Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of my life.

So my new apartment does this thing where if it’s lightly misting outside, I’m talking barely-there moisture, don’t even need an umbrella type of stuff, somehow a lot of that will find a drain of some sort on the roof and collect into a substantial water droplet and fall into a specific place on the wrought-iron gate outside my dining room window. The sound is like a frying pan hitting a copper gong at a frequency just slightly slower than the seconds ticking away on a clock.

I took this video to prove that I’m not exaggerating or going overboard in any way about this.

I probably have to move. 

Sarah, the Goddess of Brain Tumors (part 2)

Well. A lot has happened since I wrote that long, rambling, sort of embarrassingly dramatic post about having a grand mal seizure. I probably wouldn’t have bothered with a follow up - because quite frankly, I’m so sick of talking about brains, how brains work, how brains fail us, why brains suck and are ugly, etc, that the next neurologist I meet at a dinner party I’m going to glare at the entire time, just because – but I knew I had to bite the bullet because 1) a lot of you really, truly care about me and my health and have told me so, and because I value your support I feel that I owe this to you, and 2)  I’m on so much medication that I’m basically a drug addict at this point and if I don’t write it all down YESTERDAY, I’ll probably forget that the entire incident and ensuing medical bullshit details ever happened. Which could actually be awesome, I’m not sure why I’m not doing that.

So remember that epilepsy medication called Dilantin that I was prescribed to keep future seizures away? And how I said that the list of side effects was side-splittingly funny? Well, one of them is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction which I developed within several days, because I’m just cool like that. Me and Padma Lakshmi! At my first appointment with my new SF-based neurologist, she took one look at me and “we need to take you off Dilantin. We need to take you off Dilantin NOW. This is not good.” Shitty first visit to a new doctor, but I appreciated her honesty and concern.

So now I’m on another anti-seizure medication called Keppra, which is like swallowing 1500 mg of rainbows every day compared to Dilantin. I don’t feel 100%, I still forget easy words and have walked into several walls, but for the most part it’s very tolerable. I’m suppressing normal brain functionality though, and that makes me uncomfortable because anyone who knows me at all knows that I consider myself the wittiest person currently walking the Earth, and would rather die than be thought of as dim or unfunny. Maybe slightly less vain.

Since my initial seizure and treatment at Marina Del Ray Hospital, I’ve had 2 more MRIs and a bunch of yummy blood tests, but the diagnosis has kinda changed a few times. I originally had neurocysticercosis, then after a better MRI scan they thought it looked like ganglioglioma, a slow-growing tumor that isn’t necessarily malignant, but will continue to give me seizure problems until removed. (THROUGH BRAIN SURGERY, BTW. I mean, the only thing cooler than me having brain surgery would be me becoming a rocket scientist.) Anyway, after a third MRI there appeared to be some more swelling/scar tissue around the area, which is bad, and two additional, smaller tumors, which is also bad. The good is that now it really looks like neurocysticercosis and I no longer have several brain specialists with 4500 medical degrees from the world’s most prestigious institutions giving me conflicting information. It’s the parasite! Excellent, so we all agree! SO PUMPED!

Tomorrow I’m starting a course of anti-parasitic medication designed to shrink/collapse/kill/stabthroughheartwithstake my neurocysticercosis tumors. (You are taking a shot of Jameson every time I say that word, right?) It’s called Albendazole and it’s kind of like a radiation treatment, killing the bad stuff but killing everything else too and ravaging my immune system. I’ll need to be very careful about being anywhere I’m susceptible to infections or diseases. Like H1N1, for example. You know, that flu that kills people. And might be living in the public restroom where I work.

I’m considering wearing one of those little germ masks, just to be an asshole.

Here’s sort of a weird twist to this genius plan: I also need to take a side-effect happy steroid called Prednisone to minimize the additional swelling in my brain that will arise from taking Albendazole, the very drug that is supposed to kill my unwanted brain colonies. Apparently parasites will rage against the machine when attacked, and with enough disruption I might have another seizure. The other day when my neurologist was explaining all of this to me and kept needing to refer to various notes and diagrams and I was sort of crying because, I don’t know, SHOULDN’T SHE HAVE BEEN BORN WITH THIS KNOWLEDGE AND NOT HAVE TO LOOK THINGS UP, she sighed and said “I’m sorry Sarah, but understand, this case of yours, it’s very unusual. I mean, I’ve got a Pacific Heights practice and all, I don’t see stuff like this very often,” and we both had to laugh. It’s true, she works in a richie-rich neighborhood and regularly treats patients who didn’t sleep under a bunch of filthy camel blankets in the Thar desert in 2007 by choice. I like to think she’s secretly thrilled that Sarah Lane, world-weary street urchin, came along and gave her something to believe in.

I also met with a neurosurgeon, just to cover my bases and stuff… and the consensus is that opening up my skull should not be our first plan of attack, because – and you’ll really love this- since the tumors are in my right temporal lobe and I’m left-handed, I actually store more important data in that area than a right-handed person would… you know, like THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE and HOW TO TALK… so operating in that area is all the more risky. Left-handers really deserve Halliburton’s money for our troubles or something.

So, that’s where I am in my little journey. You literally know everything I know. And I definitely don’t want this blog to turn into this boo hoo place where I can only talk about what’s wrong with me, so don’t be too put off if you’ve come here looking for tech tips or pictures of me in my 7th grade cheerleading uniform. Once this passes, we’ll all go back to being ourselves and I’ll be wittier than ever and you will LAUGH AND LAUGH AND LAUGH AT/WITH ME.

Please think good thoughts over the next couple of weeks as I add some hardcore drug interactions to my already impressive juggling act. I hope this stuff takes. I want this to be over so, so badly, and despite the cool factor I don’t actually want brain surgery. I just want to be me again and to be happy to be part of this wonderful life. And to bathe in Lorazepam regularly….It’s like impossible to get pissed about anything on that stuff. Amazing.

I had a grand mal seizure. Want to hear?

So. I had booked what sounded like a pretty neat job… I didn’t know much more about it than that I’d be participating in an “expert panel” for MSN in the tech/gadget arena in Palos Verdes on October 12/13th, and my birthday actually fell on that first day, so I thought, well, huh, I’ve agreed to be working that day anyway, so why not fly down to LA for the previous weekend and see all my friends?

The MSN folks had arranged a car service for me, so as I descended down into baggage claim from a pleasant, wifi-enabled 1.4 hour flight, I saw a jovial older British guy with the ponytail holding my “LANE” sign (obviously at that time I had no idea he was British or jovial, but now it’s stuck in my memory). Anyway, nice guy. Led me to a Lincoln Towncar and didn’t blink an eye when I asked to be driven into Venice instead of straight to the hotel in Palos Verdes (where I’d been put up for the weekend by MSN). See, I just wanted to have brunch in Venice first. That’s all I wanted to do! Couple hours tops, two days before actual work. Slight chance of shopping. Slight!

So Venice resident Damon Berger (the future person to save my life, though I didn’t know that last part yet) and I walked two blocks from his brand-new kickass little bachelory beach bungalow to Abbot Kinney Blvd, the hipstery granola beautiful people main drag. We took our time choosing a place (which was nothing new, because we’re both picky about our food/service/sun exposure in our own ways) and settled on an organic/German/everything brunch spot called 3 Square.

We sat outside along the edge of the East/West wall at a 2-person table, just out of direct sun. Now here’s where everything gets fuzzy, because I remember certain things I said over the next five or so minutes, some of which were actually heard and have been backed up on official record, and some refuted for total inaccuracy/whimsy/fake language not recognized by any linguistics expert, anywhere. I remember asking to add mushrooms to an otherwise mushroom-free omelette, and was later told that I commented on how good bircher muesli was (it was an item on the menu). I remember the former but not the latter. Basically this is right around the time where things were falling apart upstairs. Keep in mind it was 11:30 am.. nobody was partying.

At this point, the really truly last thing I do remember is Damon looking across the table at me in a very concerned way and asking me if I was ok. “Sarah, are you ok? Seriously, are you ok?” And I heard him, and I saw him, and I couldn’t answer him. I could NOT stop whatever was coming. And that’s when I blacked out.

I’ve been told that at this point my entire body began convulsing, my eyes rolled back into my head, my mouth bled from where I had bit into it, and my lips turned blue. I guess that means I wasn’t breathing… blue lips? It wasn’t cold outside. Damon grabbed me and had someone pull my chair out from under me, brought me to the ground, and yelled for someone to call an ambulance. Apparently it arrived within about five minutes… good thing we weren’t dining in South Central. Damon would later tell me that he was convinced I was having either a heart attack or a stroke and dying right then and there, in his arms, and that it was the scariest moment of his entire life. I’m terribly grateful not to remember this part.

What I do remember is waking up in the back of an ambulance, an EMT to my left, Damon to my right. Now, this sounds really crazy and stupid but my initial thought was that I was being kidnapped, because when I begged to be let go they tried to hold me down and soothe me and keep in mind that I had no idea what had happened at the restaurant. I was in the back of a van and a strange man wanted to put a needle in my arm. I believe I kicked him. (EMT guy, I’m sorry I acted so badly with you, I know you were just trying to help. Keep on keepin on.)

I was admitted to Marina Del Ray Hospital, a place that I never knew existed, even though I lived less than ten miles away for two years. Kind of a small-town, kitchy feel to the place, and I say that with no disrespect- the kind of hospital where you don’t feel lost in the sterile shuffle of modern medicine. I was completely doped up for my 2.5-day stay, so forgive my swiss cheese memory, but I do know that the first IV drip I got was phenobarbital, the MOST WONDERFUL DRUG IN THE UNIVERSE, and also the #1 anti-seizure medication prescribed to dogs. Yay trivia! This is a little embarrassing to admit, but after four hours of intervenous intergalactic planetary space flight, I spent the rest of my hospital stay trying to come up with reasons why the nurses should give me more phenobarbital. (They never did, because they are mean, cruel nurses and only out for themselves.)

First test I got was a cat scan, which was a piece of cake… sort of like a mini-MRI. I think the next one was my actual MRI (which I was particularly sedated for, since I had heard it was a really claustrophobic experience… totally fell asleep in there). The third test was an EEG, which was a series of wires and suction cups attached to my scalp. I’ve never looked uglier…fact. There may or may not be a few iPhone pictures to back me up, but just take my word for it. 

Anyway, so yeah. 400 tests, strong drugs, really nice nurses, and some not-that-horrible hospital food. Besides the circumstances under which I was there, I really think it could have been worse. My hospital roommate was Mrs. Jimenez, who had literally had BRAIN SURGERY several times already. A lovely woman with a great family, and I hope she gets better.

I’m now on a drug called Phenytoin (brand name Dilantin), which I take three times a day and has one of the worst list of side effects I’ve ever read. You guys, it’s almost funny it’s so bad. This is anti-epilepsy medication, which nobody really thinks I have, but is my best overall seizure suppressant until I get a clear diagnosis and better treatment options with a local neurologist here in San Francisco. I hate it and I hate the way it makes me feel. I feel slow… not funny, not smart. I am not legally allowed to drive a car. Plus, I’m not supposed to drink alcohol, which is ONLY THE ELIXIR OF LIFE, NOTHING BIG.

They think I might have cysticercosis, likely contracted during my year traveling abroad. It’s pretty gross. I’ve actually tested negative for it already, but they also think I have something called a blood-brain barrier, which might cause me to test inaccurately in tests such as these. BECAUSE I NEED AS MUCH OF A CHALLENGE AS POSSIBLE WHEN IT COMES TO MY BRAIN.

So that’s where I am now. I have my first neurology appointment here in SF on Tuesday, and we’ll go from there. Think positive! I also just wanted to thank everyone who’s called me or written me or bought me beautiful flowers (McCloskey), sent various notes of support and encouragement, etc. I hope I can get back to all of you, but just know I’m reading everything and really appreciating the love. 

A quick but heartfelt congratulatory note to my cousin Martin and his beautiful bride Rebeca, who are getting married in Boston on Saturday in a gorgeous, joyful ceremony that I’m devastated to have to miss. A match made in heaven if there ever was one!

Current Tech sneak peek

Produced by, edited by, and starring Yours Truly. I’m a one-woman wonder, people! But seriously, editing is hard. I’ve taken 48 hours of Final Cut Pro training and this little piece still took me the better part of a day. I’m excited to keep practicing, though. As a producer who’s always had to rely on others in post-production, it feels so good to say I did everything mahself! Mag.ma really is great, btw. I see no reason to continue trolling around YouTube when a site like mag.ma exists.
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New site, new rules (part MCXIV)

Well… how do you like it? I’ve got a few tweaks/additions to make yet, but all in all I’m thrilled with how it turned out. A huge, massive monument-size (think Burj Dubai) thank you to my friends at Squarespace for helping me make my new design a reality. Krystyn, Kris, Dane, Erica, and the entire Squarespace crew have been the BEST PEOPLE EVER, and I can’t thank them enough for helping me build the next generation of sarahlane.com. Does anyone know how to say “thank you x infinity” in CSS so that it ends up crashing Firefox? If so, please send via my contact link and I’ll start spamming them.

A word on the new design: my old site was perfectly functional and I liked it a lot, but it was pretty static if I didn’t actually update the blog itself regularly, which I didn’t. These days I spend so much time on a multitude of social networks that I wanted sarahlane.com to reflect my overall activity, rather than appearing neglected all the time. Please note that I don’t intend to stop posting longer form content here, quite the opposite. I love to write and a spiffy new site is just what I need to kick myself back into TMI overdrive. I’m simply reinventing myself as a realist, which I think is very mature of me. Matronly, even. Geriatric.

So… how do you like it?

BTW, Martin Sargent says I look like a muppet on the landing page, which is one of the greatest compliments a friend has ever given me.

 

Go on, inspire me.

Lately I've been in search of design inspiration for a future web show of sorts that I'm putting together at Current Tech, which is very exciting for a few reasons:

  1. I'll get to do more of what I love most... talk about the stuff I'm passionate about!
  2. Current gets to experiment with new avenues of video, like LIVE and STREAMING!
  3. We all have more reasons to participate in the Current Tech community and hang out together!
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Tengo mucho identities. Pass it on.

I've been meaning to update you (yes, you!) on all of my current projects, as there are many and I haven't been the best at keeping everyone in the loop here. The reason I know this is because on an almost daily basis I get emails and tweets from people of seemingly normal intelligence who don't know where I'm working, what I'm up to, or even how to find me online. I'm not going to go into why I think that's a little weird, since I'm the first result in a Google search for "Sarah Lane", "Sara Lane", "Sar Lane", "Shara Lane", and my personal favorite "Sarah Lame", to name a few. Instead, I'll just list my projects here (in order of inception because I love them all equally).

 

This Week in FUN

In December 2008, my friend Martin Sargent and I, both unemployed, had a lot of free time on our hands and decided to create a weekly show called "This Week in FUN" (AKA "TWiF") on the TWiT netcast network. It started out as a little experiment when our friend Leo went to France for a couple weeks and left us his facility and resources. Leo had recently given me an intensive Tricaster/mixer/etc. lesson, so I felt comfortable running the technical side of things. Since the TWiT network is so heavy on technical content, we thought a talk radio-style show about silly internet stories might be a fun diversion for TWiT's legions of fans. It was also nothing more than a fancy live stream... miss the stream, miss the show. No downloadable/subscribable anything.

Turns out, people really seemed to enjoy TWiF and we quickly realized that the live stream was great, but too limiting for many folks' schedules. Around episode 12, Leo and his team made TWiF an official TWiT netcast, meaning that along with our weekly live stream, we also started offering on-demand audio versions of the show.

We just taped our 20th episode of TWiF, and I'm really proud of the progress we've made. What started out as a bit of a joke has turned into a really fun project with a ton of really cool, dedicated fans who interact with us all over the internet. Coming soon: video downloads.

 

net@night

In late January, net@night co-host Amber McArthur asked me to fill in for her on the show during her impending maternity leave, which I was thrilled to do since I 1) wasn't working full-time yet and 2) already loved the show, which centered around everything internet-related (my THANG). I co-hosted four episodes with Leo and had a ton of fun. Once Amber was ready to come back, she and Leo asked me to remain on net@night as a regular contributor and I was elated to be a permanent part of the team. Now, you can watch me live every week talking about my favorite new internet toy, or listen at your leisure!

 

Current

In mid-February, I joined the team at Current full-time as an online producer in the news department. The Current management was awesomely accommodating of my outside projects and even allowed me to start/leave early on Fridays to give me time to keep hosting TWiF (an hour's drive away from San Francisco in Petaluma, CA). Meanwhile, in my new position at Current I was enjoying learning a whole 'nother level of web metrics I had never really focused on in all of my past TV/production work. I also was making new friends! Really cool ones!

In early May, I was offered (and accepted!) the opportunity to move into an ideal role as the sole manager of Current.com's tech channel, which had amazing potential but had been sorely neglected in the past without anyone at the helm full-time. The tech channel is an utterly perfect fit for a tech news/app/service/gadget junkie like me and I'm pumped to make it an amazing destination for tech stories, videos, tutorials, conversation, and community. If you haven't poked around on current.com/tech and gotten familiar with it yet, please do. Don't hesitate to give me your honest feedback on what you like about it and what you want to see changed or added, because I'm not interested in making Current Tech a super place for me, I'm interested in making it a super place for as many people as possible. I also have some rather lofty, ambitious goals for the channel that both frighten and excite me, but also seem like the right next steps. As soon as I can tell you about them, I will. Video is involved. :)

If you're still reading this, you must really be interested in my professional life and for that I thank you a thousand times! I'm not going to actually write out "thank you" 1000 times here, but rest assured I'm saying it in my head. Perhaps even in Spanish. Now you're really truly up to speed.

Hello! Helvetireader!

Sorry for my radio silence. I have no excuse. Actually, I was in the middle of writing a "top 10 reasons why I suck" post, but something felt too familiar about it. So I did a little search and found this post from August, 2007. AT LEAST I AM CONSISTENT, PEOPLE.

Consider this my 900th entry back into regular blogging! To be honest, I'm in the middle of yet another obsessive compulsive blog redesign, so there's a lot going on behind the scenes even if I seem like I'm an absentee blogger. I want to better integrate all the other posts/photos/videos/tweets/etc I clog the internet with every day, so that sarahlane.com is more of a big mashup, rather than a ghost town for weeks on end. So, you're up to speed. Oh, and please send me any fabulous design ideas if you have 'em!

In the meantime, I came across something wonderful in my Tumblr dashboard this morning (via joelaz). You know how nobody's ever been as obsessed with anything as the world seems to be with the Helvetica font? And who can blame us, right? Helvetica is smart and clean and reminds us all that text is beautiful! Well, now you can use Helvetica to make Google Reader prettier.

Helvetireader is a userscript for a variety of browsers that  simplifies Google Reader while also Helvetifying it. I'm going to give it a week to see if my Google Reader usage can be salvaged (I've all but abandoned it lately and could use a fresh coat of paint, as it were).

If you're using a browser that doesn't support userscripts, or just want to tweak the look of Helvetireader, you can download and tweak the CSS file. If you go this route and are happy with the results, post your stellar work in the comments!

Just another day at the TWiT cottage

I love working with the TWiT team, especially on days like the one below, when Brian Brushwood helped Leo Laporte eat fire for the first time. Yep.

(Watch in HD)

Here's the This Week in TECH episode associated with these shenanigans. I've been by more than a few folks that it's their favorite TWiT episode ever, which is a really big compliment. :)

And of course, if you haven't already, you should subscribe to my other show, This Week in FUN, where my buddy Martin Sargent and I wax inappropriate for roughly an hour every week! Oh, and if you want to watch us record the show live, you can! Just tune into http://twitlive.tv every Friday at 3 pm Pacific time. Good times!

This Week in FUN: big news!

Hey, have you heard the good word? This Week in Fun is an official podcast, and we have you to thank. Thanks!

Q: What do I do if I haven't done anything yet?

A: Excellent question!

Subscribe to the series here (don't worry, back episodes will be added ASAP) : TWiF: http://twit.tv/twif

Or click the image below to subscribe via iTunes:

As of this blog post date, we're #25 on iTunes Top Podcasts, which is pretty freaking awesome.

To all those who watch our live stream every Friday at 3 pm Pacific, don't worry, we're still live and direct! It's just that if you can't make the time, you can download the file and listen at your leisure. Oh, and video is 100% on the way. Audio's just the beginning. Great news all around.

Thanks to everyone who's supported Martin and me thus far (especially Leo and the TWiT team who help us do our thing every week... you guys are the best).

The Digg Reel - An Intergalactic Experience

So, the folks at Revision3 asked if I'd guest-host this week's Digg Reel, and I was again happy to oblige.

A little background on why in this particular episode I come off like a psycho: 1) I actually am a psycho, 2) as I was writing my lines late one night, I randomly threw in an incredibly corny spaceship-themed joke and made myself myself laugh and it just snowballed from there and I couldn't stop. I actually woke up the next day thinking it would be a good idea TO HOST THE SHOW AS IF I WAS LIVING IN OUTER SPACE. I'm not kidding. This is how nonsensical my sense of humor actually is. You should get a load of some of my self-rejected material. Actually you shouldn't. I assume you like me and I don't want to give you nightmares.

The day of the shoot I even tore through my closet looking for anything slightly resembling a Star Trek outfit. Clearly I didn't have much to work with, but I applaud my effort. ;)

Some of my favorite comments about this episode on the Rev3 message boards so far:

Wow .. I really don't like you at all .. Except for the looks maybe

ahh sarah... i'd hit it

please keep sarah lane off any and all revision3 shows, she ... well, isn't great :S

As a leg man, I approve those Jeans!

I'm telling you, these boards are THE BEST!

 

This Week in Fun Episode 11!

Had a great time with Martin via Skype and our in-studio guest, Lisa Bettany!

Solid show all around. The best part? Talking to Leo after we were done with the "show" about making TWiF a full-fledged audio podcast NEXT WEEK, with video on the way! Hooray! Patience is a virtue. I'm so grateful to work with such a bunch of fabulous nerds.

Click the image below for the full video, + behind-the-scenes goodness!

I love the interactivity of the chat room(s) when we're live, but I also want to bring you guys into the show in other ways. Post any cool ideas in the comments, and we'll start playing on next week's show!

Want to catch up on previous TWiF episodes? Hop over to the archives.

net@night Episode 93!

Hey all, some good news in the world of net@night: although Amber has taken the reigns back after a bit of maternity leave, she and Leo have asked me to be a part of the show on a weekly basis! Pretty cool. I know I owe it to all of you who sent in really positive feedback during the episodes I guest-hosted. Thanks!

I'm thrilled about staying with the show because 1) net@night is 100% my content forte, a dream show really, and 2) Amber and Leo are two of the best people I could ask to hang out with and talk about the web on a regular basis.

Here's this week's show (complete with a guest appearance from the lovely iJustine). I hop in right after the CoverItLive interview, just past the halfway mark. Leo likes to make it seem like i'm just *dying* to get in on the show, even though they told me to call at a specific time and then didn't pick up. :) Click on the image below for the full video (I couldn't resist this screen cap... see how gaga I am over Amber?)

Check out my other net@night appearances in the archives!

This Week in Fun Episode 10!

My goodness, I can't believe we've already had our tenth episode anniversary! It's a beautiful thing. Martin wasn't able to be in studio this time around, but I think it worked out pretty well via Skype. Enjoy the magic, plus some behind-the-scenes setup beforehand!

Click on the image below for a link to the full video. Remember, we shoot live every Friday at 3 PM Pacific at live.twit.tv. Join us and chat!

net@night episode 90

Darn, the top of this video is cut off too. I guess if you love the show (why wouldn't you) and you want to hear it every week (of course you do), and you don't mind audio-only (you could just look at pictures of me and Leo... same thing-ish?), just subscribe to net@night for the entire transcript!

For now, enjoy this episode, where I do my best Violet Beauregarde impression. Just click on the image below for the full video.

When you're done, don't cry.. just check out my previous net@night episodes in the archives!

This Week in FUN Episode 8!

Sadly, the beginning of the show wasn't captured this week, and that's a bummer as this was my favorite episode thus far. Rest assured you only missed a few minutes, but I'm sorry in advance. However, we're capturing everything from the TWiT cottage as we record and it does exist in hi-rez, somewhere. I'm so thankful to the odtv.me folks for helping us out, but I think we all agree it's time to take this show to the next level.

I've spoken to Leo about this and he's working on a solution, but it might take a few weeks. So, here's what you can do to help speed up the process: write to leoATleovilleDOTcom or on Twitter at @leolaporte and let him know you want to see us make TWiF a full-length, downloadable, subscribable show. We the community can make magic happen!

For now, enjoy TWiF 8 by clicking on the image below for the full video. Hurrah!

If you haven't already, check out all of our previous TWiF episodes in the "This Week in Fun" category archive!