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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Multi-level Marketing is tasty, too!

I was recently invited to a meeting at an old friend's third cousin's house that has me all a quiver with excitement. I was invited to a presentation for a tiered multi-level marketing business opportunities to whose meetings I am continually invited because of my bubbly, somewhat vapid personality.

I have been part of several of these MLM meetings before, and generally I have not been impressed with anything about them except the complete secrecy of topic and the yummy-ness of snacks available once I have made it through the three hours of presentation.

The first two hours are tough, but the third hour is a piece of cake: They usually show a video of people driving nice houses and living in big cars. If I lean on my elbows just right and incorporate the I'm-starting-to-fall-asleep head-bop I learned in church, it looks like I am deep in thought about my financial future.

Several of these companies — at least as I have understood from the portion of the meetings when I was not on a percocet — actually have products to sell, which is impressive.

All of them have lovely brochures in full color with pictures of bars of soap, bottles of soap and pump-spray soaps. Once there was soap-on-a-rope that I suppose was useful for some of the MLM founders when their company went under and the judge sentenced them to a nice man prison in Ithaca.

Once, the product being sold was rumored to be edible. It was spelled creatively -- something like “Choc-o-Lot-oo”. I took a few home to my wife in my shirt pocket with little fear of staining because there is no way Choc-o-Lot-oo would melt without use of a Bunsen burner.

Choc-o-Lot-oo is chock full of… chock, as it turns out. Apparently vitamins, minerals and antioxidants do not mix as well with cocoa as, say, almonds, caramel or milk of magnesia — which is refreshingly minty and can only be fully appreciated the next day.

This particular company that I was introduced to at my old friend's third cousin's house had a different and original approach. No one in this` company had ever been arrested. I decided it was worth the three hours as long as they did, indeed, serve barbecue mini-weenies as was promised on the brochure.

Their campaign had to do -- if I may be brief -- with gathering up all my love ones, consolidating my resources and moving to Afghanistan to hunt down terrorists. My job: to take the terrorists' photos and post them on YouTube for the reward money.

Practically sells itself, doesn't it?

Of course, I would have to worry about what to do with the pets while we are away.  And we will need someone to gather up the mail and water the garden while we are on what we will tell the kids is our "family working vacation."

However, if we invest just three summer months (with supplemental two-week training in Pocatello, and Kabul) then the kids won't miss school and my wife and I won't have to complete those horrible homework makeup assignments.

Additionally, we might be able to save on food money. I hear it is so hot in the Middle East that no one feels like eating much. A crate of Kool-Aid  and some multi-level vitamins from the last MLM might do us until typhoon season — which we could miss entirely if we stay motivated and if my youngest daughter Annie gets in some early target practice.

There is an issue of coming up with the up-front money required to investment for forging the passports, travel documents and other papers as well as establishing residency in one of the adjoining countries in order to blend. There may be beards involved — which won't be as hard for me as it will for the kids, but challenges in any new business venture are to be expected and embraced.

I am just so glad I didn't have to say no again to an old friend's third cousin's, who probably would never have asked me to be involved in this kind of business venture had he been able to feed his family in this poor economy.

What kind of friend says no?

All I need to do now is convince my wife that this MLM is the MLM of choice — which shouldn't be a problem with all these barbecue weenies I stuffed in my suit coat pocket during the video.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


How-to article published in Family Share - More serious in tone

Amber (not her real name) is so absorbed in social media that she often leaves her children to fend for themselves. Her children scream over her and walk around her as if she weren't there.

She's not.

Her smartphone goes to bed with her and to the bathroom with her. She may or may not know where her children are, but she knows exactly what her friends had for lunch or what her girlfriend thinks of the latest movie.

Amber isn't a composite or imaginary figure. She is a real woman in an increasingly common situation. She can't put her phone down. Life on Facebook is easier and cleaner. If she doesn't like a post, she moves on to the next page. In Social Media life is all about her and her needs. In life she has to share focus with her family, her

There is another factor keeping Amber glued to her smartphone. Social media is addicting. Live Science, in a limited study, reported that the regions of our brain most involved in impulsive behavior react in the same fashion as they do when exposed to cocaine.

However, there is hope. Social media addictions, as per Medical Daily, are "a combination of biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors." Good news as many of these can be affected by conscious changes in our behavior.

Breaking the social media habit can be done by taking positive, deliberate action. Here are a few steps to break the social media habit.

Understand that you may have a problem. Admitting you have a problem is not half the battle by the way. Starting to do something about the problem is. You have work to do. Start by monitoring how much time you spend online. Set limits on your time spent on social media.

Then set your phone on a shelf — a high shelf. Set the devise to a status that will ring for calls received and not for new postings or alerts. The shelf serves double duty.  It keeps your kids from texting people you haven't spoken to for months.

Set a time of day to use social media. Facebook and the like can be entertaining and productive. Decide how much entertainment you need, and how much is counterproductive. What are you missing or ignoring while you are online?

Put people with a pulse first. The phone should be off when someone else is in the room. It used to be considered poor manners to carry on conversations that didn't involve others around you. News flash — it still is. Try sitting with your loved one and carry on a conversation while they are updating his or her status. Not fun. So, focus on the living. Get to know people by doing things with them.

If your concern is that you don't have anything better to do, then get something better to do. Become proficient in something that has nothing to do with social media. Paint, exercise, pay bills, create a small business utilizing your social media skills, or something else that uses your Facebooking power for good. Color with your kids. Fill your life with real, not virtual things.

Remember that real people are messy, and life is easy on a Facebook post. Adjust your expectations. Those kids on Instagram, the ones with peanut butter spread all over themselves sitting on the damask covered chair, are so darn cute. They are cute because you can scroll to the next page and forget about them. In real life the kids are yours and you get to spend the next two hours cleaning up after them.

You can actually create that dinner that looks good on Pinterest to feed your family, but remember that even something as simple as dinner will look much better online than coming out of your oven. Involving your own kitchen, actual ingredients and real people will always be unpredictable. But that's where the fun really starts.

This was written by Davison Cheney for Familyshare under the title, How to actually live life instead of just getting 327 likes on Instagram

Monday, February 23, 2015

Prodigal Dad reviews the trailer of Fifty Shapes of Grey

Dear Prodigal Dad,

My wife wants me to take her to see the movie Fifty Shapes of Grey. I have only seen the trailer, but It doesn't seem to be the kind of movie that I want her to see. -- Idaho Falls, Idaho

Dear Iffy in Idaho Falls.

Fifty Shapes of Grey is a Sci-Fi movie that doesn't come out until next year.

I haven’t seen the move or read the book "Fifty Shades of Grey", but I have seen part of the
movie trailer twice so I feel that I am more than qualified to answer your question. Let me break down what we know about the movie from the trailer.

The girl seems nice. Her name is Anastasia Steele, which is a silly name given to her by the writer clearly to indicate that she has fought her way to where she is now from the gutter, so she could be from Canada. If she is from Canada, then good for her because she doesn't say "aye" "or Toque" or refer to anything Canadian from what we see.

She dresses modestly, has long sleeves and her hair appears to be her natural color from what I remember of the teaser. Frankly I spend a good deal of it on the floor looking for Milk-Duds because my wife is trying to keep me on my regular diabetes diet of cardboard.

Speaking of color, she clearly has not seen the inside of a tanning booth so our Canadian friend has managed to avoid LA. So far so good.

The guy in the story works in an office and wears socks so already I am a fan.

The office where she meets the hero seems organized and efficient and there is no clutter. There is no excessive decoration at all except for in a secret room, so clearly he is an interior decorator in a successful firm where no one actually works. Additionally, I deduce that he is single, an only child and has never thought of having children.

The decor could be a metaphor for the color scheme in his life, which is where the title must come in. If you really know color, as this man -- who is the head of a successful decorating firm must -- then you know that there are purple greys, blue greys, red greys and plaid greys. Lots of greys. Maybe even over forty of them.

Halfway through the teaser it looks like the tone of the film shifts to something sort of Pygmalion-ish, maybe more towards My Fair Lady. Not showing the characters singing isn't unusual for a movie musicals. Who knew that Sweeney Todd was a musical based on the trailer? Blood, guts, gore…, altos?

While the trailer doesn't show any singing there is room for interpretation as far as facial expressions go. In all Broadway musicals brought to screen someone tries to sustain a high E flat -- a very difficult think to do. Helena Bonham Carter couldn't do it. Johnny Depp did it once on accident.

Later in the trailer, the plot appears to get muffled up -- as happens a lot in movies. They pull you into their world with a good soundtrack and crafty camerawork and then they seem to forget that the camera is still running. There doesn't seem to be any gown or a ball for Eliza to go to, or any. “Just you wait Henry Higgins”moment.

And then, poor Eliza is shown in handcuffs, so I assume she is arrested for something. From the looks of her it is probably something noble like not wanting to give up her source or some other free speech issue. Who would have thought that Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson's daughter would have turned out to be an activist?

In Fifty Shades I imagine that we are reminded how refreshing it is to see a nice guy who has a job, and that it is always best to go with one’s natural hair color. I see no resown why you shouldn't be able to take your take your wife and the whole family. There is a lot we can learn from our neighbors to the North.

Furthermore... Hold on a second, Iffy, my wife is trying to tell me something...Yeah what, honey... Uh-huh... Oh.

Never mind, Iffy.   Take your wife to "Into The Woods"