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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2011- Year Of The Simple

I am simplifying my New Year’s resolutions. This year I will be taking the inadvertent advise offered by my kids when they looked at my last years list and said, "Huh?".  I am shooting for something a bit more straight forward, consistent, clear, painless, uncomplicated, laid-back…and shorter.

Last year’s ambitious listing, while I am in the mood to own-up to past blunders, was somewhat more than I could handle. I had gone to the PG Library and I had researched the most effective documents on the Seven Most Formidable Resolutions and the Men Who Make Them website. I also read several biography’s of ambitious men from different and respected arenas including business politics and NASCR and then tried to adopt their productive habits.

Then, I categorized my 2010 resolution index into sections and sub headings, cross referenced them to my goal register (as suggested by the website). Later in the year I refocused the document and made several addendum's which I had printed onto a different colors of paper corresponding to update and topic.

I had heard that placing ones resolution list in full, constant view would help me to remember it daily, serve as a constant reminder of the commitments I had made in the same fashion as Lee Iaccoca, Newt Gingrich and Jeff Gordon (who will be sponsored by Giganto Mart soon, so he has to be doing something good). However, I couldn’t find a magnet big enough to hold the pages let alone it’s binding to the fridge. I ended up placing it on the kitchen table where it could double as a booster seat for height challenged visitors at dinner -  an unexpected bonus that gave us easier access to the phone book.

As impressive as it was, my personalized goal catalogue proved too much for me. I didn't have the heart to trash it, so I returned it to the universe as fire fodder in a simple but elegant ceremony. I refused to cry.  Gone are the categories of gregarious goals and aspirations. I said goodbye to the spreadsheets and pie chart targets as they fluttered up the chimney.

This year my goals are simpler. I found a much better idea on my own – with no help from any website. I am putting my goals on a single sheet of paper. A single sheet of paper that fits on the fridge right between my kid’s school grades and my dentist appointment card.

I have eliminated my plans for world domination and a six pack – abs, you know. And my wish for an English cottage garden for the back yard with a stone bridge has instead turned into buying a perennial or two and making the kids plant them.

So here’s my new list: Walk more, drink more water and buy some better teeth. Pray. Be nice to people and show my wife and family I love them. (The last one came from my kids.)

That’s it. That’s the list. And it takes almost no space, no giganto-magnets or duct tape.   It just needs a glance a day and the guts to follow through. I'm sure Mr.'s Iaccoca and Gordon would approve.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Three Fluffy Towels, Two Talking Birds, And Some Tape Holding Down a Fake Tree

A:  Loving Grandchildren and Wonderful Memories.
Q: What are things I will continually pay for? 
My parents have put a date on their bi-decade float into town to visit the grandchildren. Apparently, if I time it right and I am a good boy, I will be allowed in the room. and serve them drinks and set up the cabana.

I haven’t decided if I am going to pay my kids to focus on their personal hygiene, or slip them 20 dollar bills to say things like “I would go to my friends house to play, but there is always such a warm feeling here at home that I hate to leave even for a minute.”

I usually freak out a little when my parents come. Fortunately the last time they were here was the year of the Famous Pocatello tsunami (some time ago is the point) Last time I was so stressed that most of my hair fell right out – which ended up being a good thing as it meant that I didn’t have to have my back waxed for the summer. And the kids life is completely disrupted due to those things, you know... that have to happen when we have company…what is the word?...oh yeah, CHORES.

Let me not give the impression that our house is a mess normally. It's just that my parents are retired and have nothing to do when they visit but to look for "areas of growth".

And if I am right there waiting for their arrival they say “It must be nice to have all day to sit around”. If I am not here waiting and they have to sit in the living room for more that six minutes, they gather the kids and grill them on whither or not I have been going to church, if I have been swearing, or if they have had three meals a day– even going so far as to ask them what they had to eat yesterday for lunch.

This time I am going to be home and ready at the appointed time, but I'm going to lie and say that I just pulled in the driveway myself from having read to orphans from third world countries over the Internet at the local library, and to whom I donate a portion of my weekly paycheck. That outta do it.

But I am not going to go overboard this visit.  Yes, I will clean the bathroom, but no, I won't embroider their names on sanitized fluffy hand towels. I will do the dishes, but I won't cover the windows in the kitchen with pretty opaque flowers so they can't see through to the neighbors couch swing hanging in the cottonwood tree out back and bubba who sleeps there in the afternoons.  I will shovel the walks from snow, but I won't blow dry the steps or rake the kids boot prints off of the snow covered front lawn.

I will also be allowing our pet chickens to make chicken noise this time. Last time was a disaster with the rubber bands and the spray paint and the taped ambiance/African rain forest music that freaked out the neighbors.  And I am leaving my tacky holiday lawn flamingos up even though I was supposed to grow up to be the educated/genteel one.

And rather that hire out and have the brunch catered, they may have to make their own special something from the omelet bar.

I am letting it, the whole perfection thing, go the way of the Buffalo.  Visiting parent stress is a thing of the past.  No more will I give myself hives at the very thought.

Now where the heck did we put the joyous apple humidifier spray and the portraiture of Ronald and Nancy Regan?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

They Know That Santa's On His Way...He's Loaded

At my house we are in the throes of the holidays – as evidenced by the half eaten candy canes stuck to the dog and the extension cord laden Christmas tree duct taped to the wall in the front room. 

All my radio stations are tuned to the “All Christmas, All The Farging Time” stations -except for those playing twangy country music (as opposed to the one station playing good country music which now plays classic rock.)

Frankly, I would rather chew my leg off than listen to any more wining or hearing about that unfortunate boys reasoning for buying high-heeled shoes.

This brings me to my annual list of the worst songs of the holidays. Since we have already mentioned The Christmas Pumps, (or whatever it’s called) lets jump right to the next song– listing the horror in no particular order.

There are two kinds of people in this world; people who like Neil Diamond, and people who think he shouldn’t be allowed near a microphone from just after Halloween through to, and including Valentine’s Day – just to be safe. For that matter, nor should Johnny Mathis. Frankly, anytime I hear Johnny sing Sleigh Ride I am left with too many unanswered questions.

The Beetle’s founders are responsible for songs four and five. I understand their creative aversion to Jingle Bells or The Twelve Days Of Christmas– artistic individuality and all - but “So This is Christmas”, and Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” are John Lennon's and Sir Paul's most iffy offerings. No wonder suicide rates are highest during the holidays.

Last Christmas,
I gave you my heart,
The very next day
I hurled on my slacks.
This year,
To save me from tears...
I won’t listen to George Michaels.

The other song Mr. Wham contributed to is just as bad. With all due respect to honorable causes, “Don’t They Know Its Christmas Time” - alternative title “Pray for Another Song” featuring Boy George and other unemployed English lads (Sting being the exception to the rule) - makes me wish my ear wax would just seal off altogether. It is, however, a perfect song for drowning out the sound of the electric can opener.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra version of Ring Christmas Bells/Christmas Eve makes the little voices in my head converse all at once on the topic of death and dismemberment - like when my in-laws come for dinner. Belinda Carlisle of "The Go-Go's" fame, recreating Judy's famous Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, sounds like she started the celebratory eggnog a little early - I'm thinking memorial day.

Rock’n Around The Christmas Tree would be considered garbage if not for the charming Brenda Lee, and John Denver singing as a seven-year old boy in Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas leaves me fondly remembering cherished olden days of fingernails on a chalkboard.

Penultimately, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus should not be sung by anyone. Ever. Michael Jackson couldn’t do it. Celion Dion can’t do it. I don’t think Beverly Sills or even Sandi Patti accompanied by the Happy Jerusalem Synthized Ensemble employing seven key changes could save it.

Finally, I give you anything sung by Kathy Lee Gifford – especially Mary, Did You Know. Believe me; Mary was better off not knowing.
Kathy Lee just doesn't look the same...

Now I like Kathy Lee as much as the next guy – unless the next guy has invested his kids college funds in plastic or silicone in which case he would like her more. Want the scuffle in Afghanistan to be over? Ship her to Kabul for a series of humanitarian holiday freebies and those poor rebels will be crawling out of the hills begging to be cauterized at the neck. War over.

The best of the best? Try Frank Sinatra, Karen Carpenter, Doris Day, Natalie and Nat King, Bing, Amy, Harry Conic, Mel Torme, and lastly, the Muppets.

Merry Christmas, darling.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jump for my Love

This was our Evil Plan

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Lithium, Listerine and Lucky Charms

Fun In A Box!
I heard today that a new product targeting high school students has been released onto the market. It apparently is a powder that will convert regular fruit juices into an
alcoholic beverage containing 6 percent alcohol.

For about $10, or the cost of a good used Hanna Montana back-pack, one can perchace a kit which comes loaded with everything a young adolescent needs to turn 64oz’s of fruit juice into a knarly alcoholic drink guaranteed to get them through 5th period math. The process uses rapidly fermenting yeast and takes about two days - perfect for a weekend science project. 

Being that I am not an imbiber (imbibage has never been my thing) I asked my wife what she thought of the 6% alcohol content.  All she knew or would admit to knowing is that Clorox and Comet should never be used together to clean a bathroom. Then her eyes went glossy and she sat at the kitchen table gently rocking.

Great. What a help she turned out to be.  Now I will have to make my own brunch.  With a sizable gaping hole still in my knowledge I tracked down my 16 year old daughter Annie who was, surprise, in front of the TV watching Suite i-Wizards of the Square Pants.  She told me that this proportion of alcohol created by the powder was more than contained in regular beer, but less that whisky; greater that malt whisky but less that wine.

I was happy to have the information, and in my joy I grounded her for the weekend – which as a happy by product, makes meal planning easier being that my wife is also incapacitated for the moment.

(Annie can’t remember to do her chores or to close the refrigerator door but she can, without turning the volume down on her IPOD recite the standard measure of ethanol contained in an alcoholic beverage expressed in a percentage of total volume as per the Gay-Lussac scale?)

So, as I now understand it, 6% alcohol is good for cleaning toilets, bad for swallowing a pill and swinging by the elementary school to car pool.  A swig and a quick jaunt before
driving machinery – bad: as a sedative to make it through the Twilight films – good.

A quick question: Why would cooperate America market these products to high schoolers when there are more vulnerable and fragile market demographics we could be focusing on, such as paraplegics, leper's, or pregnant mothers?

And why are we polluting wonderful and healthy fruit drinks?  Wouldn't it be more efficient to combine one mind altering substance with another - such as mouth wash or cold
cereal with a shot of the strong stuff?  Fruity-Wedges have never been good for a body anyway so where is the loss?  And they already come in brightly packaged containers with cute and cuddly cartoon characters to attract the kiddies.  

I can hear the Saturday morning commercial now. “Make Rainbow Chewies and pint a part of your morning!” 

I know!  Let’s offer this powered alcohol, this handy IQ diffuser as a prize in breakfast cereal packages, or mail it out to our children in exchange for three box tops.

After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.