Saturday, November 28, 2009

I wear a vest pretty well, too, you know. (Sweetie's Hunk Of The Week #40)

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The 40th Hunk of The Week is:

Chuck Wicks... (?)

You Don't Know Him Without:
I'm not sure. I'm not even sure who Chuck Wicks is. All I know at present is that Chuck Wicks was Hunk nominee number 3 this week. As of Monday, Sweetie was certain she was going to pick Don Johnson -- but the 1980s version of Don Johnson, who's song Heartbeat has, sadly, been downloaded onto our iTunes and has been, even more sadly, played many, many times this week.

Then, for a day or two, it was going to be James Franco. I found out it wasn't 1980s Don Johnson and was supposed to be James Franco because the background/desktop picture on our computer had changed from 1980s Don Johnson to modern-day James Franco, who is something of the 2000s version of Don Johnson, come to think of it.

Then, yesterday, I sat down to play 'puter with Mr F -- we were going to play Fisher-Price music games -- and I noticed that there was a new guy on the background. (Having hunky guys as my computer desktop background is especially fun when I take the laptop to a seminar with me, plugging it in next to a couple of other lawyers who are then treated to "Shirtless Guy With Serious Look: The Picture" or whatever it is Sweetie's got stored on there.

"Who's this guy?" I asked, when I saw that the background had changed.

Specifically, who's this guy?

"Chuck Wicks," she said.

Whoever that is. Now I've got to research this guy, applying the same amount of attention-to-detail and hard-working-ethic that I do to other things in my life, other things like sweeping the kitchen, which, when I did it the other night, I noticed after I was done that I'd missed about 13 "Chexes" from the Chex Mix. Given my hardworking-attention-to-detail background, you'd expect a brilliant solution that and I had one ready: kick them under the stove, blame kids.

That's the kind of dedication I bring to not just "sweeping," but to research. That's how I found out, for you, who "Chuck Wicks" is.

He's a country singer.

I found that out by using my phenomenal research skills to ask Sweetie.

That, though, was all Sweetie knew about Chuck Wicks. That made me wonder: How does Sweetie know who Chuck Wicks is, without knowing anything else about him? That, then, made me wonder, as I do so often: What goes on when I'm not around? But that's a question I've learned not to ask. I ask a lot of questions around our house, questions like "Who is Chuck Wick?" and like "How many burgers are you having for breakfast?" and "Where are your pants?" and "Why do I have to install a new toilet seat approximately every three months?" but some questions are best left unanswered.

The question about Who Is Chuck Wicks? is not one of those, so I'll answer it the same way everyone, even "scientsts" like "Richard Dawkins" answer things now, by googling it. Here's the results I got:

Now, I originally clicked on the Chuck Wicks homepage before clicking back and deciding that the number two result better defined Chuck Wicks. So in answer to the question,

You don't know Chuck Wicks without you have been Julianne Hough and dumped him, apparently.

Research done! Genius status restored!

Except, who's Julianne Hough? This is like a mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in bacon!

If there are three things I can't leave alone, it's mysteries, bacon, and leftover Thanksgiving Chex Mix. Armed with two of those three, I went ahead and googled who is julianne hough. Here's what you get:

If you misunderstand Google the way I do, then you know that the fact that Who Is Julianne Hough dating appears so high on the page is indicative of something or other, statistics-wise. (Science!) If you research the way I do, then you may also know, from skimming the excerpts of those pages, that Julianne Hough is also a country singer, and maybe a dancer, if I remember correctly. (Science!) And if you write the way I do, then you got interrupted typing that last sentence because Mr F was sticking his fingers into your coffee.

Thing That Makes You Go Hmmmmm About Him: What's really making me ponder, right now, is why Julianne Hough dumped Chuck Wicks. What's the deal there? So let's go to the mats again on the research. This time, I refined my search and asked:
why did julianne hough dump chuck wicks? Is he like a total loser, or what?


Here's what we find this time:

Hmm. I'll say... results are inconclusive.

Bonus Question: Has the "Lindy Hop" ever been banned at any high school dance, and what does that have to do with Chuck Wicks?

The answer is: I don't know, but I did find out that at one point, Congress taxed dance halls, beginning at a rate of 30%. As you'd expect, such an outrage did not go unnoticed and unprotested by such luminaries as Max Roach, who blamed Big Government for helping kill public dancing: "This tax is the real story why dancing ... public dancing per se ... were [sic] just out. Club owners, promoters, couldn't afford to pay the city tax, state tax, government tax," he said, on a website that I'm sure is credible.

Clearly, Max was right. Public dancing was never seen again in the history of America, until brave people like Julianne Hough brought it back into the limelight.

Reason I Tell Myself Sweetie Likes Him:
If I had to guess, and I do, because I'm still not entirely sure who he is or what he does, although I do know that Google thinks he's a big loser (Science!) I will go with... Sweetie likes him because he helped restore dancing to America.

Sweetie doesn't care what I
pretend Google thinks of him.

Actual reason Sweetie Likes Him: "I don't know much about him because he's a country star, but he's a cutie patootie!" She even put the exclamation point in herself.

Point I'd Like To Make About Sweetie's Actual Reason For Liking Him:
Sure, he wears a vest well, but I knew the correct spelling of Patootie. Does Chuck Wicks?

The holidays can be fun again.

My usual rule of thumb for the holidays is this: Don't make any major decisions in November or December.

I say that because the holidays can be a busy time, an emotional time, and a stressful time. So people who make major decisions during that time risk screwing their lives up as they overreact to one pressure area by deciding to address a different area altogether.

I waive that rule for one requirement, though: If you think you have a drug or alcohol problem, you should do something about it. Now, not later. Even during the holidays. Especially during the holidays.

Nobody needs to go through the holidays struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction or a crippling prescription drug abuse problem, not one more year or one more day. If you've got that kind of problem, then you know that it only compounds itself now, either by leaning more on the addiction to deal with the stressful holidays, or by making you feel worse as you inflict yourself on your loved ones, wrecking their days and sending you spiraling down as you try to cope with the emotions those interactions leave. You'll get drunk or high, and end up embarrassing your parents or yelling at your kids or simply passing out during dinner, and then to cope with that, you'll use more.

You can stop now, and you should start stopping now. You can begin today with the Narconon Drug Rehab Program. Their New Life Detoxification program will help you develop live skills that can lead you to a productive and drug-free life. Their program is not a 12-step deal, but an alternative regimen that focuses on life habits and vitamins, and they boast of a 76% success rate, a rate taht comes from their plan of developing a realistic plan, a workable plan that relies on your ethics and responsibility.

So, like I said, if you even think you have a problem, then the greatest gift you can give yourself and your loved ones it to begin working on it now.

Friday, November 27, 2009

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Fifty.

Comment on this post! You could win a book or magazine subscription (details here) and you'll be making me happy (details on that here.)

50. Don't lather, rinse, repeat (I'm going somewhere with this, so read on.)

The other day, we had to stop and get The Boy a bottle of shampoo, something I estimate we do about 300 times a year. The Boy goes through shampoo like I go through ... I'm not sure what I go through to such an extent. Ramen noodles, maybe.

Anyway, I asked The Boy why he was using so much shampoo, and he said: "You have to lather, rinse and repeat."

I explained that, No, you don't, and gave one of my usual orders-that-are-impossible-to-enforce: Don't do that anymore.

Now, on a very superficial and small level, lather-rinse-repeat is pointless in the first place. Not only is this more of marketing ploy than hygiene tip (and a marketing ploy that might hurt your hair and also create more beauty product sales, as this article points out) but it points to something deeper in our society: The fact that we're so controlled by instructions we never bother to question.

I had a shirt once, labeled "Dry Clean Only." I wore this shirt, which was a gift, only about once a year, because whenever I wore it I had to take it to the dry cleaners and that cost a couple bucks and was a hassle, one I didn't want to go through just to wear a shirt. One year, though, I wore the shirt and was going to take it to the dry cleaners when I thought: This is stupid. Why am I going to so much trouble for a dumb shirt? I threw the shirt into my laundry and washed it... and it came out fine. I never dry-cleaned it again.

Jerry Seinfeld claimed that "dry clean only" is the only warning label people routinely follow, but I think he was wrong. I think we follow the label directions more often than that, and we follow them blindly. How often do you stick the toast in the side of the toaster labeled "One Slice Only?" Ever wonder why you do that? The toaster doesn't know if the other side has a slice of bread in it. It's a $7.00 hunk of metal that heats up. And yet, you probably religiously follow the directions if you're only making one slice of toast.

Some labels ought to be followed. Some ought not. But above all, we should be thinking about the labels we read and asking ourselves: Why am I repeating?

Also ask yourself this: Who makes one slice of toast? Toast comes in pairs, people. (<<Bonus Way!)

Prior entries:

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

I'll probably have some of the mix for breakfast, too. Technically, it's a cereal. (3 Good Things From Thanksgiving Day)

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It's 6:59 a.m., and only I and Mr F are stirring: I'm 'puting, he's playing with a plastic coat hanger... (no, I don't bother even asking anymore)... and the rest rest are sleeping. Except for Middle, who's out helping save the economy by working at Old Navy today.

How was
your Thanksgiving? Here's the highlights from mine:

1. It might have been the BEST CHEX MIX EVER! Every year, for Thanksgiving, I home-make Chex mix, throwing in a blend of my own extra ingredients and spices, and this year, Sweetie was in charge of picking out the extras to scoop in. She outdid herself with a brilliant blend of pretzels and nuts and crackers. And, yes, "brilliant" is the word. I place "creating great flavor combinations" right up on the same pedestal as "discovering uranium." After all, the former is arguably more immediately useful, right? Plus, Sweetie got enough ingredients to make the required amount of Thanksgiving Chex Mix, the required amount be "about 30 pounds."

2. The Lemon Meringue Pie turned out. I rather optimistically decided, out of the blue, to make a lemon meringue pie for dinner, as well, forgetting before I began how difficult those are, and also forgetting to "let the 3 egg whites for the meringue stand at room temperature for 30 minutes" before mak
ing the meringue. In the end, the egg whites stood at room temperature for about 3 minutes, but the pie turned out excellent anyway.

3. Mr Bunches forgave me for making him try mashed potatoes. Mr Bunches is the world's pickiest eater: only chocolate chip cookies have consistently passed muster with him, and everything else is likely to be at best tolerated (bananas) or rejected (almost everything else in the world that's edible) or run from in fear (eggs.) Last night I tried to bribe him into trying mashed potatoes by slipping a spoonful of the 'taters into his mouth and having him try to eat them before he got a cookie, but he only cried, rubbed the mashed potatoes on my shirt, and ran off. Later on, though, he sat on my lap and watched Enchanted, so all was forgiven.

Today's featured item from Elizabeth's Etsy Store: From the "Teardrops & Donuts" collection [hey, sounds like my breakfasts on Monday mornings...] comes the Juicy Pineapple Quartz Necklace... $15.00, and the word on the street is that the Queen of England wears one of these to all the royal functions. (I can make things up if it's for a good cause, right?)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Everyone has a favorite food additive, right? (3 Good Things From 11/24/09, All Of Which Happen To Be Comic Strips.)

Don't forget the comment contest!

I'm wearing
blue jeans! At the office! On a weekday. I love the holidays. And I love comics. Here's my 3 Good Things from yesterday, all in comic form (with explanations... or con explanationes, as they might say in Latin America.)

1. Lulu Eightball: I'm not going to apologize for the swear; we're all adults, except for The Boy, who yesterday got a mini-lecture for using the "A" word in front of Mr Bunches. (Don't worry: Mr Bunches was not scarred by the incident.)

I really want to make the second recipe tomorrow:

2. Wondermark: I swear, I was going to post this Wondermark cartoon, originally posted a long time ago, before I learned that Wondermark is having a contest in which posting about Wondermark makes you eligible to win an artist's edition of the Wondermark book, Clever Tricks To Stave Off Death. So the contest just makes it all the sweeter. (Here's more info on the Wondermark contest.)

Wondermark consistently cracks me up, and also makes me wonder whether he draws the characters himself or whether they're old pictures that he repurposes... I have a lot of time on my hands to think. But not as much time on my hands to think as the guy who came up with this one:

3. Dilbert: And the final comic from yesterday makes it in for a very specific reason. This strip:

Is funny on a couple of levels for almost everyone -- it makes fun of the Twitter culture, and it has a kind-of-strange twist at the end.

But if you're me, or one of my 3 friends in high school, that twist at the end is an added bonus. You may remember that I once mentioned how in high school -- you're going to have an even higher opinion of me after I tell/remind you of this -- I formed a group, with my friends, that group being called Rebellious Youth Without Phones. (First mentioned in this post.) The driving impetus behind that group, as I mentioned before, was this: it was an organization devoted to proving that Ulysses S. Grant was the best president ever, and to also having Riboflavin declared the national food additive.

I can't explain the coincidence, other than to speculate that (a) Scott Adams reads my blog, or (b) Scott Adams is a pseudonym for someone I knew in high school, or (c) Scott Adams has some sort of Time-O-Scope (TM 2009) and can look through it to see a younger (albeit equally cool) me talking about riboflavin.

Or (d), I suppose, he just likes riboflavin.

Comment on this post! You could win a book or magazine subscription (details here) and you'll be making me happy (details on that here.)

Today's piece from Elizabeth's Etsy Store:

Flower Child Mother Earth Daisy Necklace... from the "Hippie Heaven" section. $12, and you're probably saving the earth or reducing your carbon footprint or otherwise helping people out.

You could give this AND the reindeer slippers, I suppose.

Only 48 hours until we all go crazy with the shopping sprees to load up on gifts that'll be piled in our closets until December, then piled under the tree, then... piled in our closets after we unwrap them and get back to our ordinary lives.

The holidays mean a lot to us, and are a celebration of family and spirituality and togetherness and brotherhood, but we celebrate all of that by giving people sweaters and Snuggies? That seems wrong.

This year, why not give a gift that has a lot more meaning and will last a lot longer than that four-pack of coffee cups with the holiday hot chocolate packets? Why not give the gift of health and life for years, decades, to come?

You can do just that through C'elle. C'elle is a company that lets women collect stem cells found in ordinary menstrual flow (the way it's done is painless and done right at home), and then, once collected the stem cells will be cryogenically stored and used in the future to treat more than 75 different diseases.

Diseases like leukemia, anemia and lymphoma can be treated using these stem cells, and in the nearly two decades they've been around, C'elle has helped nearly 185,000 families using their procedures. This isn't the controversial stem cell issue you've heard about; nobody dies and nobody get hurt.

If you'd like more information about C'elle and how it works, you can check out their FAQs section on their site, but what more information could you really want than: It's easy, it's safe, it's done at home, and it can save lives?

This year, leave the reindeer slippers on the shelf and give a gift that has real meaning and real longlasting value: the gift of life, through C'elle.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Genius Status Restored! (Question of the Day, 69)

How would you have checked the lamp?

This is a question that's sort of a brain-teaser, and also an insight into the way I think.

We have a playroom for the Babies! -- it's the "Room We Never Know What To Do With" in our house. Originally, it was advertised by the realtor as the fifth bedroom, but that's ridiculous because we have a tri-level house, and all four of the real bedrooms are on the top level, while this one is on the bottom level and has a door to the outside world in it.

For a while it was storage. Then, it was a homework room for the older kids, who never used it for a homework room because they couldn't ask for help while they were off in the wilderness of the Spare Room, so they'd sit at the kitchen table and do their homework.

Then the room was my study, but it didn't do very well as a study because the desk and chair that Sweetie's dad got us and put together were not put together well: the desk was rickety, and he'd somehow put the chair together backwards, so that when I sat the desk the desk rocked back and forth and I was always leaning forward precariously.

Then the room was a guest room, with a futon and table and stuff. That was the most ridiculous room yet, since not only do we never have overnight guests, I actively try to discourage people from visiting in the first place. As a result of that policy, the only guest who ever stayed overnight in the Guest Room was Herman The Wonder Kitten when we first got him.

Now, it's a playroom for the Babies!, where they used to have their inflatable jump castle and now have their slides and baskets of mostly-taken-apart toys and leftover vacuum cleaner parts (the latter being a new category of toy they like.)

The Babies! also had a lamp in there, for a while, a floor lamp they liked to unplug. I'd put the lamp in there, and put it across the room from the door for two reasons: First, it helped spread the light around, so that one lamp could light most of the room by taking advantage of the spillover light from our family room coming in the door, and second, across the room is the plug that's activated by the light switch from the door.

That's where today's question comes in. One day, I went in there and had to turn on the lamp, which meant I had to plug in the lamp (since the Babies! routinely unplug everything in our house.) I was standing across the room, in the dim light, about 12 feet from the switch, and I plugged in the lamp.

It didn't light.

I couldn't see the wall switch to tell if it was on or off.

So I had a dilemma:

I could assume the wall switch was on but the lamp was off, in which case all I had to do was click lamp's own switch and it'd go on.

Or I could assume the wall was off and the lamp was on, in which case I simply needed to go out of the room and click on the switch on the way.

But, here's the real problem. If I assumed wall on, lamp off and clicked the lamp switch and it didn't work, I'd have to go over to the wall switch and click it on -- and what if, then, the lamp didn't go on, because I'd clicked it off? I'd have to make a trip all the way back to turn the lamp on.

On the other hand, if I assumed wall off, lamp on, and went and clicked the wall switch, and it didn't work, I'd have to come back and turn the lamp on anyway.

So I stood there and pondered, because I am a very efficient (lazy) person and didn't want to waste a whole trip across the room. It was sort of like the Monty Hall Puzzle (which I've solved, and which every person in the world was wrong about except me) in a way, only with the real-world consequences of having to walk across a room twice.

I wondered if I should click the lamp on the theory that the lamp was off, because wouldn't someone have turned the lamp off last night? If they'd turned it off, and the Babies! had played in the room that day, the Babies! would have unplugged the lamp but it wouldn't have mattered because it would have been off.

But, I then realized, anyone coming down to turn off the light would have used the switch. Why go all the way across the room to turn off the lamp like a sucker when there's a wall switch there? So, I reasoned, the lamp would be on, the wall switch off, and my best bet was to head out and just click the switch on the way out.

Problem solved, maximum efficiency achieved, I'm a genius.

I did that, and clicked the switch on my way out.

The lamp didn't go on.

I'd been suckered, somehow... so I walked back over to the lamp and clicked the lamp switch, too.

The lamp didn't go on.

As it turned out, the lamp needed a new bulb, too, something that I hadn't factored in to the calculations. Once I took care of that, everything was set to go. And from that point on, what I did was click the wall switch on as I entered the room.

Genius status restored!

Comment on this post to enter the contest! Click here for details.

I'm having a contest, so one of my Good Things will be one of YOUR good things. (3 Good Things From 11/23/09)

You take the good with the bad... yesterday, Mr F and Mr Bunches broke their 50th DVD player, then today, I got my Facebook account disabled for some reason, but, there's still 3 Good Things from yesterday to perk me up...

1. I won the weekly football pool between Sweetie, The Boy and I -- a narrow victory that I got on a tiebreaker by coming the closest to guessing the final combined score of the Monday Night Football game. Now, I've won something like 5 weeks this year, so I'm about breaking even.

2. "How I Met Your Mother" did another Slapsgiving episode. "Slapsgiving" is my second favorite made-for-TV holiday, right after Festivus:

I'm having a contest! I got a note in the mail last night from Perry Terrell, editor (and publisher?) of Conceit Magazine, The Bracelet Charm and Amulet -- magazines that publish fine short stories. Excellent short stories. In fact, I'd go so far as to say they publish the greatest short stories ever written in the English language.

Including mine. My short story Quantum Everything will appear in The Bracelet Charm's April 2010 issue.

Perry's note told how his offices had been burglarized, leading to difficulties in putting the magazine together, and asking for help via his Mail-A-Thon, his campaign to help raise funds.

You can get subscriptions to the The Bracelet Charm, Conceit Magazine, and Amulet through the Conceit Magazine MySpace page, or you can get one of those for free through my contest.

Here's how it works:

1. Leave a comment, here or on any of my blogs.
2. That's it.

Just leave a comment on any of my blogs, between now and December 8. After that day, I'll put all the names of all the commenters into a hat and draw two of them out. The first one I draw out will get a copy of my book, Eclipse. The second one will get a one-year subscription to one of Perry's magazines.

You can comment on any post you want -- it doesn't have to be a new post to count, but it does have to be a new comment.

The featured piece from Elizabeth's Etsy Store is "Love Can Leave You Black & Blue," because (a) Facebook hurt my feelings, and (b) I liked the Eiffel Tower in it. Get it at her shop for only $22.00!

Monday, November 23, 2009

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Forty-Nine

49. Ban cigarettes.

I was a smoker for 17 years before quitting just over five years ago. So during that 17 years, of course, I was all in favor of "smoker's rights" or whatever other idiocy led me to believe that I should have been allowed to do something so stupid. Even over the past few years, I've still been somewhat libertarian on the issue, saying people shouldn't smoke but it's up to them.

Now I've changed. Now I no longer believe that kind of junk. People shouldn't be allowed to smoke, and it has nothing to do with how smelly and annoying it is when I walk past the students smoking outside my office, or how terrible my family's houses smell.

It has everything to do with this: Cigarettes are the only legal product which, when used exactly as intended, kill the user.

No other thing people are allowed to buy, not guns, not alcohol, not cars, can say that.

There is no moderate way to smoke. There is no way to safely use tobacco. Allowing companies to sell cigarettes is like allowing them to sell hara-kiri kits, and then taxing those. It's not about "freedom of choice" to do what you want with your body; it's about allowing companies to sell death kits in packs of 20 and then allowing government to tax those death kits.

All the kerfuffle over advertising cigarettes, all the warning labels and debate about the costs of caring for dying smokers, all the banning-cigarettes-in-bars talk... it would all go away if we would just wake up and realize We're letting people sell death.

You may have a right to do what you want with your body, up to and including deciding when to stop using it, but that doesn't mean that others have a right to make money selling you items created with the sole purpose of killing you.

Lacking space but need a place to sleep? Check out a wall bed or one of the other options available from

Going to comment on this post? You'd better. Click here to find out why.

Prior entries:

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

If you only work three days, is Monday still Monday, or does it become more like Wednesday? (3 Good Things From The Weekend of 11/20-11/22)

A short workweek and mostly caught up on work? I almost feel like I should donate my 3 Good Things to someone who need 'em...

1. It was warm enough to go walking on the nature trail with Mr F and Mr Bunches Saturday afternoon... almost just like summer, except summer, even in Wisconsin, isn't 50 degrees. Still, we got to walk along the trail and see that the turtle eggs hadn't hatched yet, and go to the edge of the pond and toss some weeds in to watch them drift away, and then practice our climbing up the jungle gyms before...

2. ...Taking Sweetie to get a cookie at The Boy's job. Sweetie had quite a day Saturday, getting to go see New Moon and then being taken to buy a cookie at The Boy's job at a Panera shop. The Boy had been talking up their cookies, and Sweetie had been bugging him to bring her one home, so I decided that Saturday night I and Mr Bunches and Mr F would take her to get a cookie. (She had to pay for it, of course. Our contribution was just driving her there.)

3. This song, which I downloaded as part of my new music on Saturday morning: It's The Free Design's song Love You, and it's enthralling:

And if you want something really special, open that video in two windows and play them as a round. It makes me forget it's Monday.

Almost. But, in answer to the title, Mondays are always Mondays. It's impossible to lose Mondayosity.

Today's Featured Necklace,
pictured, from Elizabeth's Etsy store is the "Cool and Calm Seafoam Green Shell Necklace," available for just $10 by clicking here.

Next, I'll talk about multiplicational football...

Let's talk about "fractional sailing." Don't worry, there's no math involved, except this equation:

You + "Fractional sailing" = The dream of boating without the high cost of boat ownership.

Fractional sailing
is a way to own a yacht without owning a yacht. Through the Windpath boat club you can get rid of all the hassles and expense of boat ownership and focus on the fun of sailing, simply by owning part of a boat.

WindPath’s Fractional Yachting Program lets you own a boat when you want to own it: when you're using it. That's when boat ownership is fun. The rest of the time -- when you're not using it, when it needs to be cleaned or stored, you don't own it, so it's not your hassle. So you get the boat after work, on a weekend getaway, or for vacation, but don't have to deal with it either.

It's easier and cheaper than you might imagine to get boating the Windpath way, and their site does a great job explaining how it could work for you. Not being a math whiz, I focus on this: It's flexible and inexpensive and easy.

Boating is fun, sporting, and even romantic. It gets you and your family and friends together for great bonding times, and can be used to entertain clients, too -- and now you can do that all at a fraction of the cost, using fractional sailing.

(See what I did there? Clever, right?)

So leave the mortgage, docking problems, insurance, storage and other financial commitments ot others. Get yachting with Windpath the easy and fun way.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christmas Is A Time To Say I Love You, But Not Using These Things (The Nonsportsmanlike Conduct! NonGift! NonGuide!, 2009)

If you read this, leave a comment! Here's why.

Five days from now, America will be celebrating what has become the second-most popular holiday in our pantheon: Black Friday, the day American celebrate Capitalism by complaining about the effects of Capitalism.

Black Friday, which has nearly surpassed Thanksgiving already, and soon will, is perhaps the most American of holidays. It is more American than Independence Day; lots of independent countries celebrate their independence, even Burma, which doesn't, technically, exist anymore. (Burmese Independence Day is January 4, in case you were wondering.) It's more American than Memorial Day or Christmas or Easter -- those holidays, too, are celebrated in other countries, to greater or lesser degrees. (And sometimes on the wrong day, as they do in Russia.)

But only Americans celebrate Black Friday, that day that we get out there and shop shop shop, shopping to begin our holiday celebration, shopping to save our country's economy in past years, but mostly just shopping. Stores open earlier than ever, people get more excited than ever, there are crowds and yelling and parking lot kerfuffles and Santa Claus. It's like Beatlemania, only more American.

There are only two ways that Black Friday could be more American:

1. There could be a television special about it, preferably starring a comic strip character. Like Nancy. She's never had a TV special, has she?,


2. Have sports involved.

Adding sports to holidays is a growing trend in America, too. In the same way that we're slowly turning every holiday into a shopping opportunity (or, shoportunity)(TM Thinking The Lions 2009), we're slowly adding sports to the mix. It began with the longstanding tradition of having two crummy football games aired on Thanksgiving -- Detroit and Dallas annually square off in football games that are cared about, really, only by fans in Detroit and Dallas, and fans in Detroit probably don't care so much anymore, now that their city is in worse shape than New Orleans was after Hurricane Katrina -- so much worse that Detroit is used as the location for Katrina-themed movies.

But then the NFL Network added a third game on Thanksgiving night (this year it's the Giants at My Kyle Orton's Denver Broncos. That's the game, not, as this site says, the Colts-Falcons.). And there's a college game that day, USC at Arizona. Even golf is getting into the action, with the "Omega Mission Hills World Cup" of Golf tournament teeing up at 12:30 a.m. ET (yes, that time is right)

Christmas continues the tradition: The NFL will play a special Friday game on December 25; there may be some religious significance to the choice of teams set to square off that day, the Chargers and the Titans, but I'll leave that to wiser minds. College football plays tons of games on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. The NBA plays five games on Christmas Day. (NASCAR, the WNBA, and the LPGA don't schedule anything on holidays, because (a) their seasons have already ended, and (b) they are not, technically, sports.)

But while sporting events and the holidays are a recent trend, sporting gifts and the holidays are anything but; sporting gifts at the holidays go back as far as humanity goes back. I'm pretty sure that Cro Magnon man, around the time he was forcing Neanderthals to hole up in caves in Spain before finally wiping them off the planet, was also giving sporting-themed Christmas gifts, little Christmas ornaments made out of antelope bone and shaped like their favorite sporting teams (The Pangaea Dinosaur Killers vs. The Rodinian Lungfish was a great rivalry back then.)

And as long as there have been gifts, and sports, and people who like sports, and people who give gifts, there have been really crummy sport-related gifts. Gifts so terrible that they should not have been invented, let alone given. Gifts so lame that they reflect badly on the giver, the creator, and humanity in general.

That's why, each year, I make it my mission around the holiday season to do what I do best, which is: tell other people what to do, or not to do, in this case. I do that by giving you my

Annual Nonsportsmanlike Conduct! Nongift! Nonguide!:
Your guide to what NOT to give the Sports Lover in your life!

(You can tell it's a serious endeavor by the number of exclamation points. Like Kate Gosselin, I know that some things are best! expressed! with exclamation points!!)

The Annual Nonsportsmanlike Conduct! Nongift! Nonguide! (or ANCNN, if you like acronyms, and who doesn't like a good acronym?) (Aside from the Acronym Sense Society, or A.S.S., "an organization created to oppose the widespread overuse of acronyms." They don't like a good acronym, or any acronyms.) The ANCNN exists to help you, the sensitive and caring gift buyer with a sports-loving person or persons in your life, decide what not to get.

I don't just focus on the negatives, though.

I also offer positive suggestions, which are these: Get them a hat, or shirt, or jersey of their favorite team or player. That's all. A hat, a jersey, a shirt, a sweatshirt of the team or player they love. They'll like it, it's not expensive, it can be used in almost any context, and it's practical.

That's the positive advice. Here's the negative advice, in the form of the following gifts, which are the top worst sport-related gifts this year. Remember, there are lots -- lots -- of terrible sports related gifts out there. These are just...

... what's the opposite of creme de la creme? Whatever it is, these are that. They are the noncreme de la noncreme of sports-related gifts. So do not give these to the sports lover in your life.

"Special Subjects Instructional Coaching Videos."

The Product: The "Coaching Special Subjects" DVDs from

Their Pitch: Imagine having your son or daughter taught the proper Special Subjects skills, mechanics, techniques and related drills by world-class coaches. All Sports Coaching Clinics' special, hands-on, how-to, video series offers instructional videos on every position and valuable hands-on instruction for players of all levels.

The Problem: It's natural to want to help your son or daughter get better at sports, but the "special subjects" videos in the Coaching series from How To Sports are not the way to do it. The titles in the "Special Subjects" range from "Drugs, Cults, Gangs and the Adolescent," a nearly-two-hour DVD with instruction by "Carlos Davis, Director of Psychology Timberlawn Hospital," to my personal favorite, a DVD on how to really make it big in the world of sports gambling.

To show you the high quality you can expect from the "Special Subjects" Series, I'm going to set out the description for that last one, verbatim:

Professional Odds Maker SS 92303 Instruction by: Danny Sheriday, NFL Analyst Gambling and it's affect on high school, cllege and professional sports VHS Length: 58:44

Note the attention to detail as expressed in the misuse of both "it's" and "affect," as well as the misspelling of "college." Besides those, how can that DVD go wrong instructing your little Johnny or Johnette in the fine arts of bookmaking?

Oh, and there's no "Danny Sheriday," NFL Analyst. The NFL Analyst is Danny Sheridan. So I don't know who is supposed to be teaching gambling.

"The Fling Sock."

The Product:
The Fling Sock. (Also available in small, as the "Saturnian Mini Fling Sock.")

Their Pitch: Fling Sock comes with a 10-point sales pitch from "," which also explains the "Anatomy of a Fling Sock," including that the bag end is "Double bagged and filled with non toxic polyethylene pellets(the same material used for sandwich bags)" [I don't get that latter point; is the idea that it's safe, or a warning that I could be accidentally smothered by the product?] The highlights of the Top 10 reasons to buy a Fling Sock include:

"Anyone, and we mean anyone can throw a FlingSock." Then again, anyone can throw anything, so that's not really a selling point with me. I saw, yesterday, Mr F throw a laundry basket.

"Enduring play value. The charm doesn’t wear off. After a year it will still be your favorite toy." (Hopefully, replacing the half-a-Rudolph Mr F currently likes to play with.)

"The FlingSock is the most significant addition to the world of “catch” games since the Frisbee." Now, that is a claim I take issue with: the most significant addition to the world of "catch" games (why the quotes?) since the Frisbee was the Toobee, the Amazing Flying Can.

The most significant subtraction from the world of "catch" games? Jarts.

We once, as kids, invented a game called "Dart Fights."
Regulations are wrecking childhoods.

The Problem: It's a sock with a bean bag in it. That's all. Forget the highly-technical pitch aimed at the aeronautic engineer inside you ("the extra leverage from the tail gives a greater impetus to the fling sock so that it may fly much farther than an average bean bag would"), it's a bean bag in a sock. That's what you're giving your kid.

More problematic, still, is the fact that I'd bet that within 10 minutes of opening the Fling Sock, it'll be used for whacking a sibling or pet, Full-Metal-Jacket style:

Now, that's holiday fun!

But, worst of all, the Fling Sock apparently is intended for people so friendless and hopeless that it requires a five-page manual to suggest games and uses for the Fling Sock. Available for free online, the helpful instructions suggest you have a "facilitator" to get people lined up the appropriate distance apart, but from that slow start moves up, by page 3, to suggesting that people catch the Fling Sock with their feet:

If you could do that, you wouldn't be using a Fling Sock at the Christmas Day Party For Losers, you'd be playing for Ireland's World Cup Soccer Team. (If you can use your feet, you would not be playing for France, a country that doesn't bother following the only rule separating soccer from real sports.)

Skateboard Christmas Tree Ornament:

The Product: The "Red Flames Personalized Skateboard Ornament."

Their Pitch: Even the makers of the ornament don't really believe in this one; they say it's "One of the best designed skateboard ornaments we've seen." Not the best, or anything like that -- but it's one of the best. So, you know, you could do worse.

But the hard sell doesn't end there. The people at Russell Rhodes are like David Mamet characters, only for Christmas instead of elitist storylines, as they go on to push this little trinket on you by hitting all the right emotional chords:

"includes our holiday cord for convenient hanging." Got that? Not just a cord, but the Russell Rhodes holiday cord.

Still not sold? How about this:

"To complete the presentation, the skateboard ornament arrives nestled within our exclusive black velvet drawstring bag, ready to make a great baby shower gift."

A baby shower gift! This present isn't just for Christmas, but for any time. You could give it to an expectant Mom in, say, July, and in doing that, send the message "I couldn't think of anything you would really want, and also I think you're kid is going to grow up to be just like those dirtballs down the street who are always messing around in the Walgreen's parking lot."

The Problem: I've always disliked "Christmas ornaments" as "Christmas presents." (I also always get my mom a Christmas ornament, so I'm being extremely hypocritical here.) The reason I dislike them is that by the time you open the gift, the holiday it was intended for is over, more or less. So you open the ornament-gift, and then what? Hang it on your tree for the two or three days that the tree will be up serving as a reminder that the holiday season is over, that you're behind on the work you've been putting off for two weeks because of holiday spirit, and that the cat is choking on tinsel?

But more importantly, who is this ornament for? A mom or dad whose son or daughter is a skateboarder? The only mom I can think of who was proud of their young one skateboarding was Linda Hogan.

Note: Not her son.

I'll bet even Tony Hawk's mom wishes he'd studied a little more in school and pulled his pants up with a belt now and then. Giving this ornament to a parent is just a not-so-subtle way of saying My kid will never be allowed to date yours.

But are you going to give it to the kid him- or herself? That's even worse. If you know the kid likes skateboarding, why not give something he or she can use to skateboard, like a helmet, or something even more useful, like counseling so that he or she doesn't waste his or her life? Giving a skateboard-loving kid this ornament says "I care enough to know something about you, but not enough to use that knowledge for any good."

Unwanted or Outdated Fatheads:

The Product: The "Elton Brand LA Clippers Fathead," The "Jay Cutler Broncos Fathead," the "Roger Staubach Fathead," and "The Yankee Stadium Logo Fathead."

Their Pitch: These are all available on clearance at, but that doesn't stop Fathead from putting a unique twist on the seldom-purchased end of their selection. They note major accomplishments that Roger Staubach had ("Superbown VI MVP, 6 Time Pro Bowler, Heisman Trophy Winner, Hall of Famer") and... um... that's it. The rest of these just get notations like the one for Cutler: (" Born April 29, 1983 Santa Claus, IN")

Which I didn't know: Jay Cutler was born in Santa Claus, Indiana. Very Christmas-y!

The Problem: Christmas-y, but still a terrible gift. Who wants the Jay Cutler Broncos Fathead? I'm pretty sure, given how bad he's playing, that nobody wants the Jay Cutler Fathead, period -- or Jay Cutler quarterbacking their team. But the Jay Cutler Broncos Fathead has even more limited appeal than Jay Cutler himself: It appeals to those Jay Cutler, or Broncos fans, who are living in the past... but not the good past, where the Broncos won some Superbowls. No, they're living in the mediocre past where Cutler was 17-20 as a starter for their mediocre team.

The other Fathead Remnants are just as bad, if not worse. Are you the instantly-nostalgic type? And do you love buildings more than the actual teams that play in them? Then you'll love the "old" Yankees-logo Fathead, celebrating a stadium that was put out of commission only a year ago.

Then there's Roger Staubach. Staubach played in the NFL for 10 years, from 1969 to 1979, starting from 1971 on. So people who could have watched Staubach play are now at least forty (like me), and maybe older than that. If you're a forty-year-old and you're still hanging sports decals on your wall, you either work for ESPN or you're a dork.

Sports wall hangings are for kids... but what kid wants a picture of Grandpa Staubach playing football? Why not give him a picture of Cliff Battles, while you're at it?

(You do know that Cliff Battles was the first NFL player ever to rush for 200 yards in a game, don't you? What'd you do in college, pay attention in class? Sucker.)

Cliff Battles. I think
he's the one holding the ball.

The absolute worst of the remnant Fatheads has to be Elton Brand of the Los Angeles Clippers, though. You know what the claim to fame of the LA Clippers is? That they're so unpopular, their team hat was instantly a clue that a murder suspect was lying.

Seriously: Jesse Anderson murdered his wife in 1992, and tried to blame it on roving African-American children. His otherwise-perfect plan fell apart mostly because his "proof" was an LA Clippers hat supposedly worn by one of the criminals; it turned out that Anderson had bought the hat from a local youth a few days before. The Clippers' hat was memorable because nobody else had one.

I don't know who Elton Brand is, but I do know that the Clippers are synonymous with failure in basketball the way the Buffalo Bills are synonymous with.. well, failure in football. So I figure this kid:

Is thinking "Why do my parents hate me?"

While the rest of us are thinking "Why is his room mostly pink?"

Special note: If you're not the sportsy type, will let you still enjoy oversized wall decorations suited to your tastes, from categories like "generic sports," to Barack Obama to some sort of frightening Melting Mickey Mouse:

Jock Jam Music.

The Product: "ESPN Presents: Jock Jams Vol. 4 CD."

Their Pitch: This fourth volume alternates "then-current" songs with "more timeless (sports) arena-rockers."

[Note: "Timeless" is a superlative; things can't be kinda or more timeless.]
[Note, 2: Thanks for clarifying, copywriter, that it's "(sports) arena rockers" we're getting... on Jock Jams.]

The timeless tracks are Jump Around and Mueve La Cadera. On that last one: timeless is apparently not synonymous with popular or even known about by anyone outside of the tiny department at ESPN charged with putting together this CD.

Added selling point:

"The fact this is volume four of the JOCK JAMS series gives you some idea of how popular they've proven to be."

The Problem: Yes, the existence of volume four of JOCK JAMS could be proof of how popular the CDs are... or of how sadly deluded gift-givers are. Because "popular" is not the word I would apply to songs like "Hear the Organ Get Wicked" by Ray Castoldi. Or this one:

"23. Son of Jock Jam - Dick Vitale/Dan Patrick/Jock Jam All Stars (Mega mix)"

Here's what you'll get if you buy Volume 4:

That is, to be clear, a remix of several other remixed songs. But this one has Dick Vitale on it, so that's infinitely worse.

There's also an Austin Powers' "Yeah, Baby" track opening the album... but don't get your hopes up, because it's not the yeah baby you were hoping for. Instead, it's Austin saying "It's my happening baby, and it freaks me out."

If you've already bought the sports lover on your list Jock Jams Volume 4, well, shame on you -- but it's not too late to refuse to buy Jock Jams Volume 5, featuring the first-ever collaboration between Temperer, Mya, and Van Earl Wright. Strangely, I could not find a video for that song anywhere on Youtube. So I'll send you on your way with a combination of the two greatest cultural expressions available in America today: Hannah Montana, and the original Jock Jams Megamix:

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