(This afternoon I’m too busy mourning the loss of what was left of my fence to share nasal-toned monologues via the podcast. The fence was carried off in a wind storm and last seen prancing like a series of 12-foot deer over the top of my neighbor’s roof. Rest easy, wherever you end up fence. For some background on the fence and the idiot who originally installed it, see post entitled “Henry” (3/12/12).
In the past, I think that I’ve mentioned my occupation as an office clerk. One part of my job deals with reconciling monthly billing between the company that employs me and their contracted hospitality provider. Right. You’re probably just all tingly about reading some more of a blog post about bookkeeping. Oooh. Ahhh. By trade and training, I am probably not a suitable candidate for clerical work. It’s weird to have stood over a saute pan for years and taken pride in setting things on fire and then one day transition into paperwork. Honestly, though, I enjoy the desk work. I adapt to change and overcome challenges well. If a new job required me to stand in a snow bank and wave at motorists, it wouldn’t be too much of a problem.
One of the issues with desk life is email etiquette. In cooking, you communicate by shouting time-honored, pithy phrases at your co-workers. Most of which, incidentally, shouldn’t be repeated in other walks of life. You give them the finger, they beat you senseless as soon as you step out for a smoke. Communication received. Email is more a finesse game. I am very comfortable navigating the e-world at my own company, as long as I don’t “reply all” with old pictures of myself getting beaten up. The big corporate hospitality company’s email is a little murkier. Since I’ve got one of the world’s most common first/last name combinations, my name has gotten shuffled into every global mail list for the big corporate hospitality provider. The global giant’s European divisions started including me in all kinds of mail about two years ago. Since absolutely none of the mail involved me, I got in the habit of asking to be taken off the overseas mailing lists. I’d point out that I’m a lowly middle-man from Michigan, USA and the replies were unfailing polite.
Apologies, Andrew. Best Wishes!
Such nice correspondents, but lousy with follow-up. So, I just got used to the mail. After a while, I pieced together stories and networks in corporate divisions that I’ll never interact with. I became concerned with their Uzbekistan marketing drives and invoice delays between North Atlantic oil rigs and land-based offices. When one European associate would leave for a new job, I’d shed a tear like everyone else in her division. Sigh. I really have to get off these mailing lists. There are enough storylines in my own office cubicles to fill a blog.
My nine year-old daughter received a battery operated Justin Bieber musical toothbrush as a Christmas gift this past weekend. What did the world do to satiate it’s oral hygiene needs before the Bieber brush? I no longer can recall, because all that rattles through my mind is “I’m like baby, baby, baby.” The brush plays two and a half minutes of Bieber music in an attempt to instruct children that proper dental cleaning is equivalent to the amount of puppy love yearning soundtrack a reasonably sane person can stand before finally jamming the toothbrush through the roof of their mouth. Thank goodness there isn’t a Lynard Skynard musical toothbrush. Kids would be tearing up their gums before making it through half of Freebird.
Justin Bieber is not such a bad kid. He probably brushes his teeth at least once a week. He might even sing Baby as he gargles mouth wash. Not that it would sound any different. I wonder if he’ll look back at his early career and marvel at the amount of crap that featured his face. I’d like to see him really cash in on his fame. Why does he have to stop with toothbrushes? Justin should explore becoming the new Mrs. Butterworth. As we pour pancake syrup from the top of his glass noggin, Bieber could remind us of how thick and rich his buttery syrup is. I predict that Justin will one day become a famed music critic and prattle on about pentatonic clusters, while the rest of us are haunted by his teen idol music from brushes that won’t die. I guess that I shouldn’t complain about the singing toothbrush. I had the “Snoopy Brusha Brusha Toothbrush.” The thing had D cell batteries and weighed six pounds. Lousy for teeth, but I ended up with huge biceps.
Tomorrow night marks another Super Bowl. I’m a lousy sports fan, because I can’t remember what number bowl this one is. What do I know? My sport is baseball, which is the equivalent of watching grown men in the act of slow motion grounds keeping. Professional football, as exciting as it is, is often rivaled by the advertisements for products during the games. Products most people may (or may not) buy after the game. I can’t imagine anybody running out, after all, to buy a luxury car during the Super Bowl. I was reading a retrospective of products that flopped after being introduced during the Super Bowl. No surprise that at the top of the list was a product called “Crystal Pepsi.” Clear Pepsi was a brilliant idea, but a not very good drink. A clear cola with no cola flavor. Sort of like drinking lemony Karo syrup. The revival of the legend regarding Crystal Pepsi, reminded me of a lot of the great (and not so great) unsung products that have come and gone over the years. Here are some of my favorite orphaned and abandoned crazy ideas that have appeared over my lifetime:
Bacon Cheddar Cheetos. One of the most awesomely great flavor combinations ever to appear on store shelves. A Google search won’t turn up information on them, so this is food that only lives on in sense memory. Good memories, though.
Mexican Manwich. Not really a taco, not so much a sloppy joe. The best of both worlds, really.
Banquet’s Cowboy Meal. Not a lot of working cowboys would settle for this mess, but it had an odd appeal. Skunky Salisbury steaks and tasty charro beans. Food to eat when you aren’t really eating.
Kona Pepsi. In the push to fill everything with coffee flavor, Pepsi came out in the 90’s with this strangely bitter, molasses tasting beverage. By the end of it’s run, however, Kona was available for .39¢ per 2 liter bottle. Cheap, easy caffeine fix.
The McDonald’s Country Fried Steak Breakfast biscuit. I weep for the children, because they’ll never know the joy of rolling out the rack and going to Micky D’s for a deep-fried steak patty on a biscuit. Almost as awesome as…
The fried McDonald’s pie. I haven’t really appreciated McDonald’s since they stopped frying cherry pies, and introduced the lame, microwaved version. The original was covered in corn starch that would create a bubbling, crackling crust on the outside of the pie. The pies were always too hot to eat and burning one’s gullet was part of the joy of eating them.
Ben and Jerry’s Rainforest Crunch ice cream. So good it was sick. Nut brittle clusters the size of the carton. Ben and Jerry’s still makes Heath Crunch, but it just ain’t the same.
Pruitt’s Peanuts. Potato chip covered peanuts. The best of all worlds.
Fast Food drinkware. Food chains gave away glassware just for patronizing their restaurants. Most families had a wealth of Star Wars and Superman tumblers. Even the later plastic tumblers were great, especially in college when it was nice to have 50 or 60 so that you never had to wash anything.
There isn’t a ten. Recently I showed my daughter a webpage dedicated to product packaging from back in the day and she winced. “Man. You guys were creepy.” Yeah, but I’ll be creepy with a fried pie and a steak biscuit any day.
As a trained husband, skilled in distinguishing between important sounds and mere noise, I can sleep through nearly anything. Babies crying, car alarms, end of days. These are just white noise to the ears of a professional sleeper. One sound did present itself in an obnoxious enough way (no, it wasn’t my own voice, surprisingly) to get my attention and turn me once again into “Dad: Destroyer of Household Goods.” The noise has been emanating from our Air Conditioning unit, which sits somewhere beneath the bedroom window. No amount of Don Draper-style parenting (“Stop that! Go to sleep!”) worked on the a.c., so I had to take matters into my own unskilled, twitchy hands. The device was buried under generations of kudzu and jungle vegetation. Indiana Jones style, I machete-ed out back armed only with a sledgehammer, a can of WD-40 and a Fodor guide (chiamare il condizionatore riparatore?). I could have hired the neighbor kid to do the yard work but he has his own issues. Poor guy is 90 and still lives with his mother, aged 112. There are slacker problems with the Oldest Generation, I guess.
To have air conditioning, let alone central air, is a blessing I am so thankful for. Growing up, our family made do with a World War II era, 40 pound office fan, that we’d lug from room to room. Dad had fished it out of a dumpster on one his many home shopping trips. As the oldest child, I was allowed to have the fan at night. Not much of a comfort, as the thing was like sleeping next to a running tractor. I’d put Joe Satriani or Mettalica tapes on my Walkman and crank them all the way up to drown out old reliable. My sleeping skills were fully developed long before leaving home. I never yelled at the fan. It had a sweet spot that could be punched. You had to be careful. Knocking it over meant the evil bastard would eat through the floor and wind up in the basement. Have I mentioned my eternal love for noisy but consistent a.c.?
I get stuck on tiny issues throughout the day and obsess over the smallest of details. Today’s bit of worrisome minutiae arrived courtesy of the box of mints that I keep in a desk drawer at work for various emergencies. Over the past couple of years, I’ve begun to see the awesome power to solve all manner of crises that a well placed package of breath mints has. First and foremost, when I need to be quiet, a handful of strong peppermints usually does the trick. They relieve indigestion, provide temporary wakefulness when I’m working during the pre-dawn hours and are useful when shaken during impromptu songs. My favorite non-musical mint is the Wintergreen Lifesaver (shameless plug). I am always sad when the Lifesaver roll gets down to that last minty straggler with his two-inch silver wrapper chain hanging behind him. Right now, I’ve only got the venerable Altoids in their cheery, red tin. Inside, there is always a paper insert featuring some kind of trivial Altoid-ism. In the current tin there is a line about Altoids being used historically to fend off raven attacks. Good Lord! Raven attacks? What kind of mints are these?
The whole thing about being attacked by ravens is extremely puzzling. Is this a bygone English plague? Were poor, Dickensian children attacked by ravens as they begged for more gruel (“Please, Sir? Ow! Ow! Maybe just some lint covered Altoids to fight these birds, sir?”). Hopefully raven attacks aren’t a modern American trend. Are crows like ravens? I live in the northern middle west and would really be interested in growing hybrid corn modified with breath mints so the crows leave us alone. When I went out to run today, the ravens weighed heavily on my mind. I’d forgotten to bring the Altoids and began to scan the streets for marauding birds. I pictured having to run while consuming dangerous quantities of mints. White powder all over my face, foaming at the mouth, my peppermint tin clanking as I shuffled down the path. Nevermore. I’ll go to work tomorrow, eat the mints and toss the trivial insert. Oh, and switch to Tic-Tacs.
For the most part, I ignore the things in day-to-day life that require attention. This is part of a holistic approach to procrastination. Well, it would be an approach, but I’m waiting until next week to begin. One of the things I’ve been ignoring is the fact that my cellular phone has been calling people of its own volition. Not butt dialing, either. Butt dialing, or (heaven forbid) drunk dialing, would mean that I’d have to accidentally initiate the call. No, my celly is just calling random parties on its own. This supposedly smart phone is making bad choices. At 18 months old, it’s almost eligible for replacement. The phone is probably showing out a little bit. Really, who among us didn’t make bad choices at a year and a half old?
The calling started quietly. There were short calls to my wife’s office. When the receptionist asked who was calling, all she got was a plaintive “Drooiid.” I could explain my way out of this with “Sorry, the phone got it’s number from me.” Not so easy was the issue of the phone calling every woman I’d ever met. Girls I hadn’t talked to since Junior High were suddenly asking what I wanted and why I hadn’t called since 1987. As I’d explain that my phone has a glitch, the phone would be miserably moaning in the background “Drrroooiid.” I really am a bad phone owner and am now paying for the price. There were the months of Angry Birding the screen too forcefully. The weeks of leaving it half-naked on the counter, because I couldn’t get the cheap, plastic cover to fit correctly. The celly is making me pay by calling my coworkers and dishing on me. Deep into the night I hear “Droid.” I’m definitely trading for an iPhone.
Over the past year, boxing’s former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson has repeated to reporters variations on a story involving his ex-wife Robin Givens and actor Brad Pitt. Apparently, he arrived home one day in 1988 to find Ms. Givens and the soon-to-be world-famous actor in bed together. Moment of pause here while I stop to ponder how Mr. Pitt lived through that situation and managed to stave off the wrath of Iron Mike. Tyson was, after all, the undisputed king of the ring at that time. If there exists a modern ten commandments, this would be right at the top of them:1.) Thou Shalt Not Sleep With Mrs. Mike Tyson. The fact that the boxing legend is still lisping out angry regrets over the affair signals that he is not completely over his grudge with Brad Pitt. I’d love to have a time machine and take some updated commandments back to Pitt and Givens in 1988 so that they’d have been warned about Mike Tyson and his penchant for holding a grudge for 24 years. This is (unfortunately) not possible, so Mr. Pitt will just have to keep looking over his shoulder for aging, face-tattooed boxers. I’ve thought of nine other commandments that rank right up there with staying out of Mrs. Tyson’s bed if you enjoy living:
2.)Thou shalt not appear in advertisements in which you demonstrate the self-lubricating pocket catheter. No matter how much money Satan and Liberty Medical offer you to do the commercials.
3.) Do not make false promises to move out of your parent’s basement while dressed as a Hobbit.
4.)Your team shalt not pay Alex Rodriguez to sit on the bench and pass notes to girls in the stands next season (unless your team is in the public school recreational league, where players are paid in gum).
5.)Thou shalt not marry any stars of Head of The Class ( except for Arvid, from whom all knowledge of good and evil came).
6.)Thou shalt (okay, I shalt) stop using Thou shalt which was lame at least five references ago. Also: stop referring to Head of The Class (because nobody remembers it).
7.) No person should take a time machine back to the 80’s. For starters, the 80’s were boring, and there are over-the-hill bloggers to fill you in on the details, anyway.
8.)Do not speak French to the servers at the International House of Pancakes. Use of multiple languages only makes them more determined microwave your waffles and bring you coffee made from scalding restroom water and gym socks.
9.)Drinking Molson does not make you a hockey player. Actually, these days neither does being signed by an NHL team. After a few Molson’s we could all be professional hockey players. Gotta go. I see a tattooed face in the shadows.
Are people defined by their “isms?” As much as the look on our faces shows the world the way to our souls, it might be the little idio(t)syncrasies that are the real indicators of just who we are. Take for instance the tuneless tunes we choose to sing, or hum when happy. Sure, some people don’t ever have a go-to song. Many of those same people are generally unhappy tools, or they’re mannequins. When I’m truly at peace with the world, I become more annoying than usual. One of my little tells is that I sing the closing sting from ESPN’s Sports Center theme. The tune is literally just “duh na na duh na na Sports Center.” ESPN ( The Exaggerated Sports Pimping Network) has been using variations of the theme for over twenty years and it’s one of those ubiquitous riffs that just gets lodged in one’s gray matter. In our house, at least on most sunny Saturday mornings, every question asked of me is answered with this ism sliver. If someone asks for scrambled eggs, they get them served with “duh na na…” For some reason, I always end by announcing Sports Center like one of the public address announcers from Half Life. The nonsensical use of my musical ism became so out of control that I caught myself mindlessly duh na na-ing at work one day. “What that your humming? Maybe you should go back and sit in your cubicle and have some time alone to hum the batman theme.”
Leave it to the intuitively designed iPhone to be the buzz killer. The Sports Center app for iOS plays the show’s beloved sting at certain user ordained times. I set the app up to notify me during key points in baseball and football games as well as at their start and end times. The phone did so much “duh na na” over the first few months that I now keep it silent for the majority of the time. Certain moments in life don’t need the Sports Center theme, either from me or the phone. So, I have to break the ESPNism and find new ways to enjoy my happiness. The other night I found that I could “duh nuh” the entire Monday Night Football theme. Thus, a new ism was born.
Every once in a while you can find something interesting to read on the internet. I don’t troll around the web looking for things to read or write about, because life brings its own parade of absurdity without having to surf around for subject matter. Today I happened to see an article at My Daily Moment about 5 mistakes women make in bed. MDM is full of articles about how not to mistakes in the bed, how to tell if you need a bed, how not to fall out of bed…lots of bed material. To be fair, they have recipes, too. Potato salad that you can take home in your purse on the morning after, milkshakes that can be left under the bed for indefinite periods of time, etc. Good stuff. As an expert on nothing and a person knowledgeable about zip, I have my own list of bedroom mistakes women make to add to My Daily Moment’s list. Here are 5 intimacy mistakes every women should avoid:
Don’t bring sloppy joe’s to bed with you. I can’t stress this enough. No matter how much you crave Manwich, the choice has to be made between getting down and getting your sloppy on. There’s nothing finer than the site of grown woman wearing barbecue sauce, but it’s a hassle getting it out of the sheets.
Refrain from doing voice impressions from the Transformers movies. The robot voices are okay, and a shout of “Autobots, let’s roll out!” is sooo sexy. No, I mean don’t do the Megan Fox voice.
You love Phil Phillips, but try to not make the Phil Phillips face. Statistics are not yet available on how many relationships have been ruined when lovers attempt to channel the young American Idol star in bed, but one is too many. (See also “Wannabe Dave Matthews Facial Expressions”)
Choice of lingerie. Simple, comfortable and cute is a good rule of thumb. Dressing like Mr.T., whether due to fetish, or repressed A-Team trauma, is usually too much.
Say nothing, act casual. There is a tendency on the part of the modern lover to recite passages from Ulysses, Mother Jones magazine, or run on sentences from Mostly Teachable. The more talking done in the bedroom, the more chances for sloppy joe accidents. Bring nothing but your smile and a roll of paper towels.
The New York Times ran a feature today titled Build Your Own Inaugural Address (Tom Giratikanon, The New York Times. First published 1/17/2013). The concept sounded slightly intriguing. What agenda for America’s prosperity would I lay out to the people before the start of what I’d hope to be a grand and glorious term in office. Hmmm…what would I say right before the nice folks drive me off to a padded cell is the more appropriate question. Here is my vision for a Mostly Teachable Presidential era:
“My fellow Americans… well, er, I mean the percentage of Americans who voted me into office. The rest of you are on your own for the next four years. My staff knows exactly which of you didn’t choose to vote for me. You’re the ones with the half scraped off campaign stickers for the other guy. You all know what the other guy is doing right now as I stand here, prepared to assume the mantle of leadership. He’s on the phone with his bumper sticker manufacturer in Ohio, trying to get a bulk return discount on all of those unused promotional items. We’re here to talk today, however, about the America I envision. My vision for America is that each and every citizen has a purpose fulfilled through the promise of employment. For every citizen who yearns to work in this country, I’ll be more than happy to give them the number of a political bumper sticker company in Toledo that is busy with processing returns of old campaign materials. My vision for America is that live as a country of diversity and begin to reflect the face of a changing world. I want America to be a nation in which even crusty, old white guys have as much chance of being elected to office as anyone else. My vision for America is that we become a shining beacon of crazy to the world. In these times of global turmoil, it is no longer good enough to be a country of fringe lunatics. America needs to announce to the world that we are a country that embraces secessionists, birthers, separatists, Pageant Moms, Swamp People and Nikki Minaj. This is a country built on crazy and we need to show the world that crazy works. At least until it stops working. How many of you, my brother and sister Americans, have been drunk at your offices? Well…at least 13 Presidents were drunk most of their terms in office. My vision for America is that citizens embrace each other. Not in public, and only between the hours of 4:00 through 6:00 p.m. No sloppy embracing either, because we don’t need our people to be drunk and sloppy at the same time. In closing, my vision for America revolves around something I can do with your help, that is the help of every American citizen. I envision a congress made up of crusty, old white men who resemble Statler and Waldorf and can’t accomplish anything. We need more sedentary to accent the crazy and less strenuous activity. For activity is the enemy of stagnation and only leads to getting things done. Down with the tyranny of accomplishment!”
I hold a bizarre hatred for Sunday nights. Each one is the end of a dream, the last glowing embers of a weekend that may ( or may not have) been the greatest ever. Try as I might, there just isn’t any way to extend time. I find myself each Sunday evening, parked on the end of the couch, glancing at the wall clock and remarking that it must be wrong. “10:23? Nah. I must have set it too far ahead.” Friday afternoon always holds so much hope, but Sunday night is like going through the wardrobe into the Narnia that is a new week. If, as Douglas Adams put it, Sunday afternoon is the long dark tea time of the soul, then the evening of the day is the end of tea altogether. Never mind the soul.
Eventually, I sleep it all off and wake up to start a new week. The dream begins anew. The hope that I can get to spend time with my family, sit for a few minutes and talk, and enjoy the strange, sweet blessing of sleeping in. The embers are stoked and kindled back into a fire that burns true. I can plan for the next time I have away from work and dream about a little time to do the things that make up my personality. In the meantime, I’ll work as hard as I can and put away pennies for weekends to come. This is a good life, despite the creeping presence of Sunday nights. Being able to work all week to get to that point is proof of how good life really is.
My 10-year-old daughter Anna brought home a permission slip this week asking me to sign off on her enrollment in family life classes at school. I wondered what in the world she needed to take a family life course for. She knows how life works in her household. She’s expected to complete all of her homework, treat others with respect, watch Spongebob without repeating anything he says, and…oh, sweet Lord! Family Life. AKA, “How to keep Anna from creating a family of her own until at least the time she’s completed her doctorate in astrophysics.” By calling early sex education courses Family Life, the schools have tried to break it to parents gently that their babies are maturing rapidly. This year the classes take place in the cocoon of the elementary school, but next year the kids will have a field trip to South Bend, Indiana for further study. Something to do with either corn reproduction or Notre Dame football. As long as both aren’t involved, I guess that signing the permission slip will be okay. Maybe.
Growing up, I don’t recall having to have a slip signed permitting me to take sex education courses. Permission slips were meant for really dangerous subjects. I had to have permission to take driver’s ed. My dad dragged his feet for several years about signing that slip. With good reason, too. No sane citizen should sign off on having a high school kid drive two tons of steel and glass over flower beds and through the marble lobbies of downtown hotels. Sex? Well, there was no parental permission given to learn how exactly to make a baby. Plenty of my friends had already done so and professed to how easy the process was. I didn’t feel as a teenager that I needed a class for sex. The knowledge that I gleaned from several neighborhood girls, my mom’s copies of Psychology Today and After School Specials with Helen Hunt and Scott Baio gave me what I felt was a well-rounded education. The actual classes were a bit of a shock. My sex ed class (or health, as they termed it. Health, as in “don’t use somebody else’s gym towel, or you’ll go blind.”) was taught by a former Soviet scientist. She’d designed truth serum in her former homeland. Mother Russia would bark commands at us and boy, did we do what she said. She started the semester by handing out crude anatomical sketches resembling eggplants with arms and legs. Sort of like the Operation man, only not as pleasant. “Draw the ovaries!” Mother Russia would shout, and I’d quickly approximate organs. On my girl eggplant, the one with odd thoracic radar beacons, I drew a hat. Surely, the over-ease must be on top of her head? What did I care about all of these details? These weren’t the eggplants of my dreams! I felt that I could draw a more complete woman from my study of Sports Illustrated and my imagination. This talk of “fall-open” tubes seemed frivolous. Oh, but then we moved on to venereal diseases. You didn’t get STD’s back in the day. No, VD was the great black death. Every instruction against catching gonorrhea or syphilis was punctuated with
…and you’ll die!
as in “Hang around with neighborhood girls while reading psychology magazines pilfered from mom… and you’ll die!” Sometimes, even as a reasonably educated adult, I still fear the hand of lingering death from old school diseases. Death was always right around the corner. Driving was a lot easier. I got my license after taking the driver’s test just five times. My education about women, eggplants and reproductive “health” continues to this day.
Each day I write my blog, but sometimes I forget about it. There are times when I need to be reminded that the writing is fun and can be taken away as easily it was started. Last night was an old school migraine night. One of those nights when I couldn’t possibly write a blog post. I couldn’t write a check to the Grim Reaper so that he’d take me away. At one point during the evening I got off of my face and out of the bed long enough to say something to my wife. She was watching American Idol, which apparently is a program about Nikki Minaj. The Minaj Mahol was telling some hapless singer about her waffle eating habits. Nikki wasn’t just drunk, she was f-unk. The migraine, along with AI, pierced my eyeballs and sent me back between tossing my own waffles and the bed.
Somewhere in the early hours of morning, long about two o’clock in the morning, I woke up with slightly less of a headache. The headache was momentarily kicking my butt rather than my head (although, they’re eerily similar). The first thing I thought about was writing this weird little blog. Then I fell back asleep. When I got up for the day, the thought of putting some electronic ink down was still with me, though. I kind of missed putting the blog together on a day when I couldn’t do it. Making up Mostly Teachable as I go along is cathartic. Writing the blog is a way of scribbling out the good and bad events of each day and making sense out of them. Sometimes the blog works, many times it doesn’t. Quality and quantity are beside the point. Writing is fun for me, because it’s a way of sorting out life. Nasty migraines, obnoxious reality singing show judges and the rest of life.
The tiny, non-starter irritations in life are always the ones I get stuck on. The other morning, I awoke and turned on the TV in time to see some unctuous spokes-models wandering through a wheat field touting the virtues of a brand of breakfast cereal. The beautiful people rattled and prattled for thirty seconds about this wonderful, natural sort of cereal. The food is supposedly natural because it’s shaped like something once found in nature and healthy because of some purported relationship with the earth. Blah, Blah, Blah. Never mind that the product is doused in malt syrup and makes its own gravy when covered in milk. The commercials used to employ a preachy testimonial from some world-famous chef, but models meandering through wheat fields dreamily expounding on the blessings of cereal must have seemed more relatable to advertising executives. Poor, hunky, famous chef. He’s probably gone back to slinging oatmeal in a hotel dungeon somewhere.
There isn’t much natural about breakfast cereal. If there was, we’d all be eating bowls of fertilizer (“All the best to you each morning!”). Rice grains impregnated with superheated air, rolled oats covered in sugar and stuck together with dyed and dried cranberries. I actually enjoy the completely unnatural. Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch. At least when I eat PBCC, I know that it’s not even an imitation of real food, the same as I know that it hasn’t travelled with actual pirates.
Arrr…we’ll forgo the booty and take the peanut butter crap food with us. Sure beats cow manure…
I’d love to make a new kind of cereal that embodies the all-American breakfast. Coffee, cigarettes and resentment. The new breakfast treat might be called Smoldering Java Anger Flakes. The advertising would feature combat boot wearing lunchroom cooks wandering through Walmart shouting the virtues of eating compost. Every box would feature a hairnet at the bottom as a sort of prize. You know, I might change course and start eating some of that unctuous, whole grain cereal. It might regenerate the brain cells killed off by years of Cap’n Crunch.
Blogging for me Writing is all about the content, the nuance, the meaning of what the author is trying to say. In the case of this particular blog, I try to get at least some of that right. So, when friends who read this regularly started to mention that the audio player was hinky and not functional, I got motivated to blow up the blog with the bath water. This new…thing has a better player for the podcast episodes, plus some different features and menus. The thing is, if I’m committed to putting up a new, decidedly weird post each day, the place I post them better be cool. Hence this new work in progress. The best is yet to come ( or some related cliché).
This is a response to Michelle W.'s Daily prompt question for 2/12/13 at The Daily post. In this podcast, I talk about how my blog came by it's name, how I became (Mostly) Teachable and the nature of the blog.
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This is an audio podcast response to Michelle W.’s Daily prompt question for 2/12/13 at The Daily post. In this podcast, I talk about how my blog came by it’s name, how I became (Mostly) Teachable and the nature of the blog. Below is a link to Michelle’s original piece:
Yesterday I posted a bit of verbal nonsense about what its like to find ways to kindle (and rekindle) romance in the midst of marriage. My wife didn’t really let me off the hook. She hasn’t heard the podcast yet (shhh). Date nights are a wonderful, cherished occasion rarely enjoyed during our workaday lives. The times we get to go out and have a laugh (or three) are a relief and a reminder of the days when we were going out. In those days, I either cut out early for home, or pretended that I didn’t notice her father’s quizzical looks if I was still hanging out when he was going off to bed. Nowadays, Lori and I both enjoy our laughs, check on our daughter and then fall asleep, because the sheer excitement of being alone together wears us out.
This week, I helped put together nearly 400 date night kits. Despite my caveman ways (“I’m a simple caveman. I don’t understand your modern romance), I try to help out with encouraging and helping local married couples. We put in three suggested dates, along with a lot of incentives to try local restaurants. The idea seems both absurd and novel at the same time. Many couples, when they find out what’s included in the date night boxes, ask why they need any such motivation. The argument we get is that they’re already married, so there really isn’t any need for our box of goodies. What gets forgotten in the business of being married, and the business of raising kids while working, is that we need to make time to date our spouses. After all, we didn’t marry each other and forfeit our souls. Sometimes, it takes a box full of funny sounding, old-fashioned suggestions to remind us that being alone with our marriage partners was (and is) fun. We live and breathe every moment in support of our families, yet often forget to communicate with our own partners. I’m a little proud of having worked on the date night kits. We distributed, by the Grace of God, nearly 300 of them today. Older couples told us things like “We’ve been married 45 years, and it’s been a long time since we dated.” Which is exactly the point. The idea of the date isn’t just time alone. It’s about time alone together.
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This is podcast episode 19(ish). In this week’s episode, I goof on all things Valentine’s day including gift buying, romance and sex. This podcast also snapshots a little bit more about depression. For information on “stuff” heard on the podcast, please feel free to ask away. Also, check out our car and travel friendly i-tunes podcast (which is absolutely free).
I can’t wrap my brain around the idea of being reincarnated. Earth is a nice place to visit, but returning to it repeatedly in various forms seems like a buzzkill. To be reincarnated is like watching a rerun of a show you were mildly amused by over and over again. Sure, you might notice little details that were missed the first time around (“Ooh! Colors!), but essentially the show will always be a repeat. Heaven is a much simpler concept, which is imperative for the feeble-minded man such as myself. I love God and accept His gift of Grace for all of eternity. He will then allow me to live in his home forever. The streets are gold, the music is soothing and I’ll have forgotten the things about all of my loved ones that were so annoying. To be reincarnated is to work. Work is nice, at least in theory. Having to do it over many lifetimes is a hard road. I’m not a really good person. Certainly not good enough to be reincarnated as anyone cool. More than likely, I’ll come back as Alex Rodriguez’ left butt cheek and will be repeatedly stabbed with a hypodermic needle for years. With any luck, I won’t return as some sort of infected monkey, Lindsey Lohan, a doorknob , or some combination of the three. Yep, that will be me. A body carrying the spirit of monkeypox Lohanknob.
We are born. We die. Then we aren’t. At least not on earth. Part of the joy of living is knowing that one day we won’t have to exist amongst the problems of earth. No more worrying about money, laundry, or money laundering. Our spirits won’t be crushed any longer by bad relationships, or left to wonder when the bottom is going to fall out of good ones. I believe my spirit will go on in the heavenly realm. My body won’t be a concern any longer, though. The addled brain that inhabits my repeatedly cracked skull will no longer plague me with stupid questions. I’ll be one with God and His universe. Though there will no longer be a need to, I’ll kick back and enjoy shaky jokes and way too many Cokes. Heaven is real and I can’t wait to be united with God there.
There is a part of me that revels in simplicity. There are only a handful of possessions in life that I care about, and the concern for them is mostly sentimental. In a 9″ x 6″ box that sits atop my dresser rest most of my so-called “important” things. The box means a lot, because my wife’s grandparents gave matching ones to all of the men in the family one Christmas. Inside are photos of my wife Lori from when we were dating, baby pictures of our daughter Anna and assorted ones of my nephews. There are watches that Lori gave me, including one from St. Thomas, as well as the Beatles watch my parents gave me when I turned 17. Near the top is the first Valentine’s card Anna ever made for me. Rounding out the assortment are “attaboys” from various jobs, including a 5-year anniversary pen from my present job and lots of lapel pins. The one featuring the World Trade Center buildings still means a lot to me, and every time I wear it the fear is that the pin will get lost. Alas, things are just things. I try to keep the main thing the main thing and care more about people than stuff and trifling bits of material. All that said, I do have one oddly emotional attachment to a possession though, and that is my raggedy old automobile. The car is so me, and I am so that car.
This morning I was summoned away from work to run an errand in my old Honda CR-V. There are a number or recurring characters that appear at Mostly Teachable. Lori, Anna, and our dog Grace are the most notable. The Honda appeared in these pages long before any of them did, however. According to the car’s birth certificate, it will turn 15 in March. Nevertheless, I’m still running errands in the car, which is fine by me. Last night, I drove my wife’s sensible automobile of a more recent vintage across town and nearly bit the farm (or some applicable cliché). As I almost slammed into the back of a stopped car while skidding on a snow-covered street, I really thought very highly of my old Honda. This morning, driving my fussy Honda around town and feeling the car adjust to the road conditions, I felt slightly more reassured. Sure, the Honda doesn’t have creature comforts. It takes 20 minutes for the interior to warm up, but I don’t need to be warm. The back hatch doesn’t close, which isn’t a big issue. If I happen start hauling immigrants across the border, I’ll spring for duct tape to keep the hatch closed. There are unidentified smells and never-mind stains, but I don’t drive the Honda for looks. Bumper stickers cover most of life’s inadequacies and that goes double for my car. So, happy Valentine’s day old, clunky friend. I’ll always keep your grill ornament on my dresser. I’m just a little sentimental that way.