a little note in my book would mean a lot to me.

Would I do it again- I've already done it twice.
Cost: None
Effort: not a whole lot, I did have to cut the paper and fold it, and remember to bring it with me to Borders.
Time: 5 minutes to type and print and 3 minutes to cut and fold and 5 minutes to pick the books to place it in.

On a personal note- I did all of this on the day we put our cat down. He was 13 years old and we had discovered the night before he had bone cancer. It was a hard day. Chooch had been our first furry child. He was a great cat. He never bit, scratched or hissed. When he was annoyed he walked away. I've never met a cat quite like him. I'm a dog person and he was the only cat I ever loved.

Being nice to people doesn't mean that only good things are going to happen to you.

Some days are harder then other to be nice.

It doesn't mean it can't be done.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Day 45- Donuts for Great Guys

Happy Valentine's Day.

In case anyone was wondering--- I bought my husband a card, but I will probably forget to give it to him, like I did with his Christmas and birthday card. I'm pretty sure I forgot our anniversary as well.

Back to the event-
Not many people can say they have the best and nicest automatics in the world-- but I do. They are incredible. I've never had to wait for an appointment, they're literally one street away from my house. They have a Keurig coffee maker. And I've never once felt like they've tried to take advantage of me.

Yesterday while I was digging out my car I saw I had ANOTHER nail in my tire. If you are really interest in reading what happened to me a few months ago, it's all on my other blog.

I called them at 7:30 in the morning and asked if they could patch the tire. They said sure, come on by. They also said if it was serious they would send me over to another place that was two miles down the road because they would rather the hole get patched from the inside because that would probably be safer.
He was about to turn down business and send it to someone else. He is made out of awesome.

I said I'd rather they patch it.

So I packed up my kid, and a half an hour later I was sitting in their waiting room.

Five minutes- I was there five minutes. It was a screw in my tire and they used a screwdriver to get it out. It wasn't deep enough to do any damage but they filled it up anyway.

No charge.

I thanked them drove up to Dunkin Donuts and bought a box of donuts.

I drove back to the shop, walked in and handed them the box. They thanked me by name.
"Thanks Erinn, they guys in the back will love these."

Win- win for everyone!

I love Foreign Auto in Elkridge MD. They are the reason I bought another foreign car.

Would I do it again; Of course these guys are excellent- its a family run business and there aren't too many of them left anyone.
Cost: 6.99
Effort: I did have to go slightly out of my way but I did buy myself breakfast in the process.
Time: 5 minutes.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Day 44 Dug out maibox

Dug out community mail box.

FINALLY!!!!! It took three blizzards but I was finally able to do it. I shoveled out the community mailbox.

This last blizzard was what I would call soul- crushing. It was colder and windier than the previous ones. My husband was out by 8 am digging out his car and the street. I, on the other hand, spent my morning checking Howard Countries Live Snow removal website every 15 minutes to see the progress.

When I saw the truck (according to the website) was one street over, I rushed down stairs, made coffee for the plow guy and started to dig out my car.

No truck.

I dug out the mail box. Three feet of snow, carefully placed off the road and mounted up.

Still no truck.

I started to shovel the street.

I didn't get far.

Still no truck.

My husband called me into the house a half an hour later.

No truck.

Well hopefully the mail will come today- (I'm writing this on Friday) We haven't had mail service in a week.

Hopefully the mail carrier will appreciate it and deliver my Entertainment Weekly.

About 15 minutes after I came in- I hear the roar of an engine. I looked outside. There was an ATV with a plow attachment to the front of it driving down my street. I checked on the website and according to the officials my road had been plowed.

Now I do have to give a lot of credit to Howard County- They had 90% of the roads cleared by 2 pm. Much better then the three days it took last time.

My road still looks icy and patchy.

Would I do it again- If my neighbors give me an oppertunity. The past few snow storms they've beaten me to it.
Cost- Nothing
Effort- I moved a whole lot of icy heavy snow... so lots of effort
Time- about 15 minutes.

Friday, February 12, 2010

day 43- Forgive someone

Forgive someone.

I'm trapped in my house. There's ten feet of snow outside my door and I'm pretty sure I just saw a polar bear walk down my street. It was either a polar bear or huge dog.

I've been meaning to write this one up for a while now.

Forgivness. It's not easy. It doesn't make you divine, contary to what you may have heard. Not everyone is nice. Some people are jerks. Some people are jerks but they don't realize the dramatic effects of what they do or say. Some people are mean because they have a lot on their plate.

I teach middle school. I teach it because middle school was the worst time of my life. Every mental battle scar I have comes from middle school.

I had an average group of friends. We did the sort of things kids did. At lunch, we made fun of each other. Harmless sort of stuff. I insult you, you insult me, so one and so forth. It's all cool as along as the score board at the end of the period is a tie and no one crosses any lines.

All jokes have a grain of truth, which is what makes them funny. Right?

For two years my best friends called me a dog, flat and made fun of my nose. I called them dumb and ugly. It's all fair, right?

Nearly twenty years later, I still think I am the ugliest girl in the room. The term "dog" (not a female one either) when referring to a woman's outer appearance makes my stomach knot up. Even as I write this I want to threw up.

Every year I tell my students that story because I want them to understand that words matter. Things they say can have a direct effect on someone else.

We've all said nasty things behind someone's back. We've all heard nasty thing said about us.

I thought it was a completely normal part of growing up.

Until last year, when a student approached me and said, "Ms. Manack, that's not supposed to happen. No one should ever say those things about you, no one should be that mean."
My lunchtime activities wasn't a typical right of passage? But I thought EVERYONE carried the mental battle scars of childhood.


Without going into too much emotional detail, because really who needs to read about that, this caused me to look at my life differently.

I stopped and thought about my friends, what I knew about them then and what I know about them now.
Things started to make sense.
And again without going into too much detail as to the reasons and who my main tormentor turned out to be, I forgave her.

It wasn't into much later in life I put two and two together. She had it much harder then I did. She was dealing with things I couldn't even imagine. Maybe she was sad, or confused or just as insecure about everything that I was. Middle school and high school was probably just as hard on her as it was on me. No, it was probably harder.

So I forgave her.

I didn't tell her. I haven't confronted her. What's the point? Why would I do that, tell her, "you hurt me feelings-- boo hoo." It's not going to do any good. These issues are mine, not hers. Maybe one day she'll look back and think about what she did and realized her words effected me.

I still carry my scars (they are figurative scars-- not literal) But they hold a new meaning for me. My issues are about vanity and if that's the worst of my problems, so be it.

I've got a pretty amazing life. I have a job I love. A husband who is wonderful and gives me plenty of time to do the things I love. My daughter is incredible and can sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star like a pro. I've got the cutest dog and cat. Very supportive parents. My friends are my best source of cheerleaders and motivation. I live in a time where there internet is everywhere and I don't have to worry about the elements trying to kill me (let's face the facts, if we were born 100 years ago this winter would have killed most of us). All in all it's a great life and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Would I do it again- Sure, there's lots of people out there, I'm sure someone is going to be a jerk to me.
Cost- Nothing, in fact it probably saved me a few thousand dollars in therapy and plastic surgery.
Effort- yep a whole lot.
Time- years. But totally worth it. I feel lighter now and I look at life a little bit differently.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 42- bought flowers for the doctor's office

Bought flowers for the my daughter's doctor's office.

My daughter has been sick since November. She's had pretty constant ear infections. Every two weeks I'm back at the doctor's office. It's been a good time. You know, in a way that's not good at all, but boring and stressful.

Do you have any idea what its like to be in a doctor's office with a two year old who likes to play hide and seek? She also thinks it's hilarious to run out of the little rooms and run around out the nurses station, while her mother runs after her yelling. Yep, I always feel like parent of the year when I'm there.

Anyway she had a follow up appointment on Tuesday @ 5:45. Well, blizzard # 3 was supposed to hit at that time. I was getting worried about getting her to the office. Just as I was about to call them on Monday night to see if I could get an earlier appointment-- magically the phone rang. It was the doctor's office asking if I could come in at 8:30 in the morning.

I did a happy dance.

When we got there, by the time my daughter ran off and I got her back, and paid for the co-pay, we were called back to see the doctor.

Yep another ear infection.

Normally the pace at the office is nice, slow and efficient. Today it was lightening fast. They were trying to see every patient who had an appointment, plus the people from Monday who couldn't get to the office because the road in front of the office hadn't been plowed. And they were shutting down the office by two, so everyone could get home before the snow.

As I was dropping off my daughters prescription, there was s florist open. I walked in and bought a cute plant for the office.

I drove back to the doctor's office a few hours later and gave them the plant.

The nurse at the front desk smiled at me and thanked me.
I said, 'I wanted to thank you guys for seeing my daughter. I know you guys are really busy."
I was going to buy them coffee but since they are a doctor's office I didn't know what the food policy was, and there are all sorts of No Eating signs all over walls.
The nurse called over to the other nurses, "Look, Mrs. Manack bought us flowers." I was impressed she knew my name-- but I guess I am there a lot.
I laughed, "I hope it survives the snow storm."
"We've got a lot of people in the office with green thumbs."
YAY! I kill plants-- as I stated in earlier postings--- I'm always impressed when people can keep plants alive.
I thanked them again and I walked out to return home before the snow-- take three.

Would I do it again--Sure, who doesn't like plants.
Cost: $13.50 for the plant-- although I did think it was over priced, but I wasn't about go to the grocery store an hour before a blizzard. The extra money was worth it.
Effort: I did have to drive back to the doctor's office-- and I had to make sure I didn't kill the plant.
Time: 30 minutes total. The doctor's office is about 15 minutes away from my house and the time to pick up a plant.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Project Nice NEWS

The Project Nice deadline has been extended due to Snowmg or Snowmaggedon, or the third blizzard.

Look there's been a lot of snow. LOTS OF IT!!!

It snowed on Friday into Saturday and some people didn't get plowed out until yesterday.

New Deadline for Project Nice is March 5, 2010.

As of today @ 8:30 39 people signed up for Project Nice. I had three people sign up today!

9 are co workers
1 person is family (my mom)
1 person is from high school (Katy)
6 are students or former students
5 are writer friends
18 people are NERDFIGHTERS!

Total of 273 good deeds done. Hopefully.

I've already got some people telling me they've done a few nice things.

Katy White Beykirch who has done 4 good deeds.

Also people who are doing Project Nice will be from this point on known as.........
Do Good Crew-- DGC

Yay!!! Let's keep up the good work everyone!

Thanks everyone!

So here's a funny picture of a bunny... Thanks Alicia for showing it to me!

Day 41- the great dig out

NASA took this image of snowmageddon from space. Pretty cool-- you can click the picture and read the article

Snowmageddon, that's what the media called it. I preferred Snowmg, because it was easier to spell.

My town got 38 inches-- yuck.

Figures I tried to be nice to people in the worst winter in Maryland history. As bad as it's been I'm grateful I live in a time period where I don't have to worry that the snow is going to kill me. I just knocked on wood as soon as I wrote that last sentence.

For three days I shoveled. Hubby and I split our driveway and digging out the cars. Mostly he did the cars and I did the soul crushing wall of snow created by the snow plow.

Funny side story:

A plow came by at 11:30 am Sunday.
At 11:00 a guy who lives a few doors down decide he was going to drive to BWI --- please note the time and that the road hadn't been plowed out yet. He tried driving his van down the road. He got about ten feet. Then he put it in reverse and pulled back in the driveway... then he tried again in a SUV. The neighbors who were outside digging out, felt socially obligated to help get this guy down the street so they dug tire tracks for him. Please note, we live in the back of the neighborhood, on top of a hill. They got about another 25 feet and gave up because they saw the snow plow coming.

I'm all about being nice to people, but I don't have to be nice to stupid people.

You guess it, I dug people out. Again. On Sunday I dug out the woman who I helped last time. She had done her entire driveway herself on Saturday. I came by to help her with her soul crushing wall of doom. We chatted and good news, her husband is coming home in a few weeks.

Monday I was going to dig a path from the street to the community mailbox. Guess what? It was already done. I've lived in this neighborhood for 5 years now. I've watch people go out of their way NOT to help people. Now suddenly people are stepping up. I guess I should be proud and say that my positive influence is paying off. But in reality it was pretty annoying. How can I be nice to be nice to people if other people are doing it.

Instead I helped a few more people dig out their cars, who hadn't done it the day before. I also extended some of the parking spots people made.

What was cool about this time around is I met a lot more of my neighbors. People who I had one opinion of, once I got to know them, I walked away with a completely different opinion.

I also continued to give coffee to all the snow plow guys. We were dug out a whole 24 hours before most of the county. Our snow plow guys were pretty amazing. They even came by to salt.

Would I do it again--- Well as I'm writing this, the first flakes of blizzard number 3 are falling so it looks like a great big yes.
Cost- I did lose another metal coffee cup-- now my hubby bought insulated paper cups with lids. Each time around we're getting a little better at this.
Effort- Yes-- a lot. I've shoveled everyday for three days. My whole body hurts. My neck hurts, my back hurts and even my fingers hurt.
Time: Hours.. probably 2 hours helping other people.

During blizzard 3 I'm going to shovel out the mailbox--- as you are my witnesses I'M DOING IT!!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 40-Took a phone survey

Took a phone survey.

All I know about politics I learned from watching The West Wing. Translation, I don't know a whole lot.

I know politicians need surveys to help make decisions or at the very least to know what to say to people to help win their vote.

Remember when I was worried I wasn't going to be able to do anything nice while I was trapped in my house? Yeah. Well sometimes life gives you little chances to be nice.

While my daughter was watching Go Diego Go, the phone rang. I answered it and was asked to do a survey for local politicians.


I'm not great at surveys and a few years ago I did one and the harassment hasn't stopped since.
"I'll do it as long as you never call again and you take me off of whatever list you have. Deal?" But i said it much nicer then how it's written.
He laughed, "Deal."
Six minutes later I hung up the phone.

I'm not sharing the details because let's face it, it's as boring to read and it would be as boring to write.

The surveyor was pleasant enough. I didn't know all the answers and I felt sort of dumb at times. But at least my voice was heard and its one less survey he needed to do.

Would I do it again: I hate these things... I would go with my first no of the experiance. But will it happened again, Yes. Will I be as willing to help again, probably not.
Cost: Nothing
Effort: more then I would like to admit... it was a lot of thinking at 8 pm, my hair was still wet and I was cold from my nice deed of giving the snow plow guy coffee.
Time: 6 minutes

Monday, February 8, 2010

Day 39 Gave coffee to snow plow guy

Gave coffee to snow ploy Guy.

Winter of 2009-2010 in Maryland is been crazy. There's been a lot of snow. A whole lot of snow. Friday, Feburary 5, there was an inch of snow at 5 pm by 7 am Saturday morning there was 30 inches. The snow drifts in front of my deck door as was high as my 2 year old daughter.

You know who's been working very hard this winter... the snow plow guys. Howard County has an amazing crew. They salt and treat the roads, they are constantly coming by and making sure the streets are safe. Not once this year have I felt unsafe driving down the roads. I don't live in a fancy neighborhood, with million dollar houses where I'd assume the roads would be plowed to prefection. I live on a hill, a fraking steep hill and the plows take better care of our roads then the large single family homes in Columbia.

Anyway at 8 pm my dog had to go out. While he was going, the snow plow can come down our street.

I ran inside, grabbed a metal coffee cup, popped a k-cup in my keurig coffee maker and poof 30 seconds later a piping hot cup of coffee. (this isn't a shameless promotion for the keurig coffee maker, but I'm pretty sure it's the best invention since the internet.)
I bundled up in my fancy new winter coat and started to walk down the street, coffee in hand. The snow and wind were blowing, I had forgotten a hat. I walked down to the end of the street where the snow plow was and handed him the coffee.

He was younger then me, probably in his early 20's.
"Hi, I was wondering how you take your coffee." I said as I handed him the cup.
"Um milk and sugar."
"Great, I'll run back to my house and get you some. I think you will be in for a LONG night and you're going to need it."
"Thank you so much.'
So I ran down my street, in the snow, wind and sleet. I didn't want to hold him up because I'm sure he had a schedule he had to keep up.
I ran inside, grabbed a plastic cup, poured milk and some sugar in it and ran out.
The plow was in front of my house.
We chatted for a few minutes mostly about the cars still parked on the street. He said he felt bad plowing them in, but he really likes to make sure the streets are clear for us because we live on this hill.
I told him that I'd help people dig their cars out. And I will... there's one girl who has to park on the street and I always feel bad for her during the snow storms. However the other three cars belong to people who have three car driveways and simple chose NOT to park in their driveways. I'm not in a rush to help those guys. They make my life diffucult every time I try to pull out of my driveway.
I thanked him for all his hard work and I hoped he makes a lot of extra money doing this. He sighed and said, "it's just going to suck in the summer, because they're not going to have money for us then."
I told him I was very sorry about that. Another nice dose of reality.

Would I do it again: Yep, when he comes by again I will give him another cup of coffee and some food.
Cost: A metal coffee cup that I hated.
Effort: This was a little bit more effort then normal because I got cold and wet, neither are things I enjoy.
Time: about 5 minutes with all the prep, talking, running, getting the milk and sugar and the talking.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

day 38 Gave Gift Card to a Homeless Man

Gave a McDonalds Gift Card to a Homeless Man.

During the first round of Project Nice I gave money to a man who was recently lost his house and job. He needed someplace to stay. I only had four dollars, but I quickly handed it over to him. After that, several people told me I should have bought him food-- I had gone back and tried to give him a gift card for Dunkin Donuts but I couldn't find him.

This time around I had learned from mistakes of the first go and I wanted to do something different, and a little better.

My husband sat down with me and helped me create a list 31 things to do for Project Nice. I was having a neverous meltdown because I thought (and I was right) that I would be trapped in my house because of a massive snow storm and how was going to be nice to people if I'm trapped in my house... The irony was the day before I sent out a list of 10 tips for people who are doing Project Nice where you didn't need to directly interact with people. Not once during that meltdown did I think, "Gee, I could do the stuff I suggested."

Back to the point.

This one was my Hubby's idea and I wanted to make sure I gave him credit for it.

There's a homeless man who sits on the off ramp of 95 north @ 175. (If you live in my town, all of this makes sense to you, if not, sorry.) He's there every day. He has a sign saying he needs a job.

He looks like Santa Claus, he's elderly, with a white beard, red cheeks, a fitted cap and an old coat.

I was going to my writer's group meeting after school and I purposely took 95 to get there. I had a gift card my aunt had sent us. I'm not a fan of McDonalds, but they do have a lot of food for a dollar. My Hubby activated the card the night before, since you needed to go on-line to do it and we didn't think the homeless man had internet access.

It was prefect I took the off ramp. With one hand on the wheel and the other in my purse, I grabbed the gift card on the first attempt. That in itself was pretty amazing since it normally takes me a while to find my cell phone and my keys. I was the last car in line and there was no one behind me. I pulled over to shoulder and rolled down my window. "Sir, I have this gift card for ten dollars, can I give it to you?" I asked.

His Santa smile showed through his gray beard, "Thank you, God bless you."
"You're welcome, please stay safe and have a good night." I told him.

Now the off ramp has a traffic light, which is one of the reasons why he stays there. The light was green when I was pulling over.

I looked up, and now the light was red.

"Oh, I missed my light." I said. It was mean or disappointed. I was mostly shocked at how quickly the light had changed.
"oh." He said.
"um, well, have a good night."
"Yeah, God Bless you."

This is when it got awkward. I inched my car back onto the lane, and rolled up my window. I debated, should I keep talking to him? Or would that make it worse? We both spent the next 30 seconds pretending the other didn't exist. He went back to his milk crate and continued to smoke his cigar, I listened to my music and checked around for other cars.

Yep, sometimes doing nice things can turn into a slightly awkward situation. Maybe it was just me, who felt awkward.

The light turned green and I drove off. I was thinking about the fact he was elderly and it wasn't fair that anyone should spend the last remaining days of their life on the side of the road. I wondered about his life, the choices he had made, the opportunities he might have had or not had.

Life isn't fair. It's a statement my parents had told me constantly while I was growing up. As I get older and as I've been doing project nice, I've been more and more aware of the unfairness of life. Mostly I'm more and more grateful for all that I have.

By the time Writers group was over, he was gone. I don't know where he spends his nights.

Would I do it again: Yes.
Cost: Nothing, my Aunt had given me the gift card
Effort: I made a slightly effort to drive that way, but the interaction was quick and easy.
Time: 15 seconds to give him the card, 30 more second sitting awkwardly at the light.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Update on thank an artist!!!

So as you know I thanked an artist...

I wrote a very cool band called Socratic a thank you letter:

I wanted to thank you for making such amazing music. Yes that made me sound like a 14-year old boy and I'm sorry about that. Every time I listen to Spread the Rumors it makes me smile and puts me in a great mood.

A few days ago you posted in Twitter and on facebook that you were rehearsing for a new album. I sent you a quick little comment. Then you responded back and thanked me personally.
So this got me thinking about how important it is to thank artists.
I am doing this blog called Project Nice where I do nice thing for strangers or people. Everyday it's something new.
You guys inspired me to write one about thanking artists, writers, bands, whoever.
So I just wanted to thank you. If you wanted to check it out, that blog will go live on 2-3-10.
Oh and a super quick question,
As an fan, I want the most of my money going to the band as possible. I know you guys don't make a ton of money off of your CDs, but where do you guys make the most money? If I bought a physical CD or if I bought the CD off of i-tunes? I-tunes is cheaper but does that mean YOU guys make less money?
I just want to make sure I'm doing my part as a fan.
Thank you again and have a great weekend.

Today they responded back:
hey erinn. thanks so much for the kind words. It is always nice to hear those things.
Either buying the cd at a store or on i tunes would help us out the most. So our label can see people are still buying. Also, if anyone else you know wants to buy it you can tell them the same thing. Good luck with your blog and hopefully I'll talk to you soon!!!!

Some FYI about the band...
They are on Drive Thru records, a pretty amazing company who once had New Found Glory on their label, Dashboard Confessional, Hellogoodbye, Ace Enders, The Early November and Something Corporate. (This label has basically all my favorites before they were huge and I discovered them) The owners of the company LOVE music, they were the fans hanging outside of the stage doors hoping to see their idols. As further evidence that there's not as much as money in music as you think, the owners of Drive Thru records admitted during an Alternative Press podcast that he was on food stamps.
Anyway Socratic's record was produced by Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 fame.

Something cool happened to me today... besides getting 38 inches of snow dumped on my front lawn.

Have a great day everyone!

Day 37- Talk to someone about stuff they like.

Talk to someone about stuff they like.

I like stuff. I like writing, movies, music, comic books and my family. I like to talk. But rarely do I get to talk about the things really LOVE to talk about. Rarely do people want to chat about the three different characters who have been Batman's sidekick Robin, or the cultural impact that CGI movies have in the past fifteen years.

I figured that 98.9% of my conversations are of mundane things like homework, dinner, diapers and facebook.

But you know the feeling you get when you're talking about something you really care about, that excitement, that smile that's plastered all over your face, the way you ignore the bored look on the face of the person you're talking to.

We've all had that.

I walked around during my planning period and I spoke to people I normally don't talk to.
I spoke with a long term sub who up until that morning I had never spoken to. Guess what, she's awesome. I learned all sort of cools things about her and we share something in common. She's a writer too. We both talking about writing for a few minutes.

Then I found another co-worked and asked her about her flowers. She competes in flower shows. Holy Snikes! She knows a lot of about flowers. My knowledge of flowers comes down to this:
1) flowers are plants
2) they are pretty
3) They need water
4) I tend to forget to water them and I kill them.

She looked so happy talking about her flowers, how she hibernates them, where she plants them, competing, how much one seed can cost and how long it can take to get a flower to bloom (It it take up between four and seven years for some flowers). Her eyes brightened, she clapped her hands while she was talking, she loaded up pictures of her flowers that won an award. (I thought it was very pretty--- again that's about all I know about it)

After talking to her I was completely amazed. Not at just how much she knew about something I would glance down at and shrug, but I was amazed at humans in general.

Look away from the computer screen for a second and look at something in your room. Pick any object--- someone is an expert on it. Someone could tell you everything you wanted to know about how to make a pencil, how shoes are designed, or that cool TRADIS USB hub.

People are incredible. We like stuff. We learn about the stuff we like and we make it better. This computer I'm typing on is a vast improvement from the typewriter I would have written this on thirty years ago.

I'm over simplifying again, but the vast amount of knowledge we have accumulated in our individuals brains is impressive.

If you have a question, someone out there could give you an answer.

We're amazing.

Would I do it again? Yes! Mostly because I love the way people light up when they talk about things the love. It's a visible change in their face and eyes. Humans, not just vampires, sparkle.
Cost: Nothing
Time: About 30 minutes
Effort: Not much, I listened, asked questions and was interested in what she was talking about.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Day 36- Donate to Grassroots

Donate to Grassroots.
done on 1-31-10

I live in one of the most wealthy counties in the united states. We have one crisis intervention shelter. It meet the needs of those who have lost their homes in Howard County. It's called Grassroots Crisis prevention This shelter is increbible. Their pledge is this: (cut and pasted directly from their webpage)

Our mission is not very complicated, it's to serve those in need. Of course, more and more these days, carrying out that mission gets complicated. Today, providing our various services requires more staff, more planning, more resources and more skill than ever before. That's why we are so grateful to all of you in both the public and private sector who support the work that we do. We would not be able to help those in need without the help we get from you.

Be Nice to a Stranger and the economy in general has made me very aware how much people are struggling.

I wanted to do something important and I wanted to help a local cause.

I wanted to donate to Grassroots. Step one in this process was researching what they wanted and needed.
I went to the wishlist, yes they have a lot of needs. I wanted to make sure I donated exactly what they needed. I spoke to my husband about donating goods to the Grassroots. He called them and asked them.

Large size diapers-- they have "a lot of little ones" and they are in constant need of large size diapers. Here's a little consumer tip--- the larger the diapers the fewer are in the box-- Just because there's less in the box doesn't mean the babies pee or poop less.

Coffee-- they go through a lot of coffee.

Laundry detergent-- They go through a lot of laundry. Which makes sense, if you've lost your house, you would take your clothes with you, but you would have less and wear it more often. Therefore your clothes get dirty.

My husband, daughter and I drove around trying to find the best deals and think about what would best meet the needs of the shelter.
We bought 4 bottles of detergent at Cheap Ollies which would wash 160 loads of laundry.
2 tubs of Coffee that each made 380 cups at BJ's.
A box of diapers size 5- 128 diapers at BJ's.
A box of diapers size 6- 104 diapers at BJ's.
A box of baby wipes. 560 wipes at BJ's.

I walked into grassroots, because I wasn't sure where the donation center was. I asked an administrator, who lit up when I told her what I had. She smiled and pointed me in the direction of the family care area.
When I told them what I had, they smiled, asked me to fill out a quick form and helped me unload my car.
She thanked me for thinking about them while I was out shopping.
I told them why I was doing this and all about Project Nice.
She wished me good luck. She said she would send me a thank you letter and I could scan it and put it up on the website.

As a mom the thing that got me was the diapers. Being a parent has made me incredibly grateful for my husband, my house and all my basic needs. I can't image how terrifying it would be to lose your home, be in a crisis and to have my two year old daughter crying.

Would I do it again? yes. Absolutely. It's not far from my daughters daycare and it would be easy to drop off things they need.
Cost: $18 @ cheap Ollies $86 at BJ's grand total of $104. Ok A quick side note, because the other people doing Project Nice might be screaming at their computer screens right now. I gave everyone a price limit of $5 per person. Here's what I didn't tell anyone. My hubby and I have in our budget to give money to a charity every month. I was using that money for this good deed.
Effort: Yeah, this one was a lot. Between researching, shopping and delivery, the whole thing took more effort then most of the other nice deeds I do.
Time: all in all it was about two- three hours.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 35- Donate winter coats

Donate winter coats

Event done on 1-31

I hate winter. I really do. It's cold, it's windy, it's snowy and mostly annoyingly it's cold. All my life I've lived in places with seasons. One day I would love to live somewhere without a winter, but alas since my hubby is constantly hot and I'm constantly cold, it looks like a warmer a location isn't going to happen.


Mostly I hate winter because I hate my big stupid blue coat. I hate it. I feel ugly in it.
But I'm too cheap to buy a new one.

However this year I broke down and bought a new coat, two in fact, and I love them. Now I'm slightly less grumpy about winter.

I looked in my closet and it was overloaded with perfectly fine, warm coats.
Now my guilt kicked in. Yes. I am a VERY lucky person, I'm complaining that my coat makes me feel ugly. I am acutely aware that there are many people without coats. I watch my students everyday walk into the school without coats.

I gathered up all the coats in my closets that I will not be wearing and I donated them to Goodwill.


The volunteer at Good Will was a teenage boy who looked very sleep. He grunted most of his responses. I commented on how clean and well organized the donation center looked. He grunted. I gave him the bag of coats and I told him what was in the bag. He nodded and "Oh good. Thank you."

Will I do it again? Sure. I donate my clothes twice a year. I've donated old dressed around prom time, so a girl can have that iconic teen moment. Coats are tougher because they last longer then most clothes.
Cost: None
Effort: I did have to drive to Goodwill in a snowy parking lot. But besides that not too much
Time: about one minute

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Day 34- Thank an artist

Thank an artist

Contrary to what you may think, artist's don't make a lot of money. I am going to over simplify a very complicated issue, but stick with me on this.

Writers: A writer can spend anywhere between a year to twenty years working on a single book. Let's say they are lucky enough to get published (I won't share the statistic for that, it's pretty depressing), then the money comes rolling in... Um, no. For every $25 hardcover book that is sold, the author will get about $2.00.

The other $23 is split between the store and the publisher. Is this fair? Well, for every book there are lots of people at the publishing company who worked on it to get it on the shelf. And the store has to employ people to sell the book. Pretty much only leaving the creator of the book with $2.00 per book.

Expect that some authors get an advance. This is money the publisher pays the author up front. Let's say the author gets $20,000 advance. WOW that's a nice chunk of change... well not really, look at how long the author spent writing the book. Anyway from that $20,000 the author will most liking need to hire a publicist to promote the book, because the publisher has a lot of other books to promote too. So now author got a whole lot less money. And author has to pay his or her agent as well and maybe a lawyer too.


On average there are about 100,000 books published every year. Only 20 authors make millions of dollars.

For a pretty fun video about what it takes to be a writer--- forts are involved.

Music is even worse. For every Lady Gaga or Faith Hill, or Britney Spears or Rolling Stones, or Bruce Springsteen or Green Day, there's hundred or thousands of musicians trying to get by.

Do you remember those long car trips you used to take with your parents? Five or six hours in a car just to get to your aunts house? Being in a tour band is like that, but a billion times worse.

Ok now imagine your in a van, with seven other guys (the fives guys in the band, the merch guy and your manager) you drive five to six hours a night to get to a gig, where you might make $100 a night and hopefully your fans will buy enough tee shirts so you can have gas money to get you to next gig. They do that 300 shows a year! And THAT'S WHERE THEY ARE MAKING ALL THEIR MONEY. Bands will make about a dollar per CD that is sold.

So why do artist put themselves through all this? For you.
Fans are the life blood for artist.
They write, sing, act, paint, dance because they want someone to feel something. They will never know unless you tell them.

I've e-mailed writers before because I've really enjoyed their writing. I wrote to John Green and Tiffanie Debartolo and since by now you should know how much of a spaz I am, I'm not going to share the letters. I will say that Tiffanie Debartolo wrote back in about a day and I will buy every book she writes for the rest of her career. John Green is very busy---he's a brand new daddy.

When it comes to musicians, I comment whenever a band I love posts something on Myspace or Facebook. It takes ten seconds and at least they know someone out there is reading and cares. I'm off to write an comment Motion City Soundtrack to tell them how amazing their new CD is. I also commented on Socratic's post that they were practicing for a new album. I said, "Your music makes me happy, good luck on your new album."

Socratic PERSONALLY responded back to me. They thanked me. They said, "Erinn: thank you. We're Excited!"
Now I'm off to buy their first album. I have their second album... it's fun and every song makes me smile.

Don't know, but I'd like to think that all the artists do a little dance of joy whenever their in-box gets a happy note from someone. I know I do. Seriously I check my e-mail like a hundred times a day whenever I post something up.

What's the lesson? If you like what someone is doing... tell them. The second round of Project Nice would never have happened if I didn't get such positive feedback from people.

Would I do this again: YES!
Cost: Nadda
Effort: Sometime it did take a little while to track down a valid e-mail address
Time: anywhere between 10 seconds to write a quick comment on facebook to 20 minutes to write a letter.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 33- Make the Bathroom Nicer

Make the Woman's bathroom at work slightly nicer.

OK I don't like using public bathrooms. I really don't like using the bathrooms at school/work because I have a deep rooted fear of being locked in the bathroom, on a Friday night, and being trapped in there over the weekend. Sadly, that is the truth, I don't know where it comes from and I know it's weird but everyone has his or her own hang ups.

Anyway, as a teacher I have trained my body to only go at certain times of the day. Teachers do not have the freedom to leave a classroom whenever nature calls.

The bathroom is functional and recently upgraded from one stall to two. However there is room for improvement.

I placed a basket of pretty soaps, body spray, trial size perfumes and hand lotions. All of these were gifts given to me and I have no use for them. Many times there have a phantom kind co-work who has left hand lotion and body stray in the bathroom. I don't know who is doing it, but I want to carry on the tradition.

I haven't heard anything- but I did see someone using the hand lotion. I liked to think my co-workers are saying, 'Hey look, stuff to make me smell pretty and a tide pen, and a fancy soap dish... how pretty. That just made my day.'

Would I do it again? Sure if I have more body spray hanging round my house
Cost: None
Effort: I had to carry it into school and hoped that nothing broke
Time: 30 seconds

PS- To the Male Co-workers- I didn't make your bathroom look prettier because I did not want a lawsuit for sexual harassment for entering the men's room. Nor do I want to lawsuit for discrimination for NOT making your room look prettier. If you are concerned about the lack of prettiness in your bathroom, please let me know and I will buy you some pretty soap. But it's not the kind of soap you use, it's the kind that looks and smells nice but is never to be used, not even if you are a guest.

Well, that was a fun one.

To the other Project Nice doers-- um first off... you guys need a name... so pick a name. Something cool but fits in with the theme of being nice, but nothing lame.
Your new Mission--- besides being nice, pick out a cool code name for yourself.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Day 32 Tell someone they are awesome

Tell someone they are awesome.
Done 1-18 (Yes I know it's early but I really needed to change my mood that day)

Yes, it's back, but Be Nice to a Stranger has been renamed to PROJECT NICE!

I think the name is a little bit more catchy.

I'm excited to start this back up again. Mostly because there were things I didn't get around to doing the first time around. This one I've been meaning to do for a while.

As you all know, I am a teacher. There are some people who I see every day and never speak to. There is one teacher, I've never even said hello to. But every time I see him working with a kid, it makes me happy. Watching him makes me want to be a better teacher. No matter what time of the day it is, he always seems genuinely interested in what the student is saying. He's constantly moving from kid to kid to make sure they fully understand the material. He's what a teacher should be doing.
He's also a first year teacher. He's still hopeful and happy. Please keep in mind I'm not saying that teachers stop being hopeful and happy after the first year, but the zest for job weans a little. Reality slowly creeps in.
I love my job and I can't really imagine doing anything else, but am I as optimistic as I used to be? No way.
But watching him work with a kid, reminds me of the kind of teacher I was and who I wish I could still be.

So I told him that. In a lull moment, I walked over to him and told him that watching him work with other students makes me want to be a better teacher.

Instant smile. We chatted for a few minutes. I got to know one of my co-workers and it made me feel all warm and mushy inside. And that was just how I felt.
Anyone who is new at their job needs constantly reassurance that they are doing the right thing.

Would I do it again: Sure.
Time: 3 minutes
Effort: None
Cost: Nothing.

How's Project Nice going for everyone else?