WORKING is the Key . . .

Unless you live under a very big rock (no offense, Mesa, Arizona) you have no doubt heard of the recent flap over Yahoo! CEO Marissa Meyer (who looks a LOT like my daughter's first grade teacher will likely look when she's the same age as Marissa Meyer is today) and her decision to end "telecommuting" or "work from home" options for Yahoo! employees. While this is probably not exactly the biggest news in the world it seems to have struck a nerve with the masses. Why?

The arguments and theories as to why are all over the board but the consensus seems to be that:

  • Innovation is better when teams are together (this is true for accountants to programmers/developers)
  • Employees are not as dutiful at home as they might be in the workplace
  • By forcing employees to get to work each day they will drive out some employees and actually lower overhead and have a stronger/leaner workforce in the long run
  • It is very expensive to house your workforce (square footage, office supplies, heating/cooling, electricity, shoveling sidewalks, taking out trash, etc.) so this is not about the bottom line
  • People love to make things about more/bigger than they are.
Here's the bottom line. The (relatively) new CEO of a former tech giant wants to shake it up. She wants her army back. She wants their collective swagger back. She is being a 'bold" and visionary leader in taking somewhat radical steps to do that (this is BIG tech, folks - where work/life balance and culture of independence and blah, blah, blah were born and raised and where talent is attracted and retained (every beanbag in a Google office knows exactly what I'm talking about and so do you)). 

Now. I'll let all of you duke this one out. I don't have a job at all right now so working from home is not really on my worries list BUT I'll say this . . . I worked for IBM. They  had a liberal policy on this and they even had lots of folks that were not assigned a physical office at all so they "had" to work from home. All four of my real jobs have allowed telecommuting in various forms and doses. Here's what I know:

  • It ain't for me. Put me in an office. Let me have a HOME and an OFFICE. Let me traverse the two as a way of mentally switching gears. Give me people that I respect and that inspire and challenge me. Let me have a break room to talk trash in (my dining nook just doesn't cut it). Let me separate church and state.
  • Let's make this about what it IS about . . . the WORK! If you are WORKING (diligently or otherwise) you should not need to be "here" or "there" to do it. But if you are really working "here" or "there" it will annoy you to be second guessed or forced to change. Your WORK may suffer accordingly. But for every person I knew at Big Blue that was a solid remote employee, I knew two that would have dogs and adult children making noise during conference calls, they would never be on Sametime (instant messaging) and they would always have lame excuses for why not. Then again, for every person in my cubicle farm that was stellar, there was one that was not. WORK, people. That is why they PAY YOU! Put a divide between each of your worlds. Close the door. Focus. Do great work. 
  • If I hear one more "pundit" make this all about poor women and poor mothers with NO allowance for the fact that men are torn with work and home that fathers are actually dutiful to their children and that there is the occasional penis-carrier in the cross hairs of this debate I'm going to SNAP. My ex-wife is far better at "home" - she loves it. Would be a full time mom in a heartbeat. I would lose my mind. I want, no NEED to work. I want to go there and come home. Bring bread and/or bacon (I don't eat the stuff any more but analogies being what they are . . . ) with me. I love the crap out of my child and will take time off when she's ill and juggle the two but I'm not conflicted on doing WORK when people pay me to WORK. Does this make the point about mothers and fathers and the divide on this debate? Nope. Because I'm one example - ONE. I know lots of women that allow their child to convalesce for days if a deadline at worked loomed and I know men that are homemakers, lead parents, and fantastic at it. STOP with the gender bias crap. Work life balance is not gender specific. Nor it is it any easier for either gender. 
That's the rant. Now get back to work. Why are you reading my blog in the middle of the day anyway? Telecommuting slacker! 


Make a Difference . . .

I've been doing some extra "Jew School" homework as of late - namely digging in to the Holocaust.

I have certainly always been aware of it (I think we read The Diary of Anne Frank in 8th Grade and Wiesel's Night in 10th or 11th) and I have an idea of just how horrible it was (I would not presume to know the full scope of it).

I know approximate numbers of those killed and the monstrous ways they were killed. I was obsessed with the Wannsee Conference (for the complete horror it will put in you - I suggest you watch it if you're not familiar, link above is to the entire film (which HBO remade to even better effect in 2001)) for most of high school and college. I even took a class on the Shoah ("calamity"), as it is frequently labeled in my readings/learnings.

I'm not reading up from some morbid curiosity or because of my conversion. I am, instead, looking for the beauty of the way survivors talk about the happenings in the context of their life before, during, and after. Puts things in perspective, right?

One of the things that I am most touched by is the way survivors honor those who did what you and I would presume to be common sense . . . simply helped. Keep in mind they were working with a mad man. Their own lives were on the line. This was not helping an old lady cross the street with a cross walk, a red light, and a foot cop all on your side. This was serious heroics in the face of something that was obviously wrong.

I just stumbled on this video clip. Cried. A lot. Felt compelled to share . . .

Think you are making a difference in the world? Do what common sense tells you to do - help. People, years from now, might just surprise you with a silent standing ovation for saving their lives. Or something less drastic but equally appreciated.


Next To Me . . .

Lately, there has been much talk in my life about "love" and "kindness" and how the two things are expressed, shown, earned, deserved, parceled, and otherwise held against.

I'll end the speculation and debate - and tell ALL of you - the ONLY way love is shown and kindness given is through genuine shared proximity and honest, cooperative pursuit. What the hell does that mean? Spend time together. Learn of and from each other. Do your best to truly honor each other. Be understanding when the other occasionally and inadvertently falls short. Be the hammer of justice when they fail miserably and/or intentionally. After all nothing (except junk food and Lifetime Movie Network) is more kind or loving than holding someone responsible for themselves.

There. Go one about your day. One less of the world's questions needs to be answered this fine, snowed over Kansas Tuesday.


I Am Sean's Complete Confusion . . .

The scene of my stupidity, turned angst, turned frustration.
Let me tell you all a little story about a boy named Sean. He's a nice enough fella'. He helps people in need. He volunteers. He's patient with those that need it. He frequently compliments people on their attire and general appearance. He once did something truly nice for someone when no one was watching and didn't tell the world of said heroism. But just once. All that is for another day.

Today's tale is not tied to the above character. Nay. Or, frankly if said the way I might . . . Neigh (long, drawn-out horse noise). Today's story is one of the other side of Sean . . . the part where he gets confused and sorta' rageful.

Let me set the scene . . . at about 2:50 PM CT, I pulled up to the blue box in the foreground of this photo. I had several Thank You notes to mail and, with the weather, I figured they would move faster if I dropped them at the Post Office vs. left them at my apartment for pick-up, etc. There were nine cards. SIX were addressed, return addressed, and stamped. The other three were not yet addressed, return addressed or stamped. I had the three that needed more on the envelopes pulled to the side but I erred and put them all in the box mistakenly.

NOTE - I am taking responsibility for the error on my part. Clearly MY BAD to drop them all in the box. I own that.

I pulled in to a parking spot. Walked inside and explained to the Very Nice Postal Worker (caps denote sarcasm) that I had made a mistake but that I noticed that, according to the signage, the box would be emptied in the next 30 minutes or so. I asked if my presumptions were correct. He concurred - the envelopes in that box were coming inside in the next few minutes. Okay. Good. I then asked what I thought was an easy question . . . do you think someone could pull the three envelopes, two orange, one red, with only names written upon them and hold them for me when I returned within the hour?

What was his response? Dead silence for about a minute. Tapping on a keyboard. Chin scratching. Then - a response. "Sure. For just $11 per envelope we can do that for you." I asked him, very calmly, to clarify. He said that for them to "intercept" the mail would cost $11/parcel. Standard procedure. I clarified there was NO address. NO return address. NO interception was possible since the mail could go nowhere without me being there. He shook his head, agreeably. Then said "Let me check here with the station manager. I'm not sure what we'd do in a situation like this."

Alright - now is where the characters on the screen would freeze (General Lee flying through the air) and the narrator would say "Now y'all think you know how this one's gonna' end, doncha'?" Cut to a commercial for Life cereal. I smiled, broadly, and said "Great." Then went back to mentally spooning my cereal.

He disappeared in to the back but I could actually hear him talking with the manager through the door of the office. The manager didn't understand. The employee tried to clarify. Got just about every detail of my problem wrong. The manager still didn't understand (admittedly, the way the guy told my story was super confusing even for me listening). The employee tried to tell the story again. Changed a few details. Fell flat. The manager mumbled. The guy returned. He said "We can happily help you with your challenge, sir. For just $11 per envelope."

And the General Lee crashes to the ground . . . both Luke boys deceased on contact. "May I please speak with the manager," I inquired. "I'm not sure if my issue is really understood. " (I said, politely, hoping to prevent the costs and tell the real story without accusing the guy of being a dullard.) "No. Sorry. He's really busy right now." I was told.

I went partially blind in that moment. I was overwhelmed with the sound of a massive storm of only-I-could-hear-them birds flocking overhead. The clinical environment of the lobby went crooked and blue. I exhaled, deeply. Inhaled, more deeply. Counted to four in my head (maybe out loud?). Repeated back "So, I have three envelopes out there. One of you is going to go get them in the next few minutes and carry them right in to this building. At which point you will not know where they came from or where they should go and, with no postage, no "revenue" for you to keep should you figure it out or not. So you'll take them and throw them away. And my notes will be lost. OR you could give them to me. I'll throw three stamps on them and address them right now and you can get your revenue for delivery."

"No," I was corrected. "We will take them and send them to a facility where we hold and store lost and mislabeled parcels. Or you could pay the fee for interception and we could give them to you." The birds returned only this time they were defecating on my head. And the blue light of the lobby went red like the rivers of the Old Testament.

"Okay. Great so you'll take them and ship them to some secret warehouse where they'll sit next to the Arc of the Covenant for all of time? All because I won't give you $33 to simply pull them to the side and let me come back in, within the hour, and get them from you?"

"Oh, no. He clarified. We can't give them to you. We'll take your information and we will deliver them back to your home. That is why the fee is charged. For our handling, packaging, and effort." Purple. The room was now a deep shade of purple.

"I bought a BOX of 50 Thank You notes and envelopes for just $10. That means they are $0.02/card and envelope. That's $0.06 in total cost. The postage for these three cards is just over a dollar. So I can save almost $32 by letting you send my Thank You notes to your warehouse. There is nothing "important" or "valuable" in those cards . . . despite appreciation (I thought a joke would lighten the mood and quiet the birds)." "Sorry, sir. I can't help you otherwise."

So I thanked him, genuinely (yeah - you thought I was going to SNAP and scream and yell and flip out . . . admit it) for helping me understand the policies and for the clarifications. I wished him a good day. I walked out. I got in my car. I drove to the box to take the above photo.

And as I was pulling away the employee who helped me was walking to the box - presumably to empty its contents including my Thank You notes destined for an eternity in deep storage.

Road Trip . . .

Shuttlecocks. Big ones. ALL over the lawn.
While I am normally pretty good with staying in control and owning my emotions and situations, I get in moods, from rare time to very infrequent time, where I have just two or three choices:
  1. Stay focused. Power through the frustration. Overcome.
  2. Run. Like a li-tulll schoooool child. 
  3. Online porn. 
I've had a LOT pushing me toward web browsers and/or a wind sprint lately. Friday morning, after much hemming and hawing and a fair amount of shoveling and fun with the kiddo, I decided NOT to cancel my informational interview in Topeka and then steam on up to Lawrence, Kansas. Home of YOUR (definitely not mine - Let's go SHOX!) Kansas Jayhawks and also home to friends Nathan, David, and Nicole. Even better, I got to hang out with their friends Jay (who is hilariously great (#SuperBlack)), Matt (who owns 23rd Street Brewery) and Amy (who you can personally (professionally?) thank for Kansas State Park #24).

We had a great time, if I do say so myself, just sort of hanging out all weekend. We went OLD SCHOOL (I should clarify I didn't go so old school that my wagon status was challenged) Friday night. HOW old school? Let's just say by the time I found my boy Lurch his midnight snack, McDonald's was already serving BREAKFAST! 

Some other highlights:
  • Time with friends
  • Laughing. HONEST and true laughs. Lots of them. From the belly. 
  • Watching regular TV just enough to miss my Roku AND to see an episode of American Ninja Warrior. (The latter may have inspired the prior.)
  • Sleeping 9 total hours in two nights.
  • Buying a cell phone charger. This is number four in my collection. It was procured at 3:57 AM CT. On a Saturday. 
  • Seeing one of THESE still in active use.
Highlight of the weekend (outside time and laughs with friends) was going to the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. If you've not been - get ye there. STAT! I love the Wichita Art Museum and the Ulrich but I was, admittedly, spoiled by the quality AND quantity of art available, gratis, in DC. This is a world class museum (whatever that means) . . . and it is FREE! The entire museum was amazing. Nathan showed me his Happy Place (all caps to show respect) . . . 

And I not only saw Water Lilies . . . the actual painting vs. the prints and posters on college dorm walls . . . 

But I cheated at TOUCHED a van Gogh (I've seen plenty of them over the years but never reached out and made contact). Ha. Take THAT Museum Police. 

A good weekend was had. Now it is back to reality and I feel fine about that. "Ready" in a weird way. Let's hope we all have amazing weeks. Harumph!


10 Things That Make My Eyes Happy . . .

In honor of Purim, here are 10 things (of the millions - these are in no particular order nor are they (except kiddo) necessarily the top things that thrill me) that make me happy simply by crossing my line of sight. 

The Kansas Flint Hills. Green, in winter, or during "burn" season - beautiful.
Niagara. The falls are great. This painting, in The Corcoran's permanent
collection is actually better. Less misty. 
Hot air balloons. I like watching them from flat to float. Beautiful stuff.
The Chihuly "Chandelier" at the Wichita Art Museum.
This picture doesn't do the size or beauty justice.
A nice plate of hummus. With the oil and spices/pine nuts on top. Yummy.
Tommy Hilfiger clothing. Preppy or nothing. "The Hilfigers" campaign should
live on forever, in my never humble opinion. So much prep porn.
The Whidbey. If I ever own again - it will be one of these.
The Muppets. I love 'em. Always have. Always will.
The US Capitol at night. The Mall is at its FINEST after dark. Amuhrikuh.

This kid. Even at her worse moments. Jubilation on legs.
What makes you happy? Why does it?


PARODY (Not Imitation) is the Sincerest Form of Flattery . . .

I don't care what you say - without Sarah Palin in 2008,
Tina Fey would not have blowed-ed up as she did.
On Thursday afternoon, Ava and I spent a considerable amount of time snowed in and having a grand ol' time. Of the myriad of activities we sliced the time with - one truly tickled me. Kiddo spent time mimicking everyone from myself and her mother to my family to her favorite actors and even the cast of Family Guy (YES - FINE - I have let her watch a few episodes over the years, she doesn't get any of the humor anyway).

It dawned on me that a) the kid has some comedic chops and b) almost everything in this world that I find truly funny is a parody or rehashing of something that is otherwise more serious than it need be.

Let me clarify - I have never appreciated a single Wayans Brothers movie (YES - FINE - I liked White Chicks (not really)) and I don't think that all parody is funny. I think the intentionally mean spirited stuff is down right horrible. But the genuine stuff that comes from a good place (like my six year old doing her best impression of her 65 year old Grandmother) is down right fantastic.

I mention this for a few, simple reasons.

1) We've become so sensitive and fragile that we presume any one having fun WITH us is making fun OF us.
2) We've become so mean-spirited that 82% of the time we are making fun OF people.
3) The 18% that falls in the grey area is the good stuff we should all enjoy.

We are all silly. We all make mistakes. There are behaviors and mannerisms in each of us that deserve some ribbing. And if no one ever pointed them out - we'd never know the difference. A former colleague once went on a legendarily long tear using every industry buzzword I cram in to any one of my legendarily long tears (I made a conscious effort to use them less). My mother uses the word "ironical" instead of ironic (making up a fake word for irony, as my younger brother pointed out, is in and of itself ironic(al?)). I have a dear friend that says "Noooooo" in certain situations with the weirdest, most curious em-FA-sis on a two letter word that it makes me laugh and laugh. Almost negating her protest, in a way.

Bottom line - learn the difference between having fun WITH someone and someone having fun WITH you and people just being mean and you'll be better off when all is said and done.


More to Do With Beauty . . .

I often think I have a truly blessed life. I've been overweight since the womb. I got glasses at age six. I not only had braces but, for a month before, I had a thing in my mouth that cracked and spread my palette and made my speech garbled beyond belief. I was in chorus. I played the flute. I was in French Club, Drama Club, and SADD. I was in Student Council. I was the President of Student Council. I was Homecoming King.

I was never called a single name. Never dismissed. Never lessened or criticized or belittled or chastised. Maybe it was because my high school nickname (Pudge) came from and was received in love. Maybe because I had good friends that surrounded me. Maybe because I never called people names, minimized, or bullied. Maybe because I grew up in a small town in Upstate, New York where people are nice. Maybe because I had parents that taught me to believe in myself. To have confidence. To be kind and to be just. To work harder. Be smarter. Give more than I took.

Maybe I'm just blessed. Maybe we all are. Because if you survive the names, the abuse, the garbage, the hurt, and the allegations . . . you are stronger. You are better. You are beautiful.

To This Day from To This Day on Vimeo.

Have a great Friday. Hug someone today. Hug a different person tomorrow. Be NICE to each other. LOVE each other. Teach your kids to do the same. It's not that hard. It's actually easier than the alternative.


Hamantaschen . . .

No. Mine don't look ANYWHERE NEAR this perfect.
Or triangular. Or delicious. Or edible. Or . . . but they ARE
peanut butter and jelly and are no sugar added to-boot.
All this snow is probably driving some of my fellow Kansans nuhhhhtay. Not me. With Purim 5773 just 48 hours away I am up to my elbows in hamantaschen attempts and being happy. After all the MANDATE of Purim is to be happy in honor of a failed attempt, by a guy named Haman, to have all the Jews in 4th century Persia killed (one lesson of Jew School . . . we can't get a break from people wanting to kill us all of . . . not hate our religion or custom and dismiss us but actually KILL us off).

As you know I'm a big fan of trying to be happy. Rarely a fan of being FORCED to do so but the lesson here may be that "faking it until you make it" is a great reason to take Purim seriously. Another? Cookies, yuns. Triangular cookies. FILLED triangular cookies.

Here's the recipe Kiddo and I have been messing around with all day (and will probably make another run at them later this evening - if we brave the walk to/from Dillons to get more ingredients).

DOUGH (Modified from the Betty Crocker Cookie Book I stole from my mother's cookbook collection many moons ago) -

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup Splenda
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder (NOT soda, powder - duly noted for batch TWO of my dough)
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt (FUN FACT - Kosher salt is NOT made in a "Kosher" way (basic salt is parve and, therefore, Kosher unless it is actual sea salt where it may have come in contact with non-Kosher shellfish, etc.) but is, instead, called Kosher because it has large, coarse grains and is used to pull blood and other juices from Kosher meats.)

1) Beat the liquids/wets (including zest) together until uniform.
2) Fold in the dries/powders. If your dough doesn't hold itself in a ball once incorporated, add a little flour at a time until it does.
3) Chill the dough (Covered in a bowl with a slightly wet tea towel) for at least an hour or two.

Once chilled and back out of the fridge . . .

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Flour your rolling/cutting area. Get a pizza cutter or kitchen shears or a circle cookie cutter (I suggest the third).
3) Roll out the dough until about 1/4" thick. Cut in to CIRCLES (another error - I cut triangles initially) that are about 2 1/4" in diameter.

FILLING (You can use just about ANYTHING you want, including savory toppings) -

  • 1 tsp all natural, smooth, no-sugar-added peanut butter for each cookie (my dough yields about 2 1/2 dozen circles so - 30 tsps are needed)
  • 1 tsp of all-fruit preserves or no-sugar-added jam/jelly (we used Smuckers strawberry Simply Fruit) for each cookie

1) Put a teaspoon of peanut butter and a teaspoon of jelly in the middle of each circle.
2) Using flour-dipped fingers gently FOLD the circles in on three sides to make a triangle. Do NOT pinch the corners - fold them over each other.
3) Place each cookie on a greased tray and bake for 8 minutes or until browned on the peaks and golden on the sides.
4) Let stand on the tray for about 1 minute. Remove to cooling racks being very careful, in removing, to not break through the bottom of the cookie - melted peanut butter is runny stuff.
5) Allow to cool then enjoy.

Alright - enough typing. My egg timer just dinged. Enjoy Purim. Get some happiness this Saturday after sundown (if not every day) and please enjoy some triangle cookies if not the other customs of the holiday - costumes and getting dahhhhrunk with friends. Cheers.

Snow Day . . .

Note the snow ball in mid-air above Kiddo's
right shoulder. She nailed me in the chest.
Proof that I had a strange mentality as a child . . . I HATED having a Snow Day (all caps to show respect). I'm not talking about the 2000 movie Snow Day (I would NEVER hate anything with the very, very lovely Jean Smart in it). I'm talking about the unexpected cancellation of school based on precipitation that left my brothers and I home for the day (and my parents too - they were both educators).

I should clarify . . . I grew up in Upstate. We would REGULARLY go to school with even after five or six inches overnight (giggle). It took a LOT of wet, heavy, road endangering snow to keep us home but we would get thee or four days a year when we got 'em and I hated 'em.

In hindsight, it was probably my anxiety disorder kicking in early. I hated then (and still do) hate change. Sudden. Unexpected. Unplanned. Miserable. I had a routine. I had a schedule and plan. I had my clothes laid out for the next day. My homework was done. My flute music practiced. My lunch table picked out (a fat kid always knows when and where his next meal will come from).

Fast forward 19 - 31 years and I'm a parent. My kid is having a Snow Day today. She is THRILLED. She missed school Thursday and Friday for our DC trip. There was no school Monday or Tuesday for President's Day and an In-Service Day. She'll barely remember her alphabet if this doesn't stop soon (I kid, I kid).

Here's the pride point . . . I'm not freaking out today (probably because I have no job to juggle - but I do have an interview this afternoon) and I'm actually excited. We're going to go spend some time in the snow and we're going to do some arts and crafts and maybe even video chat with Grandma Amore on her 65th birthday. We're going to enjoy the day. Who knows - we might even rent Snow Day on Amazon Instant Watch.

Jean Smart. Giggidy!


Life Path . . .

I spent about an hour today sitting in my car and thinking (no - that is not euphemism for crying . . . I really was just sitting in the warmth, watching snow melting as it hit the windshield and pondering the world around me) about "things."

As I continue my job search I'm sort of realizing something . . . life is sorta' screwy. And there is no right or wrong "path" to take. This is not a post about G-d or The Divine or fate or whatever . . . quite the opposite. I think the notion that we all have a plan or destiny that is bigger than and unknown to us is a) completely true and b) something we only need to ponder on or after our death beds. In the day-to-day, it matters naught (let's be honest, only THIS GUY chooses what to order in a McDonald's drive-thru).

Nope. This post is about how every. Little. Thing. Contributes to the here-and-now and then there-and-then.

An example - when I was picking colleges, I was screwing around and STARTED with the letters X and Q. This gave me about eight total institutes of higher learning to really dig in to (fret not, I eventually opened it up to the entire alphabet, applied to 9 schools and got wait-listed and ultimately refused by just 1 (curse you Syracuse University)). I tell you this because if I had not started with Q, I might not have ever LOOKED at Q. And if I never looked, I would have never found Quinnipiac. Where I did my undergrad.

If I didn't do undergrad there, I wouldn't have made the friends I did. I would never have never left there a semester early to start graduate school. Would have never gotten my internship that became my first job. Would have never worked full time and gone to grad school full time in that exact combination and would have not decided to postpone my PhD by a year. And would have not then decided to postpone two. Then three. Then met my eventual wife, etc. etc. etc.

NONE of that would have happened. Or would it have? I could have started with the letter A. Still arrived at Q. Still visited Quinnipiac. Still fell in love and matriculated.

Or I could have fell in love with Aaadams College and met different friends and still left to start grad school early. Or started late. Or decided to still get my PhD but in DC vs. in Rhode Island, Connecticut, or Philly. Or I could have just visited DC for the weekend and still met my eventual wife.

The fact is the ONLY decision that lead to me meeting Joy was me decided to meet Joy. Then riding the Metro to our meeting. Etc.

It was VITAL that I met Joy. It was the proverbial turning point in my life but everything before that was probably every bit as vital and crucial and impactful but they could have all been 1,000,000 other decisions and actions and experiences and been as important. And all of them were really decided on by a power bigger, bolder, wiser, and more nuanced than I. And none of that - or this - or that - will matter until my deathbed.


Enough . . .

Musical post . . . Am I giving enough? Are you? How do we know how much is enough? Who gets to decide? Let's all just be safe (vs. sorry). Let's be in the bush (vs. the hand). Let's reap (after we sow). Let's do MORE. Let's OVERKILL. Let's truly extend ourselves. Maybe then we'll go back to getting good night's sleeps, we'll know we are loving and loved, we'll know we are providing and provided for, we'll know that the answer is - YES. I am giving enough.


Overhead Bins . . .

There is that moment in just about every trip involving air flight where you think . . . "Oh, sh*t." Because you realize that, just like you, the 174 other people about to board the plane (jet) like so many sheep flew in to your destination for "just" the weekend. And, like you, they only brought the essentials so they simply have one "wheel-on" (which may be slightly larger than that weird metal frame outside every gate that no on ever uses/enforces - especially since you had to put your liquid personal items in a Ziploc bag in the front/easy access pocket and that makes your suitcase three inches thicker than it might otherwise be) and their "personal item" (a bag that is not in ANY way smaller than the aforementioned suitcase but has a different shape or is open faced, etc.) and then, of course, their jacket and some snacks and some souvenirs.

They announce the flight is full. You look around. Gulp. They announce they will check baggage plane-side OR to your final destination, gratis. No one even moves. They announce, again, the flight is full and, again, no one moves. No chance, Charlie. This bag stays with ME. From here until home.

Then you look at your boarding pass "Group 4" it states. 4? Out of how many? And how did I get a 4? I bought this ticket a long time ago and I'm a regular flier. And they announce, again, that they WILL run out of room in the bins and that they WILL need people to check their bags. You just stand there. Trying to assume the PRIME position to be the FIRST member of Group 4 on the plane. You earned it. You are special.

Veterans, service members, those with disabilities, people requiring more time. You call BS. That woman is 32. Looks to be in able health. NO ONE with her. Wearing a "I was born ready." T-shirt. Has been railing about the military for the entire two hour boarding delay. Why does she get to go on first? Group 1 is huge. MUST be 40% of the plane. Group 2 . . . another 33%.

You are screwed. You can tell. Group 3 is another 19% of the flight. You have just 4% of the population left to board (someone check that math for me). No way there is even 4% of the space in the overheads left.

Finally - you are on board. Phew. There are three bins still open. All in your part of the plane. You're going to be fine. Sure you are.

You wheel back. Cheez-It breath in tow. Then you start looking at the people trying to jam things in to these bins. WHY is that coat taking up two square feet? That purse could EASILY fit under the seat. Your lunch? Seriously? You put a Burger King bag in the overhead? That kid's backpack should be under a seat for sure. What is going ON here?

You finally get to row 29. ONE slot open. It is YOUR spot. Then someone jams in a bag. Does that satisfied hand clapping/slapping thing (as thought cleaning off dust). Slams the bin shut and starts walking toward the front of the plane.

Dubs. Tee. Eff, bruh?! Where you going? Why is your bag back here and you're going up there. He says, smugly, "Excuse me." and you ask - "You're, uh, not seated back here?" "Nah." He snarls "But this was the only spot open for my bag."

You do what any self respecting person would do. Move out of his way. And start stewing inside. Then - it hits you. You're a master of efficiency and organization. You scored very well on that test they made you take in high school that assured you a career in the military could await you. You walk back one bin. Start moving Dora backpacks and Coach purses on top of each other. EVER SO GENTLY. You stand a laptop bag up. You pull a coat out and jam it on top of a suitcase.

And BAM! There is a slot for your rollerbag. But - what is this? You can't DO THAT? Those people were here first? You can't just touch other people's stuff? WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON HERE? People DEMAND you put their bag back exactly where it was. Don't touch my coat, a woman huffs. "Sir. SIR. SIRRRRR?!" a flight attendant barks sensing some tension above the wings.

You accept defeat. You allow them to check your bag. Plane-side. You're going to spend 10 minutes on a COLD jetway waiting for your bag. For no apparent reason. You get your voucher. You walk back to row 29. Looks of disdain coming from that little pain in the butt that owns the Dora backpack. Her father oblivious as he reads his WSJ.

Then. Injured as you are . . . the insult. You're in 29A. 29B? The woman with the "I was born ready." T-shirt. Uggs up in the air. Chatting away on her phone. Happy as can be for those extra few minutes she "needed" to board.

Lesson learned, universe.


Family Time . . .

To those that have inquired . . . We are enjoying a few days with my parents, brothers, sisters-in-law and niece in the DC 'burbs. Daily blogging will resume once we get back tomorrow afternoon. No need to fret, text, e-mail, or call. Unless you really wanted to.

PS - I sorta' love this picture of kiddo and my father.


HOLIDAY POEM - Valentine's Day . . .

Back in "the day" (1998 - 2003) when Facebook was just for college kids and Twitter was just for people far more intelligent and nerdy than you and me and MySpace was, well, a place to . . . I . . . uh . . . well. ANYWHO - people would still e-mail things. Crafty things. Funny things. Emotional things. HUGE video and audio attachments. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

I had my own little tradition - I'd type out a "holiday poem" for all the major holidays (including Arbor Day - don't hate the trees, hate ourselves for what we've done TO the trees).

These holiday poems need to make a comeback so - in the spirit with which they were initially intended (and with specific eyes on my friend Casey who is, as we speak, on bed rest and probably partially dilated with her first kid looking out on the Ralph Lauren sheets) I present to you the Valentine's Day 2013 Holiday Poem sung to (if you are so inclined) the tune of my personal favorite (sarcasm) Taylor Swift's best song ever (sarcasm) "We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together."

I remember when Valentine defied Claudius - the first time
Saying this is it, I've had enough, 'cause like
Soldiers with wives and families will fight too.
Now you say you, needed roses and filled chocolates, what?
Then I come around again and say
Baby, I need you nearly naked and in this (SIDEBAR if you clicked on that - you're naughty) so go change
Trust me, I'm not texting these photos to anyone I don't really trust
I say, I eat hummus, we Cheez-It, you Tweet me, I DM you

Oooh we watched Nashville again last night
But Oo-OO-oo-oh-ewwww, this time I'm telling you, I'm de-friending you
The Pope is never ever ever celebrating Lent again

We are never ever ever cheering for Chris Brown again
You go talk to Frank Underwood talk
To Frank Ocean talk to me
But we are never ever ever ever sharing McFish Bites again

Like ever (they are tooooo delicious to share) ...

I'm really gonna miss wrestling in the Olympics
And me, falling for a letter from a Saudi Prince that wants to get money in to the US
And you, will hide away and play with an iPad App while Spotify places some indie rap that's much more premium than mine

Oooh you wanted to go see Identity Thief tonight
But Oooh, this time I'm telling you, I'm telling you
We are snickering to the VPL in the promo for Oscar's Lounge together

We are never ever ever watching Storage Wars together
You go talk to Honey Boo Boo talk
To Joe Gorga talk to me
But we are never ever ever ever getting back to being a mentally-healthy society

I used to think, that Twinkies, were forever ever ever
And I used to think Magic Hat No. 9 was forever
Huh, fat free milk calls me up and he's like, Nesquik powder
And I'm like, I'm just, I mean this poem is exhausting, you know
We are never hitting the Golden Corral chocolate fountain together, like ever

We are never ever ever wearing jeggings together
We are never ever ever wearing day-glo colors together
You go talk to Oscar de la Renta talk
To Oscar De La Hoya talk to me
But we are always always always shopping at JC Penney

We, oooh, oooh, not back together, we
Oh, getting back together

You are loved by spouse, colleagues
And by friends and fam-a-leeeeee
But we are never ever ever ever exchanging Valentines

I love you all (except you, weirdos . . . and one of you should send me some pics in that sexy little number I linked to above (I nominate Walker Schwartz)). 


Post Secret Valentine's Day Video . . .

This is five years old but I still watch and really enjoy it every year on Valentine's Day. Please to enjoy:


What Do The Unemployed Do? . . .

So I've been unemployed, including the weekend, for four days (I'm rounding up - it has been like 90 total hours). I have to say . . . this sucks. A lot. I'm not talking so much about financially (I got my last paycheck with some additional money since we get paid in "arrears" (snickers) and I got some additional severance so I'm not yet freaking out about financials. YET. But I'm mainly talking about that boredom that is masked as frustration.

Here's what I did yesterday. Got up (normal time). Reviewed and tweaked my PowerPoint for a guest lecture I gave at WSU on "Conflict Resolution in the Workplace" (I know, I know . . . irony is a funny bedfellow). And then I went and, you know, lectured, then I was treated to lunch (I gotta' say - KUDOS - on the really good Indian food in the student center, Shockers). Then I dropped off and picked up some things at the ex's new house. I went to the old house to grab a few last things for illegal dumpster dumping. I took my iPad and the ex's to get the glass replaced (kiddo broke them both months and months ago) and then I got Valentine's Day gifts, vacuumed and washed my car, bought new and replaced my windshield wipers (my old ones only broke last April, leave me alone), folded some laundry, walked to Food for Thought for some travel bottles and snacks for the trip (and the meantime). I exchanged e-mails with a few headhunters and my realtor. I updated my Netflix Instate Queue and then I walked over and got my daughter from latchkey.

Sure. BUSY day. FULL day. But, um, what the heck is next?

What am I going to do TODAY? TOMORROW? Until I get this whole "not gainfully employed" thing done? Seriously? What do people do? We can't spend money we are not making. We can't really sleep all day? We can't just apply for every job we see (Can we all (spare the Unemployment Insurance Office) agree we should at least be excited by opportunities, feel qualified for them, and see challenge in them?). We can't hang out with our kids or friends (they have school and jobs). We can't just read all the time. We can't twiddle our thumbs. We can't . . .

Okay here's what I CAN do:

  1. Read my Jew School books/homework/suggested syllabus/websites.
  2. Practice my Hebrew
  3. Clean out my closets.
  4. Finally organize all the pictures I have of kiddo and get a copy to my parents, one to my ex-wife, and one to her parents.
  5. Volunteer. I'm seriously considering just giving my full work day (save the time I need to spend searching for and interviewing for new positions) to a non-profit or even an established business here in Wichita that may need my help and may give me something for the ol' resume.
  6. Mixtapes. If you want one - SIMPLY ASK. I'll make you one. Maybe two. MAYBE three.
  7. Blog.
  8. Search for a job. Harass the leads and network I have. Tweak my resume. Post it "everywhere" and keep a very open mind while continually putting my best foot forward. Or whatever it takes to find a good match for my skills and enthusiasm.
  9. Knit. Knit. Knit. 
  10. Exercise. I went for a walk today (not a long one but I stretched the ol' calves out and hit the sidewalks). I might even be able to squeeze in six hours a day to work out at this point (smile). 
  11. Re-Watch the Fast/Furious franchise again.

I am PROFOUNDLY against downtime. I don't ever use my vacation (unless I am actually traveling for vacation) and sick time, for me, is not a real thing (I have to be 68% to death and very contagious to use any). I need to work. I need to be challenged. I need to be engaged and moving and in the midst of it and feeling productive and making money. This is who I am.

A lot of people say they are a parent first . . . sure. I'm a parent first. I make money and provide health insurance and contribute to college savings, wedding savings, 13th birthday present/month in Europe as a family (whatever that will look like 6 years from now) savings, retirement savings, life insurance contributions, etc. etc. etc. I'm a parent because I can set an example of work ethic and commitment and financial offering. I am the Great Provider to my child. Or I was. Until Friday. And I will be again. SOON.

I'm going to get wicked depressed, quickly, if this crap doesn't stop. Every blog post will just be me typing the same crap "Jack" did in The Shining. I may snap and stop showering. Or - worse - shower with low-cost hygiene products that contain (gasp) parabens. This can NOT happen. NONE of this can happen.

Must find a job. Must stay busy. Must end this quickly. In the meantime - What do any of you currently unemployed people do to pass/fill the days? Anyone who has had a period of "underemployment" - same question?


My Problem with Sports? Fans . . .

I take (and give) a lot of crap for my position on sports. Why I don't care for them. What is wrong with them. Why I would keep my daughter away from them based on my own biases. Etc.

I want to be very clear - my issue with sports is NOT about competition (I'm very competitive in certain situations). It is NOT about fitness (I wish, every day, I was a fit person). It is NOT about the garb (I own several Shocker sweatshirts). It is NOT about the concession stand (be serious). It is NOT about the pursuit of excellence on the part of the athlete or coach.  NOPE! My problem with sports is actually my problem with YOU, dear fans. Yep. This is YOUR fault (responsibility?).

Here's what I know about sports fans - you're fickle. You're demanding. You "we" speak entirely too much. You feel entitled. You are obsessive compulsive. You will scream and yell and CHILDREN - often your own. You will scream and yell in FRONT of children (almost always including your own). You will throw fits and, in extreme cases, punches. You will defend overzealous fans who are ejected from games for being anything but sportsmanlike and - in a "best" case scenario - when your team (or "you" (in the interest of we speak)) win the big game you will rush the playing surface often hurting people, destroying property, and generally behaving boorishly in the process.

I can't stress this enough - it is a GAME. It matters NAUGHT in this world. There is NO impact on your life. And if you argue there is . . . we need to talk about how you build your life, dear fans. And do not talk to me about gambling and the outcome there - if you gamble . . . I need another blog post. Must stay on target. I can even understand the argument that you left work early, you'll be brown bagging dinner, you have to then rush home and your kid's homework will be pinched, the other kids will have their homework pinched, bath time will be condensed, etc. etc. etc. That is an impact. That is a sacrifice. One. You. Chose. To. Make. You can't scream and yell at a bunch of kids playing a game because you chose to put them on the team. That's like yelling at Hamburger Helper because it tastes horrible when you cook it.

I always love living in Kansas this time of year. We've got three of the best Division I basketball teams in the country playing here in the Sunflower State year after year after year. Ever see those teams lose? How about in the last two weeks when two of the three teams have each lost three in a row. Sad state of affairs. "We" are looking horrible out there. "We" can't seem to get it together. "We" don't take our responsibility seriously.

Let's remember who "we" is . . . 15 young men (18 - 23 years old) who are almost all far from home, juggling a team, a coach, a (lightened and often hilariously weak) class schedule, roommates, girl/boyfriends, struggling with the pressures of being a student athlete  and trying to be competitive (on any given night) against a group of equally young, equally fail-able, equally conflicted players. You can't be consistent all the time. Every just crap the bed at work one day? Have a colleague that did? Yeah. Imagine now if 20,000 people were watching you work and cheering/booing based on how quickly you responded to that e-mail or how good your notes were for the staff meeting. And remember you're 36. Twice their age.

I think you get my point. Every time you scream, yell, pout, "we" speak or act like a buffoon YOU are why I hate sports. It is all your fault. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left-right, left-right-left. Left. Right. SITTTDOWN!


Greatest of All Time (GOAT): Poirot . . .

As many of you know, I'm a BIG fan of detective TV shows. Let's recap some of my favorite TV shows of all time . . .

Murder She Wrote
Gilmore Girls
48 Hours: Mystery
Sports Night

Half the shows are about dialogue, character development, clever writing and angst - the other half are about (as Ja Rule would put it) Muhhh-dahhhhh. Admittedly, Psych (back for another season later this month) is in both camps.

I recently stumbled upon and binge-watched a show on Netflix that has literally changed my life. Literally (calm down, Nathan Carr). I'm speaking of the TV adaptation of Agatha Christie's Poirot stories.

The stories themselves were not all that fantastic (admittedly there were very few episodes that showed enough clues for the audience to even have a chance at figuring out the murderer) but what WAS fantastic was the show's namesake. Hercule Poirot (pronounced Air-quool Pwah-row).

Poirot was the best detective in all of Belgium before retiring to London and becoming the greatest private detective in all the United Kingdom/Europe/the world. And it wasn't just his prowess with crime that made me love him . . . it was the way he carried himself and his swaggart. If you've never seen the show - take this clip for instance:

I know. MIND BLOWN! It's cool. Let him wash over you. He's going to change your life too (and, to clarify, he DID take Mrs. Tott's case - and SOLVED it (baller!)).

I like Poirot because a) he dresses like a proper gentleman b) he had one great love in life and she got away but his lapel pin (a miniature vase that ALWAYS had a flower in it) reminder him of her daily (she gave it to him) c) he had an assistant named Ms. Lemon who seemed to have no real point or value to the show or him but he kept her on in his employ (no reason to put another person out of work) d) he had Hastings (an old acquaintance from WWI) for a second sort-of assistant who seemed to really be nothing more than a valet and dialogue partner for Poirot's greatness and e) he was super cocky because he earned it. He'd solved, correctly, every case he ever worked including one that involved freeing someone who had been incorrectly jailed for over a decade . . . because it was the right thing to do.

Hubris is only an issue if you can't back it up and Poirot, with his bow ties and always-ready-for-travel supper coat backed it up. ALLLL the way up ad you know that's right.


Left Behind . . .

We have spent the last two weeks of Jew School (as I crassly, and inappropriately, call it) talking about death and how it is viewed, pondered, approached, incurred, dealt with, and followed-up on for both the living, the near/newly deceased, and their survivors.

I'll skip the part where I feign scholarship or Rabbinical prowess and, instead, give an overview of my key takeaways.

1) Death is not feared in the Jewish culture as it is in many Christian faiths. It is not something that ends the ultimatum hanging over your entire life.
2) There are prescribed periods of time and traditions for mourning someone based on your relation to them and their role in your life.
3) The body is deeply respected in death. There are seldom "calling hours" or "viewings" of a Jewish body. Cremation is very rare. Autopsies are only done when there is true worry about the real cause of death. Caskets are all very simple and are entirely made of wood as to allow the body to follow nature's process with limited interruption from our desire to preserve what was once a person we knew and loved.
4) The burial of a Jew is handled quickly. This is not just because when many of the customs around death took their roots there was no way to preserve a body or because of the lack of some of the things precluded above not requiring more time but - more over - it is done (in my understanding) to speed the mourning process.

I was raised Catholic. When my Grandmother Coyle died on October 26th. She was finally laid to rest on October 31st. Six days later. Why? Time was "needed." She died later in the day on the 26th. Most family didn't even have a chance to start planning travel until the 27th. There was a weekend in the middle. We needed to have family-only calling hours and at least two days of general viewings and then there was the required services, masses, and grave-side ceremonies followed by a luncheon. I remember, very clearly, the call from my parents that my Grandmother had died (she was taken after a quick 'bout with that heartless bitch we call Cancer). I flew from Hartford to Syracuse the next day (I didn't own a car and my parents had bigger fish to fry than a drive to/from the Nutmeg State). I was involved in family things, attended every minute of the viewings (my nuclear family stayed on the second level of the Funeral Home she was held at since the owner and my father were long-time friends and there were lots of family in from out of town so I had no excuse to avoid going downstairs). I don't remember really being sad or upset until the drive from the cemetery to the luncheon. Why? There was too. much. other. crap. going. on.

There is a very clear process for grieving. The Mourner's Kaddish. There are candles. Prayers. Food. Visitation. Seven days with out leaving the house, no bathing, no cooking (people do it for you), no anything and a torn black ribbon worn above the heart (I'm paraphrasing) and then life goes (sorta') back to normal. NOT that you forget the person. NOT that you just sort of snap out of it. NOT that you just pretend there is no loss and never cry, get sad, or feel the loss again. NOPE. BUT the point is that Jews clear their figurative plates and mourn DEEPLY (there is nothing else to do) as soon as they can following a death so they might move on.

I am lucky. I've lost very few people in this life. My parents, siblings, and child are still alive. But I've seen plenty of people I love suffer the loss of a spouse, parent, child, and combinations of the above. I don't know that you ever heal from these wounds. I don't know that you ever have a timeline for how much to grieve when. I am not entirely sure that any learning or cultural/religious direction I may have will help me when I am in the situations described above but I was very heartened on Thursday to learn that I'm at least going to have a road map to help me out.

Wrinkle? None of my family is Jewish so I can go dive deep and fast in to mourning but, if Grandma Coyle is any indication, I'll be nearly through the official mourning period before the casket is lowered. And maybe that will be okay.


Unhappy Friday . . .

I left Associated, an agency I dearly loved, a position custom built (and very comfortable) for me, and a place I felt very much at home at in September, 2011. I left for an adventure. A new challenge. A twist in my career. I went from a 65 year tradition to an unproven business with no established success and no safety net (aka a "Start-Up").

I was not sure what would happen or how it would go. I leaped - feet first and nose plugged - into the cold water and it was all the adventure I could have hoped it would be when I splashed down (and I had no shrinkage, I might add).

I've learned more about myself as a professional (who I really am, who I am capable of being, the sort of people I want to work with and the kind of work I want to do with them, etc.) than I had imagined I might. A former boss once, confusingly, told me at my annual review that the best advice he could give me was to "stop thinking of myself as a lone individual with my own needs but, instead, as a business man with greater needs and dependents." I was straight up annoyed at the time. This job made that advice make sense.

I've learned a great deal about a part of the advertising world I never really paid much attention to. I met some amazing professionals. Was inspired by national leaders and local folks trying to hump out a living. I've traveled more than any other job I've ever had - perhaps combined. I've enjoyed every minute of it . . . even the less than perfect moments.

I have been very fortunate. I've been able to develop my career, choose my own path (in some ways) and have worked with just two people for a bulk of my tenure with the company (we had two other employees who I shared a few months each with). They are both very different professionals and they are both amazing men in their own rights. I learned so much from them and truly believe I've established lifelong friendships through this adventure. I was also very, very privileged to work, indirectly, with and for an investor who knows more about business, instincts, reading people and situations, making good decisions, treating people well, etc. than anyone I have ever known. He taught me a great deal and empowered us and ME to seek success. I met with him this morning and even in my "exit interview" (if you will) he inspired me. It is also worth noting that there is such a calm, confident ease in his demeanor that he even got me thinking about my own nature and the way I carry myself and my emotions in the workplace.

Alas - as of a few short hours from this post going live - this chapter of my career will/has come to an end.

For a million reasons, none of which would probably make much sense in this setting, I'm pursuing other opportunities. Pursuing - as in do not yet have one picked out. I WILL take with me my fantastic collection of framed guinea pigs painted as historic figures, my beloved rubber band ball (that has been with me each day of the 15 years of my professional life), my Psych cookie jar, a collection of memories, a notebook full of learning, a million experiences that have furthered me as a professional, and a deep, deep, anxious desire to get started at the next chapter of my career.

I've got five criteria in what I want next. To further diversify who I am as a thinker and doer. To continue to learn from great people. To relentlessly chase another challenge. To apply what skills, expertise, and energy I have. To get back to doing business and making a difference all day, ehhhrrrrry day.

If you need someone with a love of great ideas, hard work, and a potty mouth . . . or any two of the three - give me a shout. I've got all the time in the world to talk about it and see if we might be able to work together to accomplish great things.


Love Playlist . . .

Not in the mood to really blog (even acknowledging that many of these posts are written hours, days, and even weeks in advance) so here is a playlist of some of my favorite love songs of all time.

Nope. They are not all about being in love. Yep. There's some Celine Dion in the mix. Sh-sh-shhhh. No need to protest - You're welcome. PS - I dare you to make fun of "Iris" by The Goo Goo Dolls. That is a spectacular song from a band with a very, very stupid name.

Also, RANDOM FACT: People typically identify more closely with love songs performed by someone of their gender.

You'll note that trend continues here . . .


Songs NOT For Couples . . .

You've, no doubt, picked up on a trend this February (you do read my blog every, single day, right?) and that is "love."

I'm not probably the most loving soul you've ever met (I got your e-mail, concerned reader.) No. I'm not bitter about my divorce. No. I'm not anti-love. I'm just sorta' in a rut of things to talk about (most of what I WANT to say is verboten - lawyers, shrinks, common sense, better judgement, etc.) so I'll go with the calendar and upcoming holidays, I suppose (wait for a ROUSING President's Day post in the coming weeks and stuff'll get officially weird when March rolls around).

Today? Confusion at the concert venue. Yes. The least likely theme in the history of blog posts and yet - here we are. Just you and me. Which is sorta' the point. Ever gone to a concert and seen people snuggling up and doing that "my hands in your pockets" sway and wondered if they are even LISTENING to the song they are dry-humping to? Yeah. Me too. Here are a few examples of beautiful, soft, melodic songs that are NOT love songs about current love - but the love lost, missed, waited for, or simply observed.

Comfortable - John Mayer
The first love that got away because the man was not ready for the emotional demands of the relationship. And he regrets that.

Every Breath You Take - The Police 
This is not about a love of protecting observance. This is a straight-up obsession. An unhealthy one. Someone needs to move on (or at least 500 ft. away) and let it go. And the other person needs to get a safety whistle.

Break Your Heart - Barenaked Ladies
He doesn't really love you, lady. He's just not sure how to get away from you. But he'll get up the courage someday. Some. Day.

Baby Can I Hold You Tonight - Tracy Chapman
Why can't you just be present, dude? Tell her you love her. Ask for forgiveness. Use the words that don't come easily. She needs to hear them, fella'.

Stop dancing with your current partner to theses songs. Immediately. And stop doing that "my hands in your pockets" sway. It's horrible to watch.

BUT, take heart - people who MUST do the "their hands in other people's pockets" sway because this is one song that - in my opinion - is the greatest example of a love song ever (yeah, I said it). Unconditional. Re-affirming. Selfless. Grab the one you love (including your kids, an old friend in pain, etc.) by the hand, right now, and dance to this (but only put your hands in their pockets if you have a romantic love) . . .

True Colors - Cyndi Lauper 


Love . . .

Simple question: What is "Love"?
Simple answer: Impossible

Love, as I explained to my 6.5 year old daughter just this weekend, is a many splendored thing (I am pretty sure choosing the word splendored didn't help the ensuing conversation go well). It is something very different to every person and every person is capable of loving a million different ways.

I don't believe in white-hot, passionate, blistering love (that is short lived and, if not, the people engaged in it have faulty wiring for sure). I don't believe in soulmates (at least not the kind where there is just ONE for any ONE person). I don't believe that if you love pizza you should go ahead and marry it (despite the fact that said playground taunt apparently persists 30 years on from the days I would toss it around). I don't believe that you can even love two (or more) children equally and the same. I don't believe love has any definition but I have five basic criteria for love (that apply to any type of love you can imagine) . . .

1) It is unconditional.
2) It will diminish in time but, if it ever existed, will always stay at least a faint, far-off ember.
3) It requires constant work, energy, and dedication to stay strong.
4) It must start with yourself and be shared on to other people, places, things, and varieties of Little Debbie snacks if it is a "healthy" love.
5) All love, because it is unique and comes from within and goes outwardly is unrequited. If it is MATCHED or EQUALED, fine - but it is not returned in the truest sense of the word. 

To summarize and combine - You can not find love anywhere but in your own heart and if you don't maintain focus and develop the ability to love AND find the right recipient for your love it will fade to a point where you're likely to reach a point where you become hardened and stop giving love in a healthy way.

I have only ever been "in love" once in my life. I sucked at it. I don't think I'll ever even try it again. I don't blame her - I don't blame me. I blame wiring and priorities and lack of communication and lack of work. To take responsibility . . . I sorta' suck at love in general. Parental love is something that I feel like I've got under control. Friendly, platonic love is something I would dare say is a strength of mine. Familial love (as a son, brother, uncle, etc.) is a mystery to me. Love of work and professional achievement? My heart is allllll in. Affectionate love is something I'm probably not wired well for (I don't love myself enough, I suppose). Love of junk food? Aces. Love of talking trash? Mastered. Love of a good story (told or heard) and a good board game to stretch my mind over? I am dedicated to it.

Anywho - love who and what you want. Give the target whatever portion of your heart, soul, and mind you think appropriate. But know that it is fragile and not guaranteed. If you understand that - you'll never really  be hurt by love and you'll never feel like you're wasting your time with it.

That's my not-so-cynical, honest perspective. Want something hopelessly romantic in the face of fleshy temptation? Two words . . . Moulin Rouge.


"Super" Bowl . . .

I'm not sure if you heard but there was apparently a football game played in New Orleans last night. Yep. Totally true. It was a little-trumpeted affair with very little consequence. I kid, I kid. What REALLY happened was a game of little consequence except the BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars that are tied to the affair.

And yet again last night - even as a PROUD marketer who appreciates little more than good, sound, strategic communication - as with many, many years before it and many years to come . . . I didn't watch a second of the game. Not a single spot was consumed (I DID fire up the Internet to see the Fast Six teaser - thanks to Twitter friends giving me a heads up that it had aired - and it. Was. Awesome.). Not a single purchasing decision was impressioned up. Not a single part of my rage over the stupid, senseless violence and long-term health damage done to the men who played the game was shared with the masses.

I DID, however, take some time last night after the game to fire up Twitter and, like any good sociological/cultural study/archaeological-dig, took at look at what the people were talking about. Here are the top 10 things in my feed (and my ONE sentence response (you know how hard that is for me) to each):

  1. Paul Harvey and God Made a Farmer - A beautiful, at least 18-months-in-the-making spot but don't buy a Dodge, buy some local produce and then really understand the economics of the American farm and act accordingly.
  2. Beyonce - I didn't watch it and don't need to - a summary - if you like grunting, hip popping, winking, crowd engaging, uttering, and occasional warbling - a few bars at a time - she's your gal.
  3. Blackout - No conspiracy needed.
  4. Oreo's Response to the Blackout - Save your $4MM and steal mind share with a creative team on call, organic strategy, and pennies on the dollar. 
  5. Commercial Let Down - Pro tip . . . all that matters is that you remember it and talk about it . . . not what you thought. 
  6. Budweiser Horse Spot - I liked it better the first time when it was called EVERY MOVIE ABOUT EMOTION THROUGH SEPARATION EVER MADE.
  7. Ray Lewis - We can finally honor such a great man by showcasing that he has one Super Bowl ring for each person he was, allegedly  involved in the death of many years ago. 
  8. The Red Zone - That's the space from the 20-yard-line to the end zone where teams automatically play differently because there is less field to use/cover/leverage/manage. 
  9. The Coaching - I get why the coaches being brothers is a story line but only time and experience make you a better coach in crunch situations so they'll both do better next time.
  10. The Comeback that Fell Ever So Short - Time to label it an "instant classic" like every other sport event that has ever been played and never really discussed all that much in-depth again.
What was NOT being discussed (much to my dismay) . . . Fast Six. Seriously. The teaser was amazing and I can't wait for the next 109 days to fly by so I can see the WHOLE MOVIE!


Giving Oh-La-Las . . .

As we are now less than two weeks away, I want to clarify that my favorite (sarcasm alert) part of the horrible, horrible holiday known as Valentine's Day (don't let the last name fool ya, loves - I am a firm believer that if you really love someone it should be all day every day and to gift it up every 2-14 is d-u-m-m, dumb!) is all the mainstream media outlets that get a little ris-kay and talk about giving and wearing lingerie.

ALL due respect, Today Show, leave this one to a professional (no, not you Kathie Lee).

Here - without hesitation - is the ONLY advice you'll ever need on giving (in a package or on your body) lingerie for Valentine's Day (or the other 364 days of the year). I dare you to poke holes in this logic. You can't. I got this . . . so forget WHAT to buy or how much to spend or blah, blah, blah. The simple RULES of lingerie are far more important . . .

1) That old adage "it is the thought that counts"? Doesn't apply here UNLESS the thought is around mutual comfort (see rule 10). JUST because you think latex is sexy doesn't mean it will make her feel sexy. Your desire for something edible on the bottom doesn't mean it's going to taste good or not give her a rash.

2) There is nothing romantic about leather, chains, or ropes/restraints. There is nothing WRONG with those things either. Set the tone in the lingerie and go with it. Point of clarification: let's keep this sham of a holiday about romance vs. role playing. Now is not the time for a costume that sexifies the uniforms of any profession (cop, nurse, nun, Hooters girl, etc.). That is what Halloween is for. It's also not the time for pseudonyms or six-inch steel heels to the tain't. That is what any given Tuesday is for, Missy. Sorry - Mistress (please don't flog me).

3) Relax. Both of you. No man really scrutinizes how a woman looks in lingerie. Like the wrapping paper and gift bags at a 8-year-old's birthday party, it is something that simply builds anticipation and allows us pervs to size things up and allow us to really get excited the first time we see what's actually inside.

4) To that end - you're all beautiful and sexy, ladies. We don't tell you enough but it is true. Now - that doesn't mean all of you look your sexiest in everything (Sidebar: Raise your hand if you think they should only make tube tops in size small - maybe medium. Exactly.) but that you'll put on something a little va-va-voom for us makes you instantly that much sexier. These are not the moments to worry about your exact weight or the dairy-like qualities of some of your body parts. We're not looking with that scrutiny. Trust me/us.

5) Housekeeping . . . If you are wearing these underthings for fashion, sanitation, necessity, or daily demand - NOTHING has to match. If you are wearing ANY of it for the show/reveal - it ALL has to match. No excuses. No surrender.

6) The words panty and panties are both wicked, wicked creepy and should be stricken from the English language. Let's call them underpants, who-na-na-nas, knickers, bloomers, or lacy racies (regardless of fabric). Seriously. Stop with the p word. Seriously. I'm not asking - I'm telling.

7) Color. I'll bottom line you . . . nude, white, ecru, bone, and/or ivory are not colors that should be donned here (if it is your wedding night and you like irony - go white - otherwise let's get a little creative). Sure - black and red are obvious choices but they are - as just said - obvious. Might I not-at-all-humbly suggest pale pink, navy blue, chocolate brown, or grey? They are the right sorta' tone to set. And - depending on your skin and hair coloring - you can go with the orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet too - to great success.

8) Think big picture. As mentioned in Rule 3 . . . the lingerie is not the real reward. It's about the whole thing. Hand to G-d . . . the sexiest thing in the world in this blatant pervert's mind and heart is the flash of a bra strap or cup, or the seam of hosiery perfectly perpendicular to the floor. Close seconds are jewelry, accessories (shoes, etc.) and make-up that compliment the look and form a presentation and may give a nod to what is underneath (note the rest of this is, as far as our egos need to know, as much as what the rest of the world gets to see - the rest is for us). A very important third is perfume and scents (candles, oils, etc.). Have it all go together and - trust me - the whole thing will go far more swimmingly and be far more memorable.

9) It goes both ways, fellas. I frown on any banana-hammock and/or male-lingerie equivalent but put on some clean boxers, take off your damned socks, maybe trim your ear and nose hair, put on a little bit of cologne. Wash your junk. Twice. And bring some accessories - music, candles, oils, etc. NO candy or flowers (for this part of the marketing-driven holiday) and please, please, please NO cans of whipped cream or flavored anything. That is what any given Wednesday and every-other Sunday is for.

10) Mutual Comfort. You've been given some true pearls of wisdom here (you're welcome) but the real question still looms . . . Can't figure out how far to push the lacy envelope? Use this simple, never fails "comfort" sliding rule. Just pick what number best describes BOTH OF YOU (if you are not the same number, split the difference and favor on her side of the scale) then get your credit card out, make sure your colleagues really are at lunch, and click on the descriptor.

1 - You blush at even a quick peck-kiss in front of family and friends - including at your own wedding.
2 - When the "Kiss-Cam" falls on you at a sporting event you ham it up and "neck."
3 - You are pretty sure that when 2 people love each other very much, what they do between them is okay.
4 - The human body of a consenting adult, like you and your partner, is meant to be enjoyed and shared.
5 - Sure they are a hassle but thigh high stockings are worth your time and attention even in everyday use.
6 - Movie theaters are dark and some feature presentations are not that popular for a reason. Popcorn?
7 - You've been at least partially naked, in front of other people, and not in a locker room or doc's office.
8 - At least one former lover has a naked photo (or two) of you still in their possession. So what?
9 - That padlock on the nightstand? It's not to keep your kids from the second amendment or sleeping pills.
10 - You post homemade nude photos and/or sex videos to public Internet portals using your real name(s).

So there you go. You're now officially ready to get yourself something special (even if you're not going to be the one wearing it). Remember the pill does not protect against STDs, pregnancies are serious business, and no idea is ever as good once the champagne wears off so act NOW.

PS - If you did choose number 10 above, send me a link. Or two.