2/23/15

6 "Miracles" of Air Travel . . .

I had the distinct pleasure of flying - coach - yesterday. I say this without any tongue in my cheek or resentment in my (under)tone.

I truly love to fly.

I mean I HATE to fly (I'm a fat man . . . if you want to know the fear of other people - be the fat man walking down the center aisle of a jet and make eye contact with people if only to feel their relief when you walk by them and they know you won't be sharing an arm rest) but I LOVE to fly. Why? Miracles happen - every. time. we. fly.

Don't believe me? Here are six miracles and gifts worth considering (of the dozens and dozens) . . .

  1. Physics - Let's dispense with this one immediately. There are, including the vessel, the people, the luggage, and the peanut butter M&Ms tucked in to carry-on bags, about 987,000 pounds (yes - 50 TONS) atop the wheels of a Boeing 747 and yet it can get from sagged at the gate to airborne in less than three miles of runway. That is truly fantastic, right? Yes. I'm right.
  2. Orientation - A plane, once in the air, can rise to as high as 45,000 feet and stay at that height for hours at a time. It can climb and descend through clouds, fog, precipitation, blinding sun, and in space shared by billions of birds, insects, trees, other planes, etc. and then - at the end - find another three mile strip of asphalt to set itself down up. Amazing.
  3. Order - Have you ever seen a herd of cattle in a field or a "school" of fish in deep water? How about a flock of birds in the sky? We marvel at how they move and rest and fold as a group and in unison. Now picture thousands of people in an airport all milling about to, in time, file on to a plane to sit - shoulder to shoulder - for hours at a time. It really is a wonder we don't have more incidents of people just losing their sh*t in an airport or on a plane. Millions of Americans fly every year with, statistically, more order and less incident than any flock of geese heading south for the winter.
  4. Fashion Choices - You can observe so much fashion at the airport. You've got the active duty military members in uniform (I always try to say "Thank you for your service." and feel like we should always let them sit in empty first class seats) all the way far, far down the ladder to those idiots who are leaving Wichita in February but, since they will eventually land in Orlando or St. Tropical Island they feel they MUST wear their shorts and horrible "camp" shirts. Can I make a request, people? Respect yourself as you head off to the airport? Jeans and sneakers? Maybe. Sweat/yoga pants and flip flops? Unacceptable. 
  5. People Watching - It goes without saying that people are their best and worst at the airport. I saw a "Make a Wish" kid yesterday about to take his first flight so super, super excited to get on a jet. Three chairs down in the waiting area was a woman bitching and complaining about a 20 minute delay to due to weather. It is funny how we view "time" and how people behave. 
  6. Hugs - I have talked about this so many times on this blog but, for me, there is nothing better than the security line at the airport. It is where people say their tearful "good-byes" and where people say their tearful "welcome homes". I will seriously sit and watch people come and go and just luxuriate in the human experience that can be found among the polyester uniforms of TSA agents. 


2/19/15

Poems/Poets I Enjoy . . .

As I have mentioned, I've recently been dipping a toe in to poetry. Here - without any real rank or order - are some poems I have enjoyed (there are more I cannot easily link to for obvious reasons). Please to enjoy.

"A Sign", Philip Levine
"Falling out of Time", David Grossman
"I Like My Body When It Is With Your", E. E. Cummings
"Shoulders", Shane Koyczan
"Listen to the Mustn'ts", Shel Silverstein
"Remember", Christina Rossetti
"One Night in Balthazar", Fanny Howe
"Kaddish - (Part I and II)", Allen Ginsberg
"The Albatross", Kate Bass

What poems do you like? I'm open to suggestions . . . even if they suck.

2/18/15

50 Shades of Grey . . .

No. I didn't read the books. No. I didn't see the movie. I don't need to. I have Google and all the porn (soft cord, hard core, "female friendly", and otherwise) I could ever possibly want to watch for free.

I'm not here to judge anyone who read/enjoyed/was titillated by the books and I certainly would not get in the way of the over eight million people who saw the movie in the first week alone (driving receipts to a record $81.7 million) saying the enjoyed it - or not.

From what I understand the books are exactly what they claim to be . . . sexually provocative prose and the movie is exactly what it claimed to be . . . a refined, high definition, sexually provocative version of the books. I'm fine with these things.

Know what I'm NOT fine with? The criticism. No, no. NOT of the book or movie (critics do what critics do). The notion that the book or the movie are somehow going to degrade sexual relations between humans.

I'm not sure if you're paying attention, bible grippers with well-worn rosary beads and sensible shoes, but we're not exactly living in a world where sex is cherished and special. I'd LIKE it to be a little more cherished and special than it is but I'd be a liar if I said I was bothered by the notion that two consenting adults can do with their bodies what they wish. They can. They should.

People who believe "50 Shades of Grey" will in any way harm or degrade our values are not paying attention to the bigger picture. A) Just eight million people saw the movie. That is a HUGE number but less than two percent of the population of this great, free land of ours. By contrast 118 million people (34%-ish) watched the Super Bowl and very few of them knocked their fiancees out, whipped their children, drove drunk, or abused drugs that evening. Okay. Bad example.

Better one? Let's talk about Sex and the City. You remember "SATC", right? Four swinging gals humping their way through New York City between 1998 and 2004 with two - and a rumored third - movies to follow. Yes. Yes. THIS was . . . you remember now . . . the "end" of sex and relationships as we knew it. Want to know what happened thanks to Sex and the City? NOTHING.

Fact check - three things happened . . .

  • Sarah Jessica Parker (who was carefully costumed for every scene of that show) was somehow seen as a fashion icon
  • Well over one million women bought (or had bought for them) a rabbit 
  • The martini was bastardized beyond all recognition 
Know what did NOT happen? Anything else - and nothing as relates to sexual balance in this great country of ours.

We Americans are an UPTIGHT group of people when it comes to sex. I get that. I think that generations will pass and we'll get less and less reserved for the sake of being reserved and we'll blame divinity for less and less of our hang ups. 

I'm not saying we'll all eventually bind, spank, and "punish" our lovers (that is a very particular type of sexual enjoyment not everyone would even want) or that we will all eventually own rabbits (there are thousands of more innovative toys on the market today (and the internet allows you to get them in relative anonymity) if you know where your lady spot(s) are) but I am saying we might eventually get to a point where a movie can come out that doesn't require protests because some of the ideas in them are controversial. I'm looking at YOU, American Sniper. 

2/17/15

Haves and Have-Nots . . .

I remember being fairly young the first time I realized that not everyone has the same resources in life. That there were those "with" and those "without".

I was probably six or seven years old and there was a big snow storm (as is common in Upstate New York) and that morning at school (we still went, as is common in Upstate New York) there was a girl in my class who got on the bus in regular sneakers, standard pants, and a hoodie. She had no gloves, no scarf, no hat, no winter coat.

She passed me - dressed in "moon" boots, flannel-lined pants, gloves, a coat that must have weighed seven pounds, a scarf long enough to restrain a pack of lions, earmuffs, a hat, and . . . well,  you get the point - on the bus' narrow aisle and sat three rows back on me and audibly groaned from the chill.

She opened her backpack, pulled out a pack of Twinkies and started eating. I had never before, and rarely since, felt so "without".

I'm being absurd to make a point, clearly. I was far more appreciative of my mobility-impeding cold-beating garments than snack cakes (as much as I have always loved them) but the point of what we have, what we want, what each are worth, and how things are valued in any given moment are the larger point.

Stay warm. Eat your Twinkies.

2/16/15

The Possessive Nature of Holidays . . .

So Saturday was Valentine's Day and today is Presidents Day. Why? Why is one '-worthy and the other is not? The answer is probably more simple than you might presume.

Valentine's Day - with the possessive "s" - is the way it is because the day "belongs" to your lover or the one you love (the grammar on that one always confuses me). You mark it accordingly.

Presidents Day - with the boring "s" that just makes something plural - is there because the day honors all of our Presidents (don't get confused by the fact that the holiday is officially George Washington's Birthday (the possessive because it was, well, HIS birthday). It is a day FOR them . . . not OF them.

Want to test the theory? St. Patrick's Day (with the "'s") belongs to Catholics, the Irish, and want-to-be-day-drinkers of all nationalities and backgrounds. Halloween (with no s at all) is a day no one wants to claim and that offers no real reason to fight over. We don't worry about it. New Year's Eve/Day? It belongs to the beginning. Bachelor's Party? No. Bachelor Party. That is an event more for the horny, dried-up, and frustrated men the groom considers friends and family than him anyway so - no need to apostrophize (that is not even maybe a word).

Now you know. Enjoy the day. Buy some towels or a mattress. Buy clearance candy from Saturday's overly-commercialized non-holiday. Thank Rutherford B. Hayes for all he did for this land that belongs to you and me.

2/15/15

Sunday Funday . . .

So much bubble wrap - so much envy. That being said there is a lot of random testosterone in the "Dude Perfect" collective. Perhaps too much.

2/13/15

Love Songs for Nobody . . .

Some love songs for you, nobody, and everybody. Please to enjoy. And good luck tomorrow on the Day of My Last Name. Make dinner, make memories, make babies. Mwah!

2/12/15

Broken Clocks . . .

There are a million ways to tell time. Some wear watches. Some carry "smart" phones and, like true dummies, look at them 1,000 times a day. Some are constantly scanning the room for a time piece, some wait until they pass by the bank.

Others still just scream out "What time is it?" and wait for someone within ear shot to look at their watch, smart phone, or time piece outside the bank and tell them. The lucky few have some innate, inborn sense of time that just sort of lets them "know" what time it is at any given moment.

I would like to enter, for your consideration, one final way to tell time . . . a broken clock. No. No. NOT in the sense of "Even a broken clock is right two times a day" but in the sense of an actual broken clock in the new house.

There is a lovely, old clock sitting on the counter in the nook where we eat our breakfast and dinners and where we sit to chat, do homework, blog, and write notes and checks to pay bills. It is a fantastic old clock and there is just one thing wrong with it - it needs to be rewired. Probably a few days at a clock shop and a handful of dollars and we have a lovely, old working clock sitting on the counter.

Yet - here we are - sixty full days later and years since the first time I ever laid eyes on the clock and it is still broken. It is probably time I get it fixed.

2/11/15

Parenting Advice From a Dummy . . .

I don't talk much about my family in this forum but my younger brother and my sister-in-law are expecting twins in the spring. Both boys. I don't care if they are identical or not as long as they don't look anything like the maternal genes their father and I both carry (balding, hairy feet, etc.).

I also hope, frankly, that they have ten fingers, ten toes, two functioning eyes, and wicked-foul smelling farts from the minute they are old enough to get their fingers pulled.

In the meantime there isn't much I can really do for them (sure, sure, Special Lady Friend is going to take care of sending gifts to showers and for the birth (I'm horrible at these things) and I plan to see them often, especially now that work is getting me back to DC (the live in the Maryland 'burbs) every few months. Beyond that the only thing I can really do is, when asked, offer advice.

As I have said a million times (find my "Mommy Blog" post if you want to feel my rage) every child is different and every parent and every dynamic between every child and every parent is different. You can't really predict and you can't really account for it but these things just sort of have to play out but I was asked the other night, indirectly, to give a kind word (my brother said he was "scared") or two so this is what I told him . . .

You cannot let "fear" enter parenting. You can be afraid of a lot of things in this world (I fear snakes, Governor Sam Brownback and his puppet legislature, a toe nail snagging a sheet in the night and awakening me in pain, physically outliving my mind, disappointing people that I love, and the day when every single movie in the theaters is a reboot, sequel, prequel, or franchise of a comic book, that the NFL will never actually wane in popularity, and that people actually read this blog for the hope of eventually getting something out of it). I do NOT fear my ability to be a parent.

Sure, sure. There are moments. When I was unemployed. When I'm stressed out and spelling words are h-a-r-d-e-r than they need to b-e. When I get a little attitude from the bugger and realize adolescence is coming . . . soon. I was (past tense) afraid when she was first born and we had a pile of challenges, statistics, and truly scary crap to wade through as part of the adoption process. I am afraid that she might eventually read this blog hoping to get something out of it. Or at all.

So I told him that fear was not real in parenting, that there would be times when he would need help and that he had a wife, two brothers, two sets of parents, a world of friends, and a collection of doctors, colleagues, neighbors, and - heck - strangers that could help him through those moments of want/need/uncertainty/scary moments.

2/10/15

Someone Else's Wife . . .

One of the most fascinating parts (of which there are thousands) of sharing custody is the beloved and dreaded tradition of "Nightly Phone Calls" (all capital letters to show respect).

On the nights that I have our daughter, I plan the evening around them and on the evenings I don't have her, I plan the evening around them. 8:00 PM-ish. Every night.

Every night is a different conversation and every one of them is unique for good and bad reasons. Last Wednesday was particularly interesting. I answered the phone to an excited kid. She had just returned from her school's "night" at Chik-fil-A (some of the proceeds of every homophobic chicken sandwich sold go back to the school's fund) and she was very happy to say the least. A) She loves chicken. B) She loves Chick-fil-A. C) She is a very happy kid.

She beamed "Guess what, Dad?"

"What?", I inquired.

"Luther (not his real name) asked Mom to marry him tonight and she said 'yes'!"

Dizzy feeling, light head, stomach flip, pulse race, heavy breathing, and a suddenly speechless tongue.

"That's, that's . . . exciting for them." I mumbled, before changing the subject back to some joke about equal rights and chicken sandwiches that flew way, way over her head and sense of humor. We moved on, pretty quickly, to spelling and vocabulary.

Six days later I'm still trying to find the words for how I really "feel" about all this. My ex and I have talked about it. A few times. I know the specifics and the date and the location. I even know the honeymoon plans. I know how big it will be. I have seen the ring. We've even had a celebratory hug. Truthfully - I love weddings. I love happy people. I love the idea that a woman I once made happy is (and hopefully always will be) happy with someone else.

I like Luther (not his real name) and I like how he is with my daughter and how much she seems to appreciate and enjoy him. I have no reason to feel uncomfortable with or about him.

Nope. This is more about the rest of it. The inevitability (frankly - I knew this was coming and I am sure she presumes the day will come that our daughter will inform her of my plans to follow suit) is one thing. I should have been more prepared and ready, though. The idea that a woman who once stood with me while we each promised to have and hold the other until one or both of us died is another thing. It was years and years ago that I knew that was not going to happen.

So WHY am I still struggling over this? WHY is this in my head and under my skin?

I don't know. I really, truly don't. I just hope that it is eventually "normal" for me. Not that anything ever, ever is.

2/9/15

Groceries and Gone . . .

I am (about to say something very obvious) in many ways, a very, very immature man. I don't just mean that in my language, behavior, sense of humor, or any other count but also in terms of my emotional maturity. 

To that end - something happened the other day that has me truly shaken. 

A woman, Annette Hedke, was struck and killed at 8:15 AM in the morning in the parking lot of a Dillons (grocery store) after putting her recently-acquired food stuffs in her car and falling down. She was stuck and dragged fifteen feet by another driver. 

This is a horribly tragic story on so many levels. Take the randomness of it all (if Hedke had not have left the store when she did, if the other driver had not left the store when she did, if Hedke had not have fallen, if the SUV driver had taken a minute to tweak the radio or her hair, if Hedke had jumped back up sooner, if . . . if . . . if) but then also factor in that as horrible as it is for Hedke to be gone and her family to feel the void the driver of the SUV is left to process that she was involved in this horrible tragedy and her family will forever have to process this.

ALL this was and is upsetting but here is what has me most upset about this . . . Hedke is the wife of a three-term State Representative (the esteemed Dennis Hedke). Forget my politics. Forget his politics. That truly doesn't matter. What DOES matter? That Mrs. Hedke was reduced to nothing more than his wife in the press coverage and much of the discussion around her death (I work across the street from this particular Dillons and this was all the buzz for the latter half of the week). 

There was no mention of her as a woman, a daughter/sister/mother/soon-to-be grandmother. There was no mention of her as a Christian or any discussion of her involvement with a Jews-for-Jesus congregation here in town. No one talked about her hobbies, her passions, her wants, hopes, or dreams. Nope. She was just the spouse of a State Rep. 

I get that it is important and relevant that she was who she was in marriage. I understand that is the obvious headline. I see why people care(d) but I don't think it is fair to a person or their memory - especially in the immediate moments after death - that they are simply the wife-of or mother-of or daughter-of. They are them. They were them. They are sovereign. They are and should be missed for them. Even an emotional child knows that!  

2/7/15

2015 Objectives Update . . .

"They" say that if you want to reach your goals - you should share them and your progress. Soooooo . . .

OBJECTIVES . . .

  1. Read 24 (or more) books (for ME - reading with my daughter doesn't count) 2.33 finished
  2. Run 10 miles/week (on average). Yes. That is 520 miles (or more) in 2015. 10.8 miles/week (54 total miles)
  3. Finish a half marathon in under three hours (as many tries at it takes). First attempt is 05/03/15.
  4. Lose 100 Pounds. That's right. Get. Less. Fat. 11 pounds down. 
  5. Reduce wasteful spending by 10% (this is actually more about not growing my spending - I'm pretty friggin' frugal now). Reduced overall spending by 19% in January. 
  6. Increase savings contributions by 12.5% (I've been pretty minimal on this one lately - time to grow my future). Updated 401K, IRA, 529, Investments, and Insurance products by 113%.
  7. Earn college credits (I'm going back to school, one way or another, in 2015)
  8. Reduce social media time by 25% (10 minutes/day or less). Struggling with this one but getting better. 

2/6/15

Out-Running My Sneakers . . .

Thankful to get the LAST PAIR of Transcend in my size! The 
I am a frugal, frugal man. I wore underpants and socks for four years . . . they were literally falling apart at the seams . . . before finally replacing them. The way I saw it - no one would ever see them anyway and they were good enough for me and they "worked" as well as they needed to so - why bother to replace them?

I've also bought plenty of shoes from eBay. USED shoes from eBay. Why? Simple. $10. You take them to the local bowling alley, have them sprayed out, give them the once-over and then you have $120 worth of penny loafer for 1/12th the price and you can wear them, in the case of a few pair of my loafers, for three or four years, too (if in the rotation with nine or ten other pair of penny loafers - as mine are).

Once place I have chosen to NOT be cheap? My running "rides". That's right. This BIG SPENDER will - HAPPILY drop $120 or $150 on a pair of running kicks (as I have now done three times) from the local running store (GoRun Wichita with locations "east" and "west" here in Wichita). Why? Because running shoes are actually important.

According to Brooks (the only brand my sweet feet will run in), a pair of running shoes should last the average runner about 500 miles (presuming they are only used for running and you protect them from the elements, etc.) but I'm not exactly the average runner. I'm a BIG runner (physically/literally - not in any other way) so I asked for some candid advice and was told I should probably only put about 300 miles on my kicks (I wore Trance 11 and Trance 12 for my first two pair). So now you have a situation where you're spending all this money on shoes when you won't even spring for extra cups of dipping sauces when you order pizza. Life is funny, right?!

So WHY spend the money? Simple. Protection. If I don't spend money to protect my feet (the Trance and my current Transcend have extra stability and extra support built in to them) than I might hurt my feet, ankles, or legs. If I do that . . . I can't run 20 - 25 miles per week (as I am currently trending) and I can't lose weight or get the real benefits of running . . . waking up at 5 AM CT to run for an hour at a time before the sun even comes up to warm the eight degree air. Oh - and the amazing feeling of being alone with just your thoughts and some amazing music for an hour (in the dark and frozen air).

Long story long - I will wear underpants until they literally fall off me (and that will be awkward when I am struck by a motorist and rushed to the hospital) but I'm not messing around with my sneakers. You shouldn't either.

2/5/15

Grilling . . .

There isn't a lot about "manhood" that I really buy in to. I've never been in to cars. I've never wanted to ride/own/pretend to own a motorcycle. I'm not in to guns, knives, usurping part of a neighboring nation, chasing proverbial tail, or clinking the ice cubes in an otherwise empty glass to signify that I'm ready for my woman to refill it. 

I don't enjoy time in the garden or the lawn. I don't shovel my driveway with relish and building things is out of cheapness vs. a want to create with my calloused hands. 

Truth be told, I'm more domesticated than you might imagine. I like to buy groceries, do laundry, take out the trash, cook, and wash dishes. Settle down, ladies. I'm spoken for. Seriously. Calm down. 

ONE area where I would like to think some caveman has stayed in my otherwise-disastrous DNA (seriously - fat, bald, soft teeth, poor vision, angst-ridden, etc. all peed in my gene pool) is grilling. That's right. The hot bed of hardwood/organic coals (I can't get comfortable with propane or that chemical stuff in most briquettes) and something taking all that heat like a champ? That's where it begins. That's where it ends.

I will grill just about anything including, but not limited to, your standard proteins (beef, chicken, turkey, fish (I don't dine on swine)) as well as things like grilled cheese and soups and even eggs and pancakes if I'm in the right mood. Shooooot . . . I've baked brownies on the stainless steel rack of a Weber. I. Said. Shoooooot.

I am not a master chef. No one has ever slapped their mama after my grilling. No one has ever made a baby based on the bliss of one of my burgers. There has never been a moment that I thought "I should quit my job and just cook on this thing, right here in my back yard, alllll day long." and yet I love to grill and doing it makes me want to slap my dear, sweet mother (no one is making a baby - I promise).

Special Lady Friend and I, our home bought and our last boxes unpacked, have endeavored to buy a new grill for us. We got a sweet 22" Weber with a copper finish. I purchased it through Williams Ace Hardware (my LOCAL hardware store) and sometime in the next 48 - 72 hours I'm going to fire that puppy up and it will likely be pouring smoke for hours on end. I'm so excited I might even make brownies. I. Said. Shooooooot.


2/4/15

The Phosphorescent Blues . . .

Chris Thile started playing music professionally around the age most of us were when we started the second grade. Maybe third (you whiz kids with your letters and numbers). He's now just 33 years old and he has, as far as I can tell, matured to the point of being 60 while still looking no more than 18 years or so old (the age he was when I first became smitten with his musical talents on the fantastic "Nickel Creek" (he was then the front for the on-again/off-again group by the same name) and the single "Out of the Woods" specifically).

A LOT can (and has) happened in 15 years. Thile has formed, played with, left, rejoined, reformed, and rejiggered what seems like a million different ensembles including working with the amazing Yo-Yo Ma on the first album from the formidable "Goat Rodeo Sessions" - an album that still sorta blows my mind for how bendy it gets with genres and musical sound. Seriously . . . check out "Attaboy"!

Not only has his musical career changed but our world has changed and Thile, wise beyond his years, pulled together his group Punch Brothers for a new album (their fourth) that reflects that change - specifically the notion of what social media, smart phones, digital communication, and all that "jazz" has done to our notion of intimacy, relationships, and "self."

To be clear the message of the band (through the album) is not one of happiness for this trend. As the cover art might imply - they seem to think it is a bad thing. "Your trouble vibrates the table," they sing. "There's nothing to say, that couldn't just as well be sent, I've got an American share, of 21st century stress."

The interesting thing? In the spirit of that whole "It's not what you say, it is how you SAY it" way - the album is not preachy or negative or even dark. It is almost upbeat and happy and celebratory of life as it happens between Tweets, hashtags, and e-mails. There are nods to life before the technology - a version of Debussy's "Passepied" is beautiful and rich and warm. "My Oh My" is a fun jab at the notion that wonderful days are only possible if we capture and share their every moment . . . perhaps even allowing us to not be there to enjoy it. It is wonderfully wry "How long can you keep the world spinning under our phone?" asks Thile.

I won't belabor the point. Check out the album. Enjoy the album. Put your phone down and just really enjoy it - and then Tweet and update your Facebook status to encourage everyone you know to do the same. Or just, you know, blog about it.

We're doomed! But we'll have excellent music in our ears on the way down . . .

2/3/15

Pondering . . .

As defined in my handy-dandy dictionary (a physical thing that I have and hold) "pondering" is defined as "(verb) think about (something) carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion". It is a Latin word that, if I am reading correctly, passed through "Old French" (I think they mean Chanel) to make it to the charming word we know today.

I ponder. Often. And with great self-awareness. I have been known to spend 20 minutes in the Natural Grocers trying to decide between two varieties/scents/flavors (you can (technically) eat the stuff) of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap (the peppermint wins 9:10 but that last 10% can go between almond, citrus, and rose with nearly violent twitches of bottles being taken-down-from and returned-to shelves) and don't EVEN get me started on how long I will take to make serious, real, adult decisions (take that however you like).

The truth is I've never, ever really been "known" for quick decisions despite the fact that I pride myself on having strong "gut instincts" and keen observation skills.

There are three reasons, as I have concluded after hours and hours of pondering, why I ponder so much.
  1. Mistakes. Costly in terms of time, energy, emotion, and impact on others.
  2. More Options. Very, very few things in life are automatic or as simple as "black and white" (two choices). The grey is vast and spectrumy.
  3. The Exercise. As Ben Fold's father once left in his voicemail - your mind is your most valuable possession. It should be taken out for a nice, brisk walk every chance you get.
My daughter doesn't "ponder" much at all. She is very decisive. "I want this." "No." "That doesn't make any f*cking sense." are all things that come out of her mouth on a regular basis (yes - I allow my kid to use profanity with me in the privacy of our home . . . don't be so precious about simple words). I admire it for the most part . . . rarely do I have to stand around and wait for her to choose (now putting on her sneakers or coat or finding her eye glasses we can spend HOURS a day on) but - like with the times I grab the "rose" Dr. Bronner's, I actually fear I've done her a disservice by not making her just pour over choices and options on a more regular basis. 

I would not want her to get as trapped in her own head as I do (I can't imagine what a complete and utter bore I must be for the people in my life that have to listen to/observe me hemming and hawing) but I also don't ever want her to be one of those people who is not open to life and open to choices and open to adventures and - yes - like with the soap scents - to mistakes. 

2/2/15

In Praise of the Sweater Vest . . .

In the fall of 1996 I was a college junior. I lived in a three-bedroom on-campus apartment with five other guys. I listened to a LOT of Beck's Odelay, The Score from The Fugees, and Sublime while Ani DiFranco's Dilate had me wondering how I had spent my whole life without listening to "independent" artists but there was ONE thing in my life that was independent. Fiercely independent.

You see, dear reader, my closet was full of something the ladies simply could not resist (as witnessed by me not losing my virginity for another seven years) . . . sweater vests.

I started wearing sweater vests (by choice) at the ripe old age of six and I never looked back. Is there anything sweeter than a sleeveless layer of warmth on a cool fall night, a frozen winter morning, or the indecisive days of spring?

I mean sure, sure . . . there is no logical reason to want a warm torso without warm arms except one simple reason . . . mobility.

You could argue vests are good for fashion . . . You want to show more of a sweet plaid shirt under a solid sweater than just the collar and cuffs? You want a wide band of argyle over your button placard? All those are good reasons but not WHY the sweater vests kicks butt. They come in all sort of fabrics (please avoid synthetics - they are ugly and a plague on fashion. I suggest merino wool over cotton or cashmere (both excellent choices)).

The real reason for sweater vest popularity is science. That's right. That's right. PHYSICS. You want to layer a shirt and a sports coat? Sweater vests are better than full-blown sweaters. You want to dance away an evening to Dave Matthews Band? You need to have your arms free. You want to shotgun beer by the pitcher? Shoot from the shoulder. You want to properly worship on a Sunday evening in the theater on campus? Vest-iments.

Now I know, I know. Sweater vests are funny looking. They aren't "cool". They aren't trendy. They aren't becoming. They don't help seduce women. They don't make you smarter, more popular, or more agile. They just make life more scientific. They just put physics on your back and chest. They just look and feel terrific.

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